Today's IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines: 1. IZOD IndyCar Series Q &A - Randy Bernard 2. If you missed it: Ryan Hunter Reay and Tomas Scheckter 3. IZOD IndyCar Series join Surfers Paradise event 4. Of...
Today's IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines:
1. IZOD IndyCar Series Q &A - Randy Bernard
2. If you missed it: Ryan Hunter Reay and Tomas Scheckter
3. IZOD IndyCar Series join Surfers Paradise event
4. Of note
1. IZOD IndyCar Series Q &A - Randy Bernard: Randy Bernard, chief executive officer of the Indy Racing League, participated in a Q &A regarding today's announcement that the Indy Racing League will hold separate oval and road title contests within the overall IZOD IndyCar Series driver championship beginning with the 2010 season.
Q. What was the seedling that bloomed into this initiative?
RANDY BERNARD: After my first six weeks, I kept saying to myself we need to be able to deliver a consistent message about our sport that separates us from other forms of auto racing. What hit me is that we have the fastest and most versatile drivers and race cars in the world -- and no one can deny that -- and now we have to show why we're the fastest and most versatile. We have 17 events, but how do we create better storylines?
I think there are two different demographics. I'd be willing to bet you that the oval demographic is more like a NASACR audience opposed to a street/road course demographic that is considerably different. How do we attract both of these, how do we bring them together and how do we create storylines that allow for a great ending to our season?
Q. The diversity of the schedule - more than any other auto racing series - looks to have been tailor-made for such contests within the championship hunt.
RANDY BERNARD: If we crown a road champion, then an oval champion and come right back with the IZOD IndyCar Series champion, I think it really speaks volumes for the driver who wins the IZOD IndyCar Series championship because you have to be great at both disciplines in order to do it. It also assures our fan base that we're committed to giving them both ovals and road/street course events, and I think that's very important.
Q. Fans will vote for the names of the trophies, which will honor two Indy car racing icons. How did that connection come about?
RANDY BERNARD: By bringing our legends into it, we're bringing back the names that America remembers in the sport and honoring their legacy. I think the addition of the legends name will make it a prestigious honor to win one of these trophies.
Q. In making future schedules, is an equal balance of ovals and road/street events an objective?
RANDY BERNARD: I'd like to see it evenly balanced. When I did my due diligence prior to taking the job I asked team owners how many events they would like. Most said between 16 and 20 events and we're right there. We want to build it smartly and slowly.
2. If you missed it: Ryan Hunter Reay and Tomas Scheckter: IZOD IndyCar Series drivers Ryan Hunter-Reay and Tomas Scheckter participated in a Q&A session. Below are select quotes from the interview.
* 29-year-old native of Boca Raton, Fla., competing in his fourth season in the IZOD IndyCar Series in 2010.
* Drives the No. 37 Team IZOD car for Andretti Autosport.
* Has two wins, five top-five finishes and 18 top-10 finishes in 44 IZOD IndyCar Series starts.
* Was the 2007 IZOD IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year.
* Currently third in point standing with a win at Long Beach and a runner-up finishes at Sao Paulo
* 29-year-old native of Cape Town. South Africa, will attempt to make his ninth Indianapolis 500 start in the No. 23 MonaVie-sponsored car for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing.
* Was Chase co-Rookie of the Year at the 2002 Indianapolis 500.
* Has two wins, 18 top-five finishes and 43 top-10 finishes in 109 IZOD IndyCar Series starts.
* Son of former World Driving Champion Jody Scheckter.
THE MODERATOR: I understand you have an announcement to make about your Indy 500 program today?
TOMAS SCHECKTER: We're very proud to have on the Dreyer & Reinbold car Mona Vie back again. This is a company that sponsored me last year for the Indy 500 and throughout the rest of the year. It's a product that I've been using now for a while, and obviously a product that I believe in and love. To have them back on the car we're extremely happy and looking forward to a good Indy 500. The hype behind everybody at Mona Vie, it's certainly a company with a lot of energy and it's going to a lot of places very quickly. They're spreading round the world. Just really happy to have them on board.
Q. And as you mentioned, Mona Vie was your sponsor last year for quite a few races. How excited are they to be associated with the Indianapolis 500?
TOMAS SCHECKTER: Of course they're massively excited. And like I said, this is a company that started in 2005. If you look at the growth rate, I mean, this company in the short years that it's been around has grown quicker than companies like Microsoft when they started.
So certainly a company that has exploded, and it's because of quality products, nutritional beverage products that they come out with allows them to grow so quickly. What better way to show their growth and strength through, you know, having an IndyCar at the speedway.
So, you know, we've built a great relationship with them. You know, they're extremely happy. I mean, it's the Indy 500. You know, there's nothing better than seeing cars go around at 240 miles an hour. Hopefully the Mona Vie car can be round the front towards the end of the race and we can allow them to help them celebrate and launch their knew EMV Lite with a victory in May.
Q. You talked about the Indianapolis 500. That speedway has been a track that you've been very, very good at. You have to be looking forward to opening day and getting into the No. 23 car.
TOMAS SCHECKTER: Absolutely. I feel extremely at home. We did a test towards the end of last year that went very well that carried on the development. You know, as I think you've guys have seen on road courses for sure this year, with having Mike and Justin, they've done an unbelievable job.
Now I suppose we've got to try and carry some of this momentum that they've built on road courses to the oval section. I'm hoping that they can carry on the same pace , but I've already been in the team working and, you know, going through run plans and what development stuff we've done to make sure that the Mona Vie 23 car is up there.
Q. You've driven with Dreyer & Reinbold before obviously. I'm just wondering, are you racing with a new crew this May? If not, how long does it take you to gel with your new crew members?
TOMAS SCHECKTER: That's a good question. I suppose especially Indy this year there's less on-track time. It's more important to make sure you're all gelled completely.
But like I said before, I have a lot of faith and trust in Larry and who he puts on my car. You know, he's assured me that there's gonna be a good group of guys. I think it'll be a little bit of a mix of who's on the team already with some new people.
Larry will be putting his best people on my car to make sure that we've got the best shot of doing a good job. I got no real worries about that on that side.
Q. Any chances you'll do more than Indy?
TOMAS SCHECKTER: Yeah, I mean, that's the hope. That's the hope. I mean, at the moment, we're extremely happy to be in the Indy 500. There are some options to possibly carry on. There's some possible interest from certain people to carry on backing me for the rest of year. That's sort of what we did last year.
But my focus right now is to do a good job at the speedway. I think if I can do that, things will just fall into place.
Q. Have you been looking forward to getting on an oval after the momentum you have from the road courses?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, that's what I always say about IndyCar. That's what I love about it, is you're always changing up disciplines of racing and how you go from -- like what we just did, going from a permanent road course to a temporary street circuit to a mile-and-a-half super speedway. That's what makes this series what it is.
It's the only racing series in the world that does that. It's really cool. I'm looking forward to it. I think it'll be my best opportunity in oval equipment that I've ever had. I'm definitely looking forward to having some fun turning left.
Q. Earlier today, the Indy Racing League did announce that it will crown champions for the oval portion of the schedule and the road and street portions of the schedule in addition to the overall Izod IndyCar Championship. Have you heard that, and what are your thoughts on the new format?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: I think it's great to highlight the fact that we do have two completely different disciplines of racing within one series. Like I said, it's the only racing series in the world that does that with the street courses, road courses, mile-and-a-half super speedways, and short ovals.
So it's great to highlight that and give it some recognition, but really what matters is winning is the Indy 500 and winning the series championship. I don't think anybody has heard that and is like, 'OK, my primary goal is to win the road course championship or win the oval.'
I think it's kind of a side note. 'Congratulations, you were the best in that category.' But what real matters is the series championship and Indy 500.
Q. How important is it to have an oval as a lead-in to the month of May, especially given the shortening of the month of May schedule?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: It's absolutely critical. Kansas is a warmup to Indy. It's not like Indy in any way, but at the same time it is an oval race. You have to get your package sorted, get yourself comfortable back on a big super speedway like that back in packs, you know pack racing.
Yeah, it's definitely crucial heading into the next stretch of the season, which is 4 oval races. But really, everybody has their eye on Indy. That's the big picture here. We're heading into the month of May coming up, and we all have -- that's on our minds ten times a day.
Q. I would like to ask you also about Kansas. Some people criticize Kansas and other 1.5s as cookie cutter tracks. What do you see as unique about Kansas? What are some of the things you have to be good at to do well there?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: I don't think I really see anything as being unique with Kansas. I do see that we have a good amount of mile-and-a-half ovals that we need to get that package sports. So this is the first test of that, and we need to go out and have a good race weekend.
So there's a lot importance riding on this weekend for us as a team, and on my program. Obviously IZOD has been great as a sponsor of the No. 37, the Andretti Autosport car. We're heading into the month of May very uncertain about where it leads us. Indy could very well be our last race. It's just a big question right now.
3.IZOD IndyCar Series join Surfers Paradise event: Ryan Briscoe expects a hearty ovation from spectators Oct. 24 as the last champion of an open-wheel race on the temporary Surfers Paradise, Australia, street circuit. That and because he's a Sydney native.
Team Penske's Briscoe and Will Power will be joined by IZOD IndyCar Series stars Scott Dixon, Alex Tagliani and Dario Franchitti, and an international lineup of drivers for the revamped race in Queensland. The former Champ Car - and in October 2008 an IndyCar Series non-points race won by Briscoe - is now solely a round of the Australian V8 Supercar series.
"It will be a lot of fun racing against a bunch of big-name drivers all in foreign equipment that we're not used to," Briscoe said as he waited out the rainstorm that created an abbreviated testing day at Kansas Speedway. "It's actually a team I did two races with back in '06 - Holden Racing, the factory GM team down there - so it's really good. It will be fun going back to Surfers Paradise as the reigning IndyCar race winner. I'm sure there will be a lot of support."
Briscoe is hopeful of joining the Holden Racing team two weeks earlier to compete in the Bathurst 1000in New South Wales - Australia's biggest race event. The IZOD IndyCar Series' season finale is Oct. 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The Gold Coast 600 format includes two drivers per car, with each two-car team getting one international driver. The team will place that driver with one of its regulars, while the second car will be driven by the team's other regular driver and another driver selected at the team's discretion. Twin 300-kilometer races are scheduled for Oct. 23 and 24.
4. Of note: Newman/Haas Racing's Hideki Mutoh will throw out the ceremonial first pitch and catch up with All-Star outfielder Ichiro Suzuki before the Kansas City Royals host the Seattle Mariners on April 28. ... IZOD IndyCar Series rookies Mario Romancini and Bertrand Baguette (Conquest Racing), Takuma Sato (KV Racing Technology) and Simona De Silvestro (Team Stargate Worlds/HVM Racing) will participate in an oval orientation/testing day April 28 at Kansas Speedway. Last week's scheduled session was washed out. John Andretti, who will compete in an Andretti Autosport car at Kansas and the Indianapolis 500, also will get on the track in a refresher...
The 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series season continues May 1 with the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 at Kansas Speedway. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 1:30 p.m. (ET) by ABC. 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 continues with the Firestone Freedom 100 on May 28 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway The race will air live on VERSUS.