The 2016 KOHLER Grand Prix at Road America

JGS_7371-1Graham Rahal sets up for Turn 3 during practice for the KOHLER Grand Prix at Road America — Photo by: Joe Skibinski

Track: Road America, a 4.048-mile, 14-turn permanent road course (clockwise)

Race distance: 50 laps / 202.4 miles

Push-to-pass parameters: 10 activations for 20 seconds each

Firestone tire allotment: Eight sets primary, three sets alternate (Weekend)

Twitter: @RoadAmerica @IndyCar, #KOHLERGP, #IndyCar

Event website: http://www.roadamerica.com

INDYCAR website: http://www.IndyCar.com

2007 (most recent) race winner: Sebastien Bourdais (No. 1 McDonald’s Racing Team-Newman/Haas Racing)

2007 (most recent) pole winner: Sebastien Bourdais (No. 1 McDonald’s Racing Team-Newman/Haas Racing), 1:41.535, 143.525 mph

Qualifying record: Dario Franchitti, 1:39.866, 145.924 mph, Aug. 19, 2000

NBCSN television broadcasts: Practice, noon ET Friday, June 24 (live); Qualifying, 5:30 p.m. ET Saturday, June 25 (tape delayed); Race, 12:30 p.m. ET Sunday, June 26 (live). Leigh Diffey is the lead announcer for the NBCSN broadcasts this weekend alongside analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy. Pit reporters are Marty Snider, Kevin Lee, Katie Hargitt and Robin Miller.

Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network broadcasts: Mark Jaynes is the chief announcer alongside analyst Davey Hamilton. Jake Query, Nick Yeoman and Michael Young are the turn announcers with Dave Furst and Rob Howden reporting from the pits. All Verizon IndyCar Series races are broadcast live on network affiliates, Sirius 212, XM 209, IndyCar.com, indycarradio.com and on the INDYCAR Mobile app. All Verizon IndyCar Series practice and qualifying sessions are available on IIndyCar.com, indycarradio.com and on the INDYCAR Mobile app.

Video streaming: All practice sessions for the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season not covered by television will be available on RaceControl.IndyCar.com. Live coverage of qualifying for the Verizon P1 Award will be streamed on RaceControl.IndyCar.com.

INDYCAR Mobile app: Verizon Wireless puts fans around the world in the driver’s seat with its INDYCAR Mobile app. The app has been enhanced with new features to keep fans in the know of the latest race-day action. Exclusive features of the INDYCAR Mobile app for Verizon Wireless customers will stream live through the app and includes enhanced real-time leaderboard and car telemetry; the ability to follow the race in real time with the interactive 3D track; live in-car camera video streaming for select drivers during Verizon IndyCar Series races; live driver and pit crew radio transmissions during races and live Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network audio streaming during all track activities.

04CJ3404ARyan Hunter-Reay exits Turn 14 during practice for the KOHLER Grand Prix at Road America — Photo by: Chris Jones

At-track schedule (all times local):

Saturday, June 25
11 – 11:45 a.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice #3, RaceControl.IndyCar.com (Live)
3 p.m. – Qualifying for the Verizon P1 Award (three rounds of knockout qualifying), NBCSN (5:30 p.m. ET, same-day delay)

Sunday, June 26
8 – 8:30 a.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series warmup, RaceControl.IndyCar.com (Live)
11:32 a.m. – Driver Introductions
12:07 p.m. – Command to Start Engines
12:15 p.m. – KOHLER Grand Prix (50 laps/202.4 miles), NBCSN (Live)

Race notes:
• There have been six different winners in the eight previous Verizon IndyCar Series races in 2016: Juan Pablo Montoya (Streets of St. Petersburg), Scott Dixon (Phoenix International Raceway), Simon Pagenaud (Streets of Long Beach, Barber Motorsports Park and Grand Prix of Indianapolis), Alexander Rossi (Indianapolis 500), Sebastien Bourdais (Raceway at Belle Isle-1) and Will Power (Raceway at Belle Isle-2). Dixon’s win at Phoenix on April 2 tied him for fourth on the all-time Indy car victory list with Al Unser at 39. He is the active leader in wins. Bourdais’ win at Belle Isle on June 4 tied him with Bobby Unser for sixth on the all-time list with 35 wins.

• The KOHLER Grand Prix will be the first Indy car event conducted at Road America since 2007 and the 26th Indy car race at the track since it hosted its first Indy car event in 1982.

• The KOHLER Grand Prix will be the seventh race on a road/street course in 2016. The first six races were won by Montoya (St. Petersburg), Pagenaud (Long Beach, Barber and Grand Prix of Indianapolis), Bourdais (Belle Isle 1) and Power (Belle Isle 2).

• Nine drivers entered this weekend have previously raced Indy cars at Road America: Bourdais, Helio Castroneves, Dixon, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Tony Kanaan, Montoya, Pagenaud, Power and Graham Rahal. Three of those drivers have led laps at the track (Bourdais 92, Montoya 52 and Castroneves 24).

• Bourdais is the only driver in the field that has won an Indy car race at Road America, winning the final Champ Car race at the track in 2007. Bourdais has finished on the podium in all four of his previous starts at Road America. Mario Andretti, Michael Andretti and Emerson Fittipaldi have the most wins by an Indy car driver at the track (3).

• Six drivers have won the Road America race from the pole: Mario Andretti (1983, 1984 and 1987), Danny Sullivan (1989), Paul Tracy (1993), Jacques Villeneuve (1995), Bruno Junqueira (2003) and Bourdais (2007).

• Drivers who have won at Road America have gone on to win the Indy car championship six times: Mario Andretti (1984), Michael Andretti (1991), Villeneuve (1995), Alex Zanardi (1997), Cristiano da Matta (2002) and Bourdais (2007).

• Team Penske has won three times at Road America (1989, 1992 and 1993) and is one of two current teams to win at the track. Chip Ganassi Racing has won twice at Road America (1997 and 2001). Newman/Haas Racing won a record 10 times at Road America.

• Four rookies – Max Chilton, Conor Daly, Spencer Pigot and Rossi – are entered. Rossi leads the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings by 65 points over Daly with Chilton 103 points behind.

• Kanaan seeks to start his 258th consecutive race this weekend, which would extend his Indy car record streak that began in June 2001 at Portland. Teammate Scott Dixon has made 199 consecutive starts heading into the weekend, which is the third-longest streak in Indy car racing.

• Castroneves will attempt to make his 320th career Indy car start, which would tie him with Al Unser for fourth on the all-time list.

• The 2016 season is the second in which aerodynamic bodywork component kits are used. The aero kits, produced by engine manufacturers Chevrolet and Honda for their respective supplied teams, are the latest technical innovation to enhance on-track performance through competitive aerodynamic development. Each manufacturer produces two kits for teams – one for short ovals/road courses/street courses and another for superspeedway ovals – but within each kit, teams have multiple component options available.

• The second season of aero kit competition complements the fifth year of engine manufacturer competition between Chevrolet and Honda with their 2.2-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6 engines. It will be another season testing speed and durability to determine the manufacturer champion.

04CJ3384Will Power exits Turn 14 during practice for the KOHLER Grand Prix at Road America — Photo by: Chris Jones

Rahal runs up front in first day of practice at Road America

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (Friday, June 24, 2016) – To a driver, everyone in the Verizon IndyCar Series is giddy over the return to Road America. But following a day full of practice for Sunday’s KOHLER Grand Prix, they all realize how much work lies in front of them.

Graham Rahal posted the overall fastest lap in the second of today’s two 75-minute practice sessions on the 4.014-mile permanent road course steeped in Indy car lore, with a time of 1 minute, 43.0224 seconds (140.265 mph) in the No. 15 Gehl/D-A Lubricant Honda for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. Will Power was second quick at 1:43.1608 (140.076 mph) in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet.

The 50-lap race Sunday will be the 26th for Indy cars at Road America but first since 2007 – Rahal’s rookie year and the second full season for Power. While most teams have tested on the circuit since the race was announced last summer, deciphering the intricacies of the longest track on the schedule with its high speeds and high tire wear are a work in progress.

“The car feels decent,” said Rahal, who finished third in the ’07 race. “I’ve got a little work to do, everybody does. As you can see, it’s pretty tough out there right now, pretty slippery, different types of rubber being laid down. It’s tricky.

“Everybody is going to have a lot to work on and we’re included in that.”

Power, the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series champion whose best finish was 13th in two previous Road America races, said attaining proper grip over the lengthy course, with its abrasive curbing, is an issue.

“The tire never feels in the road, never feels like it has a lot of bite,” he said. “That is just the (track) surface. It makes it interesting, it makes it good. You really have to get your balance right and drive it right to get the time.

“You see a lot of people making mistakes and pushing the limits. These cars are crazy fast in the corners now, (especially) the Carousel. Almost makes you wonder if you could be flat around there. I enjoy this track a lot.”

Simon Pagenaud, the championship leader with three wins in the first eight completed races of the 2016 season, was third fastest on the day with a lap of 1:43.4804 (139.644 mph) logged in the first practice session. Carlos Munoz was fourth overall with a lap of 1:43.5560 (139.542 mph) also set in the first session.

“I liked the Menards Chevy today. We threw quite a bit at it,” Pagenaud said. “This is a challenging place, so it’s very important to get the car in as good a place as possible. I’m looking forward to learning more in practice tomorrow and move into qualifying with a lot of confidence.”

A third practice is scheduled for noon-12:45 p.m. ET Saturday, leading into three rounds of knockout qualifying for the Verizon P1 Award at 4 p.m. ET. Both sessions will be streamed live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com, with qualifying airing on NBCSN at 5:30 p.m. ET.

The KOHLER Grand Prix airs live on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network beginning at 12:30 p.m. ET Sunday

16C_7551-1Simon Pagenaud peels out of his pit stall during practice for the KOHLER Grand Prix at Road America — Photo by: Chris Owens

“What They’re Saying” from KOHLER Grand Prix practice

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA (No. 2 DeVilbiss Team Penske Chevrolet): “The DeVilbiss Chevrolet was much better during the second practice. We tried a few things and went in a different direction than from the first practice. We gained on it and we feel pretty strong going into qualifying tomorrow.”

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): “I think we’re in good shape with the Hitachi Chevrolet. We tried several things and learned a lot. I’m confident that we’ll be good for qualifying tomorrow. I haven’t raced here in some time, so getting the rhythm was important today along with finding good balance with the car.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): “Today was a struggle, to be honest. We had a really productive test here last week and we were kind of hoping to unload with a similar feel but that just was not the case. Track conditions are wildly different and we’re seeing a lot of guys struggle to find a good balance, and we were no different. We took some big swings at it in the sessions and over lunch but we still aren’t one hundred percent happy with the balance. Also, we didn’t get a run on tires there at the end. We had just pulled out when the red flag came out. I’m sure that the speed will come. If you look at the times of the top two, it’s quite close so I’m not too worried yet. We’ll have a good think about it tonight and come back strong tomorrow.”

MIKHAIL ALESHIN (No. 7 SMP Racing Schmidt Peterson Honda): “I’m very happy to get to know this track as I’ve never been here before. The entire field is really close on lap times so it will make for a good race. We have a little bit of work to do on the No. 7 SMP Racing car but I think we will be good for qualifying tomorrow.”

MAX CHILTON (No. 8 Gallagher Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): “I think it was a great session for the Gallagher team today. With having some testing here until my belt I had some added confidence. This morning I knew we were much better than where we ended up on the timing sheets, as I made a few mistakes. I knew the car had speed and if I corrected it in the afternoon we would be fast, and we were. I’m adjusting well to the track and the conditions and I’m happy with where we are so far.”

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Clorox Chevrolet): “I think I’m pretty happy overall with the Clorox car and we are playing with some aero changes for tomorrow. We had good speed in Practice 1 and didn’t take a new set of tires at the end of Practice 2 so we weren’t up on the timing sheets at the end of the day.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 10 NTT Data Chevrolet): “I know we all keep saying it, but it’s so nice to be back here on-track at Road America. We didn’t run as many laps as the rest of the field in the first session, but even without the extra laps the No. 10 NTT Data Chevrolet felt pretty good. We worked through a few different changes in the second session and we were able to find even a little more lap time. We’re feeling good heading into tomorrow, so we’ll make a few changes tonight and see what we can do tomorrow in qualifying.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 11 Team Hydroxycut – KVSH Racing Chevrolet): “It was an interesting day for the Hydroxycut – KVSH Racing Team. We improved the car from this morning, but we are still trying to get it back in the zone with the tire we are using this week, which isn’t easy. Overall, the field is very tight, so every little bit we gain is going to count. We will just keep working on it and see what we can do to improve the car for tomorrow.”

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “The tire never feels in the road, never feels like it has a lot of bite. That is just the surface. It makes it interesting. I mean, it makes it good. You really have to get your balance right and drive it right to get the time. You see a lot of people making mistakes and pushing the limits. These cars are crazy fast in the corners now, the Carousel. Almost makes you wonder if you could be flat around there. I enjoy this track a lot.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda): “It’s great to be coming back to Road America. It’s a favorite of everyone’s and the fans have waited so long for this. Look it’s Friday and it’s already like race day as a lot of crowds have come out which is fantastic. Great weather today, a great circuit which is a classic type – very narrow and very fast – and it feels really good. We had to go through quite a few items since we couldn’t make the test here so this was our first run with the 2016 package and we had a lot of things to do. Busy test day and I think we were reasonably okay but we still need to work really hard to get the speed out of the ABC Supply car for tomorrow’s qualifying.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Gehl/D-A Lubricant Honda): “It’s nice being fastest but we all know it’s just Friday. We’re really limited on tires so I’m surprised we ended up where we did. We have a set less than everybody else since we weren’t able to run five laps in the first 20 minutes of the first session due to the electronics problem. We had an antenna that is supplied by Cosworth that was faulty. At first we didn’t know that was the problem. When we turned it on, it fried the logger box. Then when we put a new logger box in, the antenna fried it too. Cosworth got it sorted out but we lost 40 minutes of practice time in the first session and didn’t get the extra set of tires. I’m really pleased with our tire usage with everything we faced in the first session. The Gehl / D-A Lubricant car had a good pace but that lap should have been better. I’m a little disappointed in myself because I threw at least a tenth of a second away on the last corner. We’ll keep our heads down and keep pounding hard to make the car better. It’s awesome to be here at Road America. On the out laps you see all the fans and it’s spectacular. It’s far better than I ever remember a Friday being here. There are people everywhere and we can’t thank (Verizon IndyCar Series) fans enough. This proves to everyone that has never been here what Road America is all about.”

CONOR DALY (No. 18 Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality Honda): “It’s cool to be on track here, it’s a really fun place to drive around. It presents new challenges for us though, since it’s a totally different road circuit than what we’ve been on all year. We’re just sorting through the things that we need to get through to get ready for qualifying.”

GABBY CHAVES (No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda): “It’s a whole lot different driving here in an Indy car than the other series I’ve run here before! Obviously we’re dealing with 200 mph top speeds versus 120 mph. So it’s quite a bit different, everything comes at you a lot faster! We’re just going through our program right now. I think we took a pretty big step forward in the second practice session and that we have the potential to be way more up front than we finished today. We’re running through our program and it’s just a natural progression. Sometimes you have to take a step back before you go forward again, I think we’re just going through that right now.”

SPENCER PIGOT (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet): “The first session went all right earlier, it was good to get back out on the track. Road America is a lot of fun. We seemed to struggle a bit in the second session for whatever reason. We need to go over everything and make sure everything is all right because the car seemed to change a lot between sessions. Hopefully, we can figure out what the problem is and work for a good qualifying spot tomorrow.”

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 21 Direct Supply/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): “We got through a lot of really good things today. I feel really good about where we are at, we have a really fast car. We opted not to do another tire run there at the end and focus on doing more tomorrow and to have more tires later. We made some good changes in that session and I would be surprised if we aren’t near the top six tomorrow.”

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet): “I liked the Menards Chevy today. We threw quite a bit at it. The track is really changing quite a bit, but I think we’re in a good place for tomorrow. This is a challenging place, so it’s very important to get the car in as good a place as possible. I’m looking forward to learning more in practice tomorrow and move into qualifying with a lot of confidence.”

CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda): “I think it was a positive practice today compared to the test last week. We were a bit more competitive, but we still have work to do. I think the second practice we tried some stuff that just wasn’t as good (as the first practice). There is still one more practice tomorrow before qualifying and we will have to put everything together and set up a great car. Again, everyone is really close together in times, which shows everyone is very competitive in (the Verizon IndyCar Series). Overall, positive practice to follow the test we just had here.”

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 27 United Fiber & Data/Snapple Honda): “I’m not feeling too bad after that run. Right now the guessing game is going to be what we need to do for balance on the reds (alternate tire). I’ve never run (the reds) here, only a couple guys have during a (tire) test last fall, so we just don’t know where the balance is going to go on reds. It’s going to be a bit of a guessing game for qualifying tomorrow. I think we’re going to be able to get aggressive with trying to get the UFD / Snapple car to turn and hopefully the reds will help the rear.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “I’m happy to be back at Road America, this is such a fun track and the fan support so far this weekend will be great. Now, I’ll have to tell you tomorrow after qualifying exactly how happy I am though. But we made progress today. Timing wise – we didn’t get our last tire run in, which was crucial to us. I think we were probably looking a time good enough for P3 for the DHL Honda had we gotten that run in.”

JACK HAWKSWORTH (No. 41 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda): “Today was quite a good day actually. We did quite a lot of stuff – experimenting with things between this morning and this afternoon. I think we found a pretty competitive car so hopefully we’ll sit down tonight and fine-tune everything. The only question mark for me is the red tire, what’s going to happen when we put that on in qualifying. We’ve seen this year that we can be uncompetitive on the blacks but we put reds on and we become competitive and vice versa so hopefully we can get that right. It will require a bit of luck as well because nobody’s run the reds here but we’ll do our best with that as well. Black tire-wise, I’m pretty happy with it, the ABC Supply car’s in the ballpark. We tested a lot of stuff and had quite a clean day which is nice. It’s good to run for a day and when we can run clean, we can have a good day.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Tresiba Chevrolet): “I’m really disappointed with how today went. It’s not anywhere as fast or competitive as we want to be. Fortunately our teammates were logging some really good times, so we’ll be able to go back tonight and see where we can learn from them. I’m really struggling with the sensation of grip around here. We’ll make it better overnight. I think we already have a couple of good ideas for some changes we want to make for tomorrow and we’ll just go from there. That’s the nice thing about running on a track with a lot of corners – you can find a little bit of lap time in each of the corners.”

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 98 Castrol Edge/Curb Honda): “It was an OK first day. The track is a little bit different than it was at the test, so we will need to try to understand why that is. Third through 16th is all within two-and-a-half tenths. If we find a little bit of speed we’ll be right in the top three which is good. But, there is still a big gap to the top two guys and we will have to try to figure out how to close in on that gap tonight.”

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