The NTT INDYCAR SERIES visits its first permanent road course of the season with a doubleheader at Elkhart Lake’s beautiful Road America circuit in the Wisconsin Dells. The 14-turn, 4-mile track is the longest on the INDYCAR circuit. There will be two 55-lap races run on successive days for the first time ever in INDYCAR history which will stretch both drivers and crews. Road America will be the first NTT INDYCAR SERIES to host fans. League and track officials have instituted protocols for participants and fans to enjoy a safe weekend. Charlie Kimball will be making his third start of the year in the No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet, while rookie Dalton Kellett will be making his second start of the year in the No. 14 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet. Following are their thoughts on…
CHARLIE KIMBALL ON:
Road America: “I am so excited to get back to Road America especially for a double header! It is one of the most iconic racetracks in North America and runs through some beautiful landscape. The over 4 mile length lends itself to great racing and high speeds! After finding a strong direction with the #4 Tresiba Chevrolet at the Indy GP, I am looking forward to getting on track Saturday and continuing to move up the grid.”
What he likes most about Road America: “For me the best part of Road America is the track itself. With so many different types of corners, heavy braking and slow in T5 to fast flowing commitment at the Carousel, the track is so much fun to drive each and every lap.”
The challenges of the track: “As a driver, the biggest challenge is the length of the track. It means that you don’t get to see, drive and learn from each corner very often in an hour long practice session. So you have to maximize each lap you do get and learn and practice each corner as much as possible each time. For the engineers, it is a balance between the speed on the straights and the braking and corner speeds. It feels like it’s always a compromise.”
Best place to pass: “For me the best place to pass is into T5 - it has the longest straight from a medium speed corner before it. If someone makes a mistake, you can pass into T1, into Canada corner and even sneak by in some other spots! It is easier pass at Road America than somewhere like Mid-Ohio, but the NTT INDYCAR SERIES is so competitive it seems hard to pass anytime!”
The Doubleheader: “Doing two 55-lap races at RA is great because it means more racing at Road America! I first went to there in a FF1600 back in 2002 and won the June Sprints. I still remember racing there that weekend and have fond memories in a Formula Ford, an F2000, and more recently in the Indy car. Having two races means you have to really focus on recovering after race 1 Saturday night, physically and mentally, and moving forward into Sunday’s Race 2. IF you have a good day on Saturday, you try and keep that momentum. If you have a struggle, you try and learn from it and make it better on Sunday. The nice thing about a doubleheader is if race 1 goes badly, you can race for redemption in Race 2!”
DALTON KELLETT ON:
Road America: “Road America is one of the classic road courses. I love the history of the track and it has a picturesque setting in the hills of Wisconsin. As a driver, the track offers some good contrast with a mix of high and low speed corners. I am especially fond of Canada Corner (Turn 12).”
Preparing for doubleheader (the same as Indy Lights?): “I think the preparation for the weekend has been the same, spending time at the shop going over setup and car details and preparing physically. The double header does offer a second race and qualifying, so I am looking forward to using the lessons learned Saturday in Sunday's event.”
The challenges posed by doubleheaders: “I would say that the double header is more challenging both mentally and physically, but more so physically. The condensed schedule won't leave much time for recovery so getting good rest Saturday night will be important. As will focusing on good hydration. Mentally, the double-header does offer a bigger challenge but there is also the opportunity to apply lessons learned on the first day to the second, so I am looking on the bright side.”
His NTT INDYCAR SERIES debut at the GMR Grand Prix...
Most challenging aspect: “The most challenging part of my first INDYCAR race was learning to adapt to the changing characteristics of the car between primary and alternate tire compounds, changing fuel load, and track grip during the race.”
Most surprising aspect: “I was most surprised by how strung out the field was on starts and restarts. Compared to the Road to Indy starts (which admittedly have smaller fields) I felt that starts and restarts weren't as packed up as I was used to.I am also surprised how quickly the Aeroscreen has become normal. While it was certainly hot, and ventilation is something that I am sure will get refined as INDYCAR collects data and input from teams and drivers, it hasn't felt like a huge adjustment. “
“Ah Ha!” moments: “The biggest "Ah Ha!" moment for me was getting comfortable in pit stops and hitting my marks coming into the box. That was one of the items I was uncertain about going into the weekend. The team was great in helping me work up to that and by the time the race came around, I was very comfortable getting in and out of the pit box. Another difference or new dynamic was how push-to-pass works compared to Indy Lights. In Lights, you have to be within 1.5 seconds of the car in front to use it, which makes it harder to use defensively, and you can only toggle a ~15 sec activation. In an INDYCAR race, you can use 200 seconds of overtake at your discretion without restrictions on when and for how long, so that opens up your options. Do you use it to defend, or to pull a gap from a car behind, or gain some time on track to help with the pit cycle, it's up to you!”
A.J. Foyt will not be at the race this weekend. He plans to be at the Indianapolis 500 in August.
Last race: Charlie Kimball started 24th and finished 18th in the No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet in the GMR Grand Prix on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Rookie Dalton Kellett made his NTT INDYCAR SERIES debut in the No. 14 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet at IMS. He started 26th and finished 21st.
Past Performance at Road America: Charlie Kimball’s best start here is 10th in 2017 and he has two sixth place finishes in 2016 and 2017. He did not compete here last year. Dalton Kellett has run eight races here in the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires Series. His best start is fifth (2019 – Race 1) and his best finish is sixth (2018-Race 2). This weekend will be his first start at RA in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. AJ Foyt Racing’s best start (Eddie Cheever in 1993) and finish (Mike Groff in 1991) overall is eighth. The team did not compete here from 1996-2007. More recently, the team’s best start is 13th with Carlos Munoz (2017) and its best finish is 11th (2016 - Jack Hawksworth, 2017 - Munoz).
The REV Group Grand Prix doubleheader will be broadcast live with Race 1 on NBCSN on Saturday, July 11 starting at 5 p.m. ET. Race 2 will be broadcast on NBC on Sunday, July 12 starting at 12:30 p.m. ET. Qualifying for Race 1 will be broadcast on NBCSN starting at 2:15 pm ET and will be livestreamed on NBC Sports Gold and Indycar.com; qualifying for Race 2 will be livestreamed at 10 a.m. ET on Indycar.com and NBC Sports Gold. Practice will be livestreamed at 11 a.m. ET on NBC Gold and Indycar.com. The races will be broadcast on these radio affiliates: Sirius 211 and XM 205.