Chaves Confirmed To '500' Ride With New Team

The worst kept secret in INDYCAR was finally announced...

Napa Returns With Rossi

A.J. Foyt Racing announced...

Carpenter Signs Pigot

Ed Carpenter Racing announced...

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Team Owners Want 500 Start Time Moved Back

According to Curt Cavin, during yesterdays Indycar Series team owners meeting, moving the Indianapolis 500 start time was at the top of the list of things to discuss. The issue was brought up by Roger Penske's right hand man, Tim Cindric, who had this to say: "It's worth one (ratings) point, at least"

Coincidentally I'm sure, if the start time is moved back 2 hours from 1pm to 11am, the possibility of Sam Hornish jr. coming back to run the double for Team Penske immediately opens up. It would also allow Indycar vets Robby Gordon, Tony Stewart, and John Andretti to duplicate what they have done in the past with running 1100 miles in a day.

16 time Indy 500 starter Michael Andretti also supports the idea, saying "I always thought it was something to talk about. It created a little more buzz."

Friday, August 28, 2009

Tagliani's 2010 Team Confirmed

Today at Chicagoland Speedway, Canadian Alex Tagliani alongside investor Andre Azzi confirmed there intent to run the entire 2010 Indycar Series schedule under the banner FAZZT Race Team with the #77 Dallara.

Jim Freudenberg of Rubicon Sports Agency who negotiated the deal to purchase the assets of Roth Racing will become Chief Operating Officer (COO), while Azzi is Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the newly formed FAZZT Race Team. The new team has also hired 16 year Walker Racing vet, Rob Edwards to run the day to day operations.

The team will be headquartered in Indianapolis but will have offices in Montreal including a research and development division.

"This is a dream come true for me. To be able to give my friend Alex Tagliani the opportunity to drive full time with the top notch team that we are assembling makes me extremely pleased. I cannot wait for March so we can get our team launched for our first full season of IndyCar Series racing. I intend to give this team every tool necessary to fulfill my dream of winning the Indy 500 and the IndyCar Series championship. Special thanks to my friend, Alexandre Dufresne and his firm, Spiegel Sohmer Inc. to help make this all happen. " -Andre Azzi

"Alex and I are privileged to be able to join Andre in his quest to create a top tier team in the IndyCar Series. The platform Andre is allowing us to create will give sponsors all the tools to necessary to show a return on their investments needed to justify motorsports sponsorships. In this economic environment, that is a critical part of the process to build a team. The network that Jason Priestley and I have set up over the last few years will enhance the relationships that Alex and I have been working to grow over the last several months. I am also honored to be able to continue working with Alex who is the hardest working driver in any paddock. His passion, creativity, and understanding of sponsors' needs gives our commercial side an incredible advantage." -Jim Freudenberg

"This is a proud moment for me and I have worked extremely hard for this. It means a lot to have someone like Andre recognize my efforts and reward me with this opportunity. I'm elated to be a part of this new team and can't wait to go racing full time in the IndyCar Series with great equipment and an incredible team of people." -Alex Tagliani

"I am excited to be offered the opportunity to help build this new team and work with my friend Alex again. His technical knowledge of the equipment we race is an extremely important piece of the puzzle we need to be successful. To be able to start something from the ground floor with Andre, Jim and Alex was an opportunity too good for me to pass up." -Rob Edwards

Chicagoland Preview

The final three races of the year are here, and as I look back, wasn't it just yesterday I was walking the garages of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the month of May? After Kentucky, I for one cannot wait to see what takes place at Chicagoland, under the lights for the first time at the 1.5 mile oval.

After the dramatic finish at Kentucky almost a month ago, The Indy Car Series returns to an oval with much antisipation. If Kentucky was any indicator, this weekend at Chicagoland could shape up to be one of the best races of the 2009 season. Last season, that championship was decided, and a photo finished wowed, and confused the fans. Scott Dixon at first was named the winner of the Peak Anti Freeze Indy 300, but upon further review, the win was awarded to Helio Castroneves. Dixon, clinched the title with the second place run, his second career championship. The three drivers in contention for the championship will be front runners Saturday night, Dario Franchitti, Ryan Briscoe and Scott Dixon will look to keep the nose cones clean, and battle for the win. Dario Franchitti is the only one of those three drivers to have a win at Chicagoland. Dixon has been second at Chicago the past three years. There should be alot of contenders this weekend, not just the red and white Penske and Ganassi cars. Look for it to be one of the most competitive races of the season.

After Ed Carpenter's performance at Kentucky, he proved to the Indy Car world he is worthy of the seat, and that Vision Racing is a force to be dealt with. Dreyer and Reinbold has also made great strides on the ovals, and Mike Conway is riding high after the podium at Sonoma. HVM should be pretty competitive as well, EJ Viso ran well here last season, and Doorbos sat on the front row at Kansas. Andretti Green is always strong at Chicagoland, all four drivers will be up front, trying to finish their season on high notes. Also, Ryan Hunter-Reay is poised for a great run for AJ Foyt Racing.

My predictions are going to be hit or miss this week, as anything can happen. Out of the four red cars, I will take Scott Dixon. even thought Helio has been the man at Chicagoland, I think all the second place finishes for Scott Dixon will pay off this weekend and will head to victory circle. My darkhorses, well just like Kentucky, I am going to take Ed The Hammer Carpenter. I don't think he should be in the darkhorse catagory anymore, but he is one of my picks for this weekend. Tomas Scheckter will also be strong, but his record in the 43 car this year has been subpar. I will also take Oriel Servia to be a contender and a strong runner for a top five.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

2010 Brazil Race In Question

UPDATE 8-30-09: Jeff Olson is reporting that the race will go on and that it will be held in Salvador, Brazil, home of Tony Kanaan

According to Robin Miller of Speed TV fame, the 2010 Brazil GP is very much in question. Miller says "Rio and Preto proved to be all talk and no money", he than go's on to say the chance of a race is "50/50" in his eyes.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Where Are They Now: Thiago Medeiros

(Photos courtesy of Indycar.com)
By: Tony Donohue

In this addition of where are they now? We showcase a driver that made his name in the Lights series. Thiago Medeiros came to America in 2003 to pursue his goal of running in the Indy Car Series. He ran his first season for Genoa Racing, and started from the pole in his first ever race. Medeiros captured his first win in the last event at Texas in 2003. He then moved to Sam Schmidt Racing in 2004. He won the Indy Lights Title in 2004 and was 4th in points the next season. He has 9 career poles and 7 career Lights wins. I caught up with the 27 seven year old San Paulo native, to see what he has been up to.

Thiago won his two starts at Texas Motor Speedway, including his first career win back in 2003. I asked what made him so good at TMS. “I have been asking myself the same question. I spoke with the guys I worked with there, and they said that not everyone likes the car the way I drive it, some drivers think the rear is to loose, it just make me quicker. My first win at Texas, my spotter gave me great advice, I made a move for the lead, and Jeff Simmons followed me, it was the help I needed to get to the front of the pack.” He said on his first win. His second victory the following season was a different story as he was recovering from an injury he sustained at California Speedway. “The championship was already decided, but I wanted to win that race more than anything. I have always thought the last race of the season is the best to win, it will keep people talking until next season. I had the best car out there, I found a great setup with engineer Tim Neff, I was at the shop getting a closer look on the setup heading to Texas, I was sometimes annoying to the crew.”

In 2004, Thiago won four consecutive Lights races included the Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “The win at Indy meant a lot, I had great momentum after Indy, it gave me more confidence and allowed people to recognize my job in [the car] and how far I have come. When I first came to my first Lights test at Pheonix, I didn’t know a lot of English. It was a great feeling because all of the difficulty I had been having.”

Thiago only finished two races outside the top ten in his Lights career, a remarkable stat that goes a little unknown to Lights series followers. This consistency is what led him to the championship in 2004. He didn’t finish at Indy and Milwaukee in his rookie season. “In Milwaukee, we broke a wheel baring, and had a crash at Indy. My first trip to Indy, my race lasted the first two corners. I had no place to go on the outside as another driver spun below me. Races are not over until the finish line, I learned you have to be around at the end to win. You gain a few spots in the first corner, or lose the race. I always drove on the limits of the car, but I never over drove my own limits, I had the talent and experience, and when you have that, you can save the car from an accident.” Thiago recalled.

Thiago made one Indy 500 start racing for PDM Racing. It was a last second effort to get the car in on Bump Day. “The car was ok, not capable of winning, but capable of making the field. It was good to be part of the big show, I squeezed everything I could out of the car.” Thiago said. When asked if we would see him return to compete at Indy, he was optimistic. “I hope to have another opportunity with a better car.”

Thiago went on to run in the USAC series driving once again for PDM Racing. “The USAC car was one of the funniest things I have ever driven in my life. It takes skill to drive a 800 horse power car with no down force. I finished fourth twice in six starts.”

Now living with his parents in San Paulo, Thiago works at a driving school, teaching people how to race. He also teaches San Paulo natives some maneuvers on how to escape kidnappers with armed cars which is a problem in San Paulo. He recently got engaged to long time girlfriend Aline. He is studying to get his helicopter license and he may begin to run in a Semi Truck division, or stock cars in Brazil.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Lloyd Closing In On Deal

Alex Lloyd, who has been driving for Target Chip Ganassi Racing the last couple seasons, left the Championship winning organization last June in hopes of a 2010 full season ride. With rumors swirling, it appears the 2007 Indy Lights Champ could soon find himself back behind the wheel.

The 24 year old British driver says that its "Better than 50/50" that he'll be back in a car for 2009. Although he wouldn't mention the team, it looks like he could be replacing Oriol Servia in the #06 Newman Haas Lanigan Dallara. It's doubtful that Lloyd will be piloting the car in Chicagoland, but both Motegi and Miami are good possibilities, with the relationship extending into 2010.

Although nothing is official, Alex says that the deal could be done any time now.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Power/Philippe Update

As I'm sure most of you already know, Penske's Will Power and Conquest's Nelson Philippe were both involved in a horrific incident in yesterdays practice. As seen above.

Now, nearly 12 hours after the incident an update has been given courtesy of Sarah, Nelson's Girlfriend:

He will be in hospital for the next few days recovering- open fracture to his left foot, broken fibula on his right leg, concussion... He... was operated on and has been put back together (new nickname: humpty dumpty) Power is doing well also.. he is stable and can move.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Leilani Munter To Pilot Extenze #57

(Photos courtesy of Extenze)

Update: Leilani and team 3G have now cancelled there appearance this weekend, but plan on running in the season finale at Miami-Homestead.


Update: Leilani has finally made it official, she'll be in the #57 Woman Extenze Dallara this weekend at Chicagoland


Update: An official announcement should come later this week


It appears as though 33 year old Leilani Munter will be piloting the #57 Women Extenze Dallara in the Firestone Indy Lights for team 3G, but using an already established FIL teams garage/equipment.

Although unconfirmed, it appears she will be driving at Chicagoland next weekend.

Munter has 2 FIL starts under her belt, with the last appearance coming in September of 2007 where she started 12th and finished 13th at Chicagoland.

Sonoma Preview

By: Tony Donohue

The Indy Car series rolls into the wine country of Sonoma, California this weekend for the final road course of the 2009 season. This may be the “wild card” if you will that decides the 2009 championship.

Infineon Raceway saw Team Penske take the top two spots last year at this race, with Helio Castroneves winning and teammate Ryan Briscoe second. Helio started from the pole, and beat Briscoe to the line by over five seconds. Scott Dixon, who was battling Helio in the points race, finished 12th that day allowing Helio to gain 35 championship points.

This weekend at Infineon is up for grabs. In the four races that have been held, there hasn’t been a repeat winner. That trend may continue this week as championship contenders Ryan Briscoe and Dario Franchitti look to make their move to atop the point standings. The 75 lap race will start at 5 p.m. Eastern on Versus.

The Firestone Indy Lights Series will also tackle the Sonoma course for 40 laps in the Carneros 100. Unlike last season, only one race will be ran for the Lights at Sonoma. Last season, Franck Perera who started the season in the Indy Car Series, took the pole and the win, only to be duplicated the next day by Pablo Donoso. The points race is shaping up between J.R. Hildebrand, Sebastian Saavedra and James Davison who picked up his first win of the season two weeks ago at Mid Ohio.

In the Lights race, I will take the top 5 in points over the rest of the field. James Hinchcliffe and Wade Cunningham round out that five, Wade won at Infineon back in 2006. Hinchcliffe has finished in the top 6 in all the road and street events this season. But I won’t sit on the fence, and will take James Davison to make it back to back on road courses. Watch for Martin Plowman as my darkhorse.

On the Indy Car side of things, I will take Helio Castroneves to take his 2nd straight Sonoma victory. Helio is always strong in the wine country, he has never qualified out of the Top 5 there, and has the victory last season to go with 3 other Top 5’s. My dark horse, Andretti Green and Andretti AFS Racing. Danica has been making a lot of progress on the road events, and Marco won his only race here back in 2006. Tony Kanaan still has time to salvage and decent season, and Hideki Mutoh was 5th at Mid Ohio. Look for Franck Montagy to be impressive in his first run as well. Also, one other driver to watch out for is E.J. Viso. I think the addition of Robert Doornbos will help E.J. tremendously. E.J. was 6th at Sonoma last season, and is also strong on road courses.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

DirecTV Could Drop VERSUS

As of now, on September 1st DirecTV will no long carry Indycar's TV partner VERSUS.

They are currently in negotaions but if a deal can not be struck, it could be a huge blow to both the Indycar Series and VERSUS.

If you have DirecTV and would like to voice your opinion you can contact the television provider by phone at 1-800-531-5000, or by email.

AGR Officially Splits

At the end of this season in October, Andretti Green Racing will officially become Andretti Racing. Andretti Green promotions which promote both the St. Pete and Toronto races, will split from the racing devision.

While Michael Andretti will wholly own and operate the racing side, Kevin Savoree and Kim Green will wholly own and operate the promotions side.

"Since becoming partners in 2002, we have been fortunate to see our companies expand and diversify quickly and successfully. All of us believe that this decision will maximize the potential of both companies in the future." -Michael Andretti/Kevin Savoree/Kim Green

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Q&A With Lindy Thackston

16th And Georgetown: Spending 3 weeks in Indy, including 30+ hours of LIVE coverage, what are some of your favorite moments from the Month of May?

Lindy Thackson: Wow… this is a hard one to answer because there were so many… but here are some that come to the top of my head:

  • The last 45 minutes of each qualifying day when teams are rushing to make the cut
  • My interview with Helio after he won pole position
  • Believe it or not, the time it rained for most of a qualifying day because we still had to fill our 6.5 hours of live television so we got to be a lot more laid back with the drivers and see more of their personalities
  • Hosting the 30 minute pre-race special for VERSUS… was something very special about being on the frontstretch of a quiet Speedway at sunset with just a camera crew the night before the race
  • Reporting from the 500 Festival Parade and watching the princesses go by (since I was one… but then I realized how old I’m getting.)
  • The feeling of knowing you can do 32 hours of live television!
  • Bringing my dog Baxter on a plane for the first time and having to put him under the seat in front of me… oh wait… I hated that.

  • The group that sang, “I am Lindy” every single time I walked by… every single day
  • Just being in my home state at a race with so much history for my family and friends … it’s tough to put into words how the month felt, but overall it made me feel even more fortunate to have this job and to work with the people that I do
16th And Georgetown: Have any fans asked you to sign anything weird? Any cowboy hats?

Lindy Thackson: Unfortunately no men have asked me to sign their chests like the Danica commercial. Seriously though, nothing weird that I can think of… Just typical stuff! I will say I am always surprised when someone has printed off a picture of me and brings it to the track to be signed because that means they didn’t just see me with a camera following me or in my firesuit and say, “Hey! She must be halfway important! I’ll get her autograph!”

16th And Georgetown: Although you've had experience on the road/street courses with the ALMS, your a rookie on the ovals with the Indycar Series. How beneficial has it been to have a veteran like Jack Arute showing you the ropes?

Lindy Thackston:
Working with Jack has given me such an advantage during my first year covering IndyCar. He knows his stuff and he’s extremely passionate about it. He’s helped me, while at the same time given me room to have my own style.. From day one, he has treated me like I’m his equal, which I appreciate and respect.

16th And Georgetown: You served as the 2001 500 Princess. How did that help propel you into a roll covering the Indycar Series?

Lindy Thackston: I came into it with a huge appreciation and understanding of the series. (But I think that also comes from growing up in Indiana.) Being a princess helped me know what to expect from the Month of May, specifically when it came to the weeks leading up to the actual race and all the events surrounding the 500.

16th And Georgetown: By my count, this will mark the 3rd blogger Q&A (Is it May yet? , Pressdog) you've done. You've got to be getting tired of us, correct?

Lindy Thackston: Not you… just them. (Kidding, Will and Bill)

Be sure to check out Lindy's website, and fallow her on Twitter!!

I'd like to thank Leslie Byxbee of VERSUS for helping me out over the last couple of weeks with getting together all the Q&A's for Bob Jenskins, Robbie Buhl, Jon Beekhuis, Robbie Floyd, Jack Arute and last but certainly not least Lindy Thackston.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Fisher Presented With 2009 Dallara

(Photo courtesy of Indycar.com)
Sarah Fisher Racing announced today the addition of what they said was a 2nd Dallara. The Chassis was graciously given to SFR by one of there biggest sponsors, Hartman Oil.

The much lighter new chassis will serve as Fishers backup for her next race at Chicagoland in 2 weeks, but should be race ready as her primary for the season finale in Miami. The 2009 Dallara which is replacing her current 2003 model was #2 out of the Italian chassis builders shops, with the first going to Tony Kanaan.

Today's announcement contradicts an April 10th report that SFR had already purchased a 2nd Dallara from Sam Schmidt Motorsports. It also makes you wonder how they had 3 entries on the original Indy 500 entry list, #67, #67 T, and #68.
"Oh, my gosh! I'm absolutely shocked. I just got a brand new car; I felt like I was on the 'Price is Right.

"I actually thought I was coming today to shoot a Dollar General commercial. To have a spare car, it means we can be more aggressive and be able to put it on the line even more. It will make a huge difference in our racing efforts.

Maybe there's an option now to have a second car at Indy once the first car is in solid, and it makes a huge difference in preparation. We'll be able to have a better shot at doing some road course events or some short oval events. We're building, we have some really great people and we're lucky." -Sarah Fisher

"I consider Sarah a friend. I'm sure I could write a check and sponsor other race car drivers, but Sarah's relationship is more than race car driver or team owner. I find her very interesting and intelligent as a person. She's just a unique individual.

It's people like Sarah that make the world great. It's been a great life for me and it's time I pass on some of the good fortune I've had on to others." -Willis Hartman

Friday, August 14, 2009

Tagliani To Become Owner/Driver In '10

After multiple reports that Alex Tagliani and Jim Freudenberg of Rubicon Racing fame will get together for a 2010 IRL entry, Racer.com goes into even more detail.

Apparently Alex has found a Canadian investor to help with the purchase of equipment. What equipment might you ask? Tags has bought out all equipment including 4 Dallaras off of Indycar vet Marty Roth.

Although he purchased 4 chassis it appears they'll just be a one car team, at least to start out with the possibility of a 2nd for the 94th Indianapolis 500. Tags then hopes to bring up a "young Canadian" to the Indycar Series in the future. If I were James Hinchcliffe I'd keep my cell phone close.

The purchase of Roth's equipment supports the rumor that Gil de Ferrans team will be a buy out of a current team. Possabilites could include Conquest and Rahal Letterman.

AGR In '09 Could Be APR In '10

There were rumors about this time last season that AGR co-owners Michael Andretti, Kim Green and Kevin Savoree could be splitting up for the 2009 season. As you know it didn't happen, AGR is still standing strong, well at least there standing.

New rumors have now surfaced in the form of a Robin Miller SPEED T.V. article. RM reports that Gary Peterson of AFS/AGR's Indy Lights team could be moving up to the big time as a co-owner with Michael Andretti.

Maybe theres more to AFS/AGR running Frank Montagny at Infenion than was originally thought.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Q&A With Al Unser Jr.

By: Tony Donohue

Recently, I had the privilege to conduct a phone interview with two time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. I was fortunate enough that Al took time out of his busy lifestyle, and job with the Indy Car Series to answer some questions for 16th And Georgetown . Al as thirty four career wins, including his first Indy Racing League win in 2000 at Las Vegas. It was a great experience for me to interview one of my favorite drivers growing up, so I hope everyone will enjoy this Q and A.

Tony: What do you think of the Push to Pass?

Al Jr.: It doesn’t help too much, fuel makes power, so unless there running lean, you won’t see a difference, its mostly for P.R. for the drivers

Tony: What do you think of the 2010 schedule? Do you prefer ovals or road courses?

Al Jr.: It is a shame that Milwaukee and Richmond went away, Indy Car tries to keep a balance of ovals and road courses, hopefully they can keep that (balance).

Tony: What does it mean to have Toronto back on the Indy Car schedule?

Al Jr.: I love it! One of the premium road races for CART, it was a great success. Good to see the cars that run the Indy 500 back at Toronto.

Tony: With 34 wins in your career, including the two Indy 500 victories, besides the two wins at Indy, what other wins stand out in your career for you?

Al Jr.: Long Beach and Toronto

Tony: You have had your struggles in and out of the cockpit, I believe you have been sober for 2 and half years, how has that changed Al Jr.? When did you say to yourself, I need to do something more? I need to change and seek help?

Al Jr.: I have completely changed in those 2 and a half years, I am not even the same man. I am not even the same guy I was in my teens or twenties. God is in my life in a big way now. He was able to do more for me then my friends and family could do, god accomplished more for me to quit drinking. I am truly blessed with being an alcoholic, having the disease, if not, God wouldn’t be in my life today. He has blessed me with my position as Indy Car driver coach, and an assistant to Brian Barnhardt in race control. My life now is all about service, servicing my fellow man, helping others, not just myself. I hit my rock bottom when I got the DUI on January 25, 2007. It crushed me. It was my final straw.

Tony: Tell me about Force for Earth?

Al Jr.: It is an all natural product. A fuel and engine conditioner. Put it in your car, cleans carbons out of the exhaust pipes, lowers admissions, and will give you 7-19% better fuel mileage. Go to http://www.unserrobey.com/ for more.

Tony: Tell me about your museum. What will you see their and where did the idea generate from?

Al Jr.: It tells the story of the Unser’s. How they made it from Pikes Peak to Indianapolis. It also shows the revolution of the automobile from the beginning to present day. Anything from tires to exhausts. Firestone has a great display in there with tires from 1911.

Tony: Who is your pick to win the 2009 Indy Car Championship?

Al Jr.: It just keeps going back and forth between Briscoe and Dixon. I think the luck is falling Briscoe’s way. Just like my championship in 1994, the ball is bouncing his way. When your hot, your hot, in 1994 I was hot, and right now Briscoe is hot.

I'd like to wrap up the Q&A by conragtulating Al Jr. on being inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. It was long overdue

(Photos courtesy of IMS & Gene Marderness)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Montagny Confirmed With AGR For Sonoma

After a few days of speculation that AGR would run a 5th car at Infenion for Franck Montagny, today they made it official. Montagny will run an AFS sponsored #25 Dallara in next weekends Sonoma GP.

Montagny ran several races last season for AGR's now defunct ALMS team, and has been rumored for a possible 2010 Indycar ride.

"I am certainly looking forward to my IndyCar debut in Sonoma with AFS and Andretti Green Racing. I was able to test one of the team's Indy cars last year and very much enjoyed driving it. Being able to test the track this week will be very helpful for me to learn the circuit and prepare for the race. We have a lot of work to do to get ready, but I believe we are up to the challenge." -Frank Montagny

"This is an exciting announcement for AFS/Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc. California is an important market for our company and we believe Franck will give us a good shot at competing for a win.

"In the midst of this economic downturn, it's important for AFS/Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc., to keep our name out there to attract new customers and the Indy Racing League also provides an excellent venue for entertaining current customers.

"We're proud of our Firestone Indy Lights program and this is a great opportunity to be a primary sponsor in the IndyCar Series. It will be exciting to see our traditional red-and-yellow color scheme out there competing with the best." -Gary Peterson (AFS)

"We're very excited to see this come together for Sonoma. This is a good opportunity for Gary to showcase AFS at the IndyCar level and we think Franck will do a great job in the car that weekend." -Michael Andretti

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Great Port-O-Let Mystery Solved

Remember the Season opener, when Danica and Rapha got together nearly tipping over a Port-O-Let? Well, the great mystery of "who was in it?" has finally been solved. The smelly box was occupied by no other than the President of IZOD!!

When asked about the situation, Danica's Dad, T.J. told this story:
We where at dinner after the race in Toronto, and in walks Ryan Hunter-Reay with a few guys, as he is introducing Danica to the President of IZOD, he mentioned that he was the one in the port-o-let during the wreck in St. Pete. He had just got out and shut the door as it happened!!!! It got him just a little wet....It was the Pres. of IZOD -T.J. Patrick

Friday, August 7, 2009

Mid-Ohio Preview

By: Tony Donohue

After and exciting race at Kentucky, the Indy Car Series heads to the road course at Mid Ohio. With the Push to pass still enabled for the race, it will be exciting to see how it leaves its mark on a road course, as it left every Indy Car fan thrilled after Saturday nights Kentucky Indy 300 won by Ryan Briscoe.

Some shake ups have taken place since the cars left the track in Kentucky. Robert Doornbos is out at Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing and will be replaced by Oriol Servia for at least one race. Bobby D is now in the #33 HVM Dallara for the rest of '09 and through 1010. Paul Tracy has now been officially confirmed to pilot the #5 KVRT car as Mario Moraes is in Brazil with his family after the loss of his father. And finally Richard Antinucci will be back in the #98 car for Team 3G as Jacques Lazier ran Kentucky for the team

Mid Ohio last year was won by Ryan Briscoe. Penske swept the weekend as Helio Castroneves took the pole. It is hard to believe that Will Power, after finishing 4th there last year, will not be in the field this weekend. This mark’s Indy Cars third trip to the historic 15 turn 2.4 mile road course. 85 laps will make up the distance, and look for Penske and Ganassi to pace the field most of the day.

I look for Scott Dixon to get it done this weekend. Scott, a Jack of all trades, won the inaugural race at Mid Ohio in 2007. He sits eight points back of points leader Ryan Briscoe. Briscoe, will also be up front this weekend, and I expect him on the podium as well. Ryan Hunter Reay is my dark horse. The ABC Supply Co. #14 finished 6th with Darren Manning last year, and Ryan finished 10th. He made his Indy Car debut two years ago at Mid Ohio. Catch the race Sunday live on Versus at 1 PM and the Lights race will air Monday at 4.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Indycar Series Closing In On Tittle Sponsor

According to the Indiana Buisness Journal, the Indycar Series is finally closing in on a tittle sponsor.

"We are talking to a company that is in the third stage of consideration. We’re darn close to being able to get that [title sponsor deal] done. The company we’re talking to is a big consumer brand, and it would be very good for the series.” -Terry Angstadt

All of this comes just a couple weeks after SpeedTV's Robin Miller reported that the IRL has turned down tittle sponsorship offers from Menards. Miller said that Menards was offering much less than the 8-12 million that the IRL has reportedly been requesting.

“It’s certainly a challenging time, but there are opportunities in challenging times. Ask my boss about that. He’s out there buying car companies.” -Tim Cindric

UPDATE: Check out JP's blog for a specific company that could be interested.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Doornbos Officially Signs With HVM

After days of speculation, Robert Doornbos has finally signed with HVM racing. Doornbos will take his new teamate, E.J. Viso's old number (#33) for the remainder of 2009 season and through 2010.

“I am very happy to rejoin Keith Wiggins, Michael Cannon (engineer) and HVM Racing. I was very successful with this team in 2007. My mission is to become Rookie of the Year again with this young and eager team. I like to thank Keith for his confidence in my driver skills and look forward to the first race for HVM next weekend.” -Robert Doornbos

“We are happy to have Robert return to the team. He had a very good year with us in ’07 and he has a great deal of experience behind the wheel, so he will be a good addition to our team. And, of course, everyone in our organization knows him and likes him, so we’ll just be picking up where we left off with him two years ago.” -Keith Wiggins

REPORT: Moraes Out For Mid-Ohio

UPDATE 8:04pm: There are now reports that Moraes' dad has lost his battle with cancer...

According to brazilion news, KV Racing driver Mario Moraes will be absent from the starting lineup of this weekends Mid-Ohio GP.

Moraes will miss the race do to "family problems". If you fallow Mario on twitter, then you probably know that his father has been having health problems over the last few months, so I assume this has something to do with it.

KV has yet to announce a replacement to pilot the #5 Dallara, but if I were Paul Tracy I'd stay close to my cell.

Thanks to Jackson Lopes for the heads up

Q&A With Jon Beekhuis

16th And Georgetown: (asked before KY) As the "technical" voice of the VERSUS T.V. trio, what do you believe is the cause for recent passing problems and how would you fix it?

Jon Beekhuis: (answered before KY) Wow, way to lead off with the $64,000 question! Even series officials have admitted to scratching their heads on this one. When it comes to ovals, two lanes of racing takes grip. The two largest contributors to overall grip are downforce and tire adhesion. For many of the ovals, the IRL rules mandate teams run more downforce than they really need. The theory is if the air gets disturbed by another car, there should still be enough margin to run close or in a second groove. This has worked great for many years but guess what…Racers being racers, the engineers have legally found ways to reduce this margin to make their cars faster. So a track that was run easily wide open a few years ago now has cars on a knife edge. In my opinion, the way to fix it is to add downforce, tire adhesion or both. Tire adhesion has a longer turnaround time, so the quick fix is to add some downforce. This is exactly what the series has planned for Kentucky onward. The first step is pretty small, so I wouldn’t expect an immediate return to the intense side-by-side action from a few years ago, but it should certainly be a step in the right direction.

16th And Georgetown: From someone who served as a Champcar analyst, which track on the CCWS lineup would you like to see visited by the Indycar Series?

Jon Beekhuis: That’s a no-brainer: Surfers Paradise. Of course IndyCar has already been down under and wasn’t able to add it to the schedule. Second choice: Road America.

16th And Georgetown: Being a former CART driver and Indy Lights Champion, what aspects from your driving career are most helpful now that your in the Television booth?

Jon Beekhuis: Of course it gives me the opportunity to speak from experience, but funny enough one of the most important aspects is recognizing that my time is done behind the wheel. Huh? You see, I feel that in order to truly appreciate what another driver is doing you need to wipe any “wish that were me” or “I could do better” thoughts. It puts you in a position of speaking as a fan of the sport, not somebody with an axe to grind. It doesn’t mean you can’t call a spade a spade, you just do it with a smile!

16th And Georgetown: Earlier in the season, Robbie's driver Mike Conway put his Dallara into the wall. Your first words to Robbie were something along the lines of "how much is that gonna cost you?" Be honest, from the time you found out that Robbie was going to be in the booth, you had that comment ready to fire.

Jon Beekhuis: Nope, not pre-canned. I have known Robbie for a long time but that was the first time we had worked side-by-side other than our audition in the off-season. We spent a bunch of time hanging out at Spring Training and it became immediately obvious he would most likely end up as the prankster and me the straight man, so this stuff comes naturally off the cuff. I really enjoy our booth team and I’m pretty sure there will be plenty more where that came from!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Doornbos Out At NHL

According to Robin Miller, Robert Doornbos has decided to part ways with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing. Now that the original 12 race deal is over, NHL reportedly approached Bobby D. about extending the contract, but he declined.

"We had the option to leave the team after 12 races which I made use of. I want to stay in IndyCar Series and I will announce my future plans very soon. I like to thank the team and especially Mike Lanigan and Carl Haas. I wish them a bright future. " -Robert Doornbos

It's no secret that the two NHL drivers had problems with one another. In fact Doornbos had this to say after this past weekends race in Sparta, Kentucky:
“I had a great start; I was on it. Then my teammate cut me off going into
Turn 1 and I had to check up and a couple of cars passed me.

If Doornbos plans to continue his IRL career, the natural stepping stone would come in the form of HVM Racing. When I reached out to HVM for comment earlier in the day on the possibility of Doornbos driving for HVM, they responded saying:
"Sorry, no, I cannot confirm that"

It's still unclear as to the plans for the #06 NHL car. But with just 5 races remaining, they need to compete in just 2 more races to receive half of the IRL's TEAM money and just 5 more to receive the full 1.2 million dollars.

Possible replacements:
  • Paul Tracy
  • Oriol Servia
  • Buddy Rice
  • Bruno Junqueira
  • Sebastian Bourdais
  • Alex Lloyd
  • Townsend Bell

Help A Racer

I found this thread over at TrackForum, and thought I'd try to help spread the word.

The good folks over at TF are trying to scrape up enough cash to buy the ring, then give it back to Tim.

I know times are tough, but this is a great opportunity to pitch in anything you can to help out a true racer.

Q&A With Bob Jenkins

(Photos courtesy of BobJenkinsRacing.com)

16th And Georgetown:
How does it feel to finally be back in the T.V. booth?

Bob Jenkins: I can't even begin to put into words how thrilled I am to be back in TV. And not just in TV...working in the series that has been my favorite since I was a child. Growing up in Eastern Indiana and after becoming an Indy 500 fan, my goal was to combine my love of racing with my profession as a broadcaster. Although I've worked in almost all types of motorsports, the IndyCar Series is and always has been my goal. Although a great portion of my career was spent in Nascar, there is no question that my current job is where I've always wanted to be.

16th And Georgetown: If you could go back and broadcast any of the previous 93 Indianapolis 500's which would it be?

Bob Jenkins: I'd probably have to say the Indy 500 in 1960. That was the first one I attended when I was 12 years old. Although I wouldn't take anything for the memories of traveling to Indianapolis, and riding the train to the Speedway with my father, the '60 500 was one of the most exciting in history. I can remember sitting in Grandstand "C" that day, and looking toward the 4th turn almost every lap, to see if Jim Rathman or Rodger Ward was leading. It would have been fun to be a part of the radio or TV crew that day, but I'll settle for the fond memories.

16th And Georgetown: You host a 1950's music radio show in my hometown of Brownsburg, IN. What's your favorite group from the 50's?

Bob Jenkins: That's a very tough question. Generally speaking I love doo-wop groups. Their "street corner harmony" is something I love to listen to but I'm not sure I can name one group as being my favorite. My favorite artist of the 50's is Buddy Holly. While covering the IndyCar Series a few years ago, I drove from Ft. Worth, Texas to Colorado Springs and visited Lubbock, Texas where he grew up and is buried. His "new sound" brought a whole new dimension to music. I'm also a big fan of Fats Domino. I had the pleasure of seeing him perform live one evening...something I'll never forget. He bridged the gap between R & B music and "pop".

16th And Georgetown: In a recent post on your website, you wrote: "I'm hearing there's a better than 50% chance she'll [Danica] go". What kind of effect do you see on the Indycar Series if Danica does decide to leave?

Bob Jenkins: I think it will be a very big loss if Danica goes to Nascar. She has captured the interest of the media and that is great for the IndyCar Series. Having said that, racefans are quick to forget. Some thought the loss of Sam Hornish, Jr to Nascar a few years back was going to be a big blow to the series. But open wheel race fans, while interested in what Sam does in stock car racing, haven't stopped following the series because he isn't in it anymore. Personally, I think it would be a mistake if Danica went to Nascar. She has a lot to accomplish in open wheel racing, including an Indy 500 win, and I'm hoping that goal in itself will keep her where she is now.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Matsuura & Philippe In At Conquest

According to Racer Magazine, with the loss of Alex Tagliani Conquest Racing will compete in at least 3 more Indycar races this season.

Racer reports that IRL vet Kosuke Matsuura will pilot the #34 Conquest ride in his homeland of Motegi, Japan. Nelson Philippe will then jump in the ride for both Infineon and the season finale at Homestead-Miami.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

A Great Race

What started off to be a horrible weekend was saved after a great Saturday night of racing.

First off, thank you IRL!! I think you fixed the passing problem. Sure the middle 100 laps or so were a tad bit boring, but the last 25 were some of the best I've seen.

Secondly, congrats to Ed Carpenter and the entire Vision Racing team who kept the #20 car in contention with a solid late pit stop. One of these days Ed's gonna get a win. You could hear the disappointment in Carpenter's voice as they entered turn 1 and 2 of the 201st lap. He said something along the lines of: I can't believe were this close to a Penske car on a mile and a half oval. I could cry. And he almost did.