Today's IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines:
\1. 2012 car hits track at Mid-Ohio
2. Mid-Ohio finish could be good sign for Hunter-Reay
3. Trim Nutrition Fuels INDYCAR'S Health And Fitness Needs As Official Nutrition
1. 2012 car hits track at Mid-Ohio: There weren't any speeches or pyrotechnics. No fanfare whatsoever, save for a few seconds of self-conscious applause. But the broad smiles of individuals involved in getting the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series car on the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for its initial test session neatly summed up the day.
Reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Dan Wheldon, as is his custom, patted the black and red-striped Dallara Automobili-built chassis with the road/street course prototype body kit three times before climbing into the generous cockpit for the first of 12 scheduled days of itemized evaluation on three road course and three ovals.
A few minutes later, the roar of the 3.5-liter normally-aspirated V-8 engine as cars exited the appropriately-named Thunder Alley less than 24 hours earlier during the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio was replaced by the smooth, higher-pitched sound of the 2.2-liter turbocharged Honda V-6 engine that will be among the three (Honda, Chevrolet and Lotus) implemented for the 2012 season.
"It's a great day," said project manager Tony Cotman, "to see the work of many individuals in a very short amount of time out on the racetrack. It's the start of a new era for INDYCAR."
Dallara's proposal of a rolling chassis - a universal car dubbed the IndyCar Safety Cell that comes complete but for tires, the steering wheel and driver seat, and with different body coverings for ovals and road/street courses - was recommended to the sanctioning body by the seven-member advisory committee in July 2010 after it reviewed multiple manufacturer concepts.
It will replace the chassis that came on line in 2003 and was built for oval racing (the first INDYCAR road/street course race was in 2005 at St. Petersburg, Fla.).
The public will note the differentiation in bodywork on the variety of racetracks. Teams, according to Dallara U.S.-based quality control leader Sam Garrett, will appreciate the cost savings -- beyond the initial chassis purchase price -- in replacement parts.
"It's a lighter car, it has more horsepower and it has a lot less drag than the current car, so naturally on the right day it will go quicker and that's something that the fans have to look forward to," Cotman added. "I think it also will provide a different type of racing with different engine manufacturers, too. I will be interesting, it will be exciting and it will be a bit of a change."
A Dallara facility that will be open to the public is nearing completion in Speedway, Ind., where design, testing and production will continue.
"We've spent a lot of time trying to incorporate all the elements the ICONIC Advisory Committee asked for - safety, lower cost, something that looks unique," Garrett added. "Our time has been focused on making the car safe and stable so that it is possible to put different bodywork styles on it to make it look unique."
Systems confirmation will continue through the end of September, with the next test on the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway oval.
"We need to make sure the parts from all aspects of the car are achieving their goals so we've got aero targets and straight-line speed targets that we're looking to see," INDYCAR vice president of technology Will Phillips said. "We want to make sure the basics are right first before we go pushing for those targets."
Engine manufacturers - each of whom have ordered a next-generation chassis - will commence testing in early October with their respective aligned teams. So far, Chip Ganassi Racing, A.J. Foyt Racing and Sam Schmidt Motorsports have signed on with Honda. Team Penske is the anchor team for Chevrolet.
Teams are scheduled to receive their first chassis in mid-December.
2. Mid-Ohio finish could be good sign for Hunter-Reay: Ryan Hunter-Reay hasn't had the luckiest 2011, but after two podium finishes in his last three races, things may just be turning around for the Floridian.
"I'm just really happy to have a nice, solid weekend and a solid finish, finishing third," Hunter-Reay said after finishing behind Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. "The Andretti Autosport DHL/Circle K/Sun Drop guys did such a good job in the pits and gave me a great car."
Hunter-Reay has shown the flashes of the success that helped him finish seventh in the IZOD IndyCar Series this year, but he's hasn't had the finishes to match his qualifying success until he put together a complete race weekend.
But it wasn't as easy as it looked as like most drivers at Mid-Ohio, he struggled to find grip.
"It was definitely a struggle on these new Firestones," he said. "The new compound they brought certainly made it interesting. If that's what was intended, they did a good job of it, because, man, it was a handful the first five laps after a restart. It was like I was trying to crash every lap for five laps, six laps after the restart."
But he was able to stay out of trouble that hit some of the other frontrunners at Mid-Ohio. And was in position to challenge Franchitti late in the event.
"Dario (Franchitti) and I were about on the same pace trying to catch Scott (Dixon) but Scott was just gone. He had a great pace. Dario, I was quicker than him through some of the quicker corners, like Turns 11 and 1, but he had me through every corner leading on to a passing zone. So I really never had a legitimate shot to take a lunge. But it was a good day apart from the drink bottle not working in the car, which I think was part of my probation."
3. Trim Nutrition Fuels INDYCAR'S Health And Fitness Needs As Official Nutrition Partner: Trim Nutrition, a leader in wellness supplements and sustained energy products, has joined the INDYCAR family as the official nutrition partner for the IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights.
Trim Nutrition will offer nutritional recommendations and wellness assessments to those at every level of INDYCAR's operation, from the drivers, crews, executives and staff to the INDYCAR fans.
"This partnership with Trim Nutrition supports the extremely dedicated nutrition and wellness practices already employed by the series," said Terry Angstadt, president of INDYCAR's commercial division. "It also helps us continue to provide the best services available to our teams, drivers and staff."
As part of a multi-year partnership, Trim Nutrition will foster better health and fitness habits for INDYCAR by hosting 5K runs during race weekends, potentially providing on-site health and fitness assessments for fans at the track, and offering pre and post-race wellness analyses to the drivers.
Product sampling of Trim Nutrition's vitamin supplements, protein shakes, fuel bars and energy drinks and complete wellness packages will also be available.
"The growth and advances that INDYCAR is achieving mirrors our progressive and innovative products," said Trim Nutrition CEO Brent Agin, MD. "'Making Bodies Better' is our motto. As INDYCAR prepares for the future with a new body style for 2012, it's logical that it would look to tune-up the series and its fans with a reinvigorated commitment to health and fitness."
Trim Nutrition's headquarters is located in Clearwater, Fla., with two wellness facilities in Clearwater and Naples, Fla., along with a network of physician associates throughout the country using the Trim protocols.
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.