Series news and notes 2009-05-12

Today's IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines * Thinking Pink: Lloyd to launch "": * "Helio's Blue Plate Special" sells out quickly * Seven Firestone Indy Lights graduates qualify for Indianapolis 500 1....

Today's IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines
* Thinking Pink: Lloyd to launch "":
* "Helio's Blue Plate Special" sells out quickly
* Seven Firestone Indy Lights graduates qualify for Indianapolis 500

1. Thinking Pink: Lloyd to launch "": A Pink Lloyd cocktail, T-shirts and umbrellas. What's next, a summer tour as a Pink Floyd tribute band?

While Alex Lloyd does play guitar, the logical next step to the mushrooming attention of Lloyd's pink firesuit/helmet and No. 99 HER Chip Ganassi Racing/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car for the Indianapolis 500 is a Web site. Coming soon:

Lloyd's father, David, initially mentioned it and minutes later Brett Jacobson, CEO of primary sponsor HER Energy, texted Lloyd about the idea.

"It seems everybody was on the same page because it seems to be taking off," Lloyd said. "We thought we could get a Web site up and running and have a little fun with that during the month."

Lloyd, who will start in the middle of Row 4 in his second Indianapolis 500, quickly has gotten in the spirit of the promotion.

"On the first day wearing the pink I have to say I was a little self-conscious, but now it's gotten to the point where I'm just having fun with it and it's been getting so much attention," Lloyd said. "Even team members are calling me Pink now, so it is becoming sort of a routine. It was going to draw attention - a guy having a pink car - but I don't think we expected it to go this much.

"The car is going pretty fast as well. It's one thing when you get good press but struggling, but we're having a good month so far. We're just trying to make the most of everything and enjoying the bit of attention that's coming with it."

Lloyd, a development driver for Chip Ganassi Racing, started 19th in the 500-Mile Race last year in a partnership between the Ganassi group and Rahal Letterman Racing. This year, he's running with Sam Schmidt Motorsports, with whom he won the 2007 Firestone Indy Lights championship. Lloyd was the penultimate driver to make a qualifying attempt on Pole Day (five minutes before the close of the session), bumping Andretti Green Racing's Hideki Mutoh with a four-lap average of 222.622 mph.

"It was made even better because we struggled most of the day with the setup," Lloyd said. "We started Fast Friday being quick and I was confident we had a shot at getting in the top 11. But when we rolled out on Saturday morning the car just wasn't there and we spent a lot of time trying to get it right. But we couldn't quite get it to where we were happy. We threw on a whole different setup for that qualifying run, only having one set of tires we could afford to use, so we had to put it in line, take off some downforce and go."

That in the rearview mirrors, Lloyd will work on race setup this week. He's also looking beyond the Month of May.

"I'll wear pink for the rest of my career if it means I can get in a race car," he said. "We're working hard to make this more than a one-race deal as well. Hopefully, this can just be the start of Pink Lloyd."


2. "Helio's Blue Plate Special" sells out quickly: Apparently IndyCar Series fans had quite an appetite for "Helio's Blue Plate Special."

"Helio's Blue Plate Special," in which 300 frontstretch tickets for the Bombardier Learjet 550k on June 6 at Texas Motor Speedway were priced at $1, lasted all of 13 minutes Tuesday as fans gobbled up the bargain that was brought to them courtesy of IndyCar Series star Helio Castroneves.

The special, which began at 9 a.m. CT and limited to four tickets per customer, was only available by calling the TMS ticket office or by visiting in person.

"I know of 300 fans specifically that may give Helio a standing ovation when he comes through the stands during pre-race introductions for the Bombardier Learjet 550k," Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage said. "I was encouraged to hear that 45 percent of those fans who purchased tickets were new customers. It was a tremendous price point in this economy for potentially new fans - in particular families - to experience our sport and hopefully they will get hooked by the experience."

"Helio's Blue Plate Special" was a special promotion that tied the pricing of this limited supply of tickets - 300 in tribute to his car number 3 - to his qualifying performance for the Indianapolis 500. Castroneves responded by winning the pole Saturday and giving fans the best price possible from this promotion.

The ticket promotion theme played off his visit Monday to Dallas, where he received cooking lessons from world-renowned chef Stephan Pyles at his downtown restaurant near the Arts District.

"Wow - 300 tickets in 13 minutes - that's unbelievable," Castroneves said. "The folks at Texas Motor Speedway do a great job to promote our race and our series and always come up with fun ways to involve the fans. I had a great time cooking with Chef Stephan yesterday and was glad I was able to kickoff the 'Blue Plate Special' promotion. I want to thank everyone at the track and especially the fans for all of their support. We are all looking forward to racing there in June and paying back the fans with a great show."


3. Seven Firestone Indy Lights graduates qualify for Indianapolis 500: When the field of 33 cars takes the green flag for the Indianapolis 500 on May 24, several drivers will be linked by a common bond - the Firestone Indy Lights.

Seven drivers who have competed in at least one Firestone Indy Lights event earned starting spots in the famed race during the first weekend of qualifying.

"It's great to see so many graduates of the Firestone Indy Lights in the field for the Indianapolis 500," said Roger Bailey, executive director for the Firestone Indy Lights. "It's very gratifying to see our last two champions, Alex Lloyd and Raphael Matos, in cars capable of running with the best IndyCar Series teams."

In addition to Lloyd and Matos, other Firestone Indy Lights graduates to qualify for the race include Marco Andretti, Ed Carpenter, A.J. Foyt IV, Graham Rahal and Hideki Mutoh.

In addition, Davey Hamilton, who serves as co-owner of Davey Hamilton/Kingdom Racing entry of Brandon Wagner, also qualified 22nd.


The 2009 IndyCar Series season continues May 24 with the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 1 p.m. (EDT) by ABC. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 211. The radio broadcast also will be carried on The 2009 Firestone Indy Lights season continues May 22 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast May 22 by VERSUS as part of its Carb Day coverage from 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. (EDT).

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Davey Hamilton , Helio Castroneves , A.J. Foyt IV , Graham Rahal , Sam Schmidt , Marco Andretti , Chip Ganassi , Alex Lloyd , Roger Bailey , Brandon Wagner , Hideki Mutoh , Ed Carpenter
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing