Overheard in Toronto - Saturday
Bet you didn't know that Sage Karam's father, Jody, used to be Michael Andretti's personal trainer. When Andretti moved to the IRL from CART Karam got Andretti in the best shape of his life, losing 27 pounds in a short period. Both Sage and his father are physically in very good shape just looking at them, so it's clear Sage, who is still in high school, takes after his old man.
We learned that Sage is now managed by Julian Jacoby's management company and is assigned to Mickey Ryan. Given the ties Jacoby has in Europe, you have to wonder if Karam is eyeing a move to Europe next year. Hmm........Would be a big loss to IndyCar because they need every talented American they can get.
Speaking of Indy Lights, we hear Dan Andersen is looking at adding paddle shifters to the current car before introducing a new car in 2015. They are also looking at doubleheaders for next year, with one race possibly being a shorter sprint race like they do in GP2 and GP3 in Europe. They are also looking at reinstating extra test days for an IndyCar team if they test their Indy Lights driver in their IndyCar.
Spotted Dan Andersen talking to IndyCar team owner Dale Coyne. Andersen is trying to get more IndyCar team owners to field a Lights team. Andersen said that the ladder system trains not only drivers but also engineers, mechanics and PR personnel.
Ganassi Racing team boss Mike Hull told AR1.com that they would be taking a hard look at the revitalized Indy Lights Series. "About seven years ago we did an Indy Lights program with John Della Pena and we liked it." As to why the sudden surge in performance from the team Hull said, "We struggled all year until that open test at Sebring recently where we tried a lot of things and found that we had out engineered ourselves over the winter. One of the areas a team can develop on the cars are the shocks and we found that the grip level of our suspension setup did not match that of the new Firestone tires. Firestone did not change the tire construction but they changed the compound for environmental reasons (when they recycle them) and it took us until recently to figure out where we had gone wrong."
Roger Penske is not willing to give up one of his NASCAR programs to run a Lights program too. "We are so overbooked, said Penske. We have to focus on our core business program. It would mean that we have to raise sponsorship for that series because we are not going to run ride-buyer drivers," said Penske However, in most 'development' series' ride-buying is rampant.
There is still speculation in the paddock as to why Beau Barfield is not here. We learned that if you have any arrest record at all, including a 10-year old DUI, you cannot get into Canada. Not that this is the end all, be all, but there is nothing on his Twitter. Zippo. It made some think they told him you STFU while we review your job status. However, we checked with Derrick Walker and he said that is absolutely not the case. "That is too important a position for us not to make some sort of announcement if we were replacing him," said Walker. According to other AR1.com sources, they say it might be that he has entered Canada too many times over the years in racing (he used to drive) and they put a clamp down on him.
Rumor has it that a piece of Marco Andretti's headrest got caught in Josef Newgarden's radiator at Pocono. Was that Marco throwing it out trying to get a caution flag so he could save fuel and race to the finish instead of parading around the track saving fuel? Don't know and we doubt he would ever admit it, but IndyCar should have thrown a debris caution with 20 to go so it was a race to the finish instead of a rendition of the Thanksgiving Day parade.
We hear that HVM owner Keith Wiggins, who is half owner of the EJ Viso car at Andretti Autosport, is being courted by IndyCar to run a full car next year on his own. However, we also hear he may stay with Sports Cars fulltime now that those two series are merged.
Quizzed team owner Chip Ganassi about the rumor of Tom Garfinkel coming into IndyCar to take the commercial director position that Zak Brown turned down. Ganassi said, "Tom is as good as any guy for that position. He did an excellent job of selling sponsorship for us. He was very good at selling stuff and you have to sell something in racing before you can go racing." Mark C. reporting from Toronto