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Overheard at Infineon - SundayUPDATE #2 More on the rumor below from the Indy Star that Penske, KV Racing and Andretti will run Chevy engines next year. When Cosworth did not get the contract to do the Lotus engine one knew their days of sponsoring KV Racing were doomed because Kevin Kalkhoven is an owner of both Cosworth and KV Racing.
The KV Racing team will have a different engine partner, and that means a literal color change.
KV will work with Chevrolet, which means it won't be with Lotus, the company that has covered the team in British racing green.
Signing with Chevrolet also means KV won't be with Honda, which has backed Sato throughout his career, including seven seasons in Formula One. Honda also has long been paired with Kanaan, IndyCar's 2004 champion who drove for Honda's factory team (Andretti Green Racing) for eight years. He won 14 races in that span.
Vasser conceded it will be different not being a green team.
"But it's all just paint," he said.
KV is the second confirmed of what will be at least three top teams for Chevrolet. Team Penske will be the lead team, and it hopes to return three cars. Andretti Autosport also is headed for the Detroit-based manufacturer, although Michael Andretti said his Indianapolis-based organization could have two, three or four cars next year. Indy Star
Except for a few hundred empty seats, the main 15,000 seat grandstand was full. With 45,000 in attendance it again proves IndyCar fans prefer the road course races.
Note: We revised today's crowd estimate to 45,000. Track staff told us between 42,000 and 47,000 were in attendance. If so you can bet the IndyCars will be back here next year.
08/28/11 After a 90-minute fog delay the IndyCars finally took to the track for morning warm-up and Will Power led the way over Scott Dixon and Ryan Briscoe. The rest of the day should be sunny and warm.......We saw more traffic coming into the track than in recent years and the attendance appeared to be the biggest crowd IndyCar ever had. We are told the walk-up crowd was really good and estimates have attendance over 45,000. However a return here for the IndyCars is not a sure thing as the race really needs a title sponsor. We feel that with today's attendance IndyCar will be back.
First out this morning were the three IndyCar 2-seaters with Mario Andretti who was hammering around the serpentine Infineon track at 100%, banging up and down through the gearbox at full throttle and not leaving much on the table. One of his passengers was HPD boss Erik Berkman who told Mario to hang it out because he really wanted to experience the speed of the 2-seater. "Mario left nothing on the table," said Berkman, "he was sliding the car and pushing it hard. It was a blast." At 71 years old will Mario ever slow down? We suspect not anytime soon, and what better way to live a healthy retired life but by staying active. Go Mario Go!
Look for KV Racing, Penske Racing and Andretti Autosport to be running Chevy engines next year. Depending how many cars KV and Andretti run, that would account for at least six and perhaps as many as eight of the Chevy's minimum of 10 engines that they will supply in 2012. If KV Racing is switching to Chevy per our sources, they we suspect the Lotus sponsorship of KV Racing move to another team.
Speaking of engines, we are still hearing that although Honda did not blow up 7 engines in testing of the new car, 7 engines were changed but that does not mean there was an engine issue. HPD's Erik Berkman told AR1.com that "Everything is within our development window. When you are developing a new car, engine, gearbox and everything else that goes into a new car the entire package has to work together and it's natural to expect some initial teething problems. However, we are on schedule and on track testing when we expected to be."
IndyCar's Will Phillips told AR1.com that the issue, whatever it is, should be cleared up in time for this week's test on the Indy Road Course. This is the first IndyCar engine HPD is doing 100% on their own. The current engine had input from Ilmor and Honda of Japan.
Still no word from Lotus which has a lot of people in the paddock wondering if they will answer the bell next year. We do know they are trying to have the engine designed on the 'cheap' with John Judd.
Staying on engines, we hear the team owners have drafted a letter to IndyCar complaining that they have been left in the dark after negotiating a draft agreement with their engine of choice, but not getting a signed contract back because IndyCar supposedly has not finalized their deal with the engine manufacturers. They want to know whether they have a deal or not and what the final terms will be. IndyCar should get everyone together, including the media, and lay out the 2012 technical and sporting regulations.
And rumor has it that the new Honda engine will run a single turbo and the new Chevy a dual turbo setup. As for Lotus, who knows as they have been very silent.
How IndyCar has come to finalize their new engine rules has been a long and tedious process. To make a long story short, all three manufacturers have had input on all aspects of the engine and some parts will be homologated for 3 years (locked in for 3 years, no changes), some 2 years, some 1 year and some parts will be allowed to be changed as many times as the manufacturer wants throughout the year. However, a driver cannot get the new part in their engine until the next rebuild window, not before. The manufacturer can decide how many cars get the new piece when it is ready. A team can refuse to take it right away for fear of reliability issues.
Look for Graham Rahal and his engineer Martin Pare (who came with him from Newman/Haas, to probably be back with his Ganassi team, but it's not done yet. Rahal has had a fairly good competitive year considering the 2nd Ganassi team was all new as of February.
We hear James Hinchcliffe is still in talks with Newman/Haas about continuing for another year and Takuma Sato would like to stay with KV Racing. Sato is very disappointed that this is the last IndyCar race in Japan at Motegi because that makes his sponsorship search more difficult. He still has a large amount of Japanese photographers recording his every move.
More on the Telemundo deal - they want to televise all the IndyCar races in Spanish on Telemundo in the USA and they want a full six-year deal. The holdup is ABC/ESPN agreeing to the terms. They not only want to televise every race, they want to also do a pre-race show.
As for Will Power's double digit salute to Brian Barnhart in New Hampshire, we hear he will do the community Service rather than pay IndyCar one red nickel of the $30K fine.
We ran into Long Beach GP President Jim Michaelian who tells us they are pushing hard for IndyCar to implement standing starts. Next year's Long Beach race is April 13-15, 2012, the week after Easter. We hear that next year IndyCar will start their season with
Barber (followed by Easter weekend)
Sao Paulo, Brazil
Ft. Worth, TX
Word is that the 2nd Brazil race, if it happens, will be in September as would the Qingdao, China race if it happens. There is a technical detail holding up the 2nd Brazil race announcement.
A little controversy may be brewing between Infineon Raceway and tenant the Jim Russell Racing School. The school sold their naming rights and will now be called simraceway Performance Center. Staff at Infineon fear it will cause fan confusion (two raceways in one) but they are glad to see the school land a much needed sponsor.
We ran into Tommy Kendall who, while not driving professionally anymore, he does work with AMG for their program that allows AMG passenger car owners to get on-track experience with their car. Mark C. Reporting from Sonoma.
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