HINCHCLIFFE PACES FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS OPEN TEST AT BARBER BIRMINGHAM, Ala., Friday, Feb. 26, 2010 - Four drivers who competed for the full season in Firestone Indy Lights last year have been projected to contend for the 2010 championship....
HINCHCLIFFE PACES FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS OPEN TEST AT BARBER
BIRMINGHAM, Ala., Friday, Feb. 26, 2010 - Four drivers who competed for the full season in Firestone Indy Lights last year have been projected to contend for the 2010 championship. During the series' only preseason Open Test. - they stood 1-4 on the time chart.
James Hinchcliffe, driving for Team Moore Racing, posted a quick lap of 1 minute, 14.9714 seconds to pace the 13 drivers participating in the test Barber Motorsports Park - a month before the opener on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla.
"It was a great day for us on the No. 2 car," Hinchcliffe said. "I'm really happy, especially coming into a new team with new people. We are all working well together right off the bat and that translated into the speed we showed on the track. Everyone at Team Moore Racing deserves a huge pat on the back because there have been some long hours getting everything ready in time for this test. I'm happy that the hard work paid off."
Martin Plowman in the No. 27 AFS Racing/Andretti Autosport car was second-quick at 1:15.1319, while teammate Charlie Kimball was third at 1:15.1715. Sebastian Saavedra, who finished third in the 2009 series standings, was fourth with a best lap of 1:15.3817 in the No. 29 Bryan Herta Autosport car. All four are with new teams this season.
"I was pretty happy with today," Plowman said. "I'm never going to be truly happy unless I am P1 or on pole, but it was a solid day. We got a lot done with our testing program. We started off the day strong with a good base car and fine-tuned it the rest of the day. I don't think we showed a true potential today, but we did some long runs in the afternoon that leaves me very optimistic for when we come back."
The top seven were separated by only 0.6326 of a second. Veteran racer Jan Heylen made his debut in the No. 17 Team E entry and was fifth quick (1:15.5407). Stefan Wilson, who competed in six races in 2009, was sixth (1:15.5912) in the No. 28 Bryan Herta Autosport entry.
Another newcomer to the series, Frenchman J.K. Vernay, was seventh (1:15.6040) in the No. 7 Sam Schmidt Motorsports car.
Fourteen drivers participated in the test with rookie Adrian Campos having the only major incident during the 1,074 laps recorded. Campos was uninjured. Drivers/teams return to the scenic facility in early April for their second of three in a row races on road/street circuits to kick off the season.
DAY 1 NOTEBOOK:
Charlie Kimball's car sported a new paint scheme featuring his sponsorship from Novo Nordisk, a world leader in diabetes care. Kimball will drive the No. 26 Levemir® FlexPen® car for AFS Racing/Andretti Autosport in Firestone Indy Lights.
"This is a big year for me and expectations are high," Kimball said. "I am fortunate to not only be part of one of the top teams in all of racing at AFS Racing/Andretti Autosport, but to have the support of Novo Nordisk, one of the world's leading healthcare companies that is committed to helping me live my dream."
Kimball, 25, is the only licensed racer with type 1 diabetes in the history of the Indy Racing League. Diagnosed in 2007, he monitors his blood sugar before, during and after each race, and uses Novo Nordisk insulin Levemir® (insulin detemir [rDNA origin] injection) and NovoLog® (insulin aspart [rDNA origin] injection). The partnership with Novo Nordisk includes primary sponsorship of Kimball's race car, racing suit and helmet. Kimball also will make appearances on behalf of Novo Nordisk throughout 2010.
"Charlie Kimball is the perfect example of how people living with diabetes can successfully manage their disease without letting it get in the way of their dreams," said Camille Lee, Vice President of Diabetes Marketing at Novo Nordisk. "We are proud of our association with Charlie and we look forward to a successful year on and off the track in 2010."
Ana Beatriz, the first female to win a Firestone Indy Lights race, is slated to become the latest driver to graduate from Firestone Indy Lights to the IZOD IndyCar Series.
Beatriz, the first female to win a Firestone Indy Lights race, will compete with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing in the season opener March 14 on the streets of the most-populated city in South America.
"We are excited about going to Brazil for the first time with the IZOD IndyCar Series and putting Ana Beatriz in our car at Brazil adds another dimension to our program," team co-owner Dennis Reinbold said. "We are happy to have her on board for the Brazil race."
Beatriz finished third in 2008 in the Firestone Indy Lights standings for Sam Schmidt Motorsports with one win (at Nashville Superspeedway), nine top-five finishes and 11 top-10 finishes. In '09, she won at Iowa Speedway in the No. 20 Healthy Choice/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car among seven top-10 finishes in 13 races.
"It's great to be with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing for the Brazil IZOD IndyCar Series race," she said. "Hopefully we can get the rest together for the whole season. I think the team is very professional and I have great teammates with Mike Conway and Justin Wilson. I hope that I can learn a lot from these British drivers.
"This is very special for me doing my debut race at my home event. It's also very special to be the first female Brazilian race car driver to race there and it will be a great experience."
The 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series season begins March 14 with the Sao Paulo Indy 300 on the streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 11:30 a.m. (EDT) by VERSUS. 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 opens with the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg March 28 on the streets of St. Petersburg. The race will air live on indycar.com.