Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines: 1. IndyCar Series drivers welcome off week 2. Festa grows in, out of race car: 1. IndyCar Series drivers welcome off week: After winning three-straight IndyCar Series races in the last three...
Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines:
1. IndyCar Series drivers welcome off week
2. Festa grows in, out of race car:
1. IndyCar Series drivers welcome off week: After winning three-straight IndyCar Series races in the last three weeks, the last person you'd expect to want an off week is Scott Dixon.
But the 2003 IndyCar Series champion welcomes the time off, not only for him, but his entire Target Chip Ganassi Racing crew.
"Personally, I think it's nice," said Dixon, who has chopped 41 points off of Dario Franchitti's point lead in the last three weeks. "We've had five in a row, and it's been tough. We're almost like the NASCAR circuit racing every week. I hope that we can maintain the success that we've had. It will give the mechanics some time off. For all of us, it's a weekend that we're looking forward to."
The steady schedule of racing and appearances have some drivers away from home for most of July. Some drivers planned vacations or time with their families, while others just looked forward to being at home. Helio Castroneves said he planned to spend time with his family in his adopted hometown of Miami. He also hoped to mix in some time at the beach.
Vision Racing's Tomas Scheckter planned to stay in Indianapolis, but away from the activity at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
"I tell you what, this year, it's been tough for everybody, for the guys, all of these weekends in a row, and I think certainly everybody is just going to get away," he said. "I'll probably jump in the lake, do some wakeboarding. Just relax, get all batteries recharged."
2. Festa grows in, out of race car: The results may not show on the racetrack, but in the long run this may be one of most important seasons in Chris Festa's career.
The 21-year-old Atlanta native is in his third season in the Indy Pro Series, but in his first season with Target Chip Ganassi Racing, a team that fields cars in the IndyCar Series, Indy Pro Series and Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series.
Every time Festa drops by the 79,000-square foot race shop on the west side of Indianapolis, he has the opportunity to learn from professionals with hundreds of years of cumulative experience.
"One of the best things about being with Ganassi is they have so many tiers: IndyCar Series, Indy Pro Series, Grand Am Series," said Festa, who has a pole and two second-place finishes this season. "They have tons of different information in the building. I can learn from people like (Grand-Am driver) Scott Pruett, he's been racing for almost 30 years. For somebody like me, that's a great place to be to be able to learn from people like him and (IndyCar Series champions) Scott Dixon and Dan Wheldon on their experience to help me develop as a driver."
Festa also has the opportunity to interact with Dixon and Wheldon every race weekend, and he spent time in the spotter's stand for the two at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during May. Perhaps most critical to his own development as a driver, Festa has been able to test the IndyCar Series car as part of the bonus testing program for teams that participate in both the IndyCar Series and the Indy Pro Series. The team tested at Milwaukee and Richmond in June and Kentucky Speedway on July 26.
"It's been huge to be able to work with those guys," Festa said. "The Richmond bonus test that we did back there in June, Scott came as well, even though we were testing with Dan's car. And Dan went down to Turns 1 and 2, and Scott went down to Turns 3 and 4, and I had to do a run out and come back in and give my feedback to the engineers. Scott and Dan would come in and talk about some of what you're feeling is affected by your line; hold it down a little lower coming out and a lot of that problem will go away and you'll be able to go much faster.
"The IndyCar Series car is quite different and less forgiving than the Indy Pro Series car is. There's so much more downforce, and the speed is higher that small mistakes are so much bigger on the IndyCar than the Indy Pro Series car. It taught me about how much more precise you have to be to succeed at the IndyCar level."
While preparing for a future in the IndyCar Series, Festa still has work to do in the final four races in the Indy Pro Series in 2007.
"Right now my main focus is on winning the remaining four races," Festa said. "We are working really hard to get that done. Right now as far as the future is concerned, that's why I have my manager; he worries about that, and I worry about racing."
The next IndyCar Series event is the Firestone Indy 400 at Noon on Aug. 5 at Michigan International Speedway. The race will be televised live by ESPN2 and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network. The next Indy Pro Series event is the Kentucky 100 on Aug.11 at Kentucky Speedway. The race will be broadcast at 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 16. ESPN2's coverage of the Mid-Ohio 100 will be televised by ESPN2 at 5:30 p.m. on July 26.