Chaves graduates to Verizon IndyCar Series

Daly puts best foot forward in auditionChaves graduates to Verizon IndyCar Series with HertaEight drivers turn laps at Sebring private testMonth of May activities include new twists

Of Note:Vince Neil headlines concert at Toyota Grand Prix of Long BeachEd Carpenter named to "Forty under 40" listSmash Mouth added to Belle Isle event1. Daly puts best foot forward in audition: Conor Daly wore his "lucky" shoes and a fresh firesuit, and patted the nose of the stark white No. 7 Dallara chassis bearing his name on either side of the cockpit "for luck."

But luck is really the confluence of preparation and opportunity as Daly auditioned for a 2015 ride with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports at Sebring International Raceway alongside regular driver James Hinchcliffe.

"I've never prepared more for a day in my life," said Daly, who made his Verizon IndyCar Series debut in the 2013 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race with A.J. Foyt Racing. "It is the dream and the goal to be competing full time in IndyCar. This is a great first start with this opportunity to test."

Daly, 23, of Noblesville, Ind., matched Hinchcliffe's lap time in the morning session on the 1.65-mile short course and provided the feedback engineers seek with two cars on track.

"It's been two years since I've been in a car on a road course, but to be right on pace with Hinch for me personally is great," he said. "It's just so nice to be back in a car and working with these guys is so cool."

Hinchcliffe gave his thoughts on Daly's performance on IndyCar.com.

2. Chaves graduates to Verizon IndyCar Series with Herta: 2014 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires champion Gabby Chaves will graduate to the Verizon IndyCar Series with Bryan Herta Autosport in 2015. He will pilot the No. 98 Honda for the 16-race season starting with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 27-29.

"His speed and feedback were very impressive," Herta said of his driver's Dec. 17 audition test. "Gabby has the skills and mind-set to make a real impact in IndyCar. I see no reason why Gabby should not be a top contender for Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors.

"Recent experience has shown that top drivers graduating from Indy Lights have transitioned to IndyCar with great success. We have had the opportunity to work with a few rookie drivers in the last couple years and we believe we have a great environment to support their development and achieve great results."

Chaves, who recorded four victories last season with Belardi Auto Racing, is looking forward to the opportunities on the top level.

"I'm so excited and honored to be the latest Colombian driver in IndyCar," said Chaves, who was recognized last month for his 2014 accomplishments at the FIA Americas Award in Panama. "Our country has such a great history in the sport, and especially at the Indianapolis 500 with drivers like Roberto Guerrero, Juan Pablo Montoya and Carlos Munoz. I can't wait to make my own history there."

3. Eight drivers turn laps at Sebring private test: Eight Verizon IndyCar Series driver/car combinations turned laps on the Sebring International Raceway short course Feb. 3 in the first multi-team test of 2015.

The sessions included Luca Filippi, who was named last week by CFH Racing to drive the No. 20 Fuzzy's Award Winning Vodka car on road/street courses this season. Team co-owner/driver Ed Carpenter will compete on the ovals. Also, Conor Daly, who made his Verizon IndyCar Series debut in the 2013 Indianapolis 500 with A.J. Foyt Racing and has been competing in the GP2 Series the past few seasons, was testing the No. 7 Honda for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports alongside regular driver James Hinchcliffe.

Quotes from drivers at the test:

James Hinchcliffe, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports: "It's really the start of the new year and the new season. We did our one (on-track test) day back in December, but that was kind of get-to-know-you and now we're really getting to work. Obviously, we don't have the bodywork kits yet and that's what we're all excited for, but there is still enough items for us to run through and it's been a productive day."

Luca Filippi, CFH Racing: "I can't tell you how happy I am. I've been chasing a (Verizon IndyCar Series) contract for a while and I don't remember the last time I had the opportunity to have a proper program with a proper contract in time to go testing and make things right before the first race. I'm looking forward to working with the guys, the team is getting bigger and the goal is for everybody to do well. I couldn't ask for a better situation."

Josef Newgarden, CFH Racing: "Having Luca (Filippi) here has been fun to learn his traits and what we both like in trying to maximize two cars. That's the big thing for us - how to do that efficiently and keep up with everyone else. It's been fun just getting back in the car after a long winter break."

Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport: "It's great to be back with the whole team. It's kind of strange because we've been testing the aero kit and now we're back with the old package. We're working on quite a few things we found over the winter and some questions we had from the end of last season so having all three drivers here, running through it will give us a good direction to start the season."

Carlos Munoz, Andretti Autosport: "It's been a long time since I drove a car on a road course and we got up to speed quickly. It's also good to be back with my teammates (Marco Andretti and Ryan Hunter-Reay) and with the 26 (car) group, which is the same as last year. It's good to have that continuity."

Marco Andretti, Andretti Autosport: "It's always fun to be in the car. Though we're not using the new aero kit yet, we can still get a lot of team things done. We're still checking boxes on some of the bigger items right now and working our way on preparing for the season opener."

Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing: "We're ready to get going and excited to be out here. This is the start of the whole season for us. We have a few test days with this aero kit and then we'll be put on hold until the new aero kit comes out. It will be busy when that times comes, too. It's nice to be out here for sure."

4. Month of May activities include new twists: From an Opening Day featuring restyled race cars, the second Angie's List Grand Prix of Indianapolis, a practice session with after-hours running and the 99th Running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 24, the 2015 Month of May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will be full of action.

"Anticipation is already building and we are once again excited about our on track schedule as well as the other activities that will make this a special Month of May," said J. Douglas Boles, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president. "Starting with the debut of the aero kits on the oval, followed by the second running of the Angie's List Grand Prix of Indianapolis, the first week of activity will provide a perfect lead up to Indianapolis 500 practice, qualifying and the 99th Running of the Indianapolis 500. May can't get here fast enough."

Said 2013 and '14 Indianapolis 500 pole-sitter Ed Carpenter: "I am really excited for the Month of May activities. Opening Day will be even more interesting this year with the introduction of aero kits, it will be the first time we get on track with them at IMS. The qualifying format last year was a lot of fun, and I look forward to trying to be part of the action again, but more importantly I can't wait to get another chance to fulfill my dream of drinking milk."

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5. Of Note:

Vince Neil headlines concert at Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach: Vince Neil, the lead singer of Motley Crue, will headline the April 18 "Rock-N-Roar" Concert at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. The concert is free to ticket holders of that day's on-track events. Visit the event page for more details....Ed Carpenter named to "Forty under 40" list: Team owner/driver Ed Carpenter has been named to the Indianapolis Business Journal's 23rd annual "Forty Under 40" list of Central Indiana professionals who have demonstrated leadership, initiative and determination in pursuing their careers. Read Carpenter's reaction to the honor....Smash Mouth added to Belle Isle event: Smash Mouth, known for such popular songs as "All-Star," "Walkin' on the Sun" and "Can't Get Enough of You Baby," will perform before the second Chevrolet Dual in Detroit presented by Quicken Loans race on May 31. The concert in the Meijer Fan Zone is free for all race day attendees. Take a look at other headliners during the event weekend.


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