General

De Silvestro Back to form; Kellett’s New Look

De Silvestro Back to form;  Kellett's New Look

Simona De Silvestro needed little time to acclimate to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES Friday at Road America.

Yes, the Paretta Autosport Chevrolet No. 16 driver was 27th on the speed charts with a best lap of 1 minute, 48.7490 seconds, but she was close behind her competition after more than seven years out of the cockpit of an NTT INDYCAR SERIES car on a road of course.

De Silvestro has competed twice in the Indianapolis 500 and once at Phoenix Raceway, both ovals, between Friday and her previous non-oval NTT INDYCAR SERIES race, which took place on the streets of St. Petersburg, where she finished 18th at the start of the 2015 season.

“He was definitely much faster and braked much better than anything I’ve ridden in the last five years,” said De Silvestro. “It was really good. I’m really happy to be in an INDYCAR again, especially around here. It’s pretty special. I think Road America is one of the coolest tracks we come to and one of the fastest. It feels really fast right now.”

De Silvestro was proud of her and the Paretta Autosport team’s performance during Friday’s practice session, as the other 26 cars and driver combinations are in the midst of their season, as De Silvestro drives for Paretta Autosport in her first of three races this season.

The NTT INDYCAR SERIES cars have been vastly different since De Silvestro last drove them on a road or street course, and they are very different from the sports cars she has driven lately – her last competitive race was in October.

That’s why De Silvestro described driving the NTT INDYCAR SERIES today as essentially a new experience.

“To be honest, it was like everything was new,” she said. “Even as a pit limiter, how to do that. Just go and drive. When you turn, the car really turns. At first it surprises you a bit because it is so manoeuvrable. Also the braking is really strong. It took me a few laps to get that done.”

Paretta Autosport has a technical alliance with Ed Carpenter Racing, and team owner and driver Ed Carpenter pitted alongside team owner Beth Paretta for De Silvestro during Friday practice, something De Silvestro said was surprised but grateful for the added bonus. knowledge of Carpenter in her ear.

Ilott returns, returns to pre-Indy form

Callum Ilott looks to be back in his pre-Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge after opening practice for the Sonsio Grand Prix at Road America presented by AMR, broken right hand and all.

The NTT INDYCAR SERIES rookie was 15th on the practice chart with a 1 minute best lap, 46.7679 in the Juncos Hollinger Racing No. 77 Chevrolet. Early in the session, Ilott was at the top of the board, flirting with the top 10 throughout the 70-minute session.

It is Ilott’s first NTT INDYCAR SERIES race since he finished 32nd in the Indy 500. He crashed during “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” on lap 68 and the hand injury prevented him from competing in last weekend’s Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix , presented by Lear. Santino Ferrucci replaced him and finished 21st.

For the 2.5 mile oval race, Ilott was on the best stretch of his fledgling NTT INDYCAR SERIES career. He started 11th at Barber Motorsports Park and was on his way to a top-10 finish until a mistake knocked him out of the course. He finished 25th.

The next race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course was a career-best finish for the Cambridge, England native. He started seventh and finished eighth in the GMR Grand Prix.

Now back on a road course — the 14-turn, 4,048-mile Road America course that mimics many of the permanent road courses Ilott grew up racing in Europe — he’s seemingly back at his comfort level that delivered solid results for the single-car Juncos Hollinger Racing team.

Rosenqvist, VeeKay Back on Road America

Two drivers will make their Road America debut this weekend in the Sonsio Grand Prix of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES at Road America presented by AMR. Two others are just happy to be back after missing last year’s race.

Felix Rosenqvist and Rinus VeeKay sat out the 2021 race with injuries. Rosenqvist had his No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet crashed ahead of The Raceway on Belle Isle, while VeeKay, who was the No. 21 XX Chevrolet of Ed Carpenter Racing, had broken his collarbone in a bicycle accident.

Rosenqvist was especially disappointed not to compete in Road America – he was replaced by Kevin Magnussen – as he took his first – and still only – series win there in Race 2 of 2020.

“We know what we need to do to be competitive so we’re pretty pumped to come back and try to continue our streak of good speed and good results that we’ve had lately,” he said.

Rosenqvist is one of three NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers to have achieved three consecutive top-10 finishes. He finished sixth in the GMR Grand Prix and fourth in the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge – both races held at Indianapolis Motor Speedway – and 10th in last weekend’s Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear.

Marcus Ericsson (No.8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) and Simon Pagenaud (No.60 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda of Meyer Shank Racing) are the other two drivers with top-10 streaks from three consecutive races.

Ilott and Christian Lundgaard (No. 30 Fleet Cost & Care Honda of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing) are the two NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers making their Road America debut this weekend.

VeeKay: Turn 6 is Road America’s toughest turn

Race teams always do a track walk of each circuit prior to the first practice. Due to the length of this circuit, participants used golf carts. VeeKay had a videographer follow him.

VeeKay said he believes Turn 6 is the hardest on Road America.

“It’s a difficult angle,” he said. “It’s so blind upon entering and (it) just plateaus o top. So you have a lot of grip, and (then) it just fades.”

Kellett Gets New Look at Road America

Dalton Kellett used the early part of Friday to work on his photography skills.

The driver of the No. 4 K-Line/AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet (pictured above) followed Racer.com motorsports journalist Marshall Pruett to some of the track’s most iconic curves to photograph USF2000 cars on the track.

Veterans Program Receives More Than $2 Million

ABC Supply and AJ Foyt Racing teamed up in a donation campaign for the Indianapolis 500, presented by Gainbridge, in support of the Homes For Our Troops organization.

The program was featured on the No. 11 Homes For Our Troops/ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet that drove JR Hildebrand to 12th place.

More than $1 million was donated and ABC Supply matched donations to bring the total to over $2 million. Homes For Our Troops builds homes and helps rebuild lives for critically injured post-9/11 veterans. Learn more about HFOT at hfotusa.org.

Odds and Ends

The average finishing position of NTT INDYCAR SERIES pole winners this season is 10.86, the highest position since 2016. In 2017 the average position was 9.56. The lowest was 4.06 in 2016.

Honda-powered cars have won the past four Road America races, including the past three by Chip Ganassi Racing (Alexander Rossi in 2019, Scott Dixon and Rosenqvist in 2020 and Alex Palou last year).

Qualifying this high on the grid is always paramount, but remarkably this was not a track where a front row start was crucial. Since 2016, only two drivers (Will Power in 2016 and Josef Newgarden in 2018) have won from pole. But all seven race winners since the NTT INDYCAR SERIES returned to Road America in ’16 have been won by drivers who start in the top nine.

Friday was Scott McLaughlin’s 29th birthday.

· Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires leader Linus Lundqvist of HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing had the fastest car in Friday’s first practice at Road America. He has won four of the past five races in the series and is 84 points ahead of teammate Benjamin Pedersen, who controls the Global Racing Group with HMD Motorsports participation.

Juncos Hollinger Racing took the top two positions in the Indy Pro 2000 qualifying on Saturday. Reece Gold took pole with Enaam Ahmed in second. Gold won two of the nine races held this season.

· The USF2000’s two qualifying sessions on Saturday had a repeat in the top three. Cape Motorsports’ Michael d’Orlando won both poles with Pabst Racing’s Jace Denmark and Exclusive Autosport’s Billy Frazer second and third respectively in each session. D’Orlando won the most recent race of the series, the second held in Detroit this past weekend.

· The NTT INDYCAR SERIES kicks off its Saturday promotion at 10:45 AM (ET) with the first of two practices. The second, at 5:20 PM, will follow the NTT P1 Award Qualifier at 1:45 PM. All the action can be watched on Peacock Premium, NBC’s live streaming platform. The INDYCAR Radio Network will also have coverage through the INDYCAR Mobile App and racecontrol.indycar.com.

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