Posts Tagged ‘ graham rahal ’

This coming week will mark the IZOD IndyCar Series’ final round of the season at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. For the occasion the boys at ArtRotondo.com decided to break the walls down and unleash one of their finest works yet — Graham Rahal’s Sin City helmet.

This helmet was produced to pay tribute to the Indycar’s arrival to the city and to the city’s great attributes. Hoping that this helmet will be enough of edge that Graham will need to lead the final lap of the race and take the checkered flag to end his 2011 on a high note.

The end of season marks a lot of other end of season helmets for many others, including Vitor Meira’s latest helmets that he will also be sporting in Las Vegas along with Sebastian Saavedra’s upgraded more colorful Colombian influenced helmets.

In the DTM series, Mercedes top driver Gary Paffett unveiled his end of season helmets which include a special matte “Bizarro” version of his classic helmet which is already making head waves throughout the racing world.

Finally US racing prodigy Alexander Rossi hopes to finish on top of his World Series by Renault season with his brand new modified helmet style complete with his trademark ghost pattern palm trees to pay tribute to his native of California, so that the entire world see’s what he’s accomplishing and most importantly where he comes from as being the only american with a valid Formula Super License in the world.

The end of season is always a sad time for us as before everything else, we are avid racing fans, but work never stops and which is why you have to stay posted on the Indycar blog throughout the off season for our full updates on all of our upcoming projects and remember to also check in to www.artrotondo.com for day to day updates and on our Twitter and Facebook fan pages.

11 in ‘11 with Graham Rahal

Posted on: June 16, 2011 | Comments (0) | Drivers | By: Cassie

This season has been an exciting one for Graham Rahal. He is now a part of a new team, Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing. He is also currently 7th in the point standings and recently finished third in the Indianapolis 500.

Graham loves his social media. He’s an avid tweeter and has even been spotted at racetracks with his iPad. He is also the latest driver to be featured in our 11 in ‘11 video blog series on YouTube.

Rahal and an iPad
Graham took the time to answer 11 fan submitted questions during the 2011 IndyCar season. Get it? 11 in ‘11? Graham answers questions involving his race experiences, the 100th anniversary Indy 500, and even cartoon characters.

Check out the video below and continue to look for 11 in ‘11 videos for the rest of the 2011 season.

The month of May is known to be the most hectic month for the IZOD IndyCar stars, but it’s just as crazy for the helmet painters, in particular at the ArtRotondo.com shop, when you paint for many of the Indycar drivers. The month of May is an incredibly hectic month but that all comes to one big reward on that historical race day. This year being the centennial year, it is a tremendous honor for us to be part of this great race, alongside so many of this Series finest drivers. We’re truly living a childhood dream by being involved in this great race and hope that one of our drivers will be the first to cross the finish line on this coming May 29th, 2011.

This year’s Indy 500 will not only mark the 100th anniversary of the great American race, but it will also mark the heroic return of IndyCar star Mike Conway. He will return on board his Andretti Autosport IndyCar to face the track which prematurely took him out of his 2010 season. For this tremendous event we had no choice but to make a special Indy 500 themed helmet for his triumphant return, we put the complete focus on the speedway’s landmark tower and hope it will bring him that extra edge in this grueling 500 mile dash.

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Mike Conway's new helmet

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IZOD IndyCar Series drivers, Graham Rahal and Charlie Kimball welcomed members of the INDYCAR staff to Brownsburg, Indiana for an inside look at the new Service Central-Norvo Nordisk Ganassi Shop. Read more about the visit and discover what their teams are doing to prepare for the 2011 season. There’s also a complete Flickr set available for fans with a photo tour of the shop.

A birds eye view of the new headquarters

Birds-eye view of the new Service Central-Norvo Nordisk Ganassi Shop in Brownsburg, IN.

It was a busy week for tracks with Iowa Speedway asking fans what they hope to see at this year’s Iowa Corn Indy 250, the series saying “Sayonara” to Twin Ring Motegi and drivers reacting to the newly unveiled Edmonton Indy circuit layout. Following the announcement, IZOD IndyCar Series driver Ryan Briscoe (@RyanBriscoe6) tweeted that the new layout looked great for passing opportunities.

Ryan Briscoe on Twitter

Are you on Twitter? Add us @IndyCar for more exclusive updates through the week!

Justin Wilson (@JustinWilson22) replied to agree with Ryan and add that the new layout will have some brake zones and looks like fun.

Justin Wilson on Twitter

Are you on Twitter? Add us @IndyCar for more exclusive updates through the week!

The online IndyCar fan community jumped on this week’s Photo Caption contest. Fans were asked to provide a caption to a unique Sarah Fisher Racing photo. Over 213 Facebook submissions were received and fans even saw Sarah Fisher Racing leave a message saying the contest was funny! The field was then narrowed down to the top 5 captions and fans voted for their winner (click here to see the final votes). Congratulations to Colleen Ney McGuire for her winning submission “I don’t care if you say ‘pretty please.’ You’re not driving the car!” Colleen will receive an IndyCar prize pack in plenty of time for the 2011 season.

The online community stayed busy with activity when news broke that Barber Motorsports Park was offering a special Groupon discount for fans of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. Fans could save $110 on two, Sunday General Admission tickets when buying into the exclusive deal. The Groupon deal brought a subtle reminder that just 53 days remain until the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.

Honda Grand Prix of Alabama Groupon

Fans could save $110 when purchasing Two, Sunday General Admission tickets for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama

The racing community was rocked this week by the passing of long-time Indianapolis Motor Speedway public address announcer, Tom Carnegie (read more here).

“Tom Carnegie was a true gentleman and a legend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and throughout the state of Indiana.  For so many years his unmistakable voice signified the beginning of the month of May and the Indianapolis 500. We will certainly miss Tom and his spirit, his unique style of announcing and his passion for racing.” -Roger Penske

Click here to see more of what the IndyCar community has had to say about the track legend this week. There’s simply no more-fitting way, so I will close this week’s recap with a video tribute to Tom Carnegie:

Mitch Davis traveled to a garage sale in North Carolina to stock his garage in Brownsburg, Ind., aka Chip Ganassi Racing West.

There is a mountain of items to tackle in preparation for the IZOD IndyCar Series season, and the task  been compounded for the start-up teams for Graham Rahal (No. 38 Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing) and Charlie Kimball (No. 83 Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing) that were announced Dec. 16.

Graham Rahal and Charlie Kimball

Graham Rahal and Charlie Kimball

Fortunately for Davis, the team manager, items from workbenches to a refrigerator were available as a result of the merger of the Ganassi and Earnhart stock car operations. It was like tagging trees to cut in a forest; a shopping spree without being concerned about prices.

“Overnight, we were instantly a race team,” Davis says. “It’s all up and running. We’re crack checking parts and doing body fits on cars. The hardest part really is getting all the pit equipment and transporters painted and decaled and building all the spare wings. You can’t just have one front wing and bump the wall and say, ‘Oh, I need to buy another one,’ because it doesn’t exist. You have to buy all the components, have them painted and decaled and fit.”

Bell housings are lined up in one room. A stark white trailer occupies space near where a team member is assembling red cabinet drawers. Others are working on the electrical loom of Kimball’s Dallara chassis.

“To have gone from truck bays for an old race shop into a full IndyCar team, it all sets the stage for the season to come,” says Kimball, who’s moving up from Firestone Indy Lights. 

Graham poses with his new sidepods

Graham Rahal poses by his new sidepods

It’s a work in progress to be sure, but after only two months in existence the group has come a long way to being competitive out of the box in the season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 27.

Davis, who returned to Chip Ganassi Racing “with a smile on my face” after three seasons with other IZOD IndyCar Series teams,  says 25 people are employed full time, with the two chief mechanics and two engineers moving over from the Target Chip Ganassi Racing operation in Indianapolis. Everyone that’s been hired has over-the-wall experience.

Crew members hard at work

Hard at work in the shop

“When I came to work for Chip the last time he was just getting started in IndyCar and wanted me to come over because I had been in (INDYCAR), and this is just the perfect opportunity to come back,” Davis says. “The economy is growing again and Chip is taking advantage of the market with four cars, getting ready for next year with the new car and new engine packages coming.

“You look at what Chip’s done setting this up for the future and it’s a dream come true.”

Not much of an off season at the ArtRotondo.com shop, we’ve been hard at work and have just recently finished the first batch of IZOD IndyCar Series 2011 helmets. First off we have 2010 rookie of the year British racer Alex Lloyd’s newest helmet which has a revised designed from last season to give it the effect of speed. Below are the first helmets that Alex will be sporting in the upcoming 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series season.

2011 Helmet Designs

Alex Llyod's 2011 Helmet Design

Simultaneously at the ArtRotondo.com shipping dock are Graham Rahal’s new 2011 revamped design helmets.  Now being the third car in the Chip Ganassi racing team, we matured the design but continue to keep to the style of trademark ArtRotondo helmet tops. The playing cards version was created to depict Graham’s Ace hand coming into the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series season and will hopefully give him the better hand out of the rest of the field.

2011 Helmet Designs

Graham Rahal's Ace Helmet Design for 2011

2011 Helmet Designs

Graham Rahal's Ace Helmet Design for 2011

The second helmet created for Rahal has commemorative fireworks for the season opener at St. Pete. This was the location where Graham Rahal celebrated becoming the youngest Indycar champion in victory lane in 2008. Now he with this helmet he will represent the start of a new season spectacle in the IZOD IndyCar Series and the start of a new era for Graham Rahal.

2011 Helmet Designs

Graham Rahal will wear this fireworks helmet at St. Pete

2011 Helmet Designs

Graham Rahal will wear this fireworks helmet at St. Pete

What do you think of these 2011 helmet designs? What design would you like to see on your favorite driver’s helmet? Many more helmets are approaching completion and Indycar blog will have all of these new ArtRotondo works for you to see.

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!

Day 2 of the IZOD Brave New World shoot continued today. The rock band may have left the desert, but we had new guests. In preparation for print, video and web content in support of the 2011 IndyCar season, IZOD was working with six current IndyCar drivers, a former Indy winner and more models. The edited piece will feature Weezer, all of the above, fast cars, rock and roll and some more surprises. Bring on 2011.

Will Power the model

A bunch of clothes for Will Power

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Balls and Tires

Posted on: October 2, 2010 | Comments(4) | Drivers, Race Tracks | By: Dave

Graham Rahal was involved in two separate sets of long drives on race day in South Florida.

First, he joined LPGA Tour rookie Beatriz Recari at Keys Gate Golf Club – a strong 3-wood from Homestead-Miami Speedway – for a session on the driving range. A few hours later, Recari was Rahal’s guest at the speedway, where he introduced her to Indianapolis 500 winner Mario Andretti for a ride in the Indy Racing Experience two-seater.

Rahal, who enjoys a round of golf when his schedule allows, was impressed with Recari’s accuracy off the tee. The native of Spain has three top-10 finishes in her initial tour season.

Beatriz Recari takes a shot

Beatriz takes a shot, Rahal follows

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