INDYCAR SERIES NEWS AND NOTES -- March 28, 2007 Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines 1. If you missed it: Helio Castroneves and Stephen Simpson teleconference 2. Homestead-Miami opener draw ESPN's highest IndyCar Series rating 3.
INDYCAR SERIES NEWS AND NOTES -- March 28, 2007
Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines
1. If you missed it: Helio Castroneves and Stephen Simpson teleconference
2. Homestead-Miami opener draw ESPN's highest IndyCar Series rating
3. Camara's charge to front builds momentum
4. Giebler joins Playa Del Racing for St. Pete twin bill
5. Drivers featured in magazines
1. If you missed it: Helio Castroneves and Stephen Simpson teleconference: Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves and Indy Pro Series driver Stephen Simpson were guests on today's Indy Racing League teleconference Simpson, a rookie in the Indy Pro Series, the stepping stone to the IndyCar Series, was asked about his thoughts about his oval debut at Homestead-Miami Speedway and his thoughts on racing twice this weekend at St. Petersburg.
Q. Now, as I understand it, you've raced double header weekends before. The A1GP has a lot of doubleheader weekends. What do you like about that format, having two races in the same weekend?
STEPHEN SIMPSON: Yes, I really enjoy it. The more races the better from my point of view. And yeah, I think it's going to be good. It's a nice three day weekend, and I think it gives everybody a chance.
Obviously if you don't have a good race on Saturday, then you've got obviously a chance to improve on Sunday, and vice versa. If you don't have a good first race, you've always got another opportunity to improve on Sunday. So I really enjoy the double header weekend. It's obviously more time in the car, which is what I most enjoy.
Castroneves, who won last year's Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, was asked how becoming engaged will affect him as a driver.
Q. I remember a couple of years ago when Sam (Hornish Jr.) got ngaged and you were giving him a lot of grief over that. Is it payback time now?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: (Laughing) well, even though he changed quite a bit, he's still not in that direction. But I have to say one thing, all the guys that got married, they got a championship, so maybe it's a good direction that I'm doing right now.
2. Homestead-Miami opener draw ESPN's highest IndyCar Series rating: ESPN2's flag-to-flag coverage of the XM Radio Satellite Radio Indy 300 on March 24 at Homestead Miami Speedway earned a .7 rating according to Nielsen Media Research, making it the highest rated IndyCar Series race ever on ESPN2. The race was the fourth-highest IndyCar Series cable rating since 2000 and the highest cable rating since June 2005. This weekend, coverage of the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg moves to ESPN.
The first street race of the season presents a different challenge to the crew who will call the race. "From a technical standpoint, the tall buildings in St. Petersburg cast shadows on the race track and the cars are going from bright sunshine to shade then back to sunshine," said Marty Reid, who will call the April 1 race along with Scott Goodyear. "Our guys have to work really hard on shading the cameras, and our video guys make sure the picture doesn't suddenly go to black. The buildings also interfere with in-car radio systems so just like the race teams we have to make sure we have strong repeaters so we can hear all the way around the track."
ESPN's telecast of the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. (ET).
3. Camara's charge to front builds momentum: A fourth-place finish in the Miami 100 was not what Jaime Camara had envisioned heading into the weekend, but after a fuel-pressure problem during qualifying relegated him to the 24th starting position, salvaging a top-five in the season-opening Indy Pro Series race was satisfying.
"We had a good car since the first practice," said Camara, who ranked third and fourth in the Friday practice sessions.
The third-year veteran and three-time race winner hoped to kickoff 2007 with a victory in pursuit of a championship Camara's No. 11 osofresh car was first up in the qualifying line. After completing his two warm-up laps, the car slowed down as Camara took the green flag.
"I was not disappointed," the Brazilian said. "That happens in racing. You've got to be prepared for things like that and face it and get ready for the race.
"We just focused on the race. We went into the warmup with a good setup. We thought we could draft up to the front."
Indeed, Camara was second-quick during the final practice session before the race.
"I talked with (team co-owner) Michael Andretti and Tony (Kanaan) before the race about what I wanted to do, what I was thinking," Camara said. "They gave me some tips, and said I should do it. I stayed high on the track, and it worked really well."
Camara, who was black-flagged for jumping the start of last year's Miami 100, showed patience as 23 cars ahead of him wound their way out of Turn 4 and past the start/finish line to take the green flag. Once Camara reached the line, he wasted no time moving to the front. He moved up 10 positions on the first lap and another three spots on Lap 2. By Lap 4, he was in the top 10.
"I was sure that I would make it," Camara said. "I'm always very positive when things are going bad. I trust my team and my engineer. I was confident I could make it."
Camara made it to fifth on Lap 17 and up to fourth on Lap 46, one lap before a caution flag came out that would remain until the end of the race. The 20-position improvement was the biggest advance in Indy Pro Series history.
"Overall, I was satisfied with fourth because we started last," Camara said. "I really wanted the chance to fight for the win, because I know we had a car to win the race. I was disappointed the race had to end early due to the bad crash with Pablo (Perez).
"Now, we're focused on St. Pete and fighting for the win there. Two wins would be a perfect weekend."
4. Giebler joins Playa Del Racing for St. Pete twin bill: Indy Pro Series race winner Phil Giebler will drive the No. 12 Playa Del Racing/Ethos Fuel Reformulator machine at the Indy Pro Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg March 31-April 1. Giebler will relieve AJ Russell for the two St. Petersburg races. The decision was made by the PDR management to provide Russell, whose career has been exclusive to oval track racing, a chance to develop his road racing skills before being thrown into the highly competitive 25-car Indy Pro Series field.
"I would love to be in the car this weekend, but I understand why it's best for me to watch this race and learn from Phil and the experienced PDR crew," Russell said. "I'm going to make sure I help the team out in whatever way I can this weekend, and then I'm going to do my best to put the No.12 car in victory circle at the Indy race in May."
Giebler has made 11 Indy Pro Series starts in the last three seasons, including winning his series debut at Homestead in 2004. Last year, the 27-year-old made three starts, recording a third-place finish on the road course at Watkins Glen. He also has driven the United States entry in the A1 Grand Prix series, competed in Europe and has won numerous karting titles.
"Phil has been driving road courses since he was just 10 years old, and that's the kind of seasoned experience we're looking for at St. Pete," team co-owner Susan Schafer said. "I know Phil is going to give us our best chance at accomplishing our goals at PDR."
"I look forward to getting back into an Indy Pro Series car," Giebler said. "I know Playa Del Racing is going to give me a car that can take me to the front of the pack at St. Pete. I couldn't be happier with this opportunity."
PDR is looking to rebound in a big way from an early exit from last weekend's season opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
"Playa Del Racing didn't get off to the start we were hoping for last week at Homestead," team co-owner Gary Sallee said. "But we look to have a much better result this week on the streets of St. Petersburg. Phil will give us a chance to win, and that's exactly what we need at this juncture in the development of our team."
The Indy Pro Series will race on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. March 31 and April 1 in the first of four doubleheader weekends scheduled for 2007.
5. Drivers featured in magazines: Dreyer & Reinbold Racing driver Sarah Fisher will be featured in Indy Men's Magazine in the section "What I Drive" available on newsstands April 2.
She will be featured on "Indy Men's Magazine, The Show" on WNDY-23 in Indianapolis at 10:30 p.m. April 5.
Reigning IndyCar Series champion Sam Hornish Jr. is featured in the April issue of DUB Magazine, an automotive style publication. Hornish's collection includes a 2006 Acura RL, a 2005 GMC Sierra, a 2003 Chevrolet Silverado, a 1955 Chevrolet Del Ray, a 2007 Cadillac Escalade ESV, a 1977 Kenworth W900-A semi truck, and a 2006 Chevrolet Corvette Z-06 that he received for winning the 2006 Indianapolis 500.
Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves is featured in April's Florida International Magazine's "Power Players" issue. Each year, the magazine selects Floridians who are at the top of their game or making a difference in arenas as diverse as entertainment, business, philanthropy, media, sports, art, politics, fashion and many others to include in this issue.
The 2007 IndyCar Series season continues with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg at 2:30 p.m. (ET) on April 1. The race will be telecast live by ESPN and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network. A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPN Deportes. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio and www.indycar.com. The sixth season of Indy Pro Series competition continues with the Indy Pro Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg doubleheader on March 31 and April 1 on the Streets of St. Petersburg. The race will be telecast at 4:30 p.m. (EDT) on April 6 by ESPN2.