Justin Wilson and Ana Beatriz teleconference Fisher adds sponsor for Kentucky, Chicagoland runs Forsythe Racing will compete in Firestone Indy Lights in 2009
1. Justin Wilson and Ana Beatriz teleconference: IndyCar Series driver Justin Wilson and Firestone Indy Lights driver Ana Beatriz were guests on yesterday’s Indy Racing League teleconference.
Background on Justin Wilson: Justin Wilson is in his first season in the IndyCar Series, driving for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing.
· Age: 29 (Birthday is July 31, 1978)
· Career Starts: 10
· Career Victories: 0
· Career Top-Five Finishes: 0
· Career Top-10 Finishes: 4
· Career Poles: 0
· Career Highlights: Recorded five victories and six poles in four seasons of Champ Car competition, finishing second in the championship in 2006 and 2007. Competed in Formula One in 2003.
· 2008 Highlights: Has four top-10 finishes, including sevenths at Iowa and Richmond. Qualified on the front row at Watkins Glen and third at St. Petersburg. Won the pole for the Champ Car finale at Long Beach.
· Off the Track: First child, a daughter, was born earlier this year.
Background on Ana Beatriz: Ana Beatriz is in her first season in Firestone Indy Lights, driving for Sam Schmidt Motorsports.
· Age: 23 (Birthday is March 18, 1985)
· Career Starts: 10
· Career Victories: 1
· Career Top-Five Finishes: 6
· Career Top-10 Finishes: 7
· Career Poles: 0
· Career Highlights: Competed in Brazilian Formula Renault, South American Formula 3 and A1GP.
· 2008 Highlights: First woman to win a Firestone Indy Lights race, taking the checkered at Nashville on July 12. Has six top-five finishes in the first 10 races. Ranks third in points.
They said what...? Listed below are select quotes from today’s teleconference, with the approximate time code from the audio MP3 in parentheses.
*** Q. We talked to you on the teleconference shortly after the unification announcement, right before the season started. Now that we're slightly past halfway, maybe kind of give us your impressions of how things have gone so far in 2008.
JUSTIN WILSON (19:00): Obviously we haven't had the results we were looking for. We knew it was going to be tough. We knew the situation was very difficult, and you know, this is just where we find ourselves. I think we're pretty much in line with what I expected through this transitioning year, and hopefully we can put it together in the next couple of courses and finally get on the podium and improve the results, because I feel we've shown well in a lot of races but don't have anything on paper to say that.
People that know, watching it, will understand what we've done, but to the casual fan they might not realize what we've gone through and what we've achieved.
The aim now is to try and translate that into something a little bit more substantial, and hopefully we can get some good results here.
***Q. Can you go over the qualifying process and how different it is in this circuit than it was last year and whether it would be an advantage? I notice you've been right in the front for the two road races, an advantage for you or a disadvantage for you, particularly as it applies to the Edmonton track?
JUSTIN WILSON (32:00): I really like the qualifying format we have for the road courses. I think it's probably one of the best we've come across. I think it's new for everybody to some degree this year.
The way we have the shootout, so everybody goes out ‑‑ or everybody splits into two groups, so two groups go out separately, and the quickest six from each group moves forward to a third group, if you like, and it just ‑‑ the process of elimination that whittles it down and keeps the action going, but also, there's not too many cars on track so you don't have all the excuses that drivers used to come up with of traffic and got their lap ruined by somebody else going slow.
So I think the format is really good, and you get to see the final six drivers really go after it and try and put their best lap together in the last five, 10 minutes of the session.
I really enjoy it and hopefully they're going to keep that format for the future, because I think it works well.
***Q: So what do you think the reaction would have been back in Brazil to your win?
ANA BEATRIZ (16:45): Well, I can tell it was something huge in a Brazil. I was really, really excited that I could say that for one week we were more famous than Tony (Kanaan), Helio (Castroneves) and whatever, because all the newspapers were talking about it. And I'm really glad that all the press that are in Brazil did that. That's really, really nice.
***Q: Now that it's been a few days and maybe you've had a chance to reflect on things, is there a sense of significance to your victory?
ANA BEATRIZ (1:30): Yeah, I didn't change much my idea. The win is so amazing for me because I came from Brazil, and I had the opportunity for a driver bid that was given to me because I didn't have enough money, my family didn't have enough money, and they just had the confidence in my talent and they invested everything they could so I could continue my career, and they brought me to the U.S.
So the victory means that the confidence was right, that I had something, and we won our first race, and it was just amazing.
So it meant a lot to me as a driver. I could see being the first female driver is a bonus. That's something really, really nice. But for me it means a lot winning as a rookie driver this year.
2. Fisher adds sponsor for Kentucky, Chicagoland runs: Sarah Fisher Racing will return to the IndyCar Series for two races in 2008 with sponsorship from Dollar General. Team co-owner Sarah Fisher will drive the No. 67 entry Aug. 9 at Kentucky Speedway and Sept. 7 at Chicagoland Speedway.
At the Kentucky track in 2002, she became the first woman in North American motorsports to win the pole position for a major-league open-wheel race.
"Dollar General's sponsorship of SFR for two races this year has energized my team," said Fisher, who has a best finish of third at Kentucky Speedway in 2000 with Walker Racing. "We're all excited to be racing for Dollar General. It's great to return to Kentucky with my own team. I've done well there in the past, and I believe I can do just as well or better with my own team behind me. We're going to do our best to bring home a victory for the team and Dollar General."
It is Dollar General's first sponsorship in the IndyCar Series. The car is co-sponsored by Dollar General's vendor partners (Arm & Hammer, Band-Aid, Clorox, Colgate, Kraft, Lysol, Reese's and Slim Jim).
"Dollar General is excited about sponsoring Sarah Fisher Racing in these two races," said Rick Dreiling, Dollar General's CEO. "Sarah has had a remarkable history-making journey in IndyCar racing, which has inspired many, both in and outside of the sport."
3. Forsythe Racing will compete in Firestone Indy Lights in 2009: Indianapolis-based Forsythe Racing Inc. announced its intention to compete full time in Firestone Indy Lights in 2009. Forsythe Racing claimed titles with Greg Moore in 1995 and David Empringham in 1996.
Gerald Forsythe, who founded the team in the early 1980s, has scored multiple victories and championships with drivers such as Al Unser Jr., Danny Sullivan, Paul Tracy, Jacques Villeneuve, Patrick Carpentier, AJ Allmendinger and Teo Fabi.
Forsythe’s Indy Lights plans are in addition to its fielding David Garza of Mexico and James Hinchcliffe of Canada in the 2008 Cooper Tires Presents the Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda.
“The opportunity to return to Indy Lights is obviously one that we’re relishing,” said Neil Micklewright, vice president of operations at Forsythe Racing Inc. “This is an extremely exciting time for Forsythe Racing as we’re once again in the thick of a title battle in the Atlantic championship while we’re also looking to further bolster our race programs, starting with our Indy Lights announcement.
“As a company, we have a tremendous pedigree in Indy Lights with numerous race wins and back-to-back championship victories. The series still offers drivers the chance to prove themselves and the level of competition remains as high as ever. You only have to look at this season’s results to see how tight it is at the top with six drivers winning already this year.
“We believe the Firestone Indy Lights Series offers Forsythe Racing an additional platform to showcase our commitment to on-track excellence and our desire to win.”
Richard Antinucci holds a 15-point lead over Raphael Matos as the series heads to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course this weekend for a doubleheader of racing.
The 2008 IndyCar Series season continues with the Honda Indy 200 at Mid Ohio Presented by Westfield Insurance July 20 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 1:30 p.m. (EDT) by ABC. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network. A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPNDeportes. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio and indycar.com. The 2008 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with a doubleheader race weekend at Mid Ohio Sports Car Course. The first Mid-Ohio 100 is scheduled for 5:25 p.m., on July 19. The second race will take plac eat 10:35 a.m., on July 20. Both races will air at 2 p.m. (EDT) July 24 on ESPN2 and live on indycar.com. ESPN2's coverage of the Sunbelt Rentals 100 is at 2:30 p.m. on July 17.