Today’s Verizon IndyCar Series and Mazda Road to Indy headlines:
1. Pagenaud ready to go for series crown
2. Brewers Hall of Famer has history with Indy car
3. Dixon, Hinchcliffe to join in Lights car development
1. Pagenaud ready to go for series crown: Simon Pagenaud says he has achieved his season goal of winning races, but he isn’t ready to be counted out as a contender for the Verizon IndyCar Series championship.
“I think it’s been a good season,” the Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports driver said. “If everything goes accordingly to plan, you should be in the hunt. We won two races, which was part of our plan. The team has been competitive and on top of their game. I’m happy with where we are, and I like to chase. I think we’re in a really good position.”
Pagenaud, who finished fifth in points en route to winning Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors in 2012 and third in 2013, enters the ABC Supply Wisconsin 250 at Milwaukee IndyFest fourth in the championship standings.
Though he trails Will Power by 64 points, he said the deficit isn’t too much to overcome, especially with a maximum of 212 points on the table for the remaining three races.
“If this weekend (at Milwaukee) goes well, and Sonoma doesn’t go well, or even if this weekend doesn’t go well, as long you are within 70 points for the last race, you have a shot,” Pagenaud said. “I still feel like I have a really good chance.”
The 30-year-old Frenchman said ending the season with the short oval at Milwaukee, the natural terrain road course at Sonoma Raceway and the superspeedway at Auto Club Speedway is the perfect way to decide the Verizon IndyCar Series title.
But he knows to control his own destiny, he has to finish ahead of the competition, even if his results on ovals haven’t been the strongest part of his season.
“It’s going to take wins to win,” he said. “It’s down to the four of us at the top of the charts (Power, Helio Castroneves, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Pagenaud). The one (of the top four) that’s going to win one of the last three races is going to have the best chance.
“We know Ryan (Hunter-Reay) is really strong here and the Penske cars are strong at Sonoma. I think we have a really strong race car at Fontana. It’s going to be who makes the least mistakes and scores the most points. At this point, you need to be aggressive and go for it. I love this time of the year, when you’re in the hunt and it’s time to make it count.”
2. Brewers Hall of Famer has history with Indy car: Early in his 20-year career with the Milwaukee Brewers, Robin Yount would forego showering after an afternoon game at County Stadium and hightail it to the Milwaukee Mile to watch the Indy cars run.
Mike Mosley won the June 1976 race, holding off Gordon Johncock, who also was runner-up in the August race to Al Unser. Yount was able to take in parts of both race weekends during the homestand.
Baseball was his passion, with motorsports an avocation he participated in as a competitor and team owner.
Yount drove Sports 2000 cars and was co-owner of P-1 Racing that won the Formula Atlantic title in 1990 (Mark Dismore) and 1991 (Jovy Marcelo). An avid karter, Yount also was instrumental in the career development of Buddy Rice, who went on to win the 2000 Atlantics championship and 2004 Indianapolis 500.
“Robin loved to race too, and he and I were racing go-karts together in 1996 (in the Phoenix area) when he helped me with some better equipment, and then later he got me acquainted with (Indy car team owner and 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner) Bobby Rahal,” Rice said.
The Baseball Hall of Famer most recently attended the Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Indianapolis on May 10 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Milwaukee Mile hosts the ABC Supply Wisconsin 250 at Milwaukee IndyFest this weekend.
3. Dixon, Hinchcliffe to join in Lights car development: Reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon and three-time race winner James Hinchcliffe will add their insight and provide feedback in the development of the Dallara IL-15 chassis.
The veteran drivers will share testing duties Sept. 5-6 on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. The test days are open to the public to watch from the Turn 2 viewing mounds.
The new Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires car made its on-track debut Aug. 4 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with 2013 Verizon IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year Tristan Vautier behind the wheel. Conor Daly, who competed in the 2013 Indianapolis 500 and currently competes in GP2, and Vautier split driving Aug. 12 and 14 on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval. Additional testing is scheduled the next weeks at the IMS road course and Milwaukee Mile.
Hinchcliffe watched part of the Aug. 14 test.
“It is always fun being part of something new, and helping to develop this race car is a cool opportunity. I am a big believer in the Lights series; racing in Indy Lights made me the driver I am and prepared me to step up to the Verizon IndyCar Series,” said Hinchcliffe, who was runner-up in the 2010 Indy Lights championship. “I think this new car is a big step in revitalizing the series. Being in on the ground level and helping to push the series in this direction is something I am looking forward to.”
Project manager Tony Cotman said the test program, important before full-scale production, is progressing well.
“For us, it’s how the car reacts to changes and try to validate a lot of the work that’s been done by the manufacturers so when the teams get the car they’re ready to run,” he said. “There is a lot of calibrating to do on the engine side. We’re in a good place right now.”
The car is powered by a turbocharged, 2.0-liter, four-cylinder AER P63 engine and runs on Cooper tires. Without aid of the chassis set-up dialed in for the 2.5-mile oval, Daly topped the Indy Lights pole-winning lap speed for the 2014 Freedom 100.
“I’m excited to see the new car and the direction the series is taking,” said Dixon, the 2000 Indy Lights champion. “It’s a very important stepping stone on the road to the Verizon IndyCar Series. I look forward to driving the new car at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and hope to help with the ongoing development.”
The next Verizon IndyCar Series event is the ABC Supply Wisconsin 250 at Milwaukee IndyFest on Aug. 17 at the Milwaukee Mile. The race will be televised live at 3 p.m. (ET) by the NBCSN (local cable providers, Verizon FiOS 90/590, DirecTV 220, DISH 159 and AT&T UVerse 640/1640) and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network (local affiliates, XM 209 and Sirius 213), the INDYCAR 14 app and www.indycar.com.