IndyCar racing is back!
With a new series sponsor, new tracks and new drivers, the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series is sure to be an exciting one. Here is a look at some of the headlines heading into the 2019 NTT IndyCar season!
The 2018 season was an ultra competitive one, with Chip Ganassi Racing driver Scott Dixon capturing his fifth championship over Alexander Rossi and Will Power. All three drivers return to their respective teams in 2019 and will look to overthrow the other as the top driver in the series. The top three, as well as Ryan Hunter-Reay and Josef Newgarden were in a class of their own in 2018. Look for James Hinchcliffe and 2016 champion Simon Pagenaud to contest for wins in 2019 as well. Pagenaud will undoubtedly look to return to his championship winning form as he seemed to struggle coming to grips with the new car last season.
After multiple seasons sponsoring cars for Chip Ganassi Racing in the series, NTT has signed on to sponsor the series beginning this year, replacing Verizon. NTT will also serve as the official technology partner for the series. Fans of the series can expect to see, among other things, an updated mobile app that will bring fans even closer to the action every race weekend.
2019 brings two of the most anticipated debuts in series history, with former Formula 1 driver Marcus Ericsson and European ace Felix Rosenqvist joining the series this year. Ericsson will pilot the No. 7 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda for the entire season as the team anxiously awaits the recovery of Robert Wickens after a violent incident at Pocono last season. The former Alfa Romeo Formula 1 driver comes to the United States to contest his first full season in America with Canadian teammate James Hinchcliffe.
Felix Rosenqvist has already had a taste of what its like to drive in the United States as he has contested and won during the 2016 Indy Lights season. Ronsenqvist has plenty of other open wheel experience under his belt including winning the prestigious Macau Grant Prix as well as numerous Formula E events. He returns to the states to contest a full season with last years championship winner Scott Dixon as his teammate driving for Chip Ganassi Racing.
Ericsson and Rosenqvist are not the only two rookie names to watch out for in 2019. Santino Ferrucci will drive the No. 19 Honda for Dale Coyne Racing for the entirety of the season, after competing in a number of rounds during the 2018 season. He will be joined at Dale Coyne Racing by Sebastien Bourdais who returns to the team for another full season quest for the championship.
Two new teams will enter the IndyCar fold in 2019 looking to immediately contend for wins. Harding Steinbrenner Racing, a merger between the former Harding Racing and George Michael Steinbrenner IV, the son of New York Yankees co-owner and co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner and grandson of George Steinbrenner. Driving for the team in 2019 will be the son of former IndyCar driver Bryan Herta, Colton Herta who comes off numerous seasons driving in Indy Lights.
DragonSpeed will also join the 2019 IndyCar Series, although in a limited capacity. While normally competing in the European Le Mans and FIA World Endurance Championship, DragonSpeed will contest at least five rounds this season including the Indianapolis 500. Ben Hanley has been tabbed as the driver for this rookie team and brings a plethora of sports car racing experience to IndyCar.
One new and one returning circuit will comprise two of the seventeen round 2019 NTT IndyCar Series championship in 2019. The 3.427-mile 20 turn Circuit of the Americas will host the second round of the 2019 season and will be a first time visit for many of the drivers competing. The course has been the United States home for Formula 1 since 2012.
WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca will return to the IndyCar Series in 2019 and serve as the final round of the season. The course, which last hosted an American open-wheel series in 2004, has undergone numerous upgrades to the facility in order to provide the series with the safest event possible.
With the additions of the Circuit of the Americas and Laguna Seca, the schedule grows to sixteen tracks and seventeen races. Belle Isle will again host a double header in the shadows of the Motor City Detroit, MI, while Austin and Laguna Seca are added to the beginning and end of the season respectively. The schedule is made up of 11 road and street courses and five ovals with the Indianapolis 500 in May being the crowned jewel of the schedule again this year.
The first green flag of the season flies on March 10th, 2019 at 1:30pm ET and will be broadcast live on NBCSN. Stay tuned all season for race updates and other news surrounding the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series season brought to you by the Game Changer Sports Network!
Photos courtesy of IndyCar, Omni Hotels, Autosport and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
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