Notes: GEICO sponsoring Bourdais for INDYCAR Grand Prix

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Sebastien Bourdais will drive with primary sponsorship from GEICO this weekend at the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, as announced Wednesday by Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan.

Bourdais, sixth on the all-time Indy car victory list with 37, will be in the No. 18 GEICO Honda when practice begins Friday for the fifth race of the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series season. In five previous starts on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile permanent road circuit, Bourdais has finished fourth on three occasions, including last year when he qualified third fastest.

“We are very pleased to announce that GEICO will be the primary sponsor of the No. 18 Dale Coyne Vasser-Sullivan entry for the 2019 INDYCAR Grand Prix,” said James “Sulli” Sullivan, team co-owner. “GEICO has been with us since the beginning, going back to 2008. Over the last 12 years, we have established an outstanding relationship with the company and look forward to once again representing them on and off the track.”

INDYCAR GRAND PRIX: Entry list

GEICO, the second-largest auto insurer in the United States, first partnered with team co-owner Jimmy Vasser in 2008 and later with Sullivan when he joined the ownership group. GEICO is a season-long associate sponsor of Bourdais’ No. 18 Honda.

“Each year our relationship has grown, and we’ve enjoyed the success they’ve experienced, including putting GEICO in the winner’s circle at the 2013 Indianapolis 500 (with driver Tony Kanaan),” said Bill Brower, assistant vice president of marketing for GEICO. “We learned long ago that auto racing fans are a group of dedicated folks, and we have worked hard to engage them and make everyone aware of the products we provide aside from just auto insurance. Dale Coyne Vasser-Sullivan has been a great partner.”

Practice and qualifying for the INDYCAR Grand Prix take place Friday. Live race coverage begins at 3 p.m. ET Saturday on NBC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

Honorary pace car driver, starter named for INDYCAR Grand Prix

Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials announced that Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford will be the honorary pace car driver for the INDYCAR Grand Prix and actor Justin Hartley, who stars in NBC’s acclaimed series “This Is Us,” will serve as honorary starter for Saturday’s race.

Crawford, a two-time Stanley Cup champion, will lead the field to the green flag in the Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport Coupe pace car. Twice an NHL All-Star (2015, 2017) and a member of the NHL All-Rookie team in 2011, Crawford is just the eighth Blackhawks goaltender to win more than 100 games in the team’s storied history. The Windy City fan favorite is also an avid car enthusiast who enjoys restoring vintage vehicles.

“I’m honored to have been selected to drive this year’s pace car at a place as famous as the Brickyard,” Crawford said. “Indianapolis is an incredibly passionate sports city, and I couldn’t be more excited to represent the Blackhawks and see their love for Indy car racing in person.”

Hartley, who plays the role of Kevin Pearson on “This Is Us,” will wave the green flag to start the 85-lap NTT IndyCar Series race on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile IMS road course. The Illinois native is part of the cast that earned the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series in 2018 and 2019.

“Justin will enjoy the thrill of a lifetime sending a charging pack of NTT IndyCar Series stars toward Turn 1 from the flag stand during the INDYCAR Grand Prix,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. “We’re honored to welcome him to the speedway, as ‘This Is Us’ is such a widely acclaimed, popular show. His presence is yet another example of the wonderful partnership that’s growing between IMS, INDYCAR and NBC as NBC Sports broadcasts the INDYCAR Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge live for the first time this month.”

Visit IMS.com to buy tickets or for more information about the INDYCAR Grand Prix and all other events during the month of May at IMS.

Forza Motorsport 7 update features INDYCAR competition, cars

Racing gamers everywhere can celebrate everything INDYCAR with the May 2019 update for Microsoft’s popular PC and Xbox One racing title, “Forza Motorsport 7.”

This month’s update brings a collection of NTT IndyCar Series cars new and old (plus a pace car for good measure), as well as Indy-themed events, including a “Bounty Hunter” competition starring 11 of the biggest names in the NTT IndyCar Series. As part of Forza’s May celebration, a special Bounty Hunter event kicked off Tuesday with the launch of the May update.

For this Bounty Hunter, Forza players will drive the 2019 Indy car of their choice on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Their competition? Ten real-life NTT IndyCar Series drivers and owners. Participants include drivers Conor Daly (gamer tag ConorDaly22), Santino Ferrucci (SFerrucci19), Jack Harvey (Jharvey42), Colton Herta (ColtonHerta), James Hinchcliffe (Hinchcliffe5), Matheus Leist (Leist4), Josef Newgarden (JNRACERTPX2), Simon Pagenaud (Darthpag22) and Spencer Pigot (spigot07), as well as team co-owner George Steinbrenner IV (SteinbrennerIV).

The contest runs through June 5. In addition, look for a new Spotlight Rivals event with the 1969 Brawner Hawk III that Mario Andretti drove to victory 50 years ago in the Indianapolis 500 racing on the Sonoma Grand Prix circuit.

The INDYCAR-themed update includes four 2019 Dallara cars: the No. 2 Team Penske Chevrolet driven by Newgarden, the No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda of Scott Dixon, the No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda of Graham Rahal and the No. 22 Team Penske Chevrolet for Pagenaud.

Tickets available for 500 Prelude

Tickets are available at the door for Wednesday night’s sixth annual 500 Prelude benefiting the Survivors of Violence Foundation and presented by Chernoff Cosmetic Surgeons. The event, featuring appearances by present and past Indy car greats, takes place at Prime 47, 47 S. Pennsylvania St., Indianapolis, Indiana 46204.

Scheduled to attend are current NTT IndyCar Series drivers Ed Carpenter, Scott Dixon, Colton Herta, James Hinchcliffe, Charlie Kimball and Will Power, as well as team owners Mike Harding and George Michael Steinbrenner IV. In addition, racing greats Mario Andretti, Al Unser Jr. and Tony Stewart will be on hand, as well as Linda Vaughn, the “First Lady of Racing.”

Tickets may be purchased at the door, with proceeds going to the Survivors of Violence Foundation that provides reconstructive surgery and scar therapy for victims of violence with the greatest financial and health-care needs.

Team Penske drivers autograph session

Team Penske drivers Helio Castroneves, Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud and Will Power will appear at a Verizon Wireless location in Indianapolis in Thursday to greet fans and sign autographs. The event runs from 6-8 p.m. ET at the Verizon location at 1340 E. 86th St., Indianapolis, Indiana 46240.

🚨 Hey Indianapolis! 🚨

Come and meet all four Team Penske #Indy500 drivers tomorrow at the @verizon store in Nora Plaza.

🗓: Thursday, May 9
📍: 1340 E. 86th St., Indianapolis, IN 46240
🕕: Autographs from 6-8 p.m. ET pic.twitter.com/ujgJpb78af

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