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DATE News (chronologically)
02/09/12
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IndyCar Leaders Circle program finalized  UPDATE Quotes from speed.com  from those who did not make the cut:

"I’m extremely disappointed and angry, it’s a travesty,’’ said Bryan Herta, who along with Steve Newey co-owned last year’s Indy 500 winning car driven by Dan Wheldon and also served as the development team for the new Dallara.

“We’ve got the only national brand as a primary sponsor and I was always told the Indy 500 was the most important race in the world. But obviously it wasn’t enough to get us into the 20 most important teams.’’

The former CART/IRL winner was asked if not getting a Leader’s Circle would torpedo his season with Alex Tagliani?

“Absolutely not. We’ve got a good sponsor. But could we have used to money for testing and development? Certainly.’’

Ganassi, one of the full-time entrants in 2011 with cars that missed the Leader Circle cut (Charlie Kimball's No. 83), found it strange that a new team and a part-time team got the nod from the series.

"If you run 20th or worse, you're at the mercy of a bunch of people, but I guess the best way to avoid that is to run 20th or better," said Chip Ganassi after Charlie Kimball's No. 83 was left out. "Woe is us for not running in the top 20, but I did run the whole season last year and our sponsor did a heck of a job of activating..."

“We all felt like we deserved it so it’s frustrating,’’ said Michael Shank, who is trying to finalize a deal to run Paul Tracy with Lotus power. “This is my life, I live and die with cash flow and this would have been a big help since we’re starting from scratch. This doesn’t kill our Indy car program because I wasn’t counting on it 100 percent. It hurts us but it doesn’t paralyze us.’’

“I’m disappointed and I don’t agree because I’m still not sure what the criteria was to make the decision,’’ said three-time CART champion and 1986 Indy victor Bobby Rahal who is campaigning Takuma Sato with a Honda. "We didn’t get it for some strange reason but crying about it isn’t getting anything done so we’ll move on.’’

“I’ve been racing Indy cars for 16 years and I don’t feel like INDYCAR has any respect for me,’’ said former CART driver, now team owner Eric Bachelart. “They need the little teams but they’re not acting like it.’’

02/09/12 IndyCar’s Leaders Circle program came into view today with a bulletin issued to teams outlining the distribution of funds.

Teams committed to full-time fielding of entries that were in the top 22 in points last year will receive the estimated $1.2 million. There are 18 of those teams:

Ganassi Racing’s No. 10 (Dario Franchitti)
Team Penske’s No. 12 (Will Power)
Ganassi Racing’s No. 9 (Scott Dixon)
KV Racing Technology’s No. 82 (Tony Kanaan)
Team Penske’s No. 6 (now car No. 2, Ryan Briscoe)
Andretti Autosport’s No. 26 (Marco Andretti)
Andretti Autosport’s No. 28 (Ryan Hunter-Reay)
Ganassi Racing’s No. 38 (Graham Rahal)
Team Penske’s No. 3 (Helio Castroneves)
Sam Schmidt Motorsports’ No. 77 (Simon Pagenaud)
KV Racing Technology’s No. 5 (no driver named yet)
Panther Racing’s No. 4 (JR Hildebrand)
A.J. Foyt Racing’s No. 14 (Mike Conway)
Dale Coyne Racing’s No. 19 (Justin Wilson)
Dreyer & Reinbold Racing’s No. 22 (Oriol Servia)
Andretti Autosport’s No. 27 (James Hinchcliffe)
KV Racing Technology’s No. 59 (EJ Viso)
HVM Racing’s No. 78 (Simona De Silvestro)

The final two Leaders Circle programs went to teams – Dragon Racing (driver Sebastien Bourdais) and Ed Carpenter Racing (Ed Carpenter) — that made strong presentations to series officials.

The approximately $2.5 million remaining in the program – the amount for positions 21 and 22 last year – will be split among non-Leaders Circle members at each race. The scale has the top-finishing car at each race getting $80,000. Third gets $50,000, fifth $25,000. In theory, such a car can win $1,280,000 over the 16-race season.

There is projected to be at least 25 car-and-driver combinations at the season-opening race in St. Petersburg, Fla. (March 25). The “extras” include Katherine Legge in the second Dragon car, Alex Tagliani in the car of Bryan Herta Autosport, Charlie Kimball in the fourth car of Ganassi Racing, Takuma Sato in a car of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and the part-time entry of rookie Josef Newgarden in the car of Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing. Other teams are still trying to finalize programs. Indy Star

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