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kanaan6Chip Ganassi Racing took to Twitter to reveal a revised look for Tony Kanaan's No. 10 Dallara-Chevy in this year's 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series. Check how it compares with previous years in the tweet, and click on the thumbnails below for larger images.

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indy adSunday's 50th Super Bowl was pretty forgettable but there was a memorable advertisement for the 100th Indianapolis 500 that was geared to encourage ticket buyers for the May 29th classic. (Watch the commercial below.)

The regional ad featured shots of inaugural winner Ray Harroun, 1920 champ Gaston Chevrolet, four-time kings A.J. Foyt, Rick Mears and Al Unser plus the current drivers whose face appears on the Borg-Warner Trophy – Ryan Hunter-Reay, Scott Dixon, Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan and Juan Montoya.

As the drivers images appeared the narrator talked about "innovators, heroes and dreamers who didn't ask why but why not and pushed boundaries and this year we honor them for the 100th time in the race of the century." It prompted viewers to go to IMS.com for tickets.

Developed by MSK Advertising of Indianapolis and IMS Productions, the 30-second spot was shown in Fort Wayne, Lafayette, Terre Haute, along with Dayton and Columbus, Ohio during Denver's 24-10 victory over Charlotte.

"We don't honestly need to go to television to get the word out but we thought it was important with the 100th Indianapolis 500 and a good opportunity to promote all the events at IMS as well as the Verizon IndyCar series," said C.J. O'Donnell, chief marketing officer for IMS and IndyCar. "We aired an ad during the Rolex 24 in Illinois, Ohio and Indiana and we'll also run Sunday's ad again during the Daytona 500 in Indianapolis, Columbus and Dayton."

O'Donnell was asked if this was an indication that ticket sales weren't going well for the 100th running of the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing"?

"No, ticket sales are up exponentially from last year, as we expect them to be," he replied. "But we want to sell the place out and we're pushing hard."

Indy hasn't been sold out since 1995, the year before the CART/IRL split.

O'Donnell also said a TV ad is already airing in St. Petersburg, Fla. to promote the season opener on March 13 and that will be the policy at other cities on the IndyCar schedule. And there will be a separate ad campaign for the Angie's List Grand Prix on May 14 at IMS.

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lat levitt I500 0515 36448karam1A year ago Sage Karam (LEFT) visited IndyCar's Media Day as a full-time driver on one of the best teams with Dario Franchitti as his coach and he was still a month away from his 20th birthday. The future looked beyond bright for the American kid that had conquered the Mazda Road to Indy.

Last week he gave a few interviews about his plans to run the 100th Indianapolis 500 because that's the only ride he has for 2016.

Such is the reality of IndyCar, where even IRL champ and Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan needs to bring a sponsor. But our video interview with Karam drew some interesting, if not puzzling, reactions.

While many fans said they were sad the kid didn't have a full-time ride for 2016, others seemed happy and claimed he was over his head or just a PR gimmick.

Now I realize Sage is young, cocky and rubbed a few drivers the wrong way last season but it's almost like people have forgotten what it's like to be a rookie in an Indy car. So allow me to refresh your memory:

  • 1963: Johnny Rutherford wound up 10th in the point standings with a fourth (Hoosier Hundred) and a fifth (Springfield) his best showings.
  • 1964: Bobby Unser scored a pair of fourths at Springfield and DuQuoin and placed 14th in the points.
  • 1965: Al Unser finished 19th in the point standings with a best finish of ninth at Indianapolis (although he did win Pikes Peak).
  • 1968: Mike Mosley finished 19th in the points with a best finish of fourth at Langhorne.
  • 1972: Swede Savage earned two Top 10s (sixth and ninth at Milwaukee) and was 25th in points.
  • 1974: Tom Sneva's top run was a fifth at Michigan and a pair if eighth places and took 17th in the points.
  • 1977: Danny Ongais won at Michigan but had eight DNFs (and a couple of big crashes) to finish 12th in the standings.
  • 1985: Arie Luyendyk finished fifth at Cleveland and sixth at Road America to wind up 18th in PPG Cup.
  • 1992: Paul Tracy had a pair of runner-ups, a third and a fourth plus four crashes in 11 of 16 starts to finish 12th in standings.
  • 1993: Robby Gordon rang up a second, third and fourth on his way to No. 10 in standings.
  • 1996: Greg Moore notched a second and two thirds on his way to ninth in the points.
  • 1997: Dario Franchitti had one top 10 (ninth in Australia) and was 22nd in CART standings.
  • 1998: Tony Kanaan scored a pair of thirds (Laguna Seca & Houston) and fourths on his way to ninth in the CART standings while Helio Castroneves ran second at Milwaukee and seventh at Gateway in his 17th place in the standings.
  • 2003: Dan Wheldon scored a third, three fourths and a fifth to place 11th in the IRL standings.
  • 2005: Ryan Briscoe had one top 10 (eighth at Nazareth) and one pole (Sonoma) and wound up 19th in the IRL points.
  • 2006: Will Power had a third, fourth and fifth to take sixth in the Champ Car standings.
  • 2015: Sage Karam finished on the podium at Iowa (third) and fifth at Fontana, competing in 12 of 16 races and winds up 20th in points.

So for all the people shouting that Karam was over his head or fell on his face, I would say his rookie season looked a whole lot like a lot of guys who went on to become Indy 500s winners, IndyCar champs and IndyCar winners.

Sure there were exceptions like Parnelli Jones (one win and a pair of seconds as a rook in 1961), Mario Andretti (USAC national champion in 1965 with one win and nine podiums), Bobby Rahal (runner-up in the CART standings with two victories and three more podiums) and Juan Montoya (CART champion in 1999 with seven wins) that dazzled everyone in their "learning" year.

But P.J. tested at Indianapolis all summer in 1960 before going to IMS the next May, while Mario ran IndyCar 10 races in 1964 and Rahal came from Can-Am and even a quick taste of Formula 1. Along with JPM, they had miles and miles of tire and car testing to get them up to speed.

Even a badass like Michael Andretti took three years to get his first IndyCar victory and he saw plenty of testing as well.


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Karam made an impressive debut in 2014 by charging from 31st to ninth at Indianapolis and then Chip Ganassi hired him for 2015. He crashed on his out lap during the open test at Birmingham and that set him back and he was nothing special in his first five starts (although he got crashed on the opening lap at Indy).

He shined in the Detroit downpour during qualifying and had quick time before IndyCar opted to cancel the session and then he played pinball in the two races, admitting later he drove "like an idiot."

But he mixed it up like a brave 20-year-old at Fontana, led some laps and scored his first top 5 before coming back to take third at Iowa (ABOVE). And he was leading at Pocono when he lost control and crashed.

Incredibly, I actually heard people suggest he should be banned for causing Justin Wilson's death.
Karam took that freak incident, where his nose cone flew off and struck Justin with fatal consequences, very hard but he was consoled by a couple of veterans who understood that fate doesn't play favorites.

The reason I'm writing about a driver whose only IndyCar ride is this May (thank you Dennis Reinbold) is because Karam's situation is exactly what's wrong with IndyCar.

The native of Nazareth, Pa. became a popular if not polarizing personality who showed plenty of skill and an equal share of learning the hard way. But he made more fans than he did waves and even got a story in the New York Times. He's EXACTLY what IndyCar needs to draw in the younger generation and he's going to sell a lot more tickets than Max Chilton.

If this were the '60s or even the '70s, Sage would still have a full-time ride because owners liked potential and bravado and cars weren't that expensive to operate, so they took chances instead of taking money.

If this were NASCAR and Chase Elliott, somebody in the front office would have already written a check to keep him in a car because he's the next generation and NASCAR understands the importance.

But the problem is that today's rookies don't get a chance to develop unless you catch a break like Josef Newgarden. He had Sarah Fisher and Wink Hartman in his corner and was given enough time to drive through his learning curve and become a front-runner.

Make no mistake, Josef earned it but what would have happened if he had been one and done? How does anyone get better, learn their craft and make a name by sitting on the sidelines?

Karam should be one of the faces of IndyCar for the next 20 years but without sponsorship he could easily be the next J.R. Hildebrand.

rutherford 1973It took another J.R. (Johnny Rutherford) 11 years to win the first of his three Indy 500s as he got opportunity after opportunity because it was a lethal era and rides were always available. He was always fast but crashed a lot (Wreckaford) until he had the time to finally figure things out and then McLaren came calling (RIGHT).

A rookie today like Karam or Spencer Pigot with no financial backing has very little testing, reduced practice at the track and not even the luxury of running all the races so it's a gun-to-the-head mentality behind the wheel followed by snap judgments in the pit boxes.

That's why young, American open-wheelers are an endangered species.

And, most likely, a sure thing for IMSA.

Image348RACER's Robin Miller profiles 1960s Indy 500 star Eddie Sachs who made a name for his blend of personality and driving skill during an incredibly dangerous era.

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Manor LMP2

Manor Motorsport sporting director Graeme Lowdon said the Le Mans 24 Hours had long been a passion after his team launched a World Endurance Championship campaign for 2016.

Lowdon revealed he "had always been a fan" of Le Mans following confirmation that Manor will field an ORECA-Nissan 05 in the LMP2 class of this year's WEC. "I first went to Le Mans in 1990 and was a regular for many years, so it will be great to finally go there with a team," he said.

He added that racing in the WEC would "provide a fantastic challenge" and that there "was a real buzz within the team at the moment."

Lowdon also revealed that he had been at Le Mans in 2009 when he heard the news that Manor's Formula 1 entry had been accepted for the following season.

Manor team principal and founder John Booth believes the WEC is an ideal showcase for his squad.

"The LMP2 class is specifically designed for teams independent of manufacturers and/or engine suppliers, which places the focus firmly on how the team performs," he said.

The first confirmed driver for Manor's WEC assault is Tor Graves, who was instrumental in the team's graduation to Formula 3 for the 1999 season. Graves, 43, is returning to the WEC for the first time since 2013 when he ended a two-season stint with the Delta-ADR squad that yielded four P2 class victories. Further drivers will be announced in due course.

The move into the P2 class of the WEC marks a return to the racetracks for the original incarnation of Manor after a year's hiatus following its withdrawal from GP3 at the end of 2014.

Manor Motorsport no longer has any connection with the Manor Racing grand prix squad after Booth and Lowdon's resignation from their management roles with the F1 team late last season.

A new subsidiary company called Manor Endurance Racing has been set up to run the P2 program, but the team's entry has been made solely in the name of Manor.

 

 

Originally on Autosport.com

Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat

Daniel Ricciardo ended 2014 as Formula 1's new hero but ended last season outscored by incoming Red Bull teammate Daniil Kvyat. Although Ricciardo won the intra-team qualifying fight with a respectable 12-7 score, the man who effectively saw off four-time champion Sebastian Vettel two years ago begins 2016 aware that he has to reassert himself.

Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat"I'd say he's obviously got natural speed," Ricciardo said as he assessed Kvyat's strengths. "I've always really enjoyed high-speed corners and I'd like to say I've got a big ballsack. But he's been pretty close in high-speed stuff.

"I'd like to think that when we're really on it, I'm still the big dog. But if he sees me go quicker in a high-speed corner, in the next session he'll pretty much match it.

"He's been pushing me. In qualifying I've most of the time managed to find a little bit. But through the practice sessions, he's not shy about getting up to speed quickly.

"It hasn't been easy. But I always feel like if I'm on it and doing everything I need to do, I'll be quicker."

Both drivers had their morale dips in 2015 – Kvyat struggled to establish himself early on and receiving public criticism from Helmut Marko, and Ricciardo's frustration began to impinge on his form as he returned to scenes of his '14 highs such as Montreal and found himself unable to even score.

Ricciardo was not surprised to see Kvyat stumble at first given the general angst around Red Bull at the time.

"He was typical of that young generation coming in after me – him, Carlos [Sainz Jr.], all these guys – they're just flat-out, super-keen," he said. "The first few races I'd say he was maybe a little bit too excited. He made too many mistakes in qualifying and all that.

"I was expecting too much in terms of results and he was expecting too much of the car. It was looking like it was probably going to be a hard season for him, but then he turned it around."

To get the Red Bull chance in the first place, Ricciardo had to come out on top of what amounted to a two-season-long showdown with Jean-Eric Vergne at Toro Rosso, and sees his current battle with Kvyat as similar.

Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat

"JEV used to push me a lot, but then I just knew if I put it all down [I was faster]..." Ricciardo said. "On my day, I feel like I'm not going to be beaten. I've just got to make sure I'm on my day all the time."

Kvyat reckons Ricciardo's initial superiority in 2015 was largely down to team familiarity.

"He's been around for a while and he knew the team a lot better at the beginning of the season," the Russian said. "He had his group around him, which helped him to take the upper hand on us. In the middle part the situation changed a bit and he found himself in a bit more of a tricky situation."

But he also acknowledged that he had to raise his game considerably against Ricciardo.

"Going up against a driver like him makes you find a new limit, makes you work harder, makes you learn a few things," Kvyat said.

The coming season will be transitional for Red Bull, grudgingly back in bed with Renault and inevitably disadvantaged by last year's uncertainty. But the ferocity with which it chased new engine partners showed Red Bull's desperation to be competitive, and it will find a way to ensure it gets back to the front sooner rather than later. And it is also surely only a matter of time before Max Verstappen is promoted to the senior team – provided Red Bull can fend off rivals' advances for him.

The Dutch teenager's presence on RBR's doorstep adds extra urgency to Ricciardo and Kvyat's situation, though the latter says they remain cordial.

"Once we don't have our helmets on, we manage a good relationship and to keep a positivity around us and the team, which I think in a time like this is very important," said Kvyat. "But we are still very competitive and every time we are out there we make sure we make each other's lives as difficult as we can."

Ricciardo agrees and underlines his respect for his teammate, but insists it is Kvyat with the most to prove.

"I think the raw speed is there," he said. "The next part is does he have that next little bit, that level of maturity and racecraft that will then bring that next point?"

 

 

Originally on Autosport.com

 15W7861Shane van Gisbergen delivered Tekno McLaren co-drivers Alvaro Parente and Jonathon Webb the biggest win of their GT careers in the Bathurst 12 Hour.

The V8 Supercars frontrunner tore apart the field in his opening stint, set a new lap record and then headed back to the hotel for a nap. Refreshed, he returned to the track hours later – and as soon as he got in the car, nearly lost the race by incurring a drive-through penalty for speeding on his way out of the pits.

Dropping to third was a problem, until the 1m40s gap was erased by a safety car, allowing van Gisbergen an easy pit stop for fuel and letting Tekno back to the front when the opposition stopped.

"The car was the fastest all weekend," van Gisbergen said. "We had them covered. Any time I needed a gap, I just stuck the knife in!"

The winning team's run was not quite trouble free. Parente had the car die on him, losing 40 seconds mid-race before he reset the system.

 70X7358Second was a great result for Nissan. Defending champions Katsumasa Chiyo and Florian Strauss watched as fresh co-driver Rick Kelly waited, then charged in the darkness, putting a nightmare qualifying session behind them by flying from 13th to third.

Thereafter the sole GTR was in contention for the rest of the event, Chiyo falling cruelly short by 1.3s after a late-race charge.

Third was some reward for Bentley, if short of what it wanted. Both Continentals led the race, but both also suffered tire problems. The worst struck Maxime Soulet, who had a front tire explode at speed - and then the replacement as well, a lap later. Suspension damage dropped the car to seventh.

Steven Kane, Guy Smith and Matt Bell righted the ship, despite tire problems of their own, with third, some consolation for being bumped out of that position – at the final corner of the race – last year.

Laurens Vanthoor put an interesting mid-race TV outburst about the uncompetitiveness of Audi's R8 LMS behind him with fourth place, sharing the Phoenix Racing entry with Marcus Winkelhock and Alex Davison. The Nurburgring and Daytona winning machine lacked straightline speed at Bathurst.

Mercedes-Benz's SLS is long in the tooth and it showed. Both Erebus Motorsport cars had trouble, including a falling pit boom and broken passenger door, but a tire failure accounted for the Bernd Schneider/Marco Bastian/Austin Centric entry.

The sister entry lost a lap and never got it back, David Reynolds taking fifth, sharing with Thomas Jager and Nico Bastian. Nathan Antunes, Bart Mawer and Greg Taylor took sixth and first in the AA class.

Steven Grove dominated Class B, sharing his Porsche with Scott McLaughlin and Le Mans winner Earl Bamber, while the Jake Camilleri/Morgan Haber/Aaron Seton MARC Cars Ford Focus V8 won the Invitational Class I.

 

Originally on Autosport.com

 L0U1142Sam Bird held off the recovering Sebastien Buemi to deny the Formula E championship leader a back-to-front victory in a thrilling Buenos Aires ePrix.

The two drivers started from opposite ends of the grid after the Briton claimed pole in his DS Virgin DSV-01 and Buemi spun in qualifying, but were locked together over the final half a dozen laps of the race. Buemi attacked with earnest but Bird defended intelligently and, having saved slightly more energy, withstood all the points leader could throw at him to earn a deserved win.

That Buemi was even in the hunt for victory was remarkable given he lined up 18th, though he could have been nowhere near the front had he not survived a lurid slide at Turn 1 as he lunged from 18th to 15th in one move at the start. His progress was then metronomic in the early stages and he ran sixth by the time the mid-race car swaps started, while 12 seconds ahead Bird nursed a narrow lead over Antonio Felix da Costa out in front.

A loss of energy for Buemi's Renault e.dams teammate Nicolas Prost and a race-ending stoppage for da Costa elevated the Swiss driver to fourth, before another stroke of good fortune.

With the luckless da Costa's Team Aguri car stuck on track a safety car was called, which handed Buemi the opportunity to complete a stellar comeback. He passed Stephane Sarrazin immediately after the restart, then set about catching Lucas di Grassi, who was harrying Bird for the lead having jumped to second in the pitstops.

Buenos Aires Formula E 2015Di Grassi was rebuffed by Bird and Buemi wrested second from his title rival after going side by side into Turn 7 with a quarter of the race remaining, though his excellent progress halted there thanks to the efforts of Bird.

Di Grassi drifted back in the closing stages but completed the podium, though he and Buemi were placed under investigation immediately after the race.

Sarrazin took fourth behind the rostrum finishers, while Prost – also under investigation post-race – was fifth despite going off the road and lightly nosing the wall shortly after exiting the pits.

Loic Duval had an understated drive to sixth ahead of the returning Nick Heidfeld, who recovered from a difficult qualifying session to score good points from 13th.

Robin Frijns, Oliver Turvey and Bruno Senna completed the points finishers, with IndyCar and WEC ace Mike Conway unlucky to wind up 15th in his FE debut after spinning shortly after the restart having run as high as fifth.

The Formula E race from Buenos Aires airs tonight on FOX Sports 2 at 8:00pm ET. The race will be replayed on FOX Sports 1 on Sunday at 6:30pm ET.

 

Originally on Autosport.com

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