1. In Case You Missed It: J.R. Hildebrand, Tomas Scheckter and Steve Page teleconference: IndyCar Series driver Tomas Scheckter, Firestone Indy Lights driver J.R. Hildebrand and Infineon Raceway President and General Manager Steve Page were guests on yesterday’s Indy Racing League teleconference.
Background on Tomas Scheckter: Tomas Scheckter is competing in selected events in the IndyCar Series for Luczo Dragon Racing.
Age: 27 (Birthday is Sept. 21, 1980) Career Starts: 95 Career Victories: 2 Career Top-Five Finishes: 18 Career Top-10 Finishes: 40 Career Poles: 8 Career Highlights: Recorded IndyCar Series wins at Michigan International Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway. 2008 Highlights: Qualified fourth in debut with Luczo Dragon Racing at Kansas, was a Day 1 qualifier for Indianapolis and qualified sixth at Texas.
Background on J.R. Hildebrand: J.R. Hildebrand is in his first season in Firestone Indy Lights, driving for RLR/Andersen Racing.
a. Age: 20 (Birthday is Jan. 3, 1988)
b. Career Starts: 15
c. Career Victories: 1
d. Career Top-Five Finishes: 6
e. Career Top-10 Finishes: 10
f. Career Poles: 0
g. Career Highlights: Won the Cooper Tires Formula Ford Series in 2006, recording 12 victories in 14 starts
h. 2008 Highlights: Won at Kansas Speedway and is currently sixth in the point standings, 71 behind the points leader.
They said what...? Listed below are select quotes from today’s teleconference. Numbers in parentheses indicate approximate time codes from the audio recording.
*** Q. Tomas, it has been a while since we've seen you in an IndyCar Series car. I think it was Texas the last time you raced with us, and now you're doing the last three races in the season. How have you been preparing yourself to get back into a car?
TOMAS SCHECKTER: Just working out. Just a lot of working out. It's been tough, especially with this coming together. But a great opportunity with a great team here and super sponsors.
We're down actually, after we did the test, we went to Symantec headquarters (in Cupertino, Calif.) and spoke briefly with (CEO) John Thompson and a lot of the employees and had both cars out there. There's a lot of excitement there. And I think you'll see a lot of people from Symantec up here at the race.
Keeping my head up. I've got a great team and great sponsors. Working out and spending time with them and looking forward to the next time I'll be back in the car again.
Q. After running so many full time seasons doing a selected program, is it frustrating sometimes sitting there watching?
TOMAS SCHECKTER: Yeah, it is. And parts of it is being extremely frustrating and parts of it's been sort of good. I enjoyed the summer. But certainly my heart is wanting to be in the Indy car.
And certainly it's been tough when you switch on the TV and you see the cars going around. Like I said, it's been tough. I knew it was going to be tough before. And I made those sacrifices when I put my name on the contract to know there was going to be a good future with this team and certainly moving forward.
Again, we've added races to the schedule. We'll be doing the last three and hopefully we'll get a full program sorted out for next year.
*** Q. You mentioned it being your home track. You won a lot of races at Infineon, be it on the go‑kart track or road course. How special would it be to win this weekend in the Firestone Indy Lights, add that to your trophies?
J.R. HILDEBRAND: It would be big, man. I haven't actually gotten to race here that much over the last few years, just because the series hasn't come here. Obviously, I did the Infineon round last year at with Indy Lights; that being my first experience in the car. But it would be big for us as a team to be able to pick up a road course. When we actually had a test day out at Putnam Park last week and made some big gains. The car really came to life.
So there were some things, for the way I want to drive the car, that I guess we'd been missing a little bit. And hopefully we'll have a better race car and my knowledge of the track will come in handy here and we'll have a good weekend.
*** Q. I understand there's a slightly altered layout for the racetrack this weekend?
STEVE PAGE: Yeah, we have the advantage we have several different potential configurations of the racetrack that we can use for different series. And we also have a drag strip that runs right up the middle.
We've looked at the dynamics of the racing over the last couple of years and worked with (Indy Racing League President of Competition) Brian Barnhart on an idea and a little twist which is to take -- we have a small kink in the straightaway coming out of the carousel, coming out of Turn 6 going into Turn 7. We've taken that out.
And we'll have the Indy cars run all the way up to the end of the drag strip, which makes it a straighter, longer straightaway, a hard braking zone and a tighter corner going into Turn 7. And we think it might shake up the competition this weekend.
The 2008 IndyCar Series season continues with the PEAK Antifreeze and Motor Oil Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma County Aug. 24 at Infineon Raceway. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 5:30 p.m. (EDT) by ESPN2. 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 Aug. 23-24 at Infineon Raceway. The races will air at 5 p.m. Aug. 28 on ESPN2. The Kentucky 100 will air at 2 p.m. Aug. 14 on ESPN2.