After a slippery Honda Indy Toronto on the Exhibition Street Circuit won by CFH Racing’s Josef Newgarden, Round 11 of the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season returns to Fontana, California for the MAVTV 500 at the Auto Club Speedway.

Having served as the season finale for the past three years, the event has been replaced by the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma as this year’s final round in a crammed 2015 calendar.

The Circuit

2015 IndyCar Series MAVTV 500
Date 26-27 June 2015 Lap Length 2.00 mi / 3.22km
Free Practice Session 1 Fri 08:30-10:15 Free Practice Session 2 Fri 14:45-15:30
Qualifying Fri 16:45-18:00 Race (250 laps) Sat 13:36-16:45

Session times quoted in Pacific Daylight Time (GMT – 07:00)

Formerly known as California Speedway, the groundbreaking for this 2-mile oval took place in November 1995. This track has 14 degrees of banking in all four of its turns as well as 11 degrees of banking on the front stretch and 3 degrees on the back stretch.

Before hosting IndyCar sanctioned races in 2002, this track held open wheel events in CART from 1997-02. Mark Blundell won the inaugural CART race there in 1997, and Sam Hornish Jr. scored the victory in IndyCar’s first visit at this track in 2002. Hornish won there again the following year.

Auto Club Speedway hosted the season-finale for IndyCar the past three years. This year, the season-ending race will be held at Sonoma Raceway in Northern California on August 30.

Rewind to 2014

Last season in Fontana we saw Will Power become the first Australian in IndyCar history to become a Verizon IndyCar Series World Champion, finally breaking through after three successive seasons of being beaten at the final hurdle.

Power looked like being a four-time ‘choker’ after his Penske teammate and title rival Hélio Castroneves grabbed his 41st career pole of the season, while Power qualified a dismal 21st.

Nonetheless, he drove a steadily and calm race, climbing quickly towards the rear of the top-ten and finishing ninth to capture the title after Castroneves encountered problems. Chip Ganassi scored a 1-2 finish with Tony Kanaan winning the race – his first of the season – ahead of teammate Scott Dixon. Ed Carpenter finished third in his final outing for his eponymous team before he merged with Sarah Fisher Hartmann Racing.

The Entry List and Form Guide

There will be a couple of driver line-up changes as the field returns to the oval racing format this weekend in the wake of the street race in Toronto a fortnight ago.

Ed Carpenter – who has a win and two further podiums in his last three outings here – will be back behind the wheel of his #20 CFH Racing entry in place of Luca Filippi. Carpenter has had a poor season in his two outings to-date at Indianapolis and Texas, failing to finish in either outing.

Meanwhile, Dale Coyne Racing’s ever-changing line-up will see Tristan Vautier and Pippa Mann team up for the second time this season after driving together at Texas Motor Speedway; Mann finished seventeenth on that occasion, while Vautier retired.

In other news, Chevrolet has reinforced its lead over Honda in the IndyCar manufacturers’ championship following the publication of post-event infractions from the last round in Toronto. The former earned 10 bonus manufacturer points after the engine in Simon Pagenaud’s Team Penske car reached its minimum lifespan of 2500 miles, while Honda was docked a total of 40 points after the engines used by Andretti pair Carlos Muñoz and Marco Andretti were changed out before reaching the mileage minimum.

Under rule of the series regulations, manufacturers are fined 20 points for each engine that is changed before achieving the 2500-mile limit. Following the adjustments, Chevrolet’s points tally now stands at 1003, while Honda is on 840.

Juan Pablo Montoya comes into this weekend’s 500 mile race with a 27-point lead in the Drivers’ Championship over Team Penske teammate Power (374-347). Chip Ganassi Racing’s Dixon is third on 329 points, seven ahead of Castroneves on 322. Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal rounds out the top five on 283 points and nine clear of Dual in Detroit Race 2 winner, KVSH Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais, on 274.

Andretti Autosport’s Marco Andretti sits two points behind the Frenchman in seventh on 272 points and just four points ahead of CFH Racing’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama and Toronto winner Josef Newgarden (268).

Practice 1 and 2 and Qualifying for the MAVTV 500 begins Friday June 26 with the 500 mile 250-lap race concluding the race weekend on Saturday June 27.

Image via IndyCar Series

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Michael Terminello

Journalist at MotorsportM8