Pirelli World Challenge set to stage SprintX at VIR, United Autosports reveals first-ever AERO Paint Signature Livery Series by Andy Blackmore Design
Phoenix, Arizona (April 28 2017) - Carrying tons of speed through the shortest lap of the season, the Verizon IndyCar Series returns to Phoenix International Raceway this Saturday night and the event is expected to be one of the most intense on the 2017 schedule.
The one-mile oval set on the edge of the Arizona desert will stage the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix, the first oval race of the IndyCar season and the final event before the full focus moves to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the month of May.
Even though the speeds will see the field here and gone in the blink of an eye, there will be at least three cars that will stand out under the lights as AERO™ Advanced Paint Technology provides an incredible visual presence along with its inherent advantages in weight, strength, and aerodynamics.
AERO is carried by the AJ Foyt Racing duo of Conor Daly and Carlos Munoz, who have gained momentum early this season as the team adapts to the Chevrolet platform. Also looking to score another oval victory will be RLL Racing’s Graham Rahal, who was recently featured on the back cover of RACER Magazine highlighting AERO™ Advanced Paint Technology and celebrating his .008-second victory at Texas last year.
“Overall this year I have expected to be very competitive and we have struggled a little,” said Rahal of his opening three races. “I hope that Phoenix is a place that we can get back on track in terms of our expectations. Our hope is that we can have a good car to go racing with and put the United Rentals Honda in Victory Lane while racking up more money for Turns for Troops and Soldier Strong in the process.”
On the other side of the country, the Pirelli World Challenge will stage a mega race weekend at Virginia International Raceway, with the weekend featuring the first two rounds of SprintX competition of the season. SprintX is an hour-long race, with two drivers sharing the driving and a mandatory pit stop.
The enduro has brought back 2016 World Challenge GTA Champion Martin Fuentes, who will share a bespoke AERO-liveried No. 7 Hublot Ferrari 458 GT3 with Stefan Johansson for Scuderia Corsa. Johansson, who carried the AERO colors to a podium finish earlier this year in the 12 Hour at Yaz Marina, has a lot of history with Ferrari and hopes to continue that this weekend in his PWC racing return.
The SprintX opener has a huge 35 car field, and has attracted the likes of 2017 Rolex 24 At Daytona champions Jordan and Ricky Taylor, who will team with Johnny O’Connell and his Cadillac Racing teammate Michael Cooper for the 60 minute races. The two Cadillacs have gained notice from fans as their livery program for the 2017 season has deployed AERO Technology. Despite all of his wins and championships, the race at VIR actually marks the first-ever for O’Connell at the circuit.
“I look forward to seeing how the track races,” said O’Connell. “There are some good overtaking areas. I think it will be a challenge for all of the drivers. It’s an old-school race track. It has constant radius corners with some fast stuff. I think that is a reason guys love driving here. I have really enjoyed the track in testing. Going through the esses is fast. There are some technical bits. It should be an excellent track for our PWC GT3 cars. We’ll have our teams determined before qualifying on Saturday morning.”
Also carrying the AERO colors this weekend at VIR will be the factory Panoz effort in GTS, with Ian James looking to continue to make positive developments with the all-new GT4 spec Panoz Avezzano GT machine.
This week also featured the reveal for the AERO Paint Signature Livery Series by Andy Blackmore Design, which debuted on the United Autosports Ligier LMP3 Michelin Le Mans Cup entry of Jim McGuire. The new livery (images available here: http://www.andyblackmoredesign.com/aero-ligier/#more-9995) also demonstrates the leadership position that United Autosports has taken as the European distributor for AERO.
IndyCar Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix NBCSN 9:00 PM ET
World Challenge Race Schedule: GTS Race 1 2:10 PM Saturday
Sprint X Race 1 3:30 PM Saturday
GTS Race 2 11:10 AM Saturday
Sprint X Race 2 1:15 PM Sunday