Today's IZOD IndyCar Series, Firestone Indy Lights and Road to Indy
1. Tung samples IZOD IndyCar Series with FAZZT Race Team
2. Drivers nominated for Auto Racing All-America team
3. Kanaan, Barrichello seek another karting win
4. Clauson seeks to wrap up titles
5. Schmidt's charity, golfer win big at tourney
1. Tung samples IZOD IndyCar Series with FAZZT Race Team: Ho-Pin Tung had the chance to ride around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in a passenger car. He hopes his next visit is in an IZOD IndyCar Series car.
The 27-year-old Tung, who this season has been the reserve driver for Renault F1 and competed in GP2 with the Renault-affiliated DAMS team, made an overture to compete in the IZOD IndyCar Series with a two-day outing in the No. 88 FAZZT Race Team car at Sebring International Raceway On Nov. 20-21.
As a compatibility test, there was synergy between car and driver before the lunch break on the first day as times on the 1.67-mile circuit decreased with almost every five-lap stint (he posted 211 laps over the two days). Regular driver Alex Tagliani, team COO and general manager Rob Edwards and chief engineer Allen McDonald - each providing nuggets of input without being overbearing - were duly impressed with the technical adaptation and feedback.
As the initial step of the team's plans to expand into a multi-car program for its second IZOD IndyCar Series season, it also was positive. Luxembourg-based Gravity Sport Management has been secured to pursue commercial partnerships.
Tagliani, who recorded five top-10 finishes in the 17 races in the No. 77 car with primary sponsorship from Bowers & Wilkins, would welcome a complementary driver to expand the technical database and potentially improve on-track results.
"When you look at it from an organizational standpoint, we want to have a combination," said Tagliani, who noted that a third entry could materialize. "If commercially it makes sense and on the operation side it makes sense, then you're in a win-win situation. You have a guy to work with you and improve the speed of the car, but at the same time commercially it helps strengthen the future of the team.
"Ho-Pin is a likeable guy and fast. I think he would add a lot to the IndyCar Series and our team."
Starting in karting in the mid-90s, Tung has represented China in A1GP, competed in Formula Ford, Formula BMW Asia (2003 champion), German Formula 3 (2006 champion), GP2 Asia and the Superleague Formula in addition to GP2 (he finished 14th in the season finale Nov. 14 at Abu Dhabi with the Racing Engineering team).
"It's a very new thing for me and so many different things compared to Europe," said Tung, who was born in The Netherlands and carries a Chinese professional driver's license. "The tracks in the (IZOD IndyCar Series) are all very different and it requires quite a bit of adaptation. The car is just a racing car. It has four wheels and a steering wheel and you have to try to be as quick as you can. But I was impressed with how it handled and it was pleasant to drive.
"Being here in Sebring to get a small taste of an IndyCar is important. I have to take it step by step, and the first step is good. It would be interesting to see what it would be like to be running with other cars, but just as a foundation it's good."
Tung could be the first Chinese competitor in the IZOD IndyCar Series and in the Indianapolis 500 (in its centennial race). Bowers & Wilkins chairman Joe Atkins, whose audio equipment company has global sales breadth, said Tung could be "the Yao Ming of motorsports" to billions of Chinese.
"I can't overstate how much I think this can be a game-changing association for the league and everybody involved because China is the future in terms of consumer market," Atkins said. "It is where all western brands are very much focused for their future growth opportunity, and from an exposure perspective whether it's for the league itself, the league's sponsors, all of the people involved -- although they may not fully realize it yet -- if Ho-Pin can be successful in Indy racing the opportunity to build his profile in China is enormous.
"The ability to be associated with the first Chinese driver ever to compete in IndyCar and race in the Indy 500 is truly a unique and powerful opportunity."
Tung already has an extensive fan base and media following in China, and INDYCAR has been exploring racing in China in the near future.
"Motorsports is still relatively new in China, but it's developing rapidly," Tung said. "IndyCar is the highest single-seater series in the U.S., and with the Indy 500 being the biggest motorsports event in the world it's all things that attract Chinese people. It would be important for me to do well. We Chinese are very focused on performance, and I'm confident I could do a good job in IndyCar."
2. Drivers nominated for Auto Racing All-America team: The top six drivers in the IZOD IndyCar Series standings and Firestone Indy Lights champion J.K. Vernay are among the nominees for the 2010 Auto Racing All-America team.
Dario Franchitti, Will Power, Scott Dixon, Helio Castroneves, Ryan Briscoe and Tony Kanaan are all nominated in the open-wheel category, while Vernay is nominated in the at-large category.
More than 250 members of the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters vote to determine the top two drivers from each of eight categories the will be named to the first team. They will be honored at the 41st annual AARWBA banquet Jan. 9 in Indianapolis.
The winner of the Jerry Titus Award will also be announced at the banquet. The Titus Award honors the driver earning the most votes in the balloting regardless of category.
3. Kanaan, Barrichello seek another karting win: Longtime friends Tony Kanaan and Rubens Barrichello are teaming up again for the annual Granja Viana 500 go-kart race in their native Brazil on Nov. 27.
Kanaan, the 2004 IZOD IndyCar Series champion, and F1 standout Barrichello have teamed with various drivers to win eight of the previous 13 races. They will partner with former IZOD IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year Felipe Giaffone in an attempt to win a record ninth time in the event, which caps off the racing season in Brazil.
IZOD IndyCar Series driver Vitor Meira is slated to drive a pair of karts in the endurance race. He's entered with Christian Fittipaldi and Nelson Piquet Jr. in one kart and with his A.J. Foyt Racing team manager Larry Foyt in another. Ana Beatriz is also entered in the race.
4. Clauson seeks to wrap up titles: Bryan Clauson hopes to lock up a pair of championships when the USAC national midget series competes in the 70th Turkey Night Grand Prix in Irwindale, Calif., on Nov. 25.
The 21-year-old from Noblesville, Ind., can claim the 2010 USAC Mopar National Midget championship and the the 2010 USAC National Championship. Clauson could be the first back-to-back race winner since Billy Boat won three in a row (1995-97).
Clauson leads Levi Jones of Olney, Ill., by five points entering the Turkey Night Grand Prix. The USAC National Drivers title carries a $40,000 first prize as well as a $300,000 Firestone Indy Lights scholarship program which will find the winner competing in all six oval-track Firestone Indy Lights races, including the Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway next May.
Clauson's best 25 finishes this year have included nine feature wins, nine second and seven thirds. Jones has a 2010 USAC-record 10 feature wins, six seconds, five thirds and four fourths.
5. Schmidt's charity, golfer win big at tourney: For the last five years, Firestone Indy Lights championship-winning team owner Sam Schmidt has hosted a golf tournament near his home in the Las Vegas area that serves as a fundraiser for the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation.
More than 100 golfers, including Baseball Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers and Nashville recording artist Michelle Murray, gathered at The Golf Club at SouthShore on Lake Las Vegas in Henderson, Nev. earlier this month for this year's event.
And though the day was about raising more than $160,000 for the charity, one lucky golfer's hole-in-one scored him a Harley Davidson motorcycle.
Dr. Lynn Dayton of Orem, Utah saw the Red Hot Sunglow Harley Davidson "Street Bob" motorcycle donated by Don Andress of Las Vegas Harley Davidson on the 192-yard, par-3 10th tee and upon sitting on it, said, "I'm going to win this thing!" And then, he did.
Dayton, who could have opted for Fingers to hit his shot, rolled his shot into the hole for a his second-ever ace. It was the first hole-in-one in the history of the tournament.
"This year's tournament just raised the bar ... thanks to Don Andress' generous donation of the Harley Davidson," said Schmidt, who claimed his third Firestone Indy Lights team championship earlier this year. "That hole in one was hard to top! The Foundation is very fortunate to have such wonderful friends who help support this event each year. The Golf Club at SouthShore did a great job, the weather was perfect, and we appreciate the generosity of our sponsors, golfers, and donors."