Friday, March 23, 2018

Andretti Autosport's Alexander Rossi Speaks About IndyCar And The Southwest Spring Swing

Andretti Autosport's standout driver Alexander Rossi sits calmly before starting pre-season test sessions with the new Universal Aero Kit (UAK) all teams racing in the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season. Rossi begins his third year in IndyCar and holds high hopes at capturing a season championship. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2018)

Andretti Autosport's Alexander Rossi Speaks About IndyCar And The Southwest Spring Swing

Alexander Rossi participated in a media blitz on March 22, 2018 in advance of the Verizon IndyCar Series beginning its Southwest United States spring swing with back-to-back races at ISM Raceway with the Desert Diamond West Valley Casino Phoenix Grand Prix (Friday April 6 - Qualifications 5:00 PM - 6:00 PM PT / Saturday April 7 - Race 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM PT) and then the rites-of-spring 44th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Thursday April 12 - Long Beach Motorsports Walk Of Fame - 11:00 AM PT / Sunday April 15 - Race 1:00 PM PT).

#RossiTakesLA this morning we stopped by KTLA 5 Morning News for a 10:30 am talk about all things racing, with the second and final stop at KNX radio for podcast Talking About Cars with Randy Kerdoon. In between studios, Alexander Rossi spoke to Brittany Frederick, Edmund Jenks, and Eric Smith via phone. Although rainy, it was a super successful media tour! #TGPLB #44YearsStrong - Credit: TGPLB

Alexander Michael Rossi is an American professional racing driver. He currently races in the IndyCar Series for Andretti Autosport. Rossi won the 2016 Indianapolis 500 as a rookie.

Alexander Rossi began his professional racing career first with a Skip Barber National Scholarship after showing success at driving Karts. He became the youngest winner in Skip Barber National Championship history, at age 14.

As with many who wish to drive professionally, he ventured on to Europe where he was able to remain a top contender through International Formula Master, GP3 Series, World Series by Renault, GP2 Series, and on into Formula 1.

After not getting a full season seat with Marussia/Manor, he was able to sign with Andretti Autosport where he won one of the biggest races in all of motorsport, the Indianapolis 500. 2018 will begin his third year in the Verizon IndyCar Series where he ended 2017 seventh in the overall standings out of 37 drivers listed (21 full-season drivers).

Alexander Rossi was born in Auburn, California and raised in Nevada City. He is a fan of the New England Patriots. Rossi appeared on the 30th season of The Amazing Race, teaming with fellow IndyCar driver Conor Daly where they finished fourth.

At the time of this interview, the Verizon IndyCar Series has held one race of a 17 race season - the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg temporary street/airport course. The next two races on the schedule are called the Southwest swing and feature the Phoenix Grand Prix at the asymetric oval of ISM Raceway and the rites-of-spring Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach through the streets of Long Beach - a race similar in conditions to St. Petersburg.

Welcome Andretti Autosport's Alexander Rossi -

The last time we saw you in action in the Southwest United States was the Phoenix Prix View oval track test of the new Universal Aero Kit. The last 90 minutes of the two-day, four session test brought on a very intense nose-to-tail run from most all of the cars on the track - now that there has been one race held with this Universal Aero Kit what changes did you learn about the new Universal Aero Kit - First, for the Phoenix Grand Prix? Second, for the venerable street circuit of Long Beach?

How did you find the trailing turbulence behind the car you were following, in other words, was the mushroom effect of the turbulence higher or lower from 2017 car?

Now that you have 2 years in the Verizon IndyCar Series, both with the same team that had an INDY500 win in your rookie year, and a solid P7 sophomore year - behind Team Penske, Scott Dixon and Graham Rahal - in 2017, and having a strong finish with a P3 Podium points paying finish in the first race of the season at St. Petersburg - sharing the podium with repeat race winner 4-time champion Sebastien Bourdais, and runner-up Graham Rahal ... does a championship seem within reach?

There have been some shuffling within the Andretti Autosport team match-ups - Marco Andretti is driving the #98 Herta car and You're driving the #27 car. In the change to the #27 car, how instrumental was it to have Chief Engineer Jeremy Miless (pronounced Mill - ISS) and most of the rest of the crew during this transition? Is this crew expected to be there for the rest of the 2018 season?

Alexander since you have tested & raced a full race at Saint Petersburg - what do you like about the 2017 car over your new car setup? Then conversely - what do you like about your new car setup over the 2017 car setup?

Given the discussion between the drivers at Andretti Autosport, how does the new car favor the Andertti Autosport team, Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Zach Veach, as a whole?

You have raced side-by-side with Schmidt Petersen Motorsports Rookie Canadian driver Robert Wickens before in Europe. Everyone is aware of the end of race incident at the last restart at St. Petersburg. Given what you had seen from his testing at ISM Raceway and the Phoenix Prix View, how do you think he will fare on this oval track challenge? What will you be looking for in his line around this aysemtric venue?

Now on to some serious questions ...

How do you like being recognized as a Reality TV star since your pairing with Conor Daly as #TeamIndyCar on Season 30 of the world traveling competition series, The Amazing Race & is it any different than being a IndyCar standout as an Indy500 Winner?

Phil Keoghan, the Host of The Amazing Race, is quite a fan of racing and race car drivers, having participated in the process and competing in the venerable Toyota Pro Celebrity Race at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach - how did you get along with Phil, and what is your favorite Phil Keoghan story from your Season 30 experience traveling and competing around the world?

Last question - what's harder, being a Racecar Driver, or being a Reality TV Star?

We look forward to seeing you during the Southwest swing before the Month Of May activities at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

... notes from The EDJE

TAGS: #IndyCar, #TGPLB, #PressDay, #RossiTakesLA, #AndrettiAutosport, @ISMRaceway, #DesertDiamondPGP, @IndyCar, The EDJE

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

MPG March Meeting - How To Survive As A Freelance Automotive Journalist - Panel Discussion

Second luncheon meeting of 2018 and it brought forward an interesting group of panelists who primarily focused on Freelance Automotive journalism surrounding the driving and review of automobiles. Other subjects not covered were issues based upon deadline freelance coverage of  motorsporting events and specialized car shows. Also, the presentation would have allowed a greater impact if time were factored in for a Question & Answer session, post panel discussion. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2018) 

MPG March 2018 Meeting - How To Survive As A Freelance Automotive Journalist - Panel Discussion

Overall, it is always great to get together with like-minded, like-focused folks on a consistent and repetitive basis. Such is the best of experiences shared at the luncheons put on by the Motor Press Guild (MPG).

One of the elements that seemed to be missing from the order of things, that were tradition in previous year's meetings, was the logo'd tradeshow type pop-up. When placed properly, adds to everyone's photo album and let's most everyone know the meaning and context of the images taken by all who attended - great for instant Social Media postings.

After ample time for everyone to gather around and meet, lunch was served and the room was filled with its usual joyous and involved banter.

The Motor Press Guild began in 1984 as IMPA West, an affiliate of the New York-based International Motor Press Association. It is an association that has room, and meets monthly, by tradition, for all. To better serve “specialty” writers and photographers in the Motor Press Guild, The Motorsports and Car Culture Committee has been formed in 2018 ... chaired by Tom Stahler, pictured here third in from the right. Image Credit: Myles Regan (2018)

Then, promptly at 1:00pm, the panel discussion was enjoined. If there were new members, or folks who were invited guests, a time for this kind of Motor Press Guild tradition of introduction and announcements concerning MPG business wasn't placed into the calculation and management of the meeting.

That observed, the planned educational panel to discuss “How To Survive As A Freelance Automotive Journalist”, was a great success. Much was shared from issues that included transitioning from staff positions with publications, what an average work load/project base would look like, to the breadth of what editors look for in a successful Freelance relationship at high level publishing portals and print outlets.

The discussion was moderated by Manuel Carrillo III, Motor Press Guild Secretary for 2018.

Discussion included the following panelists (L to R):

•Elana Sherr - Freelancer, formerly Roadkill magazine (freelancing for Hagerty, Dodge, and Hot Rod)

•Bradley Iger - Freelancer (Hot Rod, Autoblog, Motor1, Autoweek, and Digital Trends)

•Christian Wardlaw - Freelancer, (Car Gurus, J.D. Power, and manages Freelance team at  New York Daily News)

•Basem Wasef - Freelancer (Autoblog, Men’s Journal, Robb Report, and Wired)

•Karl Brauer - Executive Publisher at Kelley Blue Book, has 10+ Freelancers on his team


Manuel Carrillo III: A Porsche 911 S brought Manuel Carrillo III home from the hospital after he was born, so it's no surprise his lifelong trajectory has centered on cars, leading him to a robust career creating rich automotive media for publications such as Robb Report, Luxury Life and DUB Magazine. Manuel got his start writing about cars for, and that led him to four years as the Automotive Content Editor at Internet Brands where he helped manage a team of 31 freelancers contributing across 25 websites.

Elana Scherr: Over the past six years, Elana Scherr has been an editor for HOT ROD and during a good chunk of that time, Editor-in-Chief of Roadkill Magazine. Recently she’s become a freelancer. When MPG President Michael Harley asked her to be on this panel, she joked with him that she hardly felt she should speak as an expert freelancer when (at the time he reached out to her) she had been doing it for only two weeks. “Are you paying your bills?” he asked. She said yes. He said, “You’re qualified.” Elana currently works with Hagerty, HOT ROD, Sports Car Market, Dodge, Driving Line, and Fuel Curve.

Bradley Iger: From stealing his brother's Hot Wheels as a toddler to wrenching on his own vintage daily drivers as a teen, Bradley Iger has always had a passion for cars. Over the years he has contributed to publications like Hot Rod, Autoblog, Motor1, Autoweek, and Digital Trends, providing car reviews, technical features and event coverage with a specialized focus on high performance and motorsport. He currently resides in Eagle Rock, placing him just a few minutes away from the twisting tarmac of the Angeles National Forest.

Christian Wardlaw: Writing professionally about cars since 1994, Christian Wardlaw started at Edmunds before the company had a website, and ended at J.D. Power before launching Speedy Daddy Media and freelancing his writing, editing, photography, video, copywriting, and consulting services. Currently, he is the editor and business manager for New York Daily News Autos, and his company also provides content to J.D. Power and CarGurus. Family affair: Christian’s wife, Liz Kim, is also a freelance automotive journalist and automotive copywriter.

Basem Wasef: Basem Wasef been afflicted with the car and motorcycle bug since he was a tyke, but didn't fall into automotive journalism until long after he realized it could be a viable career. He got his start contributing to a now-defunct LA-based lifestyle magazine, and now counts Automobile, Autoblog, Men's Journal and Robb Report as clients. He's also currently finishing up his third book for Quarto Publishing.

Karl Brauer: Karl Brauer is the Executive Publisher at Autotrader, Kelley Blue Book and He’s been in the industry since 1994, starting as the editorial assistant at Hot Rod Magazine, and he’s held multiple editorial and publishing roles at Petersen Publishing, and Autotrader’s parent company, Cox Automotive. Between you and me, his secret pet title for himself is “Master of the Universe.”
(ht: Motor Press Guild)

At this moment, there is not a planned MPG Luncheon for April, but what is confirmed is the DROPTOPS & DIRT event - on Tuesday, May 15th, 2018.

Once again, the MPG will return to the rugged trails and twisty roads surrounding beautiful Calamigos Ranch in Malibu, California.

Combining competitive comparisons on challenging roads and trails in off-road vehicles as well as drives through scenic, twisty canyon roads on the road in convertibles, the day will feature lots of driving with excellent photo locations and a tasty lunch.

This event is open to all current MPG members, however only Journalist and Analyst members may drive. All other active members, photographers and guests may ride along and join us for lunch.

Here's to a great start to the 2018 MPG Luncheon & Event Meeting season.

... notes from The EDJE

TAGS: Scott Martin, Fatt Al, Elana Scherr, John Grafman, Stephen Harvey, Dicken Wear, Manuel Carrillo III, Basem Wasef, Brandy A. Schaffels, Scott Martin, Dave Wolin, Bradley Iger, Dicken Wear, Christian Wardlaw, Karl Brauer, Stefan Pagnani, Tom Stahler, The EDJE

Friday, March 16, 2018

McLaren F1 Says "HALO" & G'Day To Gandys In Australia

A brilliant first move by a shoe manufacturer in an effort of cross-promotional branding. McLaren, as with all other F1 racing teams, have to field a car with the new cockpit protection superstructure known as a HALO. Image Credit: Gandys

McLaren F1 Says "HALO" & G'Day To Gandys In Australia

McLaren teams up with the adventurous British lifestyle brand for next week's Grand Prix in a brilliant sponsorship deal.

Today’s announcement marks the first brand, Gandys, to take advantage of the unique shape of the new-for-2018 Halo cockpit protection structure, which has frequently been compared to the distinctive upper of a flip-flop. For the Australian Grand Prix, Gandys branding will be a feature on the front part of the HALO on both McLaren cars.

Gandys logo clearly sported on the joining section of the protective HALO superstructure. Image Credit: McLaren

Additionally, Gandys and McLaren will collaborate to create a limited-run ‘Halo-edition’ flip-flop, with 100 per cent of all profits going directly to the Orphans For Orphans foundation. They will be available from and all Gandys' London stores, as well as through

Gandys was founded by brothers Rob and Paul Forkan, who were inspired to start the brand after tragically losing both their parents in the Tsunami that affected much of southeast Asia in December 2004.

The Gandys brand began with a single flip-flop design, with its initial success enabling Rob and Paul to achieve their goal and open the first Orphans For Orphans foundation kid’s campus, in Sri Lanka in 2014.

F1 champion driver Felipe Massa had this reaction he posted on his Facebook page which was latter shared with the social media platform Reddit. Great minds think alike but it was McLaren and Gandys that made this promotiona dream come true. Image Credit Felipe Massa via Reddit

Alongside their charitable foundation, the Gandys brothers have continued to grow the brand since its inception in 2012. Gandys introduced full menswear and womenswear collections to the brand in 2016, and continue to support Orphans For Orphans by donating 10 per cent of their profits to the foundation. The second campus was opened last year in Malawi, with plans to open more across the world.

John Allert, McLaren Chief Marketing Officer, said:
“We’re delighted to have Rob, Paul and the team at Gandys join us for the Australian Grand Prix. The placement of the logo, on the MCL33’s Halo, was not only perfect from a branding perspective, but also a great opportunity to underline Gandys’ charitable commitment to providing a safer, more protective environment for those at risk.

“Collaborating with Gandys on a limited-edition co-branded product was also a meaningful step for us. By giving 100 per cent of all profits to the Orphans For Orphans charity, McLaren is also able to help a very deserving good cause.

“Showcasing this partnership in Australia, where we race just a stone’s throw from Melbourne’s beautiful St Kilda beach, just felt like the best possible opportunity for Gandys to showcase its brand and noble cause on the international stage.”

Gandys co-founder Rob Forkan said:
“We were absolutely thrilled when McLaren came to us with this idea. When the brand was created, Paul was living in Melbourne, and I went out to surprise him on his birthday to tell him about the idea for Gandys. After managing to persuade him to return to the UK and start the brand, it’s really exciting to be going back. In fact, it will be the first time we’ve returned to Melbourne, so it’s great to feel we have come full circle!

“By putting Gandys’ branding on the car’s Halo, we can help to strengthen the message behind our Orphans For Orphans initiative; creating a protective and inspiring environment for children at risk. It is a step in the right direction for the safety of the drivers and a great step for Gandys.

“When we started Gandys we started working on a small scale, helping a few children. Now we are helping more and more vulnerable children all around the world. We hope the halo will have a similar impact in Formula 1, as we know that even if it only saves one life to begin with, it will go on to have a wider impact.”

“On a personal note, as huge fans of Formula 1 and McLaren, this was an opportunity that was simply too good to pass up. We can’t wait to see Fernando, Stoffel and the whole team in action in Melbourne next weekend.”
(ht: McLaren)

... notes from The EDJE

TAGS: McLaren, Gandys, HALO, Flip Flop, Felipe Massa, Formula 1, #F1, Facebook, Reddit, Melbourne, Australia, The EDJE

Monday, March 12, 2018

VICS 2018 At St. Pete - Funny Thing Happened On The Way To A Champion's Coronation

The nose graphic that appears on the wasp-like livery on the Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan - No. 18 Team Sealmaster Honda Dallara of the first winner of the first race of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series today at Saint Petersburg - Sebastien Bourdais. Image Credit Edmund Jenks (2018)

VICS 2018 At St. Pete - Funny Thing Happened On The Way To A Champion's Coronation

The tenth edition of the best carry-over (non IMS) race from the original schedule of the Indianapolis Racing League (IRL), the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, featured twenty-four very capable cars and drivers filling the field packed with seven past Indy Car champions representing thirteen season championships riding along side seven rookies where three of them made it into the 3rd Round Firestone Fast Six in Knock-Out qualifications is a really, really big deal. Last year's winner of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (replay) was 4-Time IndyCar season champion, Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais.

The Verizon IndyCar Series, in order to make racing more competitive and in control of the driver in this top level of American motorsport, tightened up the body skin specification on the Dallara DW12 chassis by introducing the two year project now known as the Universal Aero Kit (UAK).Welcome the age of the UAK on the DW12 Dallara.

2017 Verizon IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden describes the 2018 Universal Aero Kit on stage during the 2018 INDYCAR unveil at the North America International Auto Show in Detroit. Image Credit: Joe Skibinski

The past Verizon IndyCar Series season champions include Andretti Autosport driver Ryan Hunter-Reay (2012), AJ Foyt Racing driver Tony Kanaan (2004), Chip Gannasi Racing driver Scott Dixon (2003, 2008, 2013, 2015), Team Penske drivers Will Power (2014), Simon Pagenaud (2016), Josef Newgarden (2017), and the aforementioned Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan driver Sebastien Bourdais (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007) - 7 series champions covering 13 season titles.

The rookies entering into the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season's first race are Firestone Grand Prix P1 Verizon Pole Award winner, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Canadian driver, 29 year old Robert Wickens, Firestone Fast Six P3 Qualifier AJ Foyt Racing Brazilian driver, 19 year old Matheus Leist, Firestone Fast Six P4 Qualifier Ed Carpenter Racing British driver, 24 year old Jordan King, Andertti Autospot American driver, 23 year old Zach Veach, Michael Shank Racing/Schmidt Peterson Motorsports British driver, 24 year old Jack Harvey, Dale Coyne Racing Canadian driver, 19 year old Zachary Claman DeMelo, and Juncos Racing Austrian driver, 26 year old RenĂ© Binder.

The traditional first race of the season, for nine years now (since 2009, the race has served as the season opener, with the exception of 2010, when it was the second race of the season), held around the airport, streets and harbor of Saint Petersburg, Florida proved to all what everyone had suspected. A different kettle of fish from most of the Dallara DW12 era racing - less downforce, great body strength, very fast in a straight line. The UAK is very pleasing to drive - from the opinion of most all of the drivers.

Most observers assumed that experience held within championship winning teams, the teams with the greatest financial backing, history, testing, and experienced drivers would hit this opening opportunity with suffocating domination.

To nearly everyone's surprise this was not the case when the rookies, took the Verizon P1 Pole Award (Wickens became the third rookie in 25 years to win the pole for his IndyCar debut), and two additional positions in the Round 3 Firestone Fast Six in road/street format Knock-Out qualifications. Left out to watch from the sidelines were such impressive champion drivers as Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Simon Pagenaud, and last year's champion Josef Newgarden.

Robert Wickens affixes the Verizon P1 Award emblem on his car after winning the pole position for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Image Credit: Chris Jones

The cars slip and slide ... the in-car camera shots show that the steering wheel gets as much a workout as peddles in a spinning class. More driving is required from all of the drivers in this series making the product on the track more entertaining than it has been in recent history. And, to be honest, the racing has been very good since the introduction of the first Dallara DW12 platform.

EXAMPLE - Opening Laps:

On the first lap of the race, Will Power attempted a Turn 1 pass and through Turn 2 became lose and spun without contact, Tony Kanaan gets lose in Turn 5 and as he straightens out, taps Zach Veach with wing parts flying. Lap 2 has RHR coming out of the pits ahead of traffic after a quick controller change because the one installed did not allow for accelleration and Charlie Kimball becomes unsettled after bouncing on the curb entering Turn 13 and comes to a stop off of the track at Turn 14 - Full Course Yellow.

Restart on Lap 6 has three rookies leading in P1, P2, and P3 - King, Wickens, & Leist - Beginning Lap 7 Spencer Pigot spins going into Turn 1 bringing out a Full Course Yellow.

Restart Lap 11 has Jordan King leading the field to the third start of racing at St. Pete, followed by Wickens, Rossi, Leist, and Hinchcliffe ... not a champion in the bunch - and only one fully established driver of over three seasons in the series.

Wickens passes in Turn 1 as King goes wide ... Rossi loses a place back to P4. The first Champion is settled in at P7 with Scott Dixon  ... now at Lap 13.

So the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season begins on the temporary street circuit at St. Petersburg.

To give one additional insight on just how busy, or as Eddie Cheever on the broadcast put it ... CHAOS filled, the events of the Firestone Grand Prix of Saint Petersburg race were, just take a look at the video shot list released as a usable media asset by the Verizon IndyCar Series after the race.

Shot List:
Aerial of St. Petersburg
Grand marshal Helio Castroneves gives the start command
Green flag
No. 12 Will Power spins
Power replay
No. 14 Tony Kanaan spins
No. 15 Graham Rahal and No. 21 Spencer Pigot incident
Replay of Rahal and Pigot incident
No. 23 Charlie Kimball goes off track
No. 6 Robert Wickens leading
No. 4 Matheus Leist incident
Team owner A.J. Foyt reaction
No. 18 Sebastien Bourdais leading
No. 9 Scott Dixon and Sato incident
Replay of Dixon and Sato incident
Wickens passes Bourdais for the lead
No. 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay on-board view of No. 60 Jack Harvey going off track
Harvey parked in the last turn
Wickens leading with No. 27 Alexander Rossi in pursuit
Wickens passes Rahal
Rossi gets wide in Turn 4
Slow-motion replay of Rossi wide
No. 32 Rene Binder incident
No. 59 Max Chilton incident
Final restart, Rossi and Wickens incident, Bourdais takes the lead
Replay of Rossi and Wickens incident
Checkered flag, Bourdais wins, crew reaction, Bourdais does donuts

Sebastien gives race winning TV interview before he exits the car in the Victory Circle. Image: INDYCAR (2018)

Bourdais pulls into pit lane and gets congratulated
Bourdais sound

Almost covers it except the race was really even more eventful than the shot list would indicate.

Image 1) Alexander Rossi cooks it in Turn 4 and hurts his attack - Robert Wickens in the foreground. Image 2) Rossi rejoins the hunt and passes Charlie Kimball in Turn 5. Images: INDYCAR (2018)
With the laps winding down, and Canadian driver Robert Wickens in the lead, being chased down by third year American driver and 2016 Indy500 winner Alexander Rossi, it looked as though the race was comfortably in hand, especially when Rossi, who was reducing the distance between Wickens and himself, slid and overshot the apex point at Turn 4, losing and attacking advantage (depicted above). 

"It was going to be pretty hard to reel him back in there," Alexander Rossi said - except the chaos wasn't over.

That is, until Rookie Rene Binder with 10 laps to go brought out a FULL COURSE Yellow (FCY) after his car went into the tires to set up one uneventful restart.

Max Chilton stalled moments later to set up a second FCY with two laps to go. Bourdais, sitting comfortably in third and happy to start the year on the podium, wasn't that happy; he thought someone would make a risky maneuver and wreck the field.

"Normally they don't allow push-to-pass on restarts," added Alexander Rossi at the post race media conference. "You'd normally have to do a timed lap before you did it, but because of the late call to go green that lap, they allowed it, and I actually got the call when I was in the middle of Turn 13 and 14. So I had a big jump on Rob (Wickens), and he got to the push-to-pass pretty late. The run was perfect for me going into Turn 1, and I knew there wasn't going to be many other opportunities. Obviously (Wickens) had a good car all day, and they did a great job. I made the pop. He defended the position, which he has the right to do, but in doing so, in moving the reaction, he put me into the marbles pretty late into the corner." Image: INDYCAR (2018)

Sure enough, Rossi contested the lead, hit Wickens going into Turn 1, and ended both of their victory hopes. Rossi recovered to finish third, while Rookie Wickens got stuck and finished 18th in the 24-car field.

Lost in all of this was the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver and past winner of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (2008) Graham Rahal, who had one of the worst performances in Knock-Out Qualifications for a road/street race. Graham Rahal ended up starting the race dead last in the No. 15 United Rentals Honda, had a strong race with good strategy with clean pit stops and ended up on the podium in P2!

"The United Rentals guys did a great job out there," said Graham Rahal in a post race interview. "Certainly, yesterday wasn't what we expect of ourselves, isn't what we hoped for. Last night, what can you do. Put your heads down, you work hard. Even this morning the car wasn't phenomenal in practice. With Tom (German, engineer) and the boys, they made great changes. Our guys had good pit stops and frankly good strategy. We had the pace when we needed it, we could save a lot of fuel when we needed it, we could make passes if we needed to. It just kind of all played out for us. We will take second (place) any day. It's the best start to a season I have had since I won here in 2008. Thank you to all the fans, the turnout was great this weekend. I hope you guys enjoyed the new car. We are going to put on some great shows this year as you can see."

For a coronation to happen, one needed aggressive racing, sliding cars, just a bit of side-to-side bumping along the way - the crown is then served to a four-time series season champion and, to add insult to injury, repeat Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg winner, Sebastien Bourdais.

The Verizon IndyCar Series is beginning its Southwest United States spring swing with back-to-back races at ISM Raceway with the Desert Diamond West Valley Casino Phoenix Grand Prix (Friday April 6 - Qualifications 5:00 PM - 6:00 PM PT / Saturday April 7 - Race 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM PT) and then the rites-of-spring 44th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Thursday April 12 - Long Beach Motorsports Walk Of Fame honoring Juan Pablo Montoya and Helio Castroneves - 11:00 AM PT / Sunday April 15 - Race 1:00 PM PT).

... notes from The EDJE

TAGS: Alexander Rossi, Sebastien Bourdais, Graham Rahal, #INDYCAR, Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, @StPeteFL, @IndyCar, #FirestoneGP, #VICS, Verizon IndyCar Series, The EDJE

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The Monster Energy NASCAR Series Auto Club 400 2018 Gets Kicked Off With Dave Allen

Chip Ganassi Racing's Kyle Larson wins the 20th Anniversary celebration checkered flag of the Auto Club 400. Image Credit: Getty Images via ACS (2017)

The Monster Energy NASCAR Series Auto Club 400 2018 Gets Kicked Off With Dave Allen

Dave Allen serves as President of Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. In this role, Mr. Allen is responsible for the management and operations of the ISC facility including Auto Club Dragway.

Mr. Allen has been with the Speedway since 1999 after spending one year at Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca.  From 2002-2006, Mr. Allen served as Senior Director of Sales and Marketing.  In 2006, Mr. Allen was named Vice President of Sales and Marketing with oversight of all sponsorship, hospitality, suite and consumer sales.

Mr. Allen’s leadership skills have enabled the track to grow with the addition of new events. Today, California’s premier motorsports facility, hosts over 320 days of track activity including a quarter-mile championship dragstrip at Auto Club Dragway, full-service karting facilities and various racing schools and experiences. The track is owned and operated by International Speedway Corporation (ISC).

Welcome, DAVE ALLEN, President Auto Club Speedway ...

After last year's Auto Club Speedway celebrating 20 years of racing with a ‘Track Reunion’ theme - NASCAR returns for it's only swing through the LA Basin marketplace in 2018. The Monster Energy NASCAR Series Auto Club 400 is scheduled for the weekend beginning with the Fan Fest Hauler Parade on Thursday, March 15 and concludes with the race being run with the Green Flag dropping at 12:30pm PT.

Auto Club Speedway is one of the fastest tracks on the NASCAR circuit and the oval has aged to perfection for incredible 4 to 5-wide racing, at times. Fans attending Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Auto Club 400 race weekend can park free of charge, making race weekend an incredible value full of fun and entertainment.

Auto Club Speedway, again, is one of the fastest tracks on the NASCAR circuit - over the most recent years, the racing has improved in a steady progression ... beginning with race stage points enhancements - How do you see the Monster Energy NASCAR Series Auto Club 400 play out over last year?

Tell us a little bit on how the 20th year reunion went and how is this going to go forward into this year?

Overall, given what you have seen last year, what has the viewership & attendance been like? Give us a feel what that has been like?

Event Weekend schedule - what do fans need to be looking for? I've noticed in a brief review of the schedule it really has some nice high-points, what do you see as some of the most important pieces that fans should be looking for?


The NASCAR Auto Club 400 is scheduled for Sunday, March 18, 2018 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.

Schedule Overview: 

Thursday, March 15: FanFest and NASCAR Hauler Parade
Free Community Event
Gates open at 5:00 pm / Event ends at 8 p.m. 
Hauler Parade at 6:45 pm
NASCAR Driver Appearances – Q&A

Friday, March 16: NASCAR Qualifying Day and 5.11 Tactical Pole Day
General admission tickets are $20.00. Kids under 12 are free with a Lefty’s Kids Club membership with paid adult general admission ticket.
Gates open at 10:30 am
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Qualifying at 4:15 pm 
Walk of Fame Ceremony: 2017 Auto Club 400 Winner - Kyle Larson at 10 a.m. outside Gate B 

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series leader and Elk Grove, Calif. native Kyle Larson (No. 42, Target Chevrolet) made Auto Club Speedway home sweet home this weekend in 2017 and atoned for runner-up finishes in each of his previous three Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts by pulling into victory lane at the 21st Annual Auto Club 400. Image Credit: Getty Images via ACS (2017)

Saturday, March 17: NASCAR Xfinity 300 race
General admission tickets start at $30.00. Kids under 12 are free with a Lefty’s Kids Club membership with paid adult general admission ticket.
Gates open at 9:00 am 
NXS 300 starts at 2:00 pm
National Anthem and Pre-Race Concert: Temecula Road

Sunday, March 18:  Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Auto Club 400 
Tickets start at $50.00
Gates open at 7:00 am
Auto Club 400 starts at 12:30 pm 
Grand Marshals: The Cast from Super Trooper 2
National Anthem: Grammy-nominated hitmaker Cassadee Pope 

Cassadee Blake Pope is an American singer, songwriter, and musician whio took part in the third season of The Voice and became the first female winner on December 18, 2012. Her debut solo country album, Frame by Frame, was released on October 8, 2013 to a top 10 Billboard 200 charting. It debuted at No. 1 on Top Country Albums, with 43,000 copies sold in its first week. Pope and her duet partner Chris Young were nominated for Best Country Duo/Group Performance for their hit song "Think of You", making her first contestant from The Voice to receive a Grammy nomination. When it comes to Pope's influences - Natalie Imbruglia's Left of the Middle and old Shania Twain, Michelle Branch, Avril, Blink 182 … "I’m kind of all over the board." And then more recently I’m into the new Blake Shelton album, Not Gonna Lie, Hunter Hayes, and Taylor Swift. Pope also mentions Martina McBride as one of her influences. Image Credit: ACS (2018)

Preview YouTube Auto Club 400 >>>
Jimmy Johnson participates in a Q&A while standing next to the surfboard Richter's Trophy. Image Credit: ACS (2017)

Tickets for the Auto Club 400 start at $50
Extended special packages for fans through March 9
Q&A Session with Six-Time Auto Club 400 winner – Jimmie Johnson includes a ticket to the Auto Club 400, pre-race pit pass and more! Only  $118
Q&A Session with Chase Elliott – 2-day ticket package includes tix to Auto Club 400 and NXS 300 Only $69.00 
Drivers Meeting Red Carpet: Get an up-close view of your favorite NASCAR Drivers as they walk down the red carpet to the Drivers Meeting. Plus, Tix to the Auto Club 400 – only $99.50

To purchase tickets, call 800-944-RACE (7223) or visit ⦁ 

Chase Elliott is scheduled to participate in a fan Q&A session on race day. Image Credit: ACS (2017)

I am aware that winning drivers get to have their hand and footprints placed in cement - are you going to have this ceremony for Chip Ganassi Racing's Kyle Larson?

... notes from The EDJE

TAGS: Auto Club 400, Auto Club Speedway, NASCAR, Monster Energy, @JimmieJohnson,  @NASCAR, #NASCARThrowback, #ACSLove, @KyleLarsonRacin @ChaseElliott, #PitPass, #AutoClub400, @CassadeePope, The EDJE