The 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season turned out to be one of the most entertaining and exciting in many years. We had a rookie winner of the Indianapolis 500, we also saw the rise of a certain Josef Newgarden and also the dominance of Team Penske with Simon Pagenaud.
The start of the season saw Team Penske lose Will Power for the first race of the year, the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg with the Australian forced onto the side-lines with what was diagnosed as an inner ear infection, Power was replaced in the No.12 Verizon Chevrolet by Oriol Servia.
Juan Pablo Montoya started the year off on a high in the No.2 Penske winning the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg.
Simon Pagenaud finished the race in second place giving Roger Penske his first 1-2 finish of the season. At the next race, the Phoenix Grand Prix, 2015 series champion Scott Dixon took victory having started the race from sixth place with Simon Pagenaud taking the lead of the championship with a second place finish ending the race just ahead of his team mate Will Power who started his season off with a fantastic result.
Chip Ganassi Racing’s Max Chilton, in only his second Verizon IndyCar Series race, scored a top ten finish with a seventh place finish having started the race from eighth place.
At the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, Simon Pagenaud scored his first win of the season coming home just ahead of Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves who scored his first podium of the season. Schmidt Peterson Motorsports James Hinchcliffe also scored his first top ten finish of the season as he came home in eighth place having started the event from seventh.
At the Honda Grand Prix of Alabama, Simon Pagenaud scored his second win in a row ending the race just ahead of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal with Ed Carpenter Racing’s Josef Newgarden securing his first podium finish of the year with third place. James Hinchcliffe scored his second top ten finish of the season for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports as the Canadian ended the race in sixth place.
At the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis, Simon Pagenaud’s dominance continued as the Frenchman took his first Verizon P1 Award of the season while he went on to take victory in the race in the No.22 Menards Chevrolet leading a Team Penske 1-2 with Helio Castroneves coming home in second place.
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports James Hinchcliffe kicked off his month of May in style by taking his first podium finish of the season, ending the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis in third place just ahead of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal who finished the race in fourth place with Chip Ganassi Racing’s Charlie Kimball and Dale Coyne Racing’s Conor Daly completing the top 6.
The Angie’s List Grand Prix also saw rookie Alexander Rossi secure his first top ten finish of his career in the Verizon IndyCar Series where he finished in 10th place.
The 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil was a huge sporting event and a very special event for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports James Hinchcliffe. The Mayor of HinchTown who suffered horrendous injuries during a crash in practice for the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500, returned to the Brickyard in May and secured the Verizon P1 Award for the race.
It was an incredible comeback for the Ontario native. In the race, Hinchcliffe came home in seventh place while rookie Alexander Rossi, in the No.98 NAPA Auto Parts Honda for Andretti Herta Autosport led home an Andretti Autosport 1-2 with Carlos Munoz finishing the race in second with Josef Newgarden coming home in third place for Ed Carpenter Racing.
Tony Kanaan did a great job in the No.10 NTT DATA Chevrolet as the Brazilian came from 18th on the grid to finish the race in fourth place.
At the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Race 1, Sebastien Bourdais came from 13th place on the grid to win the race just ahead of Dale Coyne Racing’s Conor Daly who scored his first ever Verizon IndyCar Series podium with second place ending the race just ahead of Team Penske’s Juan Pablo Montoya.
In the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Race 2, Will Power took victory just ahead of his team Simon Pagenaud with Ryan Hunter Reay finishing the race in third place. Josef Newgarden did a great job to bring his No.21 Chevrolet home in fourth place.
At the Kohler Grand Prix, Will Power took his first victory of the season ending the race just ahead of Chip Ganassi Racing’s Tony Kanaan and Graham Rahal and Ryan Hunter Reay.
The Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway was abandoned due to rain with the race rescheduled for August 27, during that race, Conor Daly and Josef Newgarden were involved in a huge crash which resulted in Newgarden breaking his collarbone and his wrist.
The American who was involved in the title fight was back racing for the very next event in Iowa and not only did his race but he won the race from second place on the grid with Team Penske’s Will Power finishing the race in second while Scott Dixon finished the race in third.
At the Honda Indy Toronto, Will Power took victory having started the race from fourth place with his team mate Helio Castroneves ending the event in second place giving Roger Penske another 1-2 finish. It was a fantastic home coming for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports James Hinchcliffe who was competing in Toronto for the first time since 2014. The Canadian started the race from sixth place and came through the field to end the event on the podium in third place just ahead of Chip Ganassi Racing’s Tony Kanaan.
Takuma Sato had a great race as the Japanese driver finished the event in fifth place for AJ Foyt Racing.
For the first time since the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis, Simon Pagenaud in the No.22 PPG Automotive Refinish Chevrolet was in Victory Lane as he took the win at the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio, leading a Team Penske 1-2 finish with Will Power in second place while Andretti Autosport’s Carlos Munoz claimed his second podium finish of the season in third place just ahead of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal while James Hinchcliffe ended the race in fifth place.
Will Power took victory at the ABC Supply 500 ending the race just ahead of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Mikhail Aleshin with Ryan Herta Reay coming home in third place just ahead of Josef Newgarden.
In the re-scheduled Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway, Graham Rahal took victory just ahead of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports James Hinchcliffe while Tony Kanaan finished the race in third place while Simon Pagenaud finished the event in fourth place.
Boston had been set to host a Verizon IndyCar Series race, however at the last minute, race officials pulled the plug on the event leaving a gap in the calendar. This led to Verizon IndyCar Series officials to contact the Watkins Glen International circuit in New York who stepped in to fill the void left by the withdrawal of Boston.
At the IndyCar Grand Prix at Watkins Glen, Scott Dixon took victory just ahead of Josef Newgarden and Helio Castroneves.
Conor Daly did a great job for Dale Coyne Racing as he finished the race in fourth place.
The final race of the season, the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma ended up being a title showdown between Team Penske drivers Simon Pagenaud and Will Power, with Pagenaud coming out on top winning the championship.
The Frenchman took the title in style by winning the race just ahead of Rahal Letterman Lanigan’s Gaham Rahal and Juan Pablo Montoya. Ryan Hunter Reay in the No.28 DHL Honda was fourth with Alexander Rossi picking up his best race finish since winning the Indianapolis 500 in May as he finished the race in fifth place.
And so to 2017, there are big changes in the series for next year with Chip Ganassi Racing switching from Chevrolet to Honda power, the team have gone with continuity for next season, remaining a four car outfit with Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Charlie Kimball and Max Chilton all remaining with the team. Ganassi are yet to announce who will replace Target as a primary sponsor of the No.9 Honda.
At Andretti Autosport, they have retained a four car team with Ryan Hunter Reay, Marco Andretti and Alexander Rossi all returning for 2017, they are joined at the team by Takuma Sato who joins from AJ Foyt Racing.
Speaking of AJ Foyt Racing, it is all change at the team, for 2017, with Carlos Munoz joining the outfit alongside Conor Daly who joins the team from Dale Coyne Racing. Daly will drive the No.4 ABC Supply Co Honda based out of Indianapolis while Carlos Munoz will drive the No.14 ABC Supply chassis based out of AJ Foyt Racing’s shop in Texas.
The biggest move of 2017 is Josef Newgarden, who joins Team Penske from Ed Carpenter Racing replacing Juan Pablo Montoya in the No.2 Chevrolet, joining Simon Pagenaud, Will Power and Helio Castroneves. Montoya will remain under contract to Team Penske and will run the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.
Graham Rahal stays with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. At Ed Carpenter Racing, JR Hildebrand replaces Josef Newgarden in the No.21 Chevrolet while Ed Carpenter continues in the No.20 Chevrolet on an oval only programme. It is expected that Spencer Pigot will drive in the other road and street course races.
At Dale Coyne Racing, Sebastian Bourdais returns to the team and will be joined Indy Lights champion Ed Jones.
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports will continue as a two car team with James Hinchcliffe remaining in the No.5 Arrow Electronics Honda with Mikhail Aleshin driving in the No.7 SMP Racing Honda.
KVSH Racing have to announce their plans for the 2017 season.
The 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season consists of 17 races including the return of Gateway Motorsports Park on August 26.
March 12 – Streets of St Petersburg
April 9 – Streets of Long Beach
April 23 – Barber Motorsports Park
April 29 – Phoenix International Raceway
May 13 – Grand Prix of Indianapolis
May 28 – Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil
June 3 – The Raceway at Belle Isle Park – The Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Race 1
June 4 – The Raceway at Belle Isle Park – The Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Race 2
June 10 – Texas Motor Speedway
June 25 – Road America
July 9 – Iowa Speedway
July 16 – Streets of Toronto
July 30 – Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
August 26 – Gateway Motorsports Park
September 3 – Watkins Glen International
September 17 – Sonoma Raceway