Today's IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines:
1. Bourdais returns to Coyne at Toronto
2. Honda Civic Coupe SI takes on role as INDYCAR Safety Car
3. Herrington to drive for Schmidt
4. Brazilian Andrade to debut for BHA at Toronto
5. HVM Racing adds associate sponsor
1. Bourdais returns to Coyne at Toronto: Much has changed in Sebastien Bourdais' racing career in the four years since competing at Toronto, but he expects the 1.755-mile, 11-turn Exhibition Place circuit to have retained its challenges to drivers.
Bourdais, who competed in the IZOD IndyCar Series early-season round of road/street course races for Dale Coyne Racing, returns for the second set (five of the next six events) in the No. 19 Boy Scouts of America car, starting with this weekend's Honda Indy Toronto.
Bourdais has started from the pole three times - most recently 2007 - and won the race in 2004 on the way to the first of four Champ Car titles with Newman/Haas Racing.
"You've got some concrete and some asphalt and it's a pretty bumpy place," he said. "The surface does evolve and change pretty dramatically year after year. So I'm pretty sure it's going to be pretty different than what I experienced in '07. There were usually quite a few yellows and it always was an interesting race and I don't except anything to be any different."
Just driving the Honda-powered Dallara on the temporary street circuit will be different for Bourdais, who has been competing in the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup for Peugeot Sport since May 7 (eighth at Spa-Francorchamps). On July 3, Bourdais, starting from the pole, co-drove with Anthony Davidson to a decisive victory in the Six Hours of Imola (Italy).
The first practice session July 8 will be a refresher of sorts. He has a best finish of 11th at Barber Motorsports Park on April 10 (advancing nine positions) and started a season-high 12th on the street circuit in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in his most recent IZOD IndyCar Series race May 2. Alex Lloyd was behind the wheel of the No. 19 entry for the first set of the oval events.
"I think everything was kind of familiar because of the tracks I knew and the car wasn't so dramatically different from a Champ Car," he said about joining the series a few days before the season opener. "But, at the end of the day, it's all about getting it right for me and getting the right time.
"We're lacking experience, setups, the right database and the time to prep the car properly. Thankfully, we've got quite a few good mechanics around to help and quite a few other guys who are really needed in the system. I think we made a step forward in Brazil and we' re-establishing ourselves as more competitive."
Bourdais, a four-time Champ Car champion, will have the continuity of two months with the team with breaks built in between three of the events.
"For me it's important that we don't have back-to-back races," he said. "Being a smaller team, everything takes more time. The turnaround for us is a big deal. I knew it wasn't going to be easy for sure, I knew it was going to be a tough time for us, but I hope at the end of the day we will just have made progress and we put on a good show. Starting is one thing, but finishing is what is important."
2. Honda Civic Coupe SI takes on role as INDYCAR Safety Car: Honda introduces 2012 Civic Si Coupe as new Safety Car: Johnny Rutherford will enjoy his new ride during the Honda Indy Toronto race weekend. A 2012 Honda Civic Si Coupe will take on the duties as Safety Car for the IZOD IndyCar Series, beginning this weekend, with the three-time Indianapolis 500 champion the driver.
"The high-performance new Honda Civic Si is the perfect match for the IndyCar Safety Car fleet," said John Mendel, American Honda executive vice president, auto sales. "With its larger and more powerful 2.4-liter engine and enhancements provided by HPD, it is ready to lead the IZOD IndyCar Series field at the Honda Indy Toronto and beyond."
Unveiled in April at the New York International Auto Show, the 2012 Honda Civic features streamlined and expressive "mono-form" exterior styling wrapped around a spacious cabin with more style and convenience than its predecessor.
The 201-horsepower stock Honda Civic Si Coupe was recently transformed by Honda Performance Development, Honda's racing subsidiary in Santa Clarita, Calif., into the Safety Car. Modifications included Sparco seats and four-point racing harnesses; an HPD high-performance brake system with four-piston calipers, competition rotors, racing pads and stainless brake lines; a Honda Genuine Accessory aerodynamic body kit (front, side and rear under spoilers); and Firestone Firehawk 225/40 R18 tires mounted on Enkei alloy wheels.
An exclusive graphics theme completed the conversion. The Honda Civic Si already is a hit through the Civic Racing Style Sweepstakes.
3. Herrington to drive for Schmidt: Firestone Indy Lights veteran Daniel Herrington will step in to drive the No. 77 Mazda Road to Indy car for Sam Schmidt Motorsports at Toronto and Edmonton.
Sam Schmidt Motorsports picked the 24-year-old native of Winston-Salem, N.C. to fill the car shared by young American drivers Conor Daly and Bryan Clauson, who are unable to drive the three Canadian events due to other racing commitments.
Herrington, who won the Firestone Indy Lights race at Chicagoland in 2009, but hasn't raced in the series since starting the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway with O2 Racing Technology. He hopes he can shake the rust off quickly in Toronto.
"In the past, I've been able to get up to speed fairly quickly," said Herrington, who graduated Magna Cum Laude from North Carolina State in 2009 with a degree in mechanical engineering. "I hope that's the case this time. Indy Lights is very competitive, and Toronto is a tricky track. It's very bumpy with a lot of pavement changes, so it can take a little bit of time to get comfortable in that situation. I guess the one advantage or upside I have is the fact I've raced there before in 2009. Though the result wasn't what I wanted in 2009, I learn a lot in each experience, and I hope I can apply that to this race."
Herrington finished ninth in his only start at Toronto in 2009 and has 20 top-10 finishes in 30 career starts in Firestone Indy Lights. But he knows there will be pressure stepping into the car that won the last Firestone Indy Lights street course race.
"I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well in situations, but obviously jumping into a car as competitive as this brings a little more pressure to make sure it runs where it should be running which is at the front," Herrington said. "Having not driven a car much in the last year other than driving one oval race in a Lights car last year has created a long break for me.
"I haven't driven a Lights car on a road course since August of 2009. But jumping in one of Sam's cars is a great way to come back because you know it's going to be competitive right off the bat. I am looking forward to it."
4. Brazilian Andrade to debut for BHA at Toronto: Bryan Herta Autosport will expand its presence in Firestone Indy Lights with Brazilian driver Bruno Andrade, team co-owners Bryan Herta and Steve Newey announced July 5.
Andrade will make his North American racing debut aboard the #29 William Rast entry in the Toronto 100 this weekend in support of the IZOD IndyCar Series Honda Indy Toronto. He will contest five of the final seven races of the 2011 season.
"There is a definite competitive advantage to running a two-car program and Steve and I are very excited to welcome Bruno to the team," Herta said. "Bruno spent a lot of time with us throughout the month of May. He was impressive in our recent tests and he and Duarte (Ferreira) work well together. Our goal with Bruno is to lay a foundation this season for a strong 2012 Indy Lights campaign."
Andrade, 20, was most recently a contender for the 2010 South American F3 title. After posting five wins, seven pole positions and 16 podiums in the 24 rounds of competition, the championship battle went down to the wire in a controversial finale which remains under judgment.
Andrade's strong performance earned a Formula Renault 3.5 test with Junior Lotus Racing at Alcaniz, Spain, in October of last year.
"I'm very happy and very proud to be part of BHA," said Andrade. "This is a big step in my career and I'm really looking forward to the competition. We did some testing recently and I felt very comfortable. My times were competitive and the car felt very fast. I feel I'm now prepared in every way to do my best at Toronto."
5. HVM Racing adds associate sponsor: Holtec International, the manufacturer of the dry cask containers and wet storage equipment, will be an associate sponsor on the No. 78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy HVM Racing car driven by Simona de Silvestro.
"We support the effort to educate people in the United States about the safe and clean benefits of nuclear power," said Dr. Kris Singh, president and CEO of Holtec, whose company's containers store more than 80 percent of the spent nuclear fuel from the UK, North America, Korea and Taiwan. "It was time for us to join forces with Entergy to tell our story in a more proactive way. Simona and the Nuclear Clean Air Energy team broaden the reach of our nuclear science message as we also promote science, technology, engineering and math education to young people."'
The 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series season continues with the Honda Indy Toronto on July 10 at Streets of Toronto. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 2 p.m. (ET) by VERSUS. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, SiriusXM channel 94 and www.indycar.com. The 2011 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with the Toronto 100 at Streets of Toronto on July 10. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at Noon. (ET) by VERSUS.