JPM-leadRobin Miller says…

It wasn’t the same swashbuckling style with breathtaking passes, insane car control and I’ve-got-to-lead-every- lap mentality. No, this was an older, wiser and more measured Juan Montoya.

But, in his much-anticipated return to open wheel racing, the 1999 CART champion regained his winning form halfway through the season and was back where he belonged – in the lead pack.

As he predicted during the pre-season, the 38-year-old veteran needed a few races to shake off the rust of seven seasons of stock car racing and he showed amazing patience in the process. Ovals are where he truly regained that old form, running fifth at Indianapolis and leading 16 laps before finishing third at Texas (13 laps in front) and then winning the Pocono 500 (leading 45 laps). He followed that up with a second at Milwaukee JPM-Milwaukeeand fourth at Fontana.

It wasn’t that he was hopeless on street or road courses, he just didn’t qualify very well (except Toronto #2 and Detroit #1) and that made it tough to get to the front. His highlights were charging from 16th to fourth at Long Beach, 11th to second at Houston and 19th to fifth at Sonoma.

To think he was in the title chase until four double-digit finishes in a row in late July and early August says a lot about his progress and the fact Montoya still has a finishing kick. Roger Penske gave him a chance and JPM responded. Not so much with dazzling moves but rather heady, steady driving splashed with more and more aggression as miles piled up.

In old school terms, he morphed from Bobby Unser to Al Unser and that’s going to make him a contender again in 2015.

David Malsher says…

Back in March, in our IndyCar season preview, Miller, Pruett and myself had an agreement to write 100-120 words on each driver. Yet enthusiasm, intrigue and anticipation meant that when I got to JPM, I wrote almost 400. That’s the effect this guy’s driving has had on me since watching him in the 1995 British Formula Vauxhall Championship. I didn’t care about any of the positive or negative stories about him outside of the car: I cared about what he did in the cockpit. And frankly, whatever series he was in, Montoya made it worth watching.

And yet I wondered if his mobile flame-throwing act was going to work at Team Penske, particularly if he got JPM-teammates-LBfrustrated while trying to get up to speed. His description of relearning how to drive an IndyCar – “Without power steering, you’ve got to heave it into the apex, but still be precise; that’s hard” – shows just what he was up against.

But I shouldn’t have doubted Montoya would get there in the end. He’s the epitome of the expression “form is temporary, class is permanent.” Speak to either of his teammates and they’ll tell you how diligently Juan worked and how a couple of times, it was actually him and his engineer Ron Ruzewski who came up with the best setup over a race weekend.

In short, Montoya contributed to the Penske program as a whole, but also found individual success, with a steady progression in qualifying pace. And that Pocono win was no less than he deserved.

So apparently I can stay succinct when writing about JPM… at least until next year's IndyCar season preview. Because in 2015, he's going to be even stronger.

Marshall Pruett says…

If you were fortunate to witness Juan Montoya’s mercurial performances in the CART Indy car series, you probably chuckled at the headlines that suggested a NASCAR driver was heading back to IndyCar. Montoya was always an open-wheel driver, and I don’t care if he spent 50 years going in circles with the likes of Earnhardt, Edwards and Harvick; JPM was lethal in the 1990s, lethal once more during his time that followed in F1 and scary-good on his rusty return to open-wheel.

His lack of complications was always an advantage, and while he’s a fun, opinionated and highly complex character outside the cockpit, he’s as natural as they come when it’s time to go racing. Beyond the ridiculous JPM-pitsHoustonlevel of natural talent, Montoya loves to attack, and with both attributes working in unison, he’s scarier than any other driver in the series. We caught a glimpse of that guy a few times in 2014, and even with such a long layoff from open-wheel, Montoya finished fourth in the championship.

We need to let that simmer for a few moments: At 39 years old and the better part of eight years removed from F1, a humble Montoya turned up in IndyCar, had to re-learn open-wheel racing, get to know his new team and teammates, figure out how to work with two different engineers, had to jettison his stock car experience at some of the tracks IndyCar and NASCAR share, learned a handful of circuit that were new to him, had to lose a ton of weight and replace it with muscle and supreme cardio endurance, and then, after going through all of those hurdles, close his visor and battle with red-hot drivers like Will Power, Scott Dixon, Simon Pagenaud, Sebastien Bourdais and 10 other bad asses.

With that scary mountain to climb, JPM still managed to finish fourth in the standings. Makes you wonder why so many drivers with so few obstacles finished fifth or worse in the championship, doesn’t it?

Credit his NASCAR experience for keeping him fresh on ovals, but if you recall, most of JPM’s wins in CART came on ovals, and on his IndyCar Series debut, he was arguably the most consistent oval performer in the field.

JPM-MidOhioHe was the first to admit his road and street course game was lacking, and slowly ramped up his intensity. The lack of pre-season testing on Firestone’s alternative Red compound—something the series and tire manufacturer do not make available—led to a series of stifling performances in qualifying. From those 12 races, he only started inside the top-10 on four occasions. As I said about Pagenaud yesterday, having to recover a ton of positions in the race all but guarantees a finish off the podium, and rough qualifying sessions certainly limited Montoya’s output on race day on many occasions.

If finishing fourth on his open-wheel return wasn’t crazy enough, Montoya’s hunger and desire to improve was another awe inspiring aspect of his Team Penske debut. He was never impressed with his performances, could pick holes in almost every aspect of his driving or comfort level, and looked to each round as a new chance to brake a little bit deeper, use more of the track on corner exit, or push his tires harder throughout a stint.

As he told it, 2014 was 18 races worth of baby steps, but from the outside, Montoya was pure magic. On top of his driving skills, JPM revealed himself to be the ultimate teammate—the guy who blended into the machine-like Penske organization and fit like he was cast from Roger’s template for exemplary drivers.

Taking fourth in the championship was wholly unexpected for Montoya this season, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who can’t wait to see what the convention-defying JPM can do in Year 2. With a season of experience to draw from, Montoya could be hell on wheels.


JEV-portraitJean-Eric Vergne and Toro Rosso confirmed their split after three seasons on Nov. 26, and the 24-year-old Frenchman wasted little time declaring his interest on where he’d like to race in 2015.

“I would be really interest in racing in America in IndyCar; I think it’s a great championship,” he told RACER. “I’m working with a manager who works with a few drivers in America, Julian Jakobi, and at the moment, it seems like it is quite hard to go to a top team right away, but I am very interested to see what type of seats are available.”

Although JEV’s tenure at Toro Rosso did not produce the desired promotion to Red Bull Racing, he leaves the team after recording his best season to date, scoring points on seven occasions and a career best 6th-place finish in China on the way to 13th in the standings – one spot behind Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.

Fighting for the crumbs left behind by F1’s dominant teams, as JEV explains, holds minimal interest going forward. Racing on equal footing, as the Verizon IndyCar Series offers to a greater degree, has motivated the 2010 British Formula 3 champion.

“Toro Rosso isn’t really a team where you can stay for a long time, even if you beat your teammates. If I look at JEV-actionwhat [Daniel] Ricciardo is doing this year and what I’m doing this year, I’m confident I can do the same as him. I’m not really bitter to leave Toro Rosso, I have some other options in Formula 1, but I want to get back into a series where I can win races and win championships. My target is to go for the IndyCar championship my first year,” he said.

With open seats at the championship-winning Ganassi Racing and Andretti Autosport outfits, another at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, and one at KV Racing, which is led by former Toro Rosso driver Sebastien Bourdais, JEV would appear to have some decent options to pursue.

The discipline of oval racing can be mastered, as many ex-F1 drivers have shown, but the time required to reach a high level of competence varies on the individual. With the majority of IndyCar races held on road and street courses, JEV believes he could deliver for a team at most rounds while getting up to speed on ovals.

“I don’t pretend I would win everything, or have an easy time on the ovals; it’s a lot to learn coming from Europe, but many European drivers have become quite good on ovals with some experience, and with so many road courses and street races, I know I can be very effective,” he noted.

Verge’s also confident he would be an asset as Chevy- and Honda-powered IndyCar teams develop brand-new aero kits that will debut at Round 2 in St. Petersburg next season.

“Testing new aerodynamic pieces, suspension components and everything else is something we do every weekend in Formula 1,” he said. “This is something I enjoy very much; development is very big for the success of the team, the success of the manufacturer, and this is an area I have with a lot of experience.”

Provided he can find the right team and environment, JEV says a move to IndyCar could reignite his career.

“There aren’t so many teams to go to that I can win a championship right away, but this doesn’t stop me from looking and talking to team owners to see if we can do something together,” he added. “I have always loved racing in America, and I have always been very interested in IndyCar. The timing is very good right now to make this happen.”

Sainz joins Verstappen at Toro Rosso

Formula Renault 3.5 champion Carlos Sainz Jr will race for Toro Rosso in Formula 1 next year, the team confirmed on Friday.

The Spaniard, son of two time World Rally champion Carlos Sr, will partner Formula 3 graduate Max Verstappen in an all-F1 rookie line-up at the team next year.

Sainz, who tested with Red Bull this week at Yas Marina, replaces Jean-Eric Vergne, who is now looking for opportunities in the Verizon IndyCar Series, as RACER revealed.

"Ever since I have been part of Red Bull's young driver program, this has been my aim and I want to thank Red Bull for putting their faith in me," said Sainz. "I have had a very successful season in World Series by Renault this year and now I am looking forward to taking the step up to Formula 1.

"In the next few months I will be working hard on my preparation, ready to get in the cockpit in Jerez for the first test of next year."

Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost added: "With Carlos joining Max in our driver lineup next year, we continue the tradition of providing youngsters from the Red Bull program with their first steps in Formula 1.

"I have watched Carlos progress through the junior categories, always improving as he moved higher up the ladder, culminating in a well-deserved win in this year's World Series. However, I also remember the day's testing he did with us at Silverstone in 2013 in the STR8. He really surprised me and his engineers that day, with his mature approach and his speed."

Sainz became the first Red Bull junior to win the FR3.5 title, taking a series record of seven wins in a season.


Mercedes: Lewis Hamilton/Nico Rosberg
Red Bull-Renault: Daniel Ricciardo/Daniil Kvyat
Williams-Mercedes: Valtteri Bottas/Felipe Massa
Ferrari: Kimi Raikkonen/Sebastian Vettel
McLaren-Honda: Fernando Alonso (tbc)/Jenson Button or Kevin Magnussen (tbc)
Force India-Mercedes: Nico Hulkenberg/Sergio Perez
Toro Rosso-Renault: Max Verstappen/Carlos Sainz Jr
Lotus-Mercedes: Romain Grosjean/Pastor Maldonado
Sauber-Ferrari: Marcus Ericsson/Felipe Nasr

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Mercedes and Red Bull, 2014

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Red Bull boss Christian Horner says Formula 1 cannot let the prospect of Mercedes quitting scare it away from switching to cheaper engine regulations for 2016.

With some teams concerned that the high cost of the new turbo V6 engines are unsustainable for F1 in the long term, Horner is leading a push for a new power unit to be considered. He has suggested keeping the current V6 engine, but packaging it with standard energy recovery systems rather than each manufacturer developing its own.

Such a move would antagonize Mercedes, which believes the hybrid element of the new power units is key to its marketing of the sport. There have been suggestions that if the engine rules are changed, then Mercedes could elect to quit F1 – especially if it has wrapped up another title next year.

Horner acknowledges that there is a risk of that happening, but says F1's bosses must not be afraid of losing Mercedes because other manufacturers could go anyway if the rules stay the same.

"What do you do?" he replied, when asked about the prospect of losing Mercedes if the rules change. "If you leave it as is, you will probably drive Renault and one or two others away. So, you have to do what is right for the sport rather than what is right for an individual manufacturer.

"We cannot afford to not get 2016 right. We need to get rid some of the gadgetry and make the driver drive the car. The amount of communication going on in terms of energy management, and so on, is too much. We need to reduce that and get the drivers driving the car."


Christian Horner

Horner believes that standard energy recovery systems would reduce costs, which would be good for both manufacturers and customer teams. He also believes it is a much better route for F1 than opening up development of the current power units completely, the other path mooted amid frustrations that Mercedes is blocking a relaxing of the current engine freeze rules.

"Basically we have a choice: we can say, 'Open everything up for 2016 and spend what you like and go for open development," Horner said. "I don't think any of the manufacturers have an appetite for that, and you will probably lose one or two if you go that route.

"Or you say, 'Let's try to grab a hold of costs and try to do something that still allows competition, but is far more contained and responsible in what it is providing to the customer as well.' To me it seems a far more logical route to go.

"Of course it is not going to be popular with everybody but if you look at it overall it would be better for F1."




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AD-podium-BuemiHe's the best interview in sports cars, and one of the best, period. Toyota Racing driver Anthony Davison heads into this weekend’s season finale at Interlagos as the World Endurance Championship’s new LMP1 co-champion with teammate Sebastien Buemi.
The rapid Englishman spoke with RACER’s Marshall Pruett about the accomplishment and a variety of other topics in a long form Q+A below.
MARSHALL PRUETT: I was amazed to learn this was your first major championship, Ant. You’re one of those guys who’ve been so highly regarded and have been in a number of amazing programs—I assumed your P1 championship was one of many you’d earned on your way to the top. Does winning a championship prove anything to you, or to those who follow you, that was previously unknown?
ANTHONY DAVIDSON: I do not know really, but I think what it does is prove you’re up against serious AD-F1commentatorcompetition in any part of racing these days.  A lot of it is about nearly everything; being in the right place at the right time, in the right car with the right team.  That is how it unfolded this year.
MP: How did the shakeup with the driver roster in the No. 8 Toyota affect your championship quest? Losing Nicolas Lapierre and dropping down to a two-driver rotation could have been disruptive, and it also could have simplified things—you and Buemi as a tight unit extracting the most from the car as a tandem.
AD: I think from a personal level it is obviously difficult to lose a member of your team.  We all know the reasons why.  It has been spoken about enough.  Yeah, just crack on a bit like Sebastien and I did.  It was essential.  I think from a strategic point of view in terms of how the actual races pan out, for 90 percent of the races, it is almost easier to have two drivers than three.  I found it was that way just working with Sebastien.  Basically you get much more time in the car in the practice sessions, to start.  It definitely speeds up setup work as well, having just two drivers.
But there are races where it becomes physically challenging just having, say, for instance, if we were just two drivers in Austin this year, I don’t think either of us would have gotten the best out of ourselves because of the conditions, it was just too humid, too hot.  We would’ve suffered, towards the end of the race.  We would’ve fatigued, and our performance would have suffered as a result.
For the majority of time though, it is almost an advantage just to have two drivers.  In the race what we saw happening was when the driver that started the race, which is normally Sebastien, by the time they got back in the car for the third stint, they would be up against normally the third driver getting in in other cars.  Seb would already be totally in the groove or I would have been totally the groove by the time you’re facing the third driver for the other team getting in their car for the first time.  That is where you gain a bit of time.  That’s what I found anyway.
I’d say for the first 10 laps or so of that third driver getting in the car, you’re learning the rhythm of the race, like where to overtake, track conditions, car balance, all these kinds of things.  The driver that basically started the race on our car was totally in the groove, knew exactly what to expect, how hard they could push the tires from new, where the marbles were on the track, all this kind of stuff is just second nature.  You were totally warmed up, ready for it.


AD-SpeedBlurMP: It wasn’t so long ago when big sports car programs held a cautious view of younger F1 drivers looking to drive factory P1 cars. There were concerns of over aggressive behavior, prima donna attitudes, and all the other stereotypes that go with Grand Prix racing. Older F1 drivers were embraced, but there was an age bias, more often than not.
But with the changes in technology and reliability, we’ve seen more F1 drivers like Buemi, young guns like Brendon Hartley, Lucas di Grassi, and a few others become fantastic fits for endurance racing. Is that a change in attitudes by the Audis and Toyotas and Porsches, alone? Or do you think it’s a natural progression because current P1 cars demand maximum attack, and we know that’s a driving style F1 drivers bring without hesitation?
AD: I suppose when I first came into sports cars properly with Peugeot, yeah, they were looking at the almost retired F1 driver or drivers that achieved like Formula 1--already quite mature and experienced.  I think you do need that type of driver in the sports cars.  It’s not always about the lap time.  It’s not always about putting the car right on the edge and taking risks.  There are certainly more elements involved in driving sports cars in an endurance race than driving a one-and-a-half-hour sprint race in an open-wheeled car.
I think, though, having these younger drivers pretty much straight from Formula 1 coming to sports cars now in LMP1 has sort of shifted focus almost.  I definitely saw this new wave of driver come in.  I think as Formula 1 has been hunting for younger drivers--just look at Max Verstappen as an example--we are now getting the retired Formula 1 driver or ex-Formula 1 drivers that are much younger. Buemi was a 24-year-old when he first jumped in a sports car.
You see the youth and the enthusiasm from the young guys coming in and it’s impressive.  But it also takes a driver like Seb to have a wise head on their shoulders as well.  It’s a category where you need to be a very rounded driver. I’m lucky that Sebastien has, A, got the speed, and also, B, he’s got maturity, which is quite a rarity for such a young guy to have.
MP: Do you think we’ll continue to see the influx of F1 drivers in their 20s finding a home in the WEC?
AD: If it keeps going that way then, yeah, and I think in sports cars it’s going to keep bringing on this youngerAD-LM24-crazylights talent and we’re going to see younger and younger guys arrive.  With that comes a bit more of a desperation in your driving.  You’re a bit more insecure as a younger guy or girl.  You want to prove yourself more.  I think we are seeing it turn slightly in sports cars, even since I arrived.  I’ve seen it change.  I don’t know if it’s because the cars have changed as well, but it definitely feels like you have to rag them more than ever before when you’re in there.  Le Mans, it really is a 24-hour sprint race now.  I pushed close to 100 percent every single lap I did this year at Le Mans.  I don’t think it was like that in the past.
The cars are incredibly complex now.  It takes a driver with a lot of capacity to be able to handle that.  That is a big part of where the speed comes from today.

MP: Looking at the driver situation from the opposite direction, do you think we’ll see factory teams like Audi and Porsche, in particular, continue to elevate their GT drivers up the ladder into P1 cars, or could we see them rely more on top-tier F1 talent that is unfazed by the speed and systems in the cars? We’ve seen some excellent GT drivers become excellent prototype drivers, but it rarely happens overnight. That’s not the case with drivers stepping into P1 cars which are slower than what they’ve just stepped out of.
AD: It’s funny, I never even looked at it like that before.  I just thought the GT car, the GT drivers are the specialist drivers.  I personally find driving GT cars really difficult.  I’m the first one to admit that.  I’m certainly not in my comfort zone when I drive one.  I’m too used to driving cars with downforce and they’re a little bit more edgy and digital to drive.  I get confused by the GT body roll and the softer sidewall to the tires than the P1 car.  I confuse that with snap oversteer.  I confuse body roll with snap oversteer, basically.
I would have trepidations putting a GT driver into a P1 car today.  I know it can work, of course, we can see that in Marc Lieb.  But I think it takes time to learn exactly how to drive a car with downforce and much different construction tires.  Going from Formula 1 over to LMP1, you’ve got the hybrid driving style in place as well.  They understand the technology.  Whereas, GT haven’t taken that step yet.  There’s a whole lot more to learn for a modern-day GT driver than there is for, I guess, a modern-day F1 driver to step across to LMP1.

AD-cool-nightMP: I spoke with a colleague recently who said your Toyota TS040 was the best sprint race car in P1, and I’m looking to make excuses, but I disagreed and would contend the TS040 is the car of the year in P1. Sweeping all but one round—the big one at Le Mans—shouldn’t invalidate the car’s quality, and looking at how much the Toyotas led Le Mans this year, it wasn’t as if speed or quality was lacking. But with that being said, is it right to proclaim a car like the TS040 that didn’t win the biggest race as the best of 2014, or should that automatically go to Audi for winning Le Mans?
AD: I think it goes back to the first question.  I think it was the best car, all in all.  I think it was… it’s because… I won the championship because I was driving the best car.  It hasn’t been a dominant car.  I wouldn’t say that.  I think there have been occasions where we genuinely really had to scratch for a victory, especially at the beginning of the year.  The Audi seemed much closer in the beginning of the year then where they are now.  That is a bit of a head scratcher.  I don’t know why.  Why were they pretty much exactly on our car pace if not aAD-selfie sniff quicker in Silverstone in dry conditions.  The same again at Le Mans.  They were completely lost at Spa.  I don’t know what happened there.  We thought that was an anomaly at Spa, because then after it was Le Mans and they seemed right back on it again.  After Le Mans, they slipped back to almost where they were at Spa.  And that trend continued through to the rest of the year.
They’ve been a bit up and down.  I don’t think they quite understood the tires very well.  I don’t think they were matched very well for their car this year.  And that’s something we completely nailed and gave us quite a bit of an advantage, especially at Fuji; I think was the biggest one.  But a lot of the time, our dominance, if you want to call it that, came at the end of stints.  It wasn’t at the beginning.  I think at the beginning of stints we always seemed pretty comparable, especially at Porsche, at the end of the year.  It was only the end of the stint where we started to make progress compared to the rest of them.  I think it’s fair to say at Le Mans when the No. 7 Toyota broke down, they were leading the race by over a minute.  And, yeah, there was a sense of failure; the electrical fire wiped their chances out.  It was something we had ever seen before.  It was one of those real flukey things.  It was just never meant to be.
But we can’t forget that Audi had two turbo failures which, that after the sea of testing that they’ve done this year, it’s pretty much inexcusable.  You can’t say that they have the better non-sprint package because there was basically 100 percent attrition at Le Mans this year in P1. It was a case of every P1 car having a failure of some kind, including the winners. We were the only car to not have a technical failure.

AD-LM24NightMP: You head into the season finale at Brazil with the Drivers’ title sewn up, but there’s more to play for with the Manufacturers’ championship. What’s the mindset—go balls out and drive for fun, knowing that the Drivers’ race is over, or are you and Seb good lads and tow the party line?
AD: I always want to win it.  In Bahrain.  I wanted to win at Shanghai but that would’ve been asking too much and that would’ve been asking for luck to come your way by Audi not finishing.  I really feel we didn’t win it by luck this year; we won it by hard work and winning more races than anyone else.  I always said right from the start as soon as I realized we had pretty much the fastest car, that we didn’t need good luck to win the championship--we just didn’t need bad luck.  It was so true.  In Bahrain, I was fully focused on winning the race – winning the championship there.  But it didn’t stop us not going for the race victory.  You probably saw at the start of the race Sebastien flying through the traffic and flying through the cars and getting the lead and then me jumping into the car, it was all going the same way in Shanghai and Fuji.  Then we had the alternator problem.
The weight of the championship – winning from our view in Bahrain didn’t hold us back there.  So I don’t think – I hate to say we didn’t leave anything on the table – but it’s great to go to Brazil now to race just for the team.  You’ve got your personal prize out of the way and now you’re just doing it all for the team.  We have to win the Manufacturers’ championship there.  Chances are we will, it looks very good.  Two cars, just have to score 4 points between us, which I think would be fairly straightforward.  That is 3, if Audi don’t get pole, based on the last couple of races, I doubt they’ll be able to achieve, thanks to Porsche’s dominance there.  Yes, looking realistically at it we’ve got 3 points to score.  Yeah, that means we can, especially from car eight’s point of view, and just have fun.  Put our foot down and try and win one more race before the season is over.
MP: Maybe you should have your drink bottle topped up with Capirinhas and really enjoy the race…
AD: I think it’s been a fantastic year and hopefully it’ll be topped off by winning the Constructors in Brazil as well.  It was great to see car 7 take a victory in the last race in Bahrain.  It was a really nice atmosphere at the end of the race in Bahrain because car seven got a long overdue victory.  They should have won Le Mans this year, I know that.  I think everyone else really does deep down.  It was a great atmosphere in Bahrain because as a team, we’re all winners, so that was really nice.  And for Mike Conway as well to score his first win for the team in only his second race in LMP1, it’s a great achievement and I think he drove really well.  It’s been a really good atmosphere all around for the team this year.


EdCarpenter-JRHCarpenter Fisher Hartman Racing knows team co-owner Ed Carpenter will drive the No. 20 Chevy on ovals, and that Josef Newgarden will pilot the No. 67 Chevy at every round. Finding a driver solution for the No. 20 on road and street courses remains the final piece of the puzzle for CFH to solve.

With Carpenter’s race-winning teammate Mike Conway expected to be confirmed as a full-time member of the Toyota Racing WEC sports car program, the search for CFH’s third driver continues.

“We’re evaluating everything: We’re looking at the guys we know, seeing what’s out there – some who might not be so obvious. We’re talking to JR [Hildebrand] as well; he’s big on our radar. We want to make sure we get the right person with the right fit to partner with Josef,” Carpenter told RACER.

As one of few Verizon IndyCar Series teams with a seat to offer, CFHR has a deep talent pool to choose from. Hildebrand, Oriol Servia, Simona de Silvestro, Luca Filippi, Sage Karam, and even a brand-new F1 refugee like Jean-Eric Vergne would make excellent road and street racing options for the Fuzzy’s vodka-sponsored car. With a job to offer and a relaxed timetable on his side, Carpenter says he’s in no rush to sign his next teammate.

“There are many things that need to be done properly when assembling a new team, so getting the fit right and everything else right is important, obviously,” he added. “We made a good choice last year [with Conway], and hopefully we make a good choice this year.”

DSC 8288 

Hulkenberg joins Porsche for Le MansNico Hulkenberg will contest the Le Mans 24 Hours with Porsche in 2015 alongside his Force India Formula 1 program.

Porsche has signed the German for the third 919 Hybrid entry that it announced earlier this week, and will also field him in the Spa round of the World Endurance Championship in preparation.

"Porsche and Le Mans – this combination probably attracts every race driver," said Hulkenberg. "I've been a Porsche fan for a long time and have been watching their return to the LMP1 class closely. The desire grew to drive that car at Le Mans.

"I am very pleased the 2015 Formula 1 calendar allows for it and I'm grateful to my Force India Formula 1 team's generosity to let me go for it. Now it's up to me to work hard to satisfy both commitments."

Hulkenberg will become the first active grand prix driver to combine F1 and Le Mans programs since Sebastien Bourdais contested the 2009 24 Hours with Peugeot between his Toro Rosso F1 commitments.

Porsche team principal Andreas Seidl said a lot of thought had already gone into how to acclimatize Hulkenberg to Le Mans around his F1 program.

"Having caught the interest of another world class driver like Nico is validation for the job the entire Porsche LMP1 crew had done in our first WEC season," he said. "Now we will prepare Nico for his new challenges such as dealing with the traffic of the slower GT cars and racing into the Le Mans night.

"We have got a road map in place which should enable him to exploit his driving abilities at his Le Mans debut. We're looking forward to working with Nico and we want to thank the Sahara Force India F1 team and team principal Vijay Mallya for loaning him to us."

The team has yet to announce the other two drivers for its third car, but has recently been evaluating standout performers from its factory GT lineup.

It has already re-signed Mark Webber, Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley, Neel Jani, Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb for its full-time 2015 WEC seats.



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don-and-meganNHRA Mello Yello drag racing team owner Don Schumacher underwent surgery Wednesday to treat Stage 1 Squamous cell carcinoma at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. The cancer was discovered during an annual check-up last week at the renowned medical facility.

"I will beat this," he said Tuesday after learning of the diagnosis and instantly charting a course to recovery.

"Finding this early is the key," he said from Rochester. "Thank God, I've been coming here to the Mayo Clinic for annual physicals so this could be discovered. I can't stress to everyone how important it is to get regular physicals and take care of your health."

Schumacher owns Schumacher Electric Corp. and Don Schumacher Racing, which won two NHRA world championships at Pomona earlier this month.

The team said it will provide an update on his condition early next week, and asks that the family's privacy be respected in the meantime.

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