Series news and notes 2009-08-05

Today's IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines 1. 1. Added tools serve as wildcard to road course races 2. 2. Philippe, Matsuura join Conquest Racing 1. Added tools serve as wildcard to road course races: Ryan Briscoe and Ed...

Today's IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines
1. 1. Added tools serve as wildcard to road course races
2. 2. Philippe, Matsuura join Conquest Racing

1. Added tools serve as wildcard to road course races: Ryan Briscoe and Ed Carpenter used their allotment of 20 presses of the Honda overtake assist button during their duel to the checkers at Kentucky Speedway on Aug. 1.

The option, which incorporates a 200 RPM increase (to 10,500) and a 5-20 horsepower gain based on fuel setting for a duration and frequency determined by Honda Performance Development for each venue, will be used for the first time on a road/street course this weekend at the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio presented by Westfield Insurance.

For the 85-lap race (1 p.m. EDT Aug. 9 on VERSUS), 15 presses for a duration of 20 seconds each will be built in, according to HPD Race Team Manager Roger Griffiths. There is a 10-second recharge time between availability, and there's a 100 RPM-per-second decline after the 20-second duration.

Add the Firestone alternate tire option introduced this year and there now are a couple more wild cards added to the deck.

"(The overtake assist button is) just another tool that the driver can be thinking about in the car," said Brian Barnhart, president of competition and operations for the Indy Racing League. "Another challenge for the teams from a gearing standpoint is to make sure you have it to maximize its benefit. So the team's got to be smart about their gearing and their planning for it. And the driver's got to have some strategy as to when to be pushing the button and how many pushes to leave with it, where to use it on the race track so they do it.

"Of course, its effect is dictated by what fuel setting you're in. So I think it can be an interesting aspect. Combining with the Firestone (primary and alternate tires), it should help on a road course as well."

Where on the 2.258-mile, 13-turn circuit and when to employ the boost will be part of the equation

"At the road course, going up through the gears, coming off the second gate corner and going straight up sixth gear and when we're pulling 10.5 (RPMs) on every gear change, I think that's definitely going to show a boost, a bit of extra speed," said Briscoe, who will seek to successfully defend his race victory and extended his championship points lead.

"The alternate, the standard tire, that's always a tough one. We don't always know how that's going to be until really after the warm-up and even after the race, because we really don't get an opportunity to test the red tire before qualifying. And then until after warm-up, we don't have a chance to do any long runs. So I think it's all adding some extra excitement and be a challenge to the whole team and driving style and everything as to what we do in the race."

The overtake assist button was introduced at the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway oval after HPD tested the system (essentially advancing the spark of the normally aspirated V8 engine through a slight alteration of the ECU) at Chicagoland Speedway earlier in the summer.

"It certainly seemed to enhance the product on the racetrack Saturday night," Barnhart said. "The Honda overtake button is not a new concept. In Champ Car with the turbo charged engines, it certainly had the ability of having more effect than it does with our normally aspirated engines, but I do have to commend Honda for their work and their desire to help give options and tools to the drivers and the race car as well, because it's not a simple thing to do with a normally aspirated engine.

"I think it's something that can be continued to be developed and be an important part of our racing, whether it's on an oval or a road course."

***

2. Philippe, Matsuura join Conquest Racing: Conquest Racing has signed 23-year-old Frenchman Nelson Philippe and IndyCar Series veteran Kosuke Matsuura for events later this season

Philippe, who made his IndyCar Series debut in this year's Indianapolis 500, will compete in the races at Infineon Raceway on Aug. 23 and Homestead-Miami Speedway on Oct. 10 in his return to Conquest Racing.

Philippe piloted the Conquest car in six Champ Car races in 2004 before running a full season in 2005. The Frenchman also competed with Conquest in the final two races of the 2007 Champ Car World Series season. His effort will be backed the I Drive Green program as both races

"We've always maintained an excellent relationship with Nelson and we're very happy to have him back with us once again," expressed Conquest Racing Team Owner Eric Bachelart. "We first had Nelson with us back when he was an 18-year-old rookie and it's been nice to see him mature into the race car driver he is today. He had his first taste of the Dallara back in May on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and we look forward to seeing him back in an indy car at Infineon Raceway and Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Created by Philippe and Environmental Specialist Jean Paul Libert, the I Drive Green program aims to educate drivers with a more environmentally friendly attitude. The program uses expert training technologies to educate corporations and U.S. families to reduce CO2 emissions.

"We're also excited to be promoting and partnered with such an innovative and interesting project that is the I Drive Green program," Bachelart said. "We are looking forward to working with Nelson to go racing fulltime in 2010."

Matsuura, the 2004 IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year, will be making his return to the IndyCar Series in front of his homeland fans at the Indy Japan 300 at Twin Ring Motegi. Matsuura's car will carry sponsorship from CLICK Securities.

"I am very happy to be able to announce my entry in the Indy Japan 300 with CLICK Securities Inc. and Conquest Racing," said Matsuura who hails from Aichi, Japan. "I would like to thank CLICK Securities Inc. for supporting me for this race, and Conquest Racing for welcoming me into their team. It's been two years since I last raced in the IndyCar Series, but I will be 100 percent prepared and put in my best performance during the 200 laps."

***

The 2009 IndyCar Series season continues Aug. 9 with the Honda Indy 200 presented by Westfield Insurance at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 1 p.m. (EDT) by VERSUS. A one-hour qualifying show will be telecast by VERSUS at 6 p.m. on Aug. 8. 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 Mid-Ohio 100 on Aug. 9 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The race will be telecast at 4 p.m. (EDT) on Aug. 10 by VERSUS.

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Ryan Briscoe , Kosuke Matsuura , Nelson Philippe , Brian Barnhart , Ed Carpenter
Teams Conquest Racing