Today's IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines
1 .IZOD IndyCar Series commercials watched by almost 100 million viewers
2 .FAZZT Race Team starts driver development program
3. New location for caution light on car
4. Strous joins Team Moore Racing
1. IZOD commercials seen by almost 100 million viewers: IZOD IndyCar Series commercial spots during the NFC and AFC Championship Game broadcasts Jan. 24 were seen by almost 100 million viewers.
That's a lot of eyeballs as IZOD continued its promotional TV campaign of the series' schedule that kicks off March 14 with the inaugural Sao Paulo Indy 300 on a temporary street circuit in the heart of the largest city in South America.
IZOD, which in November was introduced as the title sponsor of the premier North American open-wheel racing series, began its network promotion two weeks ago with spots that criss-crossed entertainment - from the Golden Globe Awards pre- and post-event shows on E! to college basketball games on ESPN to ABC's "Good Morning America." It will continue throughout the IZOD IndyCar Series season.
The NFC and AFC Championship Games averaged 52.9 million viewers -- the NFL's most-viewed championship Sunday since 1982 (60.2 million average). Fox's telecast of the New Orleans Saints' 31-28 overtime victory over the Minnesota Vikings was watched by 57.9 million. Excluding Super Bowl telecasts, the game marked TV's most-viewed program since the "Seinfeld" finale in '98.
The Indianapolis Colts' 30-17 victory over the New York Jets in the AFC was watched by 46.9 million people on CBS. It was the largest audience for an AFC title game since NBC earned 47.5 million viewers for Patriots-Dolphins in '86.
2. FAZZT Race Team begins driver development program with Dufault: FAZZT Race Team has taken the initial steps into creating a development program with the signing of Canadian Maryeve Dufault.
"As we continue to build the FAZZT Race Team programs, we have an incredible amount of support from Canadian companies for our Canadian driver and team," team COO Jim Freudenberg said. "When the opportunity arose to meet Maryeve and discuss supporting and developing her racing career, we saw it as a great opportunity for our team and partners to continue to develop racing talent from Canada. Her racing skill and understanding of the commercial side of racing combined with her marketability make her a great teammate for Alex (Tagliani) and FAZZT. "
Dufault, a native of Sorel, Quebec, has extensive racing background in karting, Formula Jim Russell, Skip Barber, Formula BMW, Star Mazda and a stint testing for Formula 3 in England.
Dufault is currently driving in the Rotax International Karting Series, where she came to the attention of Tagliani. FAZZT Race Team will assist Dufault in her sponsorship development with the intent to field her in the "Road to Indy" program events.
"Maryeve is a very talented driver who is driven by her commitment to the sport," he said. "We are looking forward to having her as a part of the FAZZT Race Team and hope that we can play a part in continuing to develop her skills and talent as a driver."
3. New location for caution light on cars: The red caution light on IZOD IndyCar Series cars will be located on the face of the attenuator for all 2010 events. It had been above the attenuator (a carbon fiber honeycombed structure attached to the rear of the gearbox to absorb impact).
"The mandated location of the caution light for Indianapolis is the attenuator, so it makes sense to keep it there for the other races," said Kevin Blanch, IZOD IndyCar Series technical director. "By keeping it in the same spot for every race, teams won't have to keep moving the light for each race, so it helps us contain the costs."
4. Strous joins Team Moore Racing: Junior Strous, who won his first two Firestone Indy Lights races last season, will return to the series in 2010 with Team Moore Racing.
The 23-year-old Dutchman will drive the No. 2 Xtreme Coil Drilling-Shell car for the team as as part of the Shell Driver Development Program.
Team Moore Racing won its first race in 2008 with Pablo Donoso and finished 10th in Firestone Indy Lights entrant points last season with Andrew Prendeville's podium finish at Chicagoland Speedway as its highlight of the season. Team co-owners Mark Moore and Tom Wood hope Strous can return to the team to championship contention in 2010.
"Tom and I are very proud to have Junior competing for us in the 2010 championship," Moore said. "I believe he is a rare talent and has great charisma. When you at look the past season, Strous had the highest per race win ratio of any of the drivers. This is very impressive given the talent level of our series. He is also quite a fine young man and I know we will work well together. This is going to be a great season for us all."