IndyCar Spring Training Set To Kick Off This Week, Top 5 Storylines For Offseason

More than two dozen drivers are expected to converge on the Circuit of The Americas (COTA) layout in Austin, Texas, for a full-field open test Tuesday and Wednesday as the start of the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season looms just over a month away.
This event will mark the first full-field test of the new year and should prove beneficial to the drivers and teams when they return to COTA on April 24-26 for the AutoNation INDYCAR Challenge.

The full-field test sessions will be held on COTA’s challenging 20-turn, 3.41-mile permanent road course. Tuesday’s test session will be held from 10 a.m.-Noon CT and then from 1:30-5:30 p.m. On Wednesday, the test will run from 9-11 a.m. and then a return to the track from Noon-4 p.m. Both days will be open to the media while Tuesday’s test session also will be open to the general public.

The 17-race NTT INDYCAR SERIES season opens March 13-15 with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on the city streets of St. Petersburg, Fla.
“Rise Above” – Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden arrives as the defending NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion and will be looking to become the first to repeat since Dario Franchitti won three in a row from 2009-11. Newgarden, a 29-year-old native of Nashville, Tenn., won his second title in three years to join three-time series champ Sam Hornish Jr. (2001, ‘02, ‘06) as the only Americans with multiple crowns since 1995. Newgarden is coming off a 2019 campaign where he led the series in wins (4), top-five finishes (12) and laps led (490). He grabbed the championship lead from the outset with a win at the season opener in St. Petersburg, Fla., and only relinquished the points lead once – following the Indy 500 in May – during the entire 17-race season.

“TK Last Lap” – Ever-popular Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 winner and ’04 series champion, announced Jan. 30 that the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season will be his final campaign. Kanaan is scheduled to compete in the season’s five oval races –
the Indy 500 (May 24), Texas Motor Speedway (June 6), Richmond Raceway (June 27), Iowa Speedway (July 18) and World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway (Aug. 22) – in the No. 14 Chevrolet entry for AJ Foyt Racing. Kanaan, a 45-year-old native of
Brazil, will be competing in his 23rd season in 2020 and the farewell tour will be known as “TK Last Lap.” He owns 17 wins and 15 poles as well as INDYCAR’s all-time “Ironman” streak, having competed in 317 consecutive races dating to the 2001 season.

“On The Move” – There were a flurry of driver moves heading into the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season, including a full makeover at Arrow McLaren SP with the addition of the two most recent Indy Lights champions. Oliver Askew, the 2019 champ, and Pato O’Ward, the ’18 champ, replace James Hinchcliffe and Marcus Ericsson for the organization. Ericsson moves over to Chip Ganassi Racing to join Scott Dixon and Felix Rosenqvist as the organization expands from two to three teams. Rinus VeeKay, the 2019 Indy Lights championship runner-up, landed a ride with Ed Carpenter Racing as did Conor Daly. Daly will share the No. 20 entry with team owner Ed Carpenter and is slated to compete in all the road/street course events as well as an additional entry in the Indy 500. Dale Coyne Racing bid farewell to Sebastien Bourdais and replaced the four-time Champ Car Series champion with Super Formula Rookie of the Year Alex Palou. Colton Herta moves from the Harding Steinbrenner Racing one-car team to the fifth full-time entry for Andretti Autosport, following a merged effort that will be known as Andretti Harding Steinbrenner Autosport. Charlie Kimball, who ran a partial schedule for Carlin last season, will run a full season for AJ Foyt Racing. The other Foyt entry will be split among Kanaan, Bourdais and Canadian rookie Dalton Kellett.

“Game Changer” – The Aeroscreen, a safety innovation for enhanced driver cockpit protection, will be showcased by every team during the two-day test session and will make its competition debut March 13-15 at the season-opening Firestone Grand
Prix of St. Petersburg. The Aeroscreen consists of a ballistic, canopy-like windshield that is anchored by titanium framework that encompasses the cockpit. INDYCAR announced a partnership with Red Bull Advanced Technologies during the 2019 Indy 500
race weekend for the development and implementation of the Aeroscreen and had its first on-track test by October. That initial test was held at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon and Team Penske’s Will Power. Additional tests with other drivers followed at Barber Motorsports Park, Richmond Raceway and Sebring International Raceway over the course of a month. This will be the first full-field test with all teams having the Aeroscreen on their cars.

“Captain’s Choice” – The biggest move of the offseason came from Roger Penske, but it did not involve any of his trio of star drivers, Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud or Will Power. In a blockbuster announcement in November, Penske acquired the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IMS Productions from Hulman & Company. The sale to the Penske Corporation was finalized Jan. 6 and the assets will be operated by Penske Entertainment Corp., a subsidiary of Penske Corporation.

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