IZOD INDYCAR SERIES NEWS AND NOTES - Jan. 6, 2010
Today's IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines
1. Firestone test at Miami signals start of 2010
2. Wheldon takes on bobsleds
3. Howard gets back on the track
4. Fisher invites Ellen to Indianapolis 500
1. Firestone test at Homestead-Miami signals start of 2010: The sounds of IZOD IndyCar Series cars returned to South Florida as Target Chip Ganassi Racing and Team Penske participated in the first day of the first Firestone tire test of the 2010 season at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The two-day test features reigning IZOD IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti and Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe. Though it was 40 degrees cooler than it was the last time the drivers toured the Homestead-Miami Speedway 's 1.5 oval, everyone seemed excited to get back on track and get to work.
Franchitti said he's enjoyed the off-season (only two visits to the shop in Indianapolis), which included the wedding of his brother, Marino, to Holly Mason (daughter of Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason).
"He's still in one piece and the wedding came off," Franchitti said. "It was an amazing wedding and I really enjoyed that a lot."
The Franchitti brothers will be at Daytona International Speedway this week for Rolex 24 At Daytona testing. They'll be driving separate Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates prototypes. The race is Jan. 30-31.
"I'm looking forward to being on the same team with him again, though it's not in the same car," Dario said.
Also back to work was Briscoe, who was married last month in Hawaii where he said everything went off without a hitch.
"It was absolutely perfect," said Briscoe, who wed Nicole Manske. "We had all our closest friends and family there. It actually was a big turnout for being a destination wedding; we had about 100 guests. We're really happy."
2. Wheldon takes on bobsleds: IZOD IndyCar Series driver Dan Wheldon will be among the racing stars attending the Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge - an annual event hosted by the former NASCAR star to raise money for the USA Olympic Bobsled team.
While there are no scheduled plans for the 2005 IZOD IndyCar Series champion to race a bobsled, the thought is that his natural competitive fire combined with some good ole fashioned peer pressure from his friend in the National Guard could sway the Panther Racing driver into making a run in a sled.
"I'm really excited about it," Wheldon said. "It's certainly a form of racing that I'm not terribly familiar with, but I'm sure we're going to learn a lot this weekend with our friends from the National Guard."
Bodine, a former Daytona 500 champion and winner of 18 other stock car races, has held the event in Lake Placid, N.Y. for the past four years. Wheldon will join other drivers from NASCAR and the NHRA as the event kicks off this weekend in advance of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
The event is being supported by the National Guard, which is having some of its soldiers work as brake men on the sled during the race. In addition to Bodine, the event will feature Joey Logano, Boris Said, Johnny Benson, Ron Hornaday, Morgan Lucas and others.
3. Howard gets back on the track: Jay Howard, the 2006 Firestone Indy Lights champion who will compete in four IZOD IndyCar Series races this season for Sarah Fisher Racing with backing from Tire Kingdom, will be back in a go-kart for the CKI Florida Cup at the circuit adjacent to Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Round 1 of the Florida Cup is scheduled for Jan. 29-31. The others are in February and March. He'll compete in the Rotax Senior Division at the Florida Cup in addition to select WSK North American Series events.
Also, Howard has formed an on-site engine building, repairing and service support program with a recent partnership with British and European champions Ogden Racing Engines of the UK.
"I am excited to get back in a kart," said Howard, a Florida resident. "I try and do select events each year and with the way the CKI program is headed, I had to jump at the opportunity on my off weekends from the professional circuit. I am very excited about the opportunities and possibilities in 2010."
4. Fisher invites Ellen to Indianapolis 500: Sarah Fisher wants day-time talk show host Ellen DeGeneres to be her guest at the Indianapolis 500 and is taking a unique approach to invite her, via the social networking site Twitter.
Fisher, the only female owner/driver in the IZOD IndyCar Series, has started a twitter account, @ellen2Indy500, and invited race fans to support her grassroots campaign to get DeGeneres to come to the 2010 Indianapolis 500.
"1 of my resolutions is 2have @TheEllenShow (DeGeneres) n my book
& n return give her tix 2 the Indy500 this May. Follow how we
reach her @ellen2indy500," Fisher wrote on her own twitter account,
Fisher also hopes to include a quote from DeGeneres in her book, "99 Things Women Wish They Knew Before You Got Behind The Wheel Of Your Dream Job," which will be published in May. In the book, Fisher includes quotes from pioneering women who have made a name for themselves in their chosen field.