This weekend the Verizon IndyCar Series heads to Arizona for the second race of the season at the recently renamed ISM Raceway (previously Phoenix Raceway). The series is returning to action following a lengthy break after the season’s first round in St. Petersburg. If the action at St. Pete is anything to go by, this weekend’s race promises to be an exciting affair.
Defending series champion, and 2017 Phoenix race winner, Simon Pagenaud enters Saturday’s race following a mediocre 13th place finish in Round 1. Pagenaud is excited for the opportunity to return to action this weekend.
“I’m really excited to go back to Phoenix. While St. Petersburg did not go as we expected, I feel after testing at ISM Raceway earlier this year that the new aero kit is going to make some really exciting racing and I believe we prepared the #22 Menards Chevrolet really well for that event,” Pagenaud said ahead of this weekend’s action.
Looking to capitalise on a strong start to the 2018 season will be St. Pete race winner Sebastien Bourdais.
“Obviously, winning at St. Petersburg to open the season was big. It is always great to start a season with a good result. I am not a big believer in momentum, but the Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan SealMaster team knows that if we keep digging and working hard as a group we can achieve the results we want,” Bourdais said. The Frenchman last won on an oval in 2015 at Milwaukee.
This weekend’s race will also mark the very first oval start for several series rookies. Canadian Robert Wickens, who had a strong showing at St. Pete leading 69 of 110 laps, welcomes the challenge.
“I don’t really know what to expect; we’ll just take it one session at a time,” Wickens said. “I just want to make it through my first oval race incident free, hopefully, complete every lap and learn. The dream would be to have the Lucas Oil car in the top 10 at the end.”
Another rookie jumping into untreated water this weekend is Pietro Fittipaldi, who will contest his first ever oval race in his IndyCar debut.
“I’m really excited, it’s going to be my first IndyCar race and I’m really looking forward to it. We tested at Phoenix earlier this year and it went well. I learned the track and we did several race stints,” Fittipaldi said. The grandson of legendary IndyCar and Formula 1 veteran Emerson Fittipaldi sees this weekend as a learning opportunity.
“I’m a rookie so I’m going to try and do as many laps as I can, learn as much as I can and at the end of the day I want to try and deliver the best result for the team. That’s the most important part. I can’t wait to get on track.”
Coverage of tonight’s IndyCar action gets underway at 2am BST on BT Sport 3.