By Amy Konrath
Today’s IZOD IndyCar Series, Firestone Indy Lights and Mazda Road to Indy headlines:
1. Kanaan enjoys Prelude experience
2. Ebrahim, Fan Force United part ways
3. Mayors meet in Toronto
4. Of note
1. Kanaan enjoys Prelude experience: Finishing fourth in his heat race at the eighth Prelude To The Dream at Eldora (Ohio) Speedway on June 6 bolstered Tony Kanaan’s confidence heading into the 40-lap feature.
Unfortunately for the KV Racing Technology driver, other drivers had difficulty handling the Dirt Late Model stock cars on the half-mile, 24-degree-banked oval. Kanaan, competing in the charity event at the Tony Stewart-owned racetrack for the third consecutive year, placed 22nd after being taken out early. Only 15 of the 26 starter were running at the finish.
“As usual, we received great hospitality from Tony (Stewart) and everybody there,” said Kanaan, who was one spot behind Stewart in his qualifying heat (Danica Patrick crashed in the heat). “It was for a good cause. We were doing much better this year. It’s too bad we got caught up in someone else’s wreck, but overall it was fun.”
Kanaan had finished 24th and 27th the past two years.
Kyle Busch became the sixth different winner, and Stewart was runner-up. Net proceeds from the HBO pay-per-view telecast will support Feed The Children, a U.S.-based charity that domestically has helped more than 365,000 families since 2009 through its Americans Feeding Americans Caravan.
For the top-10 finishers, Feed The Children will send a food truck to each driver’s hometown or city of choice.
“As a promoter, I’m honored (all the drivers) were that committed to doing this with us to benefit such a good cause as Feed The Children,” said Stewart, a three-time winner. “Really, ‘honored’ is the best word I can think of to describe it.”
2. Ebrahim, Fan Force United part ways: Firestone Indy Lights team Fan Force United has announced that it has released its first-year driver, Armaan Ebrahim.
“Armaan is a fine young man, and we are quite sorry that this partnership has not worked out as we had hoped,” team co-owner Chris Williams said. “Armaan has worked incredibly hard for the team, as has everyone involved, but for whatever reason, things did not click and we did not get the results that we all required. We separate from Armaan with no hard feelings, and wish him the best of luck in whatever direction his career takes. It has been a pleasure to work with him, and to have him as part of our team and part of our families. We do want to make sure that everybody knows that Armaan lived up to all of his obligations to the team, and that this is a mutual decision taken on both of our parts that is related strictly to our on-track goals for the year. Given the right circumstances, we would love to be able to work with him again. It is always difficult to take such steps, and we can only wish that things had turned out differently.”
Through the last Firestone Indy Lights race in Detroit on June 2, Ebrahim, driving the No. 24 JK Tyre/AMG sponsored machine, had posted finishes of eighth (St. Petersburg), 12th (Birmingham), 12th (Long Beach), 13th (Indianapolis), and 10th (Detroit). He experienced tire issues (Birmingham) and engine problems (Long Beach, Indianapolis) in three of his five starts.
“These are trying times, as Armaan had very much become part of the family,” co-owner Tyce Carlson said. “We want to thank Armaan for all of his hard work. Armaan showed a lot of character and made a great deal of progress in what was a difficult situation for him personally, as he left home, friends, and family to travel halfway around the world in order to move up to the most difficult level of competition than he has ever experienced. Everybody associated with him should be quite proud of him, as not only is it clear that he has developed the talents and skills to succeed at the top levels of our sport, but also because he is a great ambassador for the sport and for his home country of India.”
Talking about what comes next for the team, team co-owner Scott Williamson indicated that this is not the end of the group’s Firestone Indy Lights run.
“Fan Force United intends to continue in Firestone Indy Lights competition for the remainder of the 2012 season, and we hope to be making announcements in that regard in the very near future,” Williamson said. “At this time, we do want to say thank you to both our new and long-time fans for your support and understanding.”
3. Mayors meet in Toronto: IZOD IndyCar series driver James Hinchcliffe (aka “the Mayor of Hinchtown”) met Toronto Mayor Rob Ford at City Hall on June 4, during which Mayor Ford presented Hinchcliffe a proclamation welcoming him to the 2012 running of the Honda Indy Toronto.
The event, which will be held for the 26th time, takes place July 6-8 on the streets surrounding Exhibition Place. The circuit is already under construction.
Hinchcliffe, driver of the No. 27 GoDaddy.com car for Andretti Autosport, is a native of suburban Toronto and will compete in the race for the second year.
For the third year in a row, the Ontario Honda Dealers Association is sponsoring Free Friday on July 6. Through spectator and Ontario Honda Dealers Association donations, more than $200,000 has been raised for Make-A-Wish the previous two years.
Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s Dario Franchitti is the reigning race champion.
The next night, Hinchcliffe (left) threw out the ceremonial first pitch and watched the game between the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park.
4. Of note: Almost 20.3 million people watched at least one minute of the Indianapolis 500 on ABC on May 27, with the average viewer watching a total of 70 minutes of the race…Chevrolet, who returned to engine manufacturer competition this season after a six-year absence, has won three IZOD IndyCar Series races at Texas Motor Speedway: Jeff Ward, 2002; Sam Hornish, Jr., 2002; Tomas Scheckter, 2005.
The next IZOD IndyCar Series race is the Firestone 550 on June 9 at Texas Motor Speedway. The race will be televised by NBC Sports Network at 8 p.m. (ET) and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network on SiriusXM (XM 94 and Sirius 212). The next Firestone Indy Lights race is the Milwaukee 100 on June 15 at The Milwaukee Mile. The race will be televised by NBC Sports Network at 5 p.m. (ET) on June 21. NBC Sports Network coverage of the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix will be televised at 5 p.m. on June 7.