News for the Week of March 24 – March 30, 2014

Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg – 3/30/14 – 3:00PM ABC

Entry ListSpotter GuideWkd. Sched.Pit OrderCircuit MapLap w/PowerT&S

Will Power wins the GP of St. Pete – “I’m pretty tired; mentally tired. Stoked to get the first win for Verizon as a series sponsor,” said Power. – AP – (3/30/14)

Zach Veach wins his first Indy Lights race – American Zach Veach won his first Indy Lights race of his career at the season opening event at St. Pete.  He used a first turn pass over Gabby Chaves to bring home the victory for Andretti Autosport.  “This winter I spent a lot of time trying to get more physically strong because I felt that was my weakness, and spent a lot of time doing mental things and came into the season with a whole new attitude. I think it paid off for us,” said Veach. – Indy Lights – (3/30/14)

Preferred Freezer Services to sponsor ECR’s No. 21 Entry for the 500 – Ed Carpenter Racing today announced a partnership with Preferred Freezer Services for the team’s No. 21 Indianapolis 500-Mile Race entry driven by 2011 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year J.R. Hildebrand.  Hildebrand will drive the blue and white Preferred Freezer Services Chevrolet-powered IndyCar with the temperature controlled refrigerated warehouse storage and logistics company’s legendary polar bear logo as part of its dynamic look in this year’s 500. – ECR – (3/30/14)

Assorted news and quotes from St. Pete Qualifying – Quotes from Hinch, Bourdais, Briscoe, and Pagenaud. – NBC Sports – (3/30/14)

Dixon and Andretti encouraged by surprising Fast 6 run – Each has struggled in road/street qualifying the last couple years but they each made the Firestone Fast 6 yesterday.  “A lot of people made a lot of comments over the years because we struggled so much in qualifying in street and road courses and nobody was counting on that. I like to be the element of surprise,” said Kanaan.  “We have to consider more than weather, it’s the first race back and with a new engine, we don’t really know as far as fuel mileage and stuff how we’ll do until warm up,” said Andretti. – NBC Sports – (3/30/14)

Roger Penske Q&A – From his annual sit-down with the media.  Good read. – RACER – (3/30/14)

Verizon IndyCar Series St. Pete qualifying story and starting grid – Assorted quotes and includes a link for the grid. – INDYCAR – (3/29/14)

St. Pete Indy Lights Starting Grid Order – See below.  Based on fastest practice times due to rain. – (3/29/14)

2014 lights starting grid st pete

RACER’s St. Pete Practice #3 Recap – “There should be room for improvement, but with all the wind being as strong as it is, it’s hard to say if we’ll be able to go faster in qualifying,” said Briscoe. “The tailwind into Turns 1 and 2 makes the back of the car pretty light, so it can be exciting through there.” – RACER – (3/29/14)

Briscoe and Chevy top the charts in Practice #3 at St. Pete – Full results here.  Chevy bounces back in a big way with 4 of the top 5.  Briscoe fastest overall and leads Ganassi again.  Sato quickest Honda.  Entire field except for Huertas separated by less than a second.  Marco very slow again.

INDYCAR’s Day 1 Practice Summary – Good read for notes and quotes from Day 1 of the Verizon IndyCar Series season.  Hinchcliffe and Sato topped the charts in sessions 1 and 2 respectively. – INDYCAR – (3/29/14)

Pagenaud Visor Cam from St. Pete – Enough said.  Check it out! – RACER – (3/28/14)

Sato and Foyt top the charts in Practice #2 at St. Pete – Full results here.  Honda leads the way yet again.  A lot of red flags throughout the session.  Briscoe was the fastest Ganassi car each session.  Huertas was slowest again but did trim the gap to a half second.

Penske/Ganassi rivalry heats up – Ganassi team members responded to quotes from Penske’s Tim Cindric today.  Cindric had said the Penske and Ganassi teams aren’t racing’s version of the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox; they’re the Yankees and Florida Marlins.  “A team with a long history against a younger team that came on strong and won a couple of World Sereis,” Cindric said.  Chip Ganassi had this to say today: “Even Mr. Penske recalled that we’ve won five of the past six (IndyCar) championships,” he said.  Ganassi went on to say that Cindric “from time to time he probably cashes a lot of different checks in different currency that Roger doesn’t like cashing.”  Dario Franchitti went even further, “I think Roger Penske is a class, class operator.  I thought Tim’s comments weren’t (that). They kind of summed him up a little bit.” – Indianapolis Star – (3/28/14)

Hinchcliffe and Andretti Autosport top the charts in Practice #1 at St. Pete – Full results here. Important to note that this was Andretti Autosport’s first session since their return to Honda. The Ganassi cars were in the middle of the pack in their Chevy debut. Carlos Huertas was well off pace in his first time in the car for Dale Coyne Racing. Positions 1-18 were separated by less than a second.

Pagenaud confident heading into 2014 – “It’s only my third year in IndyCar and I’m pretty proud actually that I’ve been able to fight for the championship last year and I think ultimately we can compete for the championship this year, there’s no reason not to,” Pagenaud said.  – RACER – (3/28/14)

Melbourne Considering IndyCar Series Race – The Herald Sun reports that taxpayers could save more than $46 Million a year if Victoria switched from F1 to IndyCar Series races at Albert Park. It seems the biggest complaint of F1 currently for event promoters, besides costs, are the cars quieter engine sounds that are potentially expected to draw smaller crowds. – – (3/27/14)

Firestone Pit Stop Performance Award – INDYCAR announced that Firestone will award a $10k award to the car that spends the least amount of time in Pit Lane during the race (Min. 95% of race laps completed). The award will be presented at the pre-race ceremonies of the following race. – INDYCAR (3/27/14)

TBA loses ride at Dale Coyne Racing – Carlos Huertas will drive the #18 Sonny’s BBQ machine for Dale Coyne Racing at St. Pete. – @IndyCar – (3/27/14)

RACER’s 2014 Verizon IndyCar Season Preview – Comprehensive team/driver preview from the folks at RACER Magazine.  Too thorough to summarize.  Check it out! – RACER – (3/27/14)

St. Pete event to return in 2015 – The event will take place this same weekend next year: March 27-29th, 2015 – @IndyCar – (3/27/14)

Mike Conway blogs ahead of season opener – The road and street course driver of the No. 20 ECR Fuzzy’s machine writes about his offseason and his experience since joining Ed’s team.  He seems to feel comfortable with his role and relationship with his new team and believes he and Ed have a similar demeanor in the cockpit which should help his chances this season.  He will definitely be an exciting driver to watch in race one.  – National Speed Sport News – (3/27/14)

Year 3 of the Chevy vs. Honda battle – Chevy will have 10 cars with 4 teams and Honda will have 7 teams with 12 cars to start the year.  Chevy has focused on fuel injection, cylinder heads, plenum / inlet system, exhaust headers and calibration for the new season.  Chris Berube, Chevrolet Racing Program Manager, Verizon IndyCar Series, said, “With our updated 2.2L twin turbo direct injected V6 Chevrolet IndyCar engines, new formats to the championship points and a race on the road course at IMS to kick off the month of May, there is a plethora of new challenges to look forward to.”  Honda has been working on their new twin-turbo engine for the new season after having a single turbo the past two years.  “We’ve been encouraged by the performance of the new Honda Indy V6 and the improvements we’ve made during the off-season,” said Mark Crawford, HPD Large Project Leader for the IndyCar program. – NBC Sports – (3/27/14)

St. Pete Indy Lights Preview – Indy Lights’ official website preview for their opening race this weekend. – Indy Lights – (3/27/14)

Dixon and Wilson visit FL AFB – Scott Dixon and Justin Wilson visited MacDill Air Force Base in advance of the season-opening race at St. Pete this weekend.  “I’ve done some other Air Force base stuff, but never the refueling side,” Dixon said. “I think that just the sheer numbers, the amount of fuel and the different kinds of plane that they refuel, and that this plane actually fully loaded can fly non-stop for about 29 hours and go all the way around the world. You’d need a lot of crew to get that job done, but it’s a lot of fun to mix stories about the things that we do and what the Air Force do and everyone at this base.” – INDYCAR – (3/27/14)

Marco Andretti focused on continued improvement – Marco talks about his work on improving his driving style last year and his focus on being more consistent with it this year.  Mentions top-6 finishes and pole runs on street courses as a goal this year as well as capitalizing on his dominance on ovals.  “It’s more of just looking at the subtle details,” Andretti said. “What last year did for me was confirm a lot of my work was in the right direction, which means a lot. Because it means that you could just keep going in that direction. A lot of it was confirmed, but I’m not even close to where I want to be. I don’t think I’m far, but I’m not the kind of guy who’s happy with [finishing] second or third, so if I’m not winning, I’m nowhere near where I know I should be.” – RACER – (3/27/14)

Ganassi/Penske views on “rivalry” – Interesting take on the competition between the two most prominent teams in INDYCAR.  Their competitiveness is definitely not marked as a “rivalry” on the Penske side, “Chip wants to think of it as a rivalry, but we don’t,” said Tim Cindric, president of Team Penske. “It does fit the definition of an intense competition, but rivalries take place over a long period of time.”  From Ganassi, “We’re all counting each other’s team members and looking at equipment and counting assets and counting each other’s work habits or modus operandi, if you will.” – USA Today – (3/27/14)

Miller’s Mailbag 3/26/14 – Robin Miller’s weekly fan Q&A.  Always a great read. – RACER – (3/26/14)

Ask Ryan Briscoe anything transcript – The aftermath of allowing fans on a chat session being allowed to ask Ryan Briscoe anything.  The questions themselves are certainly entertaining.  Especially the ones including the .gifs below from past Baltimore races… – JALOPNIK – (3/26/14)

baltimore 2baltimore 1

Derrick Walker talks rules changes – Good Q&A read about double file restarts, when pits are open, and more. – RACER – (3/26/14)

INDYCAR tabs Tino Belli as Director of Aerodynamic Development – Belli will oversee the implementation of the new aero kits coming from Honda and Chevrolet in 2015.  He has served many roles in the paddock over the years, most recently for Andretti Autosport and Panther Racing. – INDYCAR – (3/26/14)

Vittorio Ghirelli joins Team Moore Racing for 2014 Indy Lights season – The 19 year old Italian will drive the No. 22 machine for the 2014 Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires season.  He was the Auto GP World Series Champion last year and has raced WSR 3.5 before. – Indy Lights – (3/26/14)

Hinch talks relationship with new engineer – James Hinchcliffe enters the season with a new engineer, Nathan O’Rourke (formerly with Josef Newgarden and Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing), and talks to RACER’s Marshall Pruett of their relationship.  “A lot of people don’t appreciate how important that relationship is, and it’s one of the most important relationships in racing,” Hinchcliffe said. “When you see it, you see examples like whether it was Craig [Hampson] and Sebastien Bourdais back in the day. You see it in Sprint Cup with Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus. You hear a lot about that, about those magical driver/engineer relationships that produce championship after championship, and naturally, you want that for yourself.” – RACER – (3/26/14)

Graham Rahal Talks St. Pete, Ride Swapping, and More – Graham Rahal answered questions for the media today. As we already know, Graham will be racing the No. 15 National Guard Honda this 2014 IndyCar Season. Read more about his interview HERE in the blog section. – (3/25/14)

SPM adds a sponsor for St. Pete – Environmental Rail Solutions will be added to the sidepods of the No. 77 car for the season-opening race. – SPM Facebook – (3/25/14)

Derrick Walker talks safety changes – Great article.  Too many things options to highlight.  “The biggest thing we looked at were safety-related issues,” Walker said. “Side impact additions to the chassis came out of accidents that have happened before that highlighted the need to look at that. We went back and looked at the criteria the car was built to and reviewed what the FIA’s impact numbers had been in the past.  We went back to the numbers and looked at accidents that have happened and came to the conclusion that we really needed to up it. So we worked with Dallara to produce some add-ons to the chassis. We wanted to do it without making major, costly changes that would obsolete the existing chassis. Dallara did some tests and came up with some good safety additions to the chassis.” – – (3/25/14)

Gil de Ferran’s daughter to perform at the Indianapolis 500  – 19 year old Anna de Ferran will sing God Bless America during the pre-race ceremonies. – RACER – (3/25/14)

Cavin’s summary on Dario’s pace car introducing-GMA appearance – On GMA, Dario said his memory “isn’t what it once was,” and he described his fractured ankle as “limiting.”  “But I’ll take that,” he said.” The other options weren’t so good.”  Franchitti also confirmed that he has signed as a consultant with his former team, Ganassi Racing. – Indianapolis Star – (3/25/14)

RLL transporter damaged in fire on the way to St. Pete – Trans­porter drivers Phil Davis and Paul Sheehan discov­ered the fire while in Louisville, Kentucky, approx­i­mately two hours from the team’s Browns­burg race shop. It is believed that the fire orig­i­nated in the engi­neering lounge where the damage was restricted.  The No. 15 race cars to be driven by Graham Rahal and most of the racing equip­ment was not damaged due to the early efforts of Davis and Sheehan as well as the Zoneton Fire Protec­tion team, who responded within a few minutes. The trans­porter returned to the race shop last night and the equip­ment is being trans­ferred to another trans­porter and will depart today. – RLL – (3/25/14)

Hinch season  preview on NBC Sports – Hinchcliffe on winning St. Pete last year, “Obviously with what happened last year, it holds a special place in my heart.  It was a very emotional day last year on race day for all the right reasons. That’s nice ’cause I think in racing you normally have very emotional days for the wrong reasons more often than you do for all the right ones.”  On inconsistency last year, “Last year we had the pace early but not the consistency. If you look at the second half of the year, we were actually way more consistent than people realize. I think as a team we lost a little bit of pace.  We weren’t qualifying as well, Ryan wasn’t qualifying as well.” – NBC Sports – (3/25/14)

Montoya season preview on NBC Sports – “The biggest thing is braking. The braking is unbelievable,” Montoya said. “We used to have a lot more power. But the initial acceleration is very similar.  It’s when you go through the gears… the braking in the corners, it’s unbelievable.  The grip level of these cars, it’s like an eye-opening, to be honest.” – NBC Sports – (3/25/14)

2014 Indianapolis 500 Pace Car Unveiled – To be driven by Dario Franchitti and it’s a beauty! – @IMS – (3/25/14)

2014 500 Pace Car

2014 to be Jim Nabors final Indianapolis 500 Performance? – That’s the word from a report out of Hawaii.  Nabors first sang at the race in 1972 and has returned 34 times since then.  24-Hour News 8 is working to get independent confirmation about the news from the beloved singer or officials with Indianapolis Motor Speedway. – WISHTV – (3/25/14)

Dario Franchitti to Drive Indy 500 Pace Car – Curt Cavin of the Indianapolis Star, reports that Dario Franchitti will be the Pace Car Pilot at the 2014 Indy 500. The announcement will be formally made on ABC’s “Good Morning America” Tuesday. – Indianapolis Star – (3/24/14)

Roger Penske, Bill Simpson to Receive Awards – Roger Penske, a team owner in both IndyCar and NASCAR has won 12 Races at Texas Motor Speedway, will be inducted into the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame.  Bill Simpson was presented the Justice Brothers-Shav Glick Award. This award is presented to an individual annually who has made significant contributions to motorsports in California. – INDYCAR – (3/24/14)

More powerful engines ready to shine in 2014 – Marshall Pruett walks readers through the changes to engines in the Verizon IndyCar series in 2014.  Mentions basic changes such as INDYCAR mandating that engines are V6 (previously stated no more than 6 cylinders) and the requirement of a twin-turbo.  From there he gets wonderfully technical in describing the different changes to increase their power within fit in 2014. – RACER – (3/24/14)

Carlos Huertas in at Dale Coyne Racing? – That’s what Marshall Pruett tweeted he’s hearing today.  Would fill the last remaining seat for this weekend.  Interesting… – @marshallpruett – (3/24/14)

Kimball looks to continue improvement – Excellent piece highlighting the “methodical” improvement made by American Charlie Kimball since he entered the series.  Highlights Kimball’s qualifying improvement from an average of 17th up to 12th as a huge reason for his increased success.  Charlie thinks the addition of a fourth car for Briscoe and a new voice in TK will lead to better results.  “Tony brings a lot of different skills and a different personality, as does Ryan,” Kimball said. “I think going back from three to four cars will change the organization maybe more than what losing Dario (Franchitti) as a teammate will.  Having said that, I think I will always miss having Dario as a teammate and competitor because of how much he helped me in the first three years, what his being involved in the team, being able to talk to meant. But gaining him as a mentor, assistant to the team, as a coach, he is invaluable.” – NBC Sports – (3/24/14)

Sato reflects on last year and moving forward –  2013 was a big year for Sato with his fast start to the year including a win at Long Beach.  He led the points standings heading into the 500 before fading in the 2nd half of the year.  “Not just my first major win in a major series, but also for the long time waiting for ABC, too.  It was a really perfect race for us,” Sato said. “Long Beach is one of the biggest events as a street course event, has the long history.  The impact was just enormous, from the sponsors, fans, the people who cheering us. I immediately flew back to Japan after that and had a winning press conference at Tokyo. No, it definitely is one of the best days of my racing career.” – NBC Sports – (3/24/14)

Helio poised for fast start in 2014 Championship battle – Good article on Helio’s goals for the year and the amount of success he’s at St. Pete.  “I’m excited and ready, to be honest, to start the season because it’s been a long offseason in a good way,” Helio says. “After a long season, we starting in St. Pete so everybody’s fresh, everybody’s ready. The atmosphere is great, the weather is great, the fans are amazing.  Plus the track. The technical side, it’s not always a 90-degree corner like a typical road course has. You have high-speed corners, things like that. When the place suits you well, you tend to enjoy much better.” – INDYCAR – (3/24/14)

Graham Rahal and Dale Jr. talk ride swap – The two National Guard drivers seemingly agreed to swap rides in some kind of exhibition event on Twitter last night.  Will be interesting to see which track they choose! – Twitter – (3/24/14)

Mark Miles talks Verizon and upcoming season – Bill Benner interviews Mark Miles on the recent news and upcoming INDYCAR events. – Inside Indiana Business – (3/24/14)

Cool INDYCAR “By the Numbers Feature” – Cool hi-res image with notes on interesting stats to keep an eye on for the upcoming season.  Current drivers mentioned are Castroneves, Kanaan, Dixon, and Tracy (potentially). – INDYCAR – (3/24/14)

Chris Pook continues push for F1 at Long Beach – Pook questions where people are getting the $100 million in improvement costs number from.  He claims the track improvements would cost $9.2 million and be paid by the promoter.  That number seemingly includes a two-story building to house F1 operations that would be used for other events throughout the year.  The city council is expected to vote within the next month on whether to formally request a proposal to consider the F1 bid. – RACER – (3/24/14)

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