Series news and notes 2011-04-05

IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines

Today's IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines:
1. Hinchcliffe to contest North American races for Newman/Haas Racing
2. VERSUS' coverage of Firestone Indy Lights begins at Barber Motorsports Park
3. Road/Street Course Qualifying altered for Barber, beyond

Carl Haas, 2008
Carl Haas, 2008

Photo by: Todd Corzett

1. Hinchcliffe to contest North American races for Newman/Haas Racing: Newman/Haas Racing will expand to two cars for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by Legacy this weekend as James Hinchcliffe will drive the No. 06 car.

Even better for the 2010 Firestone Indy Lights championship runner-up is he'll compete in all North American events on the IZOD IndyCar Series calendar, including the Honda Indy Toronto in his hometown.

"Finally making my IndyCar debut really is a dream come true and the end of a 15-year journey getting me to this point," said Hinchcliffe, 24.

Hinchcliffe recorded victories at Long Beach, Edmonton and Chicagoland last season with Team Moore Racing. In total, he earned eight podium finishes in 13 races. Hinchcliffe progressed through the ranks of F2000 (2003), Formula BMW (2004), Star Mazda (2005), and Atlantic Series (2006-2008) before joining Firestone Indy Lights in 2009.

Hinchcliffe completed four days of testing in Sebring, Fla. in December and January and two days at Barber Motorsports Park in March. He'll be teamed with Oriol Servia, driver of the No. 2 Telemundo entry.

"I used to think that driving for Newman/Haas Racing at some point in my career would be amazing, but to get to do it in my rookie season is beyond words," Hinchcliffe said. "I am only the third true rookie to drive for the team and I think that says a lot about the relationship we have forged over the last few months. It was tough to miss Round 1, but getting to debut in Barber makes me feel really comfortable since we have already tested there.

"As anxious as I am to get that first race under my belt, I am already looking forward to my first month of May and, of course, the races in Canada. I hope this is the first of many years for me at this level and I'm going to give everything I've got to make the Canadian fans proud."

Sprott Inc., a leading independent asset manager based in Toronto, will be the primary sponsor of Hinchcliffe's entry.

2. VERSUS' coverage of Firestone Indy Lights begins at Barber Motorsports Park: VERSUS' coverage of the 2011 Firestone Indy Lights season takes the green flag this weekend with the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama from Barber Motorsports Park on Sunday, April 10, at 1 p.m. ET.

VERSUS, the exclusive cable home for the IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights, will super-serve motorsports fans by covering eight Firestone Indy Lights races live, including the Firestone Freedom 100 on Carb Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May.

The IZOD IndyCar Series television window on VERSUS will expand to include the live broadcasts of Firestone Indy Lights events at Barber Motorsports Park, Streets of Long Beach, Iowa Speedway, Streets of Toronto, Edmonton City Centre Airport, Streets of Baltimore and Kentucky Speedway. The Firestone Indy Lights stand-alone event - the Grand Prix of Trois Rivieres on the Streets of Trois Rivieres, Canada - will be taped for air at a later date.

Kevin Lee will host the broadcast with Mike King as the lap-by-lap announcer and Willy T. Ribbs as lead analyst. Jake Query will serve as pit reporter for the telecasts.

King, the lead announcer for the IMS Radio Network since 1999, has been a member of the Firestone Indy Lights broadcast team since 2007. He served as a pit reporter for Firestone Indy Lights telecasts for the 2007-08 seasons and was the lap-by-lap announcer for the Firestone Indy Lights in 2009.

Road/Street Course qualifying times reduced"

In his nearly 25 years of professional auto racing, Ribbs has achieved many firsts, including being the first African American to qualify and compete in the Indianapolis 500 as well as Indy car. He has competed in NASCAR and is the only African American to test for a Formula 1 Grand Prix team.

Query, an Indianapolis native who has worked in local television and radio since 2001, is a veteran of the IMS Radio Network, calling IZOD IndyCar Series races since 2007.

Lee has covered IndyCar since 2001 as part of the IMS Radio Network and has served as a pit reporter for VERSUS' of IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights coverage since 2009. He also hosts a weekly motorsports show in Indianapolis.

3. Road/Street Course Qualifying altered for Barber: Segment 2 of IZOD IndyCar Series road/street course qualifications has been reduced from 15 to 10 minutes, pursuant to a bulletin the sanctioning body sent to teams.

The alteration will take effect April 9 at Barber Motorsports Park during the three rounds of qualifying for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by Legacy. The segment winnows the 12 cars that advanced from Groups 1 and 2 in the first segment to six -- based on quickest lap time -- to compete in the Firestone Fast Six that determines the PEAK Performance Pole Award winner and sets the first three rows for the race.

"It's a combination of the new rule that allows one set of tires, either primaries or alternates, per segment and the 12 cars in Segment 2 that have clearly demonstrated the ability to be quick so they don't need the 15 minutes," said Brian Barnhart, president of competition and operations for INDYCAR.

A breakdown of each segment:

Segment 1

All cars shall participate in one of the two groups for 15 minutes per group inclusive of full-course yellow conditions, with six cars posting best lap times from each group advancing to Segment 2.

Barber Motorsports Park
Barber Motorsports Park

Cars not advancing to Segment 2 will fill positions 13 through the end of the starting field to be ranked in order of best lap time as follows: Group 1 shall occupy the odd-numbered positions beginning with 13 and Group 2 will occupy the even-numbered positions beginning with 14.

Note: Cars are randomly assigned to Group 1 or 2 earlier in the day.

Segment 2

Shall consist of one 10-minute, 12-car qualifying group inclusive of full-course yellow conditions, with all times from Segment 1 having been voided. Six cars posting best lap times advance to Segment 3 (the Firestone Fast Six). Cars not advancing to Segment 3 will fill positions 7-12 to be ranked in order of time.

Segment 3 (Firestone Fast Six)

Consists of one 10-minute, six-car qualifying group, of which five minutes is guaranteed green condition time, with all times from Segment 2 voided. Session shall begin 10 minutes after checkered flag of Segment 2. Firestone Fast Six shall determine the PEAK Pole Award winner and the cars starting 2-6 on the grid based on fastest lap time.

*

The 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series continues with the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama on April 10 at Barber Motorsports Park. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 3 p.m. (ET) by VERSUS. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 212 and www.indycar.com. The 2011 Firestone Indy Lights season continues April 10 at Barber Motorsports Park with the Barber 100. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at Noon. (ET) by VERSUS.

-source: indycar

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Series INDYCAR
Tags barber, birmingham, haas racing, hinchliffe, izod