By Amy Konrath
Today’s IZOD IndyCar Series, Firestone Indy Lights and Mazda Road to Indy headlines:
1. Sonoma technical penalty update
2. If you missed it – Alex Tagliani conference call
3. THE INSIDE TRACK – Grand Prix of Baltimore
4. Power is focus of latest episode of “INDYCAR 36″
5. Ed Carpenter Racing seeks to continue streak
6. Chinese driver Fong joins Firestone Indy Lights
7. Of note
1. Sonoma technical penalty update: There were no technical penalties issued following the IZOD IndyCar Series race at the raceway at Sonoma on Aug. 26.
2. If you missed it – Alex Tagliani conference call: Earlier today, IZOD IndyCar Series driver Alex Tagliani participated in an INDYCAR conference call to preview the Grand Prix of Baltimore.
Tagliani, driver of the No. 98 Barracuda Racing Honda, is 17th in the IZOD IndyCar Series standings despite missing a race earlier this year. Tagliani has advanced to all but one of the Firestone Fast Six qualifying sessions since his team moved to Honda, and has recorded seven top-10 finishes in the past eight races. Tagliani will be looking to get his first podium finish of 2012 at the Grand Prix of Baltimore, where he was seventh a year ago.
A full transcript and a broadcast-quality MP3 are available at media.indycar.com. Selected quotes from the interview are below.
Q. I was wondering if you had a chance to talk to Ryan Hunter-Reay and what is your side of Sunday’s incident.
ALEX TAGLIANI: Yeah, I spoke with him after the race. I stopped by in the pit lane. I apologized to him again about the incident. I wanted him to take a few minutes just to hear my side of the story because when I first got with him it was basically his side of the story, and I accepted it. I also accepted the fact he had the right to be upset.
The incident, obviously Barracuda Racing and myself as a driver, we earned the right to race against anybody out there. We have our own little championship going on. We need to be in the Leaders’ Circle for next year, so it’s very important that we grab as many points as possible.
I don’t think it would be fair for my team if I know that I have a car to pass Dario (Franchitti) and I just lay back. I don’t think Bryan (Herta) would be very happy with me if I do that. If you decide to make a move on someone, you might make a mistake. That’s accident happened. I went into the corner, side-by-side with Dario. I locked the brakes. I missed the apex by a foot. I hit Ryan’s bumper and made him spin.
For my defense, it’s not the first time it happened with drivers in that corner with the race. It happened to him. It happened to other people. Also (it was) my first drive-through penalty in a long time.
If he has a short memory, it’s not fair, because he’s been called for drive-through by hitting Scotty (Dixon) in Toronto and Ryan Briscoe in Barber and this year as well.
Everybody is exposed to making a mistake once in a while when you’re fighting for the same piece of real estate in IndyCar. Unfortunately, that day it was him.
I will apologize every day I see him until you know that you can move on and understand. That’s the only thing I can do. I’m not going to hide behind my mistake. Other than that, I can’t do anything else.
Q. What has been the biggest change at Barracuda Racing this year?
ALEX TAGLIANI: I’m very, very surprised. Obviously it’s our first year together as a group, first year for BHA. Overall, the big change was switching to Honda. It was a pretty big decision from the team. But (co-owner) Bryan (Herta) and the Barracuda Racing people decided it was the best thing we could do for the future and we felt that our team was at a level where we deserved to have the proper engine manufacturer with us, to showcase what we were capable of.
On the first four races of the championship, we had a lot of DNFs, a lot of problems. We missed one. So our championship really began at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Since then we’ve been regular, pretty consistent. Qualifying has been our highlight. We were very, very quick in qualifying.
I think overall we’re looking forward to a strong 2013 season and hopefully finishing 2012 strong, as well.
Q. You mentioned there are two races to go. You sat on the pole at Texas, so you know the car can be fast on an oval. There’s one street course left at Baltimore. Do you think you can compete for wins at Baltimore and Fontana?
ALEX TAGLIANI: Yeah, our first street course after we switched to Honda after the Speedway was Detroit. We were third on the grid there. We didn’t have the chance to really capitalize on a great qualifying because we had to start from the pit lane. Overall, we had a strong race, made it back all the way to top five, then had an issue and we got cycled back to 21st.
I think our car has been pretty strong on street courses. Toronto we qualified fast. There’s been a couple of races where we didn’t have a chance to show the speed or pace we had in the race. Edmonton was a good example where we were good, not good on old tires, but good on new tires. Overall, I don’t expect anything different. I really hope that we’ll be able to get right in the range of where we need to be with the setup and work our weekend through that.
Q. Talk about Baltimore a little bit, changes in the course. The key change is the elimination of the chicane on the front. Do you think those changes will affect the racing this weekend?
ALEX TAGLIANI: I think so, definitely. Without the chicane in the middle, it will allow for more passing, especially with the ‘push to pass.’ There’s been a heavy braking zone down the end. It opens up the door.
I think it has the possibility to put on a pretty good show. I think they’re just going to be like a step up regarding safety, also for the drivers to put on a better show for the fans, to get the Indy cars to stretch their legs with the turbo engine.
On paper, it looks really good. I’m really looking forward to see the changes.
3. THE INSIDE TRACK – Grand Prix of Baltimore: Click HERE to access the Inside Track, an interactive graphic previewing the Grand Prix of Baltimore, the IZOD IndyCar Series’ event on the streets of Baltimore this weekend.
The graphic contains links to videos featuring highlights of last year’s race won by Will Power, and a driver preview featuring Scott Dixon, Oriol Servia and Simona de Silvestro. The entry lists and fast facts for the Grand Prix of Baltimore’s IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights races are also available on the graphic.
We hope you find this a valuable asset in your coverage of the IZOD IndyCar Series. We appreciate your coverage of the league, its teams and drivers.
4. Power is focus of latest episode of “INDYCAR 36″: IZOD IndyCar Series championship points leader Will Power is the focus of this week’s “INDYCAR 36,” which will air at noon (ET) Sept. 2 to kick off a five-hour block of IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights race day coverage on NBC Sports Network from Baltimore.
Power, the defending race winner on the streets of Baltimore, is coming off a runner-up finish to Team Penske teammate Ryan Briscoe at Sonoma on Aug. 26.
The IMS Productions crew went behind the scenes during a strategy meeting and sponsor commitments, and rode to the venue on Brasil IT+ Pole Day with Power and his wife, Elizabeth, who is the publicist for Panther/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing.
“That was a nice perspective,” said Dan Huber, the show’s producer. “We got to hear the story of how they first got together back when they were both working for Derrick Walker in Champ Car in 2006. We got to see more of Will’s personality.”
The crew also interviewed Penske Racing president Tim Cindric and Helio Castroneves.
Power, who started from the pole at Sonoma, was aiming to win at the track for the third year in a row. The second-place finish, combined with Ryan Hunter-Reay’s 18th place in the 85-lap race on the 2.385-mile, 12-turn road course, allowed Power to increase his championship points lead from 5 to 36 over Hunter-Reay.
“He was conflicted after the race in that he had a good points day but didn’t win the race,” Huber said. “He’s a very focused and competitive individual.”
5. Ed Carpenter Racing seeks to continue streak: Team owner/driver Ed Carpenter is the only driver to have been running at the finish in all 13 races this season. The team began operation less than 10 months ago.
“It is very difficult to construct a team in just a few months and try to compete against the likes of Penske, Ganassi and Andretti,” said Carpenter, driver of the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka car. “We have a solid team with (general manager) Derrick (Walker) and (team manager) Tim Broyles leading the way. I have been able to concentrate on the driving side as well. I am proud of the way the team has come together and finishing every race this year shows the effort the Fuzzy’s Vodka team has produced this season.”
6. Chinese driver Fong joins Firestone Indy Lights: Brooks Associates Racing will rejoin Firestone Indy Lights, fielding its No. 8 car for Hong Kong driver Adderly Fong in this weekend’s Grand Prix of Baltimore.
Fong, a veteran of British Formula 3, Auto GP and sports car racing, will make his U.S. racing debut with the team in hopes of racing in Firestone Indy Lights full time in 2013.
“My team and I remain dedicated to helping drivers compete in the U.S. and I’m thrilled that Adderly has joined us for this race,” said team owner John Brooks. “He did really well in the test, and is a strong competitor for the series.”
Fong will be paired with veteran engineer Lee Dykstra, who has worked with drivers such as Raphael Matos, James Davison and James Hinchcliffe.
Brooks’ team has raced a limited campaign in 2012, fielding a car for England’s Alex Jones at Long Beach. But Brooks hopes to maintain his team’s presence in the series to provide opportunities for drivers chasing their dreams of becoming an IZOD IndyCar Series driver.
“At the end of the day, we have always been in the racing industry for the long haul, and we look forward to a competitive race this weekend,” Brooks said. “I love what I do and our track record – literally – speaks for itself. My drivers have gone on to do well in the larger series – Andreas Wirth, Ronnie Bremer, etc. – and we do this to make that difference in their careers.”
7. Of note: Ryan Homes will be an associate sponsor on the No. 14 ABC Supply car of A.J. Foyt Racing for the weekend. … Verizon Wireless, the Official Wireless Sponsor of the IZOD IndyCar Series, has extended its official designation to the Grand Prix of Baltimore. … Baltimore native and Grammy Award-nominated Mario will sing the national anthem before the start of the IZOD IndyCar Series race.
The next IZOD IndyCar Series race is the Grand Prix of Baltimore on Sept. 2 on the streets of Baltimore. The race will be televised live at 2 p.m. (ET) by NBC Sports Network and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network on SiriusXM (Sirius 212 and XM 94). The next Firestone Indy Lights race is the Grand Prix of Baltimore on Sept. 2 on the streets of Baltimore. It will be televised live by NBC Sports Network at 12:30 p.m.