IRL headlines

1.      Return of manufacturer competition leads to new engine rules

2.      NBC Sports Network to televise all Firestone Indy Lights races in 20123.      St. Pete builds up to race weekend

4.      MSR Indy continues sponsor search5.      McIntosh joins Pabst Racing Services for 2012 season

6.      Of note

1. Return of manufacturer competition leads to new engine rules: The IZOD IndyCar Series' consumer-relevant, 2.2-liter, direct-injected turbocharged V-6 engines supplied by Chevrolet, Honda and Lotus make their competitive debut in five weeks at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 25. The eighth annual event marks the first of 16 races over a diverse set of street/road courses and ovals to challenge drivers, teams and manufacturers.The new engine platform, based on a recommendation from the ICONIC Advisory Committee, was made public in June 2010. Similarly, the Advisory Committee made a recommendation to INDYCAR regarding the supplier of the next-generation chassis. INDYCAR last week released its 2012 sporting and technical regulations, and today released its engine regulations.For INDYCAR, the emphasis is on a level playing field as engine manufacturer competition returns to the IZOD IndyCar Series for the first time since 2005."The engine rules developed through the INDYCAR Engine Committee over the past 20 months. The only significant change was the change in capacity (from 2.4 to 2.2 liters)," said Trevor Knowles, INDYCAR's director of engine development. "In the past few Engine Committee meetings, it has been tidying up and clarifications."The INDYCAR Engine Committee was set up as a consultative group chaired by INDYCAR Vice President of Technology Will Phillips and consisting of representatives from each engine manufacturer, a representative from the sanctioning body plus other invited attendees when appropriate (such as BorgWarner, which is supplying the single and twin turbochargers).The engine rules will be stable through the 2016 IZOD IndyCar Series season, with any corrections or modifications decided by INDYCAR after consultation with the Engine Committee.Manufacturers will provide a pool of engines, which INDYCAR officials will allocate to corresponding teams in a random manner. INDYCAR engine support engineers will employ and monitor torque sensors on selected manufacturers' engines to ensure compliance with homologation regulations."It's to track that nobody's getting left behind and to track that all their teams are getting equal treatment," Knowles said.On June 18 and again at the end of the year, manufacturers whose engines are statistically more than 2.5 percent deficient in power may, at the discretion of INDYCAR, make improvements to be homologated. Alterations are allowed to make up 2 percent of shortcomings, and they will be introduced on only new engines being sent to the track. Homologation (sealing of mandated components) will take place next week.Also, manufacturers can request changes to engine components and McLaren software alterations. Information would be shared with INDYCAR and the other manufacturers."If a manufacturer has a problem with a homologated part breaking or there is some operation that they could eliminate to make it less expensive or they have to change suppliers that would lead to changes in how it's made, they can approach us with a request and we would circulate to the other manufacturers for a check that it's not a backdoor way of increasing performance," Knowles said. "If it passes those checks, they would be given the go-ahead to do it."Software is similar to an engine modification. They would request a change to get it incorporated. All manufacturers would then have the opportunity to use that software."Chevrolet, Honda and Lotus have totaled more than 13,500 miles during their phase of on-track development. Team testing is ongoing at Barber Motorsports Park, Auto Club Speedway and Sebring International Raceway. An Open Test is scheduled for March 5-6 and 8-9 at Sebring.Engine basicsCapacity - 2.2 liter maximumCylinders - Up to six, all of equal capacityRPM - 12,000 as restricted by the Engine Control UnitHorsepower - Between 550 and 700, suited to type of circuitFuel - E85; fuel injection allowedOil - Only lubricating oil that is readily available to general public through retail methodsBoost pressure - 155KPa for road courses, 140KPa for short ovals and 130KPa for speedways. Two boost sensors will be fitted and monitored by INDYCARMinimum weight - 112.5kg (248 pounds), excluding items such as the clutch, ECU, fluids, turbochargerTurbocharger - Single or twin featuring water-cooled bearing housing and titanium turbine wheel provided by BorgWarnerMounting - Common mounting points on bulkhead and gearbox for all three manufacturersEngine life - 1,850 miles. Each full-season entrant will receive five fresh engines per year"Push to Pass" - Not to start 2012 seasonKERS - NoPop-off valve - NoTraction control -- NoAnti-stall - YesEngine architectureBank angle - V6 engines - between 60 and 90 degreesBore - 95mm diameter maximum Engine length - 460mm, measured from mounting face to mounting faceCrankshaft height - 100mm above bottom of chassis (lowest point of sump)One-piece crankshaft - Homogenous, with no additional non-ferrous inserts or bolt-on balance weightsMain bearing minimum dimension - 48mm diameterBig end journal minimum dimension - 40mm diameterConnecting rods - Homogenous, with no welding or bondingPiston pin - Single piece onlyValve type - Reciprocating circular poppet, return force via coil spring onlySpark plug - One per cylinder otherwise freeCoatings - DLC coatings are not permitted on crankshafts, rods, camshafts, piston skirts or sleevesCamshafts - Up to four overhead camshafts permitted (2 per bank)2. NBC Sports Network to televise all Firestone Indy Lights races in 2012: The full Firestone Indy Lights 2012 schedule will be televised by the NBC Sports Network, highlighted by live coverage of the Freedom 100 on May 25 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.The June 22 race at Iowa Speedway and July 21 race at Edmonton City Centre Airport will have same-day coverage, while nine races - St. Petersburg, Barber, Long Beach, Detroit, Milwaukee, Toronto, Trois Rivieres, Baltimore and Auto Club Speedway - will be tape-delayed for air at 5 p.m. (ET) the Thursday following each event.Formerly known as VERSUS, the NBC Sports Network serves as a 24/7 cable platform for NBC Sports' rich heritage of unmatched storytelling, best-in-class production and broad promotional power.

Race Date/ Track/ Broadcast/Broadcast Date/Time*

March 24/ Streets of St. Petersburg/ NBCSN/ 3/29    5 p.m.

April 1/Barber Motorsports Park/NBCSN/4/5      5 p.m.

April 15/Streets of Long Beach/NBCSN/4/19    5 p.m.

May 25/Indianapolis Motor Speedway/NBCSN/5/25    Noon

June 2      /Raceway at Belle Isle Park/NBCSN/6/7      5 p.m.

June 15/The Milwaukee Mile/NBCSN/6/21    5 p.m.

June 22/Iowa Speedway/NBCSN/6/22    4 p.m.

July 7/Streets of Toronto/NBCSN/7/12    5 p.m.

July 21/Edmonton City Centre Airport/NBCSN/7/21    5:30 p.m.

Aug. 5/Streets of Trois Rivieres, Quebec/NBCSN/8/16    5 p.m.

Sept. 1/Streets of Baltimore/NBCSN/9/6      5 p.m.

Sept. 15/Auto Club Speedway/NBCSN/9/20    5 p.m.

*All times eastern. Schedule subject to change.3. St. Pete builds up to race weekend: The first of four miles of concrete barriers that outline the scenic Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg street course were put into place Feb. 17.Barriers and fencing will be moved into place over the next five weeks in advance of the IZOD IndyCar Series and Mazda Road to Indy series race weekend March 23-25. The IZOD IndyCar Series' season-opening race will be broadcast on ABC.As part of a media event to commemorate the first block being installed, INDYCAR Vice President of Technology Will Phillips was on hand to explain features of the new Dallara chassis that will be powered by engines supplied by Chevrolet, Honda and Lotus. A 28-car field is expected for the eighth annual race.The 1.8-mile circuit incorporates a runway of the Albert Whitted Airport and a street with Tampa Bay on the left and the new Salvador Dali Museum on the right. Dario Franchitti won the 2011 race and went on to the series championship.4. MSR Indy continues sponsor search: Michael Shank, whose Michael Shank Racing GRAND-AM team opened the year with a bang by winning the 50th anniversary Rolex 24 At Daytona, said an expected partnership program for IZOD IndyCar Series team he announced in October did not develop, which could leave the upstart team off the grid for the season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 25."We've got the car in the shop and the people we need to go run the car, but at this point we are still working to have the full budget in place to go racing," said Shank, who has teamed with NASCAR driver AJ Allmendinger and Columbus (Ohio)-area businessman Brian Bailey to form MSR Indy. "I don't want to be in a position to just go out and make up the numbers. We want to show up and have a competitive presence."My main goal is to make this thing work, and if that means working with a technical partner to make it happen or just focusing on particular races then so be it. Obviously, there are folks out there testing right now, and that is the best-case scenario to be in. We've got a little bit bigger hill to climb at the moment, but we are not giving up by any stretch."Shank and Bailey participated in the State of INDYCAR meetings in Indianapolis earlier this week."Randy (Bernard, INDYCAR CEO) is making a lot of moves, and I think there is some very serious opportunity for the series to continue to grow this year," Shank said.5. McIntosh joins Pabst Racing Services for 2012 season: Shannon McIntosh will compete in the 2012 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda for Pabst Racing Services, team officials announced Feb. 16. McIntosh will pilot the No. 18 car sponsored by TrueCar."After testing Shannon at Autobahn this past October, we were impressed with her intensity and commitment to work with the team to get results," said Augie Pabst, president, Pabst Racing Services. "We are thrilled to be working with Shannon and TrueCar for the 2012 USF2000 Series season and can't wait to get started!"McIntosh, a 22-year-old from Miamisburg, Ohio, cut her teeth on dirt and paved ovals in the Midwest through quarter-midgets, micro-sprints, mini-sprints and most recently, midgets under the guidance of legendary team owner Bob East. Given her past, she made a sharp turn in 2011 competing in the USF2000 series for Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing. Despite the fact McIntosh was taking her first bid at road racing, her best result of the season came on a road course."After testing at the end of the 2011 season with Pabst, I couldn't be happier to join their team going into my second year of road racing," McIntosh said. "The Pabst team understands my background and developmental needs as a driver progressing into open-wheel. I am 100 percent positive they will give me the best opportunity for success. I have learned that having a team behind you, who supports you and is willing to work toward one common goal is of absolute importance, and I couldn't be more optimistic going into 2012."McIntosh's pursuit of INDYCAR began when she started racing at age 5. A career that originally started for fun with her family continued as she spent time developing her understanding and ability to leverage the business side of motorsports. Given her modest upbringing, she has worked tirelessly to help raise capital to continue to fund her racing career, recently landing a multi-year sponsorship contract with TrueCar, Inc.TrueCar, creators of the new car pricing information website, is leveraging its self-made "Women Empowered" initiative as an extension of the company's efforts to empower women in the new car buying experience."Shannon is a fierce competitor with tremendous potential, and a wonderful brand ambassador for TrueCar, our dealer partners, and our key supporters through the 'Women Empowered' initiative," said Charles Kim, TrueCar's director of motorsports. "Her decision to join Pabst Racing Services is another great step in her development through the Mazda Road To Indy ladder system, as Pabst has a long history of winning races and championships. With Shannon, TrueCar and Pabst working together, we're looking forward to a great USF2000 season in 2012."In addition to TrueCar, McIntosh's effort is also supported by TAG Heuer timepieces, Arai Helmets, Alpinestars, CLEARBook, Mazda North American, Cooper Tires, CrossFit9, Anytime Fitness St. Pete, YogaBlu Studio, and Baker & Daniels.6. Of note: John Polkis has joined INDYCAR as the VP of Corporate Business Development. Polkis spent 11 years with Callaway Golf in two significant roles - Director, Global Alliances and Director, National Accounts…Alfe Heat Treating is expanding its sponsorship of the No. 14 ABC Supply car driven by Mike Conway for A.J. Foyt Racing to a full-season associate partnership this season. The company is headquartered in Fort Wayne, Ind. … Race car driver, designer and team owner Jim Hall will be honored by the Road Racing Drivers Club on April 12 as part of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend.

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