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...

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

July 14th

July 14th, the day we've all been waiting for.  In a media event in Indianapolis, the IZOD IndyCar Series will announce their plans for the next generation formula.

"The ICONIC Advisory Committee continues to work diligently to finalize our future car strategy and a decision is imminent. We look forward to unveiling our plans to our teams, drivers, partners, fans and the media during a special event on July 14." - CEO of the Indy Racing League, Sanctioning body of the IZOD IndyCar Series, Randy Bernard

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Make Your Pick: The Glen

With 8 rounds down, and just 9 to go, the Indy Racing Experience Fantasy League picks for this Sunday's Camping World Grand Prix at Watkins Glen are now open.

With race favorite Dario Franchitti struggling, and a dwindling pool of drivers for some participants to choose from, the Top of the standings experienced quite a shake up after the Iowa race 2 weeks ago.  The top 21 heading into "The Glen" are:

1) Erik K - 31

2) Ray B 36
3) Paul S - 43
T4) Lee D - 45
T4) Tonya F - 45
6) Joshua J - 46
T7) Andrew W - 47
T7) Megan B - 47
T7) Michael H - 47
T10) Tom M - 48
T10) Clay C - 48
T10) Mike B - 48
T13) Brad B - 50
T13) Chris F - 50
T15) Mike K - 52
T15) Michael M - 52
T15) Craig S - 52
18) Dustin K - 53
T19) Paul W - 54
T19) Marco S - 54
T19) Matt A - 54

Thursday, June 24, 2010

PT In At The Glen

(Photos: Paul Tracy's Twitter & the IZOD IndyCar Series)
After an incredibly tough Month of May, Paul Tracy has been confirmed to run at the Glen next weekend.  Tracy, who's already competed with 3 IZOD IndyCar Series teams (Vision, KVRT, & Foyt) over as many years will make it 4 when he takes to the track in the #24 Dallara for DRR over the 4th of July weekend.

No word on who will run the remaining races in Dreyer & Reinbold's #24, but I expect Graham Rahal, who competed for the team at Iowa, to me in the mix.  Over the last month-or-so Tracy has also been confirmed to run in both the upcoming Toronto and Edmonton GP's with KV Racing Technology.

I feel great.  It’s obviously a good feeling to get more races, especially being able to race at the Glen and building up momentum before going into the Canadian events.  It’s also great to have the support of Honda Indy Toronto and Motegi Racing for this race as well.  I’m really excited about working with Robbie Buhl again and to get to work with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing.  I’ve known Robbie from our early days in racing back when we competed against each other in the Indy Lights Series.  It’s very exciting to branch out with another team I haven’t been with before and I’m looking forward to a good weekend,- Paul Tracy

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Q&A With James Hinchcliffe

(Photos: Indy Racing League, sanctioning body of the Firestone Indy Lights)
16th And Georgetown: In your YouTube video 'Hinch Does The Fair Part 2' (1.0 can be found HERE) you said "So here's an exciting ride right here.  Your going round-and-round, wicked fast pace, constant G-load the entire time, no chance to rest.  It's kinda like racing at Iowa".  Aside from having to hitchhike part of the way to the race because a certain former driver pushed the fuel window on the RV, how was your weekend?

James Hinchcliffe: Haha, it's true! That ride is just like racing at Iowa!  Our weekend was really disappointing if I am honest.  We had a problem in qualifying that starved the engine of fuel on the second lap and our first lap had been quickest of all.  So to start where we did we made up as much as we could, but ultimately we lost ground to the leader of the championship.  If we had had a fifth place car all weekend and that's where we ended, then fine, you go back and look where you can improve.  To have a front running car and finish fifth is tough to take.

16th And Georgetown: In reply to a tweet from someone that mentioned that the movie 'Twister' makes them cringe, you said that you get the same feeling when watching 'Driven'. 2 part question, 1) I don't get it, why does everybody always bash on Driven? And 2), If Driven is at the bottom of the list, whats at the top of your movie list?

James Hinchcliffe: Really?!  You don't get why people bash Driven?  I think the most polite way to word it is that they tried to portray our sport as accurately as possible and still make it an entertaining movie.  They did not achieve either of these goals!  In terms of favourite movies, I really like Guy Ritchie as a director.  Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch are both brilliant films.

16th And Georgetown: You just recently got back from a trip to Montreal for the F1 race, how'd it go?

James Hinchcliffe: My trip to Montreal was stellar.  I was there with TW Steel, who sponsor the Renault team, and we were guests of theirs for the weekend.  They took very good care of us and we had access to everything, so it was cool to see the circus up close.  On top of that, Montreal is such a beautiful city and it's just amplified when the race is in town.  Beautiful city, beautiful cars, beautiful people.  You can't go wrong!

16th And Georgetown: In one of your videos, from I believe 2008, you were walking the Atlantic paddock getting Simona De Silvestro, & Frankie Muniz,  & Johnny Unser & a few others to take a bite of a famous Road America brat. Wondering whats next? Maybe a tenderloin at Indy or possibly some steak tips at Kentucky, or maybe you have something else on your radar?

James Hinchcliffe: It's funny you say a tenderloin from Indy because Philip Major and I helped out on an episode of Man vs Food during May and that is what Adam was eating!  I think I might wait until Toronto and try and get some people to try an authentic Canadian dish.  Poutine!  Fries, gravy and cheese curds.  Sounds gross, looks gross and personally I think it is gross, but a lot of people love it and I haven't really seen it anywhere else, so we may try and broaden some people's culinary horizons!

16th And Georgetown: Fellow Canadian and owner/driver for the start-up FAZZT Race Team, Alex Tagliani, has had a rather impressive year so far after purchasing the equipment from another Canadian Marty Roth.  He's representing the Maple Leaf well, eh?

James Hinchcliffe: Alex and the whole FAZZT team have really done an incredible job so far this year.  I think they have exceeded everybody's expectations, including their own!  It just goes to show what getting the right group of people together can do for an organization.  Sort of like what we did at Team Moore this year.  But I think it's great to have a full time Canadian in the IZOD IndyCar series and the fact that it's a Canadian team is that much more impressive.  I really hope the Canadian race fans are paying attention and showing their support!

16th And Georgetown: Obviously it's still early, but what are your plans for 2011?

James Hinchcliffe: It's never too early to start thinking about next year!  It's the nature of this sport.  For next year we really want to move up to the IZOD IndyCar series.  I've been at this level now for a number of years, I think I have a decent amount of experience and I am the right age and I think we have a lot to offer both on and off the track.  But it's no secret sponsorship is the name of the game and so we have had a group of people working since March on our 2011 program.  It would be a dream come true to land on that grid next year and everything I am doing is geared towards achieving that goal.

16th And Georgetown: Your apart of the newly formed for 2010, 'Pacecar Team'.  Another 2 parter, 1) What exactly do your duties consist of & 2) Do you and your teammates (Martin Plowman, Stefan Wilson, & Charlie Kimball) have any types of inside competition? e.g.: Quickest lap, or making the lucky rider poo-poo themselves?

James Hinchcliffe: Our duties mostly consist of smack talking to our teammates and terrorizing the guests at any and all possible opportunities!  At least that's what we end up doing.  What we are 'supposed' to do is be the designated drivers for all of the VIP pace car rides during a weekend, we also drive the parade cars at the front of the field for a number of the IndyCar races and then also make special appearances as "The Pace Car Team".  It's been a really cool program for us to be part of and it has been really well received by everyone, especially the fans, and they are priority #1.

16th And Georgetown: In another one of your famous Hinchtown.com videos, while in I believe the 5th hour of picking rubber off your firesuit, you mentioned that you were elected Mayor of Hinchtown in 2006. If my mathematics are correct, that means there should be an upcoming election. So, how's the campaign going?

James Hinchcliffe: I haven't found anyone stupid enough to run against me!!  Who else would want to control this run down little mess of a town?  As long as the fans keep turning up and visiting, and numbers are up this season, then I will just keep on doing my thing and wait for someone to try and take my seat or for the townspeople to revolt!

Huge thanks to James Hinchcliffe for taking a few minutes out of his crazy busy day to do the Q&A. Be sure to follow Hinch on Twitter, Friend him on Facebook and visit his 'little mess of a town' at Hinchtown.com.

Also, Thanks to Firestone Indy Lights PR ace Arni Sribhen for setting it up, be sure to follow Arni 'The Insider" on Twitter as well!

Monday, June 21, 2010

TK Wins At Iowa

(Photo: Indy Racing League, sanctioning body of the IZOD IndyCar Series)
For the first time in 34 races, IZOD IndyCar Series veteran Tony Kanaan returned to victory lane in yesterday's Iowa Corn Indy 250. Last winning at Richmond in June of 2008, TK also becomes the first non Penske/Ganassi to stand atop the podium on an oval since his previous win, nearly 2-years ago.

With 17 lead changes among 7 drivers, TK led a total of 62-laps, but made the race's last pass for first with 10 laps to go when the Brazilian flew by Penske Racing rival Helio Castroneves.

On lap 194, Kanaan made a rather aggressive pass on teammate Danica Patrick that drew 'ooo's' and 'aaww's' from the VERSUS booth. But, the move also gave a clear flashback to his statement after the Texas race in which he was clearly unhappy with an on-track incident involving Patrick, saying: "What goes around comes around".

After dedicating the Father's Day win to his young son, Leo, Kanaan went on to thank 2 of his 3 teammates saying: "I've got to thank Ryan (Hunter-Reay) and Marco (Andretti) for the help this weekend.  I ran a little bit of Marco's set up, a little bit of Ryan's set up.  After qualifying they came and talked to me for 45-minutes trying to cheer me up, because I was pretty beat down from my poor qualifying, it was totally my fault."

Prior to the Iowa race, VERSUS pit reporter Robbie Floyd asked the pilot of the #11 7-11 Dallara if he and Patrick have talked about the incident, TK replied "We haven't had a chance yet".  After hearing the answer, Floyd (and I'm sure everyone else) seemed to find it a little hard to believe, and asked "It's been a week, Tony. Tell me the truth".  Tony stuck to the prior statement saying "We haven't talked about that. I think everybody's over, what happens happens."

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Results Of Texas Incident Review

In response to the much talked about safety incident at Texas Motor Speedway two weeks ago, the Indy Racing League conducted a review finding a "procedural error in the packing of a fire hose" as well as a "breakdown in Safety Team protocol".

"First and foremost, the Safety Team puts the highest priority on driver safety. Prior to every race, the Safety Team tests all hoses to ensure they're working. At Texas, there was an error in the re-packing of the hose after the test, which caused it to malfunction. We are modifying hoses on all the trucks beginning this weekend in Iowa to prevent this from happening again.

"Additionally, upon arriving at the scene of the incident, our protocol calls for Safety Team members to take pressurized canisters with water and Cold Fire to the car to extinguish the fire as a first response. In situations like this, decisions are made in a split second based on the severity of the incident. After critiquing the situation, we have determined that the canisters are a more efficient and effective way to quickly suppress on-track fires. This will be reviewed with all Safety Team members." - Indy Racing League Track Safety Manager, Mike Yates

"Our Safety Team is at the forefront of motorsports safety and over the years has set a very high standard in its response to all on-track incidents. We are always continually looking for ways to improve the way we operate. What happened at Texas was a result of human error and we will work diligently to prevent this in the future. The safety of our teams, drivers and officials on the racetrack remains our number one priority." - President of Competition and Racing Operations for the Indy Racing League, Brian Barnhart

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Make Your Pick: Iowa

With 7 rounds down, and 10 to go the Indy Racing Experience Fantasy League is tightening up.  The Iowa driver selections are now open and are due by Saturday at Noon (12pm) est.

The current top 20:

  1. Ray B.--25
  2. Tonya F.--27
  3. Erik K.--27
  4. Michael H.-29-
  5. Lee D.--30
  6. Tom M.--30
  7. Joshua J.--31
  8. Marco S.--34
  9. Mike K.--34
  10. Michael M.--34
  11. Craig S.--34
  12. Derek W.--35
  13. Dustin K.--35
  14. Chris F.--35
  15. Joe W.--36
  16. Joe L.--37
  17. Clay C.--38
  18. Megan B.--41
  19. Paul S.--42
  20. Andrew D.--42

RHR In At Iowa

Ryan Hunter-Reay still doesn't have job security, but he does have at least one more race. ICM Inc. and Green Plains Renewable Energy have signed on to sponsor the #37 Ethanol USA-Team IZOD branded Dallara in the Iowa Corn Indy 250 Presented by Pioneer, scheduled for this Sunday at 1:30 on VERSUS.

Hunter-Reay, who is currently 6th in the Championship points, still doesn't have sponsorship for the 9 remaining IZOD IndyCar Series events.  However, due to a stretched out schedule, 19 days remain until the next race at Watkins Glen International, spot of RHR's first win, and a full month before the following event in Toronto on July 18th.

"Everyone at Andretti Autosport is honored to share the spotlight with the U.S. ethanol industry. We share the same ideals of innovation and ingenuity as those who seek a more secure energy future in the U.S." - Andretti Autosport Chairman, President & CEO, Michael Andretti

"I couldn't be more thrilled to be representing Ethanol USA in the IZOD IndyCar Series again for a race that's fueled by ethanol made in the United States. Everyone talks about cleaner, greener energy, but this is one industry that has been consistently delivering on its promises." - Ryan Hunter-Reay

"We're excited to be back in the IZOD IndyCar Series, and thrilled to renew our relationship with Ryan Hunter-Reay. Ryan has demonstrated his tremendous skill on the race track, and is a passionate supporter of the U.S. ethanol industry." - ICM, INC, President & CEO, Dave Vander Griend

"This partnership is a great platform to demonstrate the environmental and performance aspects of ethanol right in the backyard of the #1 ethanol producing state with over 84 million barrels of production. We continue to prove year after year that ethanol has become a permanent solution to breaking our dependence on foreign oil in a clean and responsible manner." - Green Plaines Renewable Energy President & CEO, Todd Becker

(Photos courtesy of the IZOD IndyCar Series and Andretti Autosport)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Verizon Activation

IZOD has been a tremendous success has the Series' title sponsor since they signed on in November, why? Activation, they're simply everywhere!  Unfortunately, IZOD seems to be one of the only sponsors actually activating their sponsorship investment, but hopefully that will change with Verizon. As of now I've yet to see one of the following Will Power commercials actually on air, but as I'm sure you will agree after watching, if and when they hit the air-waves it'll be a success.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Rahal In At DRR

Graham Rahal, who as already piloted cars for 2 different teams in 2010, will be adding another to the list.  At least for now, on a race-by-race basis the 21-year-old will run the #24 Dallara for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing starting at Iowa on June 20th replacing the injuried Mike Conway.  Following the Iowa race the team will reassess the situation, but I'd expect the young American to stay in the #24 for a while.

Rahal ran with Sarah Fisher Racing at St. Pete, Barber and Long Beach as well as Rahal Letterman at Indianapolis and will team with former Newman Haas teammate Justin Wilson for the 2-car DRR effort.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Simona's Charred Helmet

Click HERE for the full story by the Indianapolis CBS affiliate

Monday, June 7, 2010

IRL Statement On Texas Incident

A statement from the Indy Racing League on the Simona De Silvestro incident at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday night:

"First and foremost, we make the safety of our competitors a priority when on the track. The primary hose on the series' safety truck malfunctioned, so the safety team had to go to the backup of the bottles. All equipment is checked prior to going on track before every race. We are examining why the hose malfunctioned to ensure this equipment failure will not happen again.

Our Safety Team consists of approximately 24 highly-trained safety personnel with a minimum of 14 attending each event - 2 trauma physicians, 3 paramedics and 9 firefighters/EMTs. Team members have an average of 20 years of experience in their respective areas. The safety team is recognized for its high standards and high performance and this problem will be addressed."

Sunday, June 6, 2010

59.65 Seconds

UPDATE 6-7 4:14pm est: A statement issued by the IRL can be viewed HERE.

59.65 Seconds.  The length of a pit stop, you ask? Not even close. Pit stop with a stall? Nope. Driver slides through the box, car gets rolled back, pits, then stalls it? Close, but still no.  59.65 seconds, according to my stopwatch, was the amount of time from the moment the yellow flag dropped to the point Simona De Silvestro was pulled from her burning Dallara on Saturday night.

Now, I realise that the Holmatro Safety Team normally does a fantastic job.  In fact, the only complaint I've had over the last 4 or 5 years is that it takes a little to long to get back to green after a yellow, but that's it.  Until Texas.  It took roughly 21 seconds for the #78 TSGW/HVM car to come to a stop after hitting the wall, another 12.22 seconds from the point the car stopped until a Holmatro crew member was at the scene and actually attempting to get the rookie out, and another 26.55 seconds before De Silvestro was finally out of harms way.  1 minuted passed, over one and-a-half laps at Indy could have been turned, 7 and-a-half pit stops could of been done from the point the car stopped before the De Silvestro was removed, and that is unacceptable.

The timeline:

After suffering with a loose race car much of the night, the #78 Dallara made hard contact

Roughly 20.88 seconds into the accident, the car has stopped on track and the flames are growing.  

6.63 seconds later a safety vehicle has arrived.  

3.59 seconds after that, 4 workers are attempting to bring out a fire hose connected to the front of the Holmatro truck.

2 seconds later a worker leaves the front of the vehicle to tend to Simona. 

Roughly 6 seconds after the Safety Vehicle had stopped a member has the fire hose in hand.  

14 seconds later, without an ounce of fluid coming from the hose, another member leaves the vehicle to help the young Rookie out of the #78.  

2 seconds later a second Holmatro truck arrives.  

Another 3.7 seconds passes, 2 members still trying to pull the Swiss Miss from the car, a member from the original truck comes with a hand held fire extinguisher, very little if anything comes out.  

6 seconds later, with 3 members yanking on her, another still attempting to use the failing extinguisher, a few more from Safety Truck #2 come flying in with another non-working hose, Simona is finally pulled from the crushed and burning car.

Finally, after roughly 1:07:00, the fire seems to be under control
I'm not going to sit here and bash on the Holmatro Safety Team because normally they're top-notch, and what the guys did to pull Simona out of the car was heroic.  However, the speeds have got to pick up, no question about it.  The crews were quick to respond to the accident, but when the equipment failed, the scene turned chaotic.   I'm not sure when the protocol changed from fire extinguisher to fire hose as the go-to equipment, but that's got to be looked into.  Not only were both hoses incredibly slow, they didn't even work.

With just minor burns to her right hand, Simona De Silvestro turned out to be relatively O.K., but she was lucky, the Safety Team was lucky, and the league was lucky.  If the injuries would have turned out worse, like they very well could have, the backlash would of been huge, and rightly so.  But, just because she was O.K. doesn't make the situation O.K.  The incident needs to be reviewed and changes need to be made so that what I saw yesterday will never be seen again. 

By the way, Simona is a class act.  The IZOD IndyCar Series has to hold onto her! Did you see her post crash interview? WOW!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Oval Trophy Announced

The IZOD IndyCar Series oval trophy will be named after 4 time Indianapolis 500 winner, A.J. Foyt. Voted on by the fans using an online-poll, Rick Mears gained the 2nd most votes followed by Mario Andretti, Bill Vukovich and my nominee, Ted Horn.

Heading into tonights race at Texas Motor Speedway, Dario Franchitti has a 13 point lead over Scott Dixon in the oval standings followed by Helio Castroneves, Dan Wheldon and Tony Kanaan.

The Road and Street course trophy honoree will be announced over the 4th of July Weekend at Watkins Glen. The drivers up for the naming rights are Mario Andretti, Alex Zanardi, Mark Donahue, Dan Gurney, and my nominee Al Unser Jr. You can vote HERE.

"This is an honor that I really appreciate for a couple reasons. I've always liked ovals more than road courses -- the Indy cars didn't run that many road courses when I won most of my races. Second, it was voted on by the fans so that makes it pretty special to me.”

"I like the challenges of the ovals -- you have to have everything right: the driver, the car and the team. If you make a mistake on a road course, you can make it up in the next corner or two. Make a mistake on an oval and you end up in the wall. Ovals are a lot less forgiving."

“I think the Oval champion will be the driver and team that make the fewest mistakes. To have my name on that trophy is pretty cool any way you look at it." -A.J. Foyt

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Make Your Pick

The bad news, the Month of May is over. The good news, one of the best, if not the best race of the year is this weekend. With just over 1/3 of the races in the books, we have a 2-way tie for the lead between Ray B. and Tonya F. with 21 points a piece. Paul F. and Lee D. are right on their rear wing with 23 and 25 points respectively.  They're 4-wide for 5th place between Erik K., Mike B, Tom M. and Luke B. each with a very respectable 26 points.

The picks for this weekends Firestone Texas 550k race in the Indy Racing Experience Fantasy League are now open and can be made HERE.
Best of Luck!!!

Engine Specs Announced

The IZOD IndyCar Series announced today that the 2012 engine formula will be more efficient and contain more power then the current formula.  With a maximum of six cylinders and 2.4 cubic liters the ethanol-powered turbocharged engines will produce between 550 and 700 horsepower.  The ICONIC Committee which includes Gil de Ferran, Brian Barnhart, Tony Cotman, Eddie Gossage, Rick Long, Tony Purnell and Neil Ressler recommended the changes to the league and hope to have a decision on the chassis package by the end of this month.

"The ICONIC Advisory Committee has researched future engine platforms with manufacturers, teams, drivers and fans, and they felt this strategy best highlights key attributes of the sport - speed, competition and diversity. We feel this open and all-inclusive platform will make our sport an attractive option to engine manufacturers, while allowing development of a relevant and innovative platform to the current and future automotive industry by highlighting efficiency, performance, durability, quality, environmental responsibility and safety."

"Everyone wants to see competition and high performance on the track. We are the fastest and most versatile racing in the world and this new engine strategy will continue to enhance that.  Now that we have a platform in place, it is our job to put this package in front of the automotive industry to attract the type of participation that will elevate the sport.  We truly want to challenge manufacturers to once again make our sport a proving ground and a platform to showcase technology that will benefit the future of their industry." - IRL CEO, Randy Bernard

"We will continue to evaluate rules that will keep a level playing field across the board with the various engines that could enter our sport. For example, we could see a V-6 competing against an Inline 4 at all IZOD IndyCar Series events in the future. We will require reference engines as a benchmark in performance while looking at sonic air restrictors, fuel flow restrictions and more as key criteria for competition." - President of Competion and Racing Operations, Brian Barnhart

Baltimore Official

After months of speculation, today the IZOD IndyCar Series, along with Baltimore Racing Development formerly announced a 5-year agreement beginning with a 2011 race.  Set for August 5th-7th, with 100,000 fans expected to attend it'll be ran on a 2.4 mile street circuit and will wind through the inner harbor in downtown Baltimore and along Camden Yards.

"This is an historic day for Baltimore and the State of Maryland, as well as the entire East Coast Region, as we have finalized plans for the IZOD IndyCar Series racing in Baltimore in 2011. When we began our pursuit of this race over two years ago, we had a number of major steps to accomplish and are so thankful to the State, City and the community for embracing our efforts.  This three-day festival of speed will not just include car racing, but will feature family-friendly activities, offer great entertainment and much, much more." -Baltimore Grand Prix & Baltimore Racing Development CEO, Jay Davidson

 "We are very excited to partner with Baltimore Racing Development to add the Baltimore Grand Prix to the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series schedule. Baltimore is a vibrant market that is strategically located in the heart of the Mid-Atlantic region. The Inner Harbor will make for a spectacular setting for the race, and Baltimore's downtown area has all of the elements necessary for a successful event weekend. The track design will no doubt produce exciting racing for both drivers and fans alike. We are thankful for the leadership of Baltimore Racing Development, as well as Gov. O'Malley and Mayor Rawlings-Blake, who have made today possible." - Terry Angstadt