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DATE News (chronologically)
08/05/11
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IndyCar Mid-Ohio Friday Notebook
The IZOD IndyCar Series will compete in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio, an 85-lap race at 2 p.m. (EDT) Sunday. The USF200 National Championship, the entry level step in the Mazda Road to Indy, will contest two races this weekend.

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This is the fifth IZOD IndyCar Series event at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Dario Franchitti is the defending race winner at the track. Will Power won the PEAK Performance Pole Award here in 2010. Scott Dixon won the inaugural race in 2007 and won again here in 2009/ Ryan Briscoe won here in 2008. There were Indy car races held here in 1980 and from 1983 to 2003. Helio Castroneves, who won here in 2000 and 2001, is the only other entered driver with a win at Mid-Ohio.

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Drivers will have 20 total pushes of the Honda overtake assist - an ECU software alteration employed by Honda Performance Development - each lasting 15 seconds during the Edmonton Indy. It is activated by the driver via a button on the steering wheel and provides an extra 200 RPM (about 10 horsepower) to the Honda Indy V-8 engine. Parameters are updated before each race weekend to meet the circuit layout. There is an 10-second recovery period between pushes. One overtake assist push is available for the final practice session.

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Each entry for the Edmonton Indy receives six sets (24 total) of Firestone Firehawk primary tires (blacks) and three sets (12 total) of Firestone Firehawk alternate tires (reds) for the race weekend. The Mid-Ohio primary and alternate tire specifications are new this year, featuring updated tread compounds paired with the identical body construction used for both in 2010. In addition, the Firestone alternates for Mid-Ohio are designed with different grip levels on the left- and right-side tires - with the right-side Firehawk alternates even "softer" than the left sides to provide added grip. This is the only race this season where these specs are being used. The new Firestone rain tire specification, first available last month at Toronto, will be supplied again this weekend should conditions necessitate its use.

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American Honda and its Honda Performance Development (HPD) subsidiary will power Sam Schmidt Motorsports in the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series, HPD and the team announced today.

Under terms of the agreement, HPD will provide its new, turbocharged 2.2-liter Honda Indy V-6 engines to all Schmidt entries in the IZOD IndyCar Series and at the Indianapolis 500.

Designed at HPD's Santa Clarita, Calif., facility, the all-new Honda Indy V-6 engine is now under development, with initial track testing scheduled to begin this month. Sam Schmidt Motorsports is the third team to align with Honda in preparation for the return of OEM competition to the IZOD IndyCar Series in 2012.

In May, Honda announced that Chip Ganassi Racing, winner of the last three IZOD IndyCar Series drivers' championships, would be its anchor team beginning next year. Earlier this month, A.J. Foyt Racing became the second team to adopt Honda power for 2012.

ERIK BERKMAN (President, Honda Performance Development): "Following a decade of achievements - and four championships - in Indy Lights, Sam Schmidt Motorsports has logged additional impressive results since the team's return to full-time IndyCar competition this year. Included among those accomplishments are the pole position at this year's Indianapolis 500 and a second pole two weeks later in Texas. We believe that Sam, Team Manager Rob Edwards and the rest of the Sam Schmidt Motorsports team have established a solid foundation for future success. We look forward to working with them to achieve our joint goals of race wins and IndyCar Series championships."

SAM SCHMIDT (owner, Sam Schmidt Motorsports): "Honda's success both on and off the track is unmatched. I believe its total commitment to performance, reliability and integrity as a company is perfectly aligned with the goals of Sam Schmidt Motorsports and its partners. We look forward to what we hope will be a long and very productive relationship."

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A J. Digby is like any other active, popular 13-year old. He participates in sports, enjoys activities with his family and loves to travel.

But in two ways this lad from Otsego, Ohio, is different than most teenagers. A.J. was born with Fibular hemimelia -- a rare condition in which neither of his legs has a fibula. To get around comfortably, he wears prosthetic legs.

A.J. enjoys running track and field and playing football at Otsego Juniro High. He also has a passion for IndyCars and the Indianapolis 500. A.J. and his family have attend the '500' seven times. He pores over stats and watches races. And while Tony Kanaan is his favorite driver, A. J.'s top-five list dramatically changed Aug. 4.

"Mom said we were going downtown (Toledo) to see the Indy two-seater and I was totally excited," A.J. said with a smile. "Mom kept telling me a little more about the day and I finally realized that I was getting a ride in the car."

The IZOD IndyCar Series and the staff of the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course arranged the ride for A.J. as part of the promotion for this weekend's Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. Toledo Mayor Mike Bell and his staff arranged for streets to be closed and for a police escort so HVM Racing driver Simona de Silvestro could give A.J. an experience he would never forget.

"Before meeting Simona she was my fifth-favorite driver," said A.J. as he climbed into the street-legal two-seater. Grinning from the passenger's seat before they hit the city streets and the fast stretch of Greenbelt Parkway, A.J. proclaimed "she's now No. 3 on my list."

The mayor waved the green flag to start the trip as his mother (Robin), father (Gordon), sister Ashlyn (11 years old and a Will Power fan) and brother Keggan (10 years old and a Dario Franchitti fan) watched.

"I had never driven the IndyCar two-seater before and I really wanted to get it right the first time out for A.J.," de Silvestro said. "He was so happy just sitting in the car. I could only imagine how happy he would be if I got it up to 100 mph or so with the police escort."

She didn't disappoint. After the 10-minute adventure, they returned with A.J. pumping his fist.

"I have to say, this is the best day of my life and you know what? Simona is now bumped up to No. 2 on my favorite driver list," he said.

De Silvestro presented A.J. and his family with tickets to the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio before dining at Tony Packo's Cafe at the Park.

"A.J. really is a great kid and loves racing. I just wonder what I have to do to get to No. 1 on his list?" de Silvestro said. "You know, if I make it to the podium this weekend, I'd love to have him join me, if that helps."

SATURDAY'S SCHEDULE (All times local):

9:30 - 10:30 a.m. - IZOD IndyCar Series practice

12:55 p.m. - PEAK Performance Pole Qualifying, VERSUS (Taped), 6 p.m. (EDT)

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