Tag Archives: Andretti Autosport

INDYCAR SERIES

ALONSO VISITS BARBER AHEAD OF INDIANAPOLIS 500

A racer is a racer is a racer. If nothing more can be gleaned from Fernando Alonso’s visit today to Barber Motorsports Park – and his plan to race in the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil on May 28 – it’s that racers share one goal: to be faster than the rest, no matter the car or venue.

And to do that, they occasionally need assistance from other racers.

The two-time Formula One champion explained that he’ll need help to be competitive at Indianapolis next month, so he’s relying on his five temporary teammates at Andretti Autosport – Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti, Alexander Rossi, Takuma Sato and Jack Harvey – to help him get up to speed.

“I need to learn all of these things,” Alonso said. “To learn them alone would take two years. To learn it with some help would take six months. But I have two weeks. I will need a lot of help.”

Alonso has 32 F1 victories and championships in 2005 and 2006 to his credit. Aside from some Indy 500 warmups on a simulator in Italy, though, he has no experience with Indianapolis Motor Speedway, oval tracks or Indy cars.

“I will need the help to be competitive,” he said. “I’m very open-minded, knowing that the series is completely different, the cars are completely different and superspeedways require a driving technique and a driving feeling that’s completely different and that I don’t have yet.”

Alonso met his teammates Saturday night after arriving at Barber to watch today’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by America’s First. From there, he’ll travel to Andretti Autosport headquarters in Indianapolis on Monday for a seat fitting and more time on a simulator. He’ll then travel to Sochi, Russia, for next weekend’s Russian Grand Prix and his fulltime job with the McLaren Honda F1 team before returning to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for a solo test in the McLaren-Andretti Honda on May 3.

That’s when the sorting of the details will commence.

“The setup of the car is extremely important, because the difference is in milliseconds,” Alonso said. “To set up the car for different parts of the race in different wind direction and fuel loads in the car, tire degradation – there are many things that you need to make small adjustments, apparently, that I have no idea about.”

For now, Alonso is just taking as much in as he can and relying on his fellow racers in the process.

“There are many, many things – more than people can imagine,” Alonso said. “There are little things when you’re driving at those speeds and you have all those things going on – the radio, etc. – but we are professional drivers and we should be able to deal with it.”

Motorsports Mondial

Photo: MiguelCostaJr

Andretti Autosport adds Beatriz for Sao Paulo, Indianapolis: Andretti Autosport will add Ana Beatriz to the team’s driver lineup for two IZOD IndyCar Series races in 2012.

Beatriz will race for Andretti Autosport in her hometown event, the São Paulo Indy 300 (April 27-29), and then attempt to make her third Indianapolis 500 start in May as a co-entrant for Andretti Autosport with operational support from Conquest Racing. Beatriz will race the No. 25 Chevrolet sponsored by Ipiranga, one of Brazil’s iconic petroleum and convenience retail companies.

“Driving for Andretti Autosport is the biggest opportunity I’ve had in IndyCar and my career,” Beatriz said. “I am very honored to be part of Michael’s (Andretti) team for Brazil and the Indy 500. I would like to thank my management team, Andre Ribeiro and Augusto Cesario, for putting this deal together with Michael, John (Lopes) and JF (Thormann). Also I am very happy to have Ipiranga supporting me again for these races and Andretti couldn’t be a better fit. I am very much looking forward to working with the team, Marco (Andretti), James (Hinchcliffe) and Ryan (Hunter-Reay).”

The 27-year-old Beatriz will drive the fourth entry for Andretti Autosport at São Paulo, joining teammates Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe and Ryan Hunter-Reay. For the Indianapolis 500 she will pilot a fifth Chevrolet-powered car for Andretti (Sebastian Saavedra will be the team’s fourth driver in an AFS Racing co-entry). Beatriz completed a test session with Andretti Autosport in March at Sebring International Raceway.

“I’ve been watching Bia for a few years,” said Michael Andretti, Chairman, President and CEO, Andretti Autosport. “She was very strong in Firestone Indy Lights, and I was impressed by the pace she showed there. This opportunity is a good fit for us as a team. Brazil is an important, growing market for many of our sponsors, so to have a Brazilian driver and Ipiranga come aboard with us made a lot of sense. This opportunity came to us late so we are grateful for the operational support provided by Conquest Racing.”

Beatriz, who goes by the nickname ‘Bia,’ came up through the Brazilian karting and open wheel ranks before she entered Firestone Indy Lights in 2008. She was the first woman to win in the series with a victory at Nashville in 2008, and she followed-up with a second oval win at Iowa in 2009. Beatriz has 20 previous starts in the IZOD IndyCar Series, with a career-best finish of 11th at Toronto in 2011. She made her first IndyCar start in 2010 at the São Paolo race. She is the first Brazilian woman to start in the Indianapolis 500, where she has twice finished 21st.

Beatriz’ addition to the grid in Brazil means that a total of 27 cars will make the trip to Sao Paulo for the third Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300 on April 29. INDYCAR CEO Randy Bernard said provisions were made to bring 27 cars to Brazil.

“After the decisions had been made, our promoter BAND asked us to add Ana Beatriz to the field, and we were happy to accommodate that request without limiting the field for the race,” Bernard said.

Motorsports Mondial

Photo: indycar.com

CASTRONEVES CLAIMS POLE POSITION AT BARBER MOTORSPORTS PARK

Helio Castroneves won an IZOD IndyCar Series pole position for the first time in more than a year, topping a wild qualifying session at Barber Motorsports Park.

Castroneves set a best lap of 1:10.4768 in the Firestone Fast Six to claim the pole position for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. Castroneves was the 2010 winner at Barber and the race winner at this season’s opening race at St. Pete.

James Hinchcliffe, driving the No. 27 Team GoDaddy.com Chevrolet for Andretti Autosport, earned his first front-row start.

Honda-powered drivers Scott Dixon, the race runner-up at St. Petersburg, and Mike Conway will share Row 2, while Chevrolet-powered drivers JR Hildebrand and Tony Kanaan will occupy Row 3.

Will Power set a Barber Motorsports Park course record of 1 minute, 9.8529 seconds in the Chevrolet-powered No. 12 Verizon Team Penske on the 2.38-mile, 17-turn circuit in Round 1 of IZOD IndyCar Series qualifications.

But the Australian-born/North Carolina resident, who won the 2011 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama from pole, will start ninth in the 90-lap race (2 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network). He had competed in the past 20 Firestone Fast Six sessions dating to the 2010 season.

Also on March 31, Firestone Indy Lights driver Sebastian Saavedra, driving the No. 27 Team AFS car, posted a best lap of 1 minute, 16.4968 seconds on the 2.38-mile, 17-turn Barber Motorsports Park road course to earn the Sunoco Pole Award for the 45-lap Grand Prix of Alabama on April 1.

Saavedra, who topped the time sheet in the lone practice session March 30 (the second was canceled because of a downpour), jumped to the top of the qualifying time sheet with just under five minutes left in the 45-minute session and remained there when a red flag flew for a one-car incident involving the No. 7 Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car driven by Oliver Webb.

Tristan Vautier will start alongside Saavedra. It’s his second consecutive front-row start; the 2011 Star Mazda champion won from the pole in his Firestone Indy Lights debut at St. Pete.

DAY 2 NOTEBOOK:

The recently unveiled “Women Empowered” initiative from TrueCar, Inc., which provides sponsorship to six female racers at various levels of North American motorsport, includes five drivers with strong ties to the Women in the Winner’s Circle Foundation.

IZOD IndyCar Series driver Katherine Legge, Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear driver Ashley Freiberg, Cooper Tires presents the USF2000 National Championship powered by Mazda racer Shannon McIntosh, Pirelli World Challenge Championships driver Shea Holbrook and Rally American Series driver Verena Mei are associated with the Women in the Winner’s Circle Foundation established by Lyn St. James to help women achieve their goals in motorsports.

Appropriately, the new program launched in March, which is “Women’s History Month.” McIntosh opened her 2012 season at Sebring International Raceway on March 13-17, while Legge, Holbrook and Freiberg opened their respective seasons last weekend at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. All six of the “Women Empowered” drivers, which also includes SCCA Pro Racing Playboy MX-5 Cup Series driver Emilee Tominovich, participated in a meet-and-greet and autograph session during the weekend at St. Pete.

Three of the drivers – Freiberg, McIntosh and Holbrook – are graduates of the Women in the Winner’s Circle Foundation’s Complete Driver Academy, which is the most comprehensive educational and training program of its kind for talented women race drivers who aspire to the professional levels of motorsports

LYN ST. JAMES: “I want to congratulate TrueCar, Inc. for creating this remarkable motorsports campaign with its sponsorship of six women racers in six different professional racing series. After watching so many women racers struggle to secure funding just to get in a race car, now these drivers know they have the support to run a full season with proper race teams, which is history making. Too often, women drivers are only able to secure short term deals, and generally aren’t funded well enough to have a competitive effort. “I look forward to watching them as the season progresses,” St. James concluded. “I know they’ve worked hard and are prepared for the challenges ahead. Without having this opportunity, they know they might be watching from the sidelines, or just struggling to get on the racetrack.”RR

KATHERINE LEGGE (No. 6 TrueCar Lotus Dragon Racing Lotus): “Lyn has been an inspiration and a role model for myself and many other young drivers both male and female,” Legge said. “She has opened many doors before us and continues to help and support the up and coming young talent in the racing arena. She was the first person I called when I came to the USA and is still the first I call when I need guidance. She is a rock star!”

F1Weekly podcast # 547

The New Ohio Express. F1 Weekly is pleased to present our conversation with Zach Veach, young American talent from Stockdale. From karting to Star Mazda this year with Andretti Autosport, Zach’s career has been on a fast track.

The past two seasons he competed in the USF2000 National Championship Powered by Mazda. In 2010, he was fifth in the final standings with three podium appearances. Last year he grabbed his maiden win in the series and with five podium finishes placed fourth in the championship.

Seeking guidance from his racing hero and team owner, Michael Andretti, Zach now takes on his teammate Sage Karam, and 2011 USF2000 Champion Petri Suvanto in this year’s Star Mazda Championship.

Zach is equally busy off the track. He has written a book, 99 Things Teens Wish They Knew Before Turning 16,” and is the spokesperson for FocusDriven. In 2010, he was named to CNN’s list of “Intriguing People.”

For more information please visit his website www.zachveach.com and we hope you will enjoy listening to his story on podcast 547.

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