1. Oriol Servia and Bud Denker teleconference: IndyCar Series driver Oriol Servia and The Raceway at Belle Isle Park Chairman Bud Denker were guests on yesterday’s Indy Racing League teleconference.
Background on Oriol Servia: Oriol Servia is in his first season in the IndyCar Series, driving for KV Racing Technology.
Age: 34 (Birthday is July 13, 1974) 2008 Starts: 14 2008 Victories: 0 2008 Top-Five Finishes: 3 2008 Top-10 Finishes: 5 2008 Poles: 0 Career Highlights: Competed in Champ Car for eight seasons, recording one victory and 34 top-five finishes in 125 starts. Finished second in points in 2005. 2008 Highlights: Ranks ninth in points, just 32 points out of sixth. Has participated in Firestone Fast Six qualifying in three of the five road/street course races. Recorded top-five finishes at Richmond, Mid-Ohio and Edmonton.
Background on Detroit Indy Grand Prix presented by Firestone: The IndyCar Series will make its second visit to The Raceway at Belle Isle Park. Last year’s race featured a three-car incident late in the race that affected championship contenders Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti. Pole sitter Helio Castroneves also was knocked out of the race early. Andretti Green Racing drivers Tony Kanaan and Danica Patrick swept the top two finishing positions.
They said what...? Listed below are select quotes from today’s teleconference. Numbers in parentheses indicate approximate time codes from the audio recording.
*** Q. We saw some interesting things happen last year there with our championship contenders. From your perspective, just looking at the championship battle between Scott (Dixon) and Helio (Castroneves), how does a track like Detroit play into the championship? Do you see either one of them maybe having an advantage?
ORIOL SERVIA (5:15): Helio has always been fast. Actually in 2000 when I got my first podium, it was his first win. It's a racetrack also being promoted by all of the best organizations. I think it's a special weekend for Helio obviously.
But Dixon as we know, is like the Iceman. He doesn't make mistakes, and he's always there. And in a big race like Detroit, that's what you need. You need to be solid and strong in qualifying, but definitely super, super concentrated during the race, because it's really easy to make a mistake. It's really tight, very technical, and you really have to be aggressive to make overtaking maneuvers, but that's when you're taking risks.
So it's all about balance, and Detroit is definitely a place where we'll see, I think, whoever is going to be a champion is going to have to shine this weekend.
*** Q. What's been the biggest highlight of the season for you?
ORIOL SERVIA (7:30): I would honestly say, I think the fact that we were quick on road courses and street races, people kind of really expected that.
But the race we had in Milwaukee and Richmond, where Milwaukee we got our lap back after going a lap down on the first lap and we finished sixth, and then Richmond, the full race racing with Ganassi and finishing sixth, I think it showed that we can race on ovals, too, something that I really wanted to prove and to show; a, because I like ovals; and b, because I know the team is working hard trying to give me a good oval car. And we showed at least on the short ovals that we were able to understand how to turn left. And it shows promise for the future.
*** Q. Tell us a little bit about the significance of being a race late in the championship for the IndyCar Series. What does it mean from your perspective to have us in the real heart of the championship race here late in the season?
BUD DENKER (13:15): I think it means a lot more in terms of significance coming into the final event in Chicago, especially with what happened last week with the situation between Helio and Scott and then the points.
Helio picked up 35 points in one race, on Scott in that race, and based upon the finish of those two guys; Scott has been solid all year long and probably the only blip in his performance happened last week just when Helio won his first race. So that could happen again, who knows. I'm looking for a competitive race and a good race and a close championship to finish the year.
I think it's important. We love the fact that we are at this time. Labor Day is an important period here in Motor City. Labor obviously is very important to the people that are around us, the big three that drive things in this area. And that fact alone means that we are going to have a great event.
Our ticket sales are 20 percent higher than this time last year. On Sunday, I'm sure we'll sell out every single seat in the grandstands, and we expect about 40,000 people on Sunday, and about 40,000 also on Friday and Saturday.
So a great event planned, a lot of entertainment planned with concerts going around, but with three great races planned this weekend and the IndyCar Series being our big event on Sunday, it's a wonderful opportunity to showcase Detroit once again.
The 2008 IndyCar Series season continues with the Detroit Indy Grand Prix presented by Firestone Aug. 31 at The Raceway at Belle Isle Park. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 3:30 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 concludes Sept. 7 with the SunRichGourmet.com 100 at Chicagoland Speedway. The race will air live at 12:30 p.m. Sept. 7 on ESPN2. The Carneros 100 and Valley of the Moon 100 at 2 p.m. Aug. 29 on ESPN2.