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

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

O2 Racing Technology Suspended

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(Update: 6-29 5:55pm) O2 Racing owner Mark Olson has denied the allegations saying in part "We did participate in public and private discussions with INDYCAR officials, team owners and drivers with regard to the integrity of the championship, but we never once encouraged or even suggested to anyone that they withdraw from an event."

When asked if they'll appeal the ruling Olson replied "We will respond appropriately".

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Less than 2-weeks after withdrawing both of their Firestone Indy Lights entries from the David Hobbs 100 in Milwaukee, 02 Racing Technology has been suspended by INDYCAR. Both the team's and team owner Mark Olson's license/membership was suspended until December 31, 2012 citing several rule violations.

Violating rules 1.1, 2.11 (C), 9.3 (A), and section 14 of the Event Entry Form, Olson allegedly attempted "to impede the conduct of the event by encouraging others to breach contracts with INDYCAR and withdraw from the David Hobbs 100".

"The mere act of attempting to impede the conduct of the event is something we will not tolerate," said Roger Bailey, executive director, Firestone Indy Lights.  "We believe we have a great championship with Firestone Indy Lights that will help develop drivers and teams to prepare to move to the top level of open-wheel racing in North America, and we must maintain the integrity of our series."

The specific rules INDYCAR is citing in the violation are:

  • Rule 1.1:  Actions threatening the integrity of INDYCAR, Firestone Indy Lights and/or orderly conduct of an event.
  • Rule 2.11 (C):  Conduct creating adverse notoriety with respect to INDYCAR, Firestone Indy Lights or an event.
  • Rule 9.3 (A): Attempting to or engaging in unsportsmanlike conduct or conduct detrimental to racing, INDYCAR and/or Firestone Indy Lights.
  • Section 14 of the Event Entry Form: Engaging in tactics which would disrupt or delay the events.
It's unclear if O2 Racing Technology and team owner Mark Olson will appeal the ruling.

Fantasy League Winner's 2-Seat Experience

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Thanks to the great folks at the Indy Racing Experience last season's 16th and Georgetown fantasy league was transformed from fun for all into fun for all plus a ride of a lifetime for one.

The eventual winner, Mike Krapfl from Ames, Iowa, parlayed his league win into that ride this past weekend at Iowa Speedway.

Here's his story.

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By: Mike Krapfl

Davey Hamilton hit the throttle, popped through the gears and smashed me deeper into the 2-seater's cockpit. Then it was hard on the brakes at the end of pit lane and a sharp left to the bottom of Iowa Speedway's variable banking through turns one and two.

"Whoooaaaah, Davey," I shouted inside the head sock and helmet issued by Shonda Kennedy and the crew from the Indy Racing Experience. "Pleeeaaase, can I pull my head out of the air box?"

I'm roughly the size of Justin Wilson; there's barely enough leg room for Danica Patrick in the second seat of the 2-seater. But I did my best to fit: I buried my feet into the compartments on either side of Davey, folded my knees to my chin and still the crew guys told me to get deeper into the seat. I scrunched and wiggled and just managed to drop my head an inch or two.

I still had a clear view of the electric blue grid painted on top of Davey’s helmet. That meant I was about to catch some big air.

I had James Black and Helio Castroneves to thank for that.

James, the curator of this fine blog, sponsored a fantasy racing league last season. Top prize was a 2-seater ride. Heading into the last race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, I was in second place, one point behind Eric K. Podium finishes by Justin Wilson, Scott Dixon, Dan Wheldon, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Will Power and Ed Carpenter had fueled my move to the front.

I picked Helio for the season finale; Eric had Dan. Helio finished four spots ahead, giving me an 86-89 fantasy league victory and this cramped seat behind Davey.

It was adrenaline and sensory overload as Davey drove the IZOD 2-seater up to the wall and down the back stretch. He dove to the yellow line at the bottom of turns three and four. He raced up the front stretch, down to the bottom of one and two. In that second seat, it was heavy into the right side of the cockpit and hard over all the bumps.

I stared at the front Firehawks and wondered how, exactly, they were sticking through the rough corners.
All the while it felt like my head was about to blow away. That's what happens when your giraffe of a neck sticks out the top of a race car at nearly 130 miles per hour.

I grabbed the bottom of the helmet and held on for the ride of my life. Every tenth of a 25-second lap around my home speedway was an open-wheel thrill.

For your chance at some Indy speed, contact the ever-helpful Shonda at www.indyracingexperience.com.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Thursday Developments

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-Dan Wheldon and Bryan Herta Autosport have officially been named the 2012 formula test team. MORE 

-Circle K, a sponsor for Tomas Scheckter at Indianapolis, has joined Andretti Autosport as a marketing partner and major associate sponsor on the #28 of Ryan Hunter-Reay. Longtime supporter 7-11 still appears on the Andretti Autosport sponsor roster.

-Sam Schmidt Motorsports has signed on Nick Snyder as lead engineer for Alex Tagliani. Snyder, who replaces Allen McDonald who left for Andretti Autosport following Indianapolis, comes from Andretti's team and was on Mike Conway's winning crew at Long Beach.

-Sam Schmidt Motorsports and the #77 Firestone Indy Lights car was docked 10 entrant points and fined an unspecified amount after failing tech at Milwaukee. Bryan Clauson will keep the driver points.

-Will Power won the Firestone Tire-ific move of the race from Milwaukee.

-Lasting 10 seconds with an 8-second recharge, 24 uses of the Honda push-to-pass will be available to drivers this weekend at Iowa.

Wheldon, Herta Named 2012 Test Team

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Less than a month after pushing their #98 William Rast Dallara into victory lane at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, both the team and league announced today that Dan Wheldon and Bryan Herta Autosport have been named the test team for the 2012 formula.

"Dan, Bryan and (co-owner) Steve Newey have extensive experience in testing and development programs so we know our prototypes will be in the best hands as we finalize the chassis aspect of the program," said Tony Cotman, project manager for the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series car. "This verification testing furthers our commitment to ensure that our new car meets all the performance criteria promised to our drivers, teams and fans."

The 2011 Indianapolis 500 Champion and current member of the VERSUS broadcast team will begin testing of the new car and Honda engine in August and September.

"Obviously I am very excited to continue with everyone that formed the Indianapolis 500 winning team at Bryan Herta Autosport," said Wheldon. "This is something that we are going to take very seriously and approach in a very professional manner. It is very important for the growth of the series that the testing is done in a way that will create an even better product at the start of 2012."

Teams are expected to receive their new toys by mid-December.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Why Dario Wasn't Penalizd

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With 100 laps to go in the 225 lap race at the Milwaukee Mile, a controversial pit stop by Dario Franchitti put the win in question among some fans. While the eventual winner in Franchitti entered his pit, the #10's left rear tire made contact with Will Power's right front tire changer and tire. Power's crew member was standing atop the tire waiting to wave in the #12 car who was pitting just seconds later.

When asked why a penalty wasn't assessed, a member of the INDYCAR PR team replied: "Spoke with Brian. Race control didn't see anything that was a violation."

The representative later said that Brian Barnhart, INDYCAR's president of competition, said in the drivers meeting "Right fronts, pick up and move out the way for a car pitting in front of you. Clear right rears and hoses as quickly as possible for better exits of the cars behind you."

Brian didn't specify when the right front changer was to make room for a car entering his pit, but according to INDYCAR's pit stop summary page 5.3874 seconds passed from Dario's stop to Power's.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Q&A With Pippa Mann

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Following Tuesday's announcement that she'll be making her return to the IZOD IndyCar Series with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, rookie Pippa Mann sat down to talk about the deal, team, sponsors, tracks, and more.



16th And Georgetown: We Welcome IZOD IndyCar Series rookie, 20th place finisher in the Indianapolis 500 and newly named Rahal Letterman Lanigan driver, Pippa Mann. Pippa, thanks for coming on, how are you?

Pippa Mann: I'm good thank you. Obviously I'm pretty excited at the moment and slightly hyper-active and jumping around, but other than that I'm good!

16th&GT: That's good. That's the first question, just yesterday you guys announced that you'll be driving at New Hampshire, Kentucky, and Vegas in the #30 Rahal Letterman Lanigan entry, can you just give us a little background on how the program got put together?

PM: Well, I think the first thing I have to do actually is kind of go a step backwards and just give a huge thank you again, actually all the way back to Conquest Racing who fielded the car for me at Indy because without them and without me having the opportunity to try and qualify a time at Indy and getting out there and getting my name out there who knows whether this would of all happened. Since the race, in the UK my profile has risen dramatically. Now when we're talking to sponsors they actually know who I am, and it raised my profile among the teams as well, which was absolutely fantastic.

Bobby (Rahal) got in touch with us and we returned his interest and got in touch with him and things just came together.

16th&GT: With Rahal your going to be driving for a very competitive team that's won races, for any driver but especially for a rookie like yourself, that has to be a confidence builder.

PM: It's extremely exciting, I can't tell you. I'm obviously hoping to try and get into the IndyCar Series full-time in 2012 and Rahal Letterman Langian has made absolutely no secret of the fact that they would love to be back full-time as well. There a great team and I think they deserve to be back full-time.

So we're doing these three races. Loudon is going to be a tough place for me to do my first race, but then we get right back into my comfort zone. Kentucky where I won last year and then on to Vegas which I hear is a similar track to Chicagoland. I just can't wait. I'm really looking forward to it.

16th&GT: You just mentioned the three tracks. You obviously have New Hampshire and Vegas which really haven't been on the schedule for a while and will really be pretty much new to everybody in the series, at least driver wise. And then you obviously have Kentucky where you sat on pole and then won at last year in the Firestone Indy Lights Series. What are your thoughts on the tracks that you'll be going to and can you give us a little background on how they were chosen? Was it sponsorship or whatever that may be?

PM: Well, the tracks were partly chosen because I'm allowed to do five races this year and stay a rookie. As it turns out I'm actually going to be doing four races and still be a rookie for 2012. So we wanted to make sure that even if we got the sponsorship together we didn't end up doing six races, because that would have really handicapped me going into next year. So that was the first thing.

The second thing is we obviously didn't want to do anything immediately after Indy because Conquest did such a great job for me at Indy, harping back to that again. I'm not the kind of person -- I didn't want to end up in a situation where I jumped out of one car at Indy and turned up at Texas with someone else's car, even if that had come up. I loved that track when I tested there, I thought it was fantastic and I would have loved to have raced there but it would have been to much of a rush and I'm fairly big on doing the right thing and as far as I was concerned I just wanted more time to make sure we knew what we were doing. Make sure we were doing the deal properly. Make sure Eric Bachelart over at Conquest knew that I was doing the deal. Because all of my guys on that car were hired on specifically for May and they all had to go back to their real jobs. As much as Eric would have loved to keep me on his team, he knew that I had to start talking to other people.

Looking forwards Loudon seems like a good place because it's such a tough tricky track and that'll give me a good learning experience to go into next year. Then of course Kentucky was a fairly obvious choice with my success there last year and who doesn't want to be apart of the season ending race at Vegas?

16th&GT: Tons of Pippa Mann fans out there. Your obviously fantastic on Twitter and all of the different social networking sites and that kind of thing. There are tons of fans out there that would love to support some of the sponsors that support you. When do you think we'll hear about some of the supporting sponsors that helped you get into these races?

PM: Well, hopefully very soon! We have Novus back on board as one of the associate sponsors again for all three races. They were onboard on my car at Indy and they're a new partner who I've been working with. I'm still working on trying to keep my Novus channel fun and sightly different from my Twitter and Facebook. Something that people might decide that they want to check out. I'm really enjoying working with those guys, that's very fun.

There's been a lot of noise about an energy drink company, based out on that side of town, I'm sure if you've been on Twitter you know exactly what I'm talking about. We're talking to them and they're a fun, wonderful company and if we can do something with them that's going to be fantastic.

We're talking to plenty of other companies, there seems to be a lot of opportunities out there right now. But overall I'm just really excited this is happening!

16th&GT: At Indy it was well publicized that your water pump or the system that gave you liquids and hydration for the race went out pretty early on. I'm guessing that entering these three races with Rahal's team you may have a different game plan at least water wise.

PM: Yea, no water pump. [laughs] No electrical water pumps, the old fashion system for me in the future.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Few Tweaks Need To Be Made

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24-hours ago I was completely in support of the format for the 'Texas 2-step' (last time I'll use that title, promise). Traditional qualifying for the first 275km race, followed by an hour break where a random draw would take place setting the grid for the second 275. It was the best of both worlds, the first event was based on skill and performance, while the second was luck which would provide a lot of entertainment. Unfortunately the format backfired.

Although many of the teams didn't agree with how the latter event would be gridded, as title contenders, Target Chip Ganassi Racing had an even greater angst than most. If the worst-case scenario came to fruition for either of the two chief championship contenders in Penske's Will Power or Ganassi's Dario Franchitti, the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series Champion could come down to the flip of a Firstone Firehawk.

For Ganassi and Dario Franchitti that apocalyptic scenario came to be, with Will Power starting 3rd and Dario drawing 28th.

With Power just starting behind a rookie in a backup car and Tony Kanaan, who admitted he didn't have the speed to compete for the win, the two spots Power had to gain to drive to victory lane were nothing compared to Franchitti's late-night push. Having to fight through a 30-car field, the largest outside of Indianapolis in years, and just having roughly 170 miles to do so with no yellows to bunch up the field, the Ganassi pilot could only muster a 7th place finish.

It's not like the teams didn't see the scenario happening, in fact Target Chip Ganassi Racing saw it coming a mile away. "Let's just say I don't agree with this stunt style format, here, tonight,"  Chip Ganassi told VERSUS pit-reporter Lindy Thackston during the 1-hour break. Interview after interview by the VERSUS crew during the intermission suggested simply inverting the field. The winner starting last, and the last place finisher starting on pole in the the next race. But I believe Scott Dixon had an even better idea.

Following the second 275km event, Dixon suggested that if the same format were to return in 2012, bonus points should be given for each position advanced in the second race. Although I initially laughed it off, the more I thought about it the more I liked it. But it would be even more appealing and fair with a little twist.

Have the same stage setup as Saturday night, with a grid full of tires, models, music and the whole nine yards. But this time let the field take to the stage in the same order that they finished. So in last night's case, Dario would of been first up. Instead of flipping a random tire for his position, the driver could choose the spot on the grid that they'd like to start. If Dario wanted to sit on pole, great, it was his for the taking, but he wouldn't have an opportunity at bonus points. On the other hand if he was confident enough in his car, crew, and his own abilities he could flip the 12th, 23rd or last place starting positions, giving him a shot at additional points.

In that format the drivers and teams couldn't blame anyone for their situation, yet it would still leave room for strategy. Would Dario of chosen the pole last night? I don't think so, each and every point in the IZOD IndyCar Series Championship is just too important.

INDYCAR CEO Randy Bernard and Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage deserve a lot of credit for thinking outside of the box. But like anything else the first attempt wasn't perfect and a few tweaks need to be made for next year. If Bernard makes the right changes, it could turn a mildly successful weekend into a great success, and leave his voicemail inbox empty of some not-so-nice messages from affected competitors.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

McDonald To Andretti, '500' Winner To Tag

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Sam Schmidt Motorsports engineer and key member to the team's success last month in Indianapolis, Allen McDonald, will be engineering a different squad at Texas.  Andretti Autosport confirmed in a press release an earlier report by the Indianapolis Star's Curt Cavin that the veteran Mcdonald had rejoined the 4-car operation.

"We're excited to have Allen back with our team," said Andretti Autosport owner, Michael Andretti. "He was a great asset to us in the past, and I'm confident he will bring a lot to the table and make an immediate impact for us. He clearly knows what it takes to be fast and knows how our operation works, so it should be a smooth transition for him."

Previously, McDonald had an 8-year stint with the team from 2002 to 2009, before leaving Andretti Autosport for the then FAZZT Race Team over the winter. McDonald joins as the new director of engineering and as race engineer for Mike Conway's #27 Dallara.

"I'm looking forward to working with Andretti Autosport once again," McDonald said. "We did some great things together in the past and the goal is to get back to that level of consistency and success. Everyone here is focused on the same goals and is ready to do whatever it takes for us to get there. That effort begins this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway."

Following the loss of a major piece to the puzzle for Sam Schmidt Motorsports, the team will shift Todd Malloy to Alex Tagliani's #77 entry. Malloy engineered Dan Wheldon's victory in Indianapolis two weeks ago.

“We are very fortunate to have Todd (Malloy) with us this weekend," said Sam Schmidt Motorsports Team Manager, Rob Edwards. "Since he was part of the engineering group (No. 77, No. 98 and the No. 99 teams) working together at Indy, it will help the transition. At the same time, Allen (McDonald) was part of the founding group of this team, so much of the continuity that has built up over the last 18 months will be lost. Instead of work happening intuitively, we will have to learn to work together as we go."

Qualifications for this weekend's double-header in Texas can be seen at 6pm est. Friday on VERSUS.

Friday, June 3, 2011

IndyCar To Run Road Course In Japan

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IndyCar's last return to the Twin Ring Motegi facility in Japan will not be ran on the 1.5-mile oval. Due to earthquake damage sustained last March, the September 18th race has been moved from the oval to the 2.98-mile road course.

"In conjunction with Mobilityland (Twin Ring Motegi facility owner) , we have made the decision to move forward with our race in Motegi after closely monitoring the on-going situation in Japan for several months," said INDYCAR's CEO Randy Bernard. "After weighing a variety of options, we felt it was best to move the race to the road course."

Probably best remembered for Danica Patrick's first win, the switch shifts the IZOD IndyCar Series schedule to 10 road/street and 7 oval events.

 
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