Notes: Pro Bowl DB Peterson meets 'Michael Jordan' of race car drivers

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Five-time Pro Bowler Patrick Peterson knows a star when he sees one. Which is why the Arizona Cardinals cornerback was in awe meeting Mario Andretti on Feb. 26 at Phoenix International Raceway and receiving an INDYCAR Experience two-seater ride around the track from the racing great between sessions of the Verizon IndyCar Series promoter test.

“I met with (Andretti) briefly, but just to hear the history and some of the things he has accomplished in the Indy 500 and the Daytona 500 and all of the other championships that he won in all different divisions, he’s the Michael Jordan of race car drivers,” Peterson said from pit lane following his ride.

“I had the opportunity to fly with the Thunderbirds before so it kind of relates, as far as the Gs. But I’ve never done anything of this sort, though, because we were in a very tight, confined space and we’re going almost 200 miles per hour turning these corners at Lord knows how fast. It was definitely an unbelievable experience. I would definitely do it again."

Filippi samples Phoenix oval with Coyne team

Luca Filippi joined the Verizon IndyCar Series field at Phoenix testing Dale Coyne Racing’s No. 19 Honda as a teammate to Conor Daly.

Filippi, who has competed in 18 road/street events in his career, has never raced on an oval, though he did test at Iowa Speedway with Ed Carpenter Racing in 2015 when it was known as CFH Racing.

“It’s very different preparing for an oval versus a road or street course,” Filippi said. “Normally I’m used to looking for a setup that can push me to brake deeper or just go faster, while now it’s me that I have to basically understand what the car wants to do to go faster. It’s kind of the other way around, but it’s good fun. I know I have to learn but it’s good to have a test here.”

Filippi has yet to be confirmed for the 2016 season, but he’s hopeful of building chemistry with the Coyne team

“We’re working with the team in order to get to know each other a little better and we are taking the right steps and going the right direction,” he said. “So far, I’m very excited and I’m having fun driving around the circuit. It’s very demanding, very technical but very exciting as well."

Andretti unveils 2016 car liveries inspired by family patriarch’s 1972 car

Andretti Autosport took inspiration from the family’s illustrious racing past in developing liveries for its cars that will compete in the Verizon IndyCar Series and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires in 2016.

The paint schemes are a nod to family patriarch Mario Andretti, father of team owner Michael Andretti and grandfather to team driver Marco Andretti. The 1972 Vel’s Parnelli Jones car that Mario drove in Indy car competition that season serves as the basis for the 2016 Andretti Autosport car liveries.

While each of the seven cars – for Verizon IndyCar Series drivers Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Carlos Munoz and Alexander Rossi and Indy Lights drivers Shelby Blackstock, Dalton Kellett and Dean Stoneman – will still each carry the colors of their respective sponsors, each will feature a unified color stripe starting at the forward cockpit and running through the rear of the car.

That is reminiscent of Mario Andretti’s 1972 entry that also became the design inspiration for his iconic race helmet that has been used by all three generations of Andretti racers.

“As we enter a historic season of Indy car racing, with the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500, I’m proud to be able to bring this design element into our field of cars,” Michael Andretti said. “My father was an inspiration to me in my career, and remains an inspiration and major supporter to our industry. To carry a little history with us is something special.”

Garage Pass Experience will get Phoenix fans up close on race weekend

Race fans can get even closer to the Verizon IndyCar Series’ return to Phoenix International Raceway through the Garage Pass Experience available for the Phoenix Grand Prix on April 1-2.

The Garage Pass Experience provides fans with exclusive, behind-the-scenes access during the event weekend, including the Verizon IndyCar Series and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires garage area, the hot pit area during the Indy Lights race and Verizon IndyCar Series pre-race driver introductions before the green flag for the Phoenix Grand Prix on April 2.

The Garage Pass Experience is valid both days of race weekend and available to those ages 18 or older for $50 per person. An admission ticket to the track is also required. For more information or to order, visit PhoenixRaceway.com or call (866) 408-RACE (7223).

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