The 2010 Indy Car season is starting to wind down and the points race is starting to get closer and more dicey than it has been all season. On Saturday the Indy Car grid lined up at Chicagoland speedway for an oval battle royal (there are no more road courses for the rest of the season). This race was Will Power’s chance to increase his points lead and give himself a cushion going into the last few races of 2010 but his plans for that were totally dashed when Power was forced to give up fighting at the front to come into the pits for a splash and go since a malfunction in a previous pit stop prevented him from getting the fuel he needed.
It was none other than Dario Franchitti who took advantage of Will Power’s misfortune to take the lead and eventually the win. With Dario’s win and Power finishing 16th Dario was able to shorten his gap to Power by a scant 22 points. This is a dangerous position for Will Power since there are only two races left (Twin Ring Motegi, Japan and Homestead Speedway, Florida). It looks like things have gotten interesting again folks..
I hope everyone had a great Independence Day where no one lost a digit from an explosion! If you happened to tune into Versus TV on Sunday before the fireworks went off you would have seen the Indy Cars putting on their own show at Watkins Glen for the Camping World Grand Prix. One of the big stories for this race was the “Penske Curse”. Ever since 2005 a Team Penske car has always managed to qualify on pole at the Glen but can never win! They almost have a record for all the poles they’ve captured at Watkins Glen but have yet to catch a “W”. However this year Penske came armed with three cars (Will Power, Ryan Briscoe, and Helio Castroneves) and as usual a Penske Car (Will Power, who is also a past winner of Watkin’s Glen) qualified on pole. In the end Penske’s choice to add Will Power as a full-time driver on his team paid off because he managed to break the curse and score a win at the Glen! Check out some of the race highlights below and a full post race report at IndyCar.com.
Formula D wasn’t the only motorsport event going on this weekend. This past Sunday was the first Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park AKA one of the most beautiful race tracks in the world! I was so hyped to see the Indy cars finally make it to this venue. Enough of that though, lets get down to business. Despite Will Power capturing the pole position the stand out of the race was Marco Andretti. He was able to snag the lead near the beginning of the race and held onto it for 58 laps with Helio Castroneves nipping at his heels the whole way. Marco could have easily won this race however his strategist made an error in fuel calculation and unless there was a caution in the last half of the race Marco wouldn’t have the juice to finish. Unfortunately that caution never came and Marco was forced to come in with less than 10 laps to go allowing Helio to take the lead and eventually win the race. Scott Dixon grabbed second place and Dario Franchitti took third. Next up on the schedule is the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach this weekend right here in our back yard. You can look forward to extensive coverage on this event! Check out the video below for highlights from the Alabama race.
Formula 1 wasn’t the only motorsport with its season opener during the weekend. The 2010 Indy Car season got started on Sunday on the streets of San Paulo, Brazil. This race was, problematic from the start. This was the first race in this new street course and it showed. When weather wasn’t plaguing the drivers the nature of the course was. There was a section on the main straight that had a section of recently ground down asphalt and someone forgot to mop up the dust!
Some of the rookies weren’t doing so great either. Former F1 driver Takuma Sato got a little too friendly with the brakes and caused a huge pile up right as the race went green the first time. Then, Mario Morales made the same mistake and literally ran over Marco Andretti. Marco had to sit there with Mario’s car on his head for a few minutes until they were able to get a crane to pull it off. Amazingly, he took it pretty well.. but then again he was probably still fuzzy from the concussion.
When the dust settled it was Will Power and Team Penske on the top of the podium. Check out the race highlights below and a detailed wrap up of the race on Indy Car’s website.
Ever since the “unification” of American open wheel racing a few years back the many feeder series in existance have been scrambling to find a way to fit in to the new order. Recently, thanks to many sanctioning bodies working together the biggest feeder series: USF2000 powered by Mazda, Star Mazda, and Indy Lights) have finally established a definied “road to Indy”. The newest rung in the latter was just annouced by Star Mazda a few days back. This year’s Star Mazda Champ will get a Indy Lights Test which is a huge chance to impress not only an Indy Lights team but possibly get themselves on the radars of a few Indy Car Series teams as well. Check out the full press release below.
The Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear and Performance Friction Company announced an expansion of the Indy Racing League’s ‘Road to Indy’ program with the Series champion guaranteed a test with a top Firestone Indy Lights team.
2009 Star Mazda champion Adam Christodoulou will test with Andersen Racing’s Indy Lights team later this month, and the champion of the upcoming 2010 season will also get a test as part of his or her prize package. Those prizes now include, in addition to the Indy Lights test, $100,000 in cash and a scholarship from the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Driver Development Ladder. Drivers will also be competing for the VISIT FLORIDA Cup, a 7-race championship-within-a-championship; the grand prize for the top-finishing driver in those events is a custom-designed dream vacation in Florida courtesy of VISIT FLORIDA, the state’s official tourism marketing corporation and sponsor of the 2010 Star Mazda Championship television package. In total, drivers in the 2010 Star Mazda Championship will be competing for prizes valued in excess of $1.5 million.
“Our goal has always been to provide our drivers with the most competitive, cost-effective and comprehensive opportunity to advance their career,” says Star Mazda Championship founder and CEO Gary Rodrigues. “This is another step forward in creating a clearly-defined path for Road to Indy drivers whose goal is the IZOD IndyCar Series and the Indy 500. We’d like to thank Performance Friction Company and Andersen Racing for their support in making this possible.”
Performance Friction is the exclusive brake pad and disc supplier to both the Star Mazda Championship and the newly-announced Cooper Tires Presents USF2000 National Championship Powered by Mazda, and is the overwhelming brake component choice for teams competing in the Firestone Indy Lights. All three series are part of the Indy Racing League’s ‘Road to Indy’ program. PFC also supplies a variety of open-wheel series in Europe, Japan, Australia as well as NASCAR, IZOD IndyCar Series, ALMS, FIA, ACO, JGTC, V8 Supercar and Grand-Am just to name a few.
“The Star Mazda Championship is a terrific series that produces some of the top racing talent in the sport today,” says Don Burgoon, President of Performance Friction. “Open-wheel racing is in our company DNA and we’re doing all we can to support these rising stars as they climb the motorsports ladder. It is our goal to support the Road to Indy program at every level and provide these drivers with the very best equipment on the way up.”
The Indy Racing League ‘Road to Indy’ program is designed to bridge the gap between the premier open-wheel racing divisions and the entry level open-wheel series by creating a clear career path for aspiring racing drivers; it includes Firestone Indy Lights, The Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear and the Cooper Tires Presents the USF2000 National Championship powered by Mazda.
“With Andersen Racing’s involvement in all steps on the Road to Indy ladder, we are delighted to work with PFC and Star Mazda in making this exciting test program a reality,” says Andersen Racing co-owner Dan Andersen. “My long term relationship with the folks at PFC, coupled with our involvement in and support of the Star Mazda Championship for the past six years, makes this an easy decision. So many Star Mazda drivers in recent years have successfully transitioned into Indy Lights, and now with the support of PFC, more drivers can sample the next step properly. We look forward to testing Adam in the next few weeks.”
Firestone Indy Lights is the premier ladder series for drivers and teams striving to compete in the IZOD IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500. Run in conjunction with the IZOD IndyCar Series, the Firestone Indy Lights’ 13-race schedule features eight races on road courses/street circuits and five races on ovals, including the famed 2.5-mile circuit at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Teams compete for nearly $4 million in prize money in cars that are second only in speed to the IZOD IndyCar Series at most tracks they visits.
“The Star Mazda race car is just the right vehicle, with the right horsepower and driving characteristics, to produce drivers ready to hit the ground running in Firestone Indy Lights,” says Roger Bailey, Executive Director of Firestone Indy Lights. “And this test for the Star Mazda Champion is just the sort of opportunity that the Road to Indy was designed to create, both for the driver in the car and the company sponsoring the test. This is the first of many more such things to come for the Road to Indy program.”
The first Star Mazda Championship winner to take advantage of the Road to Indy/Performance Friction/Andersen Racing Indy Lights test will be 2009 champion Adam Christodoulou, the English racer who also won the 2008 Formula Renault U.K. championship. He has already tested in the Team Stargate Worlds Atlantic Championship car and is looking forward to experiencing the additional power and speed of the Indy Lights car.
“I’ve already had a taste of testing the Indy lights car towards the end of last year, but it’s a great car to drive and I’m eager to get behind the wheel again,” says Christodoulou. “I’ve been in quite a variety of cars recently and each car I get in adds to my racing knowledge… and to the level of experience I can bring to my next team. The opportunities that arise from being part of the Star Mazda Championship, the Road to Indy and the MAZDASPEED Ladder are much greater than anything that exists in Europe. These programs have provided a huge boost to my career and I would recommend them to any driver who is serious about advancing their ambitions in open-wheel racing.”
If you follow Indy Car closely (stop laughing RJ) you have probably heard all the rumors about a new chassis coming to the series in 2011 or 2012. We’ve heard everything from the “Delta Wing” to “Concept X” but it looks like we finally have some concrete evidence that Swift Engineering is working on a chassis that looks immensely better than the played out Dallara that the series is currently running. Hopefully we’ll get some more engine manufacturers back in the mix too! Check out the pics below.
Someone has finally decided to step up and be the next company to title sponsor an American open wheel racing series. Clothing company IZOD has decided to step up their sponsorship from “official apparel” to full on title sponsor for the Indy Car Series in 2010. Check out the video below for the press event and official announcement.
For those who are unaware the term “Grand Prix” typically means a combination of different motorsports over a weekend. Last weekend was the Indy Grand Prix Of Sonoma and for the first time Formula D was a part of the Indy Car festivities. This provided a rare opportunity for a meeting between two highly popular figures in two disciplines. Formula D points leader Chris Forsberg and Indy Car Series driver and Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon are both sponsored by NOS Energy Drink. So they got a chance to hang out with each other for a while and ask questions about their respective motorsports. Here are a few quotes from the meeting.
“We’re thrilled to be able to bring the Formula DRIFT big show to the IndyCar crowd. It gives us a chance to showcase our professional sport to the IndyCar Series and their fans. We wish Dan, my NOS Energy Drink teammate, the best of luck this weekend.”
“It’s always good to meet with somebody else that has a great relationship with NOS, and it’s always interesting to meet with some body that’s in a different racing discipline from you and to be able to answer the questions they have about the IndyCar Series and like wise I had questions for him. It was an interesting experience for me, and Chris is in the latter stages of what will hopefully be his first championship, so it was nice to be able to give him some words of encouragement and I wish him all the best for the weekend. And as a fellow NOS drinker, he’s a great person and somebody that I’ll continue to follow with a lot of interest.”