Thursday, December 12, 2013

Interview with J.P. Montoya conducted at Auto Club Speedway

 
JPM as he commands a Dallara DW12 around Phoenix International Raceway. Image Credit: IndyCar Series

Interview with J.P. Montoya conducted at Auto Club Speedway

In an interview with past North American open-wheel CART champion, F1, Indianapolis 500, and the 24 Hours of Daytona race winning driver, Juan Pablo Montoya (JPM) at Auto Club Speedway on Monday (audio link below), he was very clear on this difference in driving a DW12 over a NASCAR Cup Car.

On Tuesday, Penske Racing team-mate Helio Castroneves and JPM took to the reconfigured and updated ‘oval’ track in Phoenix. After a very productive outing, JPM shared his thoughts with IndyCar .

This excerpted and edited from IndyCar.com – 

Montoya’s testing program includes two fast ovals
By Dave Lewandowski – Published: Dec 10, 2013


Juan Pablo Montoya completed Round 2 of his acclimation to the Chevrolet-powered No. 2 Team Penske car Dec. 10. This outing was on the one-mile Phoenix International Raceway oval.
Last month, the 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner tested on the 1.65-mile Sebring International Raceway short course. Up next is a rescheduled session Dec. 12 at the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway oval and a Dec. 16 date at the 2.385-mile, 12-turn Sonoma Raceway. Helio Castroneves, the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series championship runner-up and three-time Indy 500 champion, and four-time 500 Mile Race champion Rick Mears joined Montoya at Phoenix.

“Well, my first impression was when Helio started running. We did some laps in the road car and I said in NASCAR we brake here and here,” Montoya relayed. “And he was like, ‘No, this is going to be wide open.’ I’m like, ‘What?’ I will tell you, if you are standing in pit road and watch in Turn 1 how the car goes. In the straight it just goes fast, but you don’t really realize how fast he’s going until he turns and the thing just snaps into the corner. And then you like into (Turns) 3 and 4 and you know, ‘Wow.’ Your foot never moved. For me, the big difference is the entry to the corner. Once you get to the middle of the corner, whatever speed you have, you are committed to. You can see the exit, too, and you’re like, ‘Ahhh.’

“You just want to build to it and get comfortable with the feel. I’m still understanding what the car wants and what I want out of the car. You forget how fast an open-wheel car is (on the Phoenix oval). Around 6 seconds quicker than a Cup car a lap.”

“It’s funny because it’s a lighter car, but the wheel is like – everybody complained when I ran NASCAR how heavy my wheel was, everybody that drove my car, and honestly because we have no power steering, that’s how heavy it is,” Montoya continued. “What I remember, road courses, I understand it’s heavy, but I never thought that it would be heavy on an oval, but it’s like, ‘Hold your breath and turn.’ It’s breathtaking. The more laps I do, the easier it becomes, and it’s just that little bit.”
[Reference Here]

 
Interview with Juan Pablo Montoya during a scheduled testing session at Fontana this week which was postponed due to high Santa Ana winds. Ctrl-Click photo above to launch audio of interview (6:13)

JPM elaborated that the cockpit is much tighter than a stock car, so consequently, the arms use different muscles – it is like the difference between having the steering wheel very close to one’s chest and the elbows out (Cup style) vs having one’s arms straight out in front with less side-to-side leverage (Indy style) in order to turn the steering wheel – again, this requires the use of different muscles. Juan Pablo shared that this revelation has had him change his gym training regimen in order to build up the correct set of muscles in his arms.

Following a break for the holidays, Montoya will join Castroneves and Will Power for a manufacturer test in mid-January at Sebring. An Open Test is scheduled for March 16-17 at Barber Motorsports Park, and the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is March 28-30.

… notes from The EDJE

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Mazda teams score at the US Air Force 25 Hours of Thunderhill

The three Mazda teams raced brand-new 2014 Mazda6 SKYACTIV-D Clean Diesel racecars.  These are not the same SpeedSource cars that won the 2013 Grand-Am GX Manufacturers Championship -- these are far-more production-based. Mechanically, the cars remain nearly stock, but the interiors were removed to accommodate an Anthony Woodford Racing roll-cage, a Sparco Pro-ADV racing seat , Safecraft racing seatbelts and plumbed-in fire systems and AIM MXL Pista dashes and data acquisition. Image Credit: Mazda Motorsports

Mazda teams score at the US Air Force 25 Hours of Thunderhill

The USAF 25 Hours of Thunderhill saw a field of 57 cars racing in six classes (ES, ESR, E0, E1, E2, E3) going twice around the clock plus an hour over the 2.86-mile, 15-turn track located 90-minutes north of Sacramento.

The Venn, or set diagram that best showcases Mazda Motorsports and its efforts in motor culture are the overlapping portions of participants measured between endurance racing and club racing. This overlap was showcased on a brisk, but clear weekend at the longest endurance race in America, the National Auto Sport Association (NASA)’s US Air Force 25 Hours of Thunderhill.  Of the 57 cars (60 entered) that took the green flag on Saturday, 16 of them were Mazda-powered, more than any other marque/brand. When the checkered flag dropped on Sunday, three of the six classes had Mazda racers on the podium, led by Mazda class-wins in the E2 and E3 classes.

Of particular interest to Mazda employees and dealers was the “Factory Guys versus Dealers” battle in identically prepared, modified-for-racing 2014 Mazda6 SKYACTIV-D clean diesels. The final score was dealers over the factory guys, but ultimately it was a win-win as the three Mazda6s were perfect on the powertrain front, all three finishing.  A few minor racing-related incidents resulted in suspension repairs, but great driving and amazing fuel economy meant that the #55 Mazda6, driven by Mazda dealers Richard Fisher (The Autobarn Mazda, Evanston, IL), Joel Weinberger (Continental Motors, Naperville, IL) and Taz Harvey (Dublin Mazda, Tracy Mazda, Dublin/Tracy, CA) finished on the podium in the E1 class.  The second Mazda dealer car finished fifth with the Mazda employees sixth.

“While Le Mans and Daytona are better known endurance races, the Thunderhill 25 can make a claim as being every bit as challenging,” said Robert Davis, MNAO Senior Vice President, US Operations. “For Mazda to come here with three brand new cars, prepped by volunteer employees on their own time, and a team of dealers and employees to drive them, speaks volumes about our cars and our people.  Equally important is having another dozen-plus customer teams who chose to race our products.  Success at this track is a combination of having the right cars and the right teams, and a little racing luck, and we’re pleased to have two more wins here.  Congratulations to everyone at Sector Purple Racing and RJ Racing on their E2 and E3 wins.”

Mazda class winners and podium finishers at the US Air Force 25 Hours of Thunderhill:

Finish Position  -  Class  -  Car #  -  Team  -  Model

3rd Place  E1  No. 55  Mazdaspeed Mazda 6 Dealers A - Mazda6 SKYACTIV-D Clean Diesel

The E2 Class winning No. 78 Sector Purple Racing Mazda Miata. Image Credit: NASA

The E2 Class was won by is the No. 78 Sector Purple Racing Mazda Miata, driven by  Kyle Watkins, Dan Williams, Glen Conser and Robert W. Ames.
"The plan was to come out stay incident free and not be off the track," Conser said. "We got good gas mileage, saved the tires and we put together a solid effort.  We had some contact in the middle of the night when Dan was driving, but that was about it for our trouble. We had very smooth pit stops and overall just ran a great race."

1st Place  E2  No. 78  Sector Purple Racing - Mazda MX-5 Miata

The E3 Class the No. 23 RJ Racing Mazda Miata. Image Credit: NASA

 In the E3 Class the No. 23 RJ Racing Mazda Miata driven by John Gibson, Rob Gibson, Jamie Florence, Roger Eagleton, Gary Browne won the class.

"It was a really great run," said team representative Chris Hillebrandt. "Last year we blew a motor 12 hours in after winning in 2011. We had some mixed emotions coming in this year. We raced our race and we won it again. We really did not have a lot of issues. We had some small issue with our dash giving us a funny fuel reading. It would give us a number than go out. Sometimes we had to wait until it coughed to come in an fuel the car. The drivers and team did a great job."

1st Place  E3  No. 23  RJ Racing - Mazda MX-5 Miata

2nd Place  E3  No. 36  Spare Parts Racing 2 - Mazda MX-5 Miata

3rd Place  E3  No. 60  A+ Racing - Mazda MX-5 Miata
SlideShow LINK >>>

SlideShow LINK >>>
 
The No. 24 Rotek Racing Audi TT RS won the eleventh running of the United States Air Force (USAF) 25 Hours of Thunderhill today.  Following the Rotek Audi to fill out the overall podium was the No.83 Barrett Racing Porsche GT3 Cup in second and the No. 38 Radical West Radical in third. Image Credit: NASA

 Race Statistics:
705 laps covered by leader (laps x 2.86-track miles = 1,819 total racing miles covered)
13 caution periods
57 cars started, 40 finished
Fast lap of the race was set by Al Unser Jr. in the No. 52 JFC Racing Wolf, time of 1:37.789

Final and hourly timing reports are posted at http://timingscoring.drivenasa.com/NASA_California-Northern_Region/25%20Hours%20of%20Thunderhill/.

* Great mix of cars including Audi R8 LMS, Audi TT RS, Norma Sports Racer, Seat Leon, Lexus IS300, Mazda 6 Diesel, Miata MX-5 and RX-8, Acura ILX, Honda Civic, Honda CR-Z, Factory Five Racing, Chevrolet Silverado, Porsche 997, etc.
* Six classes of race cars E0, E1, E2, E3, ES, ESR
* 60+ entries in E0 7, E1 10, E2 7, E3 11, ES 17, ESR 9; 16 Mazda entries, 12 BMW, 4 Porsche, 4 Honda, 4 Acura

... notes from The EDJE

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The visual and design explosion that is the LA Auto Show

Downtown Los Angeles skyline at night and in black and white as a graphic backdrop in the KIA booth. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

The visual and design explosion that is the LA Auto Show

Another year is in the books and it is time to kick off the 2014 automobile show season with the event that starts the debut and sales cycle all over again ... the Motor Press Guild hosted Press Days for the LA Auto Show.

MOTOR PRESS GUILD NAMES CAR OF THE YEAR FOR 2013 - L A AUTO SHOW (YouTube) - Motor Press Guild Names 2014's Mazda3 And Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Winners of its 2013 Innovation Vehicle of the Year Award. Winners Announced at the LA Auto Show's MPG Motoring Invitational presented by Forza Motorsport 5 and XBOX One.

This edition has a few design and booth highlights of note that include the bringing forward of a radically artful concept body design to the streets (if this ever happens, it is usually toned way down), a second look at mid-century luxury design in a hard top two-door (that had a dealer from Valencia, California chanting to the designers at the booth to "JUST BUILD IT"), a full 3-D car sculpture not intended to advance automobile design on the road but on the HD screen of a game console, and lastly, an artful booth presentation that featured two string instrument performers (violin and cello) playing classic rock-n-roll hits from Guns and Roses to the Doors.

There's little doubt that the 2015 BMW i8 is one of the most radical and groundbreaking performance cars this industry has seen in a long time. From its unique carbon-intensive construction to its 1.5-liter, three-cylinder and electric motor plug-in powertrain to its concept-car originated appearance (below in 2009), the flagbearer for BMW's new i venture challenges the very notion of what it takes to be a supercar. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)
BMW Vision Efficient Dynamics Concept introduced during the 2009 LA Auto Show. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

BMW introduced a radical concept body design at the LA Auto Show a couple of years ago that became a bit of a signature, but no one thought this sculpted approach would ever see the pavement of the stree of the light of the sun until the announcement of the new BMW iDrive.

Elmiraj advances the Cadillac philosophy of provocative modern design and engaging rear-wheel drive performance, with a 4.5-liter twin turbocharged V8 delivering an estimated 500 hp. The engine takes the baseline technology from the Cadillac Twin Turbo V6 and expands it to the classic performance format of a V8 engine. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

Cadillac has been flirting with design in a different direction - away from the radical arch around a wheel element - to the simplicity of American mid-century modern inspired design (first shown a couple of years ago with the Ciel Concept, pronounced “C-L,” the French word for sky, a four-seat convertible) that is seeing a strong revival in homes, furniture, and now ... cars. 

Interior Design Manager, Gael Buzyn as he poses for photos while sitting in a cockpit designed with special egress features for the passenger who will ride in the back seat ... both bucket seats on each side move to aid in the human motion of entering and exiting the Elmiraj rear cabin. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

A modern update to the classic format of a two-door grand coupe, Elmiraj Concept provides a look inside the Cadillac Studio/North Hollywood to see how the designers envision performance and luxury for the next generation of luxury drivers. The long dash-to-axle front profile, a Cadillac signature, gives the coupe a performance-oriented form. The long wheelbase and clean bodyside characterizes the car’s spacious dimensions and elevated status.

An interesting observation at the stand was that this Elmiraj Concept display was directly across from the Bentley booth with all of their well-over $100,000 to $300,000-plus cars and most everyone who stopped to take in the view, had their backs toward the Bentley display.

Mercedes-Benz designers came up with the AMG Vision Gran Turismo Concept for a starring role in the PlayStation 3 racing game, Gran Turismo 6. But like Pinocchio, the folkloric wooden toy that came to life, the Vision Concept, or something like it, may sooner rather than later become a real-life model in the Mercedes lineup. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

Mercedes-Benz design in Sunnyvale, California used the occasion of the LA Auto Show to dazzle attendees with a full scale creation of a digital car, AMG Vision GT Concept, that will be featured as a supercar in the Gran Turismo 6 video game.

Click here for Mercedes-Benz produced YouTube video. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

The really tragic thing, other than the obvious time and expense put forward on this artful motor culture display for just the promotion of a video game, this particular AMG Vision GT Concept will never see the light of day or a street ... it is not a car.

"This is the future of Mercedes-Benz design," Gorden Wagener, vice president for design at Daimler, said as he introduced the car at the Los Angeles Auto Show, where Motor Press Guild hosted Press Days began on Wednesday, simultaneous with its unveiling at the Tokyo motor show. "This car, or elements of it, will make its way into production."

KIA booth music before the presentation was aggressively mood setting. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

The slideshow of images showing California icons was inspiring - Griffith Observatory image as it appeared in the KIA tradeshow stand. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

KIA used its stage to introduce the world to its new full sized K900 four-door sedan. In the lead up to the presentation, however, the Press Days attendees were treated to a rather sublime concert of very hard rock songs with the twist of being performed with the delicate tones delivered through a violin and a cello accompanied by a slideshow of iconic images of California (from the Golden Gate Bridge to Griffith Observatory) that was projected through a very wide landscape format jumbo-tron with the image first projected in Black & White then fading into a Full Color version.

The Korean automaker unveiled the all-new K900, a large sedan that will offer the space and trappings of German land yachts, while undercutting their prices by tens of thousands of dollars.

"This is our boldest statement yet," said Tom Loveless, executive vice president of sales for Kia. "It's a true flagship sedan that symbolizes how far we've come, and we believe it will make you question everything you thought you knew about Kia."

Introduction of Executive Vice President of Sales for KIA - Tom Loveless. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

Of course, there was more ... much, much, more ... but all one has to do to get a look and feel of the beginning of the automobile tradeshow season is just attend the LA Auto Show which runs from November 22 - December 1, 2013 at the Los Angeles Convention Center in downtown LA!

... notes from The EDJE

.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Mazda to field Prototype Class SKYACTIV Technology diesel in 2014

SpeedSource Race Engineering will be responsible for the Mazda cars on the track - drivers and race management to be announced at a later date. Image Credit: Mazda Motorsports (2013)
Mazda to field Prototype Class SKYACTIV Technology diesel in 2014
At Mazda, “Never Stop Challenging” isn’t just a catchphrase, it’s a company maxim. 
After nearly two years of planning, Mazda Motorsports will field a pair of factory-backed SKYACTIV-D Smart Diesel-powered racecars in the top Prototype Class for the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship (USCC), beginning with the Rolex 24 at Daytona on January 25-26, 2014. This is a major step up for Mazda, having won the 2013 Grand-Am GX Manufacturers Championship. Mazda will be challenging for overall race wins against the toughest sports car competitors in North America.

“This is the most significant step Mazda has taken towards returning to the global racing stage since our overall victory at Le Mans in 1991,” said John Doonan, director of Mazda Motorsports. “And thanks to our SKYACTIV-D Mazda6 racecars winning nine of 12 Rolex GRAND-AM GX races and the GRAND-AM GX Manufacturers Championship this year, we’re confident that our two prototype cars will challenge the best North America has to offer.”

Long-time racing partner SpeedSource Race Engineering, the team that oversaw Mazda’s GX-class championship in 2013, will carry responsibility to develop and run the cars on track. Additionally, Mazda also is in discussions with customer teams interested in the prototype class, as well as teams interested in developing the championship winning Mazda6 into a GT Daytona class car.

Sylvain Tremblay, Owner, SpeedSource Engineering noted; “As a racer, you always want to be in the fastest class. The development of the Mazda SKYACTIV-D was a great deal of work by Mazda and SpeedSource and it will be quite the task to take this to the front of the prototype class in only our second year of competition. Mazda and SpeedSource will have a busy November and December of testing as we prepare for Daytona.”

As part of its challenger frame of mind, Mazda is the only OEM racing with a diesel engine. The SKYACTIV-D Smart Diesel race engine is a true production-based engine and a carry-over from the development work done with the Mazda6 GX-class racing cars. The engine is 51 percent stock by parts count, and 63 percent stock by weight. Mazda chose this path as it is the most honest way to demonstrate the performance, quality, durability, and reliability of Mazda powerplants.

Driver line-ups and team partners will be announced at a later date. The cars will make their first public appearance at the “Roar Before the 24” test at Daytona, January 3-5, 2014.
... notes from The EDJE
 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Carson Daly's special The Voice KIA Soul

Carson Daly's custom-designed The Voice Kia Soul on display at Universal Studios Hollywood's City Walk! Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

Carson Daly's special The Voice KIA Soul

Carson Daly, the host of the extremely popular singing competition television show, and video production crew from KIA and The Voice, set up and shoot commercial packages of Carson accepting delivery of a special RIDES Magazine edition of the KIA Soul transformed for The Voice.

 Carson Daly as he discusses the shoot with production. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

The video shoot was set in the Universal City Walk 'Towers' stage area right next to the Hard Rock Cafe's over-sized Eddie Van Halen, red, black,and white stripped painted guitar sign.

Tweet by Carson Daly showing his joy at the unveiling at City Walk:
Special features of the Carson Daly KIA Soul with a The Voice theme. Image Credit: Carson Daly via Twitter (2013)

Carson Daly as he works on in car positioning. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)


The name of this Kia says it all: Soul.

With NBC's The Voice inspiring so many talented people to sing their hearts out and bare their souls through music, this car represents the sheer talent needed to perform in front of a live audience and millions at home.

RIDES magazine customized the exterior with a bright red, adding a black and white airbrushed The Voice logo on the side, incorporating vinyl on the window portion, as well as the inspiring words "I Want You" illuminated in the lower grille, along with the LED puddle projectors.

Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

In order to perform under pressure, 20-inch three-piece Niche Scope wheels color-matched to the vehicle, coupled with Falken tires, add style and confidence.

The four replicated coaches' chairs are the highlight of an interior that is decked out in red leather, black suede and red stitching.

Control the "I Want You" logo with the red button on top of the dash.

Using a unique platform such as The Voice to become a star requires practice; luckily, an iPad®2 Mini connected to a 40-inch LED TV allows you to use the preloaded The Voice app and sing at the top of your lungs through the wireless microphone, amplified through Rockford Fosgate speakers in their fiberglass custom pods.

It's time to rock the Soul on NBC's The Voice!

... notes from The EDJE

Thursday, October 24, 2013

IndyCar driver Justin Wilson is released to recover from home

Justin Wilson in the pits. Image Credit: Ken Manfred (2013)

Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

Justin Wilson being attended to out on Turn 2 at Auto Club Speedway. Image Credit: Ken Manfred (2013)

IndyCar driver Justin Wilson is released to recover from home

IndyCar pilot Justin Wilson returned home to Colorado this week to begin his recovery process after suffering injuries in a lap 111 accident in the 2013 IndyCar season finale at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California last weekend.

Wilson suffered a pulmonary contusion as well as three fractures to his pelvis from the impact, which saw the front of a competitor’s car make lateral (t-bone) contact with the right side of Wilson’s DW12. The recovery process will require several weeks of inactivity for Wilson.

The order to keep off his feet is a big adjustment for Wilson, who in addition to his duties as a doting dad to his two young daughters, stays extremely active with a comprehensive training program that integrates long-distance cycling, mountain biking, and weight training.

“They said it will be six weeks before I can put weight on my right side,” said Wilson, who has already become adroit with his new crutches he will use to get around. “I am hoping for a lot less (time) of course, but you have to do what they say. It will be hard because I am already thinking about getting back in the car and training to be ready for that, but it will just take some time.”

Wilson has a recent precedent for this process after suffering a back injury in practice at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in August, 2011. But after sitting out the final six races of the IndyCar season, Wilson returned to 2012 race duty in fine form, winning in his first race back with a breakthrough victory for Michael Shank Racing in the 50th Anniversary Rolex 24 At Daytona.

While obeying doctors orders and keeping off his feet will be key to his healing, the affable Briton has already also benefited from an outpouring of support from a wide range of sources.

“It has been amazing, several of the drivers came and visited me in the hospital and everyone has called, tweeted, or texted me just saying ‘get well fast’.  It has been a little overwhelming,” said Wilson. “I’d like to respond to everyone, but I think it would be impossible!  I am grateful for the support, and it is  really encouraging for me.”

The primary partner on Wilson’s No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda-powered machine was the Boy Scouts of America, and the group was another outlet of support as the national council organized a section of the website for Scouts from across the country to wish Wilson a speedy recovery  (http://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2013/10/21/justin/).

... notes from The EDJE

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Post MAVTv 500 IndyCar winning statements, miscues, and movements

IndyCar Series Race Director, Beaux Barfield waves to Scott Dixon to begin his qualification run which had his car be placed in P7, first car in Row 3 in a 3-wide rolling start. Target Chip Ganassi Racing decided to change the engine to give Scott's car a fresh machine for the 500 mile race which carries a 10 spot penalty. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

Post MAVTv 500 IndyCar winning statements, miscues, and movements

You know, in this life, it is easy to be critical after the fact. The MAVTv 500 IZOD IndyCar Series season finale held at Auto Club Speedway, upon review, had its share of miscues and confusing statements ... probably way too many to mention in one posting but here are a couple of highlights.

The first one was a statement made by IndyCar's only team owner, driver, and first champion of the MAVTv 500 (2012) Ed Carpenter - No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet, after the MAVTv 500 race last year which provided a key motivation to this year's MAVTv 500 champion, Will Power - No. 12 Verizon/Penske Racing Chevrolet.

Here, Will Power informs owner/driver Ed Carpenter of the level of motivation he provided with his ill thought out assertion. It was the kind of assertion that Dixon and his team were making against Team Penske at Sonoma when the right-rear pitman was accused of unprofessional tactics. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

Will Power pumps his fist with excitement as Ed Carpenter begins to understand the positive nature of the motivation he was able to create with his off-the-cuff-comment about Power crashing out after only a little over 50 laps of the 2012 MAVTv 500. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

This excerpted and edited from Auto Racing Daily -

Q - I heard you mention on television that you had a little extra incentive today to want to win this, make a point of some sort.

WILL POWER:  The incentive?  The incentive was, Ed Carpenter said that Will Power did exactly what everyone expected him to do at the last race last year. I thought that was just such motivation for me to beat him and win at this track and just be good at ovals. I went about it. I thought I’m going to beat Ed. Ed, I really respect him. A very good, fast, clean oval racer. Always good to race. I don’t dislike him, but I told him, I said, Man, your comment last year gave me a lot of motivation. It’s true.

So, yes, that’s right. I like Ed. He’s very good. He’s quick. But that comment definitely got to me in a good way.

[Reference Here]

Second, can we say that 'The Captain' has called better races for Helio Castroneves? Helio Castroneves - No. 3 Auto Club of America/Penske Racing Chevrolet, had set himself up to win. He was mentally prepared, in qualifications he secured the P2 position between Pole winner Will Power and single race team-mate P3 A.J. Allmendinger leaving Scott Dixon further down in the field at P7 with an engine change for both Scott and Helio, a 10 spot penalty was assessed. (Castroneves P12 / Dixon P17).

Three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves leads four-time ChampCar series season champion Sebastien Bourdais into Turn 2 during the MAVTv 500 IndyCar season finale at Auto Club Speedway. Image Credit: Ken Manfred (2013)

By Lap 5 Helio was running in the top five where he remained for the  most of the race - even leading several times. Then on Lap 210 a YELLOW Flag flew due to Alex Tagliani - No. 10 Target/Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, spinning off of Turn 2 which brought a call over the radio to Helio from Roger Penske to PIT. On Lap 212, Helio Castroneves gives up his position in the field as he enters the pits when they were still classified as closed.

Helio found himself battling for the lead again with Charlie Kimball - No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen/Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, where Helio crowded Charlie running for the lead and damaged the front wing on his No. 3 DW12. On Lap 226 Helio Castroneves replaced his nosecone and was never able to recapture his position in the field finishing one position behind P5 Scott Dixon - No. 9 Target/Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

In a post MAVTv 500 season championship press conference, Scott Dixon stated that his car was a 7th or 8th fastest car in the field at best. Castroneves is left as Power was left the previous three years with a 'should'a, could'a, would'a ending to a strong season.

This infographic found in the Media Room, where all of the post event press conferences take place, pretty much highlights the obvious ... made even more obvious by the win in the 2013 MAVTv 500 ... Target Chip Ganassi Racing is the team to beat in IndyCar. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

Judging by the achievement of season championships - Scott Dixon's being the 10th since 1996, we need to be giving a higher military title to Chip Ganassi ... like 'The Colonel, Chip' or 'The General, Ganassi' because Penske Racing's 5 season championships has to take a back seat to this level of success. It is pretty funny to listen to Target Chip Ganassi's brain trust of Mike Hull and Chip Ganassi talk during the post MAVTv 500 season championship press conference and pay homage to Penske Racing as the best team in present day IndyCar. Let's be clear ... Target Chip Ganassi Racing is the best team in present day IndyCar based solely on performance.

Team Owner and Managing Director Chip Ganassi and Mike Hull revel in the 'hat danc' during victory lane celebrations at Auto Club Speedway. 'Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

Lastly, one has to take issue with a statement made by Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Managing Director, Mike Hull about choosing the Honda engine for their DW12 package and the fact that for 2014, the team has chosen to take a different direction.

Scott Dixon's car was developing heat and was having trouble getting rid of this problem which thretened to end Scott's run to capture his third championship in ten years (2003, 2008, and 2013). On Lap 299 Dixon came into the pits and stayed a little extra time to clear the radiators of debris. The engine ran hot the balance of the race.

MAVTv 500 Post Race Press Conference - Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Managing Director, Mike Hull | Owner Chip Ganassi Audio File HERE >>>

Mike Hull was asked about how this effected their race, Hull stated (starting at 1:14 of the above linked audio file), "I have to say, as hot as the engine got, Honda did what we wanted them to do what they wanted to do ... and that was to build an engine that didn't break under severe conditions" ... which all begs the question asked later to Chip Ganassi by Motor Press Guild and LMR Marketing Communications' Larry Mason on why the jump to Chevrolet next year? Chip's answer leaves one to wonder if there is something more than, "It was a business decision ...", due to the number of season championships (since 1996 - 9 Honda-powered/1 Toyota-powered) the team was able to earn with the Honda engine partnership.

Hat's off to New Zealander Scott Dixon on his third, very well earned, IndyCar Series season championship and the fact this earned honor now sits with the winningest-active driver in the series with 33 wins, and that he remains the longest tenured driver in the Target Chip Ganassi stable since joining the team mid-way through the 2002 CART season.

One additionally wonders if the Chevrolet way (as opposed to the Japanese way) will be compatible with both TCGR and Scott Dixon ... or if the door is now open for Andretti Autosport to outlast and out race the rest of the field with their new Honda-powered - build an engine that didn't break under severe conditions - Dallara DW12s.

... notes from The EDJE

Monday, October 21, 2013

Scott Dixon Post 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series Season Interview

IZOD IndyCar Series race car driver, and three-time champion, Scott Dixon shares his good emotions about capturing the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series Championship for Target Chip Ganassi Racing at the MAVTv 500 Auto Club Speedway's press conference. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)


Scott Dixon Post 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series Season Interview

33 year old Scott Ronald Dixon, is a New Zealand race car driver who became the most successful all-time driver in the Indy Racing League (IRL) championship in the United States when he won the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio in August 2009. This took his total to 20 wins.

Competing for Chip Ganassi Racing since joining IndyCar, Dixon has won the championship three times, in 2003, 2008, and just this weekend in the MAVTv 500 at Auto Club Speedway, and he won the 92nd Indianapolis 500 in 2008 from pole position.

Among notable awards won by Dixon are the Jim Clark Trophy (1999, 2001, 2004) and the Bruce McLaren Trophy (2003, 2008). In 2012 he was appointed Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

IndyCar Series Race Director, Beaux Barfield, waves Scott Dixon out to take his qualification run for the MAVTv 500 at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

Scott, you are with Edmund Jenks - welcome to Motorsports Unplugged and Race Talk Radio.


1) At the Auto Club Speedway's post race press conference, it was pointed out that the French sports publication L'Equipe wrote that your latest accomplishment would have your legacy move ahead of the likes of Denny Hulme and Bruce McLaren as New Zealand's most successful driver in terms of annual titles. I heard your response to L'Equipe's assertion --- Now that you have had time to digest this assertion for about 36 hours, what do you make of this hearlding that you are New Zealand's most successful race car driver?

2) It was reported that Max Papis put out a 'Tweet' (a 140 character communication message on Twitter) ... Watching yesterday @IndyCar race if they don't change something on those Ovals is just a matter of time before one of my friends will die!! Max seems to be concerned about how long it will be when a driver might pass away due to injuries with the rules package used at a superspeedway like Auto Club Speedway. Do you think open-wheel racing is safe enough running 3-wide at over 200mph?

Scott Dixon takes his #9 Honda-powered Dallara DW12 race car out under a full moon practice run at Auto Club Speedway. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

3) This 2013 championship is the first one earned within the merged and integrated field of drivers and racing venues from ChampCar - with the variety of racing venues presented in the present day IndyCar series, which type of track do you enjoy the best? You have shown accomplishment on all types.

4) In the not so distant past, it was obvious who the top 2 or 3 contenders would be for the title by the season's halfway point, but this year a driver would emerge and then have issues - was this part of the learning curve of year two with the new DW12 Dallara car and engine combos?

5) Speaking of engine combinations - how involved with the motor engineers do you become - what is your habit? Working with Japanese racing engineers, first at Toyota, then at Honda for these last dozen or so years ... how do you anticipate working with the engineers at Chevrolet will go - any differences?

6) There has been a lot of background discussion on the introduction of a road race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the timing of the race in the schedule - Do you care if the Indy road course is raced in the same month - the Month of May - as the Indy 500? Does it matter?

A beaming team owner, Chip Ganassi (right) discusses the meaning of being competitive with the support of Target Chip Ganassi Racing's managing director, Mike Hull. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

7) For 2014 - What do you think of the new Tudor road racing series? I assume you'll be driving in it ... any idea as to which car Ganassi Racing will go with? The Daytona Prototypes or the ALMS style P2 cars?

8) Do you have an opinion on the Indy Lights series and the troubles they're going through?

9) The last time we talked, just before your going to Valencia to receive some instruction from Olympian Skeet Shooter, Kim Rhodes, we discussed the options for the community service that was going to be asked of you as a driver for the penalty assessed post Baltimore for comments made out of frustration. Now that the season is over and are now a three-time IndyCar champion, do you expect to be awarded a modification taking in the time served over the next few months due to the additional promotional appearances based on this 2013 IndyCar Championship accomplishment?

... notes from The EDJE

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Helio Castroneves - MAVTv 500 IZOD IndyCar Series Conference Call

IZOD IndyCar Series Helio Castroneves as he gives a post testing interview for the gathered media. Image Credit Albert Wong (2013)

Helio Castroneves - MAVTv 500 IZOD IndyCar Series Conference Call

The 2013 season comes down to one race between two drivers for all of the marbles. Only 25 points separate Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon from the driver who held the points lead the longest stint during the season, three-time Indy 500 winner Penske Racing's Helio Castroneves.

Helio agreed to sit down and participate in a pre-finale conference call with IndyCar's Arni Sribhen and a few writers who have been following the IZOD IndyCar Series for 2013. The following call lasts about 30 minutes.

Helio Castroneves - MAVTv 500 Pre-Race IZOD IndyCar Series Conference Call >>>

Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves share a warm handshake just as the  IZOD IndyCar Series pre-race MAVTv 500 media luncheon press conference ends at LA Live's The Conga Room. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

Practice and qualifications are Oct. 18. Real-time Timing & Scoring augmented by the IMS Radio Network broadcast is available on www.indycar.com and the INDYCAR 13 app for all sessions and the race.

The full schedule (all times Eastern):

Oct. 18 -- 1:45-3:15 p.m. practice
               5:15 p.m. qualifications (7 p.m. on NBC Sports Network)
               9:05-9:35 p.m. practice

Oct. 19 -- 8 p.m. MAVTV 500 on NBC Sports Network

Oct. 20 -- 8:30 p.m. INDYCAR Championship Celebration streamed live on www.indycar.com and INDYCAR 13 app.

... notes from The EDJE

Scott Dixon - MAVTv 500 IZOD IndyCar Series Conference Call

IZOD IndyCar Series season points leader (by 25 points over Helio Castroneves) Scott Dixon as he gets instruction from Olympian Kim Rhodes on the finer points of shotgun skeet shooting. Image Credit Albert Wong (2013)

Scott Dixon - MAVTv 500 IZOD IndyCar Series Conference Call

The 2013 season comes down to one race between two drivers for all of the marbles. Only 25 points separate Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon from the driver who held the points lead the longest stint during the season, three-time Indy 500 winner Penske Racing's Helio Castroneves.

Scott agreed to sit down and participate in a pre-finale conference call with IndyCar's Arni Sribhen and a few writers who have been following the IZOD IndyCar Series for 2013. The following call lasts about 30 minutes.

Scott Dixon - MAVTv 500 Pre-Race IZOD IndyCar Series Conference Call >>>

Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves share a warm handshake just as the  IZOD IndyCar Series pre-race MAVTv 500 media luncheon press conference ends at LA Live's The Conga Room. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

Practice and qualifications are Oct. 18. Real-time Timing & Scoring augmented by the IMS Radio Network broadcast is available on www.indycar.com and the INDYCAR 13 app for all sessions and the race.

The full schedule (all times Eastern):

Oct. 18 -- 1:45-3:15 p.m. practice
               5:15 p.m. qualifications (7 p.m. on NBC Sports Network)
               9:05-9:35 p.m. practice

Oct. 19 -- 8 p.m. MAVTV 500 on NBC Sports Network

Oct. 20 -- 8:30 p.m. INDYCAR Championship Celebration streamed live on www.indycar.com and INDYCAR 13 app.

... notes from The EDJE

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Helio Castroneves suffers from a Texas two-step before MAVTv 500 finale

In Race 2, Helio Castroneves led early but a broken gearbox housing left the No. 3 entry stranded in Turn 6 on Lap 11 and significantly impacted his hopes of securing his first series title. Team owner Roger Penske said the car "bottoming out" after going over a bump broke the gearbox. The crew returned the car to its temporary garage area to replace the gearbox and rear suspension, and Castroneves rejoined the race on Lap 47 (36 laps down to race leader and teammate Will Power) and he finished 23rd. Dixon takes a 25-point lead into the finale. Caption Credit: IICS | Image Credit: Chris Owens for Motorsport.com

Helio Castroneves suffers from a Texas two-step before MAVTv 500 finale

For Penske Racing's three time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves, a funny thing happened on the way to Fontana to secure a first ever IZOD IndyCar Championship ... he suffered from a catastrophe we will call the Texas Two-Step.

Earlier in the year, Texas was very, very good to the hopes and aspirations of the "Dancing With The Stars" television show winner and stand-out. It was in Texas at the Firestone 500 held at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth that Castroneves, driving the No. 3 AAA Insurance Team Penske car, passed Marco Andretti's No. 25 RC Cola car for Andertti Autosport on Lap 97 to lead to the end and capture his fourth win at a track that boasts to launching IndyCar championship runs (the winner of an IZOD IndyCar Series race at Texas Motor Speedway has gone on to claim the season championship five times). It was in Texas that Helio took over the points chase lead with 4½ months and 11 events left in the season.

At the end of the Firestone 500, the first race in Texas that gave hope to a Castroneves championship points run, “We've got to be consistent when you have opportunities (you have to seize them). At this point, just got to keep moving,” said Castroneves, who broke a tie with Johnny Rutherford for 12th on the all-time Indy car list with his 28th victory and first on an oval since September 2010 at Twin Ring Motegi. “Monday, got to turn the page and focus on the next race.”

It was in Texas after 10 events and 4 months that Helio Castroneves lost the lead in dramatic fashion during a two-race weekend in Houston.


At the beginning of the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston contested on a 1.634-mile, 10-turn temporary street circuit created largely out of the parking lot that surrounds the Reliant Park Stadium and Astrodome complex, the third two-race weekend of the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series championship season, Helio Castroneves held a 49 point advantage over his closest competing driver, Target Chip Ganassi Racing's three-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon. By the end of Race 2 on Sunday, through a combination of mechanical failure, the effect of a 15 point championship points penalty levied after the Firestone 500, and poor qualifying performance, Scott Dixon left Texas with a 25 point lead (an improbable 74 point swing) over Helio Castroneves with only one race left.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner has been agonizingly close to the title multiple times in 11 IZOD IndyCar Series seasons, including runner-up to Sam Hornish Jr. in 2002 and to Scott Dixon in ’08. Additionally, the 2006 title battle that also came down to the final race is frozen in time. Castroneves carried a one-point advantage over Team Penske teammate Hornish into the season finale at the 1.5-mile Chicagoland Speedway oval. Dan Wheldon, who won the race by .1897 of a second over Dixon, also picked up bonus points for earning the pole and leading the most laps to tie Hornish, who placed third, with 475 points. Hornish won the tiebreaker of season victories (4-2) to claim the championship. Castroneves started and finished fourth in the race to claim third in the season standings with 473 points. Caption & Image Credit: indycar.com

This excerpted and edited from IndyCar.com -

Castroneves has weekend to forget in Houston

 By Dave Lewandowski - Published: Oct 6, 2013

“Well, obviously this is not how we wanted our weekend to go," said Castroneves, who had a streak of 12 consecutive top-10 finishes end in Race 1.
----
"And there is still a lot of racing left. We know we have a strong car in Fontana."

The MAVTV 500 INDYCAR World Championships at the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway oval in Fontana, Calif., is Oct. 19. Castroneves was among 23 drivers who tested at the venue Sept. 24 in preparation for the 250-lap twilight race on NBC Sports Network.

"The good news is we had a test there and it was extremely good," Castroneves continued. "It's going to be a heck of a race."
----
The season finale will decide the series championship for the eighth consecutive season. In 2008, Castroneves  trailed Dixon by 30 points entering the finale at Chicagoland Speedway. He won the race by .0033 of a second -- the second-closest race in IndyCar Series history -- over Dixon, who earned the title by 17 points.

The standings heading into the final race the past five seasons:

2008 -- Dixon 606  Castroneves 576
2009 -- Dixon 570  Franchitti 565
2010 -- Power 587  Franchitti 575
2011 -- Power 542  Franchitti 531
2012 -- Power 453  Hunter-Reay 436

[Reference Here]

To repeat, as Helio Castroneves put it just after winning the first race in Texas (and now, as it applies to suffering the Texas Two-Step on his championship dreams), “We've got to be consistent when you have opportunities (you have to seize them). At this point, just got to keep moving. Monday, got to turn the page and focus on the next race.”

2013 -- Dixon 546  Castroneves 521

Tune in to the MAVTv 500 IndyCar World Championships, Auto Club Speedway oval in Fontana, Calif., Saturday, October 19, 2013 - 8:00pm ET!

... notes from The EDJE

Thursday, October 3, 2013

13 Questions With Andretti Autosport's James Hinchcliffe

Andretti Autosport's James Hinchcliffe as he leads the IZOD IndyCar Series championship points leader at the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

13 Questions With Andretti Autosport's James Hinchcliffe

James Hinchcliffe is the "Mayor of Hinchtown," which is his Internet civilization that welcomes everyone to visit.

I love the short BIO that was sent to me which states - Hinchcliffe likes long walks on the beach, flannel shirts, maple syrup and dog sled racing. "I am also a competitive lumber jack in my spare time," he jokes. As you can tell, Hinchcliffe has quite the personality.

He's also an accomplished race car driver, winning the IZOD IndyCar Series’ Sunoco Rookie of the Year and Tony Renna Rising Star Awards in 2011.

This year, James notched his first win in the IZOD IndyCar Series and had two more wins while gaining just one other top-6 finish in an inconsistent year. 2013 has been a balancing act.

Knowing when to be aggressive and go for the checkered flag, and then, when to coast to the finish line for the points - prompted this quote from the Mayor of Hinchtown:

It kind of has been like I’m either winning or crashing, we just want to give people something to cheer for.

And cheering fans is what James Hinchcliffe always ends up bringing to the track ... James, Welcome to Motorsports Unplugged and Race Talk Radio's "At The APEX" program.

IZOD IndyCar Series race winner James Hinchcliffe and sponsor GoDaddy will trade the iconic "GoDaddy green" for a good cause at this weekend's Grand Prix of Houston. The Chevy-powered No. 27 driven by the Canadian racer will, in support of the National Breast Cancer Foundation, take to the track on Friday with a pink paint scheme specially designed for the GoDaddy machine. In addition to the pink paint, the No. 27 will go one step - or wheel - further by displaying the support of Firestone Racing through pink sidewall racing tires. Hinchcliffe's teammates Marco Andretti, E.J. Viso and reigning series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay will also sport the Firestone pink side-walls. Image Credit: Andretti Autosport
 (click title to launch audio file of interview)

(1) We all have recently heard the announcement that your sponsor, GoDaddy, is going away ... you said recently, that you thought you'd have an offer on the table with Andretti Autosport before Houston ... care to announce something here, right now?

(2) If no agreement can be reached with Andretti, you further stated you were entertaining an offer that had come in from a good team ... could you expand on that concept yet?

(3) What was it like working with GoDaddy? You certainly seemed to have the outgoing personality for, you know, their brand ...

(4) A lot of people are sentimental about racing the road course at Indy ... they seem to want the 500 to be the only indycar race there ... How do you see it?

(5) The F1 races on the Indy Road course were exciting, but very little room to pass, do you think, you and the other drivers, are going to enjoy the new layout?

(6) Last question about INDY - Having both races in the same month, the oval and the road course, do you feel that this might diminish, in some way, the INDY 500 - and its strength and luster?

(7) Do you enjoy the street courses? Do you think IndyCar has arranged the best menu of street courses for you guys this year?

(8) Do you like the change-up of the double-header style format IndyCar has come up with for targeted race weekends during the year?

(9) What is your impression of the standing start format?

(10) With Indy Lights having such small fields this year ... do you think Formula Atlantic should be brought back?

(11) Which did you enjoy more IndyLites or Formula Atlantics? Why?

(12) Who came up with Hinchtown and you being the Mayor of it?

(13) Lastly, and most importantly, how does haggis taste? And do you intend to partake in haggis a second time if Dario Franchitti asks again?

Thank you James, have a good 2-runs, Saturday and Sunday, at Houston and see you at the Auto Club Speedway for the MAVTv 500 finale, with the GREEN Flag set to drop on Saturday October 19 at 8:00 pm Eastern Time.

... notes from The EDJE


Monday, September 2, 2013

Castroneves gains a new P3 chaser at #GPoB with Pagenaud win

Helio Castroneves gets ready to keep the IZOD IndyCar Series championship points lead as the only driver to complete every lap of every race of the season so far. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)


Castroneves gains a new P3 chaser at #GPoB with Pagenaud win

Ever go to a hockey game and have a fight break out? How about go to a late season open wheel championship points chase and have a massacre and a bunch of vehicle carnage pop up?

Many who follow and witnessed the last IZOD IndyCar Series championship race probably felt they were treated to both type of events at the race in the streets, the Grand Prix of Baltimore presented by SRT (Twitter hashtag - #GPoB).


James Hinchcliffe as he launches off of the chicane that begins the front straight-away. The IZOD IndyCar DW12 cars reach a high speed of around 180mph with the chicane ... maybe over 200mph without. Image Credit: John Cote via motorsport.com


With only four races left in the 19 race season, the bumpy, uneven-surfaced, chicane and tight hairpin element-ed 2.04 mile 12-turn temporary street track delivered a tough championship test for all men, a woman, and Dallara DW12 machine which seemed to be shaping up to deliver an eleventh new winner in a season, tying a record that had been standing for over a decade (2000 and 2001 CART/ChampCar seasons).


Going in, four-time ChampCar World Series season champion Sebastien Bourdais felt he could be the upset winner this weekend in Baltimore. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)


In the morning warm-up, Dragon Racing's four-time past ChampCar champion Sebastien Bourdais was very quick after damaging his car by hitting the corner tires in the chicane during qualifications. Bourdais started the race from P22 of a 24 car field and through skillful and aggressive driving managed to work his way through the many YELLOW Flags (six full course cautions with almost every car sustaining some damage) on restarts to lead the race for 19 laps. "SeaBass" ended up on the podium at P3 ... but not without a fight. "We had a fast car. We had a fast car all the way to the end of the race. That car got beat up pretty good, so by the end it was pretty ragged. I am just really happy for the guys. Yeah, it would have been awesome to win and in so many ways I guess we should have or would have. But you know, it’s the podium………another one, and its really important for the group. For the spirits, for Jay, for the sponsors: McAfee, TrueCar, and Chevy. Still pretty happy because when you start nearly dead last and you make it to the podium, pass a bunch of people and make it stick at the end – its pretty sweet."
(ht: rpm2night.com)


Simona de Silvestro scored her best finish of the season by taking the checkered flag in fifth place behind the wheel of the No. 78 Nuclear Entergy Areva KV Racing Technology Chevrolet to give Team Chevy two of the top-five finishers. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)


Another triumph performance was delivered by the only female pilot in the 24 car field. After qualifying P17, KV Racing Technology's Simona de Silvestro driving the #78 Nuclear Energy Areva Chevy managed to stay out of trouble and get past some pretty capable drivers, including the Indy 500 winner and team-mate Tony Kanaan finished at P5. "I'm definitely really happy with P5. It was kind of a crazy race. I don't think we had the fastest car out there, but we had a pretty good call on the pits when we got stuck in one of the wrecks. After that we were able to move forward and had some pretty good restarts. The Nuclear Clean Air Energy car was really good at the end, so I'm pretty happy with it for sure. Not a bad way to celebrate my birthday."  
(ht: rpm2night.com)

What really marked this race was the IZOD IndyCar Series championship fight and the held over controversy from the previous race at Sonoma Raceway about pitboxes and pitbox etiquette. Clear yellow paint and dotted 45 degree outer edge lines defined the smaller pitboxes all throughout pitlane. A new rule was added to the rule book that clarified the movements of pit workers during competition so as to make the racing safer for everyone.

All eyes were on Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon and Penske Racing's Will Power since Dixon had lost points in his effort to chase down Will Power's team-mate, Helio Castroneves, after having to serve a drive-through penalty during the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma for hitting a Penske Racing crew member working in Power's pit located just in front of Dixon. With the pitboxes being 2 feet shorter, and the pitbox locations being reversed - Dixon in front of Power, many thought there would be an opportunity for Power to possibly graze a crew member in Dixon's pit.

On the track, however, is where a miscue by Will Power ended both Dixon's chances at gaining championship points and Power's race.

On a race restart, Will Power was sizing up then race leader, Sebastien Bourdais, for a pass not aware that Scott Dixon had the same exact design on Power's car just in front of the #9 Target sponsored Honda Dallara. Dixon popped out to the right, next to the wall, then Power popped out to the right and touched Dixon's front wing sending both cars into the inside trackside wall ending their race and bringing out another of the six full course cautions of the race.

Scott Dixon started the race 38 points behind after gaining a point for capturing the Firestone Fast Six pole award, but lost another 11 points leaving him down 49 points with three races left. Disappointing after starting the #GPoB P1 just to finish P19.

As for the championship points leader, Helio Castroneves started his PPG Team Penske Chevy from a P7 qualifying position but lost many positions and had to adapt to a different pit strategy due to an early race black flag stop and go penalty for a safety violation. He slid his car in his pitbox and hit a crew member.

With Scott Dixon being forced out of the race after getting collected by Will Power, and Ryan Hunter-Reay suffering a power outage in his car - stalling on the track ... Castroneves was able to distance himself from his top two competitors with a respectable P9 finish.

"Towards the end, I noticed that my main competitors were out," said Castroneves, who is seeking his first series title. “I know it could have been a bigger risk trying to finish further ahead. I felt that I had a target on my back. So I said, ‘I’m just going to take what I get,’ and that’s what I did. Sometimes it’s better to have only a few points instead of having a big accident and not even getting a point. So now we’re 49 ahead, and that’s what we’ve been doing the entire season."
(ht: The Baltimore Sun)

Castroneves now leads the IZOD IndyCar Series with 501 points. Dixon is still second. Hunter-Reay, the reigning series champion, dropped from third to fifth with 427 points.


The Grand Prix of Baltimore presented by SRT from left to right - Josef Newgarden P2, Simon Pagenaud P1, and Sebastien Bourdais P3. Image Credit: Chris Owens via motorsport.com


In the end, the survivors came across the stripe after 75 hard fought laps with Frenchman Simon Pagenaud - #77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Honda leading the final seven laps (Will Power led the most laps with 31) after aggressively passing Marco Andretti on a race restart to win his second race of the season and overtake Ryan Hunter-Reay for third in the championship points behind Dixon, Tennessean Josef Newgarden - #67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda in P2 to notch his best finish in IndyCar as his brakes were fading, and Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais - #7 McAfee Dragon Racing Chevy in P3.

Favorite Tweet? ... Shane Rogers @upshifted - Random Stat: All 5 of the cars with the digit 7 in them, finished in the top 7. #indycar #GPoB.

How they finished the Grand Prix of Baltimore presented by SRT (75 Laps):

Pos  Driver               Team/Engine           Time/Gap
 1.  Simon Pagenaud       Schmidt/Honda    2h16m32.3443s
 2.  Josef Newgarden      Fisher/Honda          +4.1592s
 3.  Sebastien Bourdais   Dragon/Chevy          +7.9588s
 4.  Justin Wilson        Coyne/Honda          +10.7598s
 5.  Simona de Silvestro  KV/Chevy             +11.6017s
 6.  Charlie Kimball      Ganassi/Honda        +21.4160s
 7.  James Hinchcliffe    Andretti/Chevy       +22.8422s
 8.  Sebastian Saavedra   Dragon/Chevy         +25.5377s
 9.  Helio Castroneves    Penske/Chevy         +29.3117s
10.  Marco Andretti       Andretti/Chevy       +40.5499s
11.  Tristan Vautier      Schmidt/Honda           +1 lap
12.  Oriol Servia         Panther/Chevy           +1 lap
13.  EJ Viso              Andretti/Chevy          +1 lap
14.  Ed Carpenter         Carpenter/Chevy         +1 lap
15.  Tony Kanaan          KV/Chevy              +2 laps*
16.  Stefan Wilson        Coyne/Honda            +3 laps
17.  Graham Rahal         Rahal/Honda           +7 laps*
18.  Will Power           Penske/Chevy           +8 laps
* Not running at finish

Retirements:

     Scott Dixon          Ganassi/Honda          52 laps
     Ryan Hunter-Reay     Andretti/Chevy         42 laps
     Dario Franchitti     Ganassi/Honda          22 laps
     Luca Filippi         Herta/Honda            12 laps
     James Jakes          Rahal/Honda             5 laps
     Takuma Sato          Foyt/Honda              4 laps

All drivers use Dallara DW12 chassis
(ht: autosport.com)

The next scheduled events in the IZOD IndyCar Series 2013 championship season are a doubleheader weekend at the temporary road circuit near Reliant Stadium (home of the NFL Texans) in Houston on October 5 and 6 - similar to the two-race weekends in Detroit and Toronto this year, the Shell/Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston could result in another wild, DW12 rubbing affair - and the season finale, MAVTV 500, is again at the superspeedway oval of Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., on Oct. 19.

... notes from The EDJE