Saturday IRL Notebook from Iowa
Each IndyCar Series car receives eight sets of Firestone Firehawks for the two-day weekend.
The tires are the same compound used at last year's race at Iowa Speedway.
AL SPEYER (Executive Director, Firestone Racing): "The racing at Iowa was much better last year than the year before, we believe, in great part because of the updated Firestone tire specification that we developed for the 2008 event. That's why we decided to bring back that race-proven spec again this year. Because of the uniqueness of the Iowa track - a short oval that demands a tire more like a superspeedway because of the constant high speeds and loads - this is the only venue where this Firehawk spec will be used this season. We're confident it will help provide the exciting racing that the enthusiastic Iowa Speedway crowd saw last year and deserves again in 2009."
Luczo Dragon Racing co-owner Steve Luczo missed the race at Texas Motor Speedway as he presented scholarships and received honorary citizenship in Corleone, Italy, where his grandparents once lived. Luczo visited the land of his grandparents with the mayor of Corleone and brought some dirt from the land back home with him as a keepsake. He will sprinkle some on the car this weekend as good luck. Luczo presented scholarships to 10 high school students heading into their first year of university, including four who had lost both parents growing up.
Nelson & Son Siding of LeClaire, Iowa, won A.J. Foyt Racing's 'Your Name Here' contest for the Iowa Corn Indy 250. The company name will be on the sidepods of the No. 14 ABC Supply Dallara. Ryan Nelson will receive selected merchandise, race tickets, hospitality and garage passes, plus a meet-and-greet session with Ryan Hunter-Reay. The 'Your Name Here' promotion selected winners by random drawing from a pool of entries sent in by ABC Supply customers earlier this year.
Housby, an associate sponsor of the No. 14 A.J. Foyt Racing entry, is based in Des Moines, Iowa. Founder Jack Housby, a former NASCAR driver and team owner, started Housby in 1969 as a Mack Truck dealership, and with the help of his sons Kevin and Kelly has grown it into a business conglomerate offering multiple services to its customers.
The Vision Racing Wellness Tour, supported by team sponsor Lilly USA, will provide racing fans at Iowa with free diabetes screenings with A1c testing and risk factor assessment, along with cholesterol and blood pressure testing. The Wellness Tour mobile unit (bus) will be located behind the main grandstands and will be open from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. on Sunday.
Kosuke Matsuura, the 2004 IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year, is at Iowa Speedway. Matsuura's primary sponsor, Autobacs, is interested in having the driver compete in the Indy Japan 300 at Twin Ring Motegi in September.
Matsuura posted 22 top-10 finishes in 64 IndyCar Series starts between 2004 and '07, with a best finish at the 1.5-mile Twin Ring Motegi oval of seventh.
KOSUKE MATSUURA: "After '07, I came back to Japan and joined Formula Nippon, and this year I'm doing touring cars in Japan. I want to meet some of the teams. I'm especially interested in Dale Coyne (Racing), Luczo Dragon Racing and KV (Racing Technology). I think I can put something together to race at Motegi."
With Sunday being Father's Day, Firestone Indy Lights drivers took the opportunity generated by Friday's rainout to shop for gifts.
James Hinchcliffe settled on a card for his dad, who will watch his son race at Iowa Speedway from pit lane, while Martin Plowman hopes to give his dad, Mark, a much better prize - a race win.
Charlie Kimball, whose father Gordon helped design Indianapolis 500-winning cars in the 1980s, said he wouldn't be racing if father hadn't been involved in racing.
MARTIN PLOWMAN (No. 15 Panther Racing): "In the UK, Father's Day is the same day as it is here. Mother's Day is on different days so my mom gets two gifts. But my dad is my best friend and has been my biggest supporter at every stage of my career. I can't think of a better gift for my dad (than a win)."
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 35 Palm Beach International Raceway): "I was exposed to racing because of him. He started me in go-karts so we could have some more time together, so I wouldn't be here because of him. He's not here this weekend, but I should be home tomorrow so I can take him to dinner."
FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS POST-QUALIFYING NOTES:
· J.R. Hildebrand wins his third pole of the season. He also won the pole at St. Petersburg 1 and Long Beach. This is his first career pole on an oval.
· Wade Cunningham qualified on the front row for the third time in the last four races.
· Daniel Herrington qualified a season-best fourth. His previous best was ninth at Indianapolis.
· Brandon Wagner qualified a career-best 10th. His previous best was 17th at Indianapolis.
INDYCAR SERIES POST-QUALIFYING NOTES:
· The starting grid will be based on entrant points for the first time since last year's race at Iowa Speedway. The starting grids for two races last year were based on points (Twin Ring Motegi). The driver who started first did not win either of those events.
· While it does not count as a pole statistically, Helio Castroneves will start first for the second time this season. He won the Indianapolis 500 from the pole.
· The No. 3 car is first in entrant points despite the fact that Castroneves missed the race April 5 at St. Petersburg thanks to a sixth-place finish by Will Power in that event.
· Ryan Briscoe will start second, Scott Dixon will start third, Dario Franchitti will start fourth and Danica Patrick will start fifth.
INDYCAR SERIES POST-QUALIFYING QUOTES:
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske, first):I have to thank Will (Power) because he helped by having this car finish sixth at St. Petersburg. Those points definitely kept me in the front of the pits and now gave me the pole position at Iowa. Unfortunately for the fans, they didn't get to see the excitement of qualifying. Fortunately, I end up getting a great situation here with a good starting position. Now that we have a Team Penske front row, we'll go for the win tomorrow." "
WILL POWER: (On accepting the PEAK Performance Pole Award with Helio Castroneves): "This was all Helio's idea. He's a great guy. I always like to help out. Starting on the pole here is really important, so it's great to see the two Team Penske cars on the front row. I love working with this team, and I have two great teammates. We all work well together. I experienced it during the month of May at Indy. I'm very glad to help out."
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske, second): "Obviously, we'd much rather be out there qualifying. It's unfortunate. The good thing is that we're up there in the points and get the front row start. Hopefully, that will help us tomorrow. I felt good for qualifying. I felt like Team Penske had a good shot for the pole. It's so close at the front that it's hard to say, but hopefully they can get the track in good shape for tonight and tomorrow as well."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, third): "It's tough. We should have been fairly decent. The car wasn't too bad in the run, but there was a fair bit of water on the track. The cautiousness there is the more cars you run, the more water you draw onto the track, the guys in the back were going to have a tougher time, and you could certainly crash your car. I think it was a tough decision for (Indy Racing League President of Competition and Racing Operations) Brian (Barnhart), but I think he made the right one."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 TOM TOM, fourth): "It's disappointing because the Tom Tom car was quick. In practice, we did two qualifying (simulations) and both were really quick. We felt we had a car for the pole, but at the same time I think (Indy Racing League President of Competition and Operations) Brian (Barnhart) made the right decision. Scott (Dixon) had said that on the backstretch that the tire was flipping up water. The weepers were so bad. It's really unfortunate for our car and for the Target team and for the fans because they don't get to see qualifying. Starting fourth tomorrow makes things a bit more difficult, but we can still pull it off."
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Boost Mobile/Motorola, fifth): "We had a pretty good day; every change we made had a positive impact on the car. I think in general we have a strong race car, but at the end of the day qualifying is really important. I wish we would've had a chance to get out and make a qualifying run, because I think we could've had a higher starting position than fifth. But we will take it, have a few strong pit stops and hopefully bring home a win for the Boost Mobile car."
Medical update from Dr. Michael Olinger, medical director for the Indy Racing League: #16 Pippa Mann and #21 James Davison were checked and released at the infield care center. They are cleared to drive.
PIPPA MANN (No. 16 Panther Racing): "I am not sure what happened. The car was tight when we started tonight, and I tried to move my adjustments around to help. I ended up with the car still very tight but then very loose as we got to the middle of the race. It made my life very interesting. I was sitting back and I think I had just touched with Brandon Wagner and that caused the first spin. I came into the pits and we made adjustments to the car, but unfortunately it went the wrong way. I moved my in-car adjustments some more, but I was still struggling quite a bit. I don't know if it was the spin or the adjustments we had made. I was just riding it out, but it was difficult since we were so off the pace, and it was difficult to stay out of the way of the lead lap cars. I was doing my best to stay out of the way, and I don't know what happened then. I just know I got hit, and I saw the wall coming, and I said - I won't tell you what I said. It is not printable, but it was something like, 'Oh crap!' I said that repeatedly, and then I was upside down. I could smell the sparks, and by the time the car stopped I had my belts off and hands on the ground and ripped out my ear phones trying to get out since I wanted to get out as quickly as I could because of the smell of the sparks. That was my first time upside down."
JAMES DAVISON (No. 21 People*s Liberation/Vision Racing): "There were two laps to go and (J.R.) Hildebrand, (Charlie) Kimball and myself were all battling for position, and we were running into a bunch of lapped traffic, and ultimately Pippa (Mann), who was off pace battling a loose car. Running behind J.R., my car just went up into her and we tangled and that was it. The most frustrating thing is to do damage to the car with two laps remaining in the race. We didn't lose much. We were running seventh and ended up tenth. For sure it is not good and having to deal with that."
Medical update from Dr. Michael Olinger, medical director for the Indy Racing League: #44 Gustavo Yacaman is being transported to Mercy Hospital for evaluation. He began experiencing abdominal pain during the race.
FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS POST-RACE NOTES:
- Ana Beatriz earns her second career victory. She also won at Nashville in 2008. She is the only female driver to win in Firestone Indy Lights.
- This is Beatriz's fourth top-five finish of the season.
- This is the 28th victory for Sam Schmidt Motorsports, most of any team in Firestone Indy Lights.
- This is the first time in Firestone Indy Lights history that teammates have finished 1-2-3.
- This is the fifth time in Firestone Indy Lights history that teammates have finished 1-2. Sam Schmidt Motorsports drivers have accomplished the feat the last four times, most recently at Chicagoland in 2007.
- Wade Cunningham finished second for the second time at Iowa Speedway. He also finished second in 2007 after leading the first 105 laps of that race.
- Cunningham has four consecutive top-six finishes.
- James Hinchcliffe finished third, tying his career-best. He also finished third at St. Peterburg 2 and Long Beach. This is his best finish on an oval.
- Mario Romancini finished fourth, his fourth consecutive top-four finish.
- Gustavo Yacaman finished fifth, his second consecutive top-five finish.
- Charlie Kimball tied his career-best finish with a seventh.
FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS POST-RACE QUOTES:
SAM SCHMIDT (Owner, Sam Schmidt Motorsports): "I think that is our first 1-2-3. It is a great effort for the team. It was a brand new car they had to build up the last few weeks. This made up for all those hours."
ANA BEATRIZ (No. 20 Healthy Choice/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, first): "I was thinking and wanting to finish the race today. We qualified sixth, but it was great at the start of the race and it was very competitive. I was fortunate to find the right time to pass Wade (Cunningham). There was a lot of lapped cars out there when that happened. It was all about momentum. Wow, I can't believe I got first and Sam Schmidt got a 1-2-3. It is unbelievable. At the finish, I was thinking it was just unbelievable. I nearly crashed there at the end right there around the flipped car. This team deserves it. I really want to celebrate with them tonight. The last couple of weeks have been tough missing out on sponsorship and then finding a way to come back."
WADE CUNNINGHAM (No. 11 Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, second): "Sebastien Saavedra is 25 laps down, running flat out because he has good tires. The team said, 'Hey, just let him go; he's just going to keep driving forward.' I was just saving my tires, so I just let him go. The minute he got in front of me, he slowed down half-a-second a lap because he knows I'm fighting him for the championship and he was out of the race. It's probably the most unsportsmanlike thing I've ever seen on the racetrack, apart from shunting someone into a wall. I hope the stewards do something because if they don't, I will."
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 7 Hinchtown/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, third): "What a night. First of all, with the delays it was tough. Everyone was in the wrong frame of mind heading into tonight and it was tough to stay focused. We had a pretty good car at the start, running fourth there behind Daniel (Herrington) and then just sort of started losing it when I got side-by-side in traffic. I did a lot of work in the cockpit with the weightjacker and front bars trying to get it back. Slowly the car started coming back to us.Then it was a matter of being in the right place at the right time. It's tough to stay out of trouble at a short track like Iowa. I had contact with Daniel at one point and nearly took out both of my teammates at one point. There was some great wheel-to-wheel racing. I'm glad that the weather held off, and congratulations to Sam Schmidt Motorsports on the great race."
MARIO ROMANCINI (No. 5 Revita/Win Brazil/Allied/RLR Andersen, fourth): "I'm very happy with the finish, because we didn't have a good qualifying and started (13th). It's good for the championship because we scored good points, and let's go for the next one now. It's a very tough track and it's difficult to pass, and that's why I'm happy with our finish and scoring good points."
GUSTAVO YACAMAN (No. 44 Crepes & Waffles/Tuvacol/SSM, fifth): "It was a very hard race. The car was really hard to drive because we had a lot of push. I just let the race come to me and kept four tires on the car."
SUNDAY'S SCHEDULE (all times local):
Iowa Corn Indy 250 presented by Pioneer pre-race
Iowa Corn Indy 250 presented by Pioneer (250 laps/218.75 miles)