Series news and notes 2010-11-15

Today's IZOD IndyCar Series, Firestone Indy Lights and Road to Indy headlines: 1. Karam graduates to Star Mazda with Andretti Autosport 2. Ostella moves to Firestone Indy Lights with Jensen team 3. Wheldon to compete in in SKUSA SuperNationals 4.

Today's IZOD IndyCar Series, Firestone Indy Lights and Road to Indy headlines:
1. Karam graduates to Star Mazda with Andretti Autosport
2. Ostella moves to Firestone Indy Lights with Jensen team
3. Wheldon to compete in in SKUSA SuperNationals
4. Infineon, Iowa tickets go on sale
5. Jones closes gap in USAC national title race

1. Karam graduates to Star Mazda with Andretti Autosport: Andretti Autosport announced Nov. 15 that it has signed Sage Karam to drive in the 2011 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear. Comfort Revolution, a mattress manufacturer, has signed on as the primary sponsor for the entry.

"Sage did a great job in 2010 and really showed us what he is capable of," said Michael Andretti, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Andretti Autosport. "I'm glad we can continue to bring him through the ranks of the 'Road to Indy' program. This takes us one step closer to developing a driver all the way through to the IZOD IndyCar Series. I'm looking forward to seeing what Sage can accomplish next season."

Karam, a 15-year old native of Nazareth, Pa., won the 2010 USF2000 driver championship with Andretti Autosport, scoring nine victories in 12 starts during the season. He also helped Andretti Autosport clinch the USF2000 team title, its first championship since rebranding in 2009.

"Andretti Autosport did such a fantastic job of preparing me for the USF2000 series that choosing a Star Mazda team was an easy choice, " Karam said. "I developed a lot of close relationships with the Andretti Autosport team members last year; it's like a family. I've always sensed the team's dedication and desire to win. Performing for them and never letting them down were always priorities of mine.

"Driving for Andretti Autosport is special for me. Growing up in Nazareth, Mario, Michael and Marco have always been heroes to me. So every time I strap in the Andretti car, it's very special to me."

As the USF2000 National Championship winner, Karam received a sponsorship package from Mazda valued at $350,000 to help him advance to the Star Mazda series in 2011 as part of the 'Road to Indy' program.

"I believe in the 'Road to Indy' program, and I know that the team does, too," Karam said. "It's an exciting time to be a part of IndyCar and the Andretti Autosport family."

Andretti Autosport entry into Star Mazda gives the team entries in each level of INDYCAR's Road to Indy development program, which includes the USF2000 National Championship, Star Mazda, Firestone Indy Lights and the IZOD IndyCar Series.

***

2. Ostella moves to Firestone Indy Lights with Jensen team: Jensen Motorsport will join Firestone Indy Lights in 2011 with Canadian driver David Ostella, who has signed a long-term contract with the Canadian-based team, which has a long, storied history in North American open-wheel racing.

"This is a very exciting new program involving some terrific people," Jensen Motorsport team owner Eric Jensen said.

During the past 15 years, the team has competed in championships including Firestone Indy Lights, the Atlantic Championship and Formula BMW Americas. Jensen Motorsport has enjoyed considerable success with driver development, including training many of North America's top young racing talents during the past 10 years, including Markus Niemela, Frankie Muniz, Daniel Herrington, Tom Sutherland Tim Bridgman and Adam Pecorari.

Ostella is an example of a driver hoping to use the 'Road to Indy' program to move up the racing ladder with in hopes of reaching the IZOD IndyCar Series. Ostella, 19, from Toronto, is set to graduate to Firestone Indy Lights competition after having raced in the 2009 and 2010 Star Mazda championships.

"David Ostella is a very fast and marketable race car driver," Jensen said. "Our team has recently signed renowned race engineer Remi Lanteigne to quarterback our technical program, so together with David, we are enthusiastic about our new initiative."

Jensen Motorsport is also pleased to announce Dipdive Network - www.dipdive.com - as a featured team partner for the 2011 racing season.

The California-based company started with just one single video - will.i.am's inspired "Yes We Can" 2008 montage based on Barack Obama's popular campaign slogan and New Hampshire speech - and has grown into a leading-edge media network redefining artist/fan and content owner/consumer relationships through interactive connectivity.

***

3. Wheldon to compete in in SKUSA SuperNationals: Dan Wheldon, the 2005 IZOD IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500 champion, finished fourth in the TaG Senior division of the USA SuperNationals karting event last year. He hopes to be in contention for the victory during the 14th edition of the event Nov. 17-21 at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

"I couldn't be more excited to be participating in SKUSA SuperNationals again this year," Wheldon said. "I have to say that this race is one of my absolute favorites. It is really a testament to the level of competition. The talent participating is so great that you really do feel like you are at a professional-level racing event.

"And having Las Vegas host America's premier karting event makes SuperNats a destination for the participants and the fans alike. I'm telling you, it's going to be a great time, and I look forward to bringing in a win in the National Guard/Arrow/BTK kart."

Former Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year Phil Giebler has all but locked up the championship in the Pro Tour TaG Senior division. Also entered in the division is Firestone Indy Lights driver Joel Miller.

Other drivers with ties to IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights also will compete in the event.

IZOD IndyCar Series driver Raphael Matos is entered in the highly competitive KZ2 class with former Firestone Indy Lights competitors Bobby Wilson, Matt Jaskol and Cyndie Allemann. Arie Luyendyk Jr. will compete in the S2 Semi-Pro Moto class

Colton Herta, son of Firestone Indy Lights team owner Bryan Herta, and Flinn Lazier, son of 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Lazier, are entered in the TaG Cadet division.

***

4. Infineon, Iowa tickets go on sale: Tickets for the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma on Aug. 26-28 at Infineon Raceway go on sale Nov. 15.

Fans can purchase individual or weekend tickets as well as special ticket packages for all 2011 major events by calling 800-870-RACE, visiting an account representative at Infineon Raceway or by purchasing tickets online at www.infineonraceway.com or www.ticketmaster.com. Camping is also available for all major events.

Infineon Raceway's 2011 Track Pass offers tickets to all major events, plus season-long VIP parking, a Pre-Race Pit & Track Pass for NASCAR, garage pass for the IZOD IndyCar Series, a hot lap around the road course and more. The cost is $399, which represents more than a 50 percent savings.

Iowa Speedway's 2011 season tickets are now available for sale to the general public, and not just current season ticket holder renewals, according to the track's Director of Ticketing Operations, Jason Christofferson.

"We had been exclusively renewing our current season ticket holders' seats for nearly two months," Christofferson said. "But since early November, our 2011 season tickets are available for everyone, regardless of whether or not they have been a season ticket holder in the past."

Season ticket prices start at $129, and are valid for all major events at the track, including the first IZOD IndyCar Series event 'under the lights' on Saturday night, June 25.

"Not counting our Newton Club seats, the highest-priced season ticket we offer is just $259, and that's a really good deal for our customers," Christofferson said. "It's a significant savings over the a la carte prices for each event, and we still include complimentary Fan Walk passes with every season ticket, which is an $80 value alone. Needless to say, our renewals have been outstanding, and we're anticipating a big response from new season ticket buyers, as well - especially during the holiday season."

***

5. Jones closes gap in USAC national title race: Levi Jones claimed his second USAC national championship, winning the AMSOIL National Sprint Car title with a second-place finish in the 31st Pacific Coast Nationals at Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, Calif.

Bud Kaeding of Campbell, Calif. captured Saturday night's 30-lap sprint car race, leading the final 23 laps after race leaders Bryan Clauson and Damion Gardner tangled on Lap 7. Tracy Hines of New Castle, Ind., led all 30 laps of the USAC Mopar National/Western Midget race.

Jones, who also won the USAC Silver Crown Series title, cut into Clauson's lead in the 2010 National Drivers Championship standings. Clauson, who leads the USAC Mopar National Midget standings after finishing third in the midget race, now leads the National Drivers Championship standings by five points 1,099-1,094. Jerry Coons Jr. is third, 55 points back, as the Midget series heads to its next-to-last race Nov. 20 at Ventura, Calif.

INDYCAR will award the winner of USAC's inaugural National Drivers Championship a scholarship to compete on the oval schedule in 2011 Firestone Indy Lights, kicking off at the Firestone Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May.

-source: irl

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