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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Driver Changes Entering Mid-Ohio

The IZOD IndyCar Series enters it's fourteenth of nineteen rounds this weekend at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course following a two-week layoff.

With 24-cars entered - par for the course since Detriot - driver changes are abundant.

The second Dale Coyne Racing entry will change controls for the sixth time in 2013, this time with rookie James Davison behind the wheel. The 26-year-old Australian will be entering the revolving door previously graced by Ana Beatriz, Mike Conway, and Pippa Mann, who've combined to run the #18 alongside full-timer pilot Justin Wilson.

"It's an incredible feeling to finally realize my dream of becoming an Indycar driver after 4 years of adversity on the sidelines.  I've had to work overtime for this opportunity and can't thank Dale Coyne and all my supporters enough for their continued faith in me,” said Davison.  “There will no doubt be a lot to learn however this is the challenge of racing some of the best drivers and teams in the world in Indycar.  I'll be pushing to achieve the best possible result in my rookie race."

Davison, who will be attempting to make his first start in the series, ran Firestone Indy Lights in 2008 and '09, driving to victory lane at Mid-Ohio both seasons. Davison completed at test on the course June 25th, and returned Wednesday to turn more laps during the series open test.

Former Panther/DRR driver Oriol Servia will return to action for the first time since mid-June's event in Iowa. Following Panther Racing's release of JR Hildebrand after Indianapolis, the team planned to utilize the remainder of the 2013 schedule to test drivers for their 2014 campaign. Ryan Briscoe and Servia alternated drives with Servia running Texas and Iowa while Briscoe ran the Detroit doubleheader, Milwaukee, Pocono and Toronto. Breaking his wrist in race one of two in Canada and Servia unavailable under short notice, Carlos Munoz drove the National Guard entry in the second round.

Although parties had hoped Briscoe - the leading candidate for the 2014 full-time seat - would be available for this weekend, following doctors orders he will not compete making the ride available to the Spaniard.

The third and final driver change of the weekend comes with the Honda-powered Bryan Hurta Autosport entry. Running full-time with the team since last season, Alex Tagliani will step aside following a disappointing season. Tagliani has a best finish of just 10th and went on a 6-race stretch of  bringing home a 21st or worse place finish.

Although the pilot for the race is yet to be announced, Luca Filippi appears to be the man. The Italian was tabbed to test for the team Wednesday and will likely be attempting to make his first IZOD IndyCar Series start on Sunday.

"I've been working and waiting for a chance like this my whole life," Filippi said. "I can't wait to test the No. 98 Barracuda Racing car and hopefully make the most of this opportunity to learn firsthand about Indycar Racing."

The 2011 GP2 runner up entered the IndyCar radar last season when he was slated to run with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing before funding fell through.

The complete 2013 car/driver/results chart can be found HERE.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Make Changes

Following a disappointing first 13-races to the season, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing has began making changes to their IZOD IndyCar Series programs.

Neil Fife, a former Dragon Racing engineer with Sebastien Bourdais among many other past positions, has been hired on engineer Graham Rahal's five remaining races. Fife has had previous stints with Goodyear, Vision Racing, Dale Coyne Racing and RLLR where he won with Ryan Hunter-Reay at Watkins Glen in 2008.

“I am very pleased to have the opportunity to work with Graham and also work with old friends at Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing,” said Fife. “Graham is one of the young, talented drivers that make watching the IndyCar Series exciting.  Bobby has always been committed to running at the highest levels of racing and you can see that in each of his teams and their competitive efforts.  It is truly a challenging and competitive time in the IndyCar Series this year and together I think we can elevate the success of Graham and the team.”

Mitch Davis joins the team after holding the team manager position until last May for Chip Ganassi Racing's second program with Charlie Kimball and previously Graham Rahal the last two seasons. Davis will crew chief both Rahal and Jakes' entries and is responsible for preparing the Dallaras. Davis' lengthy racing career consists of posts with Jack Roush, Patrick Racing, Galles Racing, Team Cheever, Heritage Motor Sports, Target Chip Ganassi Racing, Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing and Dale Coyne Racing.

“What a great opportunity this is for me to join Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing,” said  Davis. “I have raced against Bobby my whole career and also raced alongside Graham. One of my lifetime goals was to work with (former RLL COO) Scott Roembke again after we first worked together in 1990 and 1991 at Patrick Racing. We lost Scott last year but this is a great opportunity for me with RLL, Graham and the young talent Bobby has put together with the drivers and crew.”

Joining RLLR in March 2011, Gerry Hughes has been promoted to Head of Development for the organization's 2-car IZOD IndyCar Series program.

Rahal and Jakes are 17th and 18th in points.