2018 IndyCar Series
|2018 IndyCar season|
|Verizon IndyCar Series|
|Start date||March 11|
|End date||September 16|
|Drivers' champion||Scott Dixon|
|Rookie of the Year||Robert Wickens|
|Indianapolis 500 winner||Will Power|
|Oval champion||Will Power|
|Road course champion||Scott Dixon|
The 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series was the 23rd season of the Verizon IndyCar Series and the 97th official championship season of American open wheel racing. The premier event was the 102nd Indianapolis 500, with Takuma Sato entering as the defending Indianapolis 500 winner. Josef Newgarden entered the season as the defending National Champion.
The season marked the debut of a new universal aerokit, replacing the manufacturer-designed kits used from 2015–2017.
It was the final season for Verizon Communications as the series sponsor as well as being the final season that the series was broadcast by both ABC and NBC Sports. A new series sponsor was introduced and NBC became the sole broadcaster for the series beginning in the 2019 season.
Honda won the engine manufacturer's championship for the first time since 2011. Robert Wickens won Rookie of the Year despite missing the final three races after a crash at the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono. James Hinchcliffe won the most popular driver award. Will Power won the 102nd Indianapolis 500. Scott Dixon won his fifth IndyCar title, and is now second to A.J. Foyt's all-time record for United States open wheel titles. Dixon won three races over the course of the season.
- On October 20, 2017, Verizon Communications announced that it would exit its title sponsorship deal for the series after the 2018 season. This will not affect its vehicle sponsorship with Team Penske.
- PFC became the IndyCar Series' brake caliper supplier beginning in the 2018 season.
- Kyle Novak was confirmed as Race Director on January 5, replacing Brian Barnhart, who left to become president of Harding Racing. The three-man stewarding panel of Dan Davis, Arie Luyendyk and Max Papis, introduced when Barnhart was first named Race Director, will remain intact.
- On March 21, 2018, NBC Sports (which serves as the existing cable rightsholder of the series through NBCSN) announced that it would become the sole television rights-holder of the IndyCar Series from 2019 through 2021, replacing the previous split between ABC and NBCSN. Eight races per-season will air on NBC, including the Indianapolis 500.
- All IndyCar Series machines feature an all-new universal bodywork, inspired by CART's 1990s and 2000s bodywork, but still keep the Dallara DW12 chassis base. This new chassis configuration is dubbed the IR18, and will be used until at least 2022. For the first time since the 1996 Indy Racing League and 2007 Champ Car seasons respectively, cars will have a roll hoop without an airbox.
- All IndyCar Series entrants will begin utilizing F1-style LCD steering wheel display dashes, a new Cosworth CCW Mk2 steering wheel with a configurable display unit, and new electronic components. The current Cosworth-Pi Research Sigma Wheel Display dash had been used since the 2000 season will be retired permanently, but several teams will opt to keep the old Cosworth Sigma Wheel Display dash for one more season due to cost reasons.
- Due to the reduced amount of downforce produced by the 2018 spec aerokits, Firestone introduced new rain tires to improve grip in wet conditions for road/street races.
- In the next step to increase driver safety through cockpit protection, IndyCar announced that Scott Dixon would test a windscreen, a possible alternative to the 'halo' device used by Formula One, at ISM Raceway on February 8.
Chip Ganassi Racing announced that the team will scale down to a two-car team for the first time since 2010 due to cost efficiency, with Scott Dixon remaining at the No. 9 car. CGR announced on October 25, 2017 that 2017 IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year Ed Jones would drive the No. 10 car in 2018, replacing Tony Kanaan.
Team Penske also downsized to three cars, due to Hélio Castroneves moving to Team Penske's WeatherTech SportsCar Championship team from the 2018 season onwards. However, Castroneves returned for the 2018 Indianapolis 500 with Team Penske for a one-off appearance.
Michael Shank Racing competed in six races in the 2018 season with driver Jack Harvey, with a technical partnership with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. The team was renamed Meyer Shank Racing on April 6, 2018 after Sirius XM CEO Jim Meyer joined as a team co-owner.
Harding Racing confirmed a full-time schedule with Gabby Chaves after running part-time in 2017. Brian Barnhart was named President of the team on November 29, leaving his post as President of Race Operations and Race Director of IndyCar. Following the Road America round, Barnhart confirmed rumours that they wish to expand to fielding two cars as early as the latter part of the 2018 season, specifically naming Sonoma. He further confirmed the team was in talks with several drivers including current Indy Lights drivers.
After winning the 2017 Indy Lights championship, Kyle Kaiser participated in four IndyCar events in 2018 with Juncos Racing, including the Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar Grand Prix. On January 5, 2018, Juncos announced Formula V8 3.5 driver René Binder would contest the races in St. Petersburg, Barber, Mid-Ohio, and Toronto, with an entry at Detroit being confirmed later.
After competing at Barber for Ed Carpenter Racing as a replacement for J. R. Hildebrand and at the Indianapolis 500 for A. J. Foyt Enterprises in 2017, Zach Veach made his full-season début with Andretti Autosport, replacing Takuma Sato.
After competing in road and street courses only for Ed Carpenter Racing in 2017, Spencer Pigot made his full-season début with the team, replacing J. R. Hildebrand in the No. 21 car. Former Formula 2 driver Jordan King will drive the No. 20 on road and street courses.
After six seasons in the German Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters, Robert Wickens made the switch to IndyCar to drive the No. 6 car for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, replacing Mikhail Aleshin. Wickens previously replaced Aleshin in the first practice session at Road America in 2017, but did not get to compete in the race. Wickens suffered severe injuries in a crash at the 2018 ABC Supply 500 and was forced to miss the rest of the season. Due to damage incurred in the crash, the #6 car was withdrawn for the next race at Gateway. On August 29, SPM announced Carlos Muñoz as Wickens' replacement in the #6 car at the Portland and Sonoma rounds. 
On November 16, 2017, A. J. Foyt Enterprises announced that Brazilian Indy Lights driver Matheus Leist would drive the No. 4 car in 2018, replacing Conor Daly. Leist became the youngest IndyCar Series rookie since Marco Andretti in 2006.
After six seasons with Stewart-Haas Racing in NASCAR, Danica Patrick announced intentions to return to the Indianapolis 500 for the first time since 2011. The 2018 Indianapolis 500 was the last race of Patrick's professional career. She will run a third entry for Ed Carpenter Racing, carrying sponsorship from former long-time partner GoDaddy.
On February 6, 2018, 2017 World Series Formula V8 3.5 champion Pietro Fittipaldi was announced to drive the #19 for Dale Coyne Racing in 7 races, including the 2018 Indianapolis 500. The #19 was driven by Zachary Claman DeMelo, who partook in the 2017 Indy Lights season with Carlin and the 2017 GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, in the other 10 events. On May 4, Fittipaldi was injured in a crash while qualifying for the 2018 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps. DeMelo took over the #19 for both Indianapolis races and Texas, while Trident Formula 2 driver and Haas F1 test driver Santino Ferrucci was signed for the two Detroit races.
On March 1, 2018 it was confirmed that Nazareth, Pennsylvania native Sage Karam would return to race in the 102nd Indianapolis 500 for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. This was the 3rd straight and 4th total Indianapolis 500 between them. The primary sponsor for Karam's car was be WIX Filters.
On March 6, 2018 it was announced Conor Daly would be drive in the 102nd Indianapolis 500. He raced for Thom Burns Racing with Air Force as the primary sponsor.
On April 13, 2018 it was announced that Jonathan Byrd's Racing, Hollinger MotorSport, and Belardi Auto Racing would work in conjunction with A. J. Foyt Enterprises to field a car for James Davison for the Indianapolis 500.
On May 10, Juncos Racing announced that Alfonso Celis, Jr. would make his IndyCar debut with the team at Road America. On August 3, the team announced that Celis would also compete at Portland.
On July 10, Harding Racing announced that Conor Daly would replace Gabby Chaves for round 12 in Toronto. The team also stated that they would experiment with their driver lineup for the remainder of the season in preparation for 2019. They want to test current top three Indy Lights drivers Colton Herta, Santiago Urrutia and Patricio O'Ward, the latter having already received a seat fitting with the team. Nevertheless, Chaves is expected to return to the track in 2018 and remain under contract as the team's driver through 2019. Daly would be confirmed for the Mid-Ohio round on July 24.  On September 2, it was announced that 2018 Indy Lights champion Patricio O'Ward and 2018 Indy Lights runner-up Colton Herta would make their IndyCar debuts with Harding at the final round at Sonoma.
Schedule changes and notes
- On September 26, 2017, Phoenix International Raceway's name was changed to ISM Raceway after a $100 million sponsorship deal with Ingenuity Sun Media, or ISM.
- Watkins Glen was dropped from the calendar, after only two races since its return in 2016. The round was replaced with a race at Portland International Raceway, after an 11-year absence since Portland's last Champ Car event.
- The Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in Mexico City was explored as a possible host of a race in August, but the deal was not put together and the race was not put on the calendar.
- The Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama was started on April 22 and was stopped due to rain on lap 22. The race was resumed on April 23.
- The Indianapolis 500 and Sonoma rounds award double points.
- At all races except the Indy 500, the number 1 qualifier earns one (1) point. At double header races, the fastest qualifier of each qualifying group earns one championship point.
- Entrant-initiated engine change-outs before the engines reach their required distance run will result in the loss of ten (−10) points.
- NOTE: The distance run will be based on the total distance raced by that entrant with the engine in question, regardless of driver.
- Ties are broken by number of wins, followed by number of 2nds, 3rds, etc., then by number of pole positions, followed by number of times qualified 2nd, etc.
- All manufacturer points (including qualifying points, race finish points, and race win bonus points) can only be earned by full-season entrants.
- The top two finishing entrants from each manufacturer in each race score championship points for their respective manufacturer. The manufacturer that wins each race will be awarded five (5) additional points, which can be determined through bold in-line notation.
- At all races except the Indy 500, the manufacturer who qualifies on pole earns one (1) point. At the Indy 500, the fastest Saturday qualifier earns one (1) point, while the pole position winner on Sunday earns two (2) points. It can be determined through italic in-line notation. But, in Gateway, as qualifying was rained out, no point will be awarded for pole position.
- The manufacturer with the most points from each race is noted by an asterisk (*).
- For every full-season engine used during the Indy 500 that reaches 2,000 total miles run, the manufacturer earns bonus points equal to that engine's finishing position in the race.
- Ties are broken by number of wins, followed by number of 2nds, 3rds, etc.
- James Davison is considered a rookie in the IndyCar Series; however, he was not a rookie in the 2018 Indianapolis 500 as he participated in the Indy 500 in 2014, 2015, and 2017.
- Stefan Wilson is considered a rookie in the IndyCar Series; however, he was not a rookie in the 2018 Indianapolis 500 as he participated in the 2016 Indianapolis 500.
- The qualification format for this race featured two separate qualification groups, with the fastest qualifier in each group earning a championship point; the faster of the two group fastest qualifiers would then start on pole, while the other would start from the outside of the front row. Andretti set the fastest overall lap, and was awarded the pole position. Scott Dixon set the fastest lap in the other qualifying group, and was also awarded a championship point.
- The qualification format for this race featured two separate qualification groups, with the fastest qualifier in each group earning a championship point; the faster of the two group fastest qualifiers would then start on pole, while the other would start from the outside of the front row. Rossi set the fastest overall lap, and was awarded the pole position. Robert Wickens set the fastest lap in the other qualifying group, and was also awarded a championship point.
- Qualifying for the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 was cancelled due to weather. The grid was set by entrant points, so Scott Dixon was gifted the pole position. Because of this, he was not awarded the bonus point typically awarded for qualifying on pole position.
- Malsher, David (October 20, 2017). "Verizon to quit as IndyCar title sponsor, remain with Penske". Motorsport.com. Retrieved October 20, 2017.
- Malsher, David (October 20, 2017). "How PFC stepped up braking performance for 2018 IndyCar". Motorsport.com. Retrieved October 20, 2017.
- "IndyCar Confirms Novak as Race Director". Racer.com. January 5, 2018. Archived from the original on January 6, 2018. Retrieved January 5, 2018.
- "The Indy 500 will soon have a new TV network". Indianapolis Star. Retrieved March 21, 2018.
- Steinberg, Brian (March 21, 2018). "NBC Sports Grabs Indianapolis 500 Rights From ABC After 54 Years". Variety. Retrieved March 21, 2018.
- "How IndyCar-NBC deal will affect local Indy 500 blackout". Indianapolis Star. Retrieved March 21, 2018.
- Malsher, David (January 12, 2017). "2018 IndyCar aerokit concepts unveiled". Motorsport.com. Motorsport Network. Retrieved January 12, 2017.
- "2018 IndyCar aerokit concepts unveiled". IndyCar.com. IndyCar.com. July 24, 2017. Retrieved July 24, 2017.
- Pruett, Marshall (June 22, 2017). "New electronics coming with 2018 bodywork". Racer.com. Archived from the original on June 25, 2017. Retrieved June 22, 2017.
- Malsher, David (January 9, 2018). "Firestone to introduce new rain tire for 2018 IndyCar". Motorsport.com. Motorsport Network. Retrieved January 9, 2018.
- "INDYCAR to conduct first on-track test of windscreen on Feb. 8". Indycar.com. February 2, 2018. Retrieved February 4, 2018.
- "Matheus Leist confirmed for IndyCar graduation with Foyt". November 16, 2017. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
- Ayello, Jim (October 5, 2017). "2 of the biggest names in IndyCar team up as Tony Kanaan joins A.J. Foyt Racing". indystar.com. The Indianapolis Star. Retrieved October 5, 2017.
- Miller, Robin (April 13, 2018). "Davison 500 entry confirmed in third Foyt car". Racer.com. Racer Media & Marketing, Inc. Archived from the original on April 14, 2018. Retrieved April 13, 2018.
- Miller, Robin; Pruett, Marshall (August 28, 2017). "Andretti, Rossi staying with Honda". Racer.com. Racer Media & Marketing, Inc. Archived from the original on October 30, 2017. Retrieved August 28, 2017.
- Ayello, Jim (October 4, 2017). "Stefan Wilson officially joins Andretti Autosport for 2018 Indy 500". indystar.com. The Indianapolis Star. Retrieved October 5, 2017.
- Malsher, David (September 11, 2017). "Zach Veach signs with Andretti Autosport through 2020". Motorsport.com. Motorsport Network. Retrieved September 11, 2017.
- Smith, Luke (December 6, 2017). "Marco Andretti Confirmed in No. 98 Andretti-Herta IndyCar Entry". motorsports.nbcsports.com. NBC Sports. Retrieved December 6, 2017.
- Malsher, David (September 18, 2016). "Andretti Autosport re-signs Ryan Hunter-Reay, DHL". Motorsport.com. Sonoma, California: Motorsport Network. Retrieved September 18, 2016.
- "Andretti Autosport – CARLOS MUÑOZ COMPLETES ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT INDY 500 LINEUP". Retrieved May 28, 2018.
- Errington, Tom (December 12, 2017). "Carlin enters IndyCar with two-car team for Kimball, Chilton". Motorsport.com. Motorsport Network. Retrieved December 12, 2017.
- Miller, Robin (July 18, 2017). "MILLER: 2018's most wanted". Racer.com. Racer Media & Marketing, Inc. Archived from the original on October 20, 2017. Retrieved July 18, 2017.
- "Chip Ganassi Racing Signs Ed Jones for its Verizon IndyCar Series Program". chipganassiracing.com. October 25, 2017. Retrieved October 25, 2017.
- "Fittipaldi confirms seven-race deal with Dale Coyne Racing". Motorsport. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
- "American Santino Ferrucci to race Paysafe car in Detroit". Dale Coyne Racing. Retrieved May 18, 2018.
- "Mann confirms DCR Indy 500 ride". RACER. Archived from the original on March 20, 2018. Retrieved March 20, 2018.
- Malsher, David (March 6, 2018). "Daly rejoins Coyne for Indy 500 with Thom Burns Racing and USAF". Motorsport.com. Motorsport Network. Retrieved March 6, 2018.
- Weaver, Matt (June 28, 2017). "Dale Coyne, Sébastien Bourdais already planning 2018 championship run". Autoweek. Crain Communications. Retrieved June 28, 2017.
- WIX Filters [@WIXFilters] (March 1, 2018). "We're excited to support @DRRIndyCar driver, @SageKaram at the 102nd #Indy500! The young racer will drive the No. 24 DRR @TeamChevy Dallara. Looking forward to a great year. #WIXIndy 🔥" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- Malsher, David (February 28, 2018). "Karam confirmed at Dreyer & Reinbold for Indy 500". Motorsport.com. Motorsport Network. Retrieved February 28, 2018.
- Errington, Tom (April 12, 2018). "Hildebrand lands second Dreyer & Reinbold Indy 500 seat". Motorsport.com. Motorsport Network. Retrieved April 12, 2018.
- "Danica Patrick to race final Indy 500 with Ed Carpenter Racing". Motorsport.com. Retrieved February 14, 2018.
- "Patrick ready for the spotlight again at Indianapolis 500". March 7, 2018. Archived from the original on March 8, 2018. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
- Smith, Luke (January 4, 2018). ""Jordan King joins Ed Carpenter Racing for part-season IndyCar campaign"". Crash.net. Retrieved January 4, 2018.
- Rentz, Brie (September 13, 2017). "Ed Carpenter Racing elevates Spencer Pigot to full-time for 2018 IndyCar season". edcarpenterracing.com. Ed Carpenter Racing. Retrieved September 13, 2017.
- Miller, Robin (September 2, 2018). "Harding to field O'Ward, Herta at Sonoma". Retrieved September 2, 2018.
- Pruett, Marshall (January 12, 2018). "Harding confirms full 2018 IndyCar season with Chaves". Racer.com. Racer Media & Marketing, Inc. Archived from the original on January 14, 2018. Retrieved January 12, 2018.
- Miller, Robin (July 10, 2018). "Daly to replace Chaves in Toronto as Harding shakes up lineup". Racer.com. Racer Media & Marketing, Inc. Retrieved July 10, 2018.
- "Austrian Rene Binder joins Juncos Racing for partial Verizon IndyCar season". juncosracing.com. January 5, 2018. Retrieved January 5, 2018.
- Stritzke, Heiko; Malsher, David (March 28, 2018). "Binder extends Juncos deal to six IndyCar races". Motorsport.com. Motorsport Network. Retrieved March 28, 2018.
- "KAISER, JUNCOS RACING REVEAL FOUR-RACE VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES PLAN FOR 2018". IndyCar.com. October 19, 2017. Retrieved October 19, 2017.
- Juncos (May 10, 2018). "Alfonso Celis Jr. Advances to the Verizon IndyCar Series with Juncos Racing". Retrieved May 10, 2018.
- "Harvey, Shank, Schmidt Peterson teaming for six races in 2018". Retrieved May 28, 2018.
- Malsher, David (June 29, 2017). "Graham Rahal on why his season has been both brilliant and brutal". Motorsport.com. Motorsport Network. Retrieved June 29, 2017.
- Mihai, Marian (September 20, 2017). "2017 Indy 500 Champion Takuma Sato Returns to RLL". rahal.com. Rahal. Retrieved September 20, 2017.
- Pruett, Marshall (July 13, 2017). "Penske, SPM to lead 2018 bodykit development". Racer.com. Racer Media & Marketing, Inc. Archived from the original on August 6, 2017. Retrieved July 13, 2017.
- Malsher, David (October 18, 2017). "Schmidt Peterson confirms Wickens to partner Hinchcliffe in IndyCar". Motorsport.com. Motorsport Network. Retrieved October 18, 2017.
- IndyCar Series, Verizon (August 29, 2018). "Munoz to sub for Wickens at Schmidt Peterson in Portland". IndyCar. INDYCAR. Retrieved August 29, 2018.
- Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. "HOWARD REJOINS SPM WITH PARTNER ONE CURE FOR 102ND RUNNING OF THE INDIANAPOLIS 500".
- Photo, By Marshall Pruett / Image by IMS. "Scuderia Corsa joins Rahal for Servia Indy 500 entry". www.racer.com. Archived from the original on March 9, 2018. Retrieved March 9, 2018.
- Pruett, Marshall (July 8, 2017). "New chapter likely for Castroneves with Honda DPi". Racer.com. Newton, Iowa: Racer Media & Marketing, Inc. Archived from the original on August 12, 2017. Retrieved July 8, 2017.
- "Josef Newgarden to run champion's No. 1 in 2018". November 1, 2017. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
- "Motor racing: Castroneves moves to sports cars, Indy 500 still in plans". reuters.com. Reuters. October 5, 2017. Retrieved October 4, 2017.
- Pruett, Marshall (September 20, 2017). "Ganassi confirms IndyCar reduction to two cars". Racer.com. Racer Media & Marketing, Inc. Archived from the original on September 21, 2017. Retrieved September 21, 2017.
- Pryson, Mike. "Chip Ganassi Racing signs IndyCar Rookie of the Year Ed Jones". Autoweek.com. Crain Communications, Inc. Retrieved October 26, 2017.
- "Hélio Castroneves Joins Team Penske's IMSA Lineup". teampenske.com. Team Penske. October 4, 2017. Retrieved October 4, 2017.[permanent dead link]
- "Harvey, Shank, Schmidt Peterson teaming for six races in 2018". Retrieved May 28, 2018.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on April 6, 2018. Retrieved April 6, 2018.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Miller, Robin (November 29, 2017). "Barnhart Joins Harding Racing". Racer.com. Racer Media and Marketing, Inc. Archived from the original on November 29, 2017. Retrieved November 29, 2017.
- Pruett, Marshall (June 24, 2018). "Harding looks to add second car later this season". Racer.com. Racer Media and Marketing, Inc. Retrieved June 26, 2018.
- "Telitz wins Indy Lights race, Kaiser crowned champion". IndyCar.com. Retrieved September 22, 2017.
- "Kyle Kaiser advances to the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series with Juncos Racing – Juncos Racing". www.juncosracing.com. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
- Long, Dustin (November 17, 2017). "Danica Patrick says this will be last full-time season as a driver". NBC Sports. Retrieved November 17, 2017.
- Pockrass, Bob (November 17, 2017). "Danica Patrick to end racing career at next year's Indy 500". ESPN.com. ESPN Internet Ventures. Retrieved November 17, 2017.
- "APNewsBreak: GoDaddy to sponsor Patrick in 'Danica Double'". Auto Racing. January 18, 2018. Archived from the original on February 23, 2018. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
- Mann, RACER Staff/Images by Abbott/LAT; Pippa. "Mann confirms DCR Indy 500 ride". www.racer.com. Archived from the original on March 20, 2018. Retrieved March 20, 2018.
- Elizalde, Pablo (August 3, 2018). "Celis to get second IndyCar outing at Portland". Motorsport.com. Motorsport Network. Retrieved August 3, 2018.
- "Harding confirms Daly for Mid-Ohio". Racer.com. Racer Media and Marketing, inc.
- Malsher, David (May 8, 2017). "China, Mexico, among four possible new IndyCar races". Motorsport.com. Motorsport Network. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
- "2017 IndyCar Series rulebook" (pdf). Verizon IndyCar Series. p. 149. Retrieved June 4, 2017.[permanent dead link]
- "2018 Verizon IndyCar Series Official Rulebook". IndyCar Series. May 29, 2018. Retrieved September 15, 2018.