De Silvestro back in shape; Kellett’s new view

It took Simona De Silvestro little time to get used to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES again at Road America on Friday.

Yes, the driver of the #16 Paretta Autosport Chevrolet finished 27th on the speed charts with a best time of 1 minute 48.7490 seconds, but she found her competition up after more than seven years without the cockpit of an NTT INDYCAR SERIES car a street course.

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

“It was definitely a lot faster and brakes a lot better than anything I’ve ridden in the last five years,” said De Silvestro. “It was really good. I’m really excited to be back in an INDYCAR, especially here. It’s very special. I think Road America is one of the coolest tracks we’ve come to and one of the fastest. Feels definitely very fast at the moment.”

De Silvestro was proud of her and the Paretta Autosport team’s performance during Friday practice as the 26 other cars and driver combinations are well into their seasons as De Silvestro contests her first of three races this season for Paretta Autosport.

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

Because of this, De Silvestro described driving in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES today as essentially a new experience.

“To be honest, it was like everything was new,” she said. “Even like Pit Limiter how to do that. Just drive off and drive. When you turn, the car really turns. It’s kind of surprising at first because it’s so agile. In addition, the braking performance is very strong. It took me a few laps to sort that out.”

Paretta Autosport has a technical alliance with Ed Carpenter Racing, and team owner and driver Ed Carpenter was in the Zimmermann pits grandstand alongside team owner Beth Paretta for De Silvestro during Friday practice.

Ilott returns and regains his pre-Indy form

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

The NTT INDYCAR SERIES rookie finished 15th on the practice list with a best lap of 1 minute, 46.7679 in the #77 Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevrolet. At the start of the session, Ilott was at the front of the board and flirted with the top 10 throughout the 70 minute session.

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

Prior to racing the 2.5 mile oval, Ilott was at the best track of his young NTT INDYCAR SERIES career. He started 11th at Barber Motorsports Park and was on course for a top 10 finish until a mistake saw him off course. He turned 25.

The following race on the street circuit of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was the best result of his career for the Englishman from Cambridge. He started seventh and finished eighth in the GMR Grand Prix.

Now back on a street course — the 14-turn, 4.048-mile Road America course that mimics many of the permanent street courses Ilott grew up on in Europe — he’s apparently back to his comfort level that produced solid results for the single-car Junco’s Hollinger Racing Team.

Rosenqvist, VeeKay Back at Road America

Two drivers are making their Road America debuts this weekend at the NTT INDYCAR SERIES Sonsio Grand Prix at AMR presented Road America. Two others are just happy to be back after missing out on last year’s race.

Felix Rosenqvist and Rinus VeeKay sat out the 2021 race with injuries. Rosenqvist, driving his No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet, crashed at the event at Belle Isle Raceway, while VeeKay, driving Ed Carpenter Racing’s No. 21 XX Chevrolet, broke his collarbone in a bicycle accident.

Rosenqvist was particularly disappointed not to compete at Road America – he was replaced by Kevin Magnussen – as that’s where he clinched his first – and still only – series win in race two of 2020.

“We know what has to be done to be competitive so we’re quite motivated 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 three consecutive top 10 finishes. He finished sixth at the GMR Grand Prix and fourth at the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge – both races being held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway – and was 10th at the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear last weekend.

Marcus Ericsson (No.8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) and Simon Pagenaud (No.60 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda by Meyer Shank Racing) are the other two riders with top 10 stripes in three consecutive races.

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

VeeKay: Turn 6 is Road America’s toughest corner

The racing teams always do a circuit tour of each race track before the first practice session. Due to the length of this route, participants used golf carts. VeeKay allowed a videographer to follow him.

VeeKay said he believes Turn 6 is the toughest at Road America.

“It’s a tough corner,” he said. “It is so blind upon entry and (it) only plateaus above. So you have a lot of grip and (then) it just fades.”

Kellett gets a new take on Road America

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

The driver of the #4 K-Line/AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet (pictured above) followed racer.com motorsports journalist Marshall Pruett to some of the circuit’s most iconic corners to photograph USF2000 cars on track.

Veterans program raises more than $2 million

ABC Supply and AJ Foyt Racing partnered in an Indianapolis 500 fundraiser match campaign presented by Gainbridge to support the Homes For Our Troops organization.

The program was shown on the No. 11 Homes For Our Troops/ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet driven by JR Hildebrand in 12th place.

More than $1 million was raised and ABC Supply matched the donations to bring the total to more than $2 million. Homes For Our Troops builds homes and helps restore life for seriously injured veterans after 9/11. Learn more about HFOT at hfotusa.org.

bits and pieces

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

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

· Qualifying so high up the grid is always of the utmost importance, but remarkably this was not a circuit where a front row start was crucial. Only two drivers (Will Power in 2016 and Josef Newgarden in 2018) have won from pole since 2016. But all seven race winners since the NTT INDYCAR SERIES returned to Road America in ’16 have been won by drivers who started in the top 9.

· Friday was Scott McLaughlin’s 29th birthday.

· Indy Lights presented by Linus Lundqvist, leader of Cooper Tyres, HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing, had the fastest car in Friday’s first practice session at Road America. He has won four of the last five series races and has an 84-point lead over teammate Benjamin Pedersen, who drives the Global Racing Group with HMD Motorsports action.

· Juncos Hollinger Racing took the top two spots in Saturday’s Indy Pro 2000 qualifiers. Reece Gold won pole with Enaam Ahmed second. Gold has won two of the nine races held this season.

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

· The NTT INDYCAR SERIES begins its Saturday action at 10:45 am ET with the first of two practice sessions. The second, at 5:20 p.m., follows the NTT P1 Award qualifier at 1:45 p.m. All the action can be followed on NBC’s live streaming platform, Peacock Premium. The INDYCAR Radio Network will also report on the INDYCAR Mobile App and racecontrol.indycar.com.


#Silvestro #shape #Kelletts #view

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