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Notes for 7-March
It's a sign that the INDYCAR season is near when there's almost more news than we have time to talk about, but let's dive in.
So the news today is around the confirmation that the qualifying format for the Indianapolis 500 will change.
Summarized - the field will be set on Saturday, on Sunday the starting order within the field will be set. I know this is different and we haven't gotten any mails from people liking the change, but it's not a change that has me totally up in arms. Perhaps I'm just numb to the importance of qualifying, but I'm willing to give it a shot.
But I will be interested to see how the change affects the stories that everyone follows in the lead-up to and during qualifying.
For instance, let's say someone has a mechanical issue during their run on Saturday. While they might have been able to take some time to get it fixed and know they could qualify on Sunday, that option is now gone.
And heaven forbid a driver crash on Saturday - the odds seem high they might miss the Indy 500, especially if they don't have a backup car.
So there's almost always been drama in the past, and I at least expect the same level of drama this year.
Graham Rahal Completed His First Test Day of 2014 at Sebring Raceway
Graham Rahal, 25, completed his first test day of 2014 today at Sebring International Raceway in preparation for the upcoming IndyCar Series season. He ran a total of 124 laps around the 1.65-mile short course in the No. 15 National Guard Honda and was pleased with the end result.
"Overall we had a good day of running," said Rahal. "We dealt with a couple of issues this morning so we started a couple of hours into the day but we got a ton done in a short period of time. We worked through our entire test list and I feel pretty good about where we stand. The engine we're running is a fairly old, very early spec of the Honda twin turbo and it ran great. I think it's a little bit down on power compared to the latest spec so for us to be right in the mix with everybody else, it felt pretty good."
It was a sunny day with temperatures approaching 80-degrees Fahrenheit but other conditions weren't as ideal.
"The conditions on track weren't very good," said race engineer Bill Pappas. "They had a Trans-Am and vintage race here this weekend and the track was slippery and greasy. There were four other Indy cars here with us and all morning everyone was slip-sliding around. We worked on the car through the course of the day and kept improving the grip which is what Graham was complaining about and by the end of the day he thought we were pretty close. We seemed to improve with each lap and the feedback mirrored the lap times. We weren't chasing the track and got through all of the things we wanted to test and are pleased with that. We're looking forward to getting back on track with the race spec Honda twin turbo at Barber Motorsports Park in a couple of weeks."
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Franchitti’s enforced retirement will have hit him hard - The Scotsman
(Nov 27, 2013 11:05) Franchitti’s decision to step away from racing, undoubtedly sad as it is, ensures, thankfully, that he will be around for years to come to talk in his knowledgeable, animated and enthusiastic way about his comprehensive collection of Jim Clark memorabilia. Of more immediate concern for him is whether his beloved Celtic can make it through the group stages in the Champions League. Franchitti has always been quick to play down his achievements in motorsport and has laughed when the word ‘legacy’ has been mentioned. Now the man, who has the most deeply ingrained affinity with motorsport’s heritage of any current racing driver, knows he must reinvent his life. It will take time. Franchitti has committed himself fully to his love of the sport, and this latest development is still way too raw for any new plans to be announced. In the meantime, he can slowly begin to accept how highly his achievements have been recognised by his motorsport peers, and concentrate on making a full recovery.Dario Franchitti, Safety, And Barrier Differences in Houston - Paddock Pundit - Road & Track
(Oct 15, 2013 10:16) The questionable vehicle-retaining properties of the FIA-spec fencing used at Houston is where I’ve turned my attention. The same grate-style fencing is used at other IndyCar street courses, with Toronto and Baltimore featuring these rigid sections affixed to poles mounted in the cement barriers lining the track. The 8000-pound cement sections, as used for the street courses, are most commonly found with three vertical holes in them—one on each end and one in the middle. With the poles installed, a sheet of fencing is attached to the outer face. Those pre-fab sections are then joined together by additional poles and an interlocking hook-and-groove system. Coming from Baltimore in early September to Houston a little over a month later, the barriers and fencing looked like they’d been trucked from Maryland to Texas. There was nothing terribly unfamiliar about the barriers in Houston, except for one item: they were missing the center poles. Center poles were in place at Toronto, and again at Baltimore. For whatever reason, and I genuinely don’t know why—the series is conducting an investigation and, as one would expect, they will not comment—the track builders at Houston didn’t install the center poles.Providence in talks to host IndyCar race | Breaking News | providencejournal.com | The Providence Journal
(Oct 11, 2013 16:11) IndyCar racing might be coming to Providence after all. WPRO-AM reports that talks are underway between city and state officials and the potential organizers of an IndyCar race that would be held in downtown Providence in 2015. The cars would race on a 2.1 mile circuit on closed city streets that would finish at the Statehouse. A spokesman for Providence Mayor Angel Taveras confirms that city officials were in conversations with IndyCar but says no plans have been approved. There's no word on how much the city might have to spend to host the event, which if approved would be tentatively scheduled for Aug. 7-9, 2015.Honda says third engine supplier critical for IndyCar - IndyCar news - AUTOSPORT.com
(Oct 4, 2013 09:40) "A third manufacturer is absolutely critical," he said. "The long-term sustainability of IndyCar needs more than just Honda and GM. "When you've got seven or eight cars and you're subsidising them, that's one thing. But when you've got 12 or 13 or 14 and you're subsidising them, that's completely different, and it's hard for all of us to continue to maintain that level of subsidy. "I would say that through the next two or three years, I don't believe there is any kind of issue. "But when you start looking at what happens in 2017; is there going to be a new engine formula or are we going to continue to evolve the current one; what are we going to do about 2020 when that comes around... if you want to continue to have competition, it's very hard to keep that going if there is only two of you doing it. "We don't need five people doing it; just a third competitive manufacturer would be great. A fourth would be wonderful. What it needs is quality."Can a Rhode Island Grand Prix avoid Baltimore's potholes? - Baltimore Business Journal
(Oct 1, 2013 12:06) Will Providence, R.I., suffer the headaches and problems that plagued Baltimore, or will it burn rubber without a hitch? According to reports, the Baltimore Grand Prix is set to be replaced, and it looks as if it is staying on the East Coast. And Providence is in the lead.Road America could get IndyCar testing dates
(Sep 25, 2013 12:05) An IndyCar race at Road America looks highly unlikely, too. But at least there could be a consolation prize for IndyCar fans. "We are hoping once they get their schedule set they might do a two-day test here that I could open to the public," said George Bruggenthies, president and general manager for the facility in Elkhart Lake. "I don't have any dates because they don't have their schedule yet. I'm working with Derrick Walker — that would be fun — and then we'll work towards maybe a sports-car/IndyCar weekend for '15. That was the last conversation, but the dates just didn't work for us this year to put on a separate event (in 2014)."Tickets selling faster this year for IndyCar finale at Fontana
(Sep 25, 2013 11:49) “Our ticket report this morning showed that we are 8,000 ahead of last year,” Zucker said during Tuesday’s IndyCar testing at the track. “I truly expect a robust crowd. We are anticipating a huge crowd.” That’s good news for all involved, particularity MAV TV, the title rights sponsor that’s part of the Lucas Oil empire out of Corona. “We thought the crowd was phenomenal. A show of support gathering in the community,” said Bob Patison, president of MAVTV. “To see the ticket sales rising, it’s very encouraging that open-wheel race has such a home in California. We’re glad to see the sport growing again.” Patison also spoke of the rumors of IndyCar moving the Fontana race, perhaps earlier in the season, as did Zucker. “We have not had any discussions with IndyCar,” Zucker said about the situationIowa Speedway lagging on bills, CEO resigns | The Des Moines Register | desmoinesregister.com
(Sep 11, 2013 10:15) Conrad Clement, speedway chairman and principal owner, acknowledged the existence of some financial issues in a brief telephone call with the Register, saying, “We’re in the process of refinancing the whole speedway.” Clement declined, however, to answer questions beyond a news release that was issued late Tuesday afternoon. The news release offered no new, additional details related to the track’s financial status. “We’re fine,” said Clement, the founder of Featherlite Trailers in Cresco. “Everything’s fine.”Cooper Tires coming to Indy Lights - Racer.com
(Aug 5, 2013 12:04) Firestone, which has served as the sole supplier to both the IndyCar Series and Indy Lights, was reportedly out-bid by Cooper Tires, but will continue its IndyCar association without interruption. The change in tire supplier for Indy Lights marks the latest round of positive news for the struggling series. IndyCar's decision to hand control of the series over to Dan Andersen and his Andersen Promotions team has resulted in a number of decisive actions, including an update to the series' aged 2002 Dallara chassis for 2014, the introduction of a new car for 2015, and even a new website for the Lights series which debuted last week.Derby racers to get open-wheel boost from IndyCar - News - Ohio
(Jul 19, 2013 06:40) The Derby board approved the agreement on Thursday. IndyCar declined to comment until its executives formally sign off, a move expected no later than Monday, according to a spokesman in Indianapolis. Mazur said one of his priorities when he became Derby president in 2011 and was charged with turning it around from its near-death was to partner with IndyCar. The Derby is now much more financially strong, Mazur said. The Derby will be promoted in 30-second commercials on giant video screens at IndyCar racetracks, on the IndyCar website and through other measures, Mazur said. IndyCar also is agreeing to invite local Derby race champions to two of its races, he said. Derby race wheels this year will get IndyCar stickers, he said. “The [IndyCar] logo will be on every car next year throughout the world,” he said.