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Overheard at Infineon - FridayUPDATE We spoke to Will Phillips, IndyCar VP of Technology, about testing of the new car. He said, "the rumors of problems with the new car have been exaggerated. We have only had two engine problems and one was due to the ECU that we are using on the test car. It is not the new ECU that will be used next year and it caused an issue. Honda has fixed the problem and we will be testing this coming week on the IndyCar road course. The problems are nothing more than you would expect for a new car and we are still on the schedule that we planned. We will have the first test open to the media in late September on the Indy Speedway oval."
08/26/11 After the morning fog burned off Friday turned out to be a perfect day for racing at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California. Word in the paddock is that testing of the new IndyCar has not gone well. How bad is it? So bad that last week's planned test in Texas was cancelled. At the first test at Mid-Ohio the car only managed about 8 laps or so according to reports. The 2nd test at Barber Motorsports Park was not much better according to unconfirmed reports. Some are saying that the new Honda engine has had problems, but a Honda spokesperson was pretty tight lipped and he referred us the IndyCar. We heard 7 engines have been put in the new car, but the Honda spokesperson said not that many. Are they blowing up? Is there another problem? So far no one is saying. We hope to get a word from IndyCar on the matter this weekend. Teething problems with a new car are to be expected, that's why it is called testing. On a better note we hear the new engine sounds really good. It was described as sounding like a Champ Car but a bit more throaty. The next test for the new car is supposedly on the Indy road course this coming week. Indy road course....hmm, why the IndyCars don't race on that road course as a 2nd race (instead of Moto GP) is beyond us. It would instantly draw over 100,000 people and could be called the Indy 250.
We heard that the top of the new car's Roll Hoop is higher off the ground so some of the older transporters are going to have to be modified to fit the car into the truck. Either that or the teams will have to remove the TV camera mounting on top of the hoop. Also the teams have not yet been given a price list for spare parts for the new car, so they cannot complete a budget for next year to see if they can afford the new car or not. Too many unknowns at this point, but hopefully that will get ironed out soon.
We now think that KV Racing may be leaning towards becoming the anchor team for Lotus. While the team won't say anything, that is what the word on the street is. Lotus has yet to announce a single team, but we hear they may announce all their teams at one time, perhaps in grand style.....We still think Andretti will sign with Chevy, but we hear most teams now know who they want to align with, but the ball is in the manufacturers court.
We hear the talks of an IndyCar race in Mexico City are real, but will depend on whether Carlos Slim want an F1 race there or not. F1 will require a major investment in facilities. We ran into Mexican driver David Martinez (who previously raced a Champ Car in Mexico City two years in a row) in the paddock who is trying to put together a deal for next year, but it will help if IndyCar decides to race in Mexico City.
Word is that Newman/Haas will almost definitely run two cars next year and they think they might be able to add a 3rd car.
I hear that Simona di Silvestro got an arrogant customs agent when she tried to re-enter the country. They questioned why she went to Canada twice and apparently they had some suspicion that she was a single woman trying to enter the country illegally. Regardless of the details, lawyers are now involved. You would think the agent could just Google her to see she was here racing. If this rumor is true that customs agent should find another career. We have people sneaking into the country illegally by the hundreds daily and they stop Simona? Amazing.
Robby Gordon says he won't give Danica Patrick the No. 7 when she enters the Sprint Cup series part-time next season. "C'mon!'' Gordon said on Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway. "Why would I?''
Patrick said on Thursday, when officially announcing plans to leave the IndyCar Series to drive a fulltime Nationwide Series schedule for JR Motorsports and part-time Cup schedule for Stewart Haas Racing in 2012, that she'd like to keep the No. 7 that she's had throughout her motorsports career. Gordon, who has had the number for six years in Cup, isn't willing to bargain.
It was good to see much liked Infineon PR boss John Cardinale looking so good after battling stomach cancer that spread to his liver. He underwent chemo therapy and tests show the cancer cells in his body are down to normal levels so they think the chemo worked. Next step will be to cut out the left over tumors that hopefully are now dormant. Mark C. reporting from Sonoma, Ca.
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