News for the Week of March 10 – March 16, 2014

RHR comments on switch to Honda – Quotes from Ryan Hunter-Reay and Graham Rahal on the new dual-turbo Honda engines are encouraging.  Of course, it’s soon to be RHR and Andretti Autosport’s first season with Honda and they’re a little nervous about the switch from Chevy.  Hunter-Reay said, “We have an idea of where we need to be. We’re working on the drivability side of it with Honda, delivering that power. With the single turbo, I can’t believe how well-sorted they had it.  I drove the single turbo, jumped in the twin, now we’re closing that gap.”  Rahal, who has driven for Honda the last two years, said, “The twin turbo has far more boost response, better off the corners, not a lot of boost lag that we spent the last couple years trying to overcome.  I think it should be a huge performance [gain]. I don’t think we will see it on a road course, but at Indy … everybody knows how we struggled there. I think that’s where we should see the biggest performance gain.” – Autosport – (3/14/14)

Piedrahita joins SPM Indy Lights team – Colombian Juan Piedrahita has joined the Indy Lights team of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.  The 21 year old “Road to Indy” veteran tested with the team at Barber in February. – SPM – (3/14/14)

Verizon title sponsor deal is official! -“Verizon is the perfect partner for us to showcase the high level of innovation and technology that is inherent in our sport,” said Mark Miles, CEO, Hulman & Co., the parent of INDYCAR and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “INDYCAR will provide a large audience of tech-savvy consumers who are eager for the latest technology to further enhance their experience.”  The collaboration includes significant network coverage upgrades to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as part of its Project 100 initiative; short- and long-term technology enhancements to INDYCAR Race Control; the addition of pit lane monitors; and enhanced connectivity for spectators at each domestic race venue. – Verizon – (3/14/14)

Mears approves of 500 Qualifying Changes – “You have to rely on tradition to a point, but that’s always what’s so difficult,” said Mears. “On the one hand you want to keep tradition and you need to keep tradition so everything from the past still applies and is still relevant. But going forward, you have to keep up, too.  It could be an absolute knockout. If you didn’t ever try, you’d never know.” – ESPN – (3/14/14)

Brabham wins Gorsline Scholarship – Brabham, 20, will compete in the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires this season.  “I’m absolutely honored and it really means a lot to me, for sure,” said Brabham, who begins the season March 28-30 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., in an Andretti Autosport-prepared car.  Previous winners of the Gorsline scholarship include INDYCAR drivers Josef Newgarden, JR Hildebrand, Conor Daly, Buddy Rice, Danica Patrick, Katherine Legge and Bryan Herta. – IndyCar – (3/14/14)

Cavin Q&A 3/14/14 – Concerns more details of the Verizon deal and what kind of money it takes to organize a 500 one-off team. – Indianapolis Star – (3/14/14)

IndyCar set to announce Verizon deal on Friday – IndyCar has been promoting a “big announcement'” tonight for a 9:30am announcement and 10:30am teleconference with Jay Frye and Mark Miles on Friday, 3/14.  The racing media are all calling for it to be the official unveiling of IndyCar’s new title sponsor, Verizon.  The long-rumored deal is estimated to be 10 years at $10 million per year according to the Sports Business Journal. – Autoweek – (3/13/14)

IndyCar veterans interested in returning for the 500 – The article mentions 500 rides are possible for Paul Tracy and Robby Gordon. – Indianapolis Star – (3/13/14)

RLL associate sponsor returns – Gehl will return as an associate sponsor for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s IndyCar team in 2014.  They’ve been a personal sponsor of Graham Rahal for nine seasons and had a partnership with RLL from 2006-2008. – RLL – (3/13/14)

Tagliani to join SFHR for the Indy 500 – Canadian Alex Tagliani will drive the #68 Honda Dallara as a 500-only entry.  “It has always been our goal at SFHR to hire talent for credentials, and I am excited to have that opportunity again to include ‘Tag’ in our Indianapolis 500 line-up alongside Josef,” team co-owner and former IndyCar Series driver Sarah Fisher said.  “I love this race, and this track has always been a comfortable fit for me. I couldn’t ask for a better opportunity with SFHR, and I will do my best to contribute to the success of the team,” said Tagliani. – SFHR – (3/13/14)

500 one off speculation heats up – Mike Hull says a fifth car for Ganassi is possible at the 500.  Sage Karam hasn’t ruled out IndyCar opportunities.  One Chevy team appears poised to announce a 500 deal with “one Indy 500 veteran”.  Some Panther crew members are allowed to explore other opportunities. – NBC Sports – (3/13/14)

Cavin Q&A 3/13/14 – Highlights include drivers’ hair, Indiana Jones, and wouldn’t you know…more concern over the new 500 qualifying format. – Indianapolis Star – (3/13/14)

Gabby Chaves joins Belardi– The 2013 Lights runner-up will race for Belardi Racing in Indy Lights in 2014. – NBC Sports – (3/12/14)

IndyCar Test at Barber next week – IndyCar testing will run from 10-12 and 2-5 on Monday 3/17 and Tuesday 3/18.  Nearly all details can be found on the Barber website. – Barber Motorsports Park – (3/12/14)

Bryan Herta Autosport adds a sponsor – Legal Shield will be an associate sponsor for the number 98 entry driven by Jack Hawksworth.  “LegalShield’s logo and branding will be prominently featured on the rear wing end fences of the racecar, team transporter, pit equipment, uniforms and driver suit.” – BHA – (3/11/14)

Mario Andretti named Grand Marshall of GP of Long Beach – “It is totally appropriate to have Mario as grand marshal for our 40th race,” said Jim Michaelian, president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach. “Over the years, he has been an important part of our history and heritage, and we’re happy to honor his contributions to the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in this way.” – IndyCar – (3/11/14)

IndyCar to use larger turbos in 2014 – IndyCar’s new rules requirement for a twin-turbo has led to a new, larger Borg Warner turbo being used this year.  The bigger, more efficient turbos will largely only effect top-end speed and won’t play a major factor in the overall increased HP in IndyCar this season. – RACER – (3/10/14)

Verizon IndyCar sponsorship deal edges closer – Article makes it sound like the deal is getting very close and that IndyCar has put a strong emphasis in sponsor activation and promotion as part of the new deal.  “We’re building a great bullpen with Chevy, Honda, Firestone, a new title sponsor, and all of the companies and corporations that are active in promoting our teams, our drivers, and our series,” (Mark Miles) said. “We still have a lot of work to do, but I like the progress I’m seeing.” – RACER – (3/10/14)

Perspective on the Allison family and the double – Fascinating article about Donnie and Bobby Allison and their history of racing in NASCAR and IndyCar’s Memorial Day showcases.  Good read for anyone who loves the history of auto racing. – ESPN – (3/10/14)

Kyle Busch wants to try the double someday – Kyle wants to race the Indy 500 eventually but has a bigger goal he needs to accomplish before he finally does it. “I’ve thought about doing that for years,” Kyle Busch said Friday at his hometown Las Vegas Motor Speedway. “I’ve always said that I wouldn’t do it until I’ve gotten a Cup championship, which obviously Kurt has (but) I don’t have.” – AP – (3/10/14)

Mazda Road to Indy TV schedule announced – Indy Lights races will have near-full coverage on NBC Sports Network.  Some races will be show live again this year.  Pro Mazda and USF 2000 series races will be shown on one hour highlight packages hosted by Kevin Lee and former Lights-driver Anders Krohn.  “I am very pleased with the programming we have in place to showcase the talent in our three series,” said Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions. “IMS Productions and the IMS Radio Network are great partners, and we have the same goals – to promote and provide as much exposure as possible to our competitors. We have outstanding veteran announcers in place and Anders Krohn and Rob Howden will be great additions with their passion and enthusiasm.” – Indy Lights Website – (3/10/14)