Series news and notes 2009-07-06

Today's IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines 1. Dale Coyne revels in first victory 2. Antinucci to continue with Team 3G 3. Public to vote for Firestone "Tire"-rific move of the race 4. Kimball shines on Team...

Today's IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines
1. Dale Coyne revels in first victory
2. Antinucci to continue with Team 3G
3. Public to vote for Firestone "Tire"-rific move of the race
4. Kimball shines on Team PBIR's best day

1. Dale Coyne revels in first victory: Seneca Lodge patrons put down their salad forks and Labatt's Blue bottles to applaud when Dale Coyne and his wife, Gail, walked through the door with the winner's laurel from the Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen.

It's certainly well-deserved and well overdue. Dale Coyne Racing recorded its first victory; not only in the IndyCar Series but overall. Driver Justin Wilson, who signed before the start of the season, delivered the package Coyne has been waiting 25 years and 558 races for.

"Congratulations to Dale on his first IndyCar win," said Roger Penske, who pensively watched one of his drivers, Ryan Briscoe, attempt to reel in Wilson over the final six laps on the 3.37-mile Watkins Glen International course. "Dale has been a great friend and a great competitor for many years and we are very happy for him and his team. They worked very hard for this. I thought Justin Wilson drove a great race and he certainly deserved the victory."

Dale Coyne Racing's previous best finish in the IndyCar Series was third in the season opener at St. Petersburg, and its best overall in open-wheel racing had been second with Bruno Junqueira in a 2007 Champ Car-sanctioned race at Zolder, Belgium.

Memories rushed over Coyne, who turns 55 on July 8, like nearby Niagara Falls as he attempted to get his thoughts around what seems like a lifetime in motorsports as a driver with 34 major open-wheel racing starts and team owner that helped launch the careers of Paul Tracy, Michel Jourdain Jr., Alex Barron and Robbie Buhl among others. Even IndyCar Series team owner Eric Bachelart (Conquest Racing) drove for the team in 1992-93 and '95.

"You have a passion for this and you love it, and you keep fighting and going forward," Coyne said. "When we have lean years or bad years and don't have a sponsor, it just makes you try harder, and I think that's paid off. The last few years we've tried to do a better job with what we've put together.

"This year, Justin became available. Some higher-quality engineering staff became available. And the wife and I talked about it. It was a financial commitment to do it, but we did it and said we're going to make this thing work. So we worked hard to pull all the pieces together, but that's because we have a passion for the sport."

Wilson, who gave team owner Paul Newman his final open-wheel racing victory at Belle Isle last August and Coyne his first, also received an enthusiastic reception as the entire crew scurried across pit lane to stand on the wall and cheer as he roared to the checkered flag.

"I just didn't want to slow up too early because I know the finish line is way down there," he said. "It's a pretty cool feeling to drive by and see them there. Their passionate about what they do, the results. Whether it's the guys working on the car, the guys going over the wall or the engineers, everybody plays their part. And without any one of those guys (the victory) wouldn't have been possible."

Half of the closing eight races are on road/temporary circuits, which is encouraging to Coyne and Co., and Wilson has been victorious on the streets of Toronto (2005) -- the next stop on the schedule.

"We're slowly picking things up, and we know where the next improvement's going to come from," Wilson said. "(At Toronto), you can be very close and still a long way off. So it's the fine details that make a difference. That first run you hit the track (July 10) at Toronto you'll know whether you're really close or you have a few changes to make.

"The only thing that's going to taste sweeter than this win is our first win on an oval. And that's what we'll work towards and we'll get there."

Coyne doesn't have any doubts. He's vested in the IndyCar Series.

"That's what's good about the sport is that a team with our resources and our budget can win a race," he said. "Everybody thinks that the top two teams are going to win every race. But I think it shows for this series to be strong we need more teams here. We need not to have to subsidize teams and we need all those things to happen in this economy to make this series work and grow.

"I think us winning a race and any other team that can win a race helps to show that. A lot of teams from Grand Am, wherever they might be from, I think they can come here, get the pieces they need, the drivers they need and do the job. And I think that's very good for the sport.

***

2. Antinucci to continue with Team 3G: Richard Antinucci will drive the No. 98 Novicomm Team 3G in the Honda Indy Toronto this week and the Rexall Edmonton Indy on July 26.

Antinucci finished 19th in the Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen on July 5 - his IndyCar Series debut for the first-year IndyCar Series team. Antinucci, 28, won at Watkins Glen International in 2008 on the way to a runner-up finish in the Firestone Indy Lights championship.

"I am really excited to be working with Team 3G again for the Canadian events," said Antinucci, who lives in San Diego. "This is a young team made up of very experienced guys who are just as passionate about competing as I am. We are working hard to hopefully build a long-term program together. I would love to keep driving for these guys."

After pitting for the first time on Lap 17, Antinucci was running 13th. But two laps later, a front upright failure on the No. 98 car caused it to spin off the track in Turn 1. Repairs were made and he returned to complete the 60-lap race.

"Although we aren't able to claim a stunning top three or a glittering top five to reward our effort, I feel happy about myself and the way the team has worked this July 4 weekend," Antinucci said.

Added team co-owner Steve Sudler: "We have had numerous meetings with potential sponsors for 2010 and Richard would be a great fit for many of them. As we look towards building this team for the long term, we feel that Richard will be a great asset to our marketing partners."

***

3. Public to vote for Firestone "Tire"-rific move of the race: Fans will have the ultimate say in who receives a $10,000 race bonus from Firestone each week. After each IndyCar Series race, Firestone executives pick three "Tire"-rific Moves of the Race, on-track moves where the drivers had to rely on their Firestone Firehawk tires. Fans can vote for the winner at www.indycar.com.

From the Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen at Watkins Glen International, fans can choose from:

* Justin Wilson for his dominating performance to give Dale Coyne Racing its first victory

* Marco Andretti for a fifth-place finish after going a lap down

* Mike Conway for a consistent run to 6th place in his first IndyCar road course event.

***

4. Kimball shines on Team PBIR's best day: Team PBIR is beginning to hit its stride, and it couldn't come at a better time for Charlie Kimball.

The Firestone Indy Lights rookie has posted three straight top-10 finishes, including a career-best fourth at Watkins Glen International on July 4.

"We're still a new team and we're still learning," Kimball said. "But now the personnel are gelling and we're making progress every time we get on track. The communication, both verbal and non-verbal, is getting a lot easier for everybody. We make progress even when we feel like we're not making progress."

An electrical issue in the only pre-qualifying practice left the No. 35 team behind but the 24-year-old from Camarillo, Calif., rallied to qualify fifth. He topped the morning warmup and made steady progress, passing Sebastian Saavedra for fourth place with a run up to Turn 9 on the final lap.

"Things aren't perfect yet, but we're making the most of every situation, which is exactly what a new team should do," Kimball said. "We're picking up momentum as we're heading into the stretch of seven races in nine weeks. Most of them are tracks I've raced at, with the exception of Toronto, Edmonton and Chicago.

"Long Beach showed we have a solid street course car and we showed we have a good road course package at the Glen. My engineer Dave (Conti) always gives me great oval cars, I've never doubted anything he does."

And coupled with the fifth-place effort from teammate Richard Philippe, Kimball said Team PBIR is operating with confidence at an all-time high.

"I've known the potential of this team since Day 1, it's great giving them the result they've worked so hard for," Kimball said. "It gives the management confidence they have right guys and mechanics, who work their fingers to the bone each week see the results as payment for a job well done.

"You know, everyone at Team PBIR doesn't come to run at the back. They come to win, just like I do. To give them that result, their confidence at a all time high and they are willing to do the little things it takes to win. They believe we're going to be at the sharp end and they are going to do everything they can to help us stay there."

***

The 2009 IndyCar Series season continues July 12 with the Honda Indy Toronto at the streets of Toronto. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 1 p.m. (EDT) by ABC. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 211. The radio broadcast also will be carried on www.indycar.com. The 2009 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with the Firestone Indy Lights Grand Prix of Toronto on July 11 at the streets of Toronto. The race will be telecast at 11 p.m. on July 13.

-credit: irl

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Justin Wilson , Robbie Buhl , Bruno Junqueira , Paul Tracy , Alex Barron , Paul Newman , Ryan Briscoe , Charlie Kimball , Marco Andretti , Richard Antinucci , Mike Conway , Richard Philippe , Roger Penske , Sebastian Saavedra , Dale Coyne , Michel Jourdain
Teams Conquest Racing , Dale Coyne Racing