INDYCAR News and Notes – Nov. 3, 2015

1. Hunter-Reay Hopes Third Time is Charm at Race Of Champions
2. NTT DATA Renews Ganassi Partnership
3. 16th Street Racing League Heads to Mid-Ohio
4. Team USA Scholarship Duo Completes English Competition
5. Of Note

1. Hunter-Reay Hopes Third Time is Charm at Race Of Champions: Ryan Hunter-Reay, the 2012 Verizon IndyCar Series champion and 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner, will compete for the third time in the prestigious Race Of Champions on Nov. 20-21 at London’s Olympic Stadium.

The all-star event features drivers from all forms of racing, including Formula One, endurance sports cars, rallycross, Formula E and MotoGP, competing head-to-head in a variety of identical cars – ranging from the KTM X-Bow to a Mercedes-AMG GT S – on a figure-8 track. Hunter-Reay, who turns 35 on Dec. 17, made his Race Of Champions debut in 2012 and also drove in the event last year at Barbados, where he won five of his six group heats.

“I’m delighted to be returning to the Race Of Champions for the third time,” said Hunter-Reay, the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., resident and Andretti Autosport driver. “(Organizer) Fredrik Johnsson and his ROC team put on such a spectacular event and I’ve really enjoyed my first two appearances in Bangkok and Barbados. It’s great fun to go head-to-head with some of the best drivers from the top motorsport disciplines from around the world.”

Hunter-Reay recently completed his sixth Verizon IndyCar Series season with Andretti Autosport, winning two of the final four races and finishing sixth in the championship in the No. 28 DHL Honda. He has 16 career Indy car wins in 12 seasons.

“It’s a unique challenge to jump in and out of all the cars, when you get such a short amount of seat time in each,” he said. “Last year I won five out of my six races in the groups, so I hope I’m starting to get the hang of it. Now I’ll see if I can convert that into a good run through the knockout stages, too. I’m proud to represent America, INDYCAR and the Indy 500 in such a prestigious event.”

Others scheduled to compete in the Nations Cup races and the Race Of Champions knockout rounds include Formula One drivers Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo, Felipe Massa, Nico Hulkenberg and Romain Grosjean; nine-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen; reigning World Rallycross champion Petter Solberg; reigning Formula E champion Nelson Piquet Jr.; and MotoGP world champions Mick Doohan and Jorge Lorenzo.

2. NTT DATA Renews Ganassi Partnership: Global IT services provider NTT DATA has renewed its partnership with Chip Ganassi Racing Teams to be the primary sponsor of the No. 10 NTT DATA Chevrolet driven by Tony Kanaan for the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season.

NTT DATA began its relationship with the team for the 2013 Indianapolis 500 and became the primary sponsor of the No. 8 car for the 2014 season. In 2015, Kanaan drove the No. 10 NTT DATA entry to three podium finishes and seventh place in the Verizon IndyCar Series championship.

NTT Data, with U.S. headquarters in Plano, Texas, is the official IT services partner to Chip Ganassi Racing Teams.

“NTT DATA has been an integral piece of our partnership group the last several years across a number of the touring series we compete in,” said Steve Lauletta, president of Chip Ganassi Racing Teams. “In addition, their continued support both on and off of the track in terms of our technical expertise allows us to operate at a very high level on race weekends and in our offices during the week.”

Kanaan, the 2004 Verizon IndyCar Series champion and 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner, is the all-time Indy car leader in consecutive starts with 249. His 250th straight start will be in the 2016 season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 13.

“2015 was kind of a roller coaster of a season with some really solid results throughout the year, but our top-five finish and (teammate Scott) Dixon’s championship in Sonoma was a really positive way to go into the offseason for the whole team,” said Kanaan, who has 17 victories and 15 poles in 310 Indy car races dating to 1998.

“I’ve worked with some great people at NTT DATA over the past few years and I’ve been able to use their strengths and assets to better myself as a driver, and being able to do that has just made our partnership that much stronger.”

3. 16th Street Racing League Heads to Mid-Ohio: The fourth round of the 16th Street Racing League heads to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course tonight for the next stop on the simulated racing season’s schedule. Verizon IndyCar Series driver Simon Pagenaud and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires driver Kyle Kaiser are expected among the competitors in the online game along with invited standout amateur virtual racers.

The race begins at 8 p.m. ET and will be streamed live on IndyCar.com, complete with commentators and race stewards. The league is a collaboration among INDYCAR, iRacing and RACER magazine.

Through three races on the 11-event schedule, Tim Holgate leads the championship on the strength of wins in the opening two rounds. Holgate is seven points ahead of PJ Stergios, winner of last week’s race at Iowa Speedway.

4. Team USA Scholarship Duo Completes English Competition: Team USA Scholarship winners Dakota Dickerson and Michai Stephens were among 110 drivers who competed in the 15th Walter Hayes Trophy Formula Ford event Oct. 31-Nov. 1 at the Silverstone circuit in England.

Dickerson, 18, San Diego, finished fourth in his heat and seventh in his semifinal to qualify for the 36-driver grand final. However, Dickerson’s Cliff Dempsey Racing car sustained sidepod and exhaust system damage in the semi and, without enough time for complete repairs, he soldiered home in 13th place in the finale.

Stephens, 23, Evanston, Ill., clocked the fastest race lap in finishing second in his heat. Stephens placed eighth in his semifinal, but suffered a wrist injury when hit from behind during the race and was not cleared to compete in the final.

The duo competed the previous weekend in the 44th Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch in England.

5. Of Note: Schmidt Peterson Motorsports announced that RC Enerson has re-signed with the team to compete in the 2016 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires season. Enerson, 18, of New Port Richey, Fla., finished fourth in the 2015 championship with one race win (Mid-Ohio) and 10 top-five finishes. … The Mazda Road to Indy and MAXSpeed Group announced four winners of the Driver Advancement Program, which recognizes promising karting competitors by offering an offseason opportunity to test a Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda car during the Chris Griffis Memorial Test at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, on Nov. 21-22. Winners are: Trenton Estep, 15, San Antonio, Texas; Kyle Kirkwood, 16, Jupiter, Fla.; Luke Shanahan, 17, Dallas; and Rinus Van Kalmthout, 15, Hoofddorp, Netherlands.