Posts Tagged ‘ Dario Franchitti ’

I’ve been told many times by professors not to use Wikipedia as a valid source when researching, but since we at IndyCar have entered the Wikipedia world I’m not sure why it wouldn’t be the first online stop when researching absolutely anything. There is a huge misunderstanding when it comes to the way Wikipedia gathers its information. Yes, anyone can contribute to it, but there are Wikipedians out there that are watching your every move. Anything added with bad intention will be caught and deleted in a matter of minutes. Every edit must have legitimate sources behind it. Editing Wikipedia is not something to be taken lightly.

Dario Franchitti's Wikipedia Page

Dario Franchitti's Wikipedia Page

In the past couple weeks we have dived right into the world of Wikipedia in hopes of spreading the knowledge we have of open wheel racing. We plan to share our links for external sources so that Wikipedia users can refer to our sites as an additional source of information. By adding in our indycar.com links and YouTube videos we’re hoping to improve the Wikipedia experience for every one. We are also being careful not to violate the Wikipedia Conflict of Interest policy (another reason Wikipedia editing shouldn’t be taken lightly).

Dario Franchitti's IndyCar Driver Page

Dario Franchitti's IndyCar Driver Page

This project will be on-going and we are definitely newbies when it comes to Wikipedia. We have much to learn but have high hopes for the future of open wheel racing knowledge that will be spread due to this project. My entire opinion of Wikipedia has been changed and I plan to refer to it more often in the future for whatever I may need information on.

How often do you use Wikipedia? What do you usually use Wikipedia for?

The Driver Behind the Tweet

Posted on: June 30, 2011 | Comments(12) | Drivers, New Media | By: Cassie

Twitter allows drivers to better interact with their fans and a way to share a small piece of themselves and their teams. When a driver tweets, it gives us all a closer look at their personality. Some drivers tweet about things that keep followers up-to-date on their racing life, some tweet about their personal lives, some tweet mobile pictures (remember planking??), but no matter their intentions, some drivers make us LOL every time they tweet.

Danica Tweeting?

Danica Patrick Tweeting Away!

We’ve pulled together some of the funniest Tweets from the IndyCar world and listed them below. Each Tweet shows a bit of the Tweeters personality. Gather all of your IndyCar knowledge and take a guess at who the Tweeter might have been.

Guess away! Get your friends to play, and see who can correctly guess which drivers are behind these tweets:

1. Last night, one of our crew guys pulled me aside & said, “Stop being an a**hole.” That’s all the motivation I needed.

2. Anything better than putting on boxers fresh out of the dryer? I think not. #lovethelittlethings

3. I am at bucksstar ;) had to whisper 1 frappo no whipped cream to cashier make sure no one heard me.

4. “that’s the most passes 4 the lead that I can remember. Much better than just watching Dario go round & round.” SNAP

5. @dariofranchitti the pleasure was all mine! I was always told to be nice and polite to your elders!

6. For me boxing is the closest trainning for racing outside the race car…sometimes the punch feels like the wall.hehehe

7. Not entirely sure new yoga instructor tonight was overly impressed with a certain someone’s non existent levels of “bendyness”…!!!

8. My tomtom has @dariofranchitti voice…not sexy. Hahahaha

Hint: Not all of the Tweets are technically from drivers. Think of some of the most vocal INDYCAR tweeps out there and you might recognize 1 or 2 of their personalities as well. Leave a comment with your guesses below and we’ll keep you posted when the answers are revealed.  #goodluck

A Second Glance at May

Posted on: June 3, 2011 | Comments(8) | Indy 500 | By: Cassie

This May was my second with IndyCar and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I am an intern for the media department where we handle Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and blog posts. I spent a lot of the month captioning the many photos that are taken each day. I decided to choose some of my favorites from the month and pay a personal tribute to the 100th anniversary of the Indy 500.

Dan Wheldon takes the win

The only thing this photo is missing are the dropped jaws, the wide eyes and the shocked gasps coming from the crowd at the end of this year’s Indy 500 when rookie J.R. Hildebrand crashed while leading the final lap. The photo definitely depicts the controversy that came from the ending. The checkered and yellow flag are out as Dan Wheldon crosses the finish line, but Dan played fair and successfully grabbed his second Indy 500 title. Definitely a twist of fate that made for a memorable ending to a historical race.

Simona De Silvestro signs an autograph

How could I not choose a picture of Simona de Silvestro? Tough is the only word you can use to describe her. There is no way you could have watched the horrifying wreck she was involved in, watch her successfully qualify, and watch her finish the race and not have the most respect in the world for her. I’m not sure we even heard a complaint come from her lips. Being sure not to let down her fans, she continued to sign autographs throughout the rest of the month. Simona, you’re my girl!

Sam Schmidt and Alex Tagliani

There is no way to look at the picture above and not feel the emotion Sam Schmidt and Alex Tagliani must have experienced in this moment. After Tagliani grabbed the pole, he couldn’t thank Schmidt enough. You have to love and respect Sam Schmidt for all he’s overcome, and congratulate him because this was his first Indy 500 pole. It was great to see their effort and teamwork pay off.

Dario shakes the hand of Roger Penske

Any picture that includes a member of Target Chip Ganassi Racing and Team Penske is a great one to me. It’s so easy to create the thought that there is a rivalry there, but this picture goes to show that isn’t quite the case. If you ask me, every IndyCar fan is either a Ganassi fan or a Penske fan. You can’t like both, but you can probably hate both out of jealousy for the numerous success stories both teams have. Dario shaking Roger Penske’s hand in this picture shows the camaraderie that exists between Target Chip Ganassi Racing and Team Penske. One of my all time favorites for sure!

A.J. Foyt, Rick Mears, Mario Andretti

I chose this picture and put it last in order for a reason. This year was the 100th anniversary of the Indy 500. This picture includes IndyCar legends and embodies the whole history of the race and the series. A.J. Foyt, Rick Mears, Mario Andretti, and Johnny Rutherford – all legends of the Indy 500 and the IndyCar sport. This picture is everything that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway wanted to accomplish during the 100th anniversary – a celebration of the history of those who have made the Indy 500 the “greatest spectacle in racing” and kept it there for 100 years and counting.

To see more pictures from May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway check out IndyCar Flickr.

Dario Franchitti sits down and tells CNN why he’s sticking with IndyCar. View video interview below. Full story available here.

“There are a lot of drivers that talk about wanting to race in INDYCAR. We believe that the skill set it takes and just the toughness and willpower to get behind the wheel of these cars is pretty amazing.” -Randy Bernard (Read more about the $5 Million Dollar Challenge at the IZOD IndyCar World Championships)

It’s your turn: tell us what skills a driver needs to be successful in multiple series. Are you a fan of drivers that compete in multiple series such as Danica Patrick, or do you prefer to see drivers stick to their “roots?” Which drivers do you think have what it takes to compete for the $5 Million Dollar purse at the IZOD IndyCar World Championships this October?

2011 and Photography

Posted on: March 26, 2011 | Comments(14) | Flickr | By: Daniel

I’ve lost count of the number of Flickr or photography related posts I’ve written on this blog. As a hobbyist in the area, I have tremendous respect for the people that shoot our IndyCar events. Our photography staff and the numerous photographers that follow the IndyCar circus from event to event, put in long hours to capture ‘the’ shot. They are typically the first and last to leave the track. They spend 10-14 hours in all types of weather, loaded up with equipment, dodging the crowds, teams and fast cars. Then they rush back to the media center to review, edit and upload images. It’s a really tough job. But we reap the benefits. These images appear all over the world, and of course on indycar.com.

Bourdais in pit lane

Bourdais at St. Pete

[More]

The week started with a celebration of life service for long-time Indianapolis Motor Speedway public address announcer Tom Carnegie. Fans could view Livestream coverage of the event, which included eulogies by Sarah Fisher and Ed Carpenter, online and archived footage of the event can still be viewed here. Fan memories and tributes from Teams, Drivers, former drivers and notable members of the racing community continue to pour in. Carnegie truly was a legend.

On Tuesday, fans were given the second photo in our series of photo caption contests. This time, Helio Castroneves could be found talking race strategy. While that’s what was really happening, fans submitted some clever, funny, and, at times, off-beat captions for what Helio could possibly be saying. From over 200 comments, tweets, and messages, the field of captions was narrowed to five. Congratulations to our week 2 winner, Jeff Chiszar who wins an IndyCar prize pack and, most importantly, bragging rights. Keep on submitting those captions, we have a good photo in store for you this week.

This weekend the iRacing.com IZOD IndyCar Premier Series kicked off. Read more here about this INDYCAR sanctioned, 16-race, 36-week series contested online on oval road courses on alternating weekends.

In case you missed it, Chip Ganassi Racing followed up last week’s IndyCar.com race shop  (Read about it) visit with an updated Twitter handle this week. They can now be tagged @CGRTeams. Follow them for updates on @INDYCAR and drivers Scott Dixon, Graham Rahal, Charlie Kimball, and Dario Franchitti.

Speaking of Dario, the reigning IZOD IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500 champion was inducted into the Motor Sport Magazine Hall of Fame during ceremonies this past week in London. Read more about the honor and find out which of your favorite drivers are also in the Hall of Fame by clicking here.

Franchitti is not the only driver picking up accolades this past week. Verizon Team Penske driver Will Power was voted Road Racer of the Year by the readers of RACER Magazine (Read more).

More signs of the season have emerged as work on the circuit layout  for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Read more here) and New Hampshire Motor Speedway announced plans to enhance the fan experience with more race footage and replays on a new, $1.2 million Panasonic scoreboard and video system in the middle of the infield (Full story here).

Conor Daly, Shannon McIntosh, and Bryan Clauson all found their way across the web this week. Shannon will join the Mazda Road to Indy in 2011 as part of the Cooper Tires presents the USF2000 National Championship powered by Mazda. She’ll drive the No. 2 Mazda for the 12 events for Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing (More here). Bryan Clauson continued to catch fans up with an inside look at his experiences on the Mazda Road to Indy. Find out more about what he’s already doing to prepare for the season by reading BC’s Blog here. 2010 Star Mazda champion Conor Daly  (Twitter @ConorDaly22) is moving up to Firestone Indy Lights in 2011. Find out more about what the 2011 season looks like for the son of former Indianapolis 500 starter Derek Daly here. All three, Daly, Clauson, and McIntosh are drivers to keep an eye on.

Late in the week, we let it leak that this Tuesday, IndyCar.com will give fans a chance to win something cool. Hundreds of messages poured in to say what the ideal prize for an IndyCar fan would be. Imagine our surprise when, yep, someone guessed exactly what we’re giving away. Glad to see we’ve nailed it and came up with a great prize, so stay tuned to IndyCar.com and our Facebook and Twitter pages this Tuesday to find out how you can win.

Racing is right around the corner — 32 days until the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg!

24 Hours Down… Checkered Flag

The race has ended and what an ending it was.  I would have never thought when I came to Daytona to take part in the 24 hour endurance race that it would come down to a green-white-checkered finish.  It’s pretty astonishing to think about when you look back at all the events that took place over the past day.  Cars have been in and out of the race, entire brake systems have been changed, leaders have gone laps down, and fog caused a 3 hour caution period.  Still, despite the 721 laps ran and the 2,566.76 miles traveled, the race came down to 4 cars on the lead lap going for it on the absolute last lap of the race.

The #02 team put in a valiant effort all race long.  They changed brakes, splitters, and solve assorted other issues over the course of 24 hours.  Ultimately, a late pit stop would keep them from victory lane.  All the drivers were still quite proud of the 2nd place finish (except Juan Pablo who said “Come on, I’m here to freakin’ win”).

Dario Franchitti jokes with media at the press conference

Dario Franchitti jokes with the media

The #10 car battled all morning and afternoon long trying to get back on the lead lap and they came very close numerous times.  Ryan Briscoe and his co-driers Wayne Taylor, Max Angelelli, and Ricky Taylor would end the day in 5th position just one lap down.

Justin Wilson and his Michael Shank Racing teammates chased the lead lap most of the race as well.  Still, they finished a respectable 7th place.

Just a couple spots behind Justin and his teammates was the #95 driven by Ryan Hunter-Reay and Raphael Matos.  Their car went down a couple laps early on in the race and bounced around from 13th place to 10th place for most of the 24 hours.  At the end of the day they crossed the start finish in 11th position.

E.J. Viso and his Starworks Motorsport #2 team battled several mechanical issues all race long.  They finished the race, but in a tough and hard earned 32nd position, 144 laps down.

The real story of the day was the #01 Chip Ganssi Racing with Felix Sabates Daytona prototype.  Graham Rahal and his teammates Scott Pruett, Joey Hand, and Memo Rojas were a force to be reckoned with all day long.  Despite losing the lead as a result of a late race penalty for hitting pit equipment Graham and crew were able to propel the car back to the front and ultimately victory lane.

Scott Pruett shows his love for the Rolex 24 trophy

Scott Pruett, Graham Rahal and Joey Hand celebrate in victory lane

A proud day for Chip Ganassi as he continues to dominate all the various forms of motorsport in which his teams participate.  Many members of the media have been calling this the “Chip Slam” in regards to the fact that in 1 year his teams have won the Daytona 500, the Indianapolis 500, the Grand-Am Championship, the IZOD IndyCar Series Championship, and as of 3:31 this afternoon the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona.  Very impressive to say the least and I’m extremely excited to see how his INDYCAR program will run this year.  One more interesting tidbit… 30 years ago Graham’s father Bobby Rahal won this exact race.

Overall, it was a great race, an incredible experience, and something I’ll never forget.  If you ever get the chance to attend this event… do it.  Try your best to stay up for the entire race and make sure you walk to every corner you can.  As for now… it’s time to sleep.

23 Hours Down 2:30 PM:

1 hour to go and IZOD IndyCar Series driver Scott Dixon is in a commanding position in front of the field.  Scott has been super quick all day and night and looks poised to stay out front.

Scott Dixon leading the field in the #02 Chip Ganassi Racing Daytona prototype

Scott Dixon leads the field

Not far behind in 4th place is Scott’s teammate, Scott Pruett, who’s trying to work his way back through the field after his co-driver Joey Hand received a stop-and-go penalty after hitting pit equipment.

Scott Pruett at the controls of the #01

Scott Pruett negotiates GT class traffic on his way back to the front

Just behind Pruett is Ryan Briscoe’s co-driver Max Angelelli in the #10 SunTrust Racing Dallara.  Ryan had this to say when asked about his thoughts of the race so far:

“We definitely tested the equipment because I don’t think I’ve done a lap today at 80 percent; it’s been 100 percent all day long, all night long.  I’ve done three long stints now, and every single one they told me to push as hard as I could.  It’s been frustrating because the second time I got in the car we got all the way to just one lap down, and then we had another issue with a wheel.  We’ve been catching up, the car is really strong.  The car felt fast, with really good traction.  The car’s good.  The brakes have been really consistent.  The battle continues.  We’ve got a long way to go.”

Ryan Briscoe in the #10

Max Angelelli pushes the #10, attempting to get up to the front

A.J. Allmendinger is behind the wheel of the #6 and is currently in 7th place but is gaining on the 6th place car of Ricardo Zonta.  Ryan Hunter-Reay’s teammate Richard Westbrook is in the #95 and holding steady in 11th place.  E.J. Viso is in 32nd position in the #2 Starworks Motorsport Daytona prototype.

1 hour to go and it’s going to be a close race.  Recent cautions have bunched the field up even more.  Be sure to keep your eyes on the #01 and the #10 as they’re going to be pushing as hard as they physically can to get towards the front.  Look for an exciting finish!

21 Hours Down 12:30 PM:

This race has turned into quite a battle.  All the drivers on track are pushing as hard as possible.  Juan Pablo Montoya put on quite a show in the #02 with some extremely close racing.  There was plenty of contact all around the circuit and later on he began to battle with Joey Hand in the #01 car.  Juan came in and swapped seats with Jamie McMurray.

Juan Pablo climbs out of the #02 while Jamie McMurray waits to jump in

Juan Pablo Montoya climbs out of the #02 while Jamie McMurray waits

Jamie stayed out for a relatively short stint and just recently pitted and swapped spots with Scott Dixon.  Dixon is now in the lead and pushing hard to extend his gap.  The #01 was in the lead but during the last round of pit stops the #01 hit a piece of pit equipment while exiting and received a stop and go penalty as a result. They are currently in 4th place.

The #10 SunTrust Racing Dallara comes in for a stop

The #10 SunTrust Racing Dallara enters pit lane

Ricky Taylor is behind the wheel of the #10, being co-driven by Ryan Briscoe, and they’ve been making substantial gains since my last post.  They currently sit in 6th position (up from 10th).  Michael McDowell is in the middle of his stint in the car he’s sharing with Justin Wilson and they are right behind the #10 in 7th position.  Ryan Hunter-Reay continues to hang on to the tail end of the lead group in 12th position.  E.J. Viso is back in the car and is currently in 32nd position. Patrick Dempsey’s team seems to have corrected their issue as they’re currently 4th in the GT class.

We’re coming down to the wire… stay tuned!

19 Hours Down 10:30 AM:

The sun is out and shining brightly and we’re back to sustained green flag racing.  We’ve had the occasional short caution for debris and car stalls but nothing compared to the 2 hour and 45 minute yellow we had earlier today.  Here’s some interesting facts regarding the 24 hours of Daytona and cautions:

In 1976, the race was stopped for 2 hours and 40 minutes due to contaminated fuel.

In 1983, the race was red flagged for 53 minutes due to heavy rain.

In 1989, the race was red flagged for 3 hours, 58 minutes due to fog.

In 2004, the race was red flagged for 2 hours, 52 minutes due t heavy rain. (This followed a three hour caution period!)

The long night is starting to catch up with drivers and crew as many are getting extremely tired.

Crew members try to grab some sleep whenever and wherever they can

Crew members grab some sleep wherever and whenever they can.

Patrick Dempsey was leading the GT class for a significant length of time but unfortunately was forced to go behind the pit wall for repairs.  He’s rejoined the race but is currently in the 3rd position in the GT class and 17th overall.

Patrick Dempsey's #40 heads behind the wall after having mechanical problems

Patrick Dempsey's #40 Mazda RX-8 is pushed behind the wall

Juan Pablo Montoya continues to lead the race in the #02 while Joey Hand is in the #01 giving chase.  They look to be the most dominant cars on track at the moment.

The field returns to green flag racing with #02 and #01 leading

The Ganassi Racing cars lead the pack back to green flag racing

Justin Wilson headed to the pits and took over the driving duties for the #6 from Michael McDowell.  He’s currently running in 5th place and A.J. Allmendinger will be returning to the car momentarily.

Justin Wilson heads to his pit box to start his final stint in the race

Justin Wilson heads to his pit box for his stint

Ryan Briscoe is currently behind the wheel of the #10 SunTrust Racing Dallara.  He’s laying down some very fast laps lately (almost 3/4 of a second faster) and looks to be really turning it on late in the race.  Raphael Matos took over the #95 Michael Shank Racing Daytona prototype and is presently in 12th place.

Raphael Matos is ready to hop in the car and drive his last stint

Raphael Matos ready to jump in the car


16 Hours Down 7:30AM:

Well it’s been about 5 hours since I last checked in with you and I’d love to have some very exciting news for you but unfortunately it’s been a rather boring morning.  About 3 hours ago an extremely dense fog set in here in Daytona.  When I say dense, it was so thick you could barely see the cars on track.

A dense fog at Daytona International Speedway

A dense fog on track

As a result we’ve also been under caution for the past two hours and 45 minutes.  The sun has come up over the last couple hours and it appears as though the fog is lifting at a rapid pace.  They just announced that the race will be returning to green flag conditions in about 5 minutes.  The INDYCAR competitors in the race continue to run strong.  Scott Pruett is behind the wheel of Graham Rahal’s car and is currently pacing in 2nd position.  Dario is holding in the 4th position, Michael McDowell runs in Justin Wilsons ride in 5th position, Max Angelelli took over for Ryan Briscoe and is in 10th place, Ryan Hunter-Reay is in the cockpit and will restart the race from 13th position.  Enzo Potolicci is in the car for E.J. Viso and is currently cruising in 37th position.


11 Hours Down 2:30AM:

At this point there have been 12 cautions and that trend doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon.  As you can probably imagine, driving a race car for 24 hours causes bits and pieces to rattle and vibrate their way loose.  As a result a TON of debris is scattered across different portions of the track throughout the course of the event.  Usually this doesn’t matter too much as the cars tend to brush the debris away from the track.  Occasionally debris comes off in big chunks and brings out full-course yellows.  6 of the 12 cautions tonight have been entirely because of debris.

Cars continue to go behind pit wall for repairs.  Many seem to be having brake troubles and as a result have been replacing their entire braking systems.  Obviously, this race is hard on brakes.  Currently the cars have done close to 400 laps, which is about 1,400 miles.  If you’re close enough to the cars you can actually hear which teams brakes are starting to fail.

The #02 hard on the brakes in the international horseshoe

The #02 lights up the brakes in the international horseshoe

The IZOD IndyCar Series drivers are putting in a stout effort thus far.  Justin Wilson was leading but his team just pitted for a drivers change subsequently relinquishing the lead (Currently 5th place with A.J. Allmendinger driving).  Graham Rahal is hustling the #01 around the track and is holding strong in 3rd place.  Ryan Briscoe is back in the cockpit for another stint and is chasing Allmendinger from the 6th position.  The #02 being driven by Scott Dixon once again is running in 7th place.  Richard Westbrook just recently took over for Raphael Matos and he is attempting to catch back up to the lead pack from the 17th position.  E.J. Viso gave the wheel to Alex Popow and they continue to struggle in the back in 42nd place.

The #10 pushing hard

The #10 SunTrust Racing Dallara

One more interesting fact… former IZOD IndyCar Series team owner and world-famous actor Patrick Dempsey and his teammates are currently leading the GT class in their #40 Dempsey Racing Mazda RX-8.

8 Hours Down 11:30 PM:

The on-track aggressiveness continues to plague the race thus far into the night.  There’s been several yellows since my last post and several more teams have gone behind the wall to repair damages sustained.

There's been extensive on track contact as this Camaro shows

Proof that it's been a rough race thus far

Ryan Briscoe stopped by the media center after his stints and when asked how his car was during his time behind the wheel he responded:

“Our car was fast for sure.  We are lacking a little bit of top speed which was frustrating and you don’t like running on the inside of the track.  It was hard to stay calm with 20 hours to go, you want to race.  But, there is a long way to go.  The car was really solid.  It was great that the guys kept us in front with a pit stop and with a driver change.  All the boys are doing a great job and hopefully we can stay off the GT cars, there is a lot of action going on out there.  It is still so early.  Hopefully we can keep the car clean and if we do, the car is very fast.”

Tight racing in the darkness

Ryan Briscoe behind the wheel of the #10 SunTrust Racing Dallara

Ryan clearly seems confident in their chances heading into the rest of the race.  Currently the #10 is in 10th place with Max Angelelli behind the wheel.

Chip Ganassi racing is back in the lead after the #01 car had to do an early gearbox change as they were hitting the rev limiter while on the straights.  Quite an impressive drive from the #01 crew.  Dario Franchitti is once again behind the wheel of the #02 and is currently chasing the top 5 from 6th position.  Justin Wilson is about 28 seconds behind Dario running consistent laps.  In 24th position is the #95 with Ryan Hunter-Reay currently taking over driver duties.  E.J. Viso is also on track, but struggling a bit in 45th place.

4 Hours Down 7:30PM:

The race is now 1/6 of the way done and it certainly has had plenty of action.

Very close racing amongst multiple=

Multiple front runners have been in and out of the garage.  Jimmy Johnson and his team have just recently gone behind pit wall to fix an apparently failing brake system.  The cars are fully into night racing now and will stay that way for the next 10 or so hours.  The trend of drivers complaining about the aggressiveness on track continues as Jimmy Johnson remarked that he had to stop himself from spinning another driver who was frustrating him.

Currently, former Indianapolis 500 winner, Buddy Rice is in the lead.  Ricky Taylor is behind the wheel of the #10 being shared with Ryan Briscoe and they are currently in 4th position.  The #01 currently being operated by Memo Rojas is in 6th place, expect to see Graham Rahal behind the wheel soon.  Juan Pablo Montoya has taken the wheel of the #02 from Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti and is currently chasing the lead group from 10th position.  Justin Wilson’s teammate Michael McDowell has taken over the driving duties for an hour or so and is holding steady in 2nd place.  Ryan Hunter-Reay and Raphael Matos’ #95 Level 5 Motorsports prototype currently has Richard Westbrook behind the wheel and is at the tail end of the leading prototype pack in 13th position.

Oh and not to be forgotten…. The fans are still going strong.

Fans continue their tailgate partying

Fans enjoying an all night tailgate

1 Hour Down 5:15 PM:

Prior to the green flag I had the chance to head down to the grid to check out the cars before the race began.  It was PACKED.  Wall to wall people and trying to get close to our drivers was no easy task.

Quite a crowd on pitlane prior to the race

Quite a crowd on the grid

Bobby Rahal was with Graham giving him advice prior to the start.

Graham Rahal and his Father, Bobby Rahal, chat prior to the race

Graham Rahal and Bobby Rahal on the grid

The field left the grid and bunched up preparing to go around the clock twice.   The SunTrust Racing #10, which is being co-driven by Ryan Briscoe, would start from the second position right along side the pole sitter and new track record holder Jorg Bergmeister in the Flying Lizard Motorsports Daytona prototype.

The #10 SunTrust Racing Dallara racing hard with the pole sitter

The SunTrust Racing #10 lined up next to the Flying Lizard Motorsports prototype

There was some hard racing for the first few laps and a caution came out early as a result of a few GT class cars coming together in the bus-stop.  The Ganassi cars were, as always, towards the front fighting for the lead.  Ryan Briscoe’s teammate Max Angelelli was also battling at the front.  There has been quite a bit of hard fighting happening on track.  Drivers have been coming into the media center after their stints remarking about how “silly” and aggressive drivers are being on track.  Max Angelelli seemed to think it was only going to get crazier as the track is going to cool down with the sun going down and the cars are going to get quicker.

The #10 and #01 racing hard through the bus-stop chicane

The SunTrust Racing #10 and Ganassi #01 battling it out.

Unfortunately the #02 being driven by Scott Dixon was forced to pit early from the lead pack on lap 30 after a tire failure.  Currently the IZOD IndyCar drivers are in the current positions:

P.6 – Ryan Briscoe #10 SunTrust Racing

P.10 – Justin Wilson #6 Michael Shank Racing

P.11 – Graham Rahal #01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates

P.12 – E.J. Viso #2 Starworks Motorsport

P.19 – Dario Franchitti/Scott Dixon #02 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates

P.26 – Ryan Hunter-Reay/Raphael Matos #95 Level 5 Motorsports

DRIVER AUTOGRAPHS 1:30 PM:

The driver autograph session that just ended this morning has to be one of the more impressive fan turn outs I’ve ever seen.  (Second only to the Indianapolis 500 driver autograph session).  Thousands of fans lined up to have a chance to get a picture and an autograph from their favorite drivers.

Lots of fans turning out for the driver autograph session

Fans lined up for the driver autograph session

Patrick Dempsey was on hand to sign some autographs as were all of our IZOD IndyCar Series competitors.

Patrick Dempsey, former INDYCAR team owner, smiles for a fan picture

Patrick Dempsey at the drive autograph session

Ryan Hunter-Reay and Raphael Matos are interviewed at the driver autograph session

Ryan Hunter-Reay and Raphael Matos

Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon sign some autographs with teammate Jamie McMurray

Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon sign autographs with Jamie McMurray

RACE DAY MORNING 12:00 PM:

It’s race morning here in Daytona and I was rather surprised at the amount of fans heading into the track early this morning.

The clocks are counting down to the start

Fans enter the gates for the race

Endurance racing requires a high level of preparation and from what I’ve seen here so far, endurance tailgating needs the same amount of planning.  Grills are being loaded up with charcoal, shelters are being constructed with everything from tarps to tents, and coolers are being filled and iced down.  I hadn’t really been thinking about what it would be like to be fan at a 24 hour race as I’ve been mainly focused on the INDYCAR drivers.  It must be quite an experience to start the “party” at 3:30pm and challenge yourself to carry through to 3:30pm the next day.

Fans are setup in the infield for the long day ahead

Fans are setup in the infield for the long day

The teams have been putting the final touches on the cars for the green flag this afternoon.  Some are still finishing putting all the pieces together while others are already filling the cars with fuel.

The #02 car is rolled to the fuel pumps

The #02 is pushed to the fuel pumps

The race should be very interesting.  E.J. Viso, who joined the team late in the day yesterday, will take the green flag this afternoon for what will be only his fifth lap ever in a Daytona prototype.  E.J. was only able to turn 4 laps yesterday so he’s going to be learning on the fly today and tonight.  Viso is a quick and aggressive driver so be sure to keep an eye on him.  Justin Wilson’s team is full of very strong road course drivers.  All of them have open wheel backgrounds and I’m sure they’ll be on the move early in the race.  Obviously you can’t forget about the Ganassi cars.  The #02 has five wins at Indianapolis across the 4 drivers and the #01 is last years Rolex Series champion (as well as employing Graham Rahal as a co-driver).  The energy is ramping up here in anticipation of the start of the race.  I hope you’re all as excited as I am.

Stay tuned… I’ll be back in a couple hours with another update!

Friday at Daytona International Speedway is substantially quieter.  While there appears to be tremendously more fans here today, the teams are a bit calmer and more organized.  Most teams have an idea of what their race strategy is going to be and they’ve built their setup accordingly.  Today is a bit of a dress rehearsal.  Drivers are practicing quick driver changes, teams are practicing pit stops, fans are picking out where they’re going to watch from, and photographers are scoping out their hotspots for race day.

The Friday morning practice session started out rather slowly as many teams were still putting the finishing touches on their cars from last night.  Most of the teams had the cars completely disassembled last night so there was quite a bit to be done this morning.

Crew members disassemble the cars

Crew members disassemble the car

Mechanics work on the motor

Mechanics work on the motor

The biggest portion of the morning practice was dominated by the GT class cars but when the Daytona prototypes made their way back on to track Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates showed that they weren’t concerned with their qualifying efforts yesterday.  Scott Pruett put the car at the top of the leader charts having run a 1:41.019.  Scott Dixon wasn’t far off either, finishing the session with a fast lap of 1:42.464, landing him in 3rd position.  Unfortunately, only four prototypes made it on to the track for the morning session so the other IZOD IndyCar Series competitors were forced to wait for the afternoon session.

During the downtime between practice sessions Chip Ganassi stopped by the media center to discuss his incredibly successful 2010 season.  When asked if he would be disappointed if his success did not continue in 2011 Chip responded with, “We’re always focused on the next race and that’s it.  It just so happens that this (Daytona) is the next race.  After this we’ll look forward to the next one.”

Chip Ganassi in the media center at Daytona International Speedway

Chip Ganassi in the media center

The second and final practice prior to the race took off at 11:00am and it would showcase the entire field.  There was quite a bit of action going on as everyone was making last minute install checks, practicing pit stops, and driver changes.

Crews practice pit stops and driver changes

Teams practicing driver changes

NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson and his GAINSCO/Bob Stalling Racing team would jump to the top of the timing charts for the first time this weekend with a 1:40.878.  The Ganassi cars would continue to flex their muscles finishing the session with the #01 in 2nd position and the #02 in 9th position.  Ryan Briscoe and his SunTrust Racing team would end the session in 7th place.  Justin Wilson’s team struggled finishing a tough 13th position.

Justin Wilson's #6 negotiates through some slower traffic

Justin Wilson negotiates through some slower traffic

Ryan Hunter-Reay and Raphael Matos’ car, which hadn’t run since final practice yesterday having skipped qualifying, was re-assembled just prior to practice and would finish the session a hard fought 15th place on the practice charts.  There are no more practice sessions between now and the race, so teams have taken to their respective garages once again.  They will spend the majority of the afternoon making sure the car is ready to go, tightening bolts down, changing fluids, and getting it shiny and new for the big day tomorrow.

Here’s where the INDYCAR drivers are starting:

3rd Place: Graham Rahal (with Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas, and Joey Hand)

5th Place: Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti (with Juan Pablo Montoya and Jamie McMurray)

8th Place: Justin Wilson (with A.J. Allmendinger and Michael McDowell)

16th Place: E.J. Viso (with Alex Popow, Romain Iannetta, and Glynn Geddie)

17th Place: Ryan Hunter-Reay and Raphael Matos (with Scott Tucker and Richard Westbrook)

Once again, be sure to follow us tomorrow.  We’ll be live blogging starting at Noon (ET).  The race takes the green flag at 3:30pm (ET) and we’ll be there giving you all the inside info on our IZOD IndyCar Series drivers the entire time!

It’s been an interesting morning and afternoon at Daytona International Speedway. Practice kicked off for the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona this morning and there was plenty of action to be seen.

Endurance racing is a different breed from the exciting world of the IZOD IndyCar Series. While, yes, ultimately it is a race and there’s a start and a finish; there are literally thousands of things that can go wrong over the course of 24 hours. As a result, practice for this event is quite a sight. Teams are scrambling to put together race setups as well as find that extra bit of speed for the qualifying session in the afternoon. It takes a high level of preparation combined with dependable equipment and super-fast drivers.

The 2010 Rolex Series Champions Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates

Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates 2010 Rolex Series Champions

Showing that they look to continue to dominate the Grand Am series Team Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates jumped to the top of the practice charts in the first session.

Dario Franchitti was behind the wheel of the #02 TELMEX/Target Daytona prototype that he will be sharing with co-drivers Scott Dixon, Juan Pablo Montoya and Jamie McMurray.

Dario chats with Scott Dixon before practice begins

Dario chats with Scott Dixon before practice begins

Quite a lineup with four Indianapolis 500 wins and one Brickyard 400 win amongst them. Dario laid down a quick lap of 1:40.54 which was good enough for the top position. The #01 Target/TELMEX struggled in the morning session having turned a 1:41.002 which was good enough for 7th place on the charts.

Grand-Am practice is quite interesting to watch. There are multiple classes on track at the same time so it can breed some hairy situations. If you’re ever lucky enough to attend a Grand-Am event or the 24-Hours of Daytona be sure to find a seat at the end of a long straight into a heavy braking zone. The Daytona prototypes have so much more power than the GT class cars that they make massive gains on the straights (and the corners for that matter). As a result as they approach heavy braking zones often times DP drivers have to make last second decisions with the car to avoid contact and negotiate passes.

The SunTrust Racing #10 chasing down some GT Cars

The SunTrust Racing #10 chasing down some GT Cars

Practice two took off later in the day and showed that there were some other forces to be reckoned with in the paddock. Team Penske driver Ryan Briscoe’s team for the weekend showed they’re ready to run up front. Ryan, co-driving with Wayne Taylor, Ricky Taylor and Max Angelelli, helped his team post a fast lap of 1:40.340 putting them in P1 for the final practice session before qualifying.

Ryan Briscoes ride he'll be sharing with Wayne Taylor, Jordan Taylor, and Max Angelelli

The SunTrust Racing #10 that will be piloted by Ryan Briscoe

Justin Wilson and his Michael Shank Racing teammates A.J. Allmendinger and Michael McDowell picked up the pace and finished the session in 5th place with a quick lap of 1:40.902.

Justin Wilson gets ready to head out to practice

Justin Wilson gets ready to head out to practice

The Ganassi cars seemed to struggle a bit, compared to the first session, with the #01 finishing in 7th place and the #02 ending up in 12th position. The #95 Level 5 Motorsports BMW Riley, which is being driven by Ryan Hunter-Reay and Raphael Matos in coordination with Scott Tucker and Richard Westbrook, that finished 5th in the first session dropped five positions to end practice in 10th place.

Qualifying in Grand-Am is different from practice in that the classes qualify individually. Daytona International Speedway was recently repaved and post-practice all the drivers were commenting about how much faster the track was. It became clear just how much faster it was in qualifying. Jorg Bergmeister, who is competing in a Daytona prototype for the first time, would show that he’d found the fastest line around the course. Jorg and the Flying Lizard Motorsports team, a first year Daytona prototype team, laid down not only the fastest lap of the qualifying session but also a new Daytona prototype track record with a 1:40.099. Ryan Briscoe’s teammate and co-driver Max Angelelli put in a super strong effort finishing with a fast lap of 1:40.133 which was good enough for second place. Scott Pruett, who’s co-driving with IZOD IndyCar Series driver Graham Rahal, proved that he still hasn’t lost any pace with a lap of 1:40.245 landing him in 3rd place. Scott Dixon would take the wheel of the #02 for qualifying and would not disappoint. Scott put together a great lap with a 1:40.302 yielding him a 5th place starting position. A.J. Allmendinger would put Justin Wilson’s car towards the front with a 8th place grid spot. Unfortunately the #95 of Raphael Matos and Ryan Hunter-Reay did not qualify and will start in the 50th position.

The teams have now taken to the garages for the day to make changes for practice tomorrow as well as change engines. Tomorrow should be another interesting day. Be sure to check back and MAKE SURE you follow us on Saturday as we’ll be live blogging for the full 24 hours!

Growing up in Columbus, Ohio the closest race track to my home was Mid-Ohio.  I spent most of my summers attending both my father’s races and IndyCar races.  As a result I developed a love for road course racing and became a diehard fan of the drivers that were the best at turning left and right.  Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t a road course elitist, it was just what I was exposed to and what I enjoyed.    It wasn’t until I attended my first Pole Day at Indianapolis in 1988 that I realized how incredible oval racing can be.

Al Unser Jr.

Al Unser Jr

As most people my age who were/are race fans, growing up there was only one driver who kept my attention at every race.  Al Unser Jr.  He was always quick at Mid-Ohio and everywhere else for that matter.  As a youngster you don’t really realize the driving prowess of some of these guys… it’s more like cheering for a team, you pick your driver, he’s your favorite for whatever reason, and very few things can change that.

Al was super friendly with his fans.  I have multiple autographs and pictures with ‘Little Al’ from my days of running around the paddock.  It was only at a later age that I started to realize what a true racer little Al was and is.  The guy was quick… EVERYWHERE… and he drove every lap as hard as ever.

In 1993 a new driver entered the picture.  Nigel Mansel.  I’m not sure what drew my attention to Nigel when I was a kid.  It could have been that he was the reigning Formula 1 champion, it could have been that I loved the Texaco Havoline cars, or maybe it was his helmet design.  One thing was for sure, despite my Dad’s wishes, I was a Nigel Mansel fan.  To this day it’s the only racing shirt from my childhood that only has ONE autograph on it… Nigel’s.  I have a Bobby Rahal Kraco shirt that’s riddled with autographs, some of which I don’t even recognize, but Nigels was reserved for him alone.  One of the stories I’ve heard over and over about Nigel’s first days in an IndyCar is in regards to his famed test at Firebird International Raceway where he broke the track record his first time in the car.  Apparently, Nigel had a special test he liked to perform on new race cars.  The test allowed him to see how the car would handle when he drove it on (and sometimes over) the ragged edge.  Today, I miraculously discovered this famous first test in an IndyCar as well as footage of the famed “Spin Test.”  The entire video is pretty awesome but fast forward to the 5:00 mark if you’d like to skip straight to the “Spin Test.”

In 1997 Dario Franchitti came on the scene and would quickly become my favorite for the foreseeable future.  Dario had his fair share of shunts that season but the very next year he really put it together.  He managed to string together a series of races late in the season (1st, 1st, 4th, 1st, and 2nd) to finish an impressive 3rd in just his second season in an IndyCar.  Quite the improvement from his 22nd place finish in his first season.   Dario may not be the flashiest of drivers but he’s one thing above all else… consistent.  Consistent enough that in 1999 he finished 2nd in series standings after he and Juan Pablo Montoya tied in the championship standings.  (Juan was awarded the championship with his 7 wins compared to Dario’s 3 wins.)  Pretty impressive.  He only finished outside the top 10 in 4 races out of the 20 race schedule that year.  In 2007 Dario continued to show his consistency with his first championship.  Dario only finished outside the top 10 ONCE in 2007 as well as only finishing outside the top 5 four times in 20 races.  The guy is calm, cool, and calculated… and it’s awarded him three championships as a result.  He’s a legend on street courses and as good as anyone on ovals.  A two time Indy 500 winner and to this day, my favorite driver…