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...

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Make Your Pick: Kentucky

With 14 rounds down and just a stretch of 3 ovals to go, the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Season and Indy Racing Experience fantasy league, are quickly winding down.  The picks for this weekends Indy 300 at Kentucky Speedway are now open.

Following the fantastic event at Chicagoland, the top 20 are as follows:

1) Matt A - 64
2) Eric K - 70
3) Mike K - 75
4) Michael M - 78
5) Ray B - 84
6) Lee D - 86
T7) Tonya F - 87
T7) Paul W - 87
T9) Joshua J - 89
10) Tom M - 93
T11) Michael H - 101
T11) Clay C - 101
T11) Craig S - 101
14) Martin S - 107
15) Shannon K - 108
16) Brad B - 109
17) Dustin K - 110
18) Megan B - 112
T19) Derek W - 113
T19) Andrew D - 113

Beck, Sudler, Walker Together For '11

American Open-Wheel racing veteran owners Greg Beck, Steve Sudler, and Derrick Walker have joined forces for a 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series effort under the banner Walker Racing Partners.  With Beck bringing the cars and equipment, Walker supplying the facility and Sudler handling the Marketing and Sponsorship department, the trio are currently speaking with both sponsors and drivers for the 2011 season.

PT Back Behind The Wheel

IZOD IndyCar Series veteran, Paul Tracy, will be back behind the wheel of a Dallara yet again this season.  Tracy has signed on to pilot the #24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing entry at Kentucky and Twin Ring Motegi, replacing the injured Mike Conway for the 2nd time.

Earlier this year, after Tomas Scheckter and Graham Rahal ran the #24 at Texas and Iowa, PT finished 14th at Watkins Glen in the chassis for a preparation for the dual Canadian GP's. J.R. Hildebrand and Ana Beatriz have piloted the entry in the last 3 events.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

An Owner's Response

The next generation chassis and engine formula has been a topic of much debate over the last couple years, and it's only ramped up in recent months since DeltaWing, Swift, Dallara, BAT, and Lola unveiled their proposals.  But, since the IZOD IndyCar Series announced the ICONIC Committees decision in mid-July, it's gotten a lot more interesting.

Flashback to Noon on July, 14th at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, location of the 'future strategy' announcement.  Packed to it's gills with fans, media, drivers, teams, and league/manufacture representatives, the Toby Theatre at the IMA was also full of anticipation. Once the announcement was finally made, the reactions were all over the board, from overwhelmingly positive to overwhelmingly negative, and everything in between.

One giant piece to the 2012 puzzle are obviously the team owners, and the owners have been very quiet on the situation until more details are released. That was until yesterday, when Speed's Robin Miller published a story on a meeting most of the team owners attended in Sonoma that was devoted to the 2012 decision.

No question that it's not a perfect situation, and additional details need to be unveiled, but at least one team owner is in favor of the new direction the IZOD IndyCar Series is taking, and believes he knows why many of his peers aren't fully supporting the project:
"The majority of them [car owners against the 2012 project] are the ones that were saying all along that the current car needs to be replaced, and were upset when it was pushed from 2011 to 2012. I will have to say that the majority of the owners that are not wanting to get a new car are the ones that invested hundreds of thousands of dollars each into the DeltaWing project. I speculate that this would not have been an issue had the DeltaWing have been selected as the chassis, they would have forced teams to purchase those ugly beasts for quite a bit more than the 2012 Dallara option from the prices I saw. Now that the outcome of the chassis selection did not include the company that those owners invested heavily in, now they want to hold off from purchasing new cars. I think it is guys like these that are doing more harm to the sport than anyone at the Indycar Series, and this type of foolish thinking is exactly why the value of Indycar is not where it needs to be.

Chip [Ganassi], Michael [Andretti] and Roger [Penske] all have the biggest budget of any team (minimum of $8 million per car) and they say they can't afford to spend $600k on new cars in 2012? We all run our teams as a business, and if we know that in 2 years time we will have to make a capital investment of around $600k for new equipment, then we need to manage our businesses such that we can afford to make this investment. $600k would mean having to cut some engineering staff, or mechanics, or not investing in luxury motorcoaches for a season, etc. Let's also remember that the engine lease is expected to go from $935k to about 600k, which means that you have enough savings in the engine lease to roughly purchase one new chassis. This is still a much better climate for chassis than it was in the 80's and 90's when teams were forced to purchase new cars every season, at $250k each. Now, we make a purchase of a chassis and have it for minimum of 3 seasons. Bottom line, teams have to manage their businesses and prepare for a capital expenditure in 2012, they need to make cuts where appropriate to be able to afford new equipment.

I support the Indycar Series and their forward thinking approach to developing a new, fresh, and exciting racing product that we can put on the track. Most importantly, my team needs a good product to go and sell to companies wanting to invest their marketing dollars in my team and the Indycar Series. An old, antiquated, outdated chassis is not going to be exciting for the fans, and thus the sponsors. The Series has an incredible amount of forward momentum in the sports entertainment marketplace, and with many sponsors leaving or greatly reducing their involvement in NASCAR, the Indycar Series is well positioned as a marketing platform with continued growth shown over the past season. A new chassis and look for Indycar will continue to bring excitement and cost effectiveness to the series in the future." - Anonymous team owner

Scheckter In At Conquest

IZOD IndyCar Series vet and 2-time race winner, Tomas Scheckter, will be back behind the wheel of a Dallara this weekend.  The 29-year-old has signed on with Conquest Racing to replace Rookie Francesco Dracone, who ran the last two rounds in the seat, and Mario Romancini, who piloted the opening 11 events.

Scheckter will run the #36 entry alongside teammate and rookie, Bertrand Baguette, pilot of the #34.

"I'm very happy to be joining Conquest Racing. Eric (Bachelart) and I have been talking for quite a while and when this opportunity to drive for them came up, I immediately took advantage of it.

I'm pretty excited to be getting back into an Indy car at Chicagoland. I really like that track. I've led laps there and last season I had the quickest lap of the race. There's a lot of side-by-side racing and it's always fun to be racing at night. I can't wait.

I know some of the guys on the team for having worked with them in the past and I am really looking forward to working with them again as well as with everyone else. We're coming together a little bit at the last minute but I am confident that we can come out with a good result, there are a lot of good people on this team." - Tomas Scheckter

"Tomas and I have been in contact for quite some time and it is great to finally be able to put a deal together. He brings so much experience to the team. We're really excited to have the chance to work with him. He will also be a good pairing for Bertrand and will be able to help him develop his oval racing skills."I'm looking forward to a good weekend from both drivers." - Conquest Racing Owner, Eric Bachelart

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Make Your Pick: Chicagoland

With 13 rounds down and just a stretch of 4 ovals to go, the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Season and Indy Racing Experience fantasy league, are quickly winding down.  The picks for this weekends Peak Indy 300 at Chicagoland Speedway are now open.

Due to a shake-up after the Sonoma event, the top 20 are as follows:

1) Matt A - 63
2) Eric K - 65
3) Michael M - 72
T4) Mike K - 73
T4) Ray B - 73
6) Tonya F - 76
T7) Lee D - 81
T7) Joshua J - 81
T7) Paul W - 81

10) Megan B - 83
11) Tom M - 92
T12) Michael H - 93
T12) Martin S - 93
T12) Clay C - 93
15) Luke B - 95
16) Craig S - 96
17) Dustin K - 99
18) Shannon K - 100
T19) Derek W - 102
T19) Andrew D - 102

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bia In At Chicago

IZOD IndyCar Series rookie, Ana Beatriz, will be returning to the cockpit yet again this season.  The 25-year-old Brazilian will pilot the #24 DRR chassis at Chicagoland, replacing the injured Mike Conway.

After taking her first IICS green flag in her homeland of Brazil, Bia became the highest qualifying of the 4 woman at Indianapolis, running both races in the Dreyer and Reinbold Racing #25.  Beatriz will become the 5th driver to replace Mike Conway since his horrific incident at Indianapolis earlier this season.  Tomas Scheckter ran as the replacement for Conway at Texas, Graham Rahal signed on for Iowa, Paul Tracy ran at Watkins Glen, Scheckter returned for the Canadian rounds in Toronto and Edmonton, and rookie J.R. Hildebrand piloted the #24 at the last to rounds in Mid-Ohio and Sonoma.

"During the past three months, my agents, Andre Ribeiro, Augusto Cesario, and I, have been working on establishing a full-season program for 2011. In order to stay fit, I have been karting and I have added a new challenge to my calendar like the Rio de Janeiro Half Marathon.

I hope my past experience at Chicago pays off with a good finish. I am very excited to be back with the Dreyer & Reinbold team. I wish to thank Dennis Reinbold, Robbie Buhl and Larry Curry for their confidence in me." - Ana Beatriz

"Ana really showed us her talent when we ran her back in March and May. We look forward to running her as she competes at Chicagoland Speedway." - DRR Co-owner, Dennis Reinbold

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Back-To-Back At Texas Confirmed

Late Tuesday night, the Texas Motor Speedway announced that the IZOD IndyCar Series will run back-to-back races over the June 9-11 weekend. At a Dallas, Texas event with guests Randy Bernard and Helio Castroneves, TMS President Eddie Gossage announced the 'Firestone Two Step' consisting of two 275 kilometer (171 mile/114 lap) races on the same day.

Although the qualification procedures have yet to be determined, each race will pay half of the normal points payout.

Make Your Pick: Sonoma

With 12 rounds down and just 5 to go, the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Season and Indy Racing Experience fantasy league, are quickly winding down.  The picks for this weekends Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma are now open.

Due to a shake-up after the Mid-Oho event, the top 20 are as follows:

1) Erik K - 60
2) Matt A - 61
3) Michael M - 64
4) Ray B - 66
T5) Tonya F - 70
T5) Megan B - 70
7) Mike K - 72
8) Lee D- 73
9) Michael H - 79
T10) Joshua J - 80
T10) Paul W - 80
12) Tom M - 84
13) Dustin K - 85
14) Luke B - 87
T15) Martin S - 89
T15) Craig S - 89
17) Clay C - 92
18) Rick H - 94
T19) Derek W - 95
T19) Paul S - 95

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Cotman To Head Up 2012 Formula

Owner of NZR Consulting, member of the ICONIC committee and former VP of operations and race director for the Champ Car World Series, Tony Cotman, has been been hired on as 'project manager' by the IZOD IndyCar Series to head up the 2012 formula development.

Working with the IZOD IndyCar Series' technical and safety staff, Cotman will be responsible for:
  • Writing technical regulations for both engine and chassis
  • Coordinating with suppliers and manufacturers
  • Communicating with teams
"I understand how important developing the right rules are in a timely manner for this process. Introduction of the new car and engine are not far off, and we have a lot of work to do. Having a strong team and committed chassis and engine partners will make my tasks that much easier. I look forward to developing and implementing rules that will provide opportunities for new manufacturer involvement and increased competition in the 2012 season." - Tony Cotman

"Now that we have unveiled our 2012 car strategy, we need to move swiftly to complete the rules package as we engage potential manufacturers and prepare our teams for the transition. The timing of completing these rules is critical to the development process. By bringing Tony on board to focus solely on the 2012 car, we can let Brian Barnhart and the competition staff focus on completing the current race season while preparing for next year."- Randy Bernard
"Tony is the right guy for the job. In addition to his experience with developing the rules for the introduction of the Panoz chassis in Champ Car, Tony has been a part of the ICONIC Advisory Committee so he has an in-depth knowledge with the car and engine strategy we have set for 2012. Additionally, his experience on both the team and sanctioning body side bring a unique perspective to this process." - Brian Barnhart

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Texas Announcement Coming Tuesday

Eddie Gossage is at it again.  Known as one of the best, if not the best track President in the sport, Gossage will be at the center of a major press conference on Tuesday.  Other attendees at the House of Blues announcement location in Dallas, Texas will be IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard and driver Helio Castroneves as well as NASCAR CEO Brian France and driver Tony Stewart.  The world famous Goo Goo Dolls are also rumored to be playing at the event.

Say, for example, the announcement involves a a double header between the two Series. And say the event is scheduled before the 2011 Indianapolis 500. It sure would give a perfect opportunity for interested Indy 500/Coke 600 participants to get seat time in the other chassis....

UPDATE: According to SI.com writer Brant James, the IZOD IndyCar Series portion of the announcement will be 'dual same-day races'

Monday, August 9, 2010

Championship Far From Over

Contrary to popular belief, the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series points championship isn't over, far from hit. Sure, Penske Racing's Will Power has a solid 41 point lead over Target Chip Ganassi's Dario Franchitti, but it's nothing the Scottish veteran can't overcome.

With just 5 races to go, 4 of which are on ovals, Power will be forced to defend the top spot on his weakest circuits. Through the first 4 ovals of the season, Kansas, Indianapolis, Texas and Iowa, Power averaged a 9.75 finishing position, and just 25.5 points. On the flip side, Dario Franchitti and the #10 Target crew averaged a 6.5 place finish and 37 points when leaving an oval. So, if the means continue, the 2010 '500' champ will chop off 11.5 points per event, giving him a 5 point advantage over the 4 oval stretch. That is of course, not counting the yet to be determined results from Infineon.

With 8 down and only 1 road/street course to go, this may be a must win for Will Power who averaged 44.875 points on the right-turn circuits this season. Dario Franchitti on the other hand averaged 34 points on each twisty in 2010, and assuming the oval advantage continues, only needs to finish ahead of, or close to Power to keep the overall points championship comfortably in reach.

Some may say the pressure is on Franchitti to come away from Northern California with the win, but I'd argue the other way around. Will Power must have a strong showing August 22nd, or he may be a sitting duck.

Carpenter Back On Track

29-year-old IZOD IndyCar Series veteran Ed Carpenter is returning to the track.  It was announced today that Fuzzy Zoeller and Fuzzy's Vodka, who sponsored Ed at Indy, will return as sponsor for 3 races this season.  Carpenter will run the #20 Panther/Vision Racing Dallara at Kentucky, Chicagoland and the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The addition of Carpenter at Chicagoland not only adds another competitive car to the field, but it should also push the entry list to 29.  With 5 part-time entries including Graham Rahal, Davey Hamilton, Sarah Fisher, Jay Howard and now Ed Carpenter added to the 24 full-time entries, the IZOD IndyCar Series will have to either amend their 28 car count rule at Chicagoland, or allow bumping.

UPDATE: The IZOD IndyCar Series did amend the rule, allowing for 29 cars at Chicagoland.

“We knew from the beginning that we wanted to run Ed for more than just the Indianapolis 500. I’ve got to thank Fuzzy’s Vodka and Tony George for making this happen; they’ve put in a lot of hard work since we finished at Indianapolis to make this deal happen and we know that Ed is going to be able to step right back in the No. 20 car and be a major factor in all three of these events. He worked very well with (Dan) Wheldon during Indianapolis and I’m sure their relationship will continue to help our team get back into victory lane.” - Panther Managing Partner and CEO, John Barnes

"I cannot wait to get back on the racetrack in the No. 20 Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka car. We had such a great month of May, I am excited to finish what we started. All three races that we are doing we should be very competitive, and I am hoping to deliver for Fuzzy, Stuart Reed, Vision and Panther. It has been a long season watching IndyCar action from the sidelines, so I am eager to get back into the action.” - Ed Carpenter

“We’re really very excited about the opportunity to compete in more IndyCar races this season thanks to the support of Fuzzy Zoeller and his Ultra Premium Vodka along with John Barnes and the Panther Racing team. We’re looking forward to building on the experience of both teams and our partnership at the Indianapolis 500 this year to secure strong results.” - Vision Racing Owner, Tony George

“The Indianapolis 500 experience with Ed Carpenter, Vision and Panther Racing was really enjoyable and we saw it as a success for Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka. We really wanted to continue our relationship and partnership with Tony, Ed and the teams and I’m looking forward to supporting Ed’s run at these tracks.” - Fuzzy Zoeller

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Hamilton Back On Track

Entering 2010, IZOD IndyCar Series veteran Davey Hamilton was slated to run 3 races with the then newly merged de Ferran Dragon Racing. The 48-year-old Hamilton would kick off the season at Indianapolis before returning to Texas and rounding out 2010 at either Chicagoland or Homestead-Miami.

Unfortunately, due to his crashed car at Indianapolis, but even more so due to teammate Raphael Matos' destroyed chassis, Davey's season was put on hold.  After missing Texas, Hamilton will return at Chicagoland where he'll close out his season, “It was always in the cards that Davey would drive again for us this season,” de Ferran said. “Obviously, he was scheduled to run in Texas, but the accidents in Indy ruined that plan, now we will have him in Chicago. He really helped us a lot in Indy and I am sure the same will be true in Chicago.  I wish we could run two cars full-time as this is very important to a team's competitiveness with the current testing restrictions.”

Although the plans didn't unfold quite as they would have hoped for this season, both de Ferran Dragon Racing and Davey Hamilton are expected to return in 2011 with multiple races.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Hmiel Signs With Alliance Motorsports

Today, Brownsburg, Indiana based Firestone Indy Lights Team Alliance Motorsports announced the signing of USAC driver Shane Hmiel. Hmiel will pilot the #24 Rotondo Weirich/Three Wide Life entry for the August 28th event at Chicagoland Speedway.

The 30-year-old Hmiel has four years of stock car experience including 29 Truck Series starts with a win at Las Vegas, 83 Nationwide starts and 7 in the Sprint Cup Series. But, by the age of 25, the North Carolina native had failed 3 drug tests from 2003 to 2006 and was banned for life from the stock car circuit.

After being diagnosed with bipolar, Hmiel spent 14 weeks in an Atlanta based drug treatment facility in July of 2007. Since, the young American has had an eye on the IZOD IndyCar Series and has bounced around various USAC divisions, gaining the honor of 'Rookie of the Year' at the 2009 Chili Bowl Midget Nationals. Passing regular drug tests, Hmiel most recently earned wins in the MOPAR Midget National Series, AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship and a win at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in the Silver Crown Series.

“I am super excited to race for the guys at Alliance Motorsports, and I can’t wait to run a rear engine car in such a great series. I am surrounded by some great people at Alliance, and hopefully we can do well enough to excite our current sponsors, as well as attract future sponsors so that we can chase the championship next year.” - Shane Hmiel

“This is such a fantastic opportunity for us to be affiliated with someone as talented as Shane, and we look forward to building our relationship with him, along with the great people at Rotondo Weirich and Three Wide Life. At a high level of success, Shane has proven to be an exciting and versatile driver, and for us to be able to be associated with him in this phase of his career progression is a privilege. We believe that he will adapt quickly and will be competing towards the front of the field.” - Alliance Motorsports Co-Owner Jeff Matthews

Make Your Pick: Mid-Ohio

With 11 races down and just 6 to go, Eric K. holds a slim lead in the Indy Racing Experience fantasy league. Picks for this weekends Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Oho are now open.

After a big shake-up from Edmonton, the top 20 are:

1) Eric K - 50
2) Joshua J - 53
3) Ray B - 56
4) Michael M -58
T5) Tonya F - 60
T5) Matt A - 60
7) Megan B - 64
8) Lee D - 67
9) Paul S - 68
T10) Chris F - 69 
T10) Michael H - 69
12) Mike K -70
13) Adam P - 73
14) Dustin K - 75
15) Mike B - 77
T16) Paul W - 78
T16) Andrew W -78
18) Brad B - 80
19) Tom M - 81
T20) Clay C - 82
T20) Luke B - 82

Conquest Signs Dracone

After Mario Romancinci's funding ran dry following an Edmonton crash, Conquest Racing has signed Francesco Dracone to run the #34 Dallara this weekend at Mid-Ohio and the August 22nd event at Sonoma.  The 26-year-old Italian will run alongside Conquest teammate Bertrand Baguette and will carry sponsorship from La Pasta and Halkin Jet.

“I’m very excited to be making my IZOD IndyCar Series debut this weekend at Mid-Ohio with Conquest Racing,” expressed Dracone. “I had my first taste of an Indy car last week during a test session and it was a great experience. I want to use these two races with Conquest Racing as preparation for a possible full season next year.

I had a good test with the team and I really enjoyed working with everyone. I’m looking forward to this weekend to get back in the car and to continue my learning experience.” - Francesco Dracone
(Photo courtesy of Conquest Racing)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Castroneves Penalized

3-time Indianapolis 500 winner, Helio Castroneves, has been penalized following the July 25th incident in Edmonton.  After exiting the #3 Penske Racing Dallara, Castroneves first had words with league Technical Director Kevin Blanch before taking a beeline for the Edmonton City Centre Airport flag tower.  Castroneves spent a few moments 'expressing his opinion' to the flag man before being approached by Penske Racing President Tim Cindric and IndyCar Safety Director Charles Burns with whom he had a short confrontation. Castroneves later apologized.

In a meeting today at the Indy Racing League headquarters, the IZOD IndyCar Series placed the 35-year-old Castroneves on probation through the remainder of the season and fined the driver $60,000.

“I want to thank Randy Bernard for taking the time to meet with me in Indianapolis today. Once again, I regret what occurred following the IZOD IndyCar Series race in Edmonton and I apologize for my behavior as I let my emotions get the better of me. Although my disappointment with being black-flagged while leading the race with just a few laps to go will probably always remain with me, I understand and accept the league's decision to penalize me for my reaction. I am ready to move forward and I'm hoping to add to Team Penske's success at Mid-Ohio this weekend.” - Helio Castroneves

"This rule is unique to IndyCar racing. It was put in place to protect our competitors, officials and fans, prevent unnecessary damage to these cars and allow for more passing opportunities. Bad things happen when these cars touch and there have been serious incidents with major consequences on temporary circuits throughout Indy car history. With the new wheel interlocking prevention technology that is coming in our 2012 car, we will be re-evaluating this rule in the future." - Brian Barnhart

"I fully support the decisions of chief steward Brian Barnhart and Race Control. The drivers have been aware of the blocking rule for quite some time. Brian reminded the drivers of the blocking rule in the Edmonton pre-race drivers' meeting, which serves as the first warning, and the rule was executed during the race just as it dictates.
This sport is so close and competitive that emotions are always on display. However, that does not justify the post-race conduct of Helio toward series officials. This is a very serious matter and we weighed all options, including suspension. But we felt suspension would hurt the fans more than anyone else. Fans have paid their hard-earned money to watch the best drivers in the world and many bought their tickets for upcoming events with the expectation of watching Helio. He is a great ambassador for this sport and we know his actions after the race in Edmonton are not indicative of his normal behavior." - Randy Bernard