By Amy Konrath
Today’s IZOD IndyCar Series, Firestone Indy Lights and Mazda Road to Indy headlines:
1. THE INSIDE TRACK – Iowa Corn Indy 250
2. If you missed it: Oriol Servia conference call
3. Synergy working for Colliver and Yacaman
4. Immersion Media enhances fan experience at indycar.com
1. THE INSIDE TRACK – Iowa Corn Indy 250: Click HERE to access the Inside Track, an interactive graphic previewing the Iowa Corn Indy 250, the IZOD IndyCar Series’ event at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa.
The graphic contains links to videos featuring highlights of last year’s Iowa Corn Indy 250 at won by Marco Andretti, a virtual lap of Iowa Speedway and a driver preview featuring Andretti, Graham Rahal and James Hinchcliffe.
The entry lists and fast facts for the Iowa Corn Indy 250 and Sukup 100 Firestone Indy Lights race are also available on the graphic.
If the link does not function, it is attached to this e-mail.
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.
2. If you missed it: Oriol Servia conference call: Earlier today, IZOD IndyCar Series driver Oriol Servia participated in an INDYCAR Conference Call to preview the Iowa Corn Indy 250. Servia, driver of the No. 22 Panther/Dreyer & Reinbold Chevrolet, is 10th in the IZOD IndyCar Series point standings entering the Iowa Corn Indy 250 after scoring a top-five finish at Milwaukee — his third top-five finish in the last four races.
A full transcript and a broadcast-quality MP3 are available at media.indycar.com. Selected quotes from the interview are below.
Q. Oriol, you’ve had three top‑five finishes in the last four races, so what will it take to keep that momentum going at Iowa this weekend?
ORIOL SERVIA: Well, I think there’s no secret, we are doing the best job we can at every race we have. I was going to say, every day, but obviously we are not doing a very good job in qualifying, and we just seem to be showing up on the race.
But definitely just keep pushing. We had a slow start this season, and I think that made us all very hungry as a team and willing to prove that we deserve to be running up front and that’s what we are doing now.
Q. I know you had a pretty productive test at Iowa before the Milwaukee race, but earlier this week the series announced some changes to the aero package for the weekend. What are your thoughts about the changes and putting the car more in the drivers’ hands this weekend?
ORIOL SERVIA: Well, it’s definitely putting more of the car into the drivers’ hands, and also into the engineers’ hands. I definitely see less downforce, it makes it a lot more demanding for the engineers trying to find a good setup that, a, will give you the speed, but also, b, that will make the tires last the whole thing. And if not, then we have the engineers having to focus on trying to find a tenth of a‑mile‑an‑hour, because we are all going around flat. And then the focus, the ability to find these speeds for veering or these things that make the wings flex better or worse. Honestly it should give you a tenth of a mile, but that’s what you need to make a difference.
Now, when you need to drive the car you and need a setup that takes care of the tires, if you don’t do that and you don’t focus on having a good mechanical setup, it means that you’re not going to be losing a tenth of a mile, you’re going to be losing ten miles an hour.
It’s putting the focus back where it should be which is finding a good, proper setup of the car that makes the car work, the tires work, and that makes the drivers work. I hope with all of these changes ‑‑ it’s always tough to find what level, and with downforce, how much we really need.
The only thing I haven’t been totally happy with the strategy is that we just tested last week in Iowa and it cost money to the team and now for everybody to do the best in between the races between Texas and Milwaukee, we are in Iowa testing, and it would have been nice to know the rules when we were there. So at least we were spending the money on a package that is not exactly what we are going to be racing on.
But apart from that, I understand not everything is perfect, but I’m very happy with the route that IndyCar is taking with these changes.
Q. Another change for this weekend, you mentioned that you would just show up for the race. Qualifying this weekend, as someone who has gained 89 positions on track in the race, you have to be upbeat about trying to race your way to the fold.
ORIOL SERVIA: Yeah, actually that’s a good point. We have been much better at passing the cars on track than beating times in qualifying. So the races seem to go our way. You still need to put a good time up there to try to get into the top three groups, but yeah, it’s good.
I think it’s interesting that the series are trying different ways for qualifying, you know, the starting position for the races. I think it’s good that we are being a little adventurous and brave to try things. I don’t know if this is going to be the success formula, but I’m definitely happy that, again, we are not afraid to make our sport better every day.
3. Synergy working for Colliver and Yacaman: It’s one of the most unique relationships in sports. The relationship between a driver and race engineer has to be one of complete trust, a back-and-forth of sharing theories that are put to test in real situations every race weekend.
Firestone Indy Lights competitor Gustavo Yacaman referred to it as an investor-investee relationship. His race engineer, Mike Colliver, said maybe student-teacher or doctor-patient.
Colliver and Yacaman started working together last season at the twin Firestone Indy Lights races in Edmonton, Alberta, after Yacaman’s engineer left the team. He worked for a while with Team Moore Racing principal Mark Moore, but depended on Colliver for advice throughout the transition.
“I’ve done the Indy car deal for 10 or 12 years, and I’ve done this level for about four years now,” Colliver said. “So I think I have that vision where I can tell him that when he gets to the next level he might want to think about this or that. I think that at an Indy Lights level, an engineer kind of needs to be a driver coach at times, and he’s not at that stage. He doesn’t need me to driver coach him. Maybe a first-year guy coming into Indy Lights might need a little more. My focus is more getting him ready to go to the next level. Especially on the ovals, I think.”
The two will need that focus for their race this weekend at the .875-mile Iowa Speedway oval, where Yacaman finished second last season. The Sukup 100 will take place immediately before the IZOD IndyCar Series race June 23. The race will air on NBC Sports Network that night at 10:59 p.m. (CT).
It didn’t take long for Colliver and Yacaman to get into the swing of things when they began working together. Colliver learned what his driver liked from the car, and could make those adjustments to it before it even hit the track.
“Some engineers are very sensitive to what you tell them. They get offended,” Yacaman said. “If a change doesn’t work, a lot of them for their own ego want to try to work around it to make it work. With Mike, it’s good because I can tell him something didn’t work, and he’ll take it off and make what’s working better. We’re not going to waste time trying to make something he came up with work for the hell of it, so that’s good we have that communication.”
Colliver has more than a decade of experience, including work with Bruno Junqueira during the 2011 Indianapolis 500. Junqueira, a friend of Yacaman’s, gave nothing but positive reviews for Colliver after that experience.
“My philosophy as a race engineer is that there’s a thousand ways to skin the cat, and I think I’m better suited and the driver’s better suited if I massage the car and make the car more towards what he wants instead of saying, ‘This is the ultimate set-up. You need to figure out how to drive it this way,’ ” Colliver said. “And I think there’s a fair amount of engineers out there that believe, ‘This is the car. You need to learn how to drive it.’ I’ve never been a believer in that.”
Together, the No. 2 TMR‐Tuvacol‐Xtreme Coil Drilling car has finished in the top 10 in every race this season, including three top-five finishes highlighted by a win in Detroit and a pole at Indianapolis. This season marks his fourth in Firestone Indy Lights, more than any other driver in the series.
After an offseason where Yacaman contemplated taking that next step to the IZOD IndyCar Series, he instead landed again with Team Moore Racing, which also runs the No. 22 car of David Ostella. Though the medium-sized team does not have the resources of a Sam Schmidt Motorsports or Andretti Autosport, the group stands out in its own way with consistent results and the experience of two veteran drivers.
“I think (Gustavo) could run in (the IZOD) IndyCar (Series) right now, but I think we all discussed during the offseason when he decided to come back to Lights that it was a great decision,” Colliver said. “A lot of people forget that he just turned 21, and even though this is his fourth year, people think he should be up in IndyCar, well at the end of the day, you’re better off to come back here because you’re just getting to the point where you’re running in the top three or four every weekend and you’re going to get the mentality every weekend that I’m going to go there to win.
“And once you learn that and get a taste of it, then that’s what you’re going to want to do in the next level when you’re ready to do it.”
4. Immersion Media enhances fan experience at indycar.com: INDYCAR announced today that Immersion Media, the multimedia group specializing in 3D animation, HD video and web and mobile experiences, has been brought on board to develop special features for INDYCAR’s official website, www.indycar.com.
The multi-year relationship will allow INDYCAR and Immersion to invest in content and explore new opportunities throughout its term.
“We’re looking forwarding to Immersion Media using their expertise to engage and educate our online fans,” said Greg Gruning, executive vice president of business strategy for INDYCAR. “Their features are very entertaining and informative and I consider them a valuable addition to our sites.”
In addition to developing INDYCAR’s Fantasy Racing program, Immersion Media will enhance INDYCAR’s online fan experience with virtual laps of each race track which will be posted on the corresponding IZOD IndyCar Series’ event page.
The team will also produce INDYCAR 101 videos that will be posted on INDYCAR’s YouTube Channel (www.youtube.com/indycars) and on INDYCAR Mobile.
“The sport of open-wheel racing gives Immersion a great opportunity to showcase the skills that make us experts in the 3D and HD realms,” said Rick Perko, president of Immersion Media. “We’re a small outfit in numbers, but are more than able and excited about creating innovative and engaging content for INDYCAR. We love its passion and its leadership and expect a great ride with them.”
The 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series race continues with the Iowa Corn Indy 250 on June 23 at Iowa 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 Sukup 100 on June 22 at Iowa Speedway. The race will be televised by NBC Sports Network immediately following coverage of the Iowa Corn Indy 250.