IRL headlines

Briscoe eager to race in home country Firestone completes two-day tire test at Indianapolis HVM Racing conducts first Indy Lights test Hunter-Reay helps open ethanol plant in Ohio

1. Briscoe eager to race in home country: Ryan Briscoe was born and raised in Sydney, Australia – about 600 miles south of Surfers Paradise, site of the Nikon Indy 300 on Oct. 26. Despite winning three national karting championships as a youth, Briscoe has done very little racing in his home country.

“I really haven’t done a lot of racing in Australia,” said Briscoe, who took over the No. 6 Team Penske machine this season, earning two victories and three poles en route to a fifth-place finish in the championship. “I started out in go-karts, but moved to Europe at 15 and really raced in Europe and America my whole career. I’ve only done the Champ Car race (in 2006) and a support class race for the Australian Grand Prix in 2002. They’re the only two races I’ve ever done in my own country outside of the junior go-kart level.”

The opportunity to race in Australia affords the 27-year-old an opportunity to see friends and family while away from the track and to get a jump start on the 2009 season on the track.

“It’s going to be good,” Briscoe said. “I’m going to get to spend a couple of days at home before and after the race. I’m going to have some friends and family at the race. I think it’s going to be a good opportunity for us to prepare for the first two races of next year. It’s a street course, the first two races next season are street courses. I’ve got a new engineer, so it’s going to be a real good chance to get a bit of a head start going into ’09.”

The Inside Scoop

Ryan Briscoe on:

The Nikon Indy 300: “It’s a great event. I’ve been there not racing before, and it’s definitely a big party. I’m going to have to be going down there focused on the job, but Sunday night should be fun. The beach is great. When the weather is nice, it’s just a beautiful place, a good time. I’ve only ever gone there as a tourist, but it’s always a good time. People go there to party.”

Sydney: “Sydney is a beautiful city, not just because I’m from there. I think it’s one of the most beautiful cities in the world with Sydney Harbor. It’s clean. You’ve also got trees and greenery throughout the city. It’s just a beautiful place.”

Best Australian Food: “Steak on the barbecue. We like to barbecue. Steak and sausages and grilled onions are right up there.”

Australia’s Gift to the World: “Probably one of their best gifts is Australian beer, but it’s not exported much. You’ve only got Fosters outside of Australia. It’s probably one of the world’s best kept secrets. Vegemite is an easy answer.”


2. Firestone completes two-day tire test at Indianapolis: “Any time that I can be out at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, you’re going to see a smile on my face.”

While it was 2005 Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon who said it, the sentiment could be attributed to any of the six drivers who tested on the famous 2.5-mile oval Sept. 29-30. The sentiment is also shared by representatives of Firestone, who requested the test session to prepare for the 93rd Indianapolis 500 next May.

“We’re testing at Indy because we’ve run the same spec tire here for the last two years,” said Paige Mader, general manager of race tire development for Firestone. “Preparing for ’09 there are some tires we couldn’t really make exactly the same as we made them in the past, so we’re looking at some changes, trying to get the good balance between grip and a good, safe, fast tire. We have both construction and compound specs that we’re evaluating.”

Feedback on the performance of the various tires came from Wheldon, 2004 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice and 2008 winner Scott Dixon, as well as Ryan Briscoe, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Tony Kanaan.

“We need to try and find a tire that’s going to be suitable for next year,” said Briscoe, who has two top-10 finishes in three starts at Indianapolis. “Firestone has a lot of tires for us to be testing. We did a couple of balance changes to get rolling, find a decent balance, then just try to do every run the same and feel the difference with the tire compounds and constructions and really for Firestone try and be consistent and give them clear and concise feedback on grip and tire wear and consistency. We split it in half. We do some performance running – four or five timed laps similar to qualifying. Then we also do some long runs, 20, 25-lap runs.”

Firestone also tested tires at Richmond International Raceway Sept. 23 and has a test scheduled at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Dec. 9-10.


3. HVM Racing conducts first Indy Lights test: HVM Racing took a major step forward in the development of its Firestone Indy Lights program Sept. 27 with its first on-track test. Team owner Keith Wiggins and general manager Michael Crawford accompanied team members to Putnam Park Road Course in Mount Meridian, Ind., as veteran driver Andrew Prendeville logged more than 100 miles in the team’s green and black machine.

“Today was a chance for us to debut our Indy Lights program and evaluate our progress,” said Wiggins. “It was obvious from Andrew’s lap times that it was successful for everyone involved. We’re pleased with the quick advancement of this program after making this announcement less than one month ago.”

HVM Racing debuted in the IndyCar Series in 2008, recording five top-10 finishes with driver E.J. Viso. Early in September, team officials announced the addition of a two-car Firestone Indy Lights effort for 2009.


4. Hunter-Reay helps open ethanol plant in Ohio: Ryan Hunter-Reay, who drove the No. 17 Team Ethanol car to its first victory in 2008, participated in the grand opening of POET Biorefining’s new Ethanol production facility Sept. 30 in Fostoria, Ohio. The facility is the second to open in Ohio, and its state-of-the-art refining process will yield 65 million gallons of ethanol each year and also will create POET’s high-quality livestock feed grain, Dakota Gold.

“I am very pleased to be able to be here today to help open the plant, and to further the cause of ethanol,” Hunter-Reay told the crowd that included congressman Bob Latta and the director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Robert Boggs. “In the IndyCar Series, we have done a lot to dispel the negative myths about the performance of ethanol, and I look forward to doing even more in the years to come.”


           The 2008 IndyCar Series season continues with a non-points paying race Oct. 26 at Surfers Paradise, Australia. The Nikon Indy 300 will be telecast live at 10:30 p.m. (EDT) Oct. 25 by ESPN Classic and will re-air at 11 p.m. Oct. 26 on 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 The 2008 Firestone Indy Lights season has concluded.

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