By Amy Konrath
Today’s IZOD IndyCar Series, Firestone Indy Lights and Mazda Road to Indy headlines:
2. Servia to sport Charter colors at Barber
3. Dallara to mark 200th Indy car win at Barber
1. Daly to make debut at Indianapolis 500: As a native of suburban Indianapolis, second-generation racer Conor Daly has spent most of his life wondering what it’s like to race in the Indianapolis 500.
This May, the 21-year-old will be seeing the race from the cockpit of an IZOD IndyCar Series car.
Daly, son of former Formula 1 and Indy car driver Derek Daly, will drive A.J. Foyt Racing’s No. 41 ABC Supply Honda in this year’s Indianapolis 500, joining Takuma Sato who drives the No. 14 ABC Supply Honda in the IZOD IndyCar Series.
“I almost can’t describe what it means to have the opportunity to race in the Indianapolis 500,” said Daly, of Noblesville, Ind. “I am so thankful that A.J. and (team director) Larry (Foyt) have given me my first shot at the greatest race in the world. I know this will sound cheesy but I’ve never been happier in my life; this race means so much to me.”
Daly tested with the team in mid-December (two days before his 21st birthday) at Sebring International Raceway. He competed the past two seasons in the European-based GP3 series, and has won in nearly every formula — Firestone Indy Lights, GP3, Star Mazda and Skip Barber — he’s competed. He won national titles in the Star Mazda (2010) and Skip Barber (2008) series. Daly made his GP2 debut March 22-24 at Sepang International circuit in Malaysia with seventh- and 13th-place finishes.
“He ran well at Sebring when we needed someone to do some testing in the offseason,” said A.J. Foyt, the first four-time Indianapolis 500 champion. “He was fast, smooth, and didn’t get in trouble. When we made a change on the car he felt it. I found him to be very savvy on the chassis setups. In fact, when we made a minor change which was really nothing, he thought about it and said it felt no different. I told him that was the right answer because we didn’t do anything he’d be able to feel, so that impressed me, too.
“I’ve run a lot of rookies at Indy and I think Conor will do a good job for us.”
Wade Cunningham, the 2005 Firestone Indy Lights champion, was the most recent Indy 500 rookie with Foyt’s team (starting 26th and finishing 31st because of an electrical issue in 2012). A.J. Foyt Racing last won the Indianapolis 500 in 1999 with Kenny Brack behind the wheel.
Daly will be the fourth driver scheduled to participate in the Rookie Orientation Program on April 11 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Candidates must complete two of the three phases of car control, placement and consistent driving on the 2.5-mile oval (10 laps at 200-205 mph, 15 laps at 205-209 mph and 15 laps at 210-plus mph) during the day. Drivers may complete the third phase during the first week of practice.
A.J. Allmendinger (Team Penske), Tristan Vautier (Schmidt Peterson Motorsports) and Carlos Munoz (Andretti Autosport) also are scheduled to participate in the program led by IZOD IndyCar Series driver stewards Arie Luyendyk and Johnny Unser.
Opening Day is May 11, Pole Day is May 18 and Race Day is May 26.
“I’m excited about bringing Conor to Indy for his first race at the 500,” Larry Foyt said. “I’ve been watching him come up through the open-wheel ranks, and when we met at the F-1 race in Austin, Texas, last year, we hit it off immediately. Doing the test at Sebring confirmed he could make the step up to an IndyCar. With my dad’s guidance, the potential is there for a great month of May.”
2. Servia to sport Charter colors at Barber: Oriol Servia’s Panther DRR Chevrolet will feature the colors of Charter Communications during the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park.
Servia, whose best finish at Barber is fifth in 2011, carried Charter’s colors to a fourth-place finish at Milwaukee in 2012.
“We had a very good test at Barber a couple of weeks ago and we are coming from the first race of the season where we led and showed great pace, so we couldn’t be more excited to start the weekend,” said Servia, who led 16 laps in the season-opening race on the streets of St. Petersburg on March 24. “I will be driving the green and blue car for Charter, another one of our great sponsors and supporters and I truly feel we can give them a great weekend.”
Charter Communications, Inc. is a Fortune 500 company and the fourth-largest cable operator in the United States. Charter provides advanced video, high-speed Internet, and telephone services to about 5.2 million residential and business customers in 25 states.
3. Dallara to mark 200th Indy car win: Dallara will present a commemorative trophy to the winner of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama to mark its 200th IZOD IndyCar Series victory on April 7 at Barber Motorsports Park.
Since 1997, Dallara has designed and built chassis for teams competing in the IZOD IndyCar Series and has been the sole chassis supplier to the series since 2006.
“When Dallara and INDYCAR met in 1997, we began a relationship that has lasted many years,”
said Stefano De Ponti, head of Dallara operations in the United States. “We went through these battles against other important manufacturers (G Force and Riley & Scott) and here we are. We celebrate our 200th victory and it’s remarkable.
“(The relationship between INDYCAR and Dallara is) a technical relationship, a business partnership, but mainly a personal relationship. You have professional ethics on both sides and we carry on under these principles, the way we think, the way we progress with the good of the sport in mind.
“I’ve been in motorsports basically all my life and (reaching a milestone) is a personal satisfaction, and thinking not of the results that have been achieved but thinking of the job that has been done for people on both sides. It will be good feeling to move forward and achieve another 100 victories.”
Dallara Victories by the numbers
1st — Jim Guthrie at Phoenix for Blueprint Racing (1997)
50th – Scott Sharp Twin Ring Motegi for Kelley Racing (2003)
100th – Tony Kanaan at Twin Ring Motegi for then-Andretti Green (2007)
150th – Will Power at Sao Paulo for Team Penske (2010)
199th – James Hinchcliffe at St. Petersburg for Andretti Autosport (2013)
Most wins by driver
Scott Dixon – 23
Dario Franchitti – 21
Helio Castroneves – 21
The 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series season continues with the Honda Indy Grand Prix Alabama on April 7 at Barber Motorsports Park. The race will be televised live at 3 p.m. (ET) by the NBC Sports Network (Verizon FiOS 90/590, DirecTV 220, DISH 159 and AT&T UVerse 640) and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network, including on Sirius and XM Channels 211 and www.indycar.com. The next Firestone Indy Lights race is the Legacy Indy Lights 100 on April 7 at Barber Motorsport Park. The race will be broadcast by NBC Sports Network at 1 p.m. (ET) on April 7, immediately preceding the IZOD IndyCar Series race broadcast.