Posts Tagged ‘ IZOD ’

Blog Girl

Posted on: April 15, 2011 | Comments(25) | Random | By: Beccy

Hi All.  Some of you may know me from twitter (@BeccyGordon), others from the track and now you will know me as the girl who blogs on IndyCar.com

Here’s my story, so you know where I’m coming from for future blogs…

I’m a girl who literally grew up racing.  My great-grandfather raced IndyCars back in the early 1900s, his name was Huntly Gordon. He raced in several Vanderbilt Cup races and practiced for the Indianapolis 500.  Back in the day, each car entered in the race would have a few drivers practice the car. The official driver was established on race morning.  I assume that’s why, they always say the car is entered in the race, not the driver (ie- the Junquiera & Tagliani situation last May).  It would have been awesome if he could have raced in the Indy 500.  I’m obsessed with the history of IMS and that would have made the story too perfect.

Huntly Gordon

Huntly Gordon

My dad races off-road cars. My mom pre-ran the Baja 500 when she was seven months pregnant with me.   I’ve asked her why, and she looks at me like… “Why? Why not?”  Maybe that’s where I get my spunk.  My parents were young and that’s what they did, they loved the desert.  My mom wasn’t letting a pregnancy keep her down.  Here’s the picture, my parents in my dad’s 1970s buggy, shocks with 2 inches of travel going across the Baja Peninsula, my brother, Robby, ratchet strapped to the gas tank, my sister on my mom’s lap and me in her belly.  It’s a hilarious sight if you can picture it and probably defines our family well.

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Catching up with Kevin Jonas

Posted on: April 15, 2011 | Comments (0) | Race Tracks | By: Dave

Way back, before the Jonas Brothers phenomenon really got rolling, the group played a gig at Kentucky Speedway before the IZOD IndyCar Series race day got rolling.

Kevin Jonas catches up with Indycar.com

Kevin Jonas catches up with IndyCar.com

“I remember that show,” said Jonas, who is competing in the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race – an adjunct to the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach – this weekend. “We pulled up with all the other busses and then we hung around in the back of the media center. Miss America was there, too. That seems so long ago.”

Indeed. It was before “Camp Rock,” appearances on the cover major magazines, No. 1 songs and celebrity A-list events.

The family grew up in North Carolina and has been auto racing fans of the stock car bent, but Jonas certainly appreciates the focus, stamina, athleticism and competitive nature of the IZOD IndyCar Series drivers competing on the 1.968-mile, 11-turn Long Beach street circuit. It was enough for him to handle the Scion tC during practice.

“This is the first time I’ve done something like this and I love,” Jonas said. “It’s a lot of fun but you have to get used to it. How often these days do you drive a manual car? Growing up you get your permit and license, but then you get here and you have to re-learn how to drive. We had four days of training before this practice and coming here you had to find your braking points and get used to the track.”

Kevin Jonas catches up with Indycar.com

Kevin Jonas

Toyota will donate $5,000 to Racing For Kids in the name of each celebrity racer and another $5,000 to the winning racer’s charity of choice. Additionally, a $15,000 donation will be made in conjunction with the 14th People Pole Award (sponsored by People magazine).

The celeb racers visited with patients at Miller Children’s Hospital in Long Beach on April 14 as part of the Racing For Kids event. For 22 years, Racing For Kids representatives from the IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights have visited children’s hospitals in race markets.

“I walked into one of the rooms and there was a poster of me and my brothers on the wall, and that made me feel good that our music maybe brings some joy to a young person’s life because they’re going through so much,” Jonas said. “No matter how much fun it is to race, it’s really getting out there and doing this for the kids.”

11 in 11 featuring Ryan Hunter-Reay

Posted on: April 15, 2011 | Comments (0) | Drivers | By: Admin

We’re following up on the fan generated video series, 11 in 11. This weekend, we’re featuring reigning Long Beach Grand Prix champion Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Marco Andretti, Michael Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay

RHR with the Andretti's

Find out what race he wants to win. His opinion on neck pillows, yes neck pillows. The Indianapolis 500. Winning at Long Beach, and more.

Beautiful Barber

Posted on: April 8, 2011 | Comments(4) | Flickr, Race Tracks | By: Daniel

Have you ever been on vacation or visited a place so stunning or picturesque, that it’s almost impossible to take a bad photo?

Not to take away from the work of our professional photographers that work in the IZOD IndyCar Series, but at Barber Motorsports Park, I really do think it’s hard to take a bad photo.

It’s beautiful, with rolling hills, a manicured landscape, a museum and a scattering of art installations.

Haulers are loaded in to the paddock area

A nice wide look at Barber

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Charlie Kimball – 11 in 11Charlie Kimball has joined the IZOD IndyCar Series for the 2011 season and before he ever turned a lap he was setting records.  Having been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2007, he is the first IZOD IndyCar Series competitor to have driven with the disease.

Charlie Kimball

Charlie Kimball

Charlie uses a complex set of tools and rigid self-discipline to maintain his edge as a competitor.  We were lucky enough to catch up with Charlie at Barber Motorsports Park for a few minutes and asked him questions submitted by you, the fans.  Sit back, enjoy the video, and get to know one of the young, up and coming stars of the IZOD IndyCar Series.

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

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Surrealism, Servia and Speed

Posted on: March 25, 2011 | Comments (1) | Drivers | By: Daniel

Yesterday, Newman Haas driver Oriol Servia stopped by the new Dali Museum, located in the heart of the St. Petersburg Grand Prix. He was greeted by the museum’s director, Hank Hines. They toured the museum, talked art, engineering, surrealism and racing. It was an unlikely pairing, but the two hit it off immediately.

Inspiration

Oriol reveals his inspiration

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11 in 11 is here

Posted on: March 24, 2011 | Comments(2) | Drivers, Fans | By: Daniel

Well, the season is here, congratulations, you made it. It’s time for racing. It’s time for racing updates. It’s time for lots and lots of racing video content.

Back in January, we pitched a new video series to you – something we called 11 in 11. It was a simple premise. We would gather 11 of our favorite fan submitted questions and ask as many drivers during the 2011 season. 11 in 11, get it?

You responded with lots of suggestions, lots of questions. You left comments on our blog. You tweeted at us, you wrote on our Facebook wall. As always, you surprised us with your passion and enthusiasm for the sport.

Today we’re bringing you the first video in this series, featuring Target Chip Ganassi Driver, Scott Dixon.

IZOD IndyCar Series Driver Scott Dixon at the 2011 IZOD photo shoot

Scott Dixon posing during an IZOD shoot

What were the questions we ended up with? Here’s the general outline:

•    Which race are you looking forward to this year and why?
•    Talk about circuit layouts— what makes for a challenging course?
•    Talk about the 100th anniversary of the Indy 500 and what it means….
•    From Paige: If you were a cartoon character, who would you want to be?
•    From Ken (possibly in Idaho): What retired Indycar driver do you respect/admire the most, and why?
•    From Gina: which type of track do you prefer- ovals or road courses and why?
•    From Neil: What is your biggest challenge now that you’ve made it to the pinnacle of racing?
•    From Canada: what’s the best prank each driver has played on other drivers/crew members?
•    From Joe: What are you most looking forward to in 2012 with the new car and engine?
•    From Susan: Tell us about the first race that you won (no matter how old you were, what type of race it was) and how it made you feel.
•    Megan wants to know: Everyone wants to win the Indy 500. After that what is the race you would most like to win?

And finally – here is the video. Enjoy. Lots more to follow throughout the season.

Yeah, that’s the ticket

Posted on: February 23, 2011 | Comments(4) | Fans | By: Dave

LAS VEGAS – Racetrack promoters, Phillips-Van Heusen (parent company of IZOD) officials and drivers are on board with the plan unveiled by INDYCAR CEO Randy Bernard on Feb. 22 to provide a complimentary ticket to the IZOD IndyCar World Championship on Oct. 16 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Certainly fans are on board. They just have to purchase a ticket to any IZOD IndyCar Series race this season to be eligible to redeem for a ticket to the season finale. Full details for the ticket promotion will be announced March 1 on indycar.com and 866-INDYCAR. Tickets to the IZOD INDYCAR World Championships go on sale Feb. 25 through Ticketmaster.com.

INDYCAR in Las Vegas

Who's coming to Vegas?

“I think it’s great that the series is giving back to the fans,” said 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series championship runner-up Will Power, driver of the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car, who attended the announcement at chic Crystals at CityCenter on the Las Vegas Strip. “To give tickets to this race is a very good incentive because they get to come to Vegas on a holiday. To have the stands full of fans will make for a very good atmosphere.”

INDYCAR is the event promoter; it’s a track rental based on a sponsorship model instead of ticket revenue. The combination of exciting racing on the 1.5-mile oval, the championship component, the final event for the current Dallara chassis-Honda engine package, the glamour and allure of visiting Las Vegas should draw quite a crowd.

“This is a time when INDYCAR can tell our fans that we thank them for their support,” Bernard said. “For entertainment, you can’t get any better than Vegas. Competition, it’s going to be some fantastic racing. The economy is great right now and by offering a free ticket to anyone that goes to another event we think gives our fans great value.”

IZOD VP of marketing Mike Kelly said the IZOD IndyCar series already has given the company great return after the first year of the title sponsorship.

“I think our right place continues to be how can we energize the cities around the race weekends and the three weeks leading up to the race or the five weeks leading up to the race,” Kelly said. “And we are looking at Vegas and we are going to keep working, and I’m going to find money and ways to come in here and really tear it up.

“That’s what we do in markets when we go in and I think it’s a perfect one to do it. I can’t imagine what it could be like in five years when you consider kind of a Super Bowl city if you will, what Las Vegas could be like for a championship.

“It’s such a dynamic location. It’s evidence again that we hitched our wagon to the right horse.  This is just more evidence of growth.”

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!