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...

Friday, February 28, 2014

RLLR Releases Statement On Panther Lawsuit

Friday afternoon Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing released the following statement on Panther Racing's litigation against RLLR in relation to the National Guard sponsorship.
Unhappy with the summary denial of its bid protest before the federal Government Accountability Office (GAO) and unwilling to accept that the government chose to save taxpayers almost $5 million dollars per year by selecting Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s (RLL) competitive bid, Panther Racing has sued Indycar, the National Guard’s agency, RLL, and others.
Panther is seeking damages from the National Guard awarding RLL a sponsorship contract for the Indycar racing series.  The facts and issues Panther raises in the lawsuit are many of the same it raised before the GAO, which issued a 9-page decision noting that RLL was rated higher than Panther in three out of four categories.  The GAO also noted that there was no evidence supporting many of Panther’s allegations, and that the National Guard’s decision probably was driven by the basic fact that Panther’s base per year price was approximately $5 million more than RLL’s base price.  A copy of the GAO’s decision is attached. [See below]
RLL believes it is unfortunate and disappointing that Panther has filed a lawsuit making serious allegations against the National Guard’s decision process.  RLL also believes that Panther’s lawsuit has no merit as a matter of fact and law.  RLL’s lawyers will vigorously defend RLL so it can focus on what matters most -- representing the courageous men and woman of the National Guard and winning races. - Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

GAO Panther Brands Protest Decision

BHA Signs Sponsor For Three Events

Bryan Herta Autosport announced Friday morning at the Cleveland Auto Show that The Collection Auto Group and Castrol will sponsor the team's Indy Car at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, Indianapolis 500 and Mid-Ohio.

The Collection Auto Group (CAG) is a privately owned, award winning, Northeastern Ohio dealership of vehicles including Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Infiniti, Acura, Volkswagen, Nissan and Buick/GMC.

Although left as a 'TBA' on last week's Leaders Circle announcement, the team confirmed that they will once again run the #98 in 2014. BHA has ran the Curb/Agajanian #98 since winning the 2011 Indianapolis 500 with the number. The driver is still TBA.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Villeneuve Returns To Indy

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports formally announced today the signing of 1995 Indianapolis 500 champion Jacques Villeneuve to the team's three-entry assault on May's 500-mile race.

"The opportunity came about with Sam Schmidt," said Villeneuve in a post-announcement conference call. "We started talking not long ago, actually a few weeks ago. It all went fast. The discussions happened at the right time because I'd been watching the IndyCars last year, and it looked extremely exciting with the new cars, to the point where I was angry and jealous that I wasn't racing.

So that got me going again.

I've been active ever since leaving IndyCar in '95, anyway, with Formula One. I did some NASCAR racing, some other forms of racing, in Australia, different places. I just wasn't considering going back to something I'd already done mostly because there's been a few dark years for IndyCar.

But the whole group behind the series have been working really hard and done a tremendous job because it's getting back to the glory days with the races exciting and also the field of drivers is becoming more and more impressive every year again."

Villeneuve, who finished runner-up his rookie season in 1994, last competed in an open-wheel car on the Indianapolis oval in 1995. 19 years ago. Making the 33-car field will land the Canadian in the record books with the longest period between starts, bettering Cy Marshall and Roland Free's 17-year mark, both set in 1947. With a start, Team Penske's Juan Pablo Montoya will jump to 5th on the list behind Villeneuve, Free, Marshall and Michel Jourdain's 16-year gap set in 2012.

"Watching the races last year, it was amazing. I was always watching the Indy 500 but not the rest of the series. Last year I was trying to watch as many races as I could because it was just amazing.
 It reminded me of when I was a kid watching racing, how exciting it was, and that's what made me become a racecar driver. I was getting that feeling again watching it."

The 42-year-old's entry joins Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Juan Pablo Montoya and Buddy Lazier as former winners expected to attempt to qualify for the Indianapolis 500.

Temporally entered with the number 5, the sponsorship package is still being put together and will be announced on a later date.

Monday, February 24, 2014

IMS Unveils '500' Ticket

(Photo Courtesy: IMS/Chris Jones)
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway unveiled tonight the 2014 Indianapolis 500 ticket at the Crane Bay Event Venue in Indianapolis.
"It was like this is mine, I got it," Kanaan said. "Of all the pictures of my win, that is definitely one that I have that I remember exactly where it was."
As tradition to "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing", the previous race's winner adorns the next year's ticket and 2014 is no exception. Tony Kanaan's image depicts the popular winner hugging the Borg Warner which was taken at the day after photo shoot Memorial Day morning.


Friday, February 21, 2014

INDYCAR Announces Leader Circle Entires & Payouts

The IndyCar Series announced today the 2014 Leader Circle entrants and a new structure. The Leader Circle program was introduced in 2002 as a payout structure rewarding full-time entries with a guaranteed payout.

The 2012 program consisted of 20 entries, 22 last season and 21 car/driver combinations were announced today for the 2014 season. Those entries, who will be guaranteed a 1 million dollar payout at the conclusion of a full-season effort, include:

#2 - Verizon Team Penske - Juan Pablo Montoya
#3 - Verizon Penske - Helio Castroneves
#7 - SMP Racing - Mikail Aleshin
#9 - Target Chip Ganassi Racing - Scott Dixon
#10 - Target Chip Ganassi Racing - Tony Kanaan
#11 - Mistic KVSH Racing - Sebastien Bourdais
#12 - Verizon Team Penske - Will Power
#14 - ABC Supply A.J. Foyt Racing - Takuma Sato
#15 - National Guard - Graham Rahal
#17 - AFS KVAFS Racing - Sebastian Saavedra
#18 - Dale Coyne Racing - TBA
#19 - Dale Coyne Racing - Justin Wilson
#20 - Fuzzy's Vodka/ECR - Ed Carpenter/Mike Conway
#25 - Snapple - Marco Andretti
#27 - United Fiber & Data - James Hinchcliffe
#28 - DHL - Ryan Hunter-Reay
#34 - Cinsay AndrettiTV.com/HVM - Carlos Munoz
#67 - Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing - Josef Newgarden
#77 - Schmidt Peterson Motorsports - Simon Pagenaud
#83 - Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing - Charlie Kimball
#TBA - Bryan Herta Autosport - TBA

Noticeable changes to the program from 2013 include the dropping of Panther and Panther DRR.

Ryan Briscoe's #8 NTT Data entry is not included due to Ganassi running just three cars last season. Ganassi's Brownsburg based team ran two entries in 2011 and 2012, but lost a LC entry when they downgraded to a single-car Charlie Kimball effort last season when Graham Rahal left for RLLR.

Juan Pablo Montoya's Team Penske #2 is a new entry from last season, but is included in the Leader Circle program through a deal with Dragon Racing who had an entry last season but will not compete full-time in 2014. Dragon Racing is owned by Jay Penske, son of Team Penske owner Roger Penske.

Sam Schmidt's second IndyCar entry last season of Tristan Vautier was not included in the program but the team's rookie Russian pilot Mikail Aleshin is included this season.

Carlos Munoz's Leader Circle entry comes from a partnership with HVM Racing prior to last season. With Andretti Autosport running just three cars in 2012, they lost Danica Patrick's 2011 LC position. With the expansion back to four cars last year with EJ Viso, the team partnered with HVM Racing who would not be returning to a full-time effort to use the position earned by Simona De Silvestro's 2012 effort. The partnership will continue this season with Munoz.

NON LEADER CLUB ENTRIES (Not including Indy 500)
2013 non LC entry top 3 finishers:
1st - 40k
2nd - 35k
3rd - 30k
(TOTAL - 105k)

2014 non LC entry top 5 finishers:
1st - 20k (30k at Pocono & Fontana)
2nd - 15k
3rd - 10k
4th - 5k
5th - 5k
(TOTAL - 55k & 65k)

2013 race bonus payout for either LC or non-LC team:
1st - 35k
2nd - 25k
3rd - 20k
4th - 15k
5th - 10k
(TOTAL - 105k)

2014 race bonus payout for either LC or non-LC team:
1st - 30k (40k @Pocono & Fontana)
2nd - 20k
3rd - 15k
4th - 10k
5th - 9k
6th - 8k
7th - 7k
8th - 5k
9th - 4k
10th - 2k
(TOTAL - 110k & 120k)

2013 season ending standings:
1st - 1 million
2nd - 250k
3rd - 175k
4th - 125k
5th - 75k 
(TOTAL - 1.625mil)

2014 season ending standings:
1st - 1 million
2nd - 250k
3rd - 90k
4th - 75k
5th - 60k
6th - 50k
7th - 40k
8th - 35k
9th - 25k
10th - 15k
(TOTAL - 1.64mil)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Bestwick To The Booth, Standing Starts Announced

ESPN formally announced Tuesday morning that longtime NASCAR announcer, Allan Bestwick, will call ESPN on ABC's five IndyCar Series race events including their 50th airing of the Indianapolis 500 mile race and '500' qualifying in 2014 and beyond, replacing Marty Reid.

Bestwick, who has served as a pit reporter and studio host in addition to his booth work for ESPN's stock car coverage since 2007, will also expand to cover tennis, golf, college football and other collegiate sports in 2015 when the network's NASCAR contract rights end following the 2014 season.

"I didn't get into the business to be a race announcer," said Bestwick. "I wanted to be a broadcaster my whole life.  One of the inspirations was watching that Sunday night broadcast of the Indianapolis 500 and watching Jim McKay, one of my heroes. 

To have the opportunity to sit in that seat on this occasion, ABC's 50th anniversary of televising this race, is a little hard to fathom in some ways for a kid from Rhode Island.”

Bestwick's motorsports coverage dates back 28 years, as noted in ESPN's press release:

Bestwick started broadcasting in 1986 covering live NASCAR races as a turn announcer for MRN Radio. He worked for MRN for nearly 15 years, including as the play-by-play announcer from 1988-2000 and host of the network’s daily news program.
Bestwick, who also worked briefly in New York for ABC Radio, made his television debut in 1995 on the original NASCAR Today program on ESPN and joined the SPEED Channel in 1996 as the host of Inside NEXTEL Cup Racing, a post he held for 10 years. He started pit reporting for TBS and TNT in 1997. While continuing to work in radio, Bestwick joined NBC in 1999, covering NASCAR races as well as American Le Mans Series races, arena football and track and field events. He was part of NBC and TNT’s NASCAR coverage from 2001-2006, both as a pit reporter and lead announcer. 

"Like I said, the Indianapolis 500, when I was a kid, I got this book from the book club at school.  It was called 30 Days in May.  I don't remember who wrote it.  Story of the 1970 Indianapolis 500.  I dog-eared that book.  I swear I read it 18 times. 

I have been fascinated with this race and this place ever since.  Most of my career has found me in Charlotte, North Carolina, on this weekend.  But I can't wait to be part of this and get started. "

Scott Goodyear and Eddie Cheever will join Bestwick in the booth with Jamie Little, Vince Welch and Rick DeBruhul in the pits. Dr. Jerry Punch will join the crew at Indianapolis and one other event.

"I grew up a fan of traditional broadcasting, if you will.  I'm 52 years old," Bestwick, continued. "I'm a child of that era.  The alphabet networks, ABC, NBC, CBS, were which you aspired to. 

Like I said before, to have a chance to sit in that seat at that race where one of my idols and heroes first helped get me interested in this business in the first place, it's almost hard to comprehend. 
I'm just a kid from a little town in Rhode Island, small town, whose daddy raced Studebakers at a quarter and a half mile racetrack.  It's amazing. I'm very blessed.  I'm very lucky. 

What does it mean to me?  It means responsibility.  It means getting it right.  But that's no different than any other broadcast I've ever done in this business.  You owe it to the competitors, to the fans, to yourself to get it right, and have fun while you're doing it. 
People can't have fun watching it if you're not having fun doing it.  I'll have a blast doing it."

Also announced at the IndyCar media day in Orlando, Florida was that both the Long Beach Grand Prix and Grand Prix of Indianapolis will use the standing start format.

This is fantastic news for our fans,” said Jim Michaelian, president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach. “They will love hearing the sounds of the IndyCar engines revving up and then the cars roaring down Shoreline Drive. Thanks to IndyCar and especially to Derrick Walker for granting our request. This is a great addition to all of the other activities we have planned as we celebrate 40 years of racing in the streets of Long Beach.”

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Saavedra Signs With KV AFS Racing

KV Racing Technology announced today a partnership with Gary Peterson's AFS Racing and the signing of Sebastian Saavedra to a full-time 2014 effort.

"I am very thankful to be part of a great project that we have been working on for a good while now," said Saavedra. "Seeing the AFS car back in action and with a great partnership with KV Racing Technology is something that brings a lot of excitement. All of this gives me great confidence to push not only my limits but the teams too. It's also great to be back working with (Sebastien) Bourdais. I believe we have unfinished business out there. I am very grateful to all sponsors and supporters that are making this possible and looking forward to a great year ahead of us all."

Saavedra, who has ran the 2009 and 2012 Indy Lights campaigns with AFS plus three '12 IndyCar events including Indianapolis, Sonoma and Fontana, will reunite with 2013 Dragon Racing teammate Sebastien Bourdais at KV.

KV Racing Technology team owner, Jimmy Vasser, said that the deal came together within the last 30 days, but they've been working on it for a while. "Actually started with Sebastian and myself bumping into each other at an airport, I think it might have been La Guardia heading to Toronto. We thought we would keep in touch and see how things progressed, not knowing really at that point where either ways were going to go for next season. Then having discussions with Gary (Peterson) over the wintertime, just general discussions, getting to know each other, really on kind of a friendship basis initially. Then just listening and seeing what was going to happen. We weren't sure what was going to happen with our second car at the time. Just trying to keep all options open."

Saavedra tested with his new team and old teammate today in Sonoma.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

National Guard To Sponsor Rahal

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing officially confirmed today that the Army National Guard will serve as the primary sponsor for Graham Rahal's #15 entry in 2014. The announcement comes after a winter-long battle for the deal with Panther Racing who had the program from 2008 to last season. RLLR was awarded the Guard last fall, however the sponsorship could not be confirmed until this February when Panther's appeals process was over and the deals was finalized.

“This is an historic day for all of us at Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing,” said RLLR co-owner, Bobby Rahal. “I can’t overstate how proud and how privileged we feel to represent the men and women of the Army National Guard. This is a huge responsibility that each of us feels and we are looking forward to working with the National Guard to achieve their goals.

“And I can’t imagine a better ambassador for those men and women than Graham, as an American, driving the National Guard Dallara-Honda IndyCar.”

The addition of the National Guard to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing is believed to put the team into a position to hire a non-paying driver to the Brownsburg, Indiana based organization. Rahal's former teammate at Newman Haas Lanigan Racing, Oriol Servia, is believed to be the leading candidate.

“I am really over the moon about driving the National Guard car,” said Graham Rahal. “Being an American and an extremely patriotic person, I am very proud of the men and women who fight for us and keep this great country safe and free. To have the opportunity to represent the National Guard and all that they do both here  and abroad means more than anybody could ever know. This has been a long time coming; we have all worked very hard for this. For our sport, for every individual member of our team and for myself, this is probably the best news in the history of our organization. I am thrilled and feel very fortunate to be a part of this and I hope that I can make all the guard Soldiers proud and get them up front and winning both on and off the track.”