Competitive return of Dixon and Power; Focus tops box office
Teams take delivery of road/street and short oval aero kit
Dixon seeks to extend streaks this seasonFirst series title motivates Power for more'Focus' Tops Box Office, Indy cars Impress Stars
Of note:Newgarden's NBA debut is a slam dunkTickets on sale for Milwaukee IndyFestSingle-day tickets on sale now for 2015 Firestone Grand Prix of St. PetersburgDixon added to 12 Hours of Sebring lineup
1. Teams take delivery of road/street and short oval aero kit: Teams aligned with either Chevrolet or Honda have taken delivery of the initial corresponding road/street course and short oval aerodynamic bodywork kits that will debut in competition in the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 29.
The window for team testing with aero kits opens March 13, and many teams will be on track either at NOLA Motorsports Park, Texas Motor Speedway or Sebring International Raceway ahead of the March 16-17 INDYCAR sessions at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala.
Like others, CFH Racing personnel were split into groups last weekend "to move things along," according to team general manager Tim Broyles.
"In the past you've had the whole winter to go back and do all the body fit work and it's being condensed into about 10 days before we have to have trucks loaded for our first test," Broyles said. "There will be a lot of lists and notes. There will still be a lot to learn for the drivers, whether they have to adjust their style or just the way the car feels so there will be a lot of work over the next few weeks for crews, engineers and drivers across the whole series."
Following the Oct. 6-Jan. 18 manufacturer on-track test span, components were submitted to INDYCAR for homologation (the manufacturers' final work for the season). March 1 was the deadline for supplying teams with the road/street course and short oval package, and they'll receive the speedway package April 1.
In addition to performance gains, the aero kit program will distinguish one manufacturer's approach from the other on the racetrack.
Testing continues the following week at NOLA and Sebring before the March 27 Promoter Day on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn St. Petersburg street circuit. Practice and qualifying are March 28.
Check out IndyCar.com for more details.
2. Dixon seeks to extend streaks this season: In the final four races of the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series season, Scott Dixon earned two victories and a runner-up finish to climb to third in the championship standings.
In fact, Dixon has a nine-year streak of multiple victories in a season - the longest streak of any driver in the modern era -- topped by six victories in his 2008 championship season.
A victory in the March 29 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, in which he's finished second on three occasions, or any of the 16 remaining races of the season would place him in select company.
Dixon can tie Bobby Unser, Emerson Fittipaldi and Helio Castroneves atop the all-time list with an Indy car victory in 11 consecutive seasons. In 2014, he tied Unser for fifth on the career victory list at 35. Al Unser with 39 wins is next up.
Dixon also is tied with Johnny Rutherford with 12 seasons with at least one victory. A.J. Foyt with 18 is the leader and Mario Andretti with 16 is second.
Dixon, 35, earned his first victory in the Lehigh Valley Grand Prix at Nazareth Raceway during the 2001 CART season (Kenny Brack was second and Paul Tracy was third). Along the way, Dixon has recorded Verizon IndyCar Series championships in 2003, 2008 and 2013 and the '08 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race victory - all with Chip Ganassi Racing Teams.
"There are lots of ups and downs; motor racing is like that," Dixon said of his success. "Some things are out of your control, but you have to keep digging and keep trying to do your best. I think that's what has prevailed for me. I love the sport and feel fortunate and love being a part of it and hope to continue to be a part of it for many years."
To see how Dixon stacks up, check out IndyCar.com.
3. First series title motivates Power for more: Will Power, who turned 34 on March 1, begins defense of his Verizon IndyCar Series championship in the No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 29. New challenges will arise, but the North Carolina resident will seek to retain the "don't over-think it" approach to each of the 16 races.
"When I look back at the season I was a contender in every single race," he said of 2014, which included three wins and 15 of 18 finishes in the top 10. "It wasn't a more dominant year than I've had in the past with winning and poles, but it was a consistently solid year. I won three and I was always there knocking on the door, capable of a top-five finish."
Though Power has reached a personal pinnacle - "something I worked really hard for for the last 15 years" - he's not content. There's additional career markers, including an Indianapolis 500 victory and more series titles, to attain. Reprising his 2014 race results might not be enough, he acknowledges, to repeat as champion.
"It's another year and I just think it's something in your head when you've done it, know you can do it," Power said. "When it happens, you realize it's not this impossible task so in that way you get a more comfortable feeling, more confidence and I guess more relaxed. But you have a very burning desire to win because you understand the feeling when you did and you want it again.
"I'm still motivated as all hell. I want to feel it all again. I want another championship, and another."
To learn more about Power's outlook, check out IndyCar.com.
4. 'Focus' Tops Box Office, Indy cars Impress Stars: "Focus" topped the box office charts with $19.1 million on its opening weekend.
"Focus," released by Warner Bros. and starring Will Smith and Margot Robbie, features Verizon IndyCar Series cars driven by Andretti Autosport's Carlos Munoz and team owner/former Indy car driver Bryan Herta at NOLA Motorsports Park near New Orleans. The venue hosts the inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana on April 12.
While filming "Focus," Smith and rest of the movie's cast learned a few things about the sights, sounds and speeds of Verizon IndyCar Series cars.
"The Indy cars were fantastic," said Smith, who plays a con man perpetrating a racing double-cross in the movie.
For more on Hollywood's reaction to INDYCAR in Focus, check out IndyCar.com.
5. Of note: Newgarden's NBA debut is a slam dunk: CFH Racing driver Josef Newgarden's joined team mascot Boomer and the Power Pack for a dunking exhibition between quarters of the Indiana Pacers-Cleveland Cavaliers game Feb. 27 on Indianapolis Motor Speedway Night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Check out the video here.... Tickets on sale for Milwaukee IndyFest: Tickets are on sale for the July 11-12 ABC Supply Co. Inc. Wisconsin 250 at Milwaukee IndyFest presented by the Metro Milwaukee Honda Dealers. New for the race weekend this year will be cars from the Harry Miller Club, the world's finest collection of operational vintage Indy cars, on display. Get tickets here .... Single-day tickets on sale now for 2015 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg: For more information on tickets and tickets and packages for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 27-29, click here .... Dixon added to 12 Hours of Sebring lineup: Dixon, who co-drove with Verizon IndyCar Series teammate Tony Kanaan to the overall victory in the Rolex 24 At Daytona in January, will join Scott Pruett and Joey Hand to co-drive the No. 01 Prototype in the 12 Hours of Sebring on March 21 at Sebring International Raceway.