Today's IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines:
1. Star Mazda runner-up Krohn moving up
2. Veach looking forward to future with Andretti team
3. Franchitti earns BRDC awards
1. Star Mazda runner-up Krohn moving up: Anders Krohn got a taste of Firestone Indy Lights in 2010. He'll return for a full season in 2011 with series newcomer Belardi Auto Racing.
"Anders Krohn is the kind of driver that inspires team owners, engineers and mechanics to bring their very best to the racetrack," team owner Brian Belardi said. "As an owner, I know that I will get 110 percent and then some from Anders and could not be more pleased to have him on board at Belardi Auto Racing for the 2011 season. We look forward to working with Anders and all of his sponsors in the pursuit of many trips to victory circle."
Krohn, nicknamed "The Viking," made his Firestone Indy Lights debut at Watkins Glen, running among the top five before falling to 10th due to a mechanical issue. The 23-year old native of Norway is a clear example of a driver groomed by the Mazda Road to Indy ladder. Arriving in the U.S. as an unknown, Krohn won the F2000 Championship series in 2008 with Andersen Racing and raced in Star Mazda for 2009-10 with Mundill and Andersen Racing. He finished second in Star Mazda points.
"I am now just one step away from the IZOD IndyCar Series. Moving up the Mazda Road to Indy ladder has been such a great experience," said Krohn. "It's a ladder that has already benefitted quite a few, and in the future it will be essential in continuing to feed the very best drivers into what I think is the best racing series in the world. IndyCar and all the sanctioning bodies and sponsors on the ladder, like Mazda and Firestone, have done a tremendous job with supporting their up-and-coming talents, and I am so proud not only to be part of Belardi Auto Racing, but also to be one of the future faces of IndyCar.
Krohn will be reunited with Larry Nash, IndyCar veteran and Belardi general manager and technical director who engineered and called the race for Krohn's first run at an oval, winning at the Milwaukee Mile in Star Mazda in 2009. Krohn will be surrounded by familiar faces as Mike Reggio his engineer from Star Mazda (2010) and Chuck Lessick, his chief mechanic from his championship season in the F2000 Championship Series have also joined the team.
"It is an absolute honor to be part of Belardi Auto Racing as they step into Firestone Indy Lights," Krohn said. "I know what these guys are capable of having already worked and established relationships with several guys on the team. To me, it's not like I'm coming into a new team. Brian Belardi has put a lot of faith in me, and I intend to repay that faith with results.
"Beyond the team, I am fortunate enough to have several long-term partners join me for yet another season of adventures. Trallfa will enter their sixth season as a partner of mine, and Logi Trans/Offshore Express is starting their second. PM International Suppliers also joins me this year in what promises to be an exciting partnership. Right now, I feel like the most fortunate person in the world."
2. Veach looking forward to future with Andretti team:On Dec. 14, Zach Veach will face a task more daunting than racing in the Cooper Tires presents the USF2000 National Championship powered by Mazda.
The high school sophomore and race car driver, who turned 16 on Dec. 9, will take his Ohio driving test after successfully completing a driver's education course. To Veach, parallel parking is a lot scarier than driving a race car at speeds up to 150 mph.
"I'd rather be driving on a racetrack than the street," said Veach, whose driver's ed classes included 50 hours of road time in addition to classroom instruction. "Ninety percent of time on the track, the cars are going in same direction as you. On the racetrack you know what everyone is going to do. On the street, the cars handle differently. The brakes are a lot softer. You don't know what the person next to you may be doing. They may be texting, or someone could pull out in front of you. You have to give 110 percent attention to what's going on around you."
One thing Veach is certain of is his immediate racing future.
He'll return to Andretti Autosport in 2011 to race for the USF2000 national championship. Veach finished fifth overall in the 2010 USF2000 driver championship points, despite starting the season two races behind the rest of the field.
Veach, who scored a career-best finish of second at Road Atlanta, had eight top-five finishes throughout the season, helping Andretti Autosport clinch the team championship title.
"I can't tell you what an honor it is to be with Andretti Autosport again," he said. "It's one of the best teams out here and I'm looking forward to working with crew guys and Michael (Andretti) again. I learned a lot last year and learned a lot about driving, and this year it's my goal to go for the championship."
Veach will drive the No. 7 Team Zakosi Data Backup car for the full USF2000 schedule as well as the Cooper Tires Winterfest, a special five-race series in Florida organized by the USF2000 series.
"It's confidence-building to know I have the car that has the potential to win races and the championship," he said. "If I do my part and work hard, I know I have the ability to get to the winner's circle."
For now the focus is attaining his driver's license, which would cap an already highlight-filled year for Veach, who started a teen safe driving campaign, met with Oprah Winfrey and plans to release a book, "99 Things Teens Wish They knew Before Turning 16," in early 2011.
"It was definitely a tough year and a learning year," he said. "I was able to drive my first real season in a race car, and even though we had some ups and downs we had a lot of top-five finishes. Hopefully we can make those podium finishes this year. We got Oprah's No Phone Zone and Focus Driven's message out to people and brought them awareness and more and more people are learning how dangerous it is to text. It was a lot of hard work in 2010, and driver's ed was definitely a change in process for me, but the instructors said I was one of the smoothest drivers they ever had, and that's a compliment I'll definitely take."
3. Franchitti earns BRDC awards: A day after receiving the Autosport Award for British Competition Driver of the Year, Dario Franchitti was presented a "special" Gold Star during the annual British Racing Drivers' Club awards event in London.
BRDC vice president Sir Jackie Stewart presented the award to Franchitti, who earned his second consecutive IZOD IndyCar Series championship and second Indianapolis 500 victory this year. Franchitti also was presented the Earl Howe Trophy, which goes to the highest-placing British driver in the Indy 500 or to the British driver who "has established the most meritorious performance of the year in North America."