Today's IZOD IndyCar Series, Firestone Indy Lights and Mazda Road to Indy headlines:
1. IZOD IndyCar Series to feature new rules for 2012
2. Busy days ahead for Pagenaud
3. Cape cars cover field at Sebring round of Cooper Tires Winter Fest
4. Freiberg joins Star Mazda with JDC Motorsports
1. IZOD IndyCar Series to feature new rules for 2012: Sporting and technical regulations that comprise the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series rulebook were distributed electronically to teams today by INDYCAR.
INDYCAR President of Competition and IZOD IndyCar Series Race Director Beaux Barfield said the goal was to re-format the 2012 rulebook for ease of use in conjunction with the debut of the Dallara DW12 chassis and participation by three engine manufacturers.
"A rulebook is written to protect the rights of its competitors and empower the officials," said Barfield, who joined INDYCAR in January after several years as Race Director of the American Le Mans Series. "It's that balance you're trying to strike when you're writing rules, and it's very important in generating the product we long for on-track. I'm confident that we've created the proper balance with this rulebook moving forward this season."
• An instant messaging system during events between Race Control and officials, individual entrants or the entire field to communicate track conditions, warnings, penalties or other information. Team managers also will be able to directly contact Race Control. The system will complement radio communication.
• Standard INDYCAR tech bodywork parts must be able to fit a team's car during technical inspection.
• A minimum of two Track Condition Radio steering wheel lights are standard. They will act in unison with dash lights and complement audio and trackside visual caution warning systems.
• Manufacturer points will be awarded on a race-by-race basis and added throughout the season to crown a Manufacturer Champion between Chevrolet, Honda and Lotus. The highest-finishing engine manufacturer earns 9 points; the second highest-placing manufacturer earns 6 points and the third-highest manufacturer receives 4 points.
• An oval Open Test has been added March 13 at Texas Motor Speedway to complement the private test Feb. 19-21 at the 1.5-mile oval and supplement the March 5-6 and March 8-9 Open Test at Sebring International Raceway.
Barfield said his intent was to review instead of rewrite. He will take notes throughout the season for points of discussion relating to the 2013 rulebook.
"For me, it's important that certain rules make sense for my style, but be careful to not cut out too many elements that have value," Barfield said. "There's a lot of heritage to these rules that you want to preserve and make sure you don't create any pitfalls by getting rid of items. At the conclusion of the 2012 season, this rulebook will be the base and we'll start immediately on 2013."
INDYCAR Vice President of Technology Will Phillips and the technical officiating group have been reviewing regulations since autumn with 2012 and beyond in mind as multiple aerodynamic bodywork kits will be introduced for 2013. INDYCAR also has added engine support engineers to aid Director of Engine Development Trevor Knowles and police the Chevrolet, Honda and Lotus programs.
The comprehensive technical inspection process, which measures, weighs and checks more than 100 items of the car, now will include matching INDYCAR standard car parts to an entrant's car.
"Our goal is to ensure as quickly as possible that everybody is following the letter of the law and the intention," Phillips said. "INDYCAR officials started with a clean sheet when developing the 2012 technical regulations, and through the diligent enforcement of the rules we can help maintain an environment of safety and fair competition that benefits the participants and fans."
2. Busy days ahead for Pagenaud: Simon Pagenaud and his engineer with Sam Schmidt Motorsports, Ben Bretzman, have been almost inseparable the past few weeks as they process, plan and prepare for the season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 25.
"We just had another deep conversation about the car; it's something we talk about every day," said Pagenaud, who will take the No. 77 Honda-powered Dallara DW12 out for a test drive Feb. 20-21 at Barber Motorsports Park (where last April he competed in his first of three IZOD IndyCar Series races). "It's a very interesting time right now because the car is very interesting and different from the old car driving-wise and setup-wise. It's just a matter of the group needing to have a certain chemistry to be ready for St. Pete. We're in the right direction.
"I'm happy with the car to be honest already."
To a degree, so is Bretzman, a veteran of open-wheel and sports car racing who joined the Schmidt organization in July. He and Pagenaud worked together at Highcroft Racing in 2010, when Pagenaud co-drove the American Le Mans Series championship-winning car.
"If you read the Internet, the first couple of months the car came out everyone was down on it and worried about speed," he said. "It's just been so long since people had new car. There are a lot of people in IndyCar that never had a new car. So it's getting used to learning about a new car and what it takes to get up to speed. It will be learning all year; the fundamentals of this car are much different than the old car. Every time you get on the racetrack it will be something new.
"Between the three engine manufacturers and the competition it will be a clean slate. The competition is so high in IndyCar right now. With an equal playing field of cars now and the manufacturers it will be interesting to see where it goes. I think you'll see multiple teams win this year."
Scheduled to join Pagenaud at the 2.38-mile Barber road course that features 80 feet of elevation change will be Mike Conway of A.J. Foyt Racing, Takuma Sato of Rahal Letterman Lanigan, Alex Tagliani of Bryan Herta Autosport, Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti of Target Chip Ganassi Racing, Graham Rahal of Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing, Charlie Kimball of Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing and Justin Wilson of Dale Coyne Racing. James Jakes will also be testing with Dale Coyne Racing.
On Feb. 23-24, Pagenaud, Tagliani, Sato and the four Chip Ganassi Racing drivers will be joined at Sebring International by Lotus Dreyer & Reinbold Racing's Oriol Servia.
Additionally, Alex Tagliani (Feb. 19-21), Tony Kanaan (Feb. 21) and the Team Penske trio of Ryan Briscoe, Helio Castroneves and Will Power (Feb. 21) will test at Texas Motor Speedway. JR Hildebrand will be at Phoenix International Raceway on Feb. 22. Feb. 25 is the homologation deadline - when Chevrolet, Honda and Lotus must submit final specifications to INDYCAR for their 2.2-liter, turbocharged V-6 engines.
"It's a big gain for us for Simon to have driven car already (in mid-January at Sebring), to hear what he thinks of the car," Bretzman said. "It will be a very busy week on track for four or five days straight in two different states. At Barber, our focus is much more on permanent road courses (Barber, Mid-Ohio and Infineon). That's a lot more grip racetrack, a faster racetrack so we focus on those situations. Sebring is a pure street course and we have seven or eight of them on the schedule so that's why everyone is living in Sebring right now.
"The setup of the car and the mentality of the car changes between the two, so there's a lot to learn and figure out where we should take it."
3. Cape cars cover field at Sebring round of Cooper Tires Winter Fest: Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing drivers Spencer Pigot and Matthew Brabham each brought home a race win as the Cooper Tires Winter Fest concluded a two-day race meeting at Sebring International Raceway.
Pigot, who claimed Race #1 on Feb. 6, held off the hard-charging Brabham in damp conditions to win the first of two races on Feb. 7.
Pigot, who finished second to Petri Suvanto in the 2011 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda season, took the lead from pole sitter and teammate Trent Hindman on the opening lap and built a three-second advantage.
Brabham got past Hindman and began to close on Pigot, who held on by .079 of a second. Hindman finished third to sweep the podium for the Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing squad.
Brabham, by virtue of his fast lap in Race 2, started on pole in Race 3 and led flag to flag. Pigot, who started third, was able to pass Hindman again, but couldn't challenge Brabham for his third win.
Hindman finished third for the third-straight race with Matthew DiLeo and Thomas McGrgor rounding out the top five.
The Cooper Tires Winter Fest concludes with three-races on Feb. 11-12 at Palm Beach International Raceway.
4. Freiberg joins Star Mazda with JDC Motorsports: JDC MotorSports will add American Ashley Freiberg to its driver line-up for the 2012 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear season. Seeking to repeat as series champion, the Minnesota-based squad will have the talented rookie behind the wheel in the Mazda Road to Indy series via the newly created TrueCar, Inc. "Women Empowered Initiative."
The former Skip Barber Racing champion, who has four Star Mazda races on her resume, including a top-five finish in 2010 at the Autobahn Country Club, will contest the entire upcoming 18-race campaign, partnering with fellow up-and-comer Juan Piedrahita under the JDC awning.
"We are really excited about working with Ashley during the 2012 season," stated JDC MotorSports team principal John Church. "The opportunity to work with Ashley and TrueCar is a real honor, and we look forward to a great season."
"It's hard to express how excited I am for this opportunity that TrueCar has given me," Freiberg said. "I have an awesome team around me, with TrueCar, JDC, Burke Harrison, and Mike Zimicki. I am thrilled for the chance to work and learn with all of them this season. The only way to describe all of this coming together is like a 'dream come true'. Let's go racing!"
The 2012 season is just the latest step on Freiberg's on-going quest to reach the top echelon of motorsports. The Illinois native, who currently resides in Vermont, first made her mark in the karting ranks, winning multiple races and championships. In 2007, she made the transition to car competition in Skip Barber.
Freiberg made history in 2010, becoming the first female to win both a Skip Barber National race and championships, capturing two Barber Series titles via a 25-win season. Thanks to this success, she was selected as one of six female racers in 2011 for the inaugural TrueCar 'Women Empowered Initiative," a multi-year commitment to support rising female racers in several series.