Series news and notes

Today's IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines: 1. Long Beach race draws VERSUS' most viewers 2. Rookies prepare for first oval with test at Kansas 3. Charity benefits from Hinchcliffe's win 4. Fans can help ...

Today's IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines:
1. Long Beach race draws VERSUS' most viewers
2. Rookies prepare for first oval with test at Kansas
3. Charity benefits from Hinchcliffe's win
4. Fans can help Miller race in Firestone Freedom 100

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1. Long Beach race draws VERSUS' most viewers: VERSUS' coverage of the IZOD IndyCar Series's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 18 earned a .5 national household rating, according Nielsen Media Research, making it the network's highest-rated and most-watched race.

The race, won by Andretti Autosport's Ryan Hunter-Reay, averaged 490,000 viewers during its 3-6 p.m. (EDT) window and peaked with .6 HH rating and 525,000 viewers.

VERSUS' first three races of the 2010 season, as compared to the same number of live events last season, have grown 67 percent in household ratings (.5 vs..3) and 30 percent in average viewers (404,000 vs. 310,000).

Additionally, viewership among all key male demographics is also showing substantial growth: Men 18-34 (up 104 percent), Men 18-49 (up 38 percent) and Men 25-54 (up 60 percent).

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2. Rookies prepare for first oval with test at Kansas: Simona De Silvestro has four IZOD IndyCar Series road/street course races under her helmet. Now it's time to tackle the equally challenging set of diverse ovals.

De Silvestro, Takuma Sato of KV Racing Technology and Mario Romancini and Bertrand Baguette of Conquest Racing will participate in rookie testing April 23 at Kansas Speedway. The 1.5-mile oval will host the first IZOD IndyCar Series oval race of the season May 1.

Twenty-seven cars are entered in the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 (1:30 p.m. ET, ABC).

John Andretti, driving the No. 43 Team Window World entry for Richard Petty/Andretti Autosport, will be one. He'll participate in a refresher day at Kansas Speedway on April 22. Joining him on the track will be KV Racing Technology's E.J. Viso and Mario Moraes, and Dan Wheldon in the National Guard Panther Racing car.

On April 21, Jay Howard of Sarah Fisher Racing, Luczo Dragon Racing/de Ferran Motorsports' Raphael Matos, plus Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe of Team Penske will get in laps. The three days of testing are closed to spectators.

De Silvestro, driving the No. 78 Team Stargate Worlds/HVM Racing car, already has led laps this season (Brazil), has run in the top 10 consistently and - given a little more luck - would have finished in the top 10. The 21-year-old Switzerland native is looking forward to her first oval experience.

"I am constantly learning and will use that knowledge as I compete in many other races," she said.

IZOD IndyCar Series technical director Kevin Blanch and veteran IZOD IndyCar Series driver Ed Carpenter will observe the rookies, who will have a list of items to practice.

"You want to see if they're reasonable in their speed and consistent with their line," Blanch said. "What I always tell them is that I'm not interested in how fast you go necessarily; you just need to be consistent. Whatever you do, do it every time.

"The first three-fourths of the day they need to go out and learn to be consistent. Get back up to speed where you just left off. If you were running 205s, and you came in and the team made a change, you need to go back out and run 205. Work on pit stops. Work on entering pit lane the right way and getting back on the racetrack the right way.

"Toward the end of day they need to be somewhere near where the (other veteran drivers) have been running. There's no pressure. It's not real intense. We want them to get familiar with the car, so when we come back and there are 26 others out there with them they're not worried about moving the roll bars or the pit speed rev limiter. They've been down that road so it's really just about them and the racetrack."

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3. Charity benefits from Hinchcliffe's win: Firestone Indy Lights driver James Hinchcliffe took home the trophy for winning the Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 18, but a even bigger winner may be the Waldenstroms Macroglobulinemia Foundation of Canada.

Hinchcliffe is again donating five dollars for every lap he leads throughout his entire 2010 season. By leading all 45 laps at Long Beach, he raised $225 for the charity.

"It's great that the Waldenstroms Macroglobulinemia Foundation of Canada can benefit from my winat Long Beach," said Hinchcliffe, who led 20 laps in 2009. "Waldenstroms Macroglobulinemia (WM) is a very rare blood cancer that my grandfather passed away from more 10 years ago. Being such a rare condition it doesn't get a ton of attention and I have always wanted to do something to help the foundation raise money to find new treatments.

"For me, it was only ever the last lap that was important but now every other lap out front will mean something for everyone with WM. I wanted to do this, to give something to the Foundation and if anyone else ends up making a donation as a result, no matter how big or small, that would just be an incredible bonus."

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4. Fans can help Miller race in Firestone Freedom 100: Finding sponsorship to compete in the top echelon of open-wheel racing has always been a barrier for talented race drivers. Joel Miller is one such driver.

After enjoying success in all the lower formula, Miller spent most of the off season pounding the pavement of the road to Indy to secure a ride in the Firestone Indy Lights race at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Now, Miller is taking his case to the fans.

Miller has launched the website www.jMillerIndy.com in hopes of raising enough funds to compete in the Firestone Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 28, 2010.

"Long Beach was a one-off effort, but I hope to turn it into more," said Miller, who finished 11th in his debut race in Firestone Indy Lights. "I'm hoping that the awesome open wheel fans in this country will visit jMillerIndy.com to find out more about me and how they can be a part of the American motorsports dream."

With a $10 donation, fans will receive a Joel Miller wristband, a weekly behind the scenes e-mail update from Miller and a chance to sign the car that will run at the Firestone Freedom 100. There will also be opportunities to meet Miller.

"Joel Miller is one of the hardest working drivers I've seen trying to raise funding for his dream," said Andersen Racing co-owner John Andersen, who has fielded cars for Miller in both Star Mazda and Firestone Indy Lights. "I think getting the word out about jMillerIndy.com can help him connect with a larger audience. Once you know his story, what's not to like about him?"

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The 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series season continues May 1 with the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 at Kansas Speedway. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 1:30 p.m. (ET) by ABC. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 211. The race also will be carried on www.indycar.com. The 2010 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with the Firestone Freedom 100 on May 28 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway The race will air live on VERSUS.

-source: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Takuma Sato , John Andretti , Sarah Fisher , Helio Castroneves , Dan Wheldon , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Bertrand Baguette , Jay Howard , James Hinchcliffe , Mario Moraes , Mario Romancini , Joel Miller , Ed Carpenter
Teams Andretti Autosport , Panther Racing , Team Penske , KV Racing Technology , HVM Racing , Dragon Racing , Conquest Racing