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Three years ago, Laguna Seca was going out of business, but it appears IndyCar is about to make Laguna Seca a success again - in a big way. After a 15-year hiatus, the open-wheel racing series returns this week for the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey. More on attendance numbers in a minute.
“There were a certain amount of requirements to bring the track up to current safety standards from when the last time IndyCar was here,” said Timothy McGrane, the facility’s CEO. “When IndyCar came out in the fall, there were a number of areas they required us to install safety fencing. That was by far the biggest part of the upgrade project.”
The morning practice saw most teams sitting in the pits waiting for the clock to countdown the 45 minute session. With the Firestone primary tires falling off after only 5 laps, most teams were not wasting the precious rubber on the practice session. It will be interesting to see how the alternate (red) tires do in the afternoon practice session.
We spoke with Michael Shank, who is seeking a new collaboration with an IndyCar team for next season. Shank replied that he should have everything in place in two weeks.
Ford Chip Ganassi Racing’s Ryan Briscoe, meanwhile, could find refuge at WTR next year, which could feature an all-new lineup in the Konica Minolta-sponsored Cadillac DPi.
The Australian open-wheel turned sports car ace, who is managed by WTR co-owner Max Angelelli (who is undergoing treatment for cancer), is understood to be in contention for one of the full-season seats.
Renger van der Zande, who has been with the team since 2018, does not currently have a contract with the Wayne Taylor team for next year, but Wayne Taylor says he and son Jordon will be the drivers.
So a lot of conflicting reports out of Laguna Seca this weekend.
Jordan Taylor to replace Magnussen at Corvette, denied by Wayne Taylor
Jordan Taylor would be following his brother Ricky out of his father's team. Ricky went to Team Penske
Jordan Taylor is set to replace Jan Magnussen at Corvette Racing for the 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season, as the first major shakeup in the team’s lineup in nearly a decade.
Industry sources have confirmed to Sportscar365 that the 28-year-old will make the switch from his father’s Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac DPi operation to the Pratt & Miller-run factory squad, in a deal that’s believed to have been struck with GM late last month.
The move, which is understood to have been a number of months in the making, has come at the expense of longtime Corvette driver Magnussen.
It’s unclear if the 46-year-old Dane, who has been with Corvette Racing since 2004, was forced out or elected to step down in a possible move towards retirement.
Spirit of Daytona Racing could make its return to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, with a customer Mazda DPi program reportedly currently under discussion for 2020.
Multiple sources have confirmed to Sportscar365 that the Troy Flis-owned team, which has been absent from top-level IMSA competition for more than a year, is working to field a Mazda RT24-P.
It would mark the first customer Mazda DPi, following the recent success by the Multimatic-built prototype, which enters this weekend’s round at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on a three-race win streak.
Johnson thinks an IndyCar might suit his style better. He's in for a rude awakening.
44-year old Jimmie Johnson can't win in NASCAR anymore so now he's thinking maybe he can do IndyCar. Johnson appeared on the 273rdedition of the Dale Jr. Download podcast and admitted that testing a McLaren F1 car last November in a ride-swap with Fernando Alonso wet his appetite for road course racing in open-wheel or sportscars.
“I don’t feel like it’s my strong suit but … when I’ve been in cars with more downforce and more braking ability, I’ve been much more competitive, like, when I’ve been in sportscars.
“I just think my driving style isn’t ideal for a big heavy Cup car. And hopping in that Formula 1 car and having that chance to match Fernando’s lap time as I did in Bahrain, was an eye-opening experience for me. Like maybe on a road course, those types of car fit my style a little bit more.”
One lonely fan. In some places the crowd was non-existent
UPDATE IMS president Doug Boles said yesterday that advance ticket sales had "topped 50,000 for the 235,000-seat venue.
That appeared to be about all they had by the looks of the grandstands.
Typical Brickyard 400 crowd
09/02/19 IMS says it is flat in ticket sales and expecting at least 50,000 in attendance for next week's Brickyard 400, including both general admission and hospitality.
With 250,000 seats or so, and at least half of the 50,000 people in suites and General Admission, the grandstands will look very barren and you'll be able to shoot a cannon into the grandstands and not hit anyone.
Latifi's dad to buy him Williams seat for 2020, replace Kubica (6th Update)
Nicholas Latifi - has check, will drive
UPDATE (GMM) Nicholas Latifi looks set to replace Robert Kubica at Williams for 2020.
Kubica, having returned to Formula 1 this year but clearly struggling, said at Monza that he doesn't know if he has done enough to keep the race seat.
Williams has kept supporting the 34-year-old despite his struggle, but boss Claire Williams said at Monza: "We're working out what we're going to be doing from a race driver perspective for 2020 at the moment."
Leclerc screwed Vettel in Monza qualifying. Vettel gave Leclerc a tow to set fast time in the first run, but stayed behind Vettel in the 2nd run until it was too late to cross the line before time ran out
(GMM) Ferrari is reportedly working on a new contract for Charles Leclerc.
Many believe the momentum is clearly switching from current 'number 1' driver Sebastian Vettel to Leclerc, the 21-year-old Spa winner and Monza pole sitter.
At Monza, Vettel was vocally upset about having not been given a slipstream in Monza qualifying by Leclerc, as per a pre-session agreement.
"We have to clarify that internally," team boss Mattia Binotto told Sky Italia after qualifying.
"I understand his frustration, so we will talk with him and try to understand what we could have done differently."
Finally, IndyCar will have a properly designed race car. Aldo Costa, the greatest designer in F1 history, will move to Dallara in September
Rumor has it that the greatest designer in F1 history will design the 2022 IndyCar for Dallara.
Aldo Costa, born in Parma, Italy, has decided it's time for a new life chapter. Costa will leave the Mercedes F1 team at the end of September and in 2020 will join Italian chassis manufacturer Dallara as their new Chief Technical Officer.
Before joining Mercedes, he was Head of Design Office at Ferrari in 1996, part of the dominant squad that took six constructors’ titles between 1999 and 2004 in the Michael Schumacher era, and two more in 2007 and 2008.
Ocon to Renault, Hulkenberg to get axe(11th Update)
Hulkenberg during press conference Thursday
UPDATE At Thursday's Italian GP press conference dumped Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg has admitted he has ‘nothing concrete’ lined up for the 2020 Formula 1 season despite ongoing talks with other teams.
The highly rated German driver will be replaced as Daniel Ricciardo’s teammate at Renault by Frenchman Esteban Ocon, who will join the team following a sabbatical from competition.
The 32-year-old has been linked with a move to Haas for next season, with Romain Grosjean tipped as heading to Formula E, but AR1.com sources say he is going to Alfa Romeo.
UPDATE F1 Managing Dir of Commercial Operations SEAN BRATCHES is set to "leave F1 at the end of this year," as the commercial structure of the sport "will be revamped over the winter," according to sources cited by Andrew Benson of the BBC.
Bratches, a former Exec VP/Sales & Marketing at ESPN, joined F1 with CEO CHASE CAREY and Managing Dir ROSS BRAWN when the sport was taken over by Liberty Media in '17.
F1 "declined to comment on the contractual position of its three senior managers."
Monza on verge of new five-year F1 contract (2nd Update)
UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. The Italian Grand Prix will remains at Monza for another five years following the signing of a new contract.
Formula 1 CEO and chairman Chase Carey joined the president of the Automobile Club d’Italia on stage in Piazza del Duomo to announce the deal and sign the contract in front of more than 10,000 Ferrari fans.
“This is one of four Grands Prix that were part of the 1950 championship and still features in the calendar and along with the British Grand Prix, it is the only one to have been held every year since then,” noted Carey. “History, speed and passion are words that motorsport fans associate with Monza. The feeling one gets at this Grand Prix is truly unique, as is the circuit’s distinctive podium.
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