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VICS: INDYCAR NEWS AND NOTES – Feb. 19, 2015

Verizon IndyCar Series and Mazda Road to Indy headlines:

  1. Drivers showcase athleticism at NFL Combine
  2. Chevrolet renderings of road/street aero kit
  3. Karam to start opener at St. Pete
  4. Jakes added to Schmidt Peterson Motorsports lineup
  5. Author John Green happy with his fantasy INDYCAR team
  6. Of note:

    • Wilder adds punch to home state event
    • Krewe of Bacchus hosts drivers on Officer’s Float
    • Drivers to attend screenings of “Focus” movie
    • Winterfest begins at NOLA

1. Drivers showcase athleticism at NFL Combine: Josef Newgarden and Sage Karam were invited to the home of the Indianapolis Colts for the NFL Combine, where hundreds of NFL hopefuls gather in front of scouts and media hoping to launch their professional careers.

“The combine is great because it’s young guys trying to break into the pro level,” Newgarden said. “It’s very much like young race car drivers racing Indy Lights or some of the lower ladder series of the Mazda Road to Indy trying to become Verizon IndyCar Series drivers. These types of events are where you showcase your talent for your sport.”

Before participating in drills, they were greeted by Arizona Cardinals defensive back Patrick Peterson, who was taking in the day’s activities. The duo was outfitted head-to-toe in Under Armour gear for the demonstration, which included neon orange shirts personalized with their names and car numbers, matching shorts and solid gold-colored cleats.

To see how their results stack up, check out IndyCar.com.

2. Chevrolet renderings of road/street aero kit: Chevrolet is prepared for the next bold step in manufacturer competition with the introduction of aerodynamic bodywork kits to the Verizon IndyCar Series, according to Jim Campbell, GM’s U.S. vice president of performance vehicles and motorsports.

Campbell was joined by Chevrolet Racing director Mark Kent and Chris Berube, Chevrolet Racing’s IndyCar program manager, in unveiling renderings of its road/street course and short oval aerodynamic package during the Verizon IndyCar Series media day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. A speedway configuration will be introduced ahead of its competitive debut in May at the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval.

“This is an important milestone in Chevrolet’s involvement in IndyCar racing,” Campbell said. “We focused on developing an aerodynamic package that delivers an optimal balance of downforce and drag, along with integrated engine performance. It’s a total performance package.”

Check out complete details on Chevrolet’s 2015 aero kit here.

3. Karam to start opener at St. Pete: Sage Karam, the 2013 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires champion, confirmed that he’ll be on the grid for the Verizon IndyCar Series season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in the No. 8 Chip Ganassi Racing GE LED Chevrolet.

Karam made his series debut in the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race last May, and also has competed in sports car races with Chip Ganassi Racing Teams.

“I think the audition phase for me is done. It’s more about going out and doing our best,” said Karam, 19, a native of Nazareth, Pa., who moved to Indianapolis this week to be close to the team headquarters. “We’re not looking to set the world on fire, but we’re also not looking to be slow in these cars. It’s such an honor to get the opportunity to race full time in the Verizon IndyCar Series, especially in a CGRT car. The 2014 season was a great learning experience with the team as a whole and I feel prepared to get out there and be competitive.”

For more on his team and to see what Chip has to say, check out IndyCar.com.

4. Jakes added to Schmidt Peterson Motorsports lineup: James Jakes will join James Hinchcliffe for the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (SPM). SPM will feature two new drivers to the team this upcoming season, with Hinchcliffe coming over from Andretti Autosport and Jakes making his return to the series.

“First of all, a big thank you to Schmidt Peterson Motorsports for giving me the opportunity to test last week in NOLA after 16 months away,” said Jakes, 27, of England. “I’m extremely excited and motivated to drive the No. 7 Honda SPM Indy car in 2015. The team has done a fantastic job over the past few seasons and I look forward to continuing that progress.

“I believe that – between myself and James – we can really push the team to the top of this sport. I’m excited to be working alongside him as we look to help Honda in maximizing the new aero kits. It’s going to be an exciting year and I cannot wait to get started in St. Pete.”

Jakes contested the 2013 season with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (career-best start and finish of second at Belle Isle 2) among three top-10 finishes. He drove with Dale Coyne Racing cars in 2011-12.

Comments from Schmidt and Hinchcliffe on the latest addition to their team can be found on IndyCar.com.

5. Author John Green happy with his fantasy INDYCAR team: Indianapolis-native John Green, author of the “The Fault in Our Stars” novel that has also seen success in its movie adaptation, held his annual INDYCAR fantasy team draft at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Tuesday.

Green, along with four of his friends, held council with the league in the Pagoda overlooking the track where their drafted drivers will compete during the Month of May. Four drivers who have logged many laps at the speedway were on-hand to provide expert opinion – Ed Carpenter, Pippa Mann, Sage Karam and Conor Daly.

Green’s final lineup includes three-time series champion Scott Dixon, race winner James Hinchcliffe, Indianapolis 500 rookie-sensation Karam and race winner Charlie Kimball.

6. Of Note: Wilder adds punch to home state event: World Boxing Council heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder, a native of Tuscaloosa, Ala., will be the grand marshal of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama on April 26 at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala. Information on how to purchase tickets can be foundhere….Krewe of Bacchus hosts drivers on Officer’s Float: Verizon IndyCar Series drivers Carlos Munoz, James Hinchcliffe, Sage Karam and Josef Newgarden, along with Aaron Telitz (USF2000) and Neil Alberico (Pro Mazda) tossed brightly colored INDYCAR-branded beads to tens of thousands of spectators lining a 6.3-mile route on the Krewe of Bacchus Officer’s float. Read more about their experience….Drivers to attend screenings of “Focus” movie: Ed Carpenter and Jack Hawksworth will travel to Detroit and Milwaukee, respectively, to attend private screenings of the movie “Focus” starring Will Smith. Scenes from the movie were shot at NOLA Motorsports Park and include Verizon IndyCar Series cars on track….Winterfest begins at NOLA:  Pro Mazda and USF2000 teams and drivers are contesting three races at NOLA Motorsports Park and Barber Motorsports Park (Feb. 19-20 at NOLA and Feb. 25-26 at Barber) as part of the Cooper Tires Winterfest that has a prize fund totaling $50,000. Keep track of their progress here.

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