Today's IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines: 1. Drivers prepared for demands of Infineon 2. Hometown hero Hildebrand supports the home team 3. Business-related sponsor for No. 78 entry 4. Winning weekend for SSM drivers 5. Of Note
1. Drivers prepared for demands of Infineon: Infineon Raceway, which plays host to the seventh Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma this weekend, features more than 160 feet of elevation change -- from the highest point at Turn 3a of 174 feet to the lowest point at Turn 10 of 14 feet - on its 2.303-mile circuit.
Combined with fast, sweeping corners, that's quite a load of the body.
"We experience the biggest elevation changes there than anywhere else on the IndyCar calendar," said Alex Tagliani, driver of the No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins car for Sam Schmidt Motorsports. "There's the big climb in Turn 1 with lots of compression. It's one of those tracks where you really feel the grip and what a downforce car can do on a track that really allows the car to perform at its maximum potential.
"If you have any doubt on what an IndyCar can do, just go see them go through Turn 1 at Sonoma and you'll understand what I'm talking about. It's a track with fast corners that allows you to take the IndyCar to another level."
2. Hometown hero Hildebrand supports the home team: Sausalito, Calif., native JR Hildebrand will wear orange driving gloves with SF imprints this weekend in a show of support for his favorite major league team, the San Francisco Giants.
The National Guard Panther Racing driver has controlled the Sunoco Rookie of the Year race since the beginning of the season, but James Hinchcliffe has closed the gap in recent races. Hildebrand, a former winner at Infineon Raceway in Firestone Indy Lights, leads Hinchcliffe - driver of the4 No. 06 Sprott Newman/Haas Racing car -- by 17 points.
3. Business-related sponsor for No. 78 entry: AREVA will be a sponsor of the No. 78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy/HVM Racing car driven by Simona de Silvestro for the inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix on Sept. 2-4.
"As the global leader in clean energy production, AREVA understands the importance of raising awareness about the benefits of nuclear energy," CEO Jacques Besnainou said. "Partnering with Simona and the Nuclear Clean Air Energy team offers us a unique way to talk about our energy challenges and nuclear energy as safe, reliable and clean electricity that is powering one of five American households.
"This partnership is also a way to promote science, math, engineering and technology education for our children - important skills for the future AREVA employees that will help design and build the next generation of energy facilities."
4. Winning weekend for SSM drivers: Firestone Indy Lights front-runner Esteban Guerrieri took advantage of an off weekend in Firestone Indy Lights to race in one of Argentina's biggest racing events and came away victorious.
The Sam Schmidt Motorsports driver teamed with Mariano Werner to win the Buenos Aires 200km endurance event. It was Guerrieri's first win in his home country in more than 10 years. His last win in Argentina came when he raced in Formula Renault in 2000.
"It was a perfect weekend," Guerrieri said. "On Friday, when I tested the car, I felt that everything was fine and we showed it today. "It really was a dream weekend, I am very happy and grateful to the TTA, Mariano for inviting me to share this race together. I enjoy this team and their work environment. Today we had a great race."
Guerrieri will return to the seat of the No. 7 Lucas Oil car for Sam Schmidt Motorsports for the inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix on Sept. 2.
Another Sam Schmidt Motorsports driver also found his way to victory lane over the weekend. Bryan Clauson, who shares the No. 77 Mazda Road to Indy/SSM car with Conor Daly,led all but two laps to claim the Aug. 21 CornFest 30, the USAC National Midget series event at Angell Park in Sun Prairie, Wis.
It was the second win in as many nights for Clauson, who won the POWRi POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series event at Lincoln, Ill., on Aug. 20.
Clauson, who will return to Firestone Indy Lights for oval events at Kentucky Speedway and Las Vegas is October, cut Darren Hagan's Midget point lead to 10. He still leads the USAC National Drivers Championship point standings.
The winner of the USAC National Drivers point championship will earn a scholarship to compete in Firestone Indy Lights in 2012.
5. Of note: IndyCar race engineer Scott Raymond has joined the Motorsports Engineering Program at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) as a faculty member. The B.S. in Motorsports Engineering degree program began in 2008 at the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI. For information, visit: www.engr.iupui.edu/motorsports/. … Al Unser Jr. will throw the ceremonial first pitch at Cashman Field in Las Vegas tonight before the 51s' game. … Tony Kanaan has the best average finish of the five drivers who have competed in all six races at Infineon Raceway at 5.67 (1st in 2005, 11th in 2006, 4th in 2007, 3rd in 2008, 8th in 2009, 7th in 2010). ... Chris Nodine, a member of the Holmatro Safety Team, has been recognized with Frank D. Gilbert Jr Paramedic of the Year for Indiana.
The next IZOD IndyCar Series event is the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma on Aug. 28 at Infineon Raceway. The race will be televised live at 4 p.m. (ET) by VERSUS and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network. The next Firestone Indy Lights race is Baltimore 100 on Sept. 4 at the Streets of Baltimore. The race will be televised live at Noon (ET) by VERSUS.