IndyCar Notes, Perhaps IndyCar is in Better Hands Than We Think?

Big Bend, WI (March 23, 2010) – As is the norm for the last ten plus years, much trepidation preceded the opening of the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series. However with the raciness of the Sao Paolo track in Brazil and the positive vibes with new CEO Randy Bernard’s hiring, perhaps there is once again light at the end of the tunnel. Granted it was nice seeing 24 cars on the grid, however when 3/4 or more of the field is unknown to passive IndyCar fans and with the lack of Americans in the field, race teams ability to bring in sponsorship is that much harder. Bernard has his work cut out for him. However judging from the ad in the Sports Business Journal, he’ll be missed, which is a big positive in my book. Let hope he succeeds.

Nice to see Sarah Fisher step aside for the talented Graham Rahal, a very smart move. Owners in the past such as stock car owners like Dave Marcis and James Hylton perhaps stayed in the saddle too long instead of growing the team and looking beyond. Something Michael Andretti and Robbie Buhl has avoided. Speaking of Buhl, friend of mine was part of a garage tour which included Dreyer-Reinbold Racing. He was impressed with the overall operation and how they’re making all fabricated parts “in-house.” The team explained this was a way to try to get a competitive advantage which they felt they lacked by having another Indianapolis-based team perform their fabricating. Judging from the addition of 2009 race winner, Justin Wilson and their strong showing in Brazil, perhaps manager Larry Curry and engineers, Yves Touron and Matt Curry has the team in the right direction.

Dan Wheldon apologized for drop kicking Alex Tagliani out of the race at Brazil. What Dan needed to do is get Tagliani airborne almost killing him and many spectators, oh wait that’s another series.

Dario Franchitti marks an important milestone this weekend in the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg when Franchitti joins Tony Kanaan (210) and Helio Castroneves (211) as active IZOD IndyCar Series drivers with 200 open-wheel racing starts. Before they get too cocky, Mario Andretti is the all-time leader with 407 starts followed by A.J. Foyt with 369 and Al Unser, Sr. With 320.

Speaking of Foyt, nice to see A.J. Foyt Racing and Vitor Meira on the podium in Brazil after their hard-earned third place finish. “A.J., I want to thank you for waiting for me,” Meira radioed in to his team owner A.J. Foyt after the inaugural S?o Paulo Indy 300 Sunday afternoon. He also congratulated the crew, thanking them and sponsor ABC Supply during his cool down lap. This was Meira’s first race since being injured in last year’s Indianapolis 500 in May.

Coming off a second-place finish at the March 14th season-opener in Sao Paulo Andretti Autosport driver, Ryan Hunter-Reay is looking to build on last year’s runner-up finish at St. Petersburg. “St. Petersburg is one on my favorite events of the year for a number of reasons. Most importantly, I love the track layout which makes for some great racing. The Tampa/St. Pete area is exactly my speed and it’s only a three-hour drive from home in Ft. Lauderdale, so it’s pretty much a home race to kick off the U.S. Races. This will be my fourth St. Pete event and each time I find myself getting closer and closer to the front. After finishing a close-second last year we have our sights set on winning. Ryan continued, “Brazil was a great result for the IZOD team. Obviously, we feel it was a win that got away, so we are extremely determined to grab our first win together in St. Pete. The IZOD guys did a fantastic job in the pits and proved it by winning the pit crew challenge. We just need to go into St. Pete with the same mindset as Brazil and just concentrate on doing a consistent and solid job all weekend.”

Conquest Racing announced that it will enter a second car in the IZOD IndyCar Series for Belgian driver Bertrand Baguette, beginning with the Indy Grand Prix of Alabama on April 11th through the remainder of the season. The car will carry the colors of the Royal Automobile Club of Belgium’s National Team. The RACB is the Belgian motorsports governing body. Baguette, 24, received considerable attention in Europe after he captured the 2009 World Series by Renault championship. As a result of his success in 2009, Baguette was invited to test for Formula 1 teams Renault F1 and BMW Sauber earlier this year in Jerez, Spain.

In the “we’ll get it another try” department: The Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear and the USF2000 Championship will run on the same weekend with the IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights for the first time in St. Petersburg as part of the Road to Indy program. Both series also will run alongside the IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights at Iowa Speedway in June. The Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear opened its season last weekend at Sebring International Raceway with Tristan Vautier taking the checkered flag.

The 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series season continues March 28 with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 3:30 p.m. (ET) by ABC. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 211. The race also will be carried on The 2010 Firestone Indy Lights season opens with the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg at 12:45 p.m. (ET) March 28. The race will air live on

IndyCar media and several IndyCar teams’ press releases contributed content to this column

Share Button