2010-2011 IndyCar Series Off-Season News

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2010-2011 IndyCar Series Off-Season News

Postby mlittle » Wed Oct 13, 2010 12:40 pm

Similar in nature to the Silly Season thread in this area, the purpose of this thread is simple.....to follow the off-season goings-on of the IZOD IndyCar Series......... 8)


IndyCar Series Stars Mix-It-Up With Rising Stars
---NEW CASTLE, Ind. – The Sharing Success Motorsports team was a few laps off the pace when Martin Plowman relinquished the seat of the No. 10 kart to Alex Grandahl during the final pit stop of the RoboPong 200 Presented by Bridgestone at New Castle Motorsports Park.

Plowman, who eight days earlier completed the Firestone Indy Lights season with AFS Racing Andretti Autosport, peeled off his helmet and rinsed the perspiration from his brow. This wasn’t a pleasant autumn drive on the 1-mile serpentine track; it was fierce competition utilizing the building blocks that have made the Englishman a race winner in the Road to Indy stepladder series.

“There are a lot of big names out there, and I think a lot of us are getting our (butts) kicked by 17 and 18 year olds,” said Plowman, whose team recovered from early mechanical misadventures to finish 21st. “You charge into the pits and that fire is inside you no matter where you’re racing. It’s a great deal of fun.”

Plowman joined nine other IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights drivers in the seventh annual endurance race alongside and against up-and-comers such as Star Mazda champion Conor Daly and former USAC competitor and recent Firestone Indy Lights race winner Brandon Wagner.

IZOD IndyCar Series championship runner-up Will Power, who leaves midweek to compete in the V8 Supercars race in his native Australia, echoed Plowman’s comments. He was enjoying the racing and captured by the competition level.

“It’s very competitive, and we’re having a great time,” said Power, who teamed with Simon Pagenaud to finish fourth after starting 25th. “The competition is great in karts overall in the U.S. There’s a lot of good race craft that applies to what we do in an IndyCar. It’s where it all starts … in karting. The basics are learned here.”

A few feet away, 2006 Firestone Indy Lights champion Jay Howard was limping over to congratulate Motorama Kart Parts teammate Bill McLaughlin Jr. on the hard-fought victory (by 10.46 seconds over the No. 02 Team Robinade trio of Graham Rahal, Daly and Donny Stewart). Relentless banging the kart’s gas tank like a bass drum gave Howard a bruised knee, which will heal quicker than he can deposit the winner’s $5,000 check.

“The level of competition and how hard it is to win this race has increased over the past few years,” said Howard, who ran five IZOD IndyCar Series races this season with Sarah Fisher Racing. “Karting is the purest form of motorsports and you take out the funding discrepancy you see at the top-levels of motorsports. This race is about giving the kids the opportunity to compete against the professional drivers and continue to bring interest to IndyCar. Hopefully, by running with and seeing these IndyCar drivers out here they’ll learn something.”

Ed Carpenter and Nathan O’Rourke, the 2009 race winners in the No. 20 Vision Racing kart, finished 10th. Wheldon and Mark Dismore Jr. (the ’05 champions) finished 11th. Others competing were Alex Tagliani, Gustavo Yacaman, Milka Duno and James Davison.
Last edited by mlittle on Sat Mar 19, 2011 9:10 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Engineer Simmons Key To Franchitti's Championship Year.....

Postby mlittle » Wed Oct 13, 2010 12:43 pm

Working through the myriad of potential set-ups of an IZOD IndyCar Series car to maximize its potential on street/road courses and ovals, Target Chip Ganassi Racing engineer Chris Simmons has one constant: driver Dario Franchitti. “Working with Dario is like having another data acquisition system on the car, he’s so experienced and knowledgeable,” says Simmons, a former Indy Lights competitor and USF2000 national titlist. “The feedback is so clear and concise. It makes mine and Eric’s (Bretzman, Scott Dixon’s engineer) job easier for sure.”

The Simmons-Franchitti duo has won the IZOD IndyCar Series in both years of their association(2009-2010), though the communication and trust foundation was laid years earlier. “One of the impressive things with Dario is how much he is willing to look at himself to find improvement,” Simmons says. “It’s just not us working on the car. It’s looking at what Scott (Dixon) does and what we’ve done in the past both on the car and driving-wise to find out how we can make the car go faster.

“I’m lucky having worked with Dario at what was Andretti Green Racing, working more next to him than with him. But I knew a lot about him already and that helped jump-start the relationship last year.”

Franchitti won his first series title – and along the way the Indianapolis 500 – with then-Andretti Green Racing in 2007. After competing in stock cars for a half-season in 2008 with Ganassi Racing, he returned to the IZOD IndyCar Series, where Simmons was waiting at the Indianapolis shop after having worked with Darren Manning, Dixon and Dan Wheldon.

This season, Franchitti recorded three victories, two pole starts and 13 top-five finishes in securing the driver title by five points over Will Power. With six top 5s, including two victories, on ovals, he earned the inaugural A.J. Foyt Oval Championship Trophy. In the ’09 title season, he had five victories and 13 top-five finishes. As was the case this year, the championship was decided in the final race.

“It’s been a bit different this year,” Simmons says. “You look at Long Beach, where last year we got going and everything went perfectly (started second; finished first). We were still learning about each other and making relatively big changes to the cars. This year, we kind of got ambushed and never really found the right set-up for the changing weather conditions, even though it was the same tire (starting and finishing 12th; a season-low on a street/road course).

“It was a little kick in the butt to get us thinking, ‘Hey, we still have to work at this. It’s not going to be easy and we’re not going to be making only small changes.’ There aren’t that many big things to go through to find speed because we’re more refined on what he wants and needs in the car and the car is even more refined this year. It was a bit more difficult to find speed when we we’ve been at a deficit.”

Franchitti earned the PEAK Performance Pole Award for the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, which corralled a crucial bonus point in attempting to track down points leader Power. Continual preparation, including testing at the 1.5-mile oval earlier in the week, also is crucial between Simmons, Bretzman and Julian Robertson on the diverse set of racetracks.

“We have checklists for everything thing we do,” Simmons says. “I spent more time than any other event in the past two years going through data and just trying to find any little thing to get us up front and win the race.”

Franchitti clinched the two bonus points for leading the most laps, putting more pressure on Power to overtake the reigning champion. When the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car brushed the wall on Lap 135, Franchitti didn’t have to win the race anymore. Eighth place wrapped up the title, with driver and engineer celebrating in Victory Circle.

A few weeks to celebrate (a team celebration lunch was held Oct. 8 at the shop) and rest, and the engineers and crews will reconvene to begin preparations for the 17-race 2011 schedule – the last in which the current Dallara-Honda package will be utilized.

“We still have a reasonably extensive list of things we want to improve on the cars we have; we’re not at a loss of things to do to prepare for next season,” Simmons says. “It will be a lot of smaller things as every year when you have the car for year and years. In some ways it becomes more significant because if you can find one little thing that nobody else has than that’s an advantage. If we don’t look for it then everybody else is going to catch up so we’re going to keep working.”
Last edited by mlittle on Thu Dec 16, 2010 3:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Chief Mechanic O'Donnell Another Key To Franchitti's Success

Postby mlittle » Fri Oct 15, 2010 11:22 am

----While the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car is temporarily idle on pit lane as the Holmatro Safety Team surveys the Twin Ring Motegi racing surface for debris during practice, Kevin O’Donnell and crew swarm around driver Dario Franchitti. Engineer Chris Simmons is notified there will be three minutes of track time left in the session and asks O’Donnell if there’s time to change some aero bits and a spring to test in the remaining few laps.

“Of course I said ‘yes,’ ’’ said O’Donnell, the chief mechanic and outside-front tire changer for the No. 10 entry. “I’ll tell the guys and everything starts moving fast. We got it done and got some laps in, and it turned out to be the wrong direction. We tried it and it’s checked off the list.”

For the attention and accolades heaped upon drivers, it’s a team sport and O’Donnell is the conduit between strategy and car performance. In securing his second consecutive IZOD IndyCar Series championship with Target Chip Ganassi Racing,Franchitti this season recorded three victories, two pole starts and 13 top-five finishes. In the ’09 title season, he had five victories and 13 top-five finishes.

“I just do what they ask,” says O’Donnell, who received a product of his choice from Honda during the Championship Celebration as Chief Mechanic of the Year. “All the information about the performance of the car Dario speaks to Chris about. I’m more concentrated on looking at the car and making sure everything is good while they’re talking about nuances.”

During race pit stops, the 11 crew members work as a cohesive service unit. IndyCar Timing & Scoring data relative to the time a car is on pit lane (passing the pit in line to pit out) supplemented by team data (car stop to wheel spin) and video provides feedback and incentive.

“We do a lot of practice in the off-season and have a comprehensive exercise program that I would say are the base of what we do,” O’Donnell says. “We’re always trying to keep things at a high level. We know we can do it, and that’s our expectation – to have clean pit stops. By doing that, we’ve been able to keep ourselves at the front of the pack this year. It’s not worth championship points, but it’s one more thing we can measure ourselves against the field.”

Consistently quick and flawless stops, however, have led to position advancements. Those, in turn, have led to more points accrued over the 17-race season. And when the title margin is five points, as it was this season over Will Power of Verizon Team Penske, everyone shares in the success.

“Everyone likes to be appreciated and recognized by the people you work with,” O’Donnell says. “When we come in third and go out first, the first thing Dario says on the radio is ‘Great job, guys.’ Not everybody is like that. He’s a great guy who expects a lot out of us and we deliver.”
Last edited by mlittle on Thu Dec 16, 2010 3:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Weathering The Storms of Uncertainty..........

Postby mlittle » Wed Oct 20, 2010 9:15 am

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It didn’t take but a moment for Will Power, upon arriving in Infineon Raceway's Victory Circle on Aug. 22, to spot his most ardent and enthusiastic supporter, fiancée Elizabeth Cannon. They embraced, celebrating the Team Penske driver’s fifth victory of the IZOD IndyCar Series season and life itself.

A year earlier on the same road course, the couple’s lives were forever altered. Power, running a limited 2009 schedule for Penske Racing, finished fifth in the Indianapolis 500 and went on to win his first IndyCar Series race at Edmonton in July. Power was scheduled to add the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, but he suffered a season-ending back injury in a practice session crash.

“When I was in Sonoma and saw his accident, I have signs that I look for that I know he’s OK and what’s going to happen,” says Cannon, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing's publicist. “They are hand movements, and I wasn’t getting that. I always listen to the radio and heard on Race Control that they’re putting him on a stretcher.

“At that moment it was scary but it put things in perspective. From that moment on it was OK. ‘We’ll take it a step at a time and get through it,’ I said.’’ That’s exactly what Power, with Cannon by his side, did. One step became two and then a brief stroll with diminishing pain. Soon he was in the swimming pool as the initial phase of rehabilitation.

“Dreyer & Reinbold has been great and I’m very fortunate to be in this sport and do what I love and Will do what he loves,” Cannon says. “They allowed me to stay with him; I stayed a week in Sonoma. Each day was a battle. We were going through something new. We didn’t know what would happen. He didn’t have a full-time ride. That season was meant for him to prove himself, and when he had the accident we thought ‘What’s next?’ Once we left Sonoma, every day we just kept at it. I had to keep a positive attitude for Will. I saw things in Will that I knew were there, but you recognize more when you go through a situation like that. But we made it through it, and staying positive through it made us stronger as a couple.”

The couple got engaged in December, and will be married Dec. 17 in Hawaii (about halfway for his extended family in Australia and hers in Texas). “There are so many things that are left uncertain that you lean on each other,” Cannon continues. “Granted, you have some low moments but you really grow as a couple and I think ultimately in December things started falling into place. Obviously, we had talked about getting married but it made us even stronger.”

Power, who competed in six races with Penske Racing in ’09, was confirmed Nov. 19 as a full-season 2010 entry in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car. He went on to collect five victories and an IZOD IndyCar Series-record eight pole starts. “The Penske organization has been wonderful, too,” Cannon says. “When he was in the hospital they helped give us that confidence of just focusing on getting better. So Will was determined. ‘I’m going to come back and I’m going to win the championship,’ he’d say. At that point, we still didn’t know it was going to be a full-time ride, but he was focused on getting fit.

“That situation helped in this situation this year with the championship. It seems like opposite things, but they’re similar because there is still pressure in things that you deal with and it helps prepare you for things to come.”

Power contends he’ll be stronger mentally and physically for the 17-race season that begins on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., in March, improving his race craft to again contend for the series championship. This weekend, he’ll be competing in a V8 Supercars race in his native Australia.

“Last year was definitely a test,” says Cannon, who met Power while on the staff of Walker Racing in Champ Car. “Will and I have been together four years and we’ve been through a lot together, a lot of ups and downs. We were able to weather the storm. Sometimes you think it’s kind of cheesy but it’s not; we are each other’s best friend. I can sound off to him and he to me, and I think our relationship really works because we both understand what the other is going through.

“I understand his side and we have a passion for the same things and I’m able to share his love of racing. He’s so passionate, driven and focused about it. That’s a large part of why he had such a strong comeback.”
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Honesty One of Power's Strengths.........

Postby mlittle » Wed Oct 20, 2010 9:26 am

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The relationship between Will Power and his engineer, Dave Faustino, was forged during the trying transition days of the 2007 and ‘08 seasons. This year, their first full time with Team Penske in the IZOD IndyCar Series, the dynamic further evolved and strengthened.

Power, driving the No. 12 Verizon entry, recorded five victories and a series-record eight pole starts in taking the championship to the final race. He finished runner-up to Dario Franchitti, with the promise to learn from the experiences and challenge again in 2011. Faustino will be among his chief aides and allies.

“It was good because in 2007 we transitioned into that new Champ Car package that we had to work together to try to figure out that car,” says Faustino of the season with KV Racing Technology. “In 2008, we transitioned into IndyCar and had to work together to figure out the Dallara. Those two years were not fine-tuning years, but trying to figure out a car from a big-picture standpoint. We got a lot of varied experience.

“In 2007 we did fairly well. Figured out what Will needed for street courses and road courses, and that’s actually what came to help us so much this year getting back together. We used a lot of our 2007 references at places just for feeling the changes; things that worked there tend to work here as well. It was kind of a continuation of the street course and road course relationship.

“In 2008, coming to IndyCar was a rough ride on ovals. This year, joining this established team with such a strong oval history, kind of put the whole package together. I think the other part of the relationship is we’re just really honest with each other. One of Will’s biggest strengths as a driver is being honest with his capabilities -- where’s he at in terms of needing to learn a track or needing to understand the car before we make changes.

“He’ll be honest and say he needs more laps or figure something out before we need to figure the car out, which makes for a good progression. He’ll come in and say, ‘It’s not the car, it’s me,’ or ‘Don’t worry about that, I’ll figure it out. I don’t think we can make any progress with the car until I hit this level.’ With him having that attitude and having that relationship where we’re honest with each other really helps.”

Power, who earned the inaugural Mario Andretti Road Championship Trophy for the five street/road course victories and top-five results at the other four non-oval races, is methodical in his approach to race weekends. Mental and physical preparation are important, and he also enters with an agenda focused on progression.

“Many drivers will come in after practice and write down some things, such as the car is doing this here and this here. You look at it and say, ‘Well, if the car is doing this here and this here, which is the most important?’ ’’ Faustino says. “Will likes to talk about which is the most important. Which is going to get us the best lap time? What can we fix with the car and what can you fix with your driving? That’s another part about the honesty. When we look at the data, I can say ‘I think you should do this a little different’ and he’ll be receptive to it. Or he’ll say, ‘I can’t because the car won’t let me’ or this or that.

“We have two extremely valuable teammates (Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves), which is a huge asset. We can put three lap times together to come up with a better lap time overall. During the season, we try to talk with each other every other day to make sure we’re on the same page. With the limited track time we have now, you have to plan. You have to figure out what’s the most important thing to focus on.”

Faustino says it has been common to receive a mid-afternoon phone call from Power, who was studying video tape of a race in his Indianapolis living room. “Will will just bounce things off me all the time,” Faustino says. “He’ll call and say, ‘What about this or two years ago when they did this, what happened?’ Or even, ‘Hey, I watched Helio’s race from 2008 and it liked like he had this problem.’ Sometimes he calls me and says the same thing he said the day before. It shows he’s thinking about it and just wants to talk to somebody about it. He’s an intense racer.”
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Momentum Key To 2011, Dixon Says..........

Postby mlittle » Wed Oct 27, 2010 6:18 pm

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---For the first time since 2005, Scott Dixon entered the final race of the IZOD IndyCar Series season without being in championship contention. The goal then was to overtake Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves for third in the standings. By winning the Cafes do Brasil Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Dixon achieved that personal result and hopes it carries momentum into the 2011 season that begins March 27 in St. Petersburg, Fla.

“It was mixed because it is hard to go into a race where you know you have to help another competitor and that is your teammate,” Dixon said of Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Dario Franchitti, who secured his second consecutive series title in the season finale. “I had never had that before because I was in the championship fight and we were still racing each other for it. In some ways, there was nothing major on the line but still you had to be helping Dario try and win the championship for the team, which was the main goal.

“In some ways, the race played out perfectly because (title contender) Will Power had problems early on and then later hit the fence, so at that point I could race freely. I guess it was in some way poetic justice that it ended that way for me and the 9 car to go out on top. Hopefully, we can carry that into next year and have a strong start to the season.”

As a competitor, Dixon wishes the off-season wasn’t so long so that he could begin the first step to returning to championship form. “What I love doing is driving the car and when you have a bad season you want to get back in the car and start another one,” Dixon said. “We only have two days of testing on the schedule between now and when we get going again next year so that is a long time to think about what might have been.”

Dixon won IZOD IndyCar Series championships in 2003 and ’08, and was on contention until the final laps in 2006, ‘07 and ’09. This year, he recorded three victories and nine top-five finishes overall to wind up 55 points behind Franchitti.

“To be honest, it was a blah year all the way through,” Dixon said. “We had races that were OK. Edmonton was a ‘gimme,’ Homestead was good and Kansas was probably the only other one. To be honest, either the car was good and I didn’t execute it well or the car was bad and we didn’t execute it to get maximum points. It was one of those years where we never really got on a roll. We thought we were going to at some point.

“I guess it was a good team-building year and a year to build up some aggression for next season and get the program going in the right direction again. We learned a lot this year but it was disappointing from my point of view.”

Dixon began with a sixth-place at Brazil, but in the next race at St. Petersburg he finished 18th -- the first of two DNFs that led to his second consecutive slow start to a season. “It was a feeling of `Here we go again,’ ” Dixon recalled. “At Sao Paolo I made the mistake in qualifying and that is why we started seventh, which put us in the carnage at the start but we pulled that one back. With the last stint to go we were sitting first and second after Dario and I had driven all the way through the field after being taken out. But we made the wrong call on tires and should have pitted under yellow when we didn’t and that had us back to ninth.

“At St. Pete, the car was good and we qualified top three and were leading the race, but I had that altercation with Mario Moraes in Turn 1. Whenever we had a good car and was gearing ourselves up for a good finish we let ourselves down -- whether it was me or a mistake in the pits. Indy, as well, on the first pit stop we went all the way back to last after the wheel fell off. We dug ourselves a hole. There were lots of those this year and far too many mistakes. I’m still surprised we finished third in the championship.”

Even after finishing second at Barber Motorsports Park, fourth in the Long Beach Grand Prix and then winning at Kansas, Dixon continued to believe he was not making the most of his opportunities. “Once we got back to Indy and had that problem, then Indy even started to snowball,” Dixon said. “We had the speed early in the week and on qualifying our setups were down to the millimeter on everything and we just flat out didn’t have the speed. Once qualifying and the problem we had in the race we knew it was going to be one of those years. Even at that point we had given up a lot of points.

“It used to be you could have problems like that. The first season we had five DNFs and only won three races and we won the championship. These days the field is so bloody strong you don’t have a chance.”

Midway through the season, Dixon continued to hang tough in the championship battle with a fourth at Texas, sixth at Iowa and eighth at Watkins Glen before his second DNF doomed him to 20th at Toronto in July. “Toronto was another bad turning point to the season,” Dixon said. “When you have a DNF at that point and Will finishes first and Dario second you lose 40 points to them. When you look at those guys, apart from Dario at Iowa, they never really had a down point. Will had a problem at the end on the last four ovals but they had no major upsets in the season with DNFs. That was our biggest problem having some DNFs and some shocking finishes at some other places.”

Following his victory at Edmonton, which he considers a gift because the apparent winner, Castroneves, was penalized for blocking on the final restart of the race, Dixon finished fifth at Mid-Ohio and second at Infineon. A return to the ovals saw him finish eighth at Chicagoland, seventh at Kentucky and sixth at Twin Ring Motegi

That left him eliminated from the championship entering the final race of the season. But by driving to a convincing victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Dixon hopes he made a statement for 2011 -- the final year of the engine/chassis formula.

“It will be interesting because different cars suit different people,” Dixon said. “Teams catch on to new things a little quicker than others so it will mix it up. The big teams will still be at the top but I think these cars are prone to driving at a certain style and maybe the next car will be totally different. It will be good for a shakeup. Dallara wants to have a car by July so we will be testing the new car by October and November. I’m very excited about that.”
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Dallara Gathers Data For 2012 IndyCar Safety Cell..........

Postby mlittle » Thu Oct 28, 2010 7:21 am

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----IZOD IndyCar Series veteran E.J. Viso, who competed last season for KV Racing Technology, recently was the first driver to be fitted in a mockup monocoque of the 2012 IndyCar Safety Cell at Dallara Automobili in Italy.

Drivers of different heights (Graham Rahal, among the tallest, is scheduled to visit the facility in mid-November) will provide feedback regarding comfort, pedal positions, sightlines, headrests, steering wheel positions and leg room as part of the development process. Additionally, Dallara personnel will measure their upright position relative to each other.

Project manager Tony Cotman says driver input is invaluable in the process of designing the chassis that will roll onto the racetrack for the start of the 2012 season.

“Most of their comments are about how they fit in the current car, what they'd like to see different in the new car and what they'd like to see different in terms of technology,” he said. “Drivers want all the gadgets but obviously safety is the No. 1 priority, and if we're going to aim for slightly higher average lap speeds, safety will inevitably come up all the time. To be honest, they've had some of the best ideas.”

Here’s the recap from Viso, who a few days earlier also was a surprise celebrity entrant in two races of the World Karting Final in Italy:
It’s a great feeling to know that Dallara wants the opinions of the drivers and that we are working with such a professional factory and such an involved group of people. I say that because in my short visit to Italy I spent a long time talking to Mr. Dallara and he’s really involved in the project and he really believes in the series. Those guys are keen on doing anything possible to make the integrity (of the car) better, stronger and safer.

I spent some time sitting in the cockpit of a mockup made out of a material at the moment that can be changed quickly, and we definitely found some points that need to be addressed. They’re all simple ones, but details will make the car even better.

The car is built around a much taller driver. Even Justin Wilson, who is the tallest driver in the series, will feel that the car is even a little bit big to him. We’re basically working on shortening up the car a little bit all around. It will still be a little bit bigger than the current one. My first feeling when I sat in the cockpit was that it felt like a bathtub to say it in a funny way.

One of the reasons it’s a little bit bigger is because they’re following some safety rules that are also important. They’ll be working on the ideas that were discussed during my visit.

I think my visit was definitely very useful for me and for Dallara because we were able to find out some things that needed to be changed. It was also a great experience to go to the Dallara factory and see the place where the cars I have been driving since 2002 are built. I have been driving them for almost a decade and I believe they are one of the top car manufacturers in the world, so I was honored they asked me for my feedback. I enjoyed being able to help and being involved in the series, and anything else I can do to help the series I am more than happy to do.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rK7NpVXYD6E
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Edmonton Race Off 2011 Calendar

Postby mlittle » Thu Nov 04, 2010 12:24 pm

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the 2011 IndyCar Series calendar now has 16 events listed with the loss of Edmonton from the schedule........


---The IndyCar race at Edmonton’s City Centre Airport, which always featured big crowds, good racing and massive debt, has been scrapped. Octane Motorsports, which had taken over the financially-strapped event for 2011, announced early Wednesday morning it could not reach an agreement with the City of Edmonton.

An expensive disagreement over the site of the race looks to be the culprit. Since Champ Car first began running at the downtown airport course in 2005, the race had been staged on Runway 12-30 but city officials wanted to move next year’s race to Runways 16-34 to keep the airport open. That would have cost Octane an estimated $3 million and it proved to be the deal breaker.

“We are extremely sad to confirm that our group will not be able to offer Western Canada fans an Indy racing event in Edmonton for 2011,” said a statement from Octane’s Francois Dumontier. “Until the last minute we hoped the city would agree with our legitimate request to provide us a site equivalent to the one the previous promoters have worked with and this, without having our group invest in ground works. The city’s final decision has made it impossible for us to offer an event complying with our high quality standards, able to satisfy the fans, the sanctioning organization and maintain the quality of our spectacle.”

IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard, who Tuesday traveled to Las Vegas where he’s trying to wrap up a deal to close to the 2011 season, got back in Indy just in time for the bad news. “It was a shot out of the blue and I’m extremely disappointed because we had a press conference last summer where the Mayor stood up, shook hands and said we had a deal,” said Bernard. “My immediate thought is that we want to keep two events in Canada because we have such a solid fan base so we’ll see what we can do.”

Octane, which successfully promoted the Formula One and NASCAR races in Montreal this year, is interested in staging a race in Quebec City, along with a group led by Andre Azzi, co-owner of Alex Tagliani's FAZZT IndyCar team and another entity trying to work through longtime car owner Derrick Walker. “It looks like we have three groups interested in Quebec and it’s a huge opportunity if Quebec wants to get on our calendar,” said Bernard.

Edmonton, the first airport circuit since Cleveland in the early ‘80s, was an instant hit with the city in terms of attendance as more than 200,000 fans showed up for three days during the first two years. But, despite the big crowds, the city announced multi-million dollar losses each year and the race was in jeopardy the past couple seasons until Octane stepped in.

Indy cars have run through the streets of Toronto all but one year since 1986 and CART staged successful races at Vancouver from 1990-2003 before the Olympics took over the downtown area where the track was laid out. Champ Car also had decent crowds at Montreal from 2002-2006.


Mod's Note...........last month, event organizers, Edmonton city officials and IndyCar Series officials reached an agreement to host the series for 2012-2013, utilizing the adjacent runways at City Centre Airport
Last edited by mlittle on Fri Feb 25, 2011 2:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Possible Return to the 500 for Former Champion............

Postby mlittle » Mon Dec 06, 2010 7:10 am

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The door always has been open for Sam Hornish Jr. to return to the Indianapolis 500, Team Penske principals say. Will the 100th anniversary of the race and his potential idleness be enough of an inducement?

The three-time IZOD IndyCar Series champion and 2006 Indy 500 winner, who moved to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with Penske Racing following the 2007 IZOD IndyCar Series season, doesn’t have a funded program for 2011. His primary sponsor, Mobil 1, moved to another team after Penske Racing signed a multi-dimensional deal with Shell/Pennzoil, and the team will have Kurt Busch and Brad Keselowski in full-time, funded cars.

Team owner Roger Penske intimated Dec. 2 at the unveiling of the Shell/Pennzoil cars to be driven by Helio Castroneves in the Indy 500 on May 29 and Busch that Hornish’s future beyond the Daytona 500 in February is up in the air.

“…he’ll run in the January test to get ready for the 500, and, hopefully, by that time we can extend it,” Penske told The Sporting News. “The other good news is that he could be available to run the (Indy) 500.”

Penske Racing president Tim Cindric said during a teleconference Dec. 3 that it will be Hornish’s decision whether to compete on the 2.5-mile oval in an IndyCar again. He won the 2006 race by 0.635 of a second (second-closest in race history) over Marco Andretti, passing the series rookie in the final 400 yards. Hornish, 31, of Ohio, made his Indy 500 debut in 200 in a Hornish Brothers Trucking-sponsored car (starting 14th and finishing 24th).

“We always told him if he wants to run Indy again, he needs to raise his hand and we'll figure it out,” Cindric said. “I don't think that's any different than years past. I think the speculation is coming from the fact that he's one of those in the stock car land, and he we haven't been able to put a program together for him next year. I know that's what he wants to continue to accomplish.

“That said, I know that the Indy 500 is near and dear to his heart. If he wants to run the Indy 500, we'll figure out a way to run the Indy 500 with Sam Hornish. He's that good. But we're certainly not ever going to force him into doing that or do something that would change his career from the path that he wants it to take.”
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Mazda Expands Road To Indy Involvement

Postby mlittle » Fri Dec 10, 2010 6:49 am

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Already one of the major players in grassroots racing in North America, Mazda's expansion through the Indycar ladder is a welcome development as the sport continues its' return to prominence.......



One of the biggest supporters of grassroots racing in America has joined forces with INDYCAR's Road to Indy as Mazda announced a multi-year partnership with the INDYCAR developmental ladder. As the title partner of the Mazda Road to Indy, Mazda will provide scholarships to the 2011 champions of the three affiliated series - the Cooper Tires presents the USF2000 National Championship powered by Mazda, the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear and Firestone Indy Lights - to graduate to the next level of the sport.

"We want to strengthen our ladder system to further develop, reward and advance the best-of-the-best," said Randy Bernard, CEO of INDYCAR. "The Road to Indy was designed to cultivate young talent for the IZOD IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500. In Mazda, we've found a partner that not only has a history of nurturing such drivers, but also shares our desire to groom the future stars of INDYCAR racing through its commitment of providing driver scholarships. The addition of Mazda to the Road to Indy rounds out the formula car side of our ladder system in addition to our recently announced sprint car program."

Two new scholarships have been added to the Mazda Road to Indy program, which provides a defined path for career-minded drivers seeking to compete in the IZOD IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500 both on and off track. The Star Mazda Champion, for instance, will receive a scholarship to compete in Firestone Indy Lights, while the Firestone Indy Lights champion will receive a scholarship to race in the IZOD IndyCar Series.

"We are currently the only governing body in motorsports that provides a clearly defined path and financial reward to elevate competitive drivers looking to reach its top level," said Tony George Jr, manager of business development, Road to Indy. "By having a partner like Mazda step up to provide scholarships, we are strengthening our ladder by allowing the opportunity for successful drivers to move to the next level based on talent, not financials."

Mazda will continue to offer a scholarship to the USF2000 National Champion to race in Star Mazda. In 2011, Sage Karam will drive a Star Mazda car for Andretti Autosport. Karam won the 2010 USF2000 National Championship as a Mazda-supported scholarship driver. This is in addition to the support Mazda provides to the BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda, and the karting shootout that rewards a pair of Skip Barber National scholarships each year.

"Mazda is pleased to partner with INDYCAR to help develop young talent. While we are most recognized for sports cars, Mazda's heritage in open-wheel racing dates back to 1984. Mazda has been a partner in the Star Mazda Championship since 1990 so this is a great fit for our company, our series partners as well as the drivers and teams." noted Robert Davis, Senior Vice President, Product Development and Quality for Mazda North American Operations, and the man responsible for the company's North American motorsport programs under the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development banner

In addition, Mazda will become a key partner with an increased involvement with the Mazda Road to Indy Summit held on Indianapolis 500 weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Mazda's brand will be featured prominently in several other promotional opportunities at INDYCAR events and in recaps featuring the Mazda Road to Indy series during IZOD IndyCar Series events.

"When we launched the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Ladder in 2006, we did so with the goal of helping drivers move up the ranks. Success in motorsports is dependent upon teaming up with like-minded people," said John Doonan, MAZDASPEED team business development manager.

"By blending the open-wheel side of our ladder with the Road to Indy we are making it much more straightforward for drivers to move up in a logical manner. Just this past weekend at Mazda Raceway, we hosted the Skip Barber karting shootout and have rewarded Danilo Estrela and Trent Hindman with rides in the 2011 BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda. It is easy to see how Danilo and Trent can now imagine a clear path from karts through Skip Barber, USF2000, Star Mazda, Firestone Indy Lights, and finally the IZOD IndyCar Series. That will be quite the journey."
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NHR Taps Veteran, Rookie For 2011

Postby mlittle » Thu Dec 16, 2010 3:44 pm

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Although American open-wheel fans are riding a wave of patriotic flavor for the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series championship, the possibility of adding Oriol Servia—a Catalonian—and James Hinchcliffe—a Canadian—to next year’s open-wheel roster would also serve as a welcome sight. Coming off of a windy but successful two-day test at Sebring with Newman Haas Racing, IndyCar’s Odd Couple could make for an intriguing combo if their respective funding arrives in time to partner together at NHR.

Servia, whose last serious stint in open-wheel racing came during a four-race spell with NHR in 2009, has long been regarded as one of the best in the open-wheel business. Teams want him under their tent and drivers want him as a teammate, but with a scarcity of fully-funded seats available, the former Champ Car race winner has been forced to bide his time until the economy recovers.

A glimmer of hope has emerged recently for Servia, with options at NHR, KV Racing and a third possible team beginning to build momentum. Firestone Indy Lights Series veteran Hinchcliffe is also chasing down a number of sponsorship leads that could help the 2010 FILS runner-up to make his graduation to the IndyCar Series in 2011.

For the two drivers—both who’ve been working hard to gain traction and move their careers forward—a partnership with the Newman Haas organization could prove to be rather effective. For NHR, who’ve also been seeking traction and stability after an unfulfilling season with Hideki Mutoh (and a part-time effort with Graham Rahal), it could be a perfect fit for. Everyone involved is hungry to reach higher ground.

The veteran/rookie dynamic worked well at NHR with Sebastien Bourdais and Justin Wilson mentoring young Rahal to great effect, and Hinchcliffe says he’d welcome the same opportunity to learn under Servia and the accomplished staff at NHR.

“Sometimes there’s nothing better than getting a guy when he’s young, eager to learn and also doesn’t have any preconceived notions,” Hinchcliffe told SPEED.com. “Then you can shape him into the driver you want him to be. The opportunity to even test for a team like Newman Haas is amazing for me. Even more so with a guy like Oriol Servia in the next seat.”

Hinchcliffe also came away impressed with NHR’s benevolent approach to the test.

“It says a lot about the team for them to take a little bit of a leap of faith. I didn’t win the Lights championship, but I showed promise and I think they were willing to see what I was about and if I could handle a big car. It was largely a driver evaluation and we worked through a lot of setup changes and matched the fastest time they’ve ever done here in an IRL car. They also ran me through pit stops and bunch of other routine items you want to have under your belt as a rookie. You don’t see many teams willing to do that these days—to help a young guy to gain experience and show what he’s capable of.”

Servia isn’t lacking in experience, nor is he lacking in motivation, and after a year spent on the sidelines, the diminutive Spaniard says he can’t wait to resume his career.

“I love this. Corner by corner…feeling the car…making setup changes…helping the team to find new directions; this is what I love,” he said. “After being away for a year—the first year in forever since I was not racing—the chance to put my suit and helmet on and get into the motions of testing…this reconfirms how much I need to be back in the IndyCar Series. Things will only get more competitive next year, so I know I can help a team like Newman Haas to get back to where they belong. We both belong up front.”

NHR persevered through a challenging 2010 season with Hideki Mutoh, who featured on a few occasions, but struggled by comparison to the level of competitiveness the team is accustomed to. Graham Rahal’s addition to the team in the latter stages of the season helped, but by then, it was too late to turn NHR’s season around. With a lot to work on for next year, and in addition to mentoring Hinchcliffe during the test, part of Servia’s job at Sebring was to help the team establish proper baseline setups for 2011.

“James and I had a very split agenda. I had five big things [NHR] wanted to try; five big setup changes. They had a hard time with [driver] feedback last season, and the stuff we tested now went great. We got great reads and great directions on where the car needs to go. We also improved the car a lot, so it was very successful despite heavy winds and cold. It sounds politically correct, but it is always a pleasure to drive for Newman Haas. They make it so easy to do well. They analyze your driving input, the data and make the car better. This is what I respect so much about them.”

After two stints with NHR—first in 2005, earning a win at Montreal and taking second overall in the Champ Car standings, and again in 2009 in IndyCar—Servia says it took very little time to get back into the groove with the team at Sebring.

“It was instant. I filled in in 2009 and we finished fourth at Motegi in our last race together, then I partnered with Sebastien [Bourdais] in 2005, so they are like old friends. My best year ever in racing was with them in ’05. We know each other very well and all the same people are there. This excites me for next year; I have a few opportunities in the series that are getting closer, but I would love to race with Newman Haas again.”

The thought of a third go-round with NHR appeals to Servia, along with forming a Canadian/Catalonian duo.

“With Newman Haas, we would be effective right away. I have been working for months with the team trying to put a deal together. I would say they are the most probable team of having me next year. I know James is also trying to find a way to drive with them next year, and that would be fantastic for everyone. I don’t know where he’s at on that, but he was very fast in the test and we got along great together. That’s what you need: Two cars and two talented guys to push each other. We would be very effective. I know there are a lot of good American guys being signed right now, but I think me and James would bring a lot to the series. I think everyone wins with us as teammates at Newman Haas.”

Hinchcliffe says he’d love to join Servia at NHR, and also wouldn’t mind dispelling the myth that Indy Lights drivers can’t cut it in the IZOD IndyCar Series. “I look at what J.R. [Hildebrand] has accomplished with signing for Panther Racing and it shows people that there really are two different eras of the Lights series. There were the first years of the Infiniti Pro Series where maybe it wasn’t all that it had hoped to be, but for the last few years, the competition has been really tough. Just winning a single race is an accomplishment, and with what J.R., Rafa [Matos] and a few others have shown, there is a steady stream of talent that’s ready to impress in IndyCar.

“Oriol was in Lights (Servia won the 1999 CART Indy Light championship) and knows what it’s like to make that leap. He was a big help for me and we got on immediately at the test. He’s a top IndyCar driver and I think we worked together quite easily. Being able to compare data and learn from him made all the difference for me, plus, he’s a really good guy.”

Like Servia, Hinchcliffe is back at work trying to find the funding to compete in the 2011 IndyCar championship. With NHR also working at a furious pace to find sponsors, it seems likely that something positive will come from their collective efforts.

“The ball is in our court. Now it’s up to us to find the funding so our plans can come together for next year. Being able to talk to sponsors about a highly positive test makes a big difference. Moving forward, we’re all eager to work together and to find the budget to go racing next year. I’m encouraged, but now we need to deliver the results.”
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SFR Adds Sponsor For 2011 Season Effort

Postby mlittle » Fri Feb 25, 2011 2:26 pm

Sarah Fisher Racing Press Release

SFR ANNOUNCES PARTNERSHIP WITH ALLISON TRANSMISSION FOR 2011 INDY 500

Team Owner Sarah Fisher and Allison Transmission have worked together for many years on a local basis. Allison decided it was time to elevate their relationship and will serve as an associate sponsor on the No. 67 in this year's Indianapolis 500.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN. (February 22, 2011) -Sarah Fisher Racing (SFR) announced today a partnership with Speedway-based Allison Transmission for the historic 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500 in May 2011. Allison Transmission will serve as an associate sponsor on the yellow and black No. 67.

"Sponsoring Sarah Fisher's No. 67 car and driver Ed Carpenter makes good sense for Allison Transmission," said Lou Gilbert, Allison Transmission's Director of North American Marketing. Allison Transmission and SFR are neighbors in Speedway, Indiana and Carpenter is a well-known Hoosier open-wheel driver. "Over the years, we have all worked together in various community and customer related activities," Gilbert added, "and we are especially happy to be a part of this historic 100th anniversary Indianapolis Motor Speedway race."

SFR team owner Sarah Fisher, who announced plans of her driving retirement in November 2010, is very excited about the Allison partnership. "Allison Transmission and the many people I know who work there continue to support me and all the members of my racing team," said a very enthusiastic Fisher. "It's a great feeling, and I appreciate Allison's sponsorship of our car this year. I couldn't be more excited for this year's Indianapolis 500, and I'm thrilled to have Allison Transmission be a part of it with us."

Jim Allison, over 100 years ago, was one of the four founders of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the founder of what has become Allison Transmission Inc. Much like our own Sarah Fisher, Mr. Allison was also a team owner and his team competed in many Indianapolis Motor Speedway races, culminating in a win during the 1919 Indy 500.

Allison Transmission's sponsorship will include the placement of its logo in six locations on the No. 67 car. Current SFR driver, Ed Carpenter, couldn't be more excited about the recently announced partnership with Allison. "My enthusiasm for Allison's commitment to the team is off the charts, said the 29-year old Indianapolis-native. "We're ready to go racing!"
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DHL, Sun Drop Come Onboard for RHR in 2011

Postby mlittle » Wed Mar 09, 2011 8:35 am

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DHL will serve as primary sponsor for the #28 Andretti Autosport entry of Ryan Hunter-Reay while Sun Drop will be one of the main associate sponsors for him in 2011

----DHL and Andretti Autosport today unveiled the new DHL branded IndyCar to be driven by Ryan Hunter-Reay during the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series at DHL Regional Headquarters in Plantation, FL. Executives from DHL along with Michael Andretti, owner of Andretti Autosport, and driver Hunter-Reay were on hand to give DHL employees and guests a first look at the car and celebrate this exciting new sponsorship.

“The new #28 DHL IndyCar is a true representation of the attributes that DHL and Andretti Autosport live and breathe every day,” stated Christine Nashick, vice president of marketing, DHL Express US. “The speed, reliability and dedication exemplified by Andretti Autosport, Ryan Hunter-Reay and the DHL IndyCar team are truly an ideal fit with DHL. As the official shipping and logistics provider for Andretti Autosport, we are looking forward to building the relationship and a very successful 2011 IndyCar Series.”

In addition to the DHL livery unveiled today, a new number for the IndyCar driven by Ryan Hunter-Reay, resident of Fort Lauderdale, FL, was introduced. The #28 depicted on the racer is a show of support for the estimated 28 million people living with cancer worldwide. Ryan Hunter-Reay, who lost his mother to colon cancer in 2009, continues to be a leader in the fight against cancer and serves as an ambassador for “Racing For Cancer,” an organization founded in 2010 to help build awareness in the global fight against cancer.

The #28 DHL IndyCar is comprised of an Italian-built Dallara chassis, a 3.5-liter, V-8 Honda engine and Firestone Firehawk racing tires – all of which are elements mandated by the IZOD IndyCar Series rules. The car, which weighs approximately 1,600 pounds when race-ready, is capable of accelerating from 0 to 100 in 4.5 seconds, decelerating from 100 to 0 in 1.7 seconds and can reach a maximum speed of 240 miles per hour.

Hunter-Reay will be starting his second season with Andretti Autosport as he gets behind the wheel of the team’s new DHL entry. Coming off a breakthrough year that saw him win the Grand Prix of Long Beach, Hunter-Reay finished a career-best seventh in the IZOD IndyCar Series standings. DHL will also be an associate sponsor for the car driven by the team’s newest member, Mike Conway of Miami, FL. Conway, who launched his IZOD IndyCar Series career in 2009 after building a strong resume in Europe, was signed to the team’s roster on February 1.
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