Chevrolet Opens Season with Strong Lineup of Teams/Drivers

Chevrolet Opens Season with Strong Lineup of Teams/Drivers

· Simon Pagenaud begins defense of Verizon IndyCar Series championship
ᴏ Team Penske driver will carry No. 1 on Chevrolet race car
· St. Petersburg 1.8-mile, 14-turn street course challenges drivers
ᴏ Team Penkse has won four of the past five races at Florida venue
· Familiar names in new places as the 16-race season unfolds
ᴏ AJ Foyt Enterprises returns to the Chevy fold with two entries
· Chevrolet seeks to win Manufacturer Championship for sixth year in a row

DETROIT (March 8, 2017) – New faces, familiar places and intriguing races highlight the Verizon IndyCar Series season as Chevrolet opens defense of its Manufacturer Championship and owner/driver titles this weekend at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

The 14th Indy car race on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary street circuit will be telecast live at noon (ET) Sunday on ABC, and kicks off the 16-race campaign on a variety of street and road courses, superspeedways and short ovals.

Eight full-season drivers will compete in the Chevrolet IndyCar Aero Kit with integrated 2.2-liter, V6 twin turbocharged engine.

Simon Pagenaud, who will drive the No. 1 PPG Automotive Refinish Chevrolet, seeks to become Team Penske’s first repeat champion since Gil de Ferran, who claimed CART titles in 2000 and ’01. Pagenaud’s magical 2016 season produced a series-high five wins and seven Verizon P1 pole awards. He also topped the charts for races led (12), laps led (406 of the 2,070), and top-five finishes (10) in his second season driving for team owner Roger Penske.

In the 2016 season opener, he started on the front row and finished second. Pagenaud rattled off another runner-up finish at Phoenix International Raceway in the next race, and then recorded consecutive victories at Long Beach, Barber Motorsports Park and on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course to put competitors on their heels.

“How we attacked at St. Pete it was clear to me we were going to have a really good season seeing how happy my guys were working together and how I was driving the race car,” he said. “It’s exciting to have everything reset to zero now that a new season is underway. It has been a disciplined winter and we feel ready to attach our 2017 championship defense.”

Team Penske, which has earned the pole position in seven of the past 10 races on the streets of St. Petersburg, has won the race four of the past five years, including 2015 and ’16 with Juan Pablo Montoya. Helio Castroneves, No. 3 Hitachi Chevrolet, has won the event three times and Team Penske teammate Will Power, the 2016 pole sitter in the No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet, is a two-time winner.

Castroneves will make his 328th career Indy car start – fourth on the all-time list — as the three-time Indianapolis 500 winner enters his 20th season of competition.

Josef Newgarden, a three-time Verizon IndyCar Series race winner, moves to the No. 2 Verizon Chevrolet for Team Penske from Ed Carpenter Racing. The Tennessee native finished fourth in the 2016 standings – behind new teammates Pagenaud, Power and Castroneves. Montoya, who had driven the No. 2 Chevrolet entry the past three seasons, is running a limited scheduled this year.

“Obviously, I’m in a new place, but that adds to the excitement,” said Newgarden, 26, the 2011 Indy Lights champion. “The whole team has worked really hard and come together nicely. We’ve had a number of test sessions and I think we’re in great shape. We’ll continue to grow as the season gets started, but all teams do that.”

Verizon IndyCar Series veteran JR Hildebrand, the 2011 Indianapolis 500 runner-up as a rookie, replaces Newgarden in the No. 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet at Ed Carpenter Racing. Spencer Pigot will compete on road and street courses, while team owner Ed Carpenter will take over the wheel of No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet on ovals.

Chevrolet and AJ Foyt Enterprises have long and storied histories in Indy car racing, and the programs will work together again in 2017. The last time the team used Chevrolet engines was in 2005, when A.J. Foyt IV drove the No. 14 ABC Supply entry. The legendary A.J. Foyt has competed in Chevy-powered race cars – stock cars, sports cars, Sprint cars, and Indy cars – throughout his illustrious career. In his final Indy car race as a driver – the 1992 Indianapolis 500 – he drove the Chevrolet-powered No. 14 entry to a ninth-place finish at age 57.

“I’m glad to be back with Chevy,” said Foyt, the first four-time winner of the Indy 500. “I’ve had a lot of success with them in the past and I’m looking forward to more success in the future.”
Conor Daly, No. 4 ABC Supply Chevrolet, and Carlos Munoz, No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet, will be the full-season drivers.

The 110-lap opening race will be paced by a 2017 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z51 Coupe –

The Chevy IndyCar Racing Tour display will make its 2017 debut at St. Petersburg in two locations starting at 8 a.m. Friday. Display hours continue Saturday and Sunday – each day at 8 a.m. Fans can see an impressive array of Chevrolet production vehicles in both the Bright House Networks Speed Zone and Albert Whitted Park, including the Camaro 2LT, Equinox, Colorado Z71 Diesel, Corvette Stingray Convertible, Silverado 2500 HD and a selection of crate engines, parts and accessories all sold by local Chevrolet dealers’ parts department.

There will also be race simulators for fans to test their skills and a Chevrolet Verizon IndyCar Series show car plus the Chevrolet IndyCar V6 twin turbo direct-injected engine on a stand.

Fans also can meet and ask questions of their favorite Team Chevy drivers Friday and Saturday at the Chevy Racing pit box in the display area in Albert Whitted Park: 1:30 p.m. Friday (AJ Foyt Enterprises) — Carlos Munoz and Conor Daly. 12:40 p.m. Saturday (Team Penske) — Simon Pagenaud, Helio Castroneves, Will Power, and Josef Newgarden. 1:30 p.m. Saturday (Ed Carpenter Racing) — Ed Carpenter, JR Hildebrand, and Spencer Pigot.