The 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season begins in just over two weeks from today, but the action is beginning to heat up. There were multiple announcements made today, including one that was a surprise. All of this comes less than 24 hours before the big “Spring Training” test at Phoenix International Raceway. Here are some of the happenings from today.
Engine Lease Price Limit Increases
Engine supplies can now charge up to $1 million per year for an engine lease, thanks to a new structure set by IndyCar. The previous limit was $750,000. The increase in price is included in the new deal between IndyCar and Honda, and has also been added to Chevrolet’s partnership with the series. The thought is that with this increase, the costs to supply the IndyCar field have been moved closer to the “breaking even” point for both manufacturers. The owners were understandably unhappy with the spike in price, but understand that it’s part of today’s economic environment.
Liveries For All
Several liveries were unveiled today, as teams prepare to hit the pavement tomorrow for testing. First up was an absolutely gorgeous white and gold combination that Josef Newgarden will drive in the first four races of the season. It’s a special design, that also came with an announcement of two special bottles of Fuzzy’s Vodka that will be made available. As we’ve seen in recent years, the ECR team certainly knows how to make a beautiful car. (Photo: Ed Carpenter Racing)
Next up was Andretti Autosport, who unveiled all four of their IndyCar liveries for the upcoming season. They all tie together, paying homage to the Andretti Autosport Foundation. Each machine has a unified color stripe that goes from the cockpit and runs through the rear end of the car. The inspiration came from Mario Andretti’s 1972 car, which led to the helmet design worn by all three generations of the Andretti family. (Photo: Andretti Autosport)
Team Penske also announced today that Simon Pagenaud will have Hewlett Packard Enterprise as a primary sponsor for five races in 2016. Those events will be at St Petersburg, Detroit, Texas, Boston, and Sonoma. In addition to that, they will continue to be an associate sponsor on Simon’s No. 22 Dallara-Chevrolet all season long. Today’s announcement was described as a multi-year extension of their partnership.
Even though we already knew what Conor Daly’s Dale Coyne Racing Honda would look like for the upcoming season, the Noblesville driver posted a photo of his machine earlier today. Coyne’s No. 19 car is also pictured below.
Head Protection Coming Soon?
Earlier this week, Formula 1 approved plans for a halo design structure to protect driver’s heads from debris. IndyCar has been looking into devices as well, and will reportedly be testing them this weekend at Phoenix. Safety expert Terry Trammell told IndyStar on Thursday that IndyCar “very reasonably could have a functional device for 2017.” Curt Cavin reported that the cost could be relatively lower than they once thought – maybe in the range of $25,000 per car.
Chaves Filling In
In a surprise announcement from Schmidt Peterson Motorsports today, Gabby Chaves will be filling in for Mikhail Aleshin at Phoenix for the open test. The team’s Press Release said that Aleshin is unable to attend the test due to last-minute work visa issues.”While we wish Mikhail was able to participate in this test with us, we’re confident that he’ll get up to speed quickly when he returns,” said SPM General Manager Piers Phillips.
Many drivers will get their first taste of Phoenix International Raceway over the next couple of days, as the promoter test begins on Friday. From 1964 to 2005, PIR hosted 61 IndyCar events on the 1-mile oval. There are 21 drivers set to test over the course of the two days. Friday is closed to the public, but Saturday free and open to the public. There will be two sessions on each day, running from 2-5 PM and 7-10 PM ET. Live timing and scoring will be available for all sessions at racecontrol.indycar.com. Click here for the Test Entry List.
The actual race at Phoenix this year is just over a month away. The race is set for April 2, and will be the second stop on the 2016 schedule. You can purchase tickets here for the event. The race will air at 8 PM ET on NBCSN.