Today's IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines:
1. de Silvestro looks forward to 2011 with HVM
2. Mario Andretti joins Indianapolis 500 Centennial Tour
3. KV Racing Technology partners with SH Racing for 2011 Indianapolis 500
4. Power joins field for RoboPong 200
1. de Silvestro looks forward to 2011 with HVM: Walking off the Championship Celebration stage Oct. 3 with the Tony Renna Rising Star Award, Simona de Silvestro felt a sense of accomplishment for the 2010 season and determination to improve in her second year.
The 22-year-old Swiss driver finished 19th in the IZOD IndyCar Series standings (second in Rookie of the Year chase) with two top-10 finishes and a suitcase full of experience. She'll return with HVM Racing for the 2011 season.
"I'm really thankful to Firestone for giving me this award," said de Silvestro, who also was voted the Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year after advancing eight positions to finish 14th. "It shows that we really worked hard this year with HVM Racing. It's just great to be part of a team like that because they really believed in me and they let me be who I am.
"The series is just great and I'm looking forward to being back next year."
De Silvestro, an Atlantics graduate, opened eyes in the mid-March opener on the streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil, by qualifying 11th. Though top-10 results were difficult to come by in the first half of the season on road/street circuits and ovals she had not competed on, the No. 78 car consistently was running in the top 10 at some point of races. She posted a high finish of eighth at Mid-Ohio and a best starting position of seventh at Edmonton.
"We had a lot of ups and downs, but there were a lot of really good ups I believe," she said. "We were running up front with the big guys at a couple of races, and going into the season I didn't expect that at all because we might be the smallest team out there. "This year I learned a lot on the ovals and also the road courses. There are so many things like doing pit stops and how a race is unfolding. Coming from Atlantics where the races are much shorter and coming to IndyCar where the races are much longer and everything is bigger, you have to manage tires and manage yourself not to get tired. It will help me next year to be stronger."
HVM Racing owner Keith Wiggins didn't want the efforts of 2010 to go by the wayside, and the team now seeks to improve its financial foundation for the 17-race 2011 season.
"When we started this season we could not have anticipated the challenges we would face, both financially and on track, with incidents and equipment damage," Wiggins said. "However, we could not also have anticipated the development of Simona in such a short period. The team and driver showed what is possible.
"Now it is time to put 2010 behind us and do the job properly in 2011. This team knows how to win and we are focused on getting the right package together to move forward."
2. Mario Andretti joins Indianapolis 500 Centennial Tour: Racing legend Mario Andretti will join the group of past, present and future Indianapolis 500 drivers who will visit Europe and the Middle East in January as part of the Indianapolis 500 Centennial Tour. Andretti, who won the Indianapolis 500 in 1969, will join fellow Indianapolis 500 winners Johnny Rutherford and Al Unser Jr., Indy 500 veterans Graham Rahal and Davey Hamilton, and Firestone Indy Lights veteran Martin Plowman on the trip.
Longtime IndyCar television announcer Jack Arute and IndyCar President, Commercial Division Terry Angstadt also are making the trip, with Arute serving as the moderator and leading panel discussions at all stops on the trip. The group will meet with between 10,000 and 15,000 troops during the 10-day trip.
"This is such an incredible opportunity, we feel, not only to celebrate and kick off the centennial year of the Indianapolis 500, but anyone who has been even close to the Indy 500 recognizes how we really embrace the military, Memorial Day, every aspect of what our troops do for us since the beginning of time," Angstadt said. "So we could not feel better about being just a small part of bringing this unique program to a number of bases in the Middle East."
The group will leave Indianapolis Jan. 12 and return to the U.S. on Jan. 22. It is expected that the group will visit U.S. installations in Germany, Turkey, Spain, Qatar, Iraq, North Africa and the United Arab Emirates, and likely will visit a deployed U.S. aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf or North Arabian Sea.
Morale Entertainment Foundation is the primary coordinator of the trip. "The age side of it puts us in the same area (as the troops), so we can relate," Rahal said. "When they called to ask me if I'd do this, I said I'd be more than happy. It will be a lot of fun to take a day and spend it with them."
3. KV Racing Technology partners with SH Racing for 2011 Indianapolis 500: SH Racing unveiled its Team REDLINE Xtreme livery that it will run in the Indianapolis 500 in partnership with KV Racing Technology at the National Association of Convenience Store Show in Atlanta.
The 2011 Indy 500 is scheduled for May 29.
"We are amped up to partner with Kevin Kalkhoven and Jimmy Vasser in the 2011 Indy 500," said James Sullivan, co-owner of SH Racing. "We have discussed partnering with Kevin and Jimmy for quite some time. Today, we made it a reality and we could not be more excited." KV Racing Technology entered four cars in the 2010 Indy 500.
"Developing the KV Racing-SH Racing program this early for the 2011 Indy 500 gives us a huge head start on fielding a great effort for the Team REDLINE Xtreme entry," said Vasser, co-owner of KV Racing Technology and a multi-time oval race winner. b^0x001cWe are thrilled to have formed a partnership with SH Racing and there will be no shortage of energy on the Team REDLINE Xtreme at Indy next year."
A driver for the Team REDLINE Xtreme entry will be announced soon. "Sulli, TJ (co-owner Humphreys) and I have already talked about the possible candidates to drive the Team RED Xtreme car," Vasser said. "We will look over all of the possibilities and put together a very professional and solid operation for the Team REDLINE Xtreme entry. I am very excited to have this program started already for 2011."
4. Power joins field for RoboPong 200: IZOD IndyCar Series championship runner-up Will Power has joined the all-star lineup for the RoboPong 200 Presented by Bridgestone go-kart race on Oct. 10 at New Castle Motorsports Park.
Power will team up with Simon Pagenaud -- the ALMS Prototype champion and his former teammate at Walker Racing -- in the No. 12 cart. Other IZOD IndyCar Series drivers entered are: Graham Rahal, who is paired with another second-generation driver, Star Mazda champion Conor Daly; defending race winner Ed Carpenter, who joins Walker Racing engineer Nathan O'Rourke for the second year in a row; Dan Wheldon, who re-joins longtime teammate Mark Dismore Jr.; Milka Duno, who teams with Firestone Indy Lights race winner James Davison; Jay Howard and Alex Tagliani.
In addition, three Firestone Indy Lights drivers are entered: Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka winner Brandon Wagner, Martin Plowman and Gustavo Yacaman.