Vegas: IndyCar Thursday Notebook

Drivers will have 20 uses for 12 seconds each of the Honda overtake assist for the Las Vegas Indy 300.

The system employed by Honda Performance Development is an ECU software alteration. It is activated by the driver via a button on the steering wheel and provides an extra 200 RPM (about 10 horsepower) to the Honda Indy V-8 engine. Parameters are updated before each race weekend to meet the circuit layout. One overtake use will be enabled for the second practice session Oct. 14.


Firestone Racing is using the same tire specification that debuted at Kentucky, featuring the same body construction used at the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway in June paired with new tread compounds for all four tires to provide similar grip and performance characteristics as the Texas tires.

Each entry receives 10 sets for the race weekend.

AL SPEYER (Executive Director, Firestone Racing): "Here we go again with the IZOD IndyCar Series championship going down to the final race, and we could not be more excited about it. Dario Franchitti and Will Power have battled all season long and we expect the title duel could well be decided again on the final lap. Whoever wins will be a worthy champion and fine representative of the series. There will be other noteworthy competitions in the race as well – for rookie of the year, those aspiring to finish in the coveted top 10 in points and, of course, Dan Wheldon's challenge to drive from last to first that could earn a $5 million prize. As the drivers take on these challenges, they can take comfort in the fact they will do so on a proven race tire. The identical Firestone tire specification was used two weeks ago at Kentucky, where nearly the whole first half of the race ran under wide-open green-flag conditions, and the entire field was pushing it to the limit in the thrilling closing laps. Plus, a number of teams have run successful tests on this same spec in recent weeks at Las Vegas, so we feel confident that the Firehawk tires will yet again do their part to assist in the breathtaking racing that the IndyCar Series so often displays on the 1.5-mile ovals. Whatever the outcome, it's been a sensational season and Firestone Racing has been proud to be part of it."


Firestone Indy Lights entry update: The driver of the #16 car is now Oliver Webb.


Dreyer & Reinbold Racing drivers Ana Beatriz and Davey Hamilton tested at the 1.5-mile oval in August. Both ran the new tire spec. … Grime Boss, a brand of heavy-duty hand-cleaning wipes manufactured by Nice-Pak, will be the primary sponsor of the No. 27 Andretti Autosport car driven by Mike Conway. … MGM Grand Hotel & Casino will be the primary sponsor on Takuma Sato's No. 5 MGM Grand-KV Racing Technology-Lotus car. … Firestone Indy Lights champion Josef Newgarden will be the driver analyst for the IMS Radio Network broadcast of the IZOD IndyCar Series race.


After the session, crew for #59 Viso reported it will change engines after an oil leak in the first group due to a faulty drain plug.


Michael Shank announced that his team will expand operations by launching an IZOD IndyCar Series effort starting with in 2012. The team, MSR Indy, has purchased a 2012 Dallara IndyCar and is set to take delivery on Dec. 15. MSR Indy will be based at Michael Shank Racing's 20,000 square-foot shop located outside of Columbus, Ohio. The team will also continue to stage a full season Daytona Prototype campaign in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series.

Michael Shank has formed MSR Indy by establishing a pair of partnerships that grew out of long-term business relationships. Columbus-area businessman Brian Bailey has joined the MSR Indy effort as a principal partner. MSR Indy will also see NASCAR Sprint Cup and former Indy car driver AJ Allmendinger join the venture as a principal partner through his Walldinger Racing management company. The team will be powered by Lotus engines.

MICHAEL SHANK (Owner, Michael Shank Racing): "For me, the Indianapolis 500 has always been the dream. With the new 2012 Dallara IndyCar, there is a window for a team like mine to join the series and pursue that dream. We've got the opportunity to come in and make an impact while still running an efficient program, doing the most we can with the available resources. We are still working on finalizing several elements of our program, but we wanted to take this opportunity to announce our commitment to INDYCAR and we look forward to finalizing plans and to being ready to go in 2012."

BRIAN BAILEY (Co-principal, MSR Indy): "This is an incredible opportunity, to be a part of Michael Shank's move into IndyCar and the next era in the sport. He has put so much into building this team to be ready to take on this kind of campaign. I believe in Michael, his people, and his team, so this is an exciting program to be a part of."

A.J. ALLMENDINGER (Co-principal, MSR Indy): "Obviously I have a close connection to open-wheel racing, but add that to the chance to work with Mike and his organization and it's something that really appealed to me. Mike is one of the hardest working guys in motorsports and he's a racer. I've always liked that about him, so I know he'll fight hard for MSR Indy's performance. We also hope to open some business relationships for our NASCAR Cup partners with this effort too."


Nothing really "odd" about this pick: A three-time IndyCar champion has been selected as the favorites to win this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Jay Rood, Vice President of Race & Sports MGM Resorts International, is not betting against Dario Franchitti, the IZOD IndyCar point leader is going for his fourth IZOD IndyCar title in five years in Sunday's Las Vegas Indy 300. Will Power, Franchitti's only title rival is the second choice.

The odds: (presented as news material only)

Dario Franchitti – 9-5

Will Power – 3-1

Scott Dixon – 8-1

Tony Kanaan – 11-1

Ryan Briscoe – 15-1

Helio Castroneves – 20-1

Ryan Hunter-Reay – 25-1

Marco Andretti – 50-1

Oriol Servia – 50-1

Alex Tagliani – 50-1

Graham Rahal – 60-1

Danica Patrick – 60-1

JR Hildebrand – 75-1

Vitor Meira – 100-1

Paul Tracy – 100-1

Field (all others) — 50/1

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