By Amy Konrath
Today’s IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines:
1. A night at the State Fair
2. Drivers testing at Infineon Raceway
3. Twenty-nine entries for Chicagoland race
4. Of note
1. A night at the State Fair: A day after clinching the Mario Andretti Road Course Championship with a second-place finish at Mid-Ohio, Will Power celebrated by taking his first trip to the Indiana State Fair.
The Australian joined a group of friends for night of unique food, rides and games in hopes of winning stuffed prizes for his fiancée, Elizabeth Cannon – though Cannon was more successful in winning her own prizes.
Power’s hometown of Toowoomba, Australia hosts a similar event called the Carnival of Flowers every September (spring in the Southern Hemisphere).
“We don’t have food like this in Australia,” Power quipped as he sampled a foot-long corn dog and deep-fried Milky Way candy bar. “We have Gator-on-a-stick and Wombat-on-a-stick.”
2. Drivers testing at Infineon Raceway: Testing at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course worked out well for nine IZOD IndyCar Series drivers. They all landed in the top 10 of the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio presented by Westfield Insurance.
Fourteen will test Aug. 13 at Infineon Raceway in preparation for the Aug. 22 Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma – the final road course race on the schedule. Spectators are welcome to watch the 9 a.m.-5 p.m. session for free from the main grandstand, wander around the paddock and attend the noon press conference (space permitting).
Scheduled to be on the 2.2-mile track:
• Vitor Meira of A.J. Foyt Racing.
• Francesco Dracone, who made his series debut with Conquest Racing with a 22nd place at Mid-Ohio.
• Milka Duno of Dale Coyne Racing.
• Raphael Matos of de Ferran Dragon Racing, a former winner at Infineon in Firestone Indy Lights who advanced 12 positions to finish seventh at Mid-Ohio.
• Justin Wilson and J.R. Hildebrand of Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. Hildebrand also is a former Firestone Indy Lights winner at Infineon who made his series debut at Mid-Ohio and finished 16th.
• Alex Tagliani of FAZZT Race Team, who led a field-high 30 laps at Mid-Ohio and finished a season-high fourth.
• Mario Moraes, Takuma Sato and E.J. Viso of KV Racing Technology.
• Dan Wheldon, the 2005 series champion, of Panther Racing.
• Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti of Target Chip Ganassi Racing. Franchitti, who won at Mid-Ohio, was the ’09 winner at Infineon.
• Will Power of Team Penske, who will receive the Mario Andretti Road Course Championship trophy from the namesake following the race.
Hildebrand, of Sausalito, Calif., will be more familiar with the Infineon Raceway layout and the No. 24 RollCoater car when he participates in the first practice session Aug. 20 (3 p.m. local time). His series debut had its ups and downs.
“For me, this was my first time dealing with any kind of fuel mileage and in the first stint it ended up being irrelevant the way that the yellows worked out, but we were able to do a good job of keeping the pace with the guys in front of us and get the mileage that we were looking for,” he said. “For me, those were all big positives. On the flip side of that, I made some kind of obvious mistakes that I should make, so the next time around I will be a little more used to the car and the circumstances.
“I don’t think that I will be making those kind of errors like driving off the track on the exit of corners or getting a little bit of push that I’m not expecting, and for whatever reason, these cars seem to be a little more sensitive to it than what I’m used to. There were some positives and some negatives, but all around it was a pretty solid day.”
3. Twenty-nine entries for Chicagoland race: For the second time in three races, the sanctioning Indy Racing League has amended its rulebook to allow for a larger starting field.
Twenty-nine cars are expected at Chicagoland Speedway – the most outside of the 33 for the Indianapolis 500 – to be entered for the PEAK Antifreeze& Motor Oil Indy 300 on Aug. 28 at the 1.5-mile oval. Rule 8.1(E)(5)(f) caps the starting field at 28 cars for races other than Indianapolis, Brazil, Toronto and Mid-Ohio based on pit lane space. The rule also was amended for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio presented by Westfield Insurance on Aug. 8 to allow for a 27th entry.
In addition to the 24 full-season entries, expected to join the initial practice session at 9:15 a.m. (local time) Aug. 27 are Davey Hamilton in the No. 21 HP de Ferran Dragon Racing car, Graham Rahal in the No. 02 Quick Trim Newman/Haas Racing car, Sarah Fisher in the No. 67 Dollar General car for Sarah Fisher Racing, Ed Carpenter in the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka car for Panther/Vision Racing, and Jay Howard in the No. 66 Service Central car for Sarah Fisher Racing.
4. Of note: VERSUS will broadcast an IZOD IndyCar Series midseason show at 6 p.m. (ET) Aug. 14. … The Sept. 4 IZOD IndyCar Series race at Kentucky Speedway will be the 200th sanctioned by the Indy Racing League. The first was Jan. 27, 1996, at Walt Disney World Speedway, and the 100th was Aug. 29, 2004, at Nazareth Speedway.
The 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series season continues Aug. 22 with the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 5 p.m. (ET) by VERSUS. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 212. The race also will be carried on www.indycar.com. The 2010 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with the Carneros 100 on Aug. 22 at Infineon Raceway.