Today’s IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines:
1. Power applauds safety improvements at Infineon
2. Inaugural Baltimore event slated for Labor Day 2011
3. Star Mazda frontrunner Daly samples Firestone Indy Lights car
1. Power applauds safety improvements at Infineon: The Indy Racing League, in cooperation with Infineon Raceway, has enhanced the warning systems in Turn 3A of the 2.303-mile road course for the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma race weekend Aug. 20-22.
Two strobe lights were added for a total of four – with black backboards for additional visibility – and sets of LED lights facing the track (much like the strings of lights on catch fence poles facing spectators at Texas Motor Speedway to alert them to caution periods) have been installed.
Along with the existing corner flag stand, in-car caution lights, spotter radio communication and Race Control audio, drivers will have multiple overlapping warnings to potential danger ahead.
During a practice session last August, Penske Racing driver Will Power suffered two broken vertebrae and a concussion when his car hit the stalled car of Nelson Philippe, who spun exiting the blind, downhill corner. Philippe also suffered a concussion along with an open fracture to his left foot that required surgery. Both have recovered, with Power currently leading the IZOD IndyCar Series championship standings.
Thirteen IZOD IndyCar Series drivers, including Power in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car, representing 10 teams tested Aug. 13 at Infineon Raceway in preparation for the sixth annual race that has been won by a different driver each year.
“It’s nice to be back, actually,” said Power, who topped the speed chart with a lap of 1 minute, 17.46 seconds. “I was a little nervous heading up over that hill (at Turn 3A) a couple of times, for sure. But the track has done a fantastic job of making sure that everyone is aware if someone does spin. If there is a car sitting up and over the top, there’s a lot of lights and plenty of warning before you get there now.
“I enjoy this track. It’s very technical and one of the better road courses we come to so I’d like to come back here and I’d love to win.”
Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves recently described the flow of the natural-terrain course entering the corner.
“After Turn 2, your take fourth gear, it levels and then it goes downhill and swerves left,” he said. “The amount of downforce you have here is unbelievable; it makes the steering so heavy that it’s really hard to turn. You lift in that corner, the car is on rails, and you turn to the right again. It’s a sharp right and there’s absolutely nothing to look at – all you can see is sky.
“As soon are you can see, you’re going down into Turn 4.”
2. Inaugural Baltimore event slated for Labor Day 2011: The inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix will be held over Labor Day weekend 2011 (Sept. 2-4), Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Baltimore Racing Development announced.
The mayor and BRD also announced improvements to the circuit layout to allow for more fan attractions.
“We are very excited to be able to schedule the inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix for the weekend that we originally wanted,” said Jay Davidson, president of the Baltimore Grand Prix and Baltimore Racing Development. “We have always planned to market the Baltimore Grand Prix as a destination event, and we are expecting race fans from throughout the region and around the world to travel to the race. Having the Grand Prix on Labor Day weekend makes it even easier for fans to make travel plans to attend this action-packed ‘three day festival of speed’ in downtown Baltimore.”
Alterations to 12-turn course include moving pit lane from Russell Street on the west side of Oriole Park at Camden Yards to the east side of the complex in the shadows of the historic B&O Warehouse. With the new pit lane location, the racetrack will now circle Oriole Park.
Two turns have been added on Conway Street to slow the cars as they approach pit lane. The new layout also features reconfigured Turns 10 and 11, as the previous tight turns become sweeping “S” turns back onto the long Pratt Street straight. The first four turns remain unchanged.
The race weekend also will include Firestone Indy Lights.
The remainder of the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series schedule will be announced at a later date.
3. Star Mazda frontrunner Daly samples Firestone Indy Lights car:Conor Daly doesn’t know what his racing future holds, but he is weighing all options presented to him – including those by the Road to Indy.
The Star Mazda Championship leader got his first taste of a Firestone Indy Lights car with Sam Schmidt Motorsports on Aug. 11 at Indiana’s Putnam Park Road Course.
“It’s great to experience the next step up (on the ladder) and experience a car that is closer to an Indy Car,” said Daly, the son of former Indy car and Formula 1 driver Derek Daly. “I really want to do the Freedom 100 sometime and eventually the Indy 500. We’ll see what happens in the future. It’s nice to finally be in one of these cars. I’ve been trying to test one for a long time and I finally have the chance.
“To work with a great organization like Sam Schmidt Motorsports, which is leading the Indy Lights championship, was a great experience and a lot of fun.”
Daly, who has won five Star Mazda races for Juncos Racing completed 200 miles of testing in difficult testing conditions. The 18 year-old from Noblesville, Ind., worked through a variety of setups before doing a simulated qualifying run at the end of the day.
“It was the hottest, yet one of the most enjoyable days of testing ever for me,” Daly said. “Whenever I get into a new car I try not to just drive it fast but to drive it right. It was very different to anything I have ever driven. ”
And while his 2011 plans are not set, Daly is not ready to worry about his future. His goal is to add the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear title to his already impressive list of accomplishment.
“We’ll have to see what the options are, but it would be great to do some Indy Lights races next year even if it isn’t our primary program,” Daly said. “The first goal is to finish off this year and do as best we can in the final four races to win the championship.”
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.