It’s been two months since the unveiling of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series car concept drawings at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. More detailed images were released today.
It has the drivers who will climb into the cars next season featuring the universal aero kits more eager than ever to do so.
Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden, a three-time race winner in the series, is a fan of the car’s look and the direction of the sport laid out by Jay Frye, INDYCAR president of competition and operations.
“I thought Detroit was very fascinating for what they showed and what they tried to tell everyone with where their head is at, what their ideas are for the next year and the next five years,” said Newgarden, driver of the No. 2 Verizon Chevrolet (at right in photo at top).
“To me, it's very encouraging. I actually love getting to listen to Jay. I really like the management of INDYCAR, I like all the leadership. I like the entire team that's working collectively to try and push this sport forward and try and create a map and a plan for the future.”
The 25-year-old Tennessean put an emphasis on INDYCAR’s effort to take in everyone’s ideas from the paddock to create the universal aero kit that will debut next season. He echoed Frye’s thoughts that it could lead to more engine manufacturers getting involved since they will no longer have to supply an aero kit as well.
“I think what they're doing is they're globally trying to hit most of the marks (with the universal kit) for whether it's the fans, the drivers, the teams, the partners, and I think they're doing it pretty gracefully, so I'm excited,” Newgarden said.
“I think that'll be cool and that will open up some doors and maybe provide a future path for more manufacturers like Jay had stated. Then just getting further down the road, how do we plan for the next car? That takes a lot of time and they're planning for it and they're trying to make that happen as soon as they can. But it's going to take three to five years before we get there and, when we get to that point, I think there's going to be some really innovative and really exciting things to come for INDYCAR.”
Newgarden’s positive reviews were met by fellow drivers Graham Rahal (left), Ryan Hunter-Reay and James Hinchcliffe. Each expressed his eagerness to see the images come to life. The universal kit is on target by begin testing by mid-summer, with all teams using it in the 2018 season.
“The new car, I haven't seen the finished product by any means, but I think it looks pretty awesome,” said Rahal, driver of the No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda. “I'm excited about it. For me, it's more like what I feel an Indy car should look like.”
Andretti Autosport’s Hunter-Reay said INDYCAR has the opportunity with the new car look to bring in a younger audience, much the way he was attracted as a child by the “amazing” cars of that time.
“I am pleased with the direction of the series as a whole,” said Hunter-Reay (right). “I think our on-track product is great, I think it has been, I think it's going to become even better in 2018.
“We just have to concentrate and focus moving forward on bringing in our younger fan base. I think that's something that right now, for kids, everything is immediate, instant and there needs to be something they can latch on to. The same thing that made me latch on to INDYCAR when I was a kid, which was I saw the guys driving these cars that just sounded amazing, looked amazing.
“They were awe-inspiring and I thought of the guys in the cars as heroes, and we need to tap that. I think it's possible, it's just a matter of getting the right formula together to do it.”
Hinchcliffe (at left in photo at top) compared the new car’s look to past favorite Indy cars and expressed his enthusiasm for what it could be on and off the track.
“The sketches that came out I think look very cool, definitely some throwbacks to the old Indy cars and Champ Cars of old,” the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver said. “I think it's the right direction aesthetically, certainly, but the most important things are the performance goals. If we hit that, then the quality of the racing will be tremendous, as it has been, but we can make it better, and that's what the goal is for the new car.
“I'm excited to see not only what it looks like, but what it can do.”