Franchitti leads series Loudon test day at NHIS

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Franchitti leads series Loudon test day at NHIS

IndyCar

Franchitti, Dixon lead opening practices at New Hampshire


LOUDON, N.H. (Thursday, August 11, 2011) - Dario Franchitti and other IZOD IndyCar Series drivers have set their sights on the Indy car track record at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. He had a quick lap of 21.5665 seconds (171.099 mph) on the 1.025-mile oval to top practice Aug. 11 for the MoveThatBlock.com Indy 225.

The Indy car lap record is 21.466 seconds by Andre Ribeiro (Ana Beatriz's manager) in qualifying on Aug. 19, 1995. The IZOD IndyCar Series track record is 21.719 seconds by Richie Hearn in 1996 - the first of three times the series raced at then-New Hampshire International Speedway.

"My first order of business today was to learn the track and the first run felt good," Franchitti said. "It is definitely a lot easier to learn a place when the car is doing what you want it to. I think we are in good shape now and we will be chasing the track a little bit. We'll see if we can continue this form into the weekend."

The top 10 in the 27-car lineup were separated by less than four-tenths of a second.

The engineers have done a great job preparing this weekend.

Dario Franchitti

Scott Dixon (21.6204; 170.672) was second and Graham Rahal (21.6644) was third. KV Racing Technology-Lotus teammates Tony Kanaan (21.7368), Takuma Sato (21.7713) and E.J. Viso (21.7743) were fourth through sixth.

There are two practice sessions Aug. 13 (the series yields to Whelen Modifieds on Aug. 12) prior to two-lap qualifications.

Also on Aug. 11, Gustavo Yacaman topped the two 45-minute practice sessions on Aug. 11 as teams began preparations for the 100-lap race on Aug. 14.

Yacaman recorded a lap of 25.0034 seconds in the No. 2 TMR/Tuvacol/Xtreme Coil Drilling car, ahead of the Sam Schmidt Motorsports trio of Josef Newgarden (25.0242), Bryan Clauson (25.3175) and Esteban Guerrieri (25.4634). Anders Krohn rounded out the top five.

DAY 1 NOTEBOOK:

The IZOD IndyCar Series will compete in the MoveThatBlock.com Indy 225, a 225-lap race at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) Sunday. The Firestone Indy Lights will contest the New Hampshire 100, a 100-lap race at 1:15 p.m. (EDT) Sunday.

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This is the fourth IZOD IndyCar Series event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, but the first since 1998. Past winners at New Hampshire include Bobby Rahal (1992), Nigel Mansell (1993), Al Unser Jr. (1994), Andre Ribeiro (1995), Scott Sharp (1996), Robbie Buhl (1997) and Tony Stewart (1998).

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Live timing and scoring reports from the MoveThatBlock.com Indy 225 are available on the Internet at www.indycar.com. The live timing and scoring module provides statistical information, including track segment speeds, lap information and much more. Feature stories, reports, driver quotes and notes, and photos will be posted on the site each day. More detailed information, including media advisories and VNF coordinates, is available at media.indycar.com.

Pippa Mann, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Pippa Mann, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

Photo by: IndyCar Series

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Drivers will have 20 total pushes of the Honda overtake assist - an ECU software alteration employed by Honda Performance Development - each lasting 12 seconds during the Edmonton Indy. It is activated by the driver via a button on the steering wheel and provides an extra 200 RPM (about 10 horsepower) to the Honda Indy V-8 engine. Parameters are updated before each race weekend to meet the circuit layout. There is an 10-second recovery period between pushes. One overtake assist push is available for the final practice session.

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Each entry for the MoveThatBlock.com Indy 225 receives 11 sets (44 total) of Firestone Firehawk tires for the race weekend, including three sets for Thursday's practice session that must be returned that day. The Firestone Firehawk tire specification is the same as used at The Milwaukee Mile in June. Each entry received 11 sets of Firehawks for the race weekend. Firestone conducted a tire test at the speedway last September. A single stagger of approximately 0.50 of an inch is available. Stagger is measured by the diameter difference between the right rear and left rear tires, with the right rear larger by design to make a racecar naturally want to turn left.

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Pippa Mann was all of 8 years old when Bobby Rahal won the inaugural Indy car race at then-New Hampshire International Speedway on July 5, 1992.

Mann, who partly celebrated her 28th birthday Aug. 11 driving on the 1.025-mile New Hampshire Motor Speedway oval in the No. 30 National Tire and Battery car for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, doesn't press the point with the team co-owner.

I know better," she said.

Rahal dominated the race that was part of his CART championship season, leading 136 of 200 laps on the flat racetrack. It was reconfigured with variable banking (2 to 7 degrees) in the turns in 1992.

"This is a track that holds great memories for me, and any time you win the inaugural event at a track you are going to remember it fondly," said Rahal, who finished in the top 10 in each of his three races at the racetrack. "The next race I won was Nazareth, which is another mile-long track, and that was kind of the nail on the coffin so to speak for our championship.

"It was a great day for us. Any time you beat the Penske team and Newman/Haas it's always very satisfying.

"I love the one-mile ovals anyway, but I think New Hampshire is a very good one. I'm really glad IndyCar is back at that track because I think it produces great racing. The racing is just so phenomenal on the one mile tracks and we saw it again this year in Milwaukee, where I thought these guys put on a great show."

Mann, who made her IZOD IndyCar Series debut in the 100th anniversary Indianapolis 500 in a Conquest Racing-prepared car, will be back on the track Aug. 13 (Friday is an off-track day) for practice and qualifying.

"I have to remember that I am a rookie, and this is only my second event as opposed to everyone else who has been racing all year," she said.

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Team Penske will make its 1,300 start in open-wheel racing and Helio Castroneves is set make his 200th career Indy car start for the team.

Helio Castroneves, Team Penske
Helio Castroneves, Team Penske

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

Penske Racing first raced at New Hampshire in Trans-Am competition when Mark Donohue drove a Camaro Z28 at the venue then known as Bryar Motorsports Park on Aug. 6, 1967. It won the 1994 Indy car race with Al Unser Jr. behind the wheel. Teammate Emerson Fittipaldi started from the pole in that race.

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New Hampshire Motor Speedway was the site of Dreyer & Reinbold Racing co-owner Robbie Buhl's first INDYCAR victory (Aug. 17, 1997). … Chip Ganassi Racing Teams have finished on the podium 200 times in Indy car competition with the 1-2 Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti finish at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. ... James Hinchcliffe, driving the No. 06 Sprott Newman/Haas Racing car, is the Firestone Tire-ific Move of the Race winner for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio via voting on www.indycar.com. He led 26 laps.

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While Ryan Hunter-Reay waited to meet the media at New Hampshire Motor Speedway , he took a few laps around the track on an iRacing version of his Honda-powered Dallara not far from the interview room.

"You don't get that crazy feel of rotation in the corner that you get in the IndyCar, but that's the only difference," said Hunter-Reay, who only turned five laps before having to get up midway through his sixth lap. "It's amazing how close the track is to what it really is out there. The seams, the lines, the reference points, all that stuff."

While his lap time wasn't as fast as the real thing, the Andretti Autosport driver was sold on joining some of the other IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights drivers who use iRacing.

"I'm sure there's a lot of stuff with setup that you can work on," he said. " I didn't have a chance to tweak the car, but it was a lot of fun."

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Medical update from Dr. Michael Olinger, INDYCAR medical director: Pippa Mann has been checked and released from the infield care center. She is cleared to drive.

PIPPA MANN (No. 30 Rahal Letterman Racing): "We worked very hard throughout the morning on making the car better and the RLL guys made some really good changes to the car that felt like they were going to help us. We found some grip and some stability and were working on gathering speed over the bumps when we had our incident. I am disappointed but I know that the whole team will work very hard to get everything where we need it to be for Saturday's qualifying!"

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The cars of #10 Franchitti, #9 Dixon and #38 Rahal recorded laps faster than the IZOD IndyCar Series' fastest recorded lap at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The track record is 21.719 seconds set by Richie Hearn in Aug. 1996.

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IZOD INDYCAR SERIES POST-PRACTICE QUOTES:

Traffic is chaotic here because it seems like some cars are very slow and you catch them fast.

Scott Dixon

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Nikon): "The Nikon car was good today. My first order of business today was to learn the track and the first run felt good. It is definitely a lot easier to learn a place when the car is doing what you want it to. We worked on the car all day just trying to change some bits and pieces and improve. It was very difficult to find those small gains, but we did reach our goal by the end of the day. I think we are in good shape now and we will be chasing the track a little bit this weekend. The engineers have done a great job preparing this weekend. Scott (Dixon) came up and tested here for us and did a good job getting information for us. "

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing): "The car felt good today. We struggled at the beginning of the day with a few set-up changes we had to go through. Traffic is chaotic here because it seems like some cars are very slow and you catch them fast. So must of the challenge is dealing with that. We spent a lot of time on working on the race car and I feel pretty comfortable now. The Target cars were quick today and so was Graham (Rahal) so we are in good shape for now but we will see what happens Saturday and Sunday."

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team All Natural Snapple): "I think the track is going to be fun, we just have to get a handle on it. The Snapple car was fast this morning but we went the wrong way with some changes this afternoon and lost some speed. Overall I think we'll be competitive come Sunday."

MIKE CONWAY (No. 27 @FollowAndretti): "It is not an easy track to drive. The seams in the track are difficult to negotiate. You really have to get your line right on entry into the corners. But I like it. It is fun. You have to lift in the corners a little. However, I think you will have to be close to flat on the throttle in qualifying. We struggled a little with understeer, but, overall, I think we can get the car to where we like it."

DANICA PATRICK (No . 7 Team GoDaddy): "In the stock car, you run down on the bottom. But here in the Indy cars, you move up into the second lane where the banking is a little more significant. But, yeah, it is fast. There is going to be that lane down low, but it will be a challenge to make it stick. The exit of the corner on the bank falls off a bit and that makes the car get loose off the corner. On the road courses, you can walk and drive around a course before practice to get a feel for the circuit. However, on an oval, you drive an Indy car so much differently than you would a passenger car. It usually doesn't help you. I was able to look at Tony Kanaan's testing information from last year when he tested here. You see his throttle traces and that was helpful. It is so different when you jump from a permanent road circuit to an oval track to a street course. You just have to adapt to each form of the track and, of course, I am adapting to the cars too with stock cars and Indy cars. But that is my job, to be able to adapt to all tracks and cars. I don't think that it is that big of a deal."

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 Team DHL/Circle K/Sun Drop Citrus Soda): "This is a great market to race. We need to be in this market. I hope we get a good attendance on Sunday and establish this track as a solid place to come race year after year. It looks tough to pass on in practice, but, in the race, there always seems to be a lane that opens up. Guys start to fall off and the lanes getting wider. I hope can put on a good race and we can make it an annual event. I came here as a kid in 1995. I was 12 years old and it was so much fun to see how fast the Indy cars ran here. It was very exciting. I actually started race go-karts after that event. Maybe it was the thrill of the racing that I wanted to try it. I never thought I would get to the top level of the sport. You always dream of it but it isn't realistic. So coming here now and racing Indy cars on this track is great. It is beautiful around here and it is a great place to have a race. I really enjoy going to the tracks that are new. And we have been to a few this year. We'll have a few more coming up in the series too this year. It is fun to have to adapt to the new ones. I enjoy this short ovals and they are tricky. They can be good for you or they can bite you quickly."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Guidepoint Systems Team Penske): "Our Guidepoint Systems Team Penske car still needs a little something. We me made a lot of changes today and we learned a few things. Now we just have to sort through the data and take the next step. We will be ready to go on Saturday."

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Penske Truck Rental): "Overall, it was a good day for the Penske Truck Rental car. It's good to learn a new track. The track feels really nice; it's really fast. We can definitely improve the car a bit. We just need to find a bit more speed. I feel like I know what we need, now we just need to do some work to get there."

ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins/Sam Schmidt Motorsports): "It's a really challenging track. Very flat. There aren't many grooves at the moment. I think we finished on a good note. We were struggling all day long with a very difficult car to drive and some weird balance going on. We picked up a huge understeer in the center of the corner. After lunch we made a change and it was worse, but it kind of gave us a direction like "Hey, that's the wrong way." Very quickly we went the other way and we picked up a chunk of time and the car was a lot easier to drive. Much more solid. We made up a bunch of time - obviously it's not enough yet, but I think we finished on a positive note. I think we have a much better direction to go to."

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske): "We ran a lot laps and went through a long work list. The Verizon car is alright, but we have some work to do to be on pace with the fast guys. We'll look at the data over the next day and have another shot at it on Saturday."

Oriol Servia, Newman/Haas Racing
Oriol Servia, Newman/Haas Racing

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

ORIOL SERVIA (No. 2 Telemundo Newman/Haas Racing): "Right away I said this was a ballsy track. For sure! It's quite interesting; I don't think I have ever been in a similar place. It's like Iowa without the banking. You get to the turns after a long straight and you ask the car to turn a lot in a very short period of time. The G's (G-forces) we go through with there are quite interesting and what we ask from the car and the Firestone's is quite a lot. But it's a lot of fun, honestly. On our side of things, it was actually a very difficult day. For some reason we had a car that was very difficult to drive until the last 40 minutes. We found something that completely changed the Telemundo car and put a smile on my face. It's a lot better and I am very happy how we finished. I think it will be a very difficult race to overtake. Although it's quite wide, its really only one little, narrow line which is where we run all the time so its gets a lot more rubber. As soon as you go a little lower or higher from there it very, very slippery so it will be very difficult to pass people."

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 06 Sprott Newman/Haas Racing): "It's a quirky little place; one that you definitely need to take some time to wrap your heard around. Its probably one of the most challenging short ovals we go to. Obviously the team came with pretty good cars and Oriol and I made some good headway today. Its always interesting coming to a new place because you drive around in practice but you never quite know how its going to race until the race itself. We'll see how qualifying goes. I think qualifying is going to be important here; track position is going to be key in the race on Sunday. But we've had a good start and are happy to be where we are. We'll just keep chipping away at it." TAKUMA SATO (No. 5 KV Racing Technology - Lotus):"It was a good first day. We ran a lot of miles and I learned a lot. This track is quite unique, but we were up to speed very quickly and worked on various things. It was a very productive day."

TONY KANAAN (No. 82 GEICO - KV Racing Technology - Lotus): "We had a pretty solid day today. We took our time to go out in the morning practice, but we were fast right away and kept improving the car during the afternoon run. I think that there are some minor tweaks that we can try on Saturday before qualifying to see if we can get the car a little bit faster, but overall I'm happy with how the day went."

E.J. VISO (No. 59 PDVSA - KV Racing Technology - Lotus); "Here we are back on the short ovals. We believe that the momentum we built on the previous short ovals, Milwaukee and Iowa, are paying off here. Today we did some good simulations of qualifying and all three cars ran roughly the same lap times. Now we concentrate on working on our race pace, which I consider is going to be very important at this race probably more than at other ones. The track has some bumps and it's difficult to overtake so it's going to be long and physical."

The next IZOD IndyCar Series event is the MoveThatBlock.com Indy 225 on Aug. 14 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The race will be televised live at 3:30 p.m. (ET) by ABC and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network. The next Firestone Indy Lights race is New Hampshire 100 on Aug. 14 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. VERSUS' coverage of the Grand Prix de Trois Rivieres will air at 4 p.m. on Aug. 17.

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Series INDYCAR
Tags dixon, franchitti, indycar, izod, loudon, nhis