News for the Week of March 3 – March 9, 2014

3rd car at RLL for the Indy 500 is unlikely – Graham Rahal says to RACER:  “I would think that [two cars are] going to be it for now, but you ought to ask dad [team co-owner Bobby Rahal] and see what his plans are,” Rahal said. “We as a team learned last year that running three isn’t the wisest thing. But you never know. Our focus is doing the best we can for the National Guard.” – – (3/9/14)

Conor Daly off to GP2 testing – American Conor Daly tweeted this morning that he’s off to Abu Dhabi for GP2 testing.   It doesn’t sound like a season-deal is in place yet but this would take one of the possibilities for any open IndyCar seats off the table should he join this unnamed team for the year.  GP2 races with F1 at Monaco Memorial Day weekend so this would likely rule out any chance of Conor returning to the 500 for a 2nd consecutive year (Though the GP2 race is Saturday 5/24 and the 500 is Sunday 5/25) – NBC Sports – (3/8/14)

Target cars to have special 25 Years silver livery for the Indy 500 – Scott Dixon tweeted out a picture from a Target event that featured a silver IndyCar and Sprint Cup car that are supposed to be run Memorial Day weekend.  Click on the link to check them out. – Scott Dixon Twitter – (3/8/14)

Panther still uncertain of plans – Panther owner John Barnes reveals his team is considering three different drivers and hopes to have more news to report by March 17th.  Chevy confirms Panther is one of their IndyCar teams still.  John Barnes said, “We want to continue in IndyCar racing – it’s a great platform, it’s something I helped build, and we want to be good citizens of the whole racing fraternity.” – – (3/7/14)

Verizon series sponsor deal edges closer – SBD reports that a 10-year, $10 million deal is to be finalized soon between IndyCar and Verizon.  The deal would be $5 million/year for the sponsorship and $5 million/year in activation and promotion.  Verizon and IndyCar each declined to comment on the alleged sponsorship deal. – Sports Business Daily – (3/7/14)

Indianapolis 500 qualifying process is announced – The 33 entrants will be decided on Saturday 5/17/14.  The fastest 33 cars will be entered into the starting field for the race but not necessarily in their Saturday positions.  Saturday’s 1-9 finishers will take to the track on Sunday 5/18/14 at 2PM to set the order for the Fast 9 and determine the pole sitter (1-9 on aggregate time).  Saturday’s 10-33 finishers will take to the track at 10:30AM on Sunday to set their order between spots 10-33.  All “bumping” will have to take place on Saturday.  This does open up the possibility of a big name missing the race if there’s a late crash on Saturday and more than 33 cars. – IndyCar – (3/7/14)

Mike Kitchel named IndyCar Director of Communications – IndyCar announced the hiring of former Panther Racing PR man Mike Kitchel yesterday.  The move has been received well nearly everywhere from blogs, twitter, and even message boards. – @INDYCARPR – (3/7/14)

Ganassi to field IndyCar names in 2nd car at 12 Hours of Sebring – Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, and Sage Karam will share the number 02 Comfort Revolution/Big Machine Records Ford EcoBoost Riley. – ABC News – (3/6/14)

Panther Racing turned down Leaders Circle money – Panther turned down the $1 million in IndyCar support because John Barnes didn’t think they could commit to the full season and would have to pay a hefty fine if they failed to do so.  Panther has yet to confirm an entry for St. Pete and beyond but has tested potential rookie Carlos Huertas this winter. – Indianapolis Star – (3/6/14)

Alex Tagliani confident in chances of earning a 500 ride – If Google Translate is to be believed Alex Tagliani is on the verge of announcing a deal with a current IndyCar team for the Indianapolis 500 and possibly Toronto.  Tagliani says he has been in discussions with multiple teams but feels very good about one potential deal and even visited the team’s shop last week.  The Montreal newspaper says they’ve learned the deal is official just yet to be announced. – Le Journal de Montreal – (3/6/14)

Long Beach City Council still undecided on F1 bid future – The city council did not make a decision on the future of the LB GP with F1 desiring a chance to make a bid for the 2016 race.  “I don’t think you can draw anything from them taking no action,” said Eric Bradley, who covers city hall and politics for the Long Beach Press Telegram. “They can still decide to open it up or simply decide to stay with what they’ve got with GPALB.” – – (3/6/14)

Jack Hawksworth to drive for Bryan Herta Autosport in 2014 – The 23 year old tested for BHA at Sebring in February and now has the #98 ride for the 2014 IndyCar season. The 2012 Star Mazda Champion spent last season in Indy Lights and won three races on his way to a fourth place finish in the standings.  “I am absolutely delighted to be racing for Bryan Herta Autosport in the 2014 IndyCar Series,” said Hawksworth. “It has been a dream of mine for many years and I can’t wait to get started.” – BHA – (3/5/14)

Oriol Servia to join Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing for part of the 2014 season – Servia will join RLL for Long Beach, Barber, and the two races at IMS with the aim to add more races as they move forward.  He will test with the team at Barber on March 17th and 18th. – IndyCar – (3/5/14)

Kurt Busch to race in the Indianapolis 500 – Kurt Busch will join Andretti Autosport to compete in the 2014 Indianapolis 500.  The Stewart-Haas Racing Sprint Cup driver will be the first NASCAR driver to attempt the double since Robby Gordon in 2004. – Andretti Autosport & – (3/4/14)

More details emerge from Panther Racing Lawsuit – Panther’s main argument in the case hinges on their belief that they are the sole representative able to promote the National Guard in the IndyCar Fan Zone at each IndyCar event.  The Government Accountability Office dismissed this claim as a civil issue and they were satisfied when IndyCar said RLL would have access to promote the National Guard at future events.  Panther also believes there was collusion allowing RLL to get a leg up in the sponsorship bid. – – (3/4/14)

Long Beach GP switch to F1 would be extremely expensive – Local LB newspaper reports a switch to F1 would require at least $50-100 million in improvements to the local streets, the addition of permanent garages, and many other expenses all on top of an average $28 million hosting fee.  The City Council and Grand Prix Association of Long Beach LLC are considering attempting to bid for a spot on the F1 calendar. – Long Beach Press-Telegram – (3/4/14)