Today's IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines:
1. IZOD IndyCar Series Q & A - Tim Cindric
2. INDYCAR drivers selected to Auto Racing All-America team
3. CARA Charities partners with IUPUI for motorsports engineering scholarship:
1. IZOD IndyCar Series Q & A - Tim Cindric: Tim Cindric, president of Penske participated in an IZOD IndyCar Series teleconference earlier today to discuss Shell-Pennzoil sponsoring the No. 3 Shell-V-Power Pennzoil-Ultra car in the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series.
Below are select quotes from his interview.
Q. The team had a pretty exciting event last night in Las Vegas, which is where Helio is somewhere between here and there. You unveiled the livery for the No. 3 Shell V-Power Pennzoil Ultra Dallara/Honda that he will drive in the Indianapolis 500. I guess it is a homecoming feel with Pennzoil's great history with Penske Racing, and especially at Indy.
TIM CINDRIC: Absolutely. We're excited to have that association and relationship. Obviously, it's far-reaching in terms of not only the IndyCar program, but obviously the NASCAR program is a huge part of that relationship. Not only the Pennzoil association they used to have obviously with Rick Mears and the nostalgia that that brings, the Shell V-Power brand is obviously a very strong brand and one that we're very proud to carry the colors for, especially at the centennial of Indy and Helio chasing his fourth 500, it will be special.
Q. Can you talk about the significance of bringing back a sponsor to IndyCar, especially one that has a strong history in our racing?
TIM CINDRIC: Anytime you bring on a sponsor, the whole Shell-Pennzoil brand, it continues to build the momentum. I know they'll continue to put more and more I guess awareness about IndyCar racing behind it, as has the IZODs and Verizons of the world that have recently come onboard to continue moving forward the sport.
Q. Tim, last year it was a great season for Will, Helio had success, Ryan some. It wasn't probably the final result you wanted. What's in the plans for the coming season and where do you need to improve to win that championship?
TIM CINDRIC: Yeah, like you said, if we look back in our history, I think last year is one of the most successful years we ever had when you look at the number of polls and races we won as an organization. But we fell short of winning the Indy 500 and winning the championship. Those are the two marquee things within the series, the two things we strive for. The rest of it is building blocks for that.
So going forward, the thing that we were most focused on for 2011 is ensuring we could bring the three drivers we have back into the fold for next year. It seems as though that's going to continue.
To last year add a third car and have that car compete for the championship, we're proud of that, because for anybody that's been in the business, it's difficult to put a third car in and continue to keep a level of success. When that third car becomes a frontrunner for the championship, it's something that's important, for sure.
I think last year we as a team expanded to that third car. That said, we probably were a little weaker than what we needed to be in the pits. I think we took two A-Teams and we made three B-Teams out of two A-Teams. I think we need to approach this year with three A-Teams in the pit lane.
I think every year you go, when we ran the Indy 500 last year, I felt like qualifying first, second and fourth is a pretty good feat there. We were very strong in the race, we just didn't execute. We need to continue to execute when it's our day.
Q. Tim, can you confirm that all three drivers are signed and what are the primary sponsors going to be for all three?
TIM CINDRIC: I think obviously this is the primary sponsorship for what we're going to have at Indianapolis. I think with regard to the other races for Helio, stay tuned. We'll continue to announce those as they're available, as we will with Ryan.
I'm confident that all three guys will be on the track all year next year is the best I can tell you today.
Q. So just to make sure I got this right, this is for Indy only?
TIM CINDRIC: It's Indy only. I'm sure you'll see that livery in more than just one race this season. We wanted to announce the Indy 500 program and Helio now. We'll continue to build on that. But I'm sure there will be more to come.
2. INDYCAR drivers selected to Auto Racing All-America team: Five IZOD IndyCar Series drivers, led by overall series champion Dario Franchitti and Will Power, and Firestone Indy Lights champion J.K. Vernay were selected to the 2010 All-America Auto Racing Team by members of the nation's motorsports press.
The team includes the largest group ever named to the First Team, 21 drivers, as a result of the addition of a new category this year by the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association.
Franchitti, who won his third IZOD IndyCar Series title in four years and his second Indianapolis 500 and Power, who scored a series high five win were named to the first team while Vernay, Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe were named to the second-team selections. Tony Kanaan was an honorable mention selection.
Bryan Clauson, who earned a scholarship to compete in Firestone Indy Lights in 2011 by winning the USAC National Drivers Championship, was also a first-team selection.
In addition to his All-America honor Vernay was named the winner of the 2010 Rising Star. The 23-year-old Frenchman picked up votes from nearly a third of the voters on the 15-name ballot to finish four votes ahead of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Rookie of the Year Austin Dillon, 20. Third in the vote was USAC driver Kody Swanson, 22, who raced in five different USAC series with victories in four of them while James Hinchcliffe was fourth on the ballot.
3. CARA Charities partners with IUPUI for motorsports engineering scholarship: Students hoping to work in motorsports will have a chance to get a leg up on their education. CARA Charities and IUPUI announce the first ever motorsports-specific scholarship for students in the IUPUI Motorsports Engineering Program.
"CARA is pleased to invest in the future leaders of tomorrow's racing industry," says Cathie Lyon, Executive Director of CARA Charities. "This scholarship is an excellent opportunity for us to support outstanding students who are passionate about motorsports and service. We look forward to working side-by-side with the IUPUI Motorsports Engineering Program to nurture a 'value in community' as the students develop academically and professionally."
The CARA Motorsports Scholarship is available for traditional, full-time students that are admitted directly into the Motorsports Engineering Program at IUPUI. The first CARA Motorsports Scholarships will be awarded for the Fall 2011 semester.
"We are absolutely thrilled about this new partnership with CARA Charities," said Pete Hylton, Director of Motorsports Engineering for the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology, IUPUI. "We're not only excited about the opportunity to provide our students with more financial assistance in making their motorsports dreams come true, but also about CARA's commitment to bettering the motorsports community. It speaks volumes to have their support and we look forward to their seeing our students join the organization in finding ways to use racing to give back to the community."
Since its founding in 1981, CARA Charities has occupied a special place in the motorsports community. Created to serve the professional auto racing community through charitable work and to promote the friendships of those involved in the motorsports family, CARA has donated more than $4 million dollars to dozens of philanthropic causes helping children, hospitals, scholarship funds, ministries and numerous charitable foundations.