Series news and notes 2010-03-04

Today's IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines 1. Indianapolis Motor Speedway To Host First "Road To Indy" Summit 2. Duno signs for full season with Dale Coyne Racing 3. DB Schenker helps move IZOD IndyCar Series to...

Today's IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines
1. Indianapolis Motor Speedway To Host First "Road To Indy" Summit
2. Duno signs for full season with Dale Coyne Racing
3. DB Schenker helps move IZOD IndyCar Series to Brazil
4. Andretti Autosport to field Karam in USF2000 National Championship

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1. Indianapolis Motor Speedway To Host First "Road To Indy" Summit: The Road to Indy, the Indy Racing League's official development ladder system, will host its first Road to Indy Summit at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May during preparations for the Indianapolis 500 and Firestone Freedom 100 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Night Before the 500 at O'Reilly Raceway Park.

Drivers and teams from the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear and Cooper Tires presents the USF2000 National Championship powered by Mazda will participate in this invitation-only event that includes track tours of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Rick Mears and two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. Both series will be competing as part of the Night Before the 500 at O'Reilly Raceway Park.

"One of the goals of the Road to Indy is for drivers to develop skills needed to be successful off track and having this summit every year is key way for us to reach that goal," said Tony George Jr., manager of business development for Firestone Indy Lights and an instrumental figure in the development of the Road to Indy. "Every Road to Indy participant will be racing on the biggest open-wheel weekend of the year, but the valuable lessons that will be taught by our legends and the behind-the-scenes access the teams will receive make this a must-attend event."

Included on the schedule are:

* Road to Indy drivers' meeting with Indy Racing League President of Competition and Racing Operations Brian Barnhart focusing on oval racing.

* A breakfast seminar presented by Mazda focusing on the business of motorsports, which is designed to help improve the off-track performance of the drivers.

* A seminar to teach drivers and spotters how to work together.

* Pace car rides around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

* Meet and greets with Firestone Indy Lights and IZOD IndyCar Series drivers who have competed in either Star Mazda or USF2000.

* A tour of the Indianapolis Hall of Fame Museum with racing historian Donald Davidson.

* A Road to Indy reception at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

"Athletes in motorsports need more help than any other kind of young talent," said Gary Rodrigues, founder of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear. "Drivers not only must hone remarkable physical ability and incredible powers of concentration. They must also develop an infrastructure around them that will meet the engineering and business challenges of organizing a winning racing program. The Road to Indy launches a system that will identify talent and train drivers how to successfully function in the sport and in the business."

"The Road to Indy Summit is exactly the type of assistance career-minded drivers need and want as they climb the ladder, and it is why the USF2000 National Championship has been revived with the Indy Racing League's sanction," said Dan Andersen, co-owner and chief executive officer, Andersen Promotions, administrator of the Cooper Tires presents the USF2000 National Championship powered by Mazda. "We are very pleased to have this opportunity for our participants, and it will certainly be beneficial for them and for the series. With the involvement of Mazda as well, this will be a terrific event."

The Road to Indy is the Indy Racing League's developmental ladder system for drivers who wish to reach the IZOD IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500. Made up of Firestone Indy Lights, the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear and the Cooper Tires presents the USF2000 National Championship powered by Mazda, the system was designed to create a defined career path for young, career-minded race car drivers and to teach them the skills needed to advance to the highest level of open-wheel racing on and off the track.

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2. Duno signs for full season with Dale Coyne Racing: Milka Duno has participated in IZOD IndyCar Series limited-season programs the past three years. This year, she'll compete in all 17 races in the No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing car.

"I look forward to competing with Dale Coyne Racing," said Duno, who was running at the finish in six of nine races in 2009. "I've had the chance to speak with Dale and the team to discuss goals for the season and we are in harmony in all areas. For the past three seasons I've only run partial schedules and I'm anxious to be competing in all the races this year. Doing so builds momentum and maintains consistency that I feel is a key factor to good results.

"The full schedule includes seven races at tracks that I have yet to compete on so I will be doing my absolute best to learn these new tracks as quickly as possible. This full season will be challenging, but I'm very thankful for the opportunity."

The season begins March 14 with the Sao Paulo Indy 300 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

"We are very excited about the challenges and rewards that lie ahead for Milka," team owner Dale Coyne said. "We have seen Milka's competitiveness on the ovals and now we look forward to focusing on the road course effort on a full-time basis in 2010."

Duno has won on road courses before in other categories, but 2010 represents her most serious attack at the road courses of IndyCars. The team has planned an extensive testing program for the coming season with a focus on road and street circuits. An announcement regarding the driver of the No. 19 entry for Dale Coyne Racing is expected early next week.

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3. DB Schenker helps move IZOD IndyCar Series to Brazil: The Point A to Point B and return trip of the IZOD IndyCar Series is relatively straightforward for DB Schenker. Still, the Indy Racing League's Official Freight Logistics sponsor is moving an entire racing series to Sao Paulo, Brazil, and back to Indianapolis.

That's 400,000 total pounds swallowed by two Atlas Air 747-400F cargo planes for the 5,000-plus-mile ride between two continents, while making sure it arrives at the venue safely and on time for the season-opening São Paulo Indy 300 on March 14.

That's why teams unloaded their race cars, equipment and consumables March 3 at a staging area at the Indianapolis International Airport. In a free-form ballet of forklifts, equipment was weighed, placed on pallets and wrapped in plastic. Chassis, along with front and rear wing assemblies, were stacked and secured on specially-made racks. It all will be loaded March 6 (seeking an even distribution of weight in the cargo bay by the loadmaster) for the flight to Viracopos-Campinas International Airport in the state of Sao Paulo. Firestone Firehawk tires departed via ocean cargo vessel on Feb. 4.

DB Schenker has been associated with the sanctioning body since 2009, providing logistics for the Honda Accord Safety Cars between North American event venues and promotional units such as a show car to Panama for an IZOD photo shoot in autumn. DB Schenker's role expanded with oversight of the Sao Paulo event logistics.

DB Schenker combines all transport and logistics activities of Deutsche Bahn, employing more than 91,000 people across 2,000 locations in about 130 countries.

"We've been working on sports events dedicatedly since 2000," said Nick Kashiparekh of DB Schenker sportsevents - USA. "We started with the sports events division in '99 primarily to work on our contract with the Sydney Olympic Games. After that success, we were an official logistics provider from 2000 to 2008. Although we didn't have an official capacity with the Vancouver Games, we provided logistic services for broadcasters, national Olympic committees and quite a few of the sponsors and marketing groups.

"Moving broadcast equipment and athletic gear is all time-sensitive and it takes careful coordination - not just from the country of origin or the host country, but many times you have accounts that spread over numerous countries. From a coordination standpoint, (the IZOD IndyCar Series move is) a lot easier than an Olympic Games or a FIFA World Cup when you have multiple countries and multiple entities to deal with."

Upon arrival March 7, the freight is transferred to trucks to continue the journey to the Anhembi complex in the north-central section of the largest city in South America. Manifests are checked and spot customs inspections are conducted at the track in time for team personnel to unpack March 10 and begin preparations for the race weekend.

"The most difficult part is making sure the (six copies for everything) paperwork is in order for customs," Indy Racing League director of operations Bill van de Sandt said. "We're a racing league and not a shipping company, so all we can do is get everything ready and count on DB Schenker to get us there and back."

Before the champagne is uncorked in Victory Circle, packing is underway for the return trip.

"It's multiple processes, but it's very well-organized," van de Sandt said. "The cooperation of the governments, the help of DB Schenker and the airlines works very well. It's a process that is very effective and efficient.

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4. Andretti Autosport to field Karam in USF2000 National Championship: Andretti Autosport announced March 4 it has signed 15-year-old Sage Karam to drive for the team in the 2010 Cooper Tires presents the USF2000 National Championship powered by Mazda, the entry level series for the Indy Racing League's Road to Indy.

The entry marks Andretti Autosport's debut in the Indy Racing League's new Road to Indy driver development program. Comfort Revolution, a developer and distributor of specialty bedding mattresses and accessories, and The Michael Fux Foundation will sponsor the effort.

"We look forward to bringing Sage on board as Andretti Autosport's first USF2000 National Championship driver and hope to make him the first driver to go all the way through the 'Road to Indy' program - all the way to the IZOD IndyCar Series," said Michael Andretti, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Andretti Autosport. "I've watched him grow to become an accomplished young driver, and I think his experience in karting and Skip Barber will serve him well this year in the USF2000 series. I'm very confident Sage will be successful with Andretti Autosport."

Karam, a native of Nazareth, Pa., has spent the last few years competing in the Skip Barber National championship, a part of the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development ladder program, as well as the World Karting Association (WKA). He was the only American driver to compete in both a national karting championship and an open-wheel professional series full time in 2009.

"The opportunity to drive for my mentor, Michael Andretti, has always been a dream of mine," Karam said. "I've worked very hard to get to this point, but I know I have a long way to go. Driving in the USF2000 with Andretti Autosport is the best way to reach my ultimate goal: racing in the IZOD IndyCar series and winning the Indy 500."

Karam began competing in karts at the age of five. He has since established himself as a 35-time WKA and Indy Racing League (IRL) Stars of Karting national champion. Karam also stands as the only driver ever to win a WKA Triple Crown Championship and titles in the IRL Stars of Karting (East, West and National) all in the same year (2007). In 2008, Karam - then 13 -- established himself as the youngest winner in the history of the Skip Barber Shootout.

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The 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series season begins March 14 with the Sao Paulo Indy 300 on the streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 11:30 a.m. (EDT) by VERSUS. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 211. The race also will be carried on www.indycar.com. The 2010 Firestone Indy Lights season opens with the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg March 28 on the streets of St. Petersburg. The race will air live on indycar.com.

-source: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Milka Duno , Al Unser Jr. , Michael Andretti , Rick Mears , Skip Barber , Tony George , Dale Coyne , Brian Barnhart
Teams Andretti Autosport , Dale Coyne Racing