The Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach announced on Thursday that former IndyCar driver Alex Zanardi and IMSA all-time race winner Bill Auberlen will be inducted into the Long Beach Grand Prix Walk Of Fame on Friday 7 April.
Zanardi is a 15 time race winner in IndyCar and won the Long Beach Grand Prix in CART back to back in 1997 and 1998 respectively.
Zanardi’s former Ganassi team-mate Jimmy Vasser will accept the honor on the Italian’s behalf at the ceremony which forms part of the build up to the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach next month.
The 16th annual ceremony, open to the public, will take place at 11 a.m. on South Pine Avenue in front of the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center as part of the festivities surrounding the 2022 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia commented saying:
“Alex Zanardi and Bill Auberlen are icons in the auto racing world, and it is a privilege to honor them this way in our Motorsports Walk of Fame,
Grand Prix Association of Long Beach President and CEO Jim Michaelian said:
“With their records here in Long Beach and elsewhere, Alex and Bill are very deserving to be inducted into the Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame. “Their contributions to the sport of racing around the world are undeniable and we’re pleased to acknowledge their outstanding careers with this honor.”
The 2022 NTT IndyCar Series season got underway in Florida last weekend with the Firestone Grand Prix presented by RP Funding, while many teams in the series stayed the same in terms of their driver pairings, Meyer Shank Racing did not.
The team, led by Mike Shank and Jim Meyer decided to expand their operation to two full-time entries and brought in series veterans Helio Castroneves, who won the Indianapolis 500 for the team in 2021 and Simon Pagenaud who won the Indy 500 in 2019 with Team Penske.
The team received a boost over the off-season following the opening of their new race shop in Ohio and fresh investment from Liberty Media.
The team had a great pre-season test in Sebring last month as both Simon Pagenaud and Helio Castroneves led the way.
Speaking to Paddock Eye this week following the Firestone Grand Prix presented by RP Funding, Simon Pagenaud said that he is looking forward to his future racing with MSR.
Pagenaud credits former MSR IndyCar driver, Jack Harvey with assisting the team in terms of putting them where they are now competing with Penske and Ganassi.
The team heads to Texas Motor Speedway in two weeks for the XPEL 375 aiming for a strong performance however, Pagenaud told Paddock Eye this week that road course pace doesn’t necessarily translate to ovals.
Ed Carpenter Racing team owner, Ed Carpenter will compete in the oval events during the 2022 NTT IndyCar Series season oval races driving the No.33 Chevrolet starting with the XPEL 375 at Texas Motor Speedway on March 20.
Carpenter has three pole positions for the Indianapolis 500 and also compete in the Iowa doubleheader at Iowa Speedway on July 23 Hy-VeeDeals.com 250 and the Hy-Vee Salute To Farmers 300.
Carpenter will also compete in the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 on August 20.
AJ Foyt Racing’s Kyle Kirkwood in the No.14 ROKiT Chevrolet was the fastest at the NTT IndyCar Series rookie test at Texas Motor Speedway on Wednesday.
JR Hildebrand was on hand to shakedown the car ahead of Kirkwood’s track debut at TMS.
The Florida native set a fastest speed of 219.78MPH, completing 146 laps ending the session ahead of Juncos Hollinger Racing’s Callum Ilott who completed 130 laps.
Andretti Autosport’s Romain Grosjean who was the fastest in the no tow speed charts was third fastest completing 152 laps ending the day just ahead of Dale Coyne Racing’s David Malukas who completed 210 laps ending the day just ahead of Andretti Autosport’s Devlin DeFrancesco who completed 133 laps.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Christian Lundgaard rounded out the order with 186 laps under his belt.
Simon Pagenaud says that he is excited about the future prospects for the Meyer Shank Racing team in the NTT IndyCar Series having made his race debut at the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix presented by RP Funding on the streets of St Petersburg on Sunday.
Speaking to Paddock Eye on Wednesday night, Pagenaud said that the team work well together but that unfortunately they didn’t have the pace of Team Penske or Ganassi at the front however, he is excited about the future.
As for the next race at Texas Motor Speedway. the XPEL 375, Pagenaud said that they ran well here last season with Jack Harvey and that hopefully, that translates to this season.
A number of teams will run at Texas Motor Speedway next week ahead of the first oval race of the season, however, the Frenchman said that the team won’t attend the test because they used the test days up with Helio Castroneves getting up to speed ahead of his full-time return to the NTT IndyCar Series.
Pagenaud also confirmed that the investment that team owners Mike Shank and Jim Meyer show how serious and hungry they are to succeed and that for him it is a long-term project.
In terms of reuniting with Helio Castroneves as his team-mate having worked with him at Team Penske, he said that they are both successful in their respective careers and that means that there are no egos.
Pagenaud also confirmed to Paddock Eye that he is great on the technical side of things and that Helio is great on the commercial side so this means that they complement each other.
Pagenaud has gone from a Chevrolet-powered to Honda power and he said that there are huge differences when it comes to the steering wheel in the MSR car compared to the Penske Chevrolet.
Pagenaud confirmed that he worked extremely closely with his race engineer, Garrett Mothersead.
When it comes to his expectations for the season, Pagenaud said that he doesn’t necessarily have any specific targets for this season but that he just wants to help the team improve and grow.
The 2022 NTT IndyCar Series season-opening Firestone Grand Prix presented by RP Funding showed us all one thing and that is despite a tricky start to the weekend in terms of pace, you can never count out Chip Ganassi Racing.
Ganassi managed to have three of their four cars finish inside the top ten in Sunday’s 100 lap race on the streets of St Petersburg.
In the opening practice session for the race on Friday, Marcus Ericsson in the No.8 Huski Chocolate Honda was the fastest of Ganassi’s four cars in 15th place.
Defending series champion, Alex Palou in the No.10 NTT DATA Honda was 17th while six-time champion Scott Dixon in the No.9 PNC Bank Honda was 19th.
Jimmie Johnson ended the opening session in 24th place in his No.48 Carvana American Legion Honda.
In the second practice session on Saturday morning there was a bit of an improvement from the team with Alex Palou ending the session in seventh place.
Marcus Ericsson improved to 13th while Scott Dixon was 20th. Jimmie Johnson was 26th.
In qualifying for Sunday’s race, Scott Dixon was the leading Ganassi car in seventh place while Marcus Ericsson was eighth. Alex Palou started the race from tenth while Jimmie Johnson started the race from 26th.
In the race itself, it was Alex Palou who made the most progress over the 100 lap race as he came from tenth, making up eight positions to finish on the podium just behind race winner Scott McLaughlin.
Scott Dixon used a three-stop strategy to finish the race in seventh place just ahead of Marcus Ericsson in eighth with the pair finishing where they started.
The Iceman led a number of laps through pit cycles but came home with a solid top ten finish.
Jimmie Johnson finished the race in 23rd place one lap down but felt he made plenty of progress compared to last season and heads to Texas Motor Speedway later this month full of confidence, telling Paddock Eye over the weekend in St Pete that he sees no reason why he can’t challenge to be in the top-15 or even the top ten in the race.
This consistent results are why Chip Ganassi Racing can never be ruled out.
Andretti Autosport’s Romain Grosjean in the No.28 DHL Honda had a solid start to his first season with the team in the NTT IndyCar Series at the 2022 season-opening Firestone Grand Prix presented by RP Funding on Sunday.
The French-Swiss driver, who has made the step up to a full-time seat in the NTT IndyCar Series having joined Andretti from Dale Coyne Racing over the off-season following an impressive partial rookie season in 2021 started the 100 lap race from fifth place and that is where he finished the event.
Grosjean came home just behind his Andretti Autosport team-mate, Colton Herta in the No.26 Gainbridge Honda and just ahead of Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay in the No.21 SONAX Chevrolet.
Speaking following the race on Sunday, Grosjean said:
“The first race of the season is done and we came away with a double top five – fourth for Colton (Herta) and fifth for myself. We lacked a bit of something today but we are going to work hard to come back next race. The next street course is Long Beach so we should be good there. I am looking forward to going testing in Texas now.”
Finland’s Emma Kimiläinen who has taken two victories in the W Series has signed to join the Puma team for the 2022 season.
The announcement came after Puma Motorsport confirmed that they have extended their contract with W Series.
Speaking about the news, Catherine Bond Muir CEO of W Series said:
“I am delighted that Puma will continue to support W Series’ mission in 2022. Our brands are perfectly aligned – W Series aims to change the face of motorsport and increase opportunities in our industry for girls and women all around the world, while Puma is committed to celebrating females who inspire others, as shown by their support of W Series since our inaugural season. All of W Series’ drivers are inspirational and none more so than Emma Kimiläinen, who has competed against and beaten the world’s best drivers throughout her career and continues to do so whilst juggling her life as a businesswoman and a mother.
“Like us, Puma is determined to do all it can to help our drivers showcase their talent on motor racing’s greatest stage, and W Series’ drivers will once again be equipped with racewear tailored to their exact specifications, enabling them to feel comfortable in the car and perform at their best.
Emma Kimiläinen said:
I am very proud to be racing for the Puma W Series Team this year. With their She Moves Us campaign, our brand and values fit together perfectly and, being a professional athlete at the top level and a mother, I hope to inspire girls and women chasing their dreams in sports. It’s amazing to be recognised by Puma and the fact that they believe in my talent even though I’m a 32-year-old mum speaks volumes. Together we can show the world that, irrespective of your age or gender, you can always pursue your dreams.
“After finishing fifth in the inaugural W Series season and third last year, I’m aiming to continue my progress and win the title in 2022. The first half of last season was difficult, but I know what I need to succeed this year and I’m certain that the Puma team will provide that and enable me to launch a strong bid for the title – nothing less will do.
“Pre-season has been good so far with lots of snowmobiling at home in Finland and I’ve been training really hard. I’m looking forward to pre-season testing in Spain this week – we are a tight family in W Series so it will be lovely to see some old faces and greet some new ones.”
James Clark, Head of Sports Marketing Motorsport and Operations with Puma said:
It is fantastic to join forces with W Series and our own Puma W Series Team again this year, and I would like to thank the entire W Series team for embracing our vision. W Series has become one of the key pillars of our women’s campaign, She Moves Us, which celebrates females who move culture and sports forward and inspire women around the world. Passion for motorsport is in Puma’s DNA and we are excited to watch W Series grow worldwide. Through the She Moves Us campaign, we will provide comprehensive support and endeavour to drive women in motorsport forward, celebrating the success of the Puma W Series Team and the series as a whole.”
We are excited to have Emma Kimiläinen join the Puma family as she is the embodiment of She Moves Us – excelling as an elite athlete in a male dominated sport while being a full-time mother. Emma’s winning attitude on and off track will inspire the next generation of women in motorsport.”