- Jacques Villeneuve will attempt to make Indianapolis 500 starts 19 years apart, bettering Cy Marshall & Roland Free's 17-year gap set in 1947.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Schmidt Movin' On Up

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Sam Schmidt, and Sam Schmidt Motorsports are movin' on up.  Beginning August 1st, SSM will be based out of a shop on the Northwest side of Indianapolis formerly occupied by Kelley Racing and most recently, Vision Racing.

The new shop, which is 3.5 times larger than their current digs, comes fully equipped with:
  • fabrication shop
  • surface plates
  • dedicated shock and gearbox rooms
  • engineering space
  • carbon fiber manufacturing and body fit room
  • sufficient space for all transporters to park inside the shop
"As an organization, we're always seeking ways to grow on and off the track, and we felt the time was right to move into a bigger facility and give the team the ability to expand our racing capabilities.

The new shop is packed with state of the art motorsports equipment that we've managed to be without in our formative years. The timing of all this couldn't be better, and I know that the team and myself are looking forward to our new home. Combined with our experienced and technical staff already in place, this shop provides Sam Schmidt Motorsports the ability to compete in any series, if given the opportunity." - Sam Schmidt

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Barnhart Made The Right Call

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Whether you like him or not, Brian Barnhart made the right call, according to the rules, on Sunday afternoon in Edmonton.

With just 3 laps to go, Helio Castroneves held the lead over teammate Will Power in Sunday's Honda Edmonton Indy.  On the lap-92 restart, with Will Power following close behind, Castroneves entered turn 1 clearly off of the 'normal racing line' to prevent being overtaken by Power.

Castroneves was immediately black flagged and ordered to a drive-through penalty.  Ignoring the on track penalty, Castroneves finished the race, and after finally pitting, went crazy on Technical Director Kevin Blanch, and head of security, Charles Burns.  Helio was later penalized 20-seconds and sent to the tail of the lead lap, finishing 10th:
“Obviously, I disagree with the decisions made by the race officials on the last restart in today’s race, but there is no excuse for my actions after the checkered flag. I apologize to my team, our sponsors, the fans and the entire IZOD IndyCar Series community for my behavior. My actions were totally wrong and I acted inappropriately to some people who are my friends and people I respect very much. Obviously, I am a very emotional person and today I let my emotions get the better of me and I’m very sorry for that.” - Helio Castroneves
Did the 3-time Indy champ make a clear blocking move? No, but according to the rules he didn't have to.  The blocking rules from the IZOD IndyCar Series rule book are as follows:
Rule 9.3 (B) A driver must not alter his/her racing line based on the actions of pursuing Drivers or use an abnormal racing line to inhibit or prevent passing. Blocking will result in a minimum of a black flag "drive through" penalty.

Rule 7.1 (B) (4) (C) (4) The senior official shall determine the type and length of any black flag. The penalized car shall proceed to pit lane as directed by Officials and may return to the Race only upon the declaration of Officials. In the case of the Driver Violating the Rules, no work may be performed on a Car during the execution of a black flag penalty. Should any such work occur, the conditions of the penalty are unfilled and the penalty procedure must be executed again in its entirety on a subsequent lap. The penalty may not be protested and/or appealed.

Rule 9.2 (A) Race Procedure Penalties are a result of on track conduct and are generally imposed during on Track activity. If the imposition of a penalty is near or at the end of on Track activity and Driver/Car does not fulfill it, the Senior Official may reposition the Driver/Car in the posting of results or apply the penalty to subsequent on Track activity to reflect the fulfillment of the penalty. The penalty including without limitation any repositioning in a posting is non-protestable and/or appealable.
Not only is the fact that a driver can not alter his normal racing line to prevent a pass clearly spelled out in the rules, but league President of Competition and Racing Operations, Brian Barnhart, stated the same in the weekly pre-race driver meeting:
"You have plenty of options on where to put your car and we should not have any defending or blocking. Again we will be visually dividing the braking point through the entry into the corner in half. You can only be on the inside half if you are attempting to pass someone. If you are on the inside half because you are under attack from someone else, it is blocking. Don't move your car in reaction to a following car and don't impede the progress of a car with a run on you."
Cars are all in correct formation 
Will Power legaly dives to the inside to pass Helio Castroneves. Castroneves dives down, breaking the 'normal line' to prevent the overtake.
All cars are taking the 'normal line' with the exception of Castroneves and Power, who are beginning to pull back out, setting up for turn 1.
All cars are now making the T1 turn.

The debate on whether or not what transpired in the late stages at Edmonton was a block or not can continue.  But, according to the rules, as they stand, Barnhart made the correct call.  No question.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Duno On Probation

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The Indy Racing League, sanctioning body of the IZOD IndyCar Series, has put Milka Duno on probation through December 31st, sighting rule 9.3 (C) in the IndyCar Series rule book:
The Senior Official may place a member on probation. Probation is a state of limitation upon a Member's privileges usually following an act or omission occurring before or during membership with which calls into question the Member's willingness or ability to abide by standards required for membership. The purpose of probation is to establish a process to allow a Member to prove, by the Member's conduct, that the standards of membership are understood and will be honored at all times. During probation, a member is under heightened scrutiny and a Member can be required to abide by specific standards of conduct which are more stringent than those which are otherwise applicable. If a Member violates probation, the Member is subject to a more severe penalty. The duration and condition of the probation are within the discretion of the Officials.
Duno must run within 107% of the lead car on road & street courses, and within 10mph of the lead car on ovals.  The pilot of the #18 Citgo Dale Coyne Racing entry will also be closely monitored for car control and interaction with other cars.  If league officials find Duno in violation of her probation, additional penalties may be imposed.

Duno may contest the probation.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Make Your Pick: Edmonton

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With 10 races down and 7 to go, Paul S. holds a slim lead in the Indy Racing Experience fantasy league. Picks for this weekends Honda Indy Edmonton GP are now open.

Through 60% of the races, the top 20 are:

1) Paul S - 47
2) Eric K - 48
3) Joshua J - 49
4) Ray B - 51
T5) Tonya F - 54
T5) Michael M - 54
T7) Andrew W - 57
T7) Lee D - 57
9) Matt A - 58
T10) Brad B - 59
T10) Chris F - 59
T12) Megan B - 61
T12) Clay C - 61
T12) Luke B - 61
15) Mike K - 65
16) Craig S - 66
17) Michael H - 67
18) Stephen K - 68
19) Derek W - 69
20) Dustin K - 70

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

2012: The Car

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After months of speculation the Indy Racing League, sanctioning body of the IZOD IndyCar Series, announced today their plans for the 2012 IndyCar. Powered by turbocharged Ethanol engines, Dallara will build an enhanced safety cell with which anybody can design and create bodywork kits. With the current Dallara chassis not grandfathered into 2012, the first rolling next generation chassis is due out in October of 2011.

With a building in Speedway, Indiana, Dallara's safety cell will cost $349,000, which can be purchased alone or with a Dallara designed bodywork kit raising the entire chassis price to $385,000, a 45% savings on the current chassis design.  A $150,000 discount on each chassis will be given to the first 28 cars that are purchased from an Indianapolis based team.  Additional aero kits can be purchased, but will have a maximum cost of $70,000. Each team can use 2 different aero kits per year, which can be built by anybody. Each of the two kits will consist of both road/street and an oval package. Once a bodywork kit is designed, it must be approved by the Series and cost under a price cap. Once the kits are approved, the chassis that it's used on will then be branded under the bodywork kits name, and will no longer be refered to as a Dallara.

The bodywork kit will consist of rear and front wings, side pods, engine covers and more. In addition to the chassis announcement, the IZOD IndyCar series also announced that the push-to-pass will return in 2012 with an additional 100hp boost on select tracks.

The Dallara built common safety cell will feature improved head, leg and back protection as well as improved visibility.

It's still unclear if the the 2012 design will raise the current speeds, but in a post press conference Q&A, Brian Barnhart said that it will go as quick, if not quicker.

Dallara without body kit:

Dallara with body kit examples

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Rahal Back In The Game

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21-year-old Graham Rahal is back in the game, and with an old team. Rahal is returning to Newman/Haas Racing where he earned his first win, in his first start, back in 2008 at St. Petersburg. The young American will run the #02 Dallara in 6 of the remaining 8 races, with Quick Trim returning as the sponsor in 5 of the events including:
  • Toronto
  • Sonoma
  • Chicago
  • Japan
  • Homestead-Miami
Graham, who entered the season rideless after a deal with Newman/Haas Racing fell through, competed earlier in the year with Sarah Fisher Racing, Rahal Letterman racing and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing.

“It’s nice to be back with Newman/Haas Racing, a group that I have been with for so long and have a lot of fond memories with, and it’s also great to be reunited with Quick Trim who made this possible. Quick Trim really enjoyed their experience in May and we had a great run. We have been talking about this for a long time and I’m happy we were able to extend the deal. I’m looking forward to getting back in the car and back in the series. To know what I am going to be doing for the rest of the season feels so good. The plan is to go out there and pick up where we left off.” - Graham Rahal

“I am so excited to be able to watch Graham Rahal drive the Quick Trim® Indy Car again. I can't wait to see him burn up the track. I am looking forward to seeing the QuickTrim® car in Sonoma, South Beach and Chicago. Quick Trim is really going global with races in Toronto and Japan as well!” - Quick Trim Spokeswoman, Kim Kardashian

“We are delighted to have Graham back with the team. He has been an important part of our team over the past few years and we are proud of the history-making results we have accomplished together. We are also looking forward to returning to a two-car team and all of the benefits it provides." - NH Co-Owner, Carl Haas

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Decision

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Although the 'official' vote hasn't been taken, I'd say the ICONIC Committee has a VERY good idea of which way the Wednesday morning 'future strategy' poll is going to go. Have the 5 potential chassis designers, DeltaWing, Dallara, Lola, Swift, & BAT, been notified of the likely decision? I don't know. However, 4 high-ranking Dallara Representatives are scheduled to be on hand including, Dallaras CEO, Andrea Pontremoli, Head of Research & Development, Andrea Toso, Director of US operations, Stefano de Ponti , and Dallara IndyCar Technical support, Sam Garrett.

Over the last couple months the Indy Racing League, sanctioning body of the IZOD IndyCar Series, has used very carefully worded phrases when referencing the next generation IndyCar. Tag lines such as 'Chassis decision' have gone by the wayside, replaced by the phrase 'future strategy'. So, what does it mean? My guess is that come 12:30pm at the Indianapolis Museum of Art on Wednesday morning the 7 person ICONIC Committee made up of Brian Barnhart, Tony Cotman, Gil de Ferran, Eddie Gossage, Rick Long, Tony Purnell and Neil Ressler will not announce a specific chassis or chassis' for the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season. What makes the most since to me, is that they'll release a set of rules and regulations including a set chassis price, leaving open the possibility of any manufacturer jumping on board. If a designer can build a car inside the set guideline and under the price point, they'll be welcomed into the Series.

Your guess is as good as mine as to the direction the ICONIC Committee will chose to take, but my prediction is that both Dallara and Lola will throw their hat into the ring, bringing back much needed chassis competition to the Series. But, that's just speculation, like most everyone else, you'll have to stay huddled around your computer screen Wednesday afternoon, awaiting the decision.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Hildebrand In #24

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Firestone Indy Lights veteran J.R. Hildebrand has finally gotten his shot at the big leagues.  The young American has signed on to pilot the #24 for Dreyer and Reinbold Racing at Mid-Oho and Infineon.

Mike Conway, who was injured in an air-born incident at Indianapolis, could be cleared for the Infineon event later in the year.  If Conway does run at Sonoma, DRR will run 3 cars for Justin Wilson, J.R. Hildebrand and Mike Conway.

Via his Twitter account, J.R. commented "Set to do two races with Dreyer and Reinbold at Mid Ohio and Sonoma! So pumped to make my IndyCar debut, ready to get rollin' again!!"


“First off, I’m really excited to join Dreyer & Reinbold Racing for my first races in the IZOD IndyCar Series at Mid-Ohio and Sonoma.  It's under unfortunate circumstances because of Mike and I wish him well, but it will be great to be racing with DRR.  They've shown great pace all season and I’m going to try to push myself toward being at the front.  I'm also looking forward to being teammates with Justin Wilson, I think it will be a great opportunity all around,” -J.R. Hildebrand


“We are extremely excited about putting JR in our car at Mid-Ohio and Sonoma.  He adds another dimension to our program and we are happy to have him on board for those events.  We will be testing him at Sonoma next month and we are excited to get him acclimated to the car.  JR was a very talented Indy Lights driver, having won the championship, and we are converting him over to an IZOD IndyCar and we are excited to be the team that he makes his IZOD IndyCar Series debut with,” - DRR Co-Owner, Dennis Reinbold

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Scheckter In At DRR

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IZOD IndyCar Series vet Tomas Scheckter has signed on to pilot the #24 Mona Vie car for Dreyer and Reinbold Racing in the upcoming Honda Indy Toronto.  The 29-year-old Scheckter is replacing the injured Mike Conway for the 2nd time since his horrific incident at Indianapolis in May.  Tomas ran the #24 Dallara at Texas before being replaced by Graham Rahal at Iowa and Paul Tracy at Watkins Glen.

No word on who will run the 2nd car as a teammate to Justin Wilson in Edmonton and beyond.


"I am really happy to be in a DRR car again. I know the task ahead at Toronto will be challenging and for the most part, it will be good to learn from Justin and his experience on street courses. I look forward to the challenge and feel at home at DRR for this event given our good race pace last year. I have to thank not only Dennis, Robbie and Larry Curry, but MonaVie and their support for allowing me to be back in the race car where I feel most at home," - Tomas Scheckter
(Photos courtesy of the IZOD IndyCar Series)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

RHR Full-time

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Andretti Autosport announced today at a Watkins Glen press conference, that Ryan Hunter-Reay will compete full-time in the remainder of the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series season.  Hunter-Reay, who's just 49 points behind leader Will Power in the overall standings and 43 back in the Mario Andretti Trophy standings, will continue to run the IZOD branded livery for all but two of the remaining events.  RHR will run with a yet-to-be-announced sponsor at Chicagoland Speedway on August 28th, and Ethanol will return to the sidepods of the #37 Dallara for a race to be determined.

In conjunction with the announcement, Team IZOD and Andretti Autosport also launched a charitable program called "Racing For Cancer", in honor of Hunter-Reay's mother who past away in November 2009 of colon cancer.  The program will raise money for both The Michael Fux Foundation and LIVESTRONG.

In addition to multiple Andretti Autosport sponsors committing a $37,000 donation to "Racing For Cancer", RHR's teammate and pilot of the #11 7-Eleven Dallara, Tony Kanaan, was the first to give $37,000 to the initiative.

"I can't even begin to describe my sense of relief, appreciation and excitement as we look forward to a complete season while challenging for the IZOD IndyCar Series championship. So many different people, organizations, companies and partners pulled together to make this a reality and I have to thank them for their belief in me.

"Andretti Autosport and Michael Andretti have been so supportive in so many ways. They have really dug deep to not only get me and the #37 car on track this season, but to keep it there. As I've been saying all along, this team is incredibly good at what it does and that's why we've not only won together already, but we are now making it a full-season effort. 
       
"I really have to thank IZOD, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, ICM-Ethanol USA, Inland, Exel and IES for stepping up in support of this program. This is a total team effort and we couldn't have done it without every one of them. 
       
"I am honored to announce my new position as global ambassador for 'Racing For Cancer.' Thanks to Tom Vossman and his endless dedication for the cause, I am able to complete the 2010 season and race in honor of my mother, Lydia, who recently passed away due to cancer. The 'Racing For Cancer' Platform has endless opportunity in not only raising awareness but contributing to the fight on the front lines of the battle against this terrible disease, which affects so many of us. 
       
"I also have to thank Michael Fux for his personal support and making the 'Racing For Cancer' program a reality." - Ryan Hunter-Reay

"We are thrilled that Team IZOD and Ryan Hunter-Reay are now fulltime family members of Andretti Autosport. We are humbled by the generous support of all our sponsors, but particularly by IZOD, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, ICM-Ethanol USA, Inland Industrial Services Group, AirTran Airways, The Michael Fux Foundation, Exel and IES for their staunch support of Ryan, our team and its charitable efforts. 
      
"We want to thank Michael Fux and Tom Vossman for serving as inspirations for the 'Racing For Cancer' platform."  - John Lope, CMO Andretti Autosport

"We are excited to be part of such a worthwhile cause - to not only contribute to these good charities, but to also help promote the global cancer awareness campaign to all the fans, sponsors and their employees. I could not be more proud to have Ryan as our global ambassador and to launch this effort in memory of his mother, Lydia."  - Tom Vossman, CEO of Industrial Services Group, and founder, Racing For Cancer

"I am very happy to help further Ryan Hunter-Reay's career with this team and to play a role with the 'Racing For Cancer' program. There is no greater feeling than helping children in need and this is another opportunity for me to do that." - Michael Fux, The Michael Fux Foundation

"It seems very appropriate that the backdrop for this announcement be Watkins Glen over the 4th of July weekend as it was here two years ago that the seeds for this moment were planted. 
      
"Ryan Hunter-Reay and Team IZOD have become popular players in this series, and we're confident that the public will rally around the 'Racing For Cancer' initiative and allow all of us to make an impact that reaches far beyond the footprint of the IZOD IndyCar Series." - Starke Taylor, VP of Sponsorship and Business Development, Phillips-Van Heusen

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Road Course Trophy Named

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With 44% of the vote, the fans have honored Mario Andretti with the road and street course trophy naming rights. Winner of 23 road and street courses races throughout his long career, Andretti will join A.J. Foyt who was announced at Texas Motor Speedway a few weeks ago as the oval trophy honoree.

Road & Street course voting breakdown:


Mario Andretti 44%
Alex Zanardi 25%
Dan Gurney 12%
Al Unser Jr. 10%
Mark Donohue 8%


“I was full of pride when I learned the road racing trophy would bear my name and that it was determined by a fan vote. It’s the ultimate compliment years after I retired, to have the fans remember me this way. That’s the really great thing about fans.  They keep you humble and grounded.  They let you know when you mess up, and applaud your successes.  And if you’re fortunate along the way, you make a lot of friends for life.” - Mario Andretti
(Photos courtesy of the IZOD IndyCar Series)

Friday, July 2, 2010

2012: The Final Designs

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After years of anticipation, it appears as though we'll know the future of the IZOD IndyCar Series in just 12 days.  Originally scheduled for the end of June, the 2012 formula announcement was pushed back to July 14th, a day with little to no sporting news.

Over the last several months, five chassis designers/suppliers have submitted multiple designs to the IndyCar Series for consideration to be the next generation IndyCar.  Shortly after taking office in March, Indy Racing League CEO, Randy Bernard, formed the ICONIC committee which is made up of 7 individuals to review the submissions and report back to him their recommendations.  Now that the process is winding down and the final decision seems to have been made, speculation has ran rampant, but this is what we do know:

With several of the hope full companies publishing multiple designs, we only have the final images that were presented to the ICONIC committee from Swift and BAT, as seen below.
Dallara was the first to release images of their proposed 2012 IndyCar, however, the revisions made to the chassis' have stayed under wraps, making it the most covert of all the designs.  Although the Dallara concept that was presented to the league is not a "completely separate design", it is believed to be an evolved version of one of their original 3 images, as seen below.

DeltaWing, by far the most radical design of the group, are the most talked about as well.  The only team to build an actual mockup, although it was just foam, is believed to have made multiple changes to their chassis.  However, the magnitude of the changes are unclear and the only images that have been released were the originals, as seen below.

Lola, who is thought to be one of the front runners for the bid, released 2 images earlier this year.  It's still unclear if the designs have experienced any changes or even which of the 2 chassis' was the final proposal.  Lola's original 2 releases are seen below.

Just before the flood of chassis proposals earlier this year, the Indy Racing League presented their "2012 Chassis Objectives":

  • Safe: The new chassis must adhere to the league's already high safety standards while exploring new technology to improve safety in all aspects of the car.
  • Raceable: The new chassis must continue to produce the exciting racing that has become signature of the IZOD IndyCar Series while not affecting other cars on track (i.e. less sensitive to the turbulence).
  • Cost-effective: The league continues to work to reduce the cost of participation for teams in the IZOD IndyCar Series, which remains an important priority in this economic climate. The new chassis must have a price point that adheres to that goal.
  • American-made: The new chassis must be built in the U.S., preferably at an Indiana-based facility.
  • Less mass/More efficient: A lighter chassis with less mass that produces the same aerodynamic effect in an efficient way.
  • Relevant technology: The league would like the new chassis to be relevant to the future of the consumer auto industry; innovative technology that is born on the racetrack and can translate to consumer cars.
  • Modern Look: More space for sponsor logos, cars easily identifiable.
  • Green: The Indy Racing League prides itself on its role in the greening of racing and wants to maintain its position as a leader in environmentally-friendly initiatives with this chassis.

With only the information on 2 of the 8 objectives known to the public, and one of those (Modern Look) being debatable, only the American-made requirement is concrete.  Of the 5 designers, BAT, Swift, Dallara, DeltaWing, and Lola, all have committed to building the chassis' in the United States.  4 of the 5 have committed to a central Indiana manufacturing plant, with Swift proposing a Southern California location for the majority of the construction.

Much is still unknown, but by Wednesday, July 14th the plans will be laid out in an Indianapolis media event, until then, let the speculation continue.....

Thursday, July 1, 2010

AFS Teams With Carroll

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AFS Racing, co-owners along with Andretti Autosport in the Firestone Indy Lights Series, as joined Adam Carroll and the #27 car as a co-entrant at this weekend's Camping World Watkins Glen GP. Automatic Fire Sprinklers (AFS) has also signed on as the teams primary sponsor for the August 8th race in Mid-Oho.

"This is a good step for AFS Racing and we're looking forward to working directly with a great, young talent like Adam Carroll. He tested well at Mid-Ohio this week and we're excited to work with him at these two events. AFS Racing would like to make a move to the IZOD IndyCar level at some point in the future and this is a good step in that direction." - AFS Racing Owner, Gary Peterson

"AFS Racing and Andretti Autosport have enjoyed a lot of success together and this effort will hopefully be more of the same. This is good for us as it helps us take our IZOD IndyCar Series program closer to where we want it to be and it enables Gary to take further steps toward his goal of competing fulltime at the IZOD IndyCar Series level."- Andretti Autosport Chairman, President & CEO, Michael Andretti 



 
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