Today’s IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines:
1. Franchitti kicks off 500 Victory Tour in New York
2. Drivers to test at three venues
3. Franchitti takes overall and oval championship lead
4. De Silvestro cleared to drive
5. Vote for Tire-ific Move of the Race
1. Franchitti kicks off 500 Victory Tour in New York: It seems just about everywhere Dario Franchitti ventures these days he’s greeted with the sounds of bagpipes. Not that the Indianapolis 500 champion minds.
Franchitti began his whirlwind Indy 500 victory tour June 7 in New York, joining national and local media outlets – and a bagpiper – for a lap around Central Park on an open-air double-decker bus. A second brief concert was conducted for the Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver and passers-by on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was a good deal for the bagpiper; a couple of tunes for an autograph from the two-time 500 Mile Race winner.
“It was nice to see such a good turnout for the New York media tour,” Franchitti said. “We’re keeping busy and it’s great to see such a high level of interest in the Indianapolis 500 and the IZOD IndyCar Series.”
Next stops on the tour were interviews with Maxim, Men’s Journal, GQ, Forbes and the Economist. Franchitti will be a guest on “The Late Show with David Letterman” on June 8 (check local listings), along with appearances on “The Daily Line” on VERSUS (11 p.m. ET June 7), “America’s Nightly Scoreboard” on Fox Business (7 p.m. ET June 8) and assorted radio shows.
Franchitti earned $2.75 million for the May 30 victory in the 500 Mile Race, and followed up six days later with a fifth place in the Firestone 550K at Texas Motor Speedway to move into the lead in the IZOD IndyCar Series championship standings by three points over Team Penske’s Will Power.
Franchitti will travel a few hours northwest of Gotham on June 9 to participate in a full day of testing at Watkins Glen International with 10 other drivers in preparation for the June 2-4 Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen. The session is open to spectators for free (10 a.m.-3 p.m.). The next IZOD IndyCar Series race is the June 20 Iowa Corn Indy 250 presented by Pioneer at Iowa Speedway.
2. Drivers to test at three venues: There’s a break in the IZOD IndyCar Series race schedule this week, but that opens the door for testing at venues that will play host to upcoming events.
Hideki Mutoh, who has finished third and second the past two years at Iowa Speedway, will get in laps on the .875-mile oval June 9 in the No. 06 Formula Dream/Panasonic car for Newman/Haas Racing car.
“I feel very comfortable running there,” Mutoh said. “High banking, small racetrack. I think that’s the best combination.”
Mutoh will be joined by Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves and Will Power at Iowa, which plays host to the fourth Iowa Corn Indy 250 presented by Pioneer on June 20.
A few hours due east, Team Penske’s Ryan Briscoe – the most recent race winner at Texas Motor Speedway — will test at the 1.5-mile Chicagoland Speedway oval as part of a Firestone tire test. Briscoe beat Scott Dixon by .0077 of a second in the ’09 race.
On June 9, Watkins Glen International will be open free for spectators to watch 11 drivers test on the 3.4-mile natural-terrain circuit. That list includes Adam Carroll, who will make his IZOD IndyCar Series debut at The Glen July 2-4 with Andretti Autosport.
“It gives me a proper chance and that’s what it’s all about,” said Carroll, who was the lead diver for Team Ireland in its A1GP 2008-09 championship.
Also scheduled to hit the track that underwent modifications over the off-season to improve safety are Tony Kanaan of Andretti Autosport; Scott Dixon and recent Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti of Target Chip Ganassi Racing; KV Racing Technology’s E.J. Viso, Mario Moraes and Takuma Sato; Dale Coyne Racing’s Alex Lloyd and Milka Duno; Alex Tagliani of FAZZT Race Team; and Justin Wilson of Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, who was the 2009 race winner.
“Being able to test at The Glen is a big deal for us,” said Lloyd, who followed his fourth-place Indianapolis 500 finish with an eighth place in the Firestone 550K at Texas Motor Speedway. “We’re going to be able to get back in the swing of the road courses again obviously having this bit of a break with ovals.
“It will be exciting to try the car. We’ve had a bit of a shake-around within the team the past few races, which seems to be paying off, and I’m very keen to see how that translates to road courses.”
3. Franchitti takes overall and oval championship lead: Dario Franchitti’s fifth place at Texas – combined with the finishes of some other drivers – moved the Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver into the IZOD IndyCar Series championship lead.
Through seven of the 17 events, the Indianapolis 500 winner has 246 points. Team Penske’s Will Power, the pacesetter through six events, is three points behind after a 14th-place finish. He started third and led four laps, but a late-race stop for fuel dropped him in the order.
Scott Dixon is third with 235 points, and Helio Castroneves remained fourth with 211. Race winner Ryan Briscoe advanced two positions to fifth (208 points – 50 for the victory, 1 bonus points for winning the PEAK Performance Pole Award and 2 bonus points for leading a field-high 102 laps).
Franchitti leads in points for the A.J. Foyt Oval Championship Trophy by 11 over Dixon heading to Iowa Speedway on June 20. Power, who won the first two races of the season, has a 42-point lead over teammate Helio Castroneves in the Road/Street Championship standings. The trophy namesake will be announced during the Watkins Glen International race weekend.
4. De Silvestro cleared to drive: IZOD IndyCar Series driver Simona De Silvestro was re-evaluated by Indy Racing League medical personnel June 7 and has been cleared to resume racing activities without restrictions.
Dr. Geoff Billows said De Silvestro suffered a minor burn on her right hand in a fiery accident when her No. 78 Team Stargate Worlds/HVM Racing car made contact with the wall on the backstretch during the Firestone 550K at Texas Motor Speedway on June 5.
5. Vote for Tire-ific Move of the Race: Fans select the Firestone Tire-ific Move of the Race winner by voting on indycar.com after every race. This $10,000 prize is awarded to the driver best utilizing his or her Firestone tires to make a bold, dramatic move during the event. Nominees for the Firestone 550K are:Ryan Briscoe for his dramatic and decisive pass for the lead on Lap 193; Danica Patrick for her most impressive performance this season, finishing second and Alex Lloyd who bounced back from a lengthy first pit stop to move from 21st place to eighth.
The 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series season continues June 20 with the Iowa Corn Indy 250 presented by Pioneer at Iowa Speedway. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 1:30 p.m. (ET) by VERSUS. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 211. The race also will be carried on www.indycar.com. The 2010 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with the Iowa 100 on June 19 at the Iowa Speedway.