IndyCar Mid-Ohio Day 2 Notebook
The Trueman family, owners of Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the past three decades, have been named grand marshals of the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio.
Barbara Trueman, family matriarch, her daughter, Michelle Trueman Gajoch, president of the facility from 1989 to 2011, and daughter Megan Cindric, will be present during the weekend. Celebrating its 50th season, Mid-Ohio was sold to Kim Green and Kevin Savoree through Green Savoree Mid-Ohio, LLC earlier this year.
"This racetrack has been a big part of our family for the past 30 years," said Trueman Gajoch, "We're honored that Kim and Kevin invited us to return to the track as grand marshals. I'm really looking forward to seeing some of the staff, sponsors and others in the paddock I've worked with for a long time."
Red Roof Inn founder and TrueSports Racing owner Jim Trueman invested millions into the track after purchasing it to modernize the facility.
"The Trueman family transformed Mid-Ohio from a popular car club destination to one of the premier road courses in the country. The capital improvements along with their long standing relationships with fans, the community and the sponsors has laid the foundation for decades of continued success," said Craig Rust, president of Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
It's appropriate that Helio Castroneves' 199th start for Team Penske occurs at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, where he's played a role in the team's success: victories in 2000 and 2001 highlighting five podium finishes in eight starts, plus pole starts in 2007 and '08.
Overall, Team Penske has seven victories in 26 Indy car races at the natural-terrain circuit since 1980 (including 1992-95 when Emerson Fittipaldi and Al Unser Jr. each won two races in a row). A Team Penske driver has started from the pole in each of the four IZOD IndyCar Series races (Will Power in 2010 and Ryan Briscoe in '09 in addition to Castroneves).
Following his season-high runner-up finish to Power on the City Centre Airport circuit, which bumped him three positions in the championship standings to ninth, Castroneves is aiming for another top finish (even earning a victory for the 12th consecutive season).
"We found some stuff in the car that we didn't have in the past," Castroneves said of the Edmonton Indy result. "I believe that helps a lot to be more consistent, especially with the braking points like Edmonton. So in the race I was able to be consistent, to be like I've always been.
"For the first time, a little bit of a double-car restart played in my favor. I've been the one that's in the middle or hit the car. I guess those are the factors that helped to put me right in front. Once you're in front, it was like the good old days."
In 2009, Graham Rahal's helmet design reflected his father's, Bobby Rahal, for his first IZOD IndyCar Series race at Mid-Ohio.
The tradition continues as Rahal, a native of New Albany, Ohio, represents the family history at his hometown track.
"It's such a fantastic track and has a lot of history with our family," Rahal said. "We tested here on July 28th and we improved the No. 38 Service Central car quite a lot, which I think is going to work to our advantage. It's a big weekend for NTB and Service Central, so I hope we can make everyone proud and have a great result."
Sam Schmidt has been involved with calling races for his Firestone Indy Lights stable over the years, but "Lights is a no-brainer; there aren't pit stops."
He's also been involved with calling races of Indianapolis 500 drivers for Sam Schmidt Motorsports, most recently Townsend Bell.
This weekend, and for four other IZOD IndyCar Series races this season, the former Indy car driver will wear the tag of race strategist for the No. 17 entry. He says it will be a collaborative effort -- "no one person will make the decisions; it will be a team decision" - and it's certainly an area he enjoys.
"Eighty percent of what you do there is pretty straight forward and determined in advance, but situations like we had at Edmonton -- where we lost the front wing on the first lap -- now all of a sudden you have to go to an alternate strategy and that's when the brain cells really start firing off," Schmidt said. "That's when you have be calm, when you have to consider all the options.
"This is what really intrigues me about participating at this level."
The No. 17 SnowBall Express AFS/SSM car will be driven by Martin Plowman, making his IZOD IndyCar Series debut, in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. Plowman also will compete at Infineon Raceway on Aug. 28 and in the inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix on Labor Day weekend.
Wade Cunningham, the 2005 Firestone Indy Lights champion, returns to the car for the race at Kentucky Speedway on Oct. 2 and in the Oct. 16 IZOD INDYCAR World Championship at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Cunningham made his IZOD IndyCar Series debut in the doubleheader at Texas Motor Speedway in June.
A second Sam Schmidt Motorsports car is not entered for the races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway or Twin Ring Motegi, but Schmidt and team manager Rob Edwards chose to bring on board personnel to support the program the remainder of the season and for potentially fielding a full-season two-car team in 2012. Sam Schmidt Motorsports on Aug. 5 announced it had aligned with Honda for the 2012 engine program.
Edwards is the race strategist for the No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins car driven by Alex Tagliani and engineered by Nick Snyder.
Ben Bretzman, an engineer who has worked with Honda Performance Development in the American Le Mans Series and in stock cars, has been added as the lead engineer on the No. 17 entry. AFS Racing owner Gary Petersen also will be on the pit lane stand during races.
Simon Pagenaud filled in for the injured Ana Beatriz in the second round of the IZOD IndyCar Series at Barber Motorsports Park in April. Called to duty again by Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, he had much less time to prepare at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Pagenaud will qualify the No. 22 RollCoater car for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio after Justin Wilson was taken to Mansfield MedCentral where he was diagnosed with an anterior compression fracture of the fifth thoracic vertebra. Wilson's car ran through the grass entering Turn 1 on the 2.558-mile, 13-turn circuit in the morning practice and made slight contact with a few cones.
"Simon would be a turnkey fit for us to be able to do on short notice," team co-owner Dennis Reinbold said. "He was fantastic at Barber, a joy to work with so if you have to look at it and say, 'What's a good backup plan?' this is a good backup plan. The car should be somewhat familiar with him and he should be pretty quick."
Pagenaud advanced from 23rd on the starting grid to finish eighth at the natural-terrain circuit in Alabama in his IZOD IndyCar Series debut. Beatriz had fractured her wrist in the season opener on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla.
Pagenaud tested at Mid-Ohio on July 28 in the No. 77 Sam Schmidt Motorsports car with an eye on competing full time in the 2012 season.
Medical update from Dr. Michael Olinger: Justin Wilson He will be kept overnight at MedCentral Mansfield and will be transported to Indianapolis tomorrow to meet with Dr. Terry Trammell, IndyCar’s medical consultant.