IRL headlines

1.      Rubens Barrichello, Tony Kanaan, Jimmy Vasser, Kevin Kalkhoven, Mark Johnson conference call2.      What other IZOD IndyCar Series competitors are saying about Rubens Barrichello joining the IZOD IndyCar Series with KV Racing Technology3.      Spring Training at Sebring officially kicks off 2012 season4.      Glass Hammer brings another woman to USF2000 grid5.      Younessi plans to move up to Firestone Indy Lights1. Rubens Barrichello, Tony Kanaan, Jimmy Vasser, Kevin Kalkhoven, Mark Johnson Conference Call:  KV Racing Technology announced that Brazilian drivers Tony Kanaan and Rubens Barrichello will drive for the team this season in the IZOD IndyCar Series. Barrichello, driver of the No. 8 BMC | Embrase - KV Racing Technology Chevrolet; Kanaan, driver of the No. 11 GEICO/Mouser ELECTRONICS - KV Racing Technology Chevrolet; KV Racing Technology co-owners Kevin Kalkhoven and Jimmy Vasser and KV Racing Technology General Manager Mark Johnson participated in a media conference call to discuss the announcement. Selected quotes from the interview are below.Q.   Congratulations on today's announcement. What attracted you to the IZOD IndyCar Series and KV Racing Technology? RUBENS BARRICHELLO: Well, first of all, I just want to say that I'm over the moon. It's been a few ‑‑ we can say a month, actually, where I went in to test at Sebring, we had no expectations. It was just a test. I was invited by my brother Tony, and I got to the track and I got a fantastic reception. I felt really at home, and I started testing the car, felt good, as well, put good times, and from there on, I got the invitation from Jimmy and Kevin to be racing, to be part of the team.And you know, I felt that I wanted to do it straightaway, but what it really invited me to do is ‑‑ I love what I do. I love the sport, and I love the speed, so myself behind the steering wheel, I just feel at home. And to be able to compete with Tony Kanaan, which is my brother from a long time, on a team that he already put it up to a different level last year, and with me coming and obviously with EJ as our teammate, I think we're going to be able to put the team to a different level again.So I love the challenge, and I hope that that's what's going to happen.

Q.   Tony. First, congratulations on returning to KV Racing Technology. Talk a little bit about returning to the team, and how difficult was it to convince your brother Rubens to join you at KV Racing? TONY KANAAN: I'm extremely happy. I feel bad it looks like I left, but I would not let Kevin and Jimmy let me leave anyway, so I was living in the shop for the past month to make sure that they wouldn't let me go. It's a pleasure. I think we had an eventful year last year. I can't thanks those guys enough for nearly rescuing me five days before the first race. If it wasn't for Kevin and Jimmy and Mark and everybody's effort on their part to make me ‑‑ find me before the first race last year, this would never have happened.

We had a great year. I understand that it's probably not the year that we wanted to have, but it was a lot better than the way we started it. And to be honest, that leads to the next thing, which is now Rubens is here. We definitely got great results last year. We got a huge responsibility on our plate now, not just with me and with the results that we had last year; now Rubens has joined it, and EJ just renewed. EJ has been quite fast in testing. So I would say nowadays it's a big responsibility.And my part on Rubens's deal, I think Kevin was talking to me, and Rubens, but I think I set them up pretty bad. You know, when Rubens ‑‑ I was with Rubens when they kind of gave him the phone call that his deal was not going to happen at Formula 1, and I said, hey, why don't you test my car to help me out. It's a new car. With your experience, I think it's going to be great to have your feet back, and I go to Kevin and Jimmy, and I said, Hey, he wants to race. He has a full sponsorship. He's ready to go. He just wants to give a couple laps in the car, and he'll make his decision.

So obviously we didn't have any cars, so we had my car, and I said, I'll step out of my car, no problem, which I regretted until today because it was supposed to be one day and it became four and a half. And then after the test, obviously Jimmy, with what I told him, and Kevin, as well, they go talk to Rubens. They said, Did you like it? Rubens says, yeah, I enjoyed it a lot.KEVIN KALKHOVEN: Actually we want to thank to Rubens' kids.

TONY KANAAN: Yeah, exactly, with Fernando and Dudu. They said, oh, great. So now they're expecting Rubens to make his decision, and then Rubens says, yeah, yeah, let me think about it. Rubens asked, do you guys have a sponsorship. I said, no, I thought you had it. Then Jimmy kind of gave me a dirty look, and they realized it was a setup, but I think it was a good one. At the end of the day, we're all happy now.Q.   Jimmy, Kevin, Tony mentioned kind of setting him up. Did you guys know that ‑‑ did you feel like you got set up? Did you know it was coming when it became apparent Rubens wasn't going to go back to F1? KEVIN KALKHOVEN: Actually it was funny, about five minutes ago Mark Johnson and I were just talking and saying before the first test, we said it's a 10 percent chance that Rubens would ever dream of driving this car.After the first test, it became obvious that he was really interested, and that's when we went to work on his wife and kids. You know, we realize who the real decision makers in the family are. So we're delighted it's all worked out.Q. Jimmy, just talk a little bit about adding Rubens to the lineup that had TK and EJ from last year.JIMMY VASSER: It's awesome, absolutely awesome. The growth the team has had over the last few years, and culminating with this moment we're having here today, which is also a launch pad for our future and 2012 season, it's a great feeling. You know, it really puts more pressure on the team. Not that there isn't already enough built‑in pressure in motorsport, but to have a driver of Rubens' caliber, a solid team with EJ and Tony, and some new engineers that we have on board with fantastic ‑‑ in Eric Cowdin with fantastic history coming from Penske and race wins, really, it's the kind of added pressure you want to have in motorsport, and if you don't feel that naturally, then you're probably not a real racer.While this is a great, great moment for us, and then the beginning of a great future, there is a lot of hard work to be done, and we're going to begin that next week, spring training, Sebring.Q.   And finally for Mark, the team is back to running three full‑time cars for 2012 after looking like having maybe fewer than three. Does this affect the team's preparation and next week's test at Sebring? MARK JOHNSON: No, absolutely not. We've planned all along to run three cars for the season, and I'm reminded of it constantly with my buddy sitting to the right of me, Mr. Vasser, who I think his statement was we'll run three cars, come hell or high water. I didn't really know where he was figuring that out at, but he knew something I didn't apparently. I think he had an inside scoop on Rubens way before we did.In the end, no, we've gone through the winter. We've prepared as we were going to run three cars, and we staffed as if we were going to run three cars, so frankly, we're right on our stride right now, and we'll have all three cars at Sebring next week ready to go.

Q. I know you haven't been in these cars, but you should have an advantage in car development. What you think you can bring to this team in that regard given the new DW 12? RUBENS BARRICHELLO: Well, I mean, I think it's the right time for me to come in, a new car, carbon brakes, which I've been using for my past 19 years, so I think everybody is going to be learning there with the new car all through the season, so it's a good time.

Obviously I think I don't start from the 00 because I have a lot of experience, and I think I can help the team, as was the first plan. When we went to Sebring, that was the first plan, and I think after 20 laps I was able to do competitive times, and we moved on, and I could help the team to evaluate bits, and we just carried on, and I think the team got better from that and that experience.I think I can help, obviously. I mean, that's ‑‑ I love what I do. That's the most important thing. When you love what you do, you want to search for new things, you have an open mind, and you can do good things. So I look forward to working with the team, on a very intense level, and hopefully my experience will help everybody conquer better, and we can move to a different level.Q. When Nigel Mansell came over here after winning the Formula 1 championship he was 40 years old, never been on an oval, crashed in a big test at Phoenix and went on to win five oval races in the next two years. Can you kind of set the record straight on there's all this talk about you promised your wife you wouldn't run an oval and, blah blah, blah. Can you tell us what really happened and what you've told her about ‑‑ what lies you've told her about how easy ovals are, please? RUBENS BARRICHELLO: Well, to be very honest to you, what happened was that one day we were watching an oval race, and there was a crash, and she looked at me and said, "You're never going to do this, are you?" I said, "Well, I don't plan to, because I hope that I'll be racing Formula 1 forever, like 25 years, and then I'll probably stop." But whenever we were talking about Indy, in the back of my mind, I always wanted to know what is the experience, I mean, what goes through the mind of the driver at such a speed.With all my experience, I have no idea how to set up a car on an oval. But I had on Tony ‑‑ Tony always told me what is this, what is that, and how did I actually went through my wife's thing is that my kids helped big time. They went to see daddy racing on the oval, and we had fun together the one day when ‑‑ it was a setup. I briefed the boys, and then we went to mom and said, Eduardo asked her if it was true that she didn't want me to race on oval, and she said, well, I would rather have him racing on just normal circuits, and then we had ‑‑ like a quorum that we said all three of us at the same time, "Luckily mom doesn't tell us what to do." It was kind of funny.But she was fine. She knows I'm so happy. She can see in my eyes how much I'm happy, so she's happy for me.2. What other IZOD IndyCar Series competitors are saying about Rubens Barrichello joining the IZOD IndyCar Series with KV Racing Technology: Selection of comments from IZOD IndyCar Series drivers about competing with and against Rubens Barrichello.TONY KANAAN, driver of the No. 11 GEICO | Mouser Electronics car for KV Racing Technology, fellow Brazilian and 2004 IZOD IndyCar Series champion: "I have a guy who has 19 years of experience in Formula One; one of the best drivers I've ever seen as a teammate that I can learn a lot and he can learn a lot from me racing on the ovals in the series. We're getting a guy who has the most grand prix races completed in history. For him, he is in a series where he can win races and not be just part of a field because the equipment is not capable of winning. So I am looking forward to the start of the season. I think it's going to be a very exciting year."DARIO FRANCHITTI, driver of No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car and four-time IZOD IndyCar Series champion: "It's only a positive. He ups the level of competition in the field yet again."SCOTT DIXON, driver of No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car and two-time IZOD IndyCar Series champion: "I think it's obviously huge for the series as Rubens has some real name recognition that he can bring to the IZOD IndyCar Series on an international level. With new cars and engine manufacturers rejoining our sport this year, the addition of Rubens just adds to the buzz surrounding IndyCar racing right now. I look forward to competing against him and all the drivers in the Target car when the green flag drops in St. Petersburg later this month."HELIO CASTRONEVES, driver of the No. 3 Team Penske car, a fellow Brazilian and three-time Indianapolis 500 champion: "The entire series will get a boost with Rubinho's presence. It's another great name added to our grid. He will be fighting for the title, and the championship will only gain from that."ED CARPENTER, team owner/driver of the No. 20 Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet for Ed Carpenter Racing: "Rubens will be a great addition to the IZOD IndyCar Series.  His driving talent and personality gives the series an international flavor. Just talking with Rubens, I know he is excited about driving an IndyCar in 2012. We are looking forward to his enthusiasm and professionalism in our series."E.J. VISO, driver of the No. 8 CITGO | PDVSA car for KV Racing Technology: "Having Rubens on board will be an asset for us; somebody who has so much experience."CHARLIE KIMBALL, driver of the No. 83 Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing car: "Having Rubens in the IndyCar Series adds one more incredible talent to the field and guarantees that our race in Brazil will be even more crazy than usual. Rubens has been around racing for a long time and is so well-respected that he will be a huge asset to IndyCar racing."3. Spring Training at Sebring officially kicks off 2012 season: Will Power is accustomed to spending more time on the road than at his North Carolina home, but not necessarily during the IZOD IndyCar Series off-season. However, with a new chassis and Chevrolet engine package to develop, the driver of the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car has shuttled between Florida, Alabama and California the past seven weeks.On-track testing for engine manufacturers Chevrolet, Honda and Lotus has been unlimited since mid-January, and each supplier of the 2.2-liter, turbocharged V-6 engines fueled with E85 has piled up miles on road courses such as Barber Motorsports Park and Infineon Raceway. Sebring International Raceway, which mimics temporary street courses on the schedule with bumpy patches and hard braking zones, has also been a busy winter venue.On March 5-6 and 8-9, all IZOD IndyCar Series full-season competitors are expected to convene on the 1.67-mile, 11-turn Sebring short course for the series' first Open Test of the year. With the St. Petersburg, Long Beach and Sao Paulo (Brazil) street circuits comprising three of the first four events, track time at Sebring is invaluable.The Open Test is open to the public each day (9 a.m.-5 p.m.). There is a $10 admission charge. Firestone Indy Lights will conduct an Open Test at the facility March 7."With the new car it's all about who gets on top of it the quickest," said Mike Conway, who enters his first season driving the No. 14 ABC Supply car for A.J. Foyt Racing. "We'll be working as well as we can with my engineers and the crew around me. Getting that jump at the beginning of the season will be key to the championship. No one really knows who has the upper hand, and no one really will know until qualifying for St. Pete."Open Test by groupsGroup 1 (9 a.m.-noon and 1-5 p.m. March 5-6):

No. 2 Ryan Briscoe (Team Penske) - Chevrolet No. 3 Helio Castroneves (Team Penske) - Chevrolet No. 6 Katherine Legge (Lotus Dragon Racing) - Lotus No. 12 Will Power (Verizon Team Penske) -- Chevrolet No. 18 James Jakes (Dale Coyne Racing) - Honda No. 19 Justin Wilson (Dale Coyne Racing) - Honda No. 26 Marco Andretti (Andretti Autosport) - Chevrolet No. 27 James Hinchcliffe (Andretti Autosport) - Chevrolet No. 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretti Autosport) - Chevrolet No. 77 Simon Pagenaud (Sam Schmidt Motorsports) - Honda No. 78 Simona de Silvestro (Lotus HVM Racing) - LotusGroup 2 (9 a.m.-noon and 1-5 p.m. March 8-9):

No. 4 JR Hildebrand (Panther Racing) - Chevrolet No. 5 E.J. Viso (KV Racing Technology) - Chevrolet No. 7 Sebastien Bourdais (Lotus Dragon Racing) - Lotus No. 8 Rubens Barrichello (KV Racing Technology) - Chevrolet No. 9 Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing) - Honda No. 10 Dario Franchitti (Target Chip Ganassi Racing) - Honda No. 11 Tony Kanaan (KV Racing Technology) - Chevrolet No. 14 Mike Conway (A.J. Foyt Racing) - Honda No. 15 Takuma Sato (Rahal Letterman Lanigan) - Honda No. 20 Ed Carpenter (Ed Carpenter Racing) - Chevrolet No. 22 Oriol Servia (Lotus Dreyer & Reinbold Racing) - Lotus No. 38 Graham Rahal (Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing) - Honda No. 67 Josef Newgarden (Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing) - Honda No. 77 Alex Tagliani (Team Barracuda - BHA) - Lotus No. 83 Charlie Kimball (Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing) - HondaINDYCAR president of competition Beaux Barfield announced that Simon Pagenaud, Katherine Legge and Josef Newgarden will be classified as rookies for the season. While Rubens Barrichello is not classified as a rookie, he will be a rookie for the Indianapolis 500."It's going to be very interesting and unknown until we do the first race and then we'll get an idea of which engine is the strongest on road courses," said Power, the series championship runner-up the past two seasons in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car. "And until we get to Indy no one is going to have an idea of what's the strongest engine on an oval."A bit of the unknown stirs the competitors."It's an exciting time in INDYCAR to be able to develop these cars and engines, and now the manufacturer competition that we have really makes it than much more interesting and competitive," Andretti Autosport driver Ryan Hunter-Reay said.4. Glass Hammer bring another female to USF2000 grid: Kansas-born Collete Davis has announced her plans to compete in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda for the first two races of the 2012 season after signing a partnership with Glass Hammer Racing, LLC. She will compete in the National Class with One Formula Racing.Davis spent the 2011 season racing a Pro Challenge Mustang, placing second in the overall Championship on only a partial schedule with four wins and two pole positions. With her entry into the Mazda Road to Indy, she becomes the youngest female competing in any level of the ladder system."Words can't describe how grateful I am to have this opportunity from Glass Hammer Racing to compete on a national platform against some of the best up-and-coming drivers in the world with the One Formula Racing team," Davis said. "IndyCar is my goal and I'm excited to take the first steps towards that goal next month at Sebring."In addition to her driving and instructing duties, Davis will also be responsible for developing a junior racer mentor program that will match up young girls interested in racing with established female racers and role models in their area. Aside from racing and being a full-time Mechanical Engineering student, she takes upon an active role in promoting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) careers in middle school students."GHR is delighted to announce that Collete is the first driver we are supporting in the 2012 season," said Gregory Gaich, founder and owner of Glass Hammer Racing. "She's equal parts dedicated racer, stellar student, and tireless advocate for young woman. While she hasn't had as many opportunities to race as many she'll be competing against, she's made the most of every experience and we look forward to seeing her demonstrate her talent in open wheel racing for the first time."5. Younessi plans to move up to Firestone Indy Lights: Indianapolis-based Younessi Racing announced plans to enter Firestone Indy Lights competition with team owner Rodin Younessi behind the wheel of the No. 16 car.The team, which competed in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda last year, will seek to make its series debut on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., next month."It is extremely exciting to be competing in the Firestone Indy Lights series," said Younessi, the lone owner/driver in the series. "I am thrilled to be back behind the wheel of a race car again and I am looking forward to a great season. I am very pleased with the opportunity and grateful to the series for their support."In addition to USF2000, Younessi's racing experience includes sports cars and motorcycles."The decision to move up was very simple. The cars are great to drive and the competition is strong which makes for a thrilling series," said Younessi, a successful entrepreneur and an attorney. "I expect for us to run a very professional team and give it our best and improve as the season moves forward to be as competitive as possible."We have been testing at various tracks for the last few months in preparation for the season and I have been on a very strict regimen to be in shape for this physically demanding challenge. Of course competing at this level is not easy and I take this opportunity extremely seriously, hence we have been working diligently during the off-season to create a small pool of talented professionals in order to create a well-balanced team."Younessi Racing will participate in the Firestone Indy Lights Open Test on March 7 at Sebring International Raceway.