Date: Saturday, June 27, 2015
Track: Auto Club Speedway, a 2-mile, D-shaped oval in Fontana, Calif.
Entry List: MAVTV 500 (PDF)
Race distance: 250 laps / 500 miles
Firestone tire allotment: Fifteen sets for use through the weekend
Event website: www.AutoClubSpeedway.com
INDYCAR website: www.IndyCar.com
2014 race winner: Tony Kanaan
2014 Verizon P1 Award winner: Helio Castroneves, 1:05.8918, 218.540 mph (two laps)
One-lap qualifying record: Gil de Ferran, 30.255 seconds, 241.428 mph, Oct. 28, 2000
Two-lap qualifying record: Will Power, 1:05.2247, 220.775 mph, Oct. 18, 2013
NBCSN television broadcasts: Qualifying, midnight ET Saturday, June 27 (tape delay); Race, 4 p.m. ET Saturday, June 27 (live). Leigh Diffey is the lead announcer, alongside analysts Steve Matchett and Paul Tracy. Pit reporters are Jon Beekhuis, Kevin Lee, Kelli Stavast and Robin Miller.
Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network broadcasts: Paul Page is chief announcer with analyst Jaques Lazier. Pit reporters are Dan Rusanowsky, Nick Yeoman and Michael Young, with Mark Jaynes and Jake Query in the turns. Verizon IndyCar Series qualifying and races air live on network affiliates, Sirius 212, XM 209, IndyCar.com,indycarradio.com and the INDYCAR 15 app. Practice sessions are available onIndyCar.com, indycarradio.com and the INDYCAR 15 app.
Video streaming: All practice sessions for the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season and this weekend’s qualifying session are available live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com.
INDYCAR 15 app: The Verizon INDYCAR 15 app has exclusive features for Verizon Wireless customers, including interactive 3D Live View with real-time leaderboard and car telemetry to see where drivers are positioned, a leaderboard with enhanced 2D “marching ants” and car telemetry, in-car camera video streams from cameras that move 360 degrees and driver-pit crew chatter during the race.
At-track schedule (all times local):
Friday, June 26
8:30-9:30 a.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series rookie practice
9:30-10:15 a.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice
12:45-2 p.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice
4:45-6 p.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series qualifying (single-car format, two laps each)
Saturday, June 27
9:30-9:35 a.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series systems check (one time around track)
1 p.m. – NBCSN on air
1:36 p.m. – MAVTV 500 (250 laps/500 miles), NBCSN (live)
* There have been seven different winners in 10 Verizon IndyCar Series races in 2015: Juan Pablo Montoya (Streets of St. Petersburg and Indianapolis 500), James Hinchcliffe (NOLA Motorsports Park), Scott Dixon (Streets of Long Beach and Texas Motor Speedway), Josef Newgarden (Barber Motorsports Park and Streets of Toronto), Will Power (Grand Prix of Indianapolis), Carlos Munoz (Raceway at Belle Isle-1) and Sebastien Bourdais (Raceway at Belle Isle-2). In 2014, there were a record-tying 11 different race winners.
* The MAVTV 500 will be the 14th Indy car race at Auto Club Speedway. Tony Kanaan won the race in 2014 when it was the season finale. Mark Blundell won the first Indy car race at the track in 1997.
* This is the third of six oval races on the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule. Montoya won the Indianapolis 500 on May 24, while Dixon won the Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway on June 6.
* Jimmy Vasser, Adrian Fernandez and Sam Hornish Jr. are the only drivers to win at Auto Club Speedway more than once. Vasser won in 1998 and 2002 (CART), Fernandez in 1999 and 2004, and Hornish won back-to-back races under INDYCAR sanction in 2002 and 2003. Ed Carpenter (2012), Power (2013) and Kanaan (2014) are past winners entered in this year’s race.
* Drivers who have won poles at Auto Club Speedway entered in this year’s race are: Kanaan (2002, CART), Helio Castroneves (2003, 2004 and 2014), Marco Andretti (2012) and Power (2013). Dario Franchitti (2005) and Power (2013) are the only drivers to win at Auto Club Speedway from the pole position.
* Twenty drivers entered in this year’s event have competed in past Indy car races at Auto Club Speedway. Castroneves and Kanaan (11) have the most starts among the entered drivers. Fourteen of those drivers have led laps at the track (Castroneves 310, Kanaan 180, Montoya 130, Power 111, Ryan Hunter-Reay 71, Carpenter 66, Dixon 48, Sebastien Bourdais 35, Charlie Kimball 22, James Jakes 11, Andretti 7, Takuma Sato 6, Ryan Briscoe 2 and Newgarden 1).
* After winning the Indianapolis 500 in May, Montoya chases the second leg of the Triple Crown for Verizon IndyCar Series 500-mile races this weekend. The last Indy car driver to capture the Triple Crown was Al Unser in 1978 (with wins at Indianapolis, Pocono Raceway and Ontario Motor Speedway). Because he also won the 2014 Pocono 500-mile race, Montoya would hold the “virtual” Triple Crown if he wins this weekend at Auto Club Speedway since he would be the reigning champion at all three tracks.
* Kanaan has finished on the podium in five of his last six races at Auto Club Speedway, including his win in 2014. Carpenter has finished on the podium in his last three Auto Club Speedway races (first in 2012, second in 2013 and third in 2014). Dixon has finished in the top 10 in seven of his eight previous races at Auto Club Speedway.
* Kanaan seeks to start his 244th consecutive race this weekend, which would extend his Indy car-record streak that began in June 2001 at Portland. Teammate Dixon looks to make his 186th consecutive start this weekend.
* Chip Ganassi Racing, with wins by Vasser (1998) and Kanaan (2014), is the only current Verizon IndyCar Series team with more than one victory at Auto Club Speedway.
* Team Penske has one win at the track (Power in 2013), which was built and previously operated by team owner Roger Penske. Team Penske has five pole positions at the track: Gil de Ferran (2000), Castroneves (2003, 2004 and 2014) and Power (2013).
* The 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season marked the competition debut of aerodynamic bodywork kits designed, manufactured and supplied by Chevrolet and Honda that attach to the Dallara IR-12 chassis used by all entrants. Cars are differentiated by their shape as the manufacturers have designed a separate aero kit specification for road and street course/short ovals and another for superspeedways. References to the cars incorporate the name of the corresponding kit manufacturer. The superspeedway aero kit versions made their competition debut at the Indianapolis 500 and will be used again this weekend at Auto Club Speedway.
* The No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske crew of Castroneves claimed the Firestone Pit Stop Performance Award at the Honda Indy Toronto on June 14 with a total pit-lane time of 1 minute, 26.278 seconds. This is the crew’s second Pit Stop Performance win in the last four races (Chevrolet Dual in Detroit, Race 1). The crew will receive its $10,000 award during pre-race festivities for the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway.
MAVTV 500 PRE-RACE DRIVER QUOTES:
WILL POWER (No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “It’s going to be a bit different going to Auto Club Speedway this year and not having it as the season finale. You know, I’m always going to think back to winning my first Verizon IndyCar Series championship there last year, so it’s always going to have that ‘end of year’ feeling to it. For me, Fontana has been a rollercoaster of emotions over the last few years. We missed out on the championship there in 2012. I came back to score what I consider one of my greatest wins there the next year. And last year we finally closed the deal there to win the title. I love racing there; I think we all do. It’s amazingly fast, but it’s wide enough where you don’t really feel wheel to wheel. It’s just a great place for our cars and I’m excited to go back and try to put the Verizon Chevy in Victory Lane there once again.”
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA (No. 2 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet): “I’m definitely excited to get to Auto Club Speedway this weekend for another 500-mile race. This No. 2 PPG Chevy team excels on the speedways and on the longer races. The Triple Crown is not something that I really focus on, but it’s something cool that the Verizon IndyCar Series brought back a few years ago and we are proud to be competing for it. Only one team is able to win the Triple Crown this year and it’s ours, so that is a cool feeling. Now that we had an off weekend to catch our breath and regroup, I am happy with where we are as we head into the final six races of the year. We’ve been able to mix in a lot of consistency with our two wins, but we need to get at least one more before the end of the year. Fontana and Pocono would be great tracks to do that for the Triple Crown.”
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet): “There is nothing like going to Auto Club Speedway while sporting the Auto Club of Southern California colors on the No. 3 Chevy. The amount of support that our team gets from the Auto Club employees while we are out there is amazing. We’ve been able to win several Verizon P1 Pole Awards there since I have been with Team Penske, but we haven’t been able to finish them off with a win. That’s probably the one track where I haven’t won that I would like to win more than any other. This would be a great weekend for that. We are right there in the championship hunt and a win would go a long way towards making sure we are there for the last six races of the year.”
STEFANO COLETTI (No. 4 KV Racing Technology Chevrolet): “I am happy to be going back to an oval. I’m learning a lot every time I go on track and it’s very important for me to be doing all these ovals in my rookie year, so I can be more prepared for next year. It is a big challenge for me, but I am looking forward to it and I hope that I can be competitive and end with a good result.”
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 5 Arrow/Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson Honda): “It will be a challenging 500 miles under the beating sun this weekend. We’ve had really good runs in the No. 5 Arrow Electronics car at the Indy 500 and Texas Motor Speedway, and I’m excited about continued success moving forward. We will be pushing hard to run at the front and hopefully be in a position to go for a win.”
JAMES JAKES (No. 7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): “I’m looking forward to going back to Fontana. I have good memories there, qualifying fifth in my last race there in 2013. It’s going to be hot, so for 500 miles it’s going to be tough – very tough – on the drivers and on the cars as well. We’ll just look to stay out of trouble in the No. 7 SPM MediaTech Honda and do the best we can.”
SAGE KARAM (No. 8 Comfort Revolution/Big Machine Records Chevrolet): “I’m really excited to get back in the car this weekend. I think the last few races we’ve improved our speed, which is just even more motivation for me for the race in Fontana. This track is a very challenging oval with a lot of room to run different lines. I clinched the Indy Lights championship at Fontana, so it brings back some good memories. I’m really focused on eliminating the mistakes I’ve made in the past few races as well. If we eliminate the mistakes, the results we are looking for will come.”
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): “Fontana has been a really enjoyable race over the years. I haven’t won there, but the team won last year with Tony Kanaan in one of the Target cars. It’s a track where you’ve got to keep up with the changes. Any time you start the race in the day and you run into the late afternoon, there are a lot of things you’ve got to try to keep up with. But the cool thing about Fontana on the racing side is the sheer fact you’ve got so many lanes to choose from. You can take the bottom lane all the way up to the top, which is almost four, five or six different lines drivers use at various parts of the race. It’s not the championship finale this year but it’s still going to be a great one for the fans.”
TONY KANAAN (No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): “Even though it was nice to have the weekend off with my family to relax and regroup after that long stretch of races, I’m more than ready to get back into the car in Fontana. I’ve had some solid finishes at Auto Club Speedway, especially last year with finally getting a win on the oval, and I’m just a big fan of this track. It’ll definitely be an adjustment for us as drivers as well as the team and engineers to race here in the middle of the afternoon and without the added pressure of it being the season finale, but I have full confidence in the NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing team to make those adjustments happen and work for us.”
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 11 Team Mistic E-Cigs – KVSH Racing Chevrolet): “I have only raced at Fontana a couple of times, but overall I like the track. It is going to be difficult racing there in the afternoon with all the heat, but it is the same for everyone. The Mistic E-Cigs KVSH team has worked very hard on our oval setup and, even though we obviously are not there yet, I think we are headed in the right direction. We have made some progress and understand the car better. Hopefully all the hard work will pay off and we can start the ‘oval season’ off with a good performance.”
TAKUMA SATO (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda): “Auto Club Speedway is one of the most exciting high-speed ovals. It’s a very fast track and there are lots of overtaking opportunities. I always enjoy racing here and I have great support, too (from the fans). Running the race during the heat of the day will be very tough. You lose tons of downforce from the high ambient temperature and you lose significant mechanical grip due to the high track temperature, as tires are given a very hard time. So there will be not enough grip and the race will be a tough one to deal with as a driver.”
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Mi-Jack Honda): “We have some big races coming up, obviously. There are three oval races in a row and it’s big for us from the points standing perspective because we’re in the thick of this thing. Ovals haven’t been our strong point up to now, but we’re really trying to turn it around and get some good runs in the next few races. And these three oval races are completely different. We have a 500-miler at Fontana, then one on a flat oval in Milwaukee and a flat, short, high-banked oval in Iowa – and you run different wing packages so they are each different. From a mindset standpoint, all oval races are very similar, though. Five-hundred mile races are a little different due to the length, but they are all very similar in the way that you approach them. The experience we gained on the ovals in Indy and Texas should help us a lot on the setup and with knowledge of the aerodynamics of the car and what we need to be competitive at Auto Club Speedway. All in all, there are a lot of positives that came from what we learned and also from mistakes we made, like the downforce level we decided to run in the race at Texas. We just have to keep learning from things like that and I can guarantee we won’t do it this time around. We certainly hope to be very competitive at Fontana. We have proven to be a contender all year and we need to just keep going down that path and putting ourselves in a position to win. Obviously it’s not going to be easy as we’ve seen all season, but I certainly hope we can get ourselves into a position where we can contend with all those frontrunners and, if nothing else, stay fifth in the championship, which is the key at this point. We’ve got some good guys behind us, but I feel like they are guys that we can beat.”
PIPPA MANN (No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda): “I am very happy to have had the call to come back and drive the Dale Coyne Racing No. 18 car at Fontana. It’s a very tough track to come and jump in a car, but I’m looking forward to the challenge and happy to have the opportunity to be back in an Indy car again.”
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka CFH Racing Chevrolet): “It is always exciting to go back to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. It has been a track that we have had a great history at the past three years, with a podium each year. We have really been struggling on the ovals so far this year, but I feel like Fontana is a great track to get things turned around. We have been working very hard to make sure we go there with a good plan to address some of the struggles that we have had. I can’t wait to get on track and get back up to speed.”
SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 Penske Truck Rental Chevrolet): “I really enjoy racing at Auto Club Speedway. There isn’t anything to not like about the track. I enjoy the high-speed tracks that we go to in the Verizon IndyCar Series and Fontana is definitely that. There is an opportunity to run so many lanes there. It gives you a ton of freedom as a driver because your lap is not dependent on what another car may be doing in front of you. You can run from the apron to the wall at Fontana and it always looks so spectacular. Everyone on the Penske Truck Rental Chevy team has worked hard to give me a feel that I like on the ovals. We were competitive in Indy and Texas. I can’t wait until race day and try to extract the most out of the car.”
CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 26 AndrettiTV Cinsay Honda): “Fontana can sometimes be a really particular track because of how it is with the seams and everything. It’s going to be a challenge, as we have seen with every race this year. It’s going to be different from my experience there the last two years because it’s a daytime race, so we’ll see how the weather pays off and we’ll do the best possible job we can with what we have. Fontana is a track I’ve always liked, so I’m looking forward to the weekend.”
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 27 Snapple Honda): “I’m looking forward to the stint of oval races ahead to help climb into the top five in points. Fontana is the most challenging oval ahead of us and will prove to be an even tougher race this year with the start time in the middle of the day. Looking for a good result for the Merchant First/Snapple Honda.”
JACK HAWKSWORTH (No. 41 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda): “Auto Club Speedway is an interesting oval, certainly the bumpiest oval on the calendar, and coupled with the seams and the amount of dust the track holds, it is extremely tricky and not an easy place to get it right. I have always preferred the oval races at night, I think it brings more of a stadium atmosphere. However, racing in the day will bring some new challenges, especially from a track temperature point of view. The track could be a little greasier with the sun on it and that could make finding the correct balance in the race just a little harder.”
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 67 Hartman Oil CFH Racing Chevrolet): “I am really excited to get to Auto Club Speedway. We’ve had a lot of work to do since Texas and have put a lot of effort in at the shop to be as prepared as we can going into Fontana. Hopefully we can keep the good results rolling after Toronto. I have a lot of faith in all of our guys. We have a lot of good, smart people on the team and I am looking forward to a solid weekend in California.”
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Levemir FlexTouch Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet):“I’m really excited about getting back to California and, of course, racing in California. The 83 car has been pretty quick the last couple of years at Auto Club Speedway, and I’m looking forward to the Levemir FlexTouch Chevrolet being quick again this weekend. I think with the date change and it being a day race rather than a night race, it will bring some new challenges for all throughout the Verizon IndyCar Series field. I know everyone on the Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing team is ready to react to those challenges and excel under pressure.”
GABBY CHAVES (No. 98 Bowers & Wilkins/Curb Honda): “I’m really looking forward to my second 500-mile race in the Verizon IndyCar Series. We had a top-10 run going at Indianapolis until some late race contact and a broken wing and, after having a good run at Texas, I’m confident we’ll have a good car at Fontana. I ran well and enjoyed racing there in Indy Lights two years ago, so I’m confident we’ll have a good weekend with the Bowers & Wilkins team.”