Today’s Verizon IndyCar Series and Mazda Road to Indy headlines:
- Power, Andretti headline Vegas karting event
- INDYCAR has ties with Santa Claus
- Kellett, Gutierrez to return to Pro Mazda
- Power, Andretti headline Vegas karting event: INDYCAR again will have a strong presence at the 18th SKUSA SuperNationals this weekend in Las Vegas.
The karting event draws more than 500 drivers from across the globe and serves as the Superkarts USA Pro Tour series finale.
Reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Will Power and race winner Marco Andretti headline the lineup of drivers in nine divisions.
Power, who drove the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet to three victories and his first series title, will compete in the TaG Master division for the second consecutive year. He won a heat race and led laps in the final in his SuperNationals debut in 2013.
Andretti has filled the vacancy in the S1 Pro Stock Moto division created when Scott Speed, who competes for Andretti Autosport in Global Rallycross and is a three-time SuperNationals division winner, had a schedule conflict in Germany. Andretti, who began competitive karting at the age of 10, will make his SuperNationals debut though he’s competed in the all-star karting event in Orlando, Fla., associated with the Performance Racing Industries trade show and several charity events.
“It’s going to be a great challenge, as there is some great talent there,” Andretti toldekartingnews.com while training last week in Charlotte, N.C., with Power and Speed. “It’s different muscles than IndyCar. It will be a great warm-up for (Juan Pablo) Montoya’s kart race in Colombia on Thanksgiving weekend.”
Andretti, Helio Castroneves, reigning Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires champion Gabby Chaves and Sebastian Saavedra are scheduled to compete in the event in Bogota that benefits the Family Smiles charitable organization established by Montoya and his wife.
Also entered in the S1 class are 2014 Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires championship runner-up Scott Hargrove, Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires competitor Matthew Di Leo, former Indy Lights driver Matt Jaskol and AJ Allmendinger, who competed in six Verizon IndyCar Series races in 2013 with Team Penske. Allmendinger will compete in the TaG Senior division, too.
Also entered in the SuperNationals with INDYCAR ties:
- Former Indy car driver Richie Hearn, who won the 1995 Toyota Atlantic title, will compete in the TaG Master division. Hearn, who lives in nearby Henderson, Nev., won several national karting championships in the 1990s.
- Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda competitor Colton Herta, 14, a former TaG Cadet Pro Tour champion, will compete in TaG Junior for Phil Giebler Racing. He’s the son of Verizon IndyCar Series team owner and former driver Bryan Herta.
- Former Indy car driver Enrique Bernoldi of Brazil will compete in the KZ2 division as will Indy Lights competitor Zack Meyer.
- Drivers in multiple divisions represent Phil Giebler Racing and Jay Howard MDD. Both are former Indy Lights drivers (Howard won the 2006 title) and Indianapolis 500 starters. Giebler, of California, was the 2007 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year. Howard, who has made nine Verizon IndyCar Series starts, recently was announced as an Indy 500 driver for 2015 with Herta’s team.
- INDYCAR has ties with Santa Claus: Fans should be on the lookout for Santa Claus in a two-seat IndyCar in the Indianapolis area over the next few weeks.
On Nov. 22, Verizon IndyCar Series team co-owner Sarah Fisher will drive the jolly elf into Clay Terrace Mall in Carmel, Ind. Youngsters will receive checkered flags to welcome the duo (3:30 p.m. local).
On Nov. 28, Verizon IndyCar Series team co-owner/driver Ed Carpenter will drive Santa Claus to The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis in the special racing sleigh (9:30 a.m. local).
- Kellett, Gutiérrez to return to Pro Mazda: Dalton Kellett will compete in his second Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires season with Andretti Autosport, while José Gutiérrez will return for his second season with Juncos Racing.
Kellett, 21, of Stouffville, Ontario, recorded one podium among two top-five and nine top-10 finishes during the 2014 season. He will drive the No. 28 K-Line car for the Indianapolis-based team. Kellett raced in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda for two years before moving up the Mazda Road to Indy ladder to Pro Mazda. He also competed in the Ontario Formula Ford Championship and earned multiple karting championships.
“It’s an amazing opportunity to be able to join Andretti Autosport for the 2015 Pro Mazda season,” said Kellett, who is an engineering physics major at Queen’s University. “I anticipate that we will have a successful year, and I am looking forward to the start of the race season. I was able to get to know the Andretti crew at a postseason test where I immediately felt like we were a good fit. They are a very professional team and I feel like we work well together.”
Gutiérrez, 18, from Monterrey, Mexico, posted his first podium finish on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, won the 2014 season finale at Sonoma Raceway and earned the pole at the Milwaukee Mile. Juncos Racing earned the 2014 championship.
“It feels awesome to be back with Juncos Racing for the 2015 season,” said Gutiérrez. “The 2014 season was a great learning experience getting to know the car and how the team works. We ended the season on a high note with a win in Sonoma and in 2015 we will be going for so much more than that. In the offseason I will be training a lot to be 100 percent ready for the start of Winterfest in NOLA.”
The Cooper Tires Winterfest kicks off Feb. 19-20 at NOLA Motorsports Park in Avondale, La., with three races. It continues Feb. 25-26 with three races at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala. Open Tests are scheduled for Jan. 25 at Palm Beach International Raceway and Jan. 28 on the Homestead-Miami Speedway road course. The season opens with two races Jan. 28-29 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla.