Today's IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines:
1. Drivers put on show for fans at Mid-Ohio test
2. Wilson sees glimmer of hope
3. Two teams penalized for Edmonton infractions
1. Drivers put on show for fans at Mid-Ohio test: "One more, Scott?" Dana Gruninger asked on behalf of his 8-year-old son, Tomas, who held an IZOD IndyCar Series and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course cap in each hand.
What was Scott Dixon to do? "Sure," said the two-time race winner at the natural-terrain course, seeking temporary shade under the Target Chip Ganassi Racing's transporter lift door as he affixed his name to both items. "Have a great day."
Indeed it was for the lad from Bellevue, Ohio, who spent a few hours in the stifling heat watching 21 drivers test on the 2.258-mile, 13-turn circuit in advance of the Aug. 5-7 Honda Indy 200. He'll be back for the race with his father, "and maybe Grandpa would like to come. I like it," he said, eyeing Sebastian Saavedra for his next autograph.
Mid Ohio, celebrating its 50th anniversary, opened its gates to spectators, who were allowed to tour the garage area to see the stars of the IZOD IndyCar Series up close, watch the sessions from the Keyhole and infield bowls and generally make a picnic lunch/dinner out of a weekday. Track personnel scattered autographed driver cards in the infield for a scavenger hunt of sorts.
"The generations of families coming out here is great for the series and the track," said Dixon, who following the test hopped a flight bound for New Zealand for a weekend dinner in honor of his former manager and is due in Baltimore on Aug. 2 to promote the inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix. "I see familiar faces every year, and people love watching the races here.
"The competition is so tight, which is one of the reasons we're here for testing. What worked last year may not work this year."
Added teammate and IZOD IndyCar Series championship points leader Dario Franchitti, the defending race winner: "We don't other teams to get ahead of us."
Track activity begins with a late-afternoon practice session Aug. 5. Practice and the three rounds of qualifications, culminating in the Firestone Fast Six to determine the PEAK Performance Pole Award, will be held Aug. 6. The green flag waves at 2 p.m. (ET) Aug. 7 (VERSUS).
2. Wilson sees glimmer of hope: Justin Wilson gained three positions in the IZOD IndyCar Series championship standings with a season-best fifth place in the Edmonton Indy. Now 14th (29 points out of 10th), the "what ifs" regarding the first half of the calendar emerge.
"We managed to stay out of trouble and no one hit my car for a change, so that's a bonus," said Wilson, who started 15th in the No. 22 Z-Line Designs car for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. "I think we were finally able to show what we should have been showing all year. It wasn't our strongest performance, but it was our best result, so it feels good."
On the 2.224-mile, 13-turn City Centre Airport circuit, Wilson was running ninth by Lap 32 of 80 and was sixth after the final round of pit stops. He inherited fifth place when Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe had to pit for a splash of fuel on Lap 79, and finished six-tenths of a second behind Tony Kanaan in the No. 82 GEICO KV Racing Technology-Lotus car.
Wilson was among Firestone Fast Six participants in the initial three road/street course races of the season, and recorded his previous best finish (seventh) on the rain-soaked streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil, after starting eighth. The stretch of five ovals proved unproductive with one top-10 finish. So the Edmonton Indy result provides a glimmer.
"The guys did a fantastic job and we can head into Mid-Ohio with our heads held high," he said of the Honda Indy 200 on Aug. 7.
Wilson joined 20 others, including teammate Ana Beatriz (who advanced 10 positions to finish 13th at Edmonton), for testing on the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on July 28. He has two top-five starts (second in 2009 and fourth in '08) in three trips to the natural-terrain course.
3. Two teams penalized for Edmonton infractions: Firestone Indy Lights officials have penalized the No. 5 car of Andretti Autosport and the No. 12 car of Jensen Motorsports for failing post-race inspection following Saturday's Edmonton 100 Race #1 at Edmonton City Centre Airport. The teams have been docked five entrant points each and fined.
The next IZOD IndyCar Series event is the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio on Aug. 7 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The race will be televised live at 2 p.m. (ET) by VERSUS and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network. The next Firestone Indy Lights race is Grand Prix of Trois Rivieres on Aug. 7 at the streets of Trois Rivieres. It will be televised on tape delay by VERSUS at 4 p.m. on Aug. 17.