Series news and notes 2010-04-12

Today's IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines 1. Andretti delivers strong performance despite missing win 2. IZOD Sweepstakes Offers Ultimate VIP Experience at Indianapolis 500 3. Inside the numbers: Barber 4.

Today's IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines
1. Andretti delivers strong performance despite missing win
2. IZOD Sweepstakes Offers Ultimate VIP Experience at Indianapolis 500
3. Inside the numbers: Barber
4. Plowman has career-best day
5. Fans can vote for Firestone Tire-ific Move of the Race

1. Andretti delivers strong performance despite missing win: As Helio Castroneves chased Marco Andretti around Barber Motorsports Park, the Brazilian felt he was racing an old racing rival and not his son.

"(Marco's) driving reminded me of his father, Michael Andretti," Castroneves said after winning the inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by Legacy Credit Union. "Marco did a good job in passing me (for the lead). In fact, he kind of like pushed me away. And he was driving like he was more patient this time."

Andretti led 58 laps in the IZOD IndyCar Series' first visit to the picturesque 2.38-mile road course in Birmingham, Ala., and nearly came away with his first win since his rookie season in 2006. Though his strategy led to a fifth-place finish, he posted his first top-five finish on a road and street course since he finished fifth at Watkins Glen last season.

"We have to be happy to put the Venom car into the top five, especially after our finishes on road courses last year," said Andretti, whose average finish on a road and street course was 8.85 in 2009. "I think maybe we could have stretched out each of our stints a bit longer and gained on fuel one lap at a time. Helio (Castroneves) just went longer than us each time and that was the difference at the end. He was able to go that much farther and we fell short."

The performance could help in rebuilding the confidence of the young American driver, who along with teammates Ryan Hunter-Reay, Danica Patrick and Tony Kanaan, has shown his Andretti Autosport team has the pace of Team Penske and Target Chip Ganassi Racing.

"We just have to keep marching forward," said Andretti, who has qualified for the Firestone Fast Six at St. Petersburg and Barber. "The four of us are working together to keep improving our race cars; we're still a bit off pace. Overall I think this shows we're on the right track."

And it showed his racing rivals that they may have to deal with the No. 26 Team Venom Energy car more often this year.

"He definitely made the emphasis on getting past people," said Scott Dixon, who finished second at Barber. "On a track so difficult to pass, he did a great job. To be honest, I'm sure he had some people yelling at him to make him save fuel. For him to not make any mistakes that I saw with Helio in his mirrors, he did a hell of a job today."

***

2. IZOD Sweepstakes Offers Ultimate VIP Experience at Indianapolis 500: Phillips-Van Heusen Corporation announced today that its IZOD brand, the official title and apparel sponsor of the IZOD IndyCar Series, had launched the Race to the Party sweepstakes. One lucky fan will win an all-inclusive package for four to attend the largest and fastest one-day sporting event in the world, the Indianapolis 500. By going to racetotheparty.com and entering online anytime between April 6 and May 11, or texting the word "IZOD" to 247365 from any wireless phone, fans have the chance to spend the 2010 Memorial Day weekend with the stars of the IZOD IndyCar Series. The grand prize winner and guests will be given a one-of-a-kind IZOD IndyCar Series experience that includes:

* Roundtrip Airfare and Hotel Accommodation

* Ground Transportation

* VIP Suite Tickets

* All-Access Pit and Garage Passes

* Public Driver Meeting Attendance

* Hospitality Tent Access

* Miller Lite Carb Day® Tickets

* IPL Festival 500® Parade Tickets

* IMS Hall of Fame Museum™ Passes

* Pace Car Rides

* $5,000 Cash

"The IZOD IndyCar Series drivers truly possess unparalleled athleticism and skill," said Mike Kelly, Executive Vice President of Marketing for Phillips-Van Heusen. "We are excited to offer enthusiastic fans the ultimate Indy 500 experience - a thrilling front row seat to feel the speed, action and danger of the IZOD IndyCar Series."

The sweepstakes is being run in connection with the new IZOD television advertising campaign, filmed on the San Blas Islands, Panama, in the Caribbean. The campaign stars the dynamic drivers of IZOD IndyCar Series, including Marco Andretti (U.S.), Tony Kanaan (Brazil), Dan Wheldon (England), and IZOD sponsored driver, Ryan Hunter-Reay (U.S.), as they compete out of their cars and off of the race track by means of yacht, wakeboard, waverunner, motorbike and helicopter, showcasing their passion for The Pursuit of Fast™.

The campaign is comprised of six television commercials with the vignettes culminating to reveal during the broadcast of the Indy 500 on ABC, Sunday, May 30th, who wins the Race to the Party. Spots will air during race broadcasts throughout the IZOD IndyCar Series season. The campaign supports the launch of the new IZOD/INDY "Winning Series" sportswear collection, inspired by the historic Indy 500 "Winning Car Series", including images of the first Indianapolis 500 winner, the 1911 Marmon Wasp, along with the 1939-40 Maserati and the 1948 Novi. The collection is designed with a distressed, vintage look-and-feel in short sleeve polo shirts and tees that reflect and celebrate the uniquely American heritage of Indy racing.

IZOD was named the official apparel sponsor of the IndyCar Series, Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Firestone Indy Lights in 2008. In addition to the consumer sportswear lines, IZOD's designers have created custom uniforms for the Indy Racing League, inspired by the heritage of American racing and designed to address the performance needs on and off the track. For more information about the Race to the Party sweepstakes, visit racetotheparty.com.

***

3. Inside the numbers: Barber: Numbers to note following the Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by Legacy Credit Union, the third of 17 races in the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series season.

6 -Teams represented in the top 10 of the series point standings.

10 - Consecutive seasons with at least one win for Helio Castroneves - an IZOD IndyCar Series record.

12 - Positions improved by 11th-place finisher Dan Wheldon, the highest number of positions gained by any driver. Alex Tagliani gained 11 positions to finish in the top-10.

25 - Cars running at the finish. The first time in series history that no cars retired from an event.

35 - Consecutive top-10 starts for Scott Dixon - extending his IZOD IndyCar Series record.

58 - Laps led by Marco Andretti, the most he's led in any IZOD IndyCar Series race since he led 90 at Richmond in 2008.

75 - Top-five finishes for Helio Castroneves in the IZOD IndyCar Series. Castroneves has finished in the top-10 in 56.3 percent of his starts (75-for-133).

101 - Top-10 finishes for Helio Castroneves in the IZOD IndyCar Series. Castroneves has finished in the top-10 in 75.9 percent of his starts (101-for-133).

53,555 - Estimated attendance by race promoter Zoom Motorsports for the inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by Legacy Credit Union.

84,126 -- Estimated three-day attendance by race promoter Zoom Motorsports for the inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by Legacy Credit Union.

***

4. Plowman has career-best day: Martin Plowman finished a career-best fourth in the Firestone Indy Lights Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park, but narrowly missing a chance for his first podium left the young Englishman disappointed over the missed opportunity..

"Overall it was a good race," Plowman said. "I think we had a podium car. I'm just very disappointed about what happened at the start."

Plowman started third in the No. 27 Automatic Fire Sprinklers/KEP Printing car, but lost a position to Sebastian Saavedra on the opening lap. He pushed to gain that position back, but opted to finish the race with what he had and bettered the pair of fifth place finishes he had in his rookie season in 2009.

"The race was very tough, and it was very hard to pass," Plowman said. "I felt we put substantial pressure on Sebastian but then towards the end, I just found it was best to bring the car home and get some points. We'll make improvements and get them next week."

5. Fans can vote for Firestone Tire-ific Move of the Race: The $10,000 prize is awarded after each IZOD IndyCar Series race to the driver who best utilizes his or her Firestone tires to make a bold, dramatic move during the event. This week's nominees are Marco Andretti for his Lap 15 pass of Helio Castroneves for the lead, Helio Castroneves for a great restart on Lap 88 that resulted in his first victory of the season and Justin Wilson for setting the fastest lap of the race on alternate tires.Fans can vote at www.indycar.com.

***

The 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series season continues April 18 with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on the streets of Long Beach, Calif. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at :3:30 p.m. (ET) 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 continues with the Grand Prix of Long Beach April 18 on the streets of Long Beach, Calif.. The race will air live on indycar.com.

-source: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Justin Wilson , Helio Castroneves , Michael Andretti , Alex Tagliani , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Dan Wheldon , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Marco Andretti , Chip Ganassi , Sebastian Saavedra , Martin Plowman , Mike Kelly
Teams Andretti Autosport , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing