Edited by Len Ashburn / Ron Felix
Clauson Joins Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing For Indy 500
INDIANAPOLIS, IN, April 19, 2012 - USAC open wheel star Bryan Clauson has been hired by Sarah Fisher and Wink Hartman to drive the No. 39 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing/RW Dallara/Honda/Firestone car in the 96th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. Clauson, from Noblesville, Ind., is a multi-time USAC national champion and has won several races behind the wheel of his family-owned No. 39 USAC midget. He will be teammate to another young American driver, Josef Newgarden, from Nashville, Tenn.
Newgarden drives the No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone car full time in the IZOD IndyCar Series. Clauson and Newgarden were teammates in Firestone Indy Lights in 2011.
"It's an awesome opportunity for me to enter the Indianapolis 500 with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing," said Clauson. "It's almost surreal just talking about it. For me to be attempting to make the race with Sarah's team is just phenomenal. With her background in sprint car and midget racing and her continued involvement at that level, this is just a good fit for me. I'm also proud to be an Indiana boy driving for an Indiana team."
"I'm also excited about the continuity we're building into the program," added Clauson. "My car number will be No. 39 and I'm bringing along some of my short track supporters with me like Rotondo Weirich."
Clauson won back-to-back USAC National Drivers Championships in 2010 and 2011 for his performance in all three major USAC open wheel divisions. He also won the USAC National Midget Championship in 2010 and 2011and has more than 26 USAC wins.
In addition, Clauson had four top-five finishes in Firestone Indy Lights racing in 2011 (add sentence about how he got to FIL via the MRTI scholarship from the USAC championship). His best finish was third at Iowa Speedway driving for Sam Schmidt Motorsports.
"It's quite an honor to bring a USAC champion to the Indianapolis 500," said Fisher. "I am very fond of my roots in short track oval racing, and watching Bryan at some of these events really brings back memories. Personally knowing his background, I have complete confidence in his credentials, talent and capabilities, and look forward to working with him at Indy. It will be exciting to fill out our team roster with both of the Road to Indy Champions from last season, really solidifying the ladder program."
The pairing of Clauson and Newgarden is a strong statement for the Mazda Road to Indy program. In addition to Clauson's USAC National Drivers Championships, Newgarden won the 2011 Firestone Indy Lights Championship.
"INDYCAR continues to focus on strengthening ties with USAC as a path to the IZOD IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500," said Randy Bernard, CEO, INDYCAR. "After a strong oval debut in Firestone Indy Lights last season, it made sense to utilize our USAC National Drivers Championship scholarship to enter Bryan in the Indianapolis 500. Not only is Bryan one of the most talented USAC drivers, his participation in the Indy 500 will attract the interest of short track fans across the country."
It's more than a coincidence that SFHR has hired two American drivers for its Indiana-based operation. The team is proud of its Indiana roots and routinely flies an American flag in its pit box.
"SFHR is happy to welcome Bryan to the team," said Wink Hartman, co-owner of SFHR. "We've been working toward this program for quite some time, and I feel we are prepared to present a first-class effort for the entry. Working with young American talent fits this team and its values perfectly, and we are working hard to find a primary sponsor for Bryan to match that platform. We are also thankful to have the support of all our partners, including Honda, for this program and the excitement the total package brings."
Not lost on Clauson is the fact he is joining an emerging IZOD IndyCar Series team that already has a victory in its portfolio.
"With its performance so far this year with Josef on the road courses, combined with the fact it ran strong at Indy and won the last oval race in 2011, SFHR is proving it is a first-class team. I can't wait for ROP."
Clauson and Newgarden both passed their INDYCAR rookie oval test at Texas Motor Speedway on April 5. They will both participate in the Indianapolis 500 Rookie Orientation Program on May 10.
Three Winners, Series Champions In 96th Indianapolis 500 Field
INDIANAPOLIS, IN, Thursday, April 19, 2012 - Three past winners and three IZOD IndyCar Series champions are among the drivers named to the 34 entries filed for the 2012 Indianapolis 500, scheduled for Sunday, May 27 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
All drivers will compete in the new Dallara chassis that debuted at the start of this IZOD IndyCar Series season. The Indianapolis 500 will be the first oval race for the new car.
Engine competition returns to "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" for the first time since 2005. Chevrolet and Honda each will power 14 entries, with Lotus powering six. The popular, distinctive sound of turbocharged engines also returns to the "500" for the first time since 1996.
Team Penske's Helio Castroneves (2001, 2002, 2009) leads the list of past winners, which also includes Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Dario Franchitti (2007, 2010) and Scott Dixon (2008). Castroneves is trying to become just the fourth four-time winner in the illustrious history of the race, joining A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears. Franchitti will attempt to become just the 10th driver to earn at least three Indianapolis 500 victories.
IZOD IndyCar Series champions assigned to cars include Dixon (2003, 2008), Franchitti (2007, 2009, 2010, 2011) and KV Racing Technology w/SH's Tony Kanaan (2004). Four-time Champ Car champion Sebastian Bourdais also aims to make his first Indianapolis 500 start since 2005. Thirty drivers have been named to the 34 entries filed this year, which will breed competition for the 33 starting spots during Pole Day qualifying Saturday, May 19 and Bump Day qualifying Sunday, May 20.
The 2012 Indianapolis 500 is scheduled to start at noon (ET) Sunday, May 27 and will be broadcast live by ESPN on ABC, the IMS Radio Network and SiriusXM 94. Opening Day is scheduled for Saturday, May 12, which also will feature the Celebration of Automobiles.
There is outstanding depth and quality in this year's field. Besides three past race winners and three IZOD IndyCar Series champions, 15 of the 30 drivers named to entries have won at least one race in either IZOD IndyCar Series or Champ Car World Series/CART competition.
A strong crop of seven rookies includes the most experienced Formula One driver in history, Rubens Barrichello, and two past Firestone Indy Lights champions, Wade Cunningham and Josef Newgarden. Other rookies assigned to cars are reigning two-time USAC National Drivers Champion Bryan Clauson, James Jakes, Katherine Legge and 2010 American Le Mans Series champion Simon Pagenaud.
Plenty of young talent that recently advanced through the Mazda Road to Indy ladder system also was assigned to cars, including three Firestone Indy Lights champions - Cunningham (2005), 2011 Indianapolis 500 runner-up JR Hildebrand (2009) and Newgarden (2011). Other recent Firestone Indy Lights graduates on the entry list include Marco Andretti, Ana Beatriz, Ed Carpenter, Clauson, James Hinchcliffe, Charlie Kimball, Graham Rahal and Sebastian Saavedra.
Three women were among the drivers named to entries: 2010 Chase Rookie of the Year Simona De Silvestro, Beatriz and Legge.
Andretti Autosport is involved in five entries, more than any other team. Andretti Autosport is fielding cars for Andretti, Beatriz, Hinchcliffe and Ryan Hunter-Reay, while Andretti Autosport/AFS Racing has entered a car for Saavedra.
SUMMARY - DRIVERS (30)
Former race winners (3): Helio Castroneves (2001, 2002, 2009), Dario Franchitti (2007, 2010), Scott Dixon (2008).
Former pole winners (4): Helio Castroneves (2003, 2007, 2009, 2010), Tony Kanaan (2005), Scott Dixon (2008), Alex Tagliani (2011).
Rookies (7): Rubens Barrichello, Bryan Clauson, Wade Cunningham, James Jakes, Katherine Legge, Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud.
Youngest: Josef Newgarden, 21.
Oldest: Rubens Barrichello, 39. (Barrichello turns 40 on May 23, four days before Race Day.)
Most previous starts: Helio Castroneves, 11.
Cunningham to drive second A.J. Foyt Racing car at Indy
INDIANAPOLIS, IN, April 18, 2012 - Wade Cunningham has had success at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Firestone Indy Lights. Now the 27-year-old New Zealander is aiming for success in the Indianapolis 500 with A.J. Foyt Racing. Cunningham will attempt to make his first Indy 500 start, driving the Honda-powered No. 41 ECat/ABC Supply car. Alfe Heat Treating will be an associate sponsor on the No. 41 car for the second year in a row.
"Driving for A.J.? He's a legend," Cunningham answered when asked about driving for Indy's first four-time winner. "A.J.'s from a different era but he's raced front engine roadsters at the Speedway and ended with the turbo-charged CART Indy cars, so he's had an amazing career, and his is a very storied team, so it's quite an honor to drive for him.
"Indy means more to me than anything else. Winning at Indy in the Firestone Indy Lights Series is the only thing that kept my career on track so it's important to me to go there and do well in IndyCar and prove that the results can translate."
Foyt certainly hopes those results will translate. In five of Cunningham's six starts in the Firestone Freedom 100, he won three times, and placed second and third. Incidentally, Foyt fielded the winning car for Ed Carpenter in the inaugural running of the race in 2003.
Cunningham will participate in the Rookie Orientation Program on May 10. Three days earlier, he will join full-season driver Mike Conway in testing the No. 14 ABC Supply car at Texas Motor Speedway in the IZOD IndyCar Series Open Test.
ECat is an Indianapolis-based high-performance electric bike company whose target market is the law enforcement community.
INDYCAR PLACES GRAHAM RAHAL ON PROBATION
INDIANAPOLIS, IN, April 17, 2012 - INDYCAR officials have placed IZOD IndyCar Series driver Graham Rahal on probation through the next six race events for blocking and initiating avoidable contact during the race on the Long Beach temporary street circuit April 15.
On Lap 22 of 85-lap race, Rahal made contact with the No. 26 car driven by Marco Andretti in Turn 8, which launched Andretti's car into the air before it made contact with the tire barrier. Andretti climbed from the car without assistance from the Holmatro Safety Team.
"Due to the inability of the No. 38 car to continue the race, a review of the on-track actions of Graham Rahal became a post-race issue," said Beaux Barfield, INDYCAR president of competition and IZOD IndyCar Series Race Director. "All stewards have reviewed the incident and have decided that the on-track actions of Graham warranted probation because of driving that endangers on-track safety and adversely affects competition."
The probation period will end following the IZOD IndyCar Series event June 23 at Iowa Speedway. If the improvements are not met, INDYCAR may impose other penalties at its discretions.
Per Rule 9.3.2 of the IZOD IndyCar Series rulebook, a driver must not alter his/her racing line based on the actions of pursuing drivers to inhibit or prevent passing. Blocking will result in a minimum of a black flag "drive through" penalty.
Rule 9.3.3 states a competitor must not initiate or attempt to initiate avoidable contact that results in the interruption of another competitor's lap time or track position.
The probation penalty may be protested pursuant to the rulebook.
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