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IndyCar Open Wheel

Breaking Down The NEXT Look for IndyCar

The Verizon IndyCar series will have an all new look in 2018. And their sexy, new car design could create a lot more passing, enhancing the thrill factor on track.

Last November, IndyCar’s President of Competition and Operations, Jay Frye, VP of Competition/Race Engineering, Bill Pappas, and Director of Aerodynamic Development, Tino Belli, met at Dallara in Italy to share their conceptual drawings, asking the chassis constructor to reverse engineer the car. Their illustrations were based on the popular open wheel cars of the 1990’s, requiring Dallara to adapt their 2012 tub to the new design.

IndyCar wanted their new chassis to be much sleeker and racier looking. The bumper pods, body work behind the rear tires that were incorporated into the DW12, have been eliminated. The wings are much smaller in profile, and even the sidepods have been brought in closer.

Back in 2012, IndyCar changed to a new Dallara chassis and a turbocharged, 2.2 L, V6 engine format that would attain 700 hp at 12,000 rpm. Then in 2015, IndyCar allowed both engine manufacturers to create body work known as aero kits (the front and rear wings, sidepods, and engine cover) as long as they fit within certain box-like dimensions. These kits made it possible for fans to distinguish a Chevy from the Honda package quickly. The additional surface area offered greater sponsor advertising.

For a new engine manufacturer to compete in IndyCar, however, it would not only build a racing engine but commit a significant budget for body work development. Recognizing that this would be cost prohibitive, IndyCar switched to the universal car for 2018.

The new 2018 body work and car floor will be bolted on to the 2012 Dallara tub, also known as the safety cell where the driver sits. Creation of the currently used aero kits added about 25% more downforce generated from the top of the car. To compensate, the undertray, or floor of the car, had to be modified (reduced in size) to generate less downforce. But the resulting turbulence made passing difficult. With the new car producing most of its downforce from the undertray, 66% of the total downforce, the drivers will have a lot less turbulence to deal with, which should allow for closer racing and more passing.   

At the initial test on July 25 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Juan Pablo Montoya drove the Chevy powered prototype for Team Penske, and Oriol Servia drove the Honda powered prototype prepared by Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.

“It’s exciting because the car drives really, really well,” said Montoya, two-time Indy 500 winner. “The car looks amazing. Having one aero kit for everybody will be great for the sport. For the engine manufacturers, it’s definitely a plus because it won’t be about the aero kits. When you talk about Chevrolet or Honda, it’s all about who is making the power.”

Both prototypes were converted to the road course configuration with different wings and body work and then tested at Mid-Ohio’s 2.258-mile road course on August 2nd

“It feels pretty good; it’s very different than the current aero kit,” said Montoya, a driver who quickly adapts to anything on wheels. “The car is a little more forgiving, but the level of downforce is a lot lighter, so you slide around a lot more. The chances of mistakes are higher, so it’s going to bring better racing.”

The new car will not only look leaner and more aggressive than the current car but has about 1/3 less downforce overall, separating the great drivers from the good ones.

“When you have a little less (downforce), and the cars move around, at least the fans can see that we’re doing something,” explained Servia, the 2005 title runner-up with over 200 Indy car starts. “It really was a lot better than this year’s car. At Detroit, where the speeds are a lot less, you couldn’t get close to anyone even in the slow corners because there was so much downforce (turbulence) and the rear got loose. With the new car, you lose a little bit of front (grip) but it stays very balanced.”

The actual cost to the teams may be less overall because there will be fewer parts to replace with the universal kits. The current price of a chassis, including the aero kit, is $385,000.

Building a safe race car is particularly challenging for the IndyCar series because of the different tracks it competes on: road and street courses, short ovals, and superspeedways. While it may have been cheaper to outsource the body work to other vendors, Dallara has proven its safety value.

The new car will have anti-intrusion panels with added padding at the driver’s hips. The cockpit is eight to 10 inches wider to prevent an injury like Sebastien Bourdais’ qualifying shunt at Indianapolis. They were able to accomplish this by bringing the radiators and sidepods forward, which brings the weight distribution forward, making the car more nimble.

With fewer parts to clean up from an incident on track, cautions should be shorter as well.  

Two more tests are scheduled, at Iowa Speedway on August 10 and then at Sebring International Raceway on September 26. Teams will receive their new car parts in November, and then the real testing will begin to see who can get the optimum performance out of the new car design.  

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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News Open Wheel

Servia, Montoya To Handle Testing Of 2018 IndyCar Kit

The first on-track appearance of the all-new universal Dallara aerodynamic kit will occur later this month.

After allowing engine manufacturers Chevrolet and Honda to provide their own chassis additions since 2015, everybody will have the same aero kit, which will be supplied by Dallara. Consequently, the noticeable differentiation between the power plant rivals will be eliminated.

The first test is set for July 25-26 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with two-time Indy 500 champion Juan Pablo Montoya and race veteran Oriol Servia handling the driving duties. Team Penske will oversee the Chevrolet entry, while Schmidt Peterson Motorsports will provide the Honda machine. To prevent the two squads from gaining an advantage on the rest of the 2018 full-time fleet, IndyCar officials will controls the setting on the cars.

Three other venues will further aid the development of next year’s race vehicle with Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and Iowa Speedway hosting the designs in August, and Sebring International Raceway’s short course being utilized in September.

With neither pilot among full-time competitors this season, the availability to participate was in play, similar to the scenario that allowed the late Dan Wheldon to test the original Dallara DW12 chassis in 2011. 

“If we can help in any small measure to have a great product in 2018, I’ll be honoured,” Servia said. “It’s great that IndyCar is doing it to make sure we have good racing. We want to help them accomplish what they want to accomplish.”

Montoya, who finished in the top ten at Indy this past May, feels the new car kit will not only lower costs, but could aid in the expansion of the full-time fleet. Currently, only 21 car-driver combinations have taken the green flag in every event contested in 2017.

“I think going back to one aero kit for both manufacturers is good for the sport.” explained the Colombian. “It opens the door to other companies to get interested in IndyCar again.”

On paper, the new design is expected to be lighter than the current 2017 version of the Dallara IndyCar chassis and provide additional downforce. The latter fact could further aid the series hopes to challenge the current track records at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which dates back to 1996.

The most noticeable change for fans will be the removal of the rear wheel guards at the back of the car, the first time they will not be on an IndyCar since the end of the 2011 season. Underneath the bodywork, the 2018 Dallara challenger will feature a heavier front half of the car, due to moving forward the radiators on the car and the addition of side-impact structures to further protect the driver.

It is unknown at this time when the new chassis will be delivered to teams for private testing in advance of the 2018 campaign.

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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Commentary Open Wheel

EMBURY’S OUTLOOK: Penske Is Looking Toward The Future, Now.

There is a reason that Helio Castroneves may be leaving the full-time Verizon IndyCar Series fleet after this season.

It is not due to diminished skills, the Brazilian’s triumph Sunday at the Iowa Corn 300 and his high placing on the current championship points table disposes of that theory. Yours truly thinks this is a move to bolster not only a new entity (IMSA sports car team), but also maintain a solid foundation on the other (IndyCar).

Team Penske’s return to the prototype ranks for the first time in nine years with Acura and ORECA has the chance to show the same muscle flexed during a three-year run with Porsche from 2006 to 2008. Recall that span resulted in class titles and an overall win at the 12 Hours of Sebring in its final season.

The squad has one solid cog in the form of Juan Pablo Montoya, who in addition to winning the Indianapolis 500 twice, has done likewise at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Having already spent three years as a teammate to Castroneves, this increases the chances of a successful pairing in IMSA.

So what about the IndyCar operation? If Penske decreases its full season entry to just three cars, the organization enters 2018 still as a favorite. Will Power, Simon Pagenaud, and Josef Newgarden are all well within their prime years and should continue to contend for wins and a series crown next season. However, if the team remains at a quartet of participants, there is a bigger reason why the Captain may be making a move now.

For comparison purposes for those familiar with the NFL, Roger Penske’s philosophy is very similar to that of former San Francisco 49ers head coach and general manager Bill Walsh. Walsh was not a guy that looked at the current scenario to influence his transactions. The Super Bowl-winning manager always glanced two to three years down the road, and that’s what I feel the Captain is doing with the future of his IndyCar team.

At this time, there are a couple of notable IndyCar prospects who could become hot property during the upcoming silly season, based first on the situation involving Castroneves at Penske, but also the future of Tony Kanaan at Chip Ganassi Racing. TK, like Helio, is on the other side of 40, and his ability and desire to continue another season is a question mark. If both Brazilians are out of full-time service, the timing of the Penske to IMSA announcement could give the Captain and Tim Cindric the first choice of a replacement.

The two big fish to snap up appear to be in the back half of the grid. One is Carlos Munoz, who has suffered through a horrendous year at A.J. Foyt Racing. Of course, the Colombian had success at Andretti Autosport, keeping his value high. The other target could be Dale Coyne Racing’s Ed Jones, the likely winner of the 2017 Rookie of the Year award. The Dubai-based pilot finished third at this year’s Indianapolis 500, but has had a bit of a trial by fire period as the team leader following the month of May accident to teammate Sebastien Bourdais. Joining a bigger group could ease the pressure on the former Indy Lights Presented By Cooper Tires champion.

While replacing Castroneves may not be a favorable move in the short term, it could allow Penske to continue to dominate the IndyCar circuit for many years to come.

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @MattEmbury

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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Commentary Open Wheel

Indy One-Off Entries Pose Threat

In years past, it was typical for a competitor who raced in just the Indianapolis 500 to be able to challenge the full-time regulars.

Although the practice is few and far between recently, the Brickyard has witnessed a few drivers who have shown the potential to make the favorites sweat. While current Formula One regular Fernando Alonso has garnered most of the attention, there are others who appear capable of rattling the cages on race day.

One of them could be Sage Karam, who is looking to return to full-time status in the Verizon IndyCar Series. Last year, in a one-race deal with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, the Pennsylvanian had moved into the top-ten before contact with Townsend Bell put him into the turn one wall. Two years earlier as a rookie, Karam and DRR also joined forces to move from 31st to ninth at the finish. Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series veteran Kurt Busch won Rookie of the Race honors in 2014; however, many experts felt Karam was also worth a look for the award.

Sebastian Saavedra is also trying to reclaim a spot on the IndyCar circuit. The Colombian is competing for Juncos Racing this month, a regular fixture in the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires championship. The Speedway, Indiana-based operation is looking to move up to IndyCar action full-time next year. A good result could add Saavedra to Ricardo Juncos’ list of potential pilots, maybe alongside Spencer Pigot, who will drive a second car for the Argentinian this month.

Unfortunately, Karam and Saavedra each have a reputation for overaggressive driving in the past. Both have been eliminated in a pair of Indy 500s due to accidents, and controlling the urge will be crucial for success.

This then leads us to the two drivers with F1 experience, Alonso and two-time Indy 500 champion Juan Pablo Montoya. The Spaniard proved a quick study during a private at IMS on May 3 and could show legitimacy from the opening of practice. However, he faces the same set of unknowns that others have tackled, perhaps none better than Nigel Mansell, who came within 15 laps of winning in 1993 only to settle for third-place at the conclusion.

Montoya has proven effective at both ends of the grid. As a first-time competitor in 2000, he started second and led 167 laps to become the first newcomer to win the Indy 500 since Graham Hill in 1966. In 2015, he recovered from early contact with Simona de Silvestro to earn his second Indy win. However, the charges through the field are not always immune from trouble. Last year, Montoya crashed in turn two and wound up 33rd.

The table is stacked against these four men and the other one and done Indy 500 entrants; however, all it takes is a strong performance coupled with a little luck and just maybe one could add their face to the Borg-Warner Trophy.

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @MattEmbury

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.     

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IndyCar Open Wheel

EMBURY: Indiana Jones And The Corner Of Doom?

No folks, yours truly is not involved in a new movie, but just leaving a friendly reminder for the IndyCar Grand Prix.

While the first three editions of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road races have produced plenty of drama, they have one thing in common – first lap chaos wiping out key contenders.

The inaugural event provided the first, and last standing start in history. Pole winner Sebastian Saavedra’s shot at glory was extinguished when his car stalled on the grid. The scenario was only made worse when the Colombian was plowed into from behind by Mikhail Aleshin. Neither driver suffered injuries in the shunt, but it ended the desire for the Verizon IndyCar Series to employ the method used in Formula One.

Going with a traditional rolling green flag in 2015, early trouble still resulted with turn one contact between Helio Castroneves and Scott Dixon; the Brazilian went off-course as the Iceman spun. The incident also wreaked havoc among mid-pack runners as Jack Hawksworth and Josef Newgarden were collected, among others. With Dixon and Castroneves out of contention, Will Power cruised to the victory.

Last year, saw another turn one melee as Tony Kanaan and Sebastien Bourdais made contact while looking to gain positions.

The biggest issue at the Speedway is the difference concerning room available on the front straightaway as opposed to turn one. While cars can go three and four-wide on the straight, all must find a way to funnel down to single-file to enter the infield section of the course without incident.

In 2017, things could work out more efficiently. Team Penske teammates Power and Castroneves will lineup on row one, with fellow compatriots Josef Newgarden and Juan Pablo Montoya in the top-five. Considering Roger Penske does not employ team orders, it is expected that those four, plus Simon Pagenaud in eighth, will have the green light to attempt to gain ground on the start. That comes with an asterisk though, as contact must be avoided.

With championship implications starting to show themselves, a first lap issue would be most detrimental for Power, who has suffered from bad breaks in each of the first three road courses. The Australian has also not been immune from an issue in the IndyCar Grand Prix, either. Last year’s performance was ruined via an early race spin trying to hold back Alexander Rossi.

While avoiding dramas on turn one does not ultimately equal a victory, any issue suffered could certainly deny at least one pilot a stab at finding the winner’s circle on Saturday.

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @MattEmbury

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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Commentary Open Wheel

FANTASY HOT TIP: IndyCar GP

The strategy for this week’s IndyCar Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway is simple stick with those who have won.

In its three-year history, only two drivers have found victory lane on the road course, and yours truly has drafted both of them for this week’s Firestone Fantasy Challenge.

Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud has a pair of wins in the first leg of the Brickyard doubleheader and enters with momentum following a victory at Phoenix International Raceway. Three years ago, the Frenchman used superior fuel strategy to win the inaugural event and last year called on pace to get around Conor Daly during the final round of pit stops.

Despite leading the Verizon IndyCar Series championship standings, Pagenaud is performing worse than he did a year ago. Four events into 2016, he placed no worse than second; this year, he has finished fifth or better in all action to date. While a harsh comparison, it shows when the driver of the No. 1 Menards Chevrolet has had to bounce back from a bad starting spot, strong results are present.

The second choice is a risky one, if ever taking Will Power was considered a questionable move. The Australian went flag-to-flag to win the IndyCar Grand Prix in 2015, but last year’s race was a challenge. Off-course excursions and mechanical headaches left him with a 19th-place finish. The opening three road races of 2017 have seen adversities hold him to a season-best outing of 13th at Long Beach. Of course, when the No. 12 Verizon Chevy is bulletproof, the skill of its pilot is the best IndyCar can offer.

Ed Carpenter Racing’s Spencer Pigot also knows the taste of misfortune in 2017. Two technical breakdowns have denied the 2015 Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires champion from big points hauls in 2017. However, an eighth-place effort at Long Beach showed what the 23-year old could achieve when the roadblocks are not in the way. With Pigot’s fantasy value at only $15 this week, it is worth the risk to give him another chance.

The fourth seat was a problem for me. I had hoped to add Juan Pablo Montoya, who is driving a fifth car for Roger Penske. Unfortunately, with a big $25 price tag, a Plan B option was necessary. I think I have acquired a good alternative in Andretti-Herta Autosport’s Alexander Rossi. His NAPA Auto Parts crew has shown the ability to create a result with strategy at Alabama and before stalling out at Long Beach, he hinted at having the speed needed to run up front.

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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IndyCar Open Wheel Power Rankings

POWER RANKINGS: Phoenix

Indycar_Power_Rankings_logo

Throughout the season, POPULAR SPEED will rank the top-10 drivers in the Verizon IndyCar Series following each event. Feel free to comment on the story at the POPULAR SPEED Facebook page.

Is Simon Pagenaud returning to his role as the rabbit of the Verizon IndyCar Series? Following his first win of 2017 at Phoenix, the Frenchman is headed toward recasting a sequel. However, coming into the fourth round sixth in the driver rankings, it is impossible to move all the way to the top.

Looking ahead to the 101st Indianapolis 500, POPULAR SPEED has extended our IndyCar team rankings to reflect those who will make their lone appearance at the Brickyard.

Team Rankings:

1. Team Penske (No Change)

Phoenix showed the remainder of the IndyCar grid what a five-car Team Penske could do when the transporters reach Gasoline Alley. Pagenaud won at Phoenix and any of his four teammates, including two-time Indy 500 champion Juan Pablo Montoya, are capable of adding their face to the Borg-Warner Trophy on May 28th.

2. Chip Ganassi Racing (+1)

Honda’s failure to figure out Phoenix derailed Ganassi’s performance in Arizona; however, if the pace the Japanese manufacturer showed last year at Indy can be replicated, good finishes from Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, and Charlie Kimball are possible. It is probably too early to add Max Chilton as a serious challenger though.

3. Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (+1)

12th was the best SPM could manage from James Hinchcliffe; but, Mikhail Aleshin’s elimination on the lap puts a question mark on the table. It is tough to move them ahead of DCR based on last weekend, but on potential looking ahead to Indy, Schmidt in the words of former Price is Right host Bob Barker, “is the bigger bargain.”

4. Dale Coyne Racing (-1)

Craig Hampson was right – DCR is not a serious contender on the ovals. Sebastien Bourdais was another victim of the lap one pileup but struggled for pace in practice. Ed Jones also failed to feature, managing an 11th-place finish based on attrition. Not the news Indy 500-only pilot Pippa Mann was hoping to hear.

5. Andretti Autosport (No Change)

Another quadruple retirement for Andretti at Phoenix. The good news is with six cars track side at IMS at least one car should make the finish in the 500. How the rest of the six-pack handles the attention that Fernando Alonso is guaranteed to get this month will guide them to their climax.

6. Ed Carpenter Racing (+1)

Ed Carpenter never made the impact that was hoped for at Phoenix, although J.R. Hildebrand certainly did. A solid qualifying run, coupled with a clean showing in the race netted a third-place finish for the Californian. While it is premature to tag the No. 21 Fuzzy’s Chevrolet as an Indy 500 favorite, the car and its occupant should not be overlooked.

7. Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (-1)

Confidence is dropping fast at RLLR, and Graham Rahal is not hiding that things look bleak. A good Indy 500 finish may depend on Oriol Servia at this point.

8. A.J. Foyt Racing (No Change)

The offseason signings Carlos Munoz and Conor Daly continue to be mired among the rear guard. The addition of Zach Veach at the Indy 500 should help, but just when Foyt could not fall any further down the list, here comes the Indy-only invaders.

9. Dreyer & Reinbold Racing (Unranked)

The combination of DRR and Sage Karam can cut it against the big boys. 31st to ninth in 2014 and a brief surge into the top-ten last year justifies their placement as the group most likely to rattle the full-timers club this month.

10. Harding Racing (Unranked)

Team boss Larry Curry is the perfect choice to lead a new operation, and you cannot do much better than hiring Gabby Chaves as the wheelman. Alliance with DRR means perhaps an equal level of performance.

Driver Rankings:

1. Scott Dixon (+1)

Four top-fives in four starts to open 2017. No doubt about it, the Iceman appears ready to challenge for a second Indianapolis 500 win.

2. Josef Newgarden (+1)

The Tennessee-native was not the best of the Penske bunch at Phoenix, but he should be effective when he sets foot at the corner of 16th and Georgetown in one week from now.

3. Sebastien Bourdais (-2)

Perhaps Dale Coyne Racing can salvage their month of May with a big push in the IndyCar Grand Prix. Once the scenery moves back to the 2.5-mile oval, the odds are not in the Frenchman’s favor.

4. Will Power (+1)

Power finally reached the finish of an 2017 IndyCar race without issue. A second-place finish behind Pagenaud was well earned and should make the Aussie a challenger in both May events.

5. Simon Pagenaud (+1)

Even without the yellow flag, Pagenaud was looming as a potential winner. Although a third IndyCar GP win in four tries is signficant; the 2016 IndyCar champion has made it clear that the Indy 500 is the one he wants the most.

6. James Hinchcliffe (-2)

Last year’s Indy 500 pole winner should bounce back to play a role in the drama on May 28; however, based on his Long Beach victory, his best shot at Brickyard glory could be in the IndyCar Grand Prix.

7. Helio Castroneves (+1)

Castroneves has been more effective in qualifying than on race day. The pressure to make history as a four-time Indy 500 champion exists, but expect the Brazilian to dig deep in his quest to get there.

8. Tony Kanaan (Unranked)

A quiet sixth-place last week sets the stage for TK’s best chances for victory this season. If Honda regains its muscle from 2016, watch out.

9. Alexander Rossi (-1)

Rossi and his Andretti teammates floundered at Phoenix, leaving their month of May prospects in doubt. Probably faces a higher mountain than any defending Indy 500 champion in history.

10. J.R. Hildebrand (Unranked)

Indy’s hard luck hero added his name to the contenders’ list with a podium finish at Phoenix. He was in the mix late in last year’s Indy 500 until he made contact with Helio Castroneves.

Dropped Out: Ryan Hunter-Reay (9th last week), Spencer Pigot (10th last week)

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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IndyCar Open Wheel

Power Tops Barber Test; Montoya Takes First Laps of 2017

While the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule includes only one race for the month of March, the drivers are still busy behind the wheel as they took to Barber Motorsports Park on Tuesday for testing in advance of the Grand Prix of Alabama later on this season.

As he’s done plenty of times in the past, Will Power topped the speed chart with at a time of one minute and 7.7518 seconds. The Australian could use a good run at Barber in April as a result of starting off 2017 with a 19th place finish in the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Notably, in seven starts on the road course, the Team Penske driver has yet to finish outside of the top-five.

“It just shows how tight it is between Honda and Chevy now,” Power said. “It’s tough, man. We just went through a bunch of stuff (during the test day) to see what it does, and I think we got some good answers here. I think we’ve got a good car for here; I feel good about my setup.”

As Power noted, the manufacture parity looks stronger than ever as Max Chilton placed his Chip Ganassi Honda second on the charts, just four hundredths off of Power’s Chevrolet. Chilton is another driver looking for a strong run as he finished 16th in the season opener.

“Good day apart from Power spoiling the fun at the end of the day, but it’s all good fun,” Chilton said. “We actually were struggling a lot with the car all day, that’s why we took a long, long lunch break to sort of change the car. Then we definitely made steps forward, did a few fine-tunes. It’s amazing, you make a few changes, and you jump yourself up the board.”

Power’s teammates Josef Newgarden and Juan Pablo Montoya were third and fourth, followed by Andretti Autosport teammates Marco Andretti and Takuma Sato. Chilton’s teammate Scott Dixon was seventh, followed by Ryan Hunter-Reay, Graham Rahal, and Simon Pagenaud. In total, there were four Chevrolets and six Hondas in the top-10.

For Montoya, this was his first time in the car this season as he was testing ahead of the Indianapolis Grand Prix in May. The Columbian is only scheduled to run two events this season currently – the Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500. It was revealed that Raul Prados would be the lead engineer after spending last year at AJ Foyt Racing, along with Ron Ruzewski who worked with Montoya at Penske.

“I feel like I drove the car yesterday,” Montoya said. “It’s kind of fun. I’ve been out of the car since September, but I feel fine. I have a new crew, new guys, new engineer. It’s working really well.”

Rumor currently is that Montoya has a limited schedule due to being set for a sports car ride with Team Penske, but he said, “I don’t know anything about it. I never know anything. That’s above my pay grade.”

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

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IndyCar Open Wheel

Montoya Signed Up for Indy GP

Just a few weeks removed from being confirmed to drive a fifth car for Team Penske at the 101st Indianapolis 500 this May, two-time champion Juan Pablo Montoya will also now participate in the accompanying IndyCar Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course as well.

The event, which will celebrate its fourth running two weeks before the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, has regularly drawn non-regular teams and drivers that while not participating on the full Verizon IndyCar Series circuit, are running in the Indianapolis 500.

The addition of the Colombian veteran to the lineup ensures that at least 22 cars will be on the grid, a race that features its former winners as teammates to Montoya at Team Penske. Simon Pagenaud won the inaugural race and then won for a second time last May, while Will Power won from the pole two years ago.

Montoya has participated in each of the three previous runnings of the IndyCar Grand Prix, earning a career-best finish of third place two years ago.

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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IndyCar Open Wheel

VIDEO – Juan Montoya Wins Champion of Champions

The 2017 Race of Champions was held in the United States for the first time this year in Miami.

The Race, which draws drivers from many different series throughout the world, tests racing skills over the course of three heat races. In Saturday’s individual competition, Columbia’s Juan Pablo Montoya, in his first appearance in the ROC, won the Champion of Champions part of the event, defeating Tom Kristensen for the win.

“Today I’m actually regretting I haven’t done this before,” Montoya told the Miami Herald. “It’s good. It’s beginner’s luck. My wife said, ‘I want to go, you gotta do it.’ It’s a fun event.” 

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.