St. Pete GP Pit Notes
Michael Andretti Named Grand Marshal for the Festival of States Parade
Racing legend Michael Andretti will be the Grand Marshal for the 2008 Festival of States Night Parade when the annual parade rolls through the streets of St. Petersburg on Thursday, April 3.
Through an association with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Andretti will be joined by drivers representing both the IndyCar Series and the American Le Mans Series to lead the Thursday evening parade. Some of the drivers expected to attend include Marco Andretti, Tony Kanaan, Danica Patrick, Christian Fittipaldi, Hideki Mutoh and Bryan Herta. Other drivers will be announced closer to the event.
American Le Mans Series Ushers in New Era of Green Racing
The American Le Mans Series unleashes a new era for this season when it becomes the first major racing series in the world to have every race car on its grid racing one of three alternative "street legal" fuels. Widely acclaimed as the global leader in green racing, every car in the Series will race a clean diesel, an E10 or an E85 ethanol blend that is virtually identical to what consumers put in their cars at the fuel station.
The 2008 Acura Sports Car Challenge, which will be run Saturday, April 5 in St. Petersburg, is the second event on the 2008 ALMS schedule. The Series season opens this week with the 56th running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
"We have always been about relevancy and authenticity," says Scott Atherton, President and CEO of the American Le Mans Series. "What is more relevant than working with our many automobile manufacturers to find tomorrow's fuel solutions?"
In January at the North American International Auto Show, representatives from the U.S. Environmental Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy, in conjunction with SAE International, declared the American Le Mans Series the only series that currently meets government specifications for green racing. The Series is expected to announce a unique "Green Challenge" competition later this spring in conjunction with EPA, DOE and SAE.
IndyCar Series Wraps Up Successful Road Course Test at Sebring
IndyCar Series drivers completed almost 3,000 laps in four days of testing at Sebring International Raceway last week in their final tune-up before the start of the 2008 season. The test on the 1.7-mile, 11-turn course afforded drivers and teams an opportunity to prepare for the road and street courses on the 2008 schedule, including next month’s Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
Team Penske drivers Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves recorded the fastest laps of the test, which broke the drivers into two groups with each group getting a day and a half on track. Briscoe and Castroneves, who tested in the second group, were the only drivers to top 114 mph.
“The Sebring test gave us a chance to be on the track with a few more cars than when we were here during the off-season,” said Tim Cindric, president of Penske Performance, Inc. “Ryan continues to get more and more acclimated with the team. I think we've proved that we have two pretty equal drivers going into the St. Pete race, so overall, it was certainly a productive test for us. These Open Tests help us get basic information. Obviously we've been to St. Pete before and we have some experience in what we're looking for, so it’s a combination of taking what we've learned here and what we know from past experience and hopefully coming up with a winning combination."
Rahal and Wilson Set for First IndyCar Series Teleconference – Wednesday at 2 p.m.
Newman/Haas/Lanigan drivers Graham Rahal and Justin Wilson will discuss their debuts in the IndyCar Series during the Indy Racing League teleconference on Wednesday, March 12. Rahal finished fifth in the Champ Car World Series last season as a rookie, recording a best finish of second at Houston. Wilson finished second in the Champ Car championship. He led 113 laps, earned two pole positions and won one race at Assen, Netherlands.
The call will begin at 2 p.m. (EST) on Wednesday, March 12. To access the call, interested media should dial (866) IRL-CONF (475-2663). The pass code is Indy Racing.