Today's IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines:
1. IZOD IndyCar Series Q & A - June 9
2. Firestone Indy Lights teams head to Mid-Ohio for testing
1. IZOD IndyCar Series Q & A - June 9: IZOD IndyCar Series driver Alex Lloyd participated in a Q&A session to discuss the his 2010 season, so far, and next weekend's race at Iowa Speedway. Below are select quotes from his interview.
* 25-year-old native of Manchester, England, competing in first full season in the IZOD IndyCar Series in 2010.
* Drives the No. 19 Boy Scouts of America-sponsored car for Dale Coyne Racing.
* Collected his first top-five finish at Indianapolis (fourth) and followed that up with an eighth-place finish at Texas.
* 2007 Firestone Indy Lights champion for Sam Schmidt Motorsports
* Leads Rookie of the Year standings by 20 points (119-99) over Mario Romancini.
Q. Alex, you've posted back to back finishes in the last two races, including a fourth-place at the 500. You have to be very confident heading into next weekend's race at Iowa Speedway.
ALEX LLOYD: We're all -the team - very, very happy. Things started off a little rough for us and I guess we started off a little behind the eight ball in terms of preparation because everything came together last minute. We suffered the first few races, but after Kansas, everybody knuckled down and really worked hard knowing we had to step our game up. We came to Indianapolis with a good package, and we knew that straight away from our first run.
Really the momentum we have going now is fantastic. We were really competitive the whole weekend at Texas. It was nice to get out of the car and be slightly disappointed with an eighth-place finish, because under all circumstances, it was a great race for us, but there were a couple of little things that happened that kept us from a top five, and we knew we were racing with the big guys. Doing that, two races in a row, is exciting and I can't wait to get to Iowa because our oval package seems really good right now. In fact, we're at Watkins Glen right now to see if we can get our road course package to the same level of performance. Things seem be going in the right direction now with the team and hopefully we can keep this momentum going for the race of the year.
Q. Next weekend is the race at Iowa Speedway, where you won the last time you raced there in Firestone Indy Lights Are you looking forward to getting back there?
ALEX LLOYD: I've got good memories of the place. It's going to be very different in an (IZOD) IndyCar Series car. There's just that extra speed around the tiny track that Iowa is. It's going to be very exciting. I've been told to expect it to be like flying a jet fighter through a gymnasium. It's that kind of experience. It was a little like that in the Indy Lights car. I can imagine it being three or four times that in the Indy car. But I do have good memories from being there. Obviously, when you've been in Victory Lane at a race track, you look forward to going back. It's been a little while now, that was 2007, but for sure, the first few laps will be used to get used to everything again but I can't wait. It was a fun track to drive, and I'm sure it will be extra fun in the Indy car."
Q. Talk about the "resurgence of Dale Coyne Racing" A lot of people may have written off the team when Justin Wilson and Bill Pappas left before the season, but you and the Boy Scouts team really seemed to gel.
ALEX LLOYD: One of the reasons why we had a slow start to the year is that the team changed a lot. Bill Pappas and Justin Wilson and a couple of other guys within the team left. It was really a new bunch of guys working together for the first time and trying to learn during the race weekends because we didn't have any testing prior the season. It was tough. It takes a while for thing to start to gel, and we had a little reshuffling before Indianapolis on how we were going to engineer the car and changed our plan with that. That seems to have paid off and seems to be working for us. At the same time, it's the continuity of working with these guys week in and week out, and there are really some good guys on the team. We have some smart guys who have been around and can give me a good race car."
Q. And now you're leading the Rookie of the Year standings. I know there is a lot of racing left, but what would it mean to you to be Rookie of the Year?
ALEX LLOYD: It would be a big thing. There's a good crop of rookies this year and one of my goals was to get that Rookie of the Year. The last couple of races have put us in a good position as we start getting towards the end of the first half of the championship. Obviously, there's a long way to go, but my other goal was to get the car in the top 10 in points. With the start of the year we had it makes it a little tougher. But we're chipping away at it, and if we keep getting the results we've been getting, then maybe it's still a possibility. We just need to keep doing what we're doing and there are a lot potential goals and good things that could happen this year. We just need to take it race by race and improve on our results and improving the package. I want to be like we have been the last two races for the rest of the year and be contenders for every race and qualifying up front and racing up front and being there and being in a position where we can get top-five finishes. If you're in that position week in, week out, then you're in position to win the race, and obviously, that's the ultimate goal. We need to keep putting ourselves in good positions and keep working on what we've got and not let this momentum slip away. I know from my side and from the team side we're going to do everything in our power to keep on this run.
2. Firestone Indy Lights teams head to Mid-Ohio for testing: Ten drivers from five Firestone Indy Lights teams will prepare for the upcoming stretch of road/street course races with a one-day private test at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course a few days before heading to the oval at Iowa Speedway.
Among the drivers expected at the 2.258-mile road course are the top seven drivers in the Firestone Indy Lights standings - points leader J.K. Vernay (Sam Schmidt Motorsports), Charlie Kimball (AFS Racing Andretti Autosport), James Hinchcliffe (Team Moore Racing), Martin Plowman (AFS Racing Andretti Autosport), Sebastian Saavedra (Bryan Herta Autosport), Stefan Wilson (Bryan Herta Autosport), Philip Major (Sam Schmidt Motorsports).
"We had a five week break between Long Beach and Indy and have another three weeks off between Indy and Iowa, so to get in the car and get seat time is good," said Hinchcliffe, who finished second in the Mid-Ohio 100 in 2009. "It's a road course test, but to get track time and get everyone on the team back at speed is a good thing, plus Mid Ohio is a cool track to drive on."
While outright speed may not be the ultimate goal of the test the added dimension of having most championship protagonists on track gives the test day a race feel, still the drivers know what their job is at the end of the day.
"It makes it a more productive day when all the frontrunners are going to be there," Hinchcliffe said. It makes it tough to compare yourself to others if you go on different second day, but at the same time, you don't want to show your hand. Still it's good to know where you stack up."
Also expected to join the test session is 2009 Star Mazda champion Adam Christodoulou, who will drive one of Andersen Racing's cars as part of a previously-announced announced an expansion of the Indy Racing League's 'Road to Indy' program in which the 2009 and 2010 Star Mazda series champion earns a test with a top Firestone Indy Lights team.
"I've been an open-wheel racer all my life, so I've very excited to get back behind the wheel of a single-seater for my test with the Andersen Racing Indy Lights team," Christodoulou said. "And the fact that my time in the car will take place during a private test with several top teams participating will give me a good comparison of my pace against other the top drivers in the series.
"The opportunities that arise from being part of the Star Mazda Championship, the Road to Indy and the MAZDASPEED Ladder are much greater than anything that exists in Europe. These programs have provided a huge boost to my career, and I would recommend them to any driver who is serious about advancing their ambitions to have a professional career in motorsports."
The test is being conducted in cooperation with Performance Friction, the exclusive brake pad and disc supplier to both the Star Mazda Championship and the Cooper Tires Presents USF2000 National Championship Powered by Mazda - the first two rungs of the Road to Indy ladder system. Performance Friction is also the overwhelming brake component choice for teams competing in the Firestone Indy Lights.
"With Andersen Racing's involvement in all steps on the Road to Indy ladder, we are delighted to work with Performance Friction and Star Mazda in making this exciting test program a reality," said Andersen Racing co-owner Dan Andersen. " So many Star Mazda drivers in recent years have successfully transitioned into Indy Lights, and now with the support of PFC, more drivers can sample the next step properly. We look forward to seeing what Adam can do at the wheel of one of our cars at Mid-Ohio."
The 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series season continues June 20 with the Iowa Corn Indy 250 presented by Pioneer at Iowa Speedway. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 1:30 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 AvoidTheStork.com 100 on June 19 at the Iowa Speedway.