Teams ready for Open Test at Barber Motorsports Park Hunter-Reay will share HVM seat with Viso Foyt Racing, Team 3G substitute private tests for Barber Green flag in orbit with Discovery Indy Racing League nominated for Sports Business Award
1. Teams ready for Open Test at Barber Motorsports Park: IndyCar Series drivers and teams will continue preparations for the 2009 season March 22-23 with an Open Test at Barber Motorsports Park in Leeds, Ala. Although seven drivers tested at the facility in October 2007, this will mark the first time the full field of IndyCar Series drivers runs on the 16-turn, 2.38-mile course.
Testing is scheduled for 9 a.m.–5 p.m. March 22 and 9 a.m.–4 p.m. on March 23 and will include 2008 race winners Ryan Briscoe, Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Danica Patrick, Graham Rahal, Dan Wheldon and Justin Wilson.
“This is the only Open Test scheduled for a road course,” said Brian Barnhart, president of competition and operations for the Indy Racing League, sanctioning body for the IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights. “While there’s not a whole lot of stuff they can be developing in the road course area, this gives everyone the opportunity to get back into the road course mode and get ready for the first two races of the year.”
The IndyCar Series opens the season with races on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., April 5 and Long Beach, Calif., April 19 before the season’s first race on an oval April 26 at Kansas Speedway.
“Just to be able to get back into a car on a road course is great because it has been so long since the last race in Australia,” Vision Racing’s Ed Carpenter said. “It’ll help get rid of some of the cobwebs and get back a feel for the car since it’s been a while. It’ll be a fun two days.”
The test will also allow rookie competitors Mike Conway, Robert Doornbos and Raphael Matos a chance to familiarize themselves with how the Dallara chassis handles on a road course.
Drivers had their only other opportunity for pre-season testing Feb. 24-25 on the 1.5-mile oval at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Team Penske’s Briscoe paced that test with 2008 champion Dixon a close second. Conway was the fastest rookie at Homestead-Miami, ninth overall.
Firestone Indy Lights drivers will test from 9 a.m.–5 p.m. on March 21.
2. Hunter-Reay will share HVM seat with Viso: Ryan Hunter-Reay will participate in the Open Test at Barber Motorsports Park with HVM Racing, sharing the seat of the No. 13 car with E.J. Viso.
Hunter-Reay, the 2007 Bombardier Learjet Rookie of the Year, won one race last season en route to an eighth-place finish in the IndyCar Series championship.
3. Foyt Racing, Team 3G substitute private tests for Barber: A.J. Foyt Racing and Team 3G will substitute private tests for the Open Test at Barber Motorsports Park.
A.J. Foyt Racing and driver Vitor Meira tested March 10-11 at MSR Houston, a permanent road course less than 100 miles from the team’s shop in Waller, Texas.
“We’re fortunate to have MSR Houston so close,” team director Larry Foyt said. “We think the track is more applicable to the street courses because of its surface and its tighter corners, plus we were able to configure the MSR track to mimic some corners at St. Pete and Long Beach.
“Since we didn’t have to wait for yellows, track inspections and traffic, we were able to get a lot done in the two days we were there. We made some significant gains, learned a lot and now we’re going through the tons of data that we acquired which will help us throughout the season. So for us, it was very worthwhile. We followed it up with some wind tunnel testing; the things we learned there will make it even more worthwhile for our future tunnel tests.”
Team 3G and driver Stanton Barrett are finalizing plans for a private test on a road course before the season begins April 5 at St. Petersburg, Fla.
“For us at Team 3G, being a new team, we’re very focused on preparing for the street course races at St. Petersburg and Long Beach to open the season,” team co-owner Steve Sudler said. “We’re planning on using some of our team testing allotment within the next couple of weeks to get ready for those races.”
4. Green flag in orbit with Discovery: The green flag that will be used to start the 2009 IndyCar Series season April 5 at St. Petersburg, Fla., is taking a circuitous trip to the temporary street circuit.
On March 15, the flag blasted into orbit with Navy Cmdr. Tony Antonelli aboard the space shuttle Discovery. The shortened STS-119 mission will put him back on the ground in time to attend the race as a guest of Michael Andretti.
The Discovery crew of seven will deliver and install the S6 truss segments and the final set of solar arrays providing additional electrical power to the International Space Station.
During the mission, Antonelli – who grew up in Greenwood, Ind., and Fayetteville, N.C. -- will monitor systems and control one of the shuttle’s robotic arms that will install the truss. He’ll pilot the shuttle as it undocks from the International Space Station.
“We are a tiny part of a big team,” said Antonelli, referencing the thousands of people who are related to the space shuttle and space station programs. “It’s a big team and it’s nice getting to be a part of that team. It’s really nice being a member of that team that gets to ride on the rocket.”
5. Indy Racing League nominated for Sports Business Award: The Indy Racing League has been nominated for Professional Sports League of the Year in the second annual Sports Business Awards presented by SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily. Other nominees in the category include the National Basketball Association, National Football League and the National Hockey League.
“2008 was a milestone year for the Indy Racing League,” said Terry Angstadt, president of the commercial division. “We started the season with the unification of open wheel racing, which led to tremendous success stories on and off the track, and then we witnessed other milestone events such as Graham Rahal becoming the youngest race winner in history and Danica Patrick becoming the first female winner in history.
“It’s an honor to be nominated for this award. We hope to continue to build on last year’s momentum as we move forward in 2009 and beyond.”
The Sports Business Awards will honor winners in 14 categories. Winners will be announced May 28 at the New York Marriott Marquis.
The 2009 IndyCar Series season opens April 5 with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 2 p.m. (EDT) by VERSUS. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network. The radio broadcast also will be carried on indycar.com. The 2009 Firestone Indy Lights season begins with a doubleheader race weekend April 4-5 at St. Petersburg. The races will be telecast at 6 p.m. (EDT) on April 6 by VERSUS.