From Indy Car
Today’s IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines
1. Franchitti Wins Titus Award From American Motorsports Media
2. Brian Stewart to field Star Mazda team in 2010
1. Franchitti Wins Titus Award From American Motorsports Media: Dario Franchitti received more recognition for his 2009 IZOD IndyCar Series championship Jan. 16 by being named the recipient of the Jerry Titus Award during the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association’s All-America Team dinner in Brownsburg, Ind.
The Titus award, given in remembrance of the late racer/journalist, signifies the top vote-getter among All-America Team members as the driver of the year. Franchitti also won the award following his 2007 series championship and Indianapolis 500 victory.
“It’s a privilege to win this award,” said Franchitti, who won the season finale to secure the title by 12 points over Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon. “It’s the kind of thing that you share with your team. Winning the Titus Award makes you think of all of the guys on the team and the effort that they put in, as well. I really feel that they should be up there with me, accepting this award. It’s a great honor.”
Franchitti, J.R. Hildebrand (Firestone Indy Lights champion), Donny Schatz (World of Outlaws), Tony Schumacher (NHRA), Mark Martin (NASCAR Sprint Cup), Ron Hornaday (NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series) and Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney (Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series) were first-team selections among drivers representing Open Wheel, Stock Car, Road Racing, Drag Racing, Short Track, Touring Series and At-Large.
Target Chip Ganassi Racing owner Chip Ganassi was honored as the organization’s Pioneer in Racing.
“Receiving an award like this lets me look back on my career and affords me the opportunity to thank everyone who has helped me along the way,” said Ganassi, whose drivers have won the past two IZOD IndyCar Series titles. “I want to thank my parents; they were there on day one about 50 years ago. And I want to thank Target; they were there on day one about 20 years ago. They’ve both been with me throughout it all. I’m also fortunate to have a guy like (team managing director) Mike Hull to keep everything together.
“I live this sport, I breathe it. That’s why I like to be involved in so many different levels of racing. I’m at home at the racetrack, and my family is at the racetrack. There is no other place that I’d rather be. I heard once that working in sports is like the toy department of life. I think that’s true about racing, too. It’s my toy department of life.”
Target Chip Ganassi Racing will seek another entrant and driver championship when the IZOD IndyCar Series kicks off March 14 on the streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil.
“It was great to see Chip being honored,” said Franchitti, who joined Chip Ganassi Racing for the 2008 season in a stock car program curtailed because of a lack of sponsorship. “He’s a guy that has led the way in motorsports. A lot of team owners are quite cautious by nature, but he’s a real gambler. He’s taken some big chances over the years, and it was good to see him get honored for that tonight.”
Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves, who won his third Indianapolis 500 and finished fourth in the series standings in 2009, was voted to the second team.
2. Brian Stewart to field Star Mazda team in 2010: Firestone Indy Lights championship-winning team Brian Stewart Racing announced its intentions to field a team in all three series that make up the Indy Racing League’s Road to Indy developmental ladder.
Brian Stewart Racing, which has fielded a Firestone Indy Lights team since 2002, announced it will add a team in the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear to its previously announced plans to field a team in the Cooper Tires presents the USF2000 National Championship powered by Mazda.
“In our 45-year history, we have consistently graduated drivers through the various levels of open-wheel racing. Since 2005 we have sponsored the Brian Stewart Racing Karting Championship (BSRKC) and we recently added a USF2000 team to our Driver Development Program,” said team owner Brian Stewart. “With the addition of our Star Mazda team, we now have a seamless series of stepping stones for a driver moving from karting right through to our Firestone Indy Lights team.”
BSR’s Star Mazda Team will compete in 13 races in 2010 and will be supported by Firestone Indy Lights-quality staff and technology.
“Each driver will be supported by all of the resources of our Driver Development Program, which includes many of the most skilled personnel in auto racing,” adds BSR Business Manager Janet Stewart. “The addition of this team provides drivers as well as sponsors with a wide spectrum of ways to get involved with one of the most respected racing teams in the industry.”