Today's IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines
1. Dallara partners with IndyCar Series to lower team operating costs
2. Andretti, Viso re-signed for 2009
3. Dixon honored by BRDC
4. Howard wins PRI karting event
1. Dallara partners with IndyCar Series to lower team operating costs: In an effort to reduce costs for IndyCar Series teams during the 2009 season, Dallara will lower the price of parts for its IndyCar Series chassis.
The manufacturer plans to reduce the cost of general and specific spare parts, including items such as wishbones, wings and radiators, between 8 and 20 percent. Dallara estimates the average team savings will be approximately 11 percent compared to 2008. The new prices will be available to teams when the 2009 catalog is released on Jan. 10.
"Everybody knows that this is a difficult time, and we have to do our best now to help the teams," said Andrea Toso, IndyCar Series project leader for Dallara. "If we can help the teams go through this difficult time, it is in the best interest of the manufacturers, the series and the teams. If we don't do anything now, maybe one year from now it's too late. We hope that all suppliers and partners will understand this initiative and follow suit."
A long time partner to the IndyCar Series, Dallara has been providing chassis to teams since 1997.
"In light of the current global economic crisis, to see the effort Dallara has made to help all of our teams with an across-the-board cost reduction is truly the definition of a partner," said Brian Barnhart, president of competition and operations for the Indy Racing League, the sanctioning body of the IndyCar Series. "They are just going out of their way to do what they can to ensure the stability of the IndyCar Series beginning in 2009."
The move to reduce costs caps a frenzied IndyCar Series season for Dallara, which saw the addition of 15 new chassis to the field to meet the demand of increased car count resulting from the unification of open wheel racing less than 30 days prior to opening day.
"The ability to ramp up and supply equipment on that late of notice after unification showed their commitment to the series as well, and now what they are doing from the business side is a tremendous gesture and hopefully one that can be followed by other suppliers in the series," Barnhart said.
2. Andretti, Viso re-signed for 2009: Marco Andretti and E.J. Viso will return to the IndyCar Series in 2009. Andretti re-signed with Andretti Green Racing to drive the No. 26 entry, while Viso re-signed with HVM Racing to drive the No. 33 car.
Andretti finished seventh in the IndyCar Series point standings in 2008, his fourth season. He ranked fourth among all drivers with 330 laps led. The 21-year old son of team owner Michael Andretti scored four podium and six top-five finishes in 2008, including a third in the 92nd running of the Indianapolis 500 - his second top-three finish at Indy in just three starts.
"I'm really looking forward to 2009 at Andretti Green," Marco Andretti said. "As a team, we have a lot to prove next year, and I want to be a big part of that. I learned a lot last year that I can build on going forward and have every reason to believe that we can be a factor all year long."
Andretti will be teammates with 2004 IndyCar Series champion Tony Kanaan, 2008 Bombardier Learjet Rookie of the Year Hideki Mutoh and 2005 Bombardier Learjet Rookie of the Year Danica Patrick.
"It's good to get Marco's contract done," Michael Andretti said. "He is a big part of the future of our team and is someone that we expect big things from in 2009. As a team, we are working very hard to improve our entire program for next season, and Marco will play a big role in everything we achieve."
Viso, 23, proved in 2008 to be one of the best young drivers in the IndyCar Series. The rookie recorded seven top-10 finishes, including a season-best fourth on the Streets of St. Petersburg.
"Well, most people knew it was coming, but everything had to be put in place," team owner Keith Wiggins said. "This is a natural progression and a sensible move for both team and driver. It will actually be the first time since 2004 that we have the continuity of retaining the same driver for a second season. That in itself shows a positive picture for our team and the single open-wheel series. We are delighted to continue with E.J going into our second IndyCar Series season and believe that together we can make big strides in 2009."
HVM Racing plans to add a second car to its program in 2009. The team also will expand with a Firestone Indy Lights program.
"I am very pleased to stay with HVM for 2009," Viso said. "We had a good season in 2008 given that it was our 'learning' year, and having continuity is a good thing to pursue our progression towards the top. The team is working on upping our game, and our plans to enter a second car are very close to be completed. This obviously will be a big plus."
3. Dixon honored by BRDC: IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon has been honored by the British Racing Drivers' Club as the recipient of the 2008 Bruce McLaren Trophy.
The trophy is awarded annually to the Commonwealth driver who has established the most meritorious performances in international motor racing. Dixon also received the honor during his 2003 IndyCar Series championship season.
"I think it's fantastic and a big honor to win the Bruce McLaren Trophy," Dixon said. "The BRDC is a very prestigious club, and to be noticed as the best Commonwealth international driver is something I will never forget. I also have to that Dick Bennetts for receiving the award on my behalf."
The trophy was originally presented to Bruce McLaren for finishing in second place in the 1965 Canadian Grand Prix at Mosport. After McLaren passed away in 1970, his widow, Patty, presented it to the BRDC to give to the best Commonwealth driver of each year.
McLaren was born in Auckland, New Zealand. Dixon was born in Australia but grew up in New Zealand.
4. Howard wins PRI karting event: IndyCar Series driver Jay Howard won the third annual PRI All-Stars Karting Classic Dec. 11 in Orlando, Fla.
Howard, the 2006 Firestone Indy Lights champion who competed in five IndyCar Series events as a rookie in 2008, took the checkers with a 3.203-second advantage after 40 laps on the seven-turn, .25-mile course at the Orange County Convention Center.
"The race wasn't easy by any means, but we were unchallenged the whole time," Howard said. "I got in the lead and led the whole way. There are a lot of top drivers from different series there, so it's nice to kind of make a point that I think I'm good enough to get a ride (in the IndyCar Series in 2009)."
Eight other IndyCar Series drivers competed in the Masters Division event, including Buddy Rice (9th), Alex Tagliani (10th), Dan Wheldon (13th), Ryan Hunter-Reay (15th), Ed Carpenter (23rd), Will Power (24th), Townsend Bell (25th) and Vitor Meira (26th).
The 2009 IndyCar Series season opens April 5 with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. The race will be telecast live at 2 p.m. (EDT) by VERSUS. The 2009 Firestone Indy Lights season begins with a doubleheader race weekend April 4-5 at St. Petersburg.