Overheard in Baltimore – Sunday (3rd Update Ganassi to Chevy?)

UPDATE #3 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement that the Ganassi team is switching over to Chevy power in IndyCar starting in 2014.

09/07/13 "There’s always opportunities when contracts come up for people to consider other options," Stephen Eriksen, vice president and chief operating officer of Honda Performance Development Inc. said. "Honestly, I think the history of Ganassi and Honda together being successful is a pretty strong reason to stay together. If you look at it, I think we’ve won eight championships together, something like 77 Indy Car victories. We’re really on a winning streak with them. We’ve now won four races in a row with Ganassi. We’ve tied up the manufacturing championship with Chevy. So I think what you’ve seen over the course of the season is we’ve jelled tighter as a group, and our results speak for themselves."

Eriksen doesn’t expect to lose any other teams to Chevrolet, either.

"In fact, I think our bigger challenge might be having too many teams," he said. "We’re being very successful right now, and the new 2014 regulations allow quite a bit of update to the engine. You may have seen that IndyCar issued a direction that for 2014 and beyond it would be only twin turbos. That in itself is an instant step up for us. We’re clearly dominant in these last four races with where we were at today. When we go to twin turbo, watch out."

09/01/13 Another crazy rumor making the rounds is that Chevy may be making a run at the Ganassi team. Ganassi runs Chevy In NASCAR. It would make sense that Chevy wants Ganassi to be "all Chevy" and is making an attractive offer to move their USCR DP program from BMW to Chevy and their IndyCar program from Honda to Chevy. As part of the deal, Chevy would pay the costs associated with upgrading their USCR cars for 2014. To stay with Honda, Ganassi wants a free LMP2 car to run in USCR and other concessions. Honda is balking. Of course if this happens, that opens the door for the Muscle Milk team to run one or even two cars with Honda power. As we reported yesterday, Honda does not plan to increase their car count next year and we wondered how Muscle Milk would get engines. This rumor may be the clue…..Hmm…..

09/01/13 Word in the paddock is that Andretti Autosport will be back with at least four cars in 2014. In fact we hear the deal is done for all four already, with the possibility of a 5th. Not sure GoDaddy is coming back. With the low TV ratings on NBC Sports Network, where is the return on investment for them given they are an internet hosting company who wants to be in front as many eyeballs as possible? We shall see, hopefully they stay, but we know Munoz is knocking on the door and if he wins the Lights title he will have the championship $1 million in his back pocket. Andretti also expressed interest in landing Juan Montoya, so at least four cars is definitely doable.

There is real appreciation in the paddock of how much Michael Andretti is doing for IndyCar. He runs 2 cars in USF2000, 2 in Pro Mazda, 2 in Indy Lights and 4 cars in IndyCar. Plus he is the race promoter for three events and he is trying to do a 4th in Ft. Lauderdale. And we hear they would love to get the Long Beach GP if Kalkhoven and Forsythe ever decide to retire and sell it.

We reported yesterday that Honda and Chevy were not happy when they heard some of their Body kit parts had to be manufactured by Dallara. One reason may be that Dallara has to make sure that side impact integrity is not compromised.

We hear that KV Racing will be back with two cars next year, with or without Tony Kanaan who is asking for a big pay increase after winning the Indy 500. Can you blame him for trying?

Once again we hear that there will be no new venues on the 2014 schedule and a rumor that Houston will move to June when it will be so hot hardly anyone will bother to show up. Previously it was Fontana moving to June so how can Houston be in June when Texas Motor Speedway is in June (unless TMS is going away), but perhaps this means Fontana will be the season finale on Labor day weekend under the lights? If so, is this the 2014 schedule (speculation)?

1. March 23 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Streets of St. Petersburg*
2. March 24 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Streets of St. Petersburg*
3. April 6 Honda Grand Prix of Alabama. Barber Motorsport Park
4. April 13 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, Streets of Long Beach
5. April 27 Sao Paulo Indy 300, Streets of Sao Paulo
6. May 10 Indianapolis 200 (Saturday Indy Road Course)
7. May 25 Indianapolis 500 (Oval)
8. May 31 Chevrolet Duel in Detroit, Belle Isle Park*
9. June 1 Chevrolet Duel in Detroit, Belle Isle Park*
10. June 7 Firestone 550, Texas Motor Speedway (Sat Night)
11. June 13 Shell Grand Prix of Houston, Reliant Stadium*
12. June 14 Shell Grand Prix of Houston, Reliant Stadium*
13. June 21 Iowa Corn 250, Iowa Motor Speedway (Sat Night)
14. July 6 Pocono Indy 500, Pocono Raceway
15. July 12 Honda Grand Prix of Toronto, Streets of Toronto*
16. July 13 Honda Grand Prix of Toronto, Streets of Toronto*
17. July 20 Milwaukee Indyfest, The Milwaukee Mile
18. August 3 Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio
19. August 17 Go-Pro Grand Prix of Sonoma
20. August 24 Baltimore Grand Prix, Streets of Baltimore
21. August 30 MAVtv 500, Autoclub Speedway (Sat Night)
*Double header

Mark Miles said Sunday that he's confident the series will return to Baltimore in 2014.

"It looks like we'll be able to find a workable date next year," Miles told USA TODAY Sports before the start of Sunday's Grand Prix of Baltimore. "My bigger concern is the next year and the year after that. We really don't want to be bouncing around from date to date."

"Everybody is focused on 2014 and thereafter," Miles said. "I see a couple options for '14 that will work that aren't this (Labor Day) weekend. I'm more focused on the fact that we're going to disrupt our calendar to a big extent from the series' point of view and the city's point of view, and then what?"

As for the Indy road course race – “We only had a few thousand people on opening day this year for the Indy 500 and we keep doing the same things and it's not working," said Miles. “I want to protect the Indianapolis 500 but we need to look at what we can do to help the race and IndyCar. We need make more out of the month and I don't see how starting off with a road race could hurt it."

“Can we make it a success, aesthetically and financially? That's our challenge.".

“It will be a central Indiana event, no doubt, and we certainly don't want to do anything that will negatively impact our Indy 500 sales," he continued. “But this isn't 1960 and we need to try something different. One of the strengths of our series is versatility, and I think it would be cool to open May with Indy cars on the road course and then have a build-up to the greatest race in the world."

Simona de Silvestro turned 25 today and her parents flew in from Switzerland to be here for her birthday.

Word is the secret to Honda's success of late is their improved engine drivability.

If you wondered why the overhead shots of the grandstands in Baltimore showed mostly empty seats it is because the combination of high temperature and high humidity is oppressive this time of year. We asked ten fans why they were not in the grandstands and all ten said, "it's way too hot man." Unless this race moves to the spring, the heat will eventually be its undoing. Mark C. reporting from Baltimore

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