Verizon IndyCar Series daily news brief – the April 14th edition

40th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach by the numbers

  • 0 –> laps led by Sebastian Saavedra in 39 previous Verizon IndyCar Series starts before leading three in the 2014 Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach
  • 2 –> number of races it took Juan Montoya to regain his “mojo.”
  • 2 –> pit stops by race winner Mike Conway
  • 3 –> rookies in the top 10
  • 3 –> laps led by race winner Mike Conway
  • 3 –> circuits turned by Graham Rahal on primary Firestone Firehawk racing tires (black), the fewest of any driver
  • 4 –> cars issued drive-through penalties for various infractions
  • 4 –> Colombian drivers in the top 10
  • 5 –> positions gained by Graham Rahal on the first green flag lap
  • 6 –> pits stops by Helio Castroneves, the most in the field
  • 7 –> lead changes
  • 8 –> DNF’s due to contact in the two 2014 races
  • 17 –> spots gained by rookie Mikhail Aleshin in his two Verizon IndyCar Series starts
  • 18 –> laps run under caution
  • 23 –> wins by Team Chevy powered cars since engine competition returned to the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2012
  • 31 –> circuits turned by Carlos Munoz on black Firestone Firehawks, the most of any driver
  • 69.0691–> seconds it took for Helio Castroneves to complete lap 75, the quickest of the race

Where they stand

Please check out our page with the Verizon IndyCar Series Driver, Sunoco Rookie of the Year and manufacturer standings. 


I’ve seen numerous tweets and message board postings saying that the reason why Will Power was not penalized at Long Beach is because Verizon is now the title sponsor of IndyCar.  Normally I try and ignore conspiracy theories, but I felt this one needed addressing, at least from a business perspective.  Favoring a Verizon backed car makes ZERO business sense for IndyCar and/or Verizon. Here’s why:

  1. Wantonly favoring Verizon is a sure fire way to upset your other sponsors and teams.  Without other sponsors and teams, you have no IndyCar.
  2. Verizon chose to sponsor IndyCar because they see IndyCar as a way to grow their brand and reach out to potential new customers.  They are interested in seeing the fan base of IndyCar grow so that they have more potential prospects to whom they can sell their services.  How many customers do you think will be left if one car/team wins every race, not to mention if the car you sponsor is accused of malfeasance?

It’s as simple as that.  Most decisions in sports/entertainment come down to business, and it makes no business sense to help one car win.

Testing… 1,2,3… testing… 

The next three weeks are  busy ones on the Verizon IndyCar Series testing calendar.

First up are two tests at the Texas Motorspeeday on April 16th and April 17th.  Scheduled to take part in the test on the 16th are: Takuma Sato, Marco Andretti, Ryan Briscoe, Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Charlie Kimball, Justin Wilson, Ed Carpenter, Sebastian Saavedra, Sebastien Bourdais, Graham Rahal, Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud, Helio Castroneves, Juan Montoya, and Will Power.  Also at Texas on the 16th will be rookie oval tests for: Carlos Munoz, Mikhail Aleshin and Jack Hawksworth.  The following day Ed Carpenter and Marco Andretti will take part in a Firestone Racing tire test on the 1.5 mile, Fort Worth oval.

The test on April 16th will be open to the public from 9am-6pm.  It is free of charge and fans should enter through gate 4.

Two separate refresher/ROP test days for the Indianapolis 500 are scheduled at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS).  Kurt Busch and Jacques Villeneuve are scheduled to participate on April 29th, and rookies Jack Hawksworth and Mikhail Aleshin are scheduled to participate on May 5th.

A Verizon IndyCar Series open test on the IMS road course will take place on April 30th, between the two tests on the IMS oval.

The hat returns

Who can forget the hat that Townsend Bell was sporting during last year’s “Month of May?”

Townsend Bell on Pole Day 2013 (Photo Courtesy of IndyCar)

Townsend Bell on Pole Day 2013 (Photo Courtesy of IndyCar)

Well don’t you worry, Bell and a hat will be returning to Indianapolis Motor Speedway in an attempt to qualify for the 98th Indianapolis 500.  KV Racing Technology made an announcement over the weekend that Bell has been confirmed to the No. 6 Robert Graham – KV Racing Technology Chevrolet.  Bell, attempting to qualify for his 8th 500, previously drove for KVRT in 2009 when he scored his best “Greatest Spectacle In Racing” finish of 4th place.

“I want to thank Kevin Kalkhoven, Jimmy Vasser and Robert Graham for the chance to compete with KV Racing Technology at this year’s Indianapolis 500,” said Bell. “In 2001, Jimmy was my teammate in my first Champ Car event and in 2009 I had my best finish at Indy racing with KVRT, so coming back to the defending Indy 500 champions, is special. I will be working with one of my favorite engineers, Gerald Tyler, so that is also a big plus. Finally, I want to express my gratitude to Robert Graham for their support. Without them this would not be possible. I wear Robert Graham clothing, as most of your know from last year’s fedora and I am proud to represent the company.”

Support will come from Robert Graham, a designer clothing company.  “We are very pleased to associate Robert Graham with Townsend Bell for the 2014 Indianapolis 500,” said Michael Buckley, Chief Executive Officer of Robert Graham. “Partnering with Townsend Bell is a strategic brand fit, providing a fun and exciting platform to reach millions of IndyCar fans and gain positive brand exposure. Townsend is an extremely talented driver, knowledgeable commentator and athlete who fully personifies the Robert Graham lifestyle. The Robert Graham team and our fans around the world are cheering for him.”

“Month of May” changes

Indianapolis Motor Speedway today released two more changes to the Indianapolis 500 schedule.

The first is the addition of an extra practice day on Monday, May 19th.  The practice time, scheduled from noon-5pm, will allow teams extra time to work on race-day set-up after qualifying on Sunday.  “On Sunday teams will be completely focused on qualifying, so we added another practice session to give them a sufficient amount of time to test their race setups,” said Derrick Walker, INDYCAR President of Competition and Operations. “Previously a majority of teams have utilized most of Sunday for full-tank running, so it was important for us to continue to give them that opportunity after qualifications are complete.”  The practice session will be open to the public.

The second change is a tweak to this year’s new qualification procedures.  After determining the quickest 33 on Saturday, Sunday will be broken into three distinct phases:

  • starting positions 10-30 (Group 1) will be determined between 10:15am-12:15pm, and will consist of single four lap qualifying attemps
  • starting positions 31-33 (Group 2 – see below) will be determined between 12:45-1:30pm
  • starting positions 1-9 (Fast Nine and Verizon P1 Award) will be determined between 2:00-2:45pm)

Group 2 will include the 31st, 32nd and 33rd fastest cars from the Saturday qualifying session.  Also included will any team that ran into problems during Saturday qualifying that didn’t permit them from making an attempt.   As well, any new entries submitted to INDYCAR prior to 7pm on Saturday will be afforded the opportunity to qualify.  In the later two cases, the entry will be restricted to the eleventh row of the field.

“As our qualifying format evolves we continue to evaluate what is best for the competitors,” Walker explained. “We realized the need to provide teams that suffer an unexpected hardship on Saturday a second chance to make the Indianapolis 500. The changes apply primarily for cars that crash or suffer a mechanical failure during their Saturday qualifying run.  Ultimately, we will capture the fastest 33 cars and that’s who will make the race.”

Who was quick

What we learn from this week’s who was quick, is that turning in one quick lap doesn’t necessarily guarantee you a good finish.  The 40th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach was a race where strategy and a little luck, instead of pure outright speed, netted you a good finish.

Some interesting notes:

  • Sebastien Bourdais and the No. 11 Mistic KVSH Racing Chevrolet had the best exit off of the hairpin
  • the No. 7 SMP Racing Honda with rookie pilot Mikhail Aleshin was the fastest through the fountain section
  • Justin Wilson and the No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda carried the most speed down the front stretch
  • the KVAFS engineer’s had the 90 degree corners figured out as Sebastian Saavedra was really quick through Turn 1 and Turn 8

Quickest overall lap times were as follows:

Rank Driver Car Time Speed On Lap
1 Helio Castroneves No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet 01:09.0691 102.576 75
2 Takuma Sato No. 14 ABC Supply A.J. Foyt Racing Honda 01:09.0815 102.557 13
3 James Hinchcliffe No. 27 United Fiber & Data Honda 01:09.1386 102.472 13
4 Sebastien Bourdais No. 11 Mistic KVSH Racing Chevrolet 01:09.1568 102.445 76
5 Mikhail Aleshin No. 7 SMP Racing Honda 01:09.1715 102.424 6
6 Tony Kanaan No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 01:09.3686 102.133 102.133 11
7 Will Power No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet 01:09.4065 102.077 24
8 Carlos Huertas No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda 01:09.4752 101.976 77
9 Ryan Hunter-Reay No. 28 DHL Honda 01:09.4980 101.943 101.943 13
10 Mike Conway No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet 01:09.5001 101.939 79
11 Simon Pagenaud No. 77 Charter Communications/SPHM Honda 01:09.5206 101.909 15
12 Graham Rahal No. 15 National Guard Honda 01:09.5536 101.861 10
13 Justin Wilson No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda 01:09.6236 101.759 39
14 Sebastian Saavedra No. 17 AFS KVAFS Racing Chevrolet 01:09.7123 101.629 14
15 Juan Montoya No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet 01:09.7385 101.591 78
16 Jack Hawksworth No. 98 Charter / Castrol Edge Honda 01:09.7388 101.591 73
17 Josef Newgarden No.67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Honda 01:09.7481 101.577 7
18 Scott Dixon No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 01:09.7650 101.552 49
19 Carlos Munoz No. 34 Cinsay HVM Honda 01:09.8204 101.472 78
20 Charlie Kimball No. 83 Novo Nordisk Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 01:09.8769 101.390 38
21 Ryan Briscoe No. 8 TNT Energy Drink Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 01:09.9858 101.232 58
22 Oriol Servia No. 16 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda 01:10.0822 101.093 53
23 Marco Andretti No. 25 Snapple Honda 01:10.1796 100.952 76

Wrapping it up (what I’m reading):

Some are newsy, some are opiniony, and some are little of both:

#IndyCar tweet of the day

From the I’ll believe it when I see it category:

IndyCar video(s) of the day

40th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach highlights:

Who said a little bit of hate is a bad thing:


I have been an IndyCar fan since the mid 1980's and like to cover the news that no else does.

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