Posts Tagged ‘ Ryan Hunter-Reay ’

Ryden Hunter-Reay isn’t one to wear the same thing two weeks in a row in The Big Apple.

Dressed in a pint-sized replica of the yellow fire suit his dad, Ryan Hunter-Reay, wore when he won the Indianapolis 500, 1-year-old Ryden accompanied his parents as they traveled across Manhattan last week, making appearances and melting hearts on “Today,” at the New York Stock Exchange and more.

Then, after a difficult weekend of racing at the Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit presented by Quicken Loans, the family returned to New York on June 2. This time, an appearance on the “Late Show With David Letterman” was on the agenda, as was a trip to the premiere of “The Fault in our Stars” feature film a few blocks from the Ed Sullivan Theater where Letterman’s show is taped. But the popular firesuit was out of sight. Instead, the toddler was styling in mom Beccy Hunter-Reay’s arms in a pair of white jeans and a plaid shirt.

After the taping of his appearance on the 'Late Show With David Letterman,' Indianapolis 500 champion Ryan Hunter-Reay (left), his son, Ryden, and wife, Beccy, joined best-selling author and IndyCar fan John Green and his wife, Sarah, at the premiere of "The Fault in Our Stars" movie. Green wrote the book that the film is based on.

But don’t think the child’s popular Verizon IndyCar Series look is shelved forever.

Seems it made such an impression that there have been discussions about creating onesies with the design, said Beccy.

“It’s not a bad idea,” she said. “Maybe we need to create little onesie fire suit pajamas or something.”

As it is, there’s another firesuit for Ryden on order from OMP, an Italian racing safety equipment and gear maker. Ryan asked for the first one months ago when he signed a deal with the  company and it arrived in Indianapolis on May 24, the day before he won the Indianapolis 500. It fit the growing child like a glove.

“He literally cannot gain a pound, an ounce or grow an inch,” said Beccy, adding that the new suit will be big enough to last the child for the rest of the 2014 season.

That’s a good thing because the suit is as important to Ryden as it is to his public.

Because Ryan and Beccy refer to Ryan’s suit as “the magic suit,” Ryden seems to think it has special powers. So he was thrilled when he received his look-a-like.

“He thought he was a super hero,” said Beccy. “He couldn’t figure it out. He just kept staring like, ‘what is going on right now?’ He was in heaven.”

The fact that the tiny firesuit has turned into an effective marketing tool is completely unintentional, said Beccy.

“We just love our little guy so much and it was so cute,” she said. “We call Ryan’s suit ‘the magic suit’ so whenever da-da has ‘the magic suit’ on, Ryden goes nuts.”

Maybe it is magic. That same thing happens to almost everyone else when Ryden wears his version.

By the time Indianapolis 500 champion Ryan Hunter-Reay made it to the rooftop bar in Midtown Manhattan where friends, family and Verizon IndyCar Series staff gathered May 27 to celebrate his win, he was arguably already the toast of New York.

Indianapolis 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay toasts his victory with his wife, Beccy, and friends following his victory media tour in New York City on Tuesday. The party was held at Top of the Strand, a rooftop bar in midtown Manhattan.

After prevailing in a six-lap duel to the checkered flag with Helio Castroneves, Hunter-Reay captured hearts as he celebrated with wife Beccy and 1-year-old son Ryden. When they arrived in New York for a victory media tour, journalists couldn’t get enough of Hunter-Reay and his toddler look-alike, dressed in a pint-sized version of his dad’s firesuit. Affable Ryden accompanied his parents from an early morning appearance on “Today” to a stop to ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange and finally to a late-in-the-day photo opp atop the Empire State Building as well as multiple interviews in between.

But even after all of that, Ryden was still up for more socializing.

The Hunter-Reays arrived at a cocktail party, organized in their honor at Top of the Strand (33 W. 37th St.) about 6 p.m.,  and it wouldn’t have been a surprise to see the child become tired and a bit cranky.  Even his parents were worn out. But the toddler busied himself unintentionally charming everyone in that room, too. Playing with a yellow balloon, Ryden bounced around the soiree as cocktails, champagne and appetizers were served to the adults socializing above his head.

The scene unfolded in the casual, open-air bar with spectacular views of the Empire State Building. The event’s décor included a photo of Hunter-Reay minutes after he passed the checkered flag at  Indianapolis 500, pouring the ceremonial winner’s milk on his head. Gift bags were stuffed with red and yellow tissue (the colors of Hunter-Reay’s sponsor, DHL), Indianapolis Motor Speedway hats and limited edition Indy 500-themed bottles of Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka.

The highlight of the party came, though, as the sun was setting over New York and the intimate group raised champagne glasses to the Hunter-Reays. They toasted Ryan’s win, the Verizon IndyCar Series and the end to a good day in New York.

Meanwhile, Ryden kept chasing his yellow balloon.

Hunter-Reay revels in Indy history

Posted on: May 16, 2011 | Comments (1) | Drivers | By: Arni

Ryan Hunter-Reay hopes to race in his fourth Indianapolis 500 later this month, but he took advantage of the rainout of practice May 15 to visit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum for the first time.

Ryan Hunter-Reay with gallery of winners.

“I can’t believe I hadn’t been there,” said Hunter-Reay, the 2008 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year. “It was amazing. The place is what Indy car racing is all about, and that’s what makes Indy car racing special. To go there as a current Indy car driver made it even more special. To see the cars that were driven by owners of team’s I’ve driven for and the ones driven by my heroes and know they all went to Victory Lane here at Indy made for a very special day.”

The one car that that the Andretti Autosport driver wanted to see was Rick Mears’ 1984-winning Pennzoil Z-7 Special. Hunter-Reay’s first go-kart was modeled after Mears’ race car and seeing the real car for the first time brought back childhood memories for the IZOD IndyCar Series standout.

“The No. 6 Pennzoil car, in smaller form, was my first ride,” he said. “That’s what I got into a lot of trouble in. It was my neighborhood wheels and I did my first right front wing damage in that car when I hit a stop sign.

“It was really cool to see the actual car. I’ve never seen it before, but to see the evolution of the Indy car was really neat to see. To see where the sport actually started and how the cars have developed over the years, and see what made these cars go faster and faster. Indianapolis has always been a proving ground as much as it is a huge race.”

Hunter-Reay was far from the only driver in the Museum. 1963 Indianapolis 500 winner Parnelli Jones and Dreyer & Reinbold’s  Justin Wilson were visitors to the exhibit of 67-winning Indianapolis 500 winning cars.

And while Hunter-Reay told all the well-wishers in the Museum his plan was to have his Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda car join the winning cars in the Museum next year, he hopes to get another visit to see the cars on display again.

“I’m going to go back again before I leave this month,” Hunter-Reay said.

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.

[More]

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.

Here we go, this week in INDYCAR and we’re off to the races (well, almost). Starting with the BIG, no HUGE, announcement that Las Vegas Motor Speedway will play host to the races that will crown the IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Lights champions– the IZOD IndyCar World Championship. INDYCAR will even up the ante of the IZOD IndyCar Series race by welcoming challengers to a high-stakes shootout on the high-banked oval. Read more about the $5 Million Challenge, which driver do you hope to see bid for their chance to win the IZOD IndyCar World Championship this year?

A better view of the strip.

IZOD IndyCar Series drivers prepared to take on Vegas

For fans, the announcements get even better. Purchase a ticket to any IZOD IndyCar Series race this season and you’re eligible to redeem a ticket to the season finale. Full details will be announced March 1 on IndyCar.com. “This is a time when INDYCAR can tell our fans that we thank them for their support,” said Randy Bernard earlier this week (read more about the ticket offer here). All that remains to be asked is, who’s up for a Vegas Vacation this fall?

IndyCar fans in Milwaukee got a treat on Saturday when driver, Justin Wilson, made an appearance along with the Milwaukee Bucks at the Greater Milwaukee Auto Show and then later in the day joined the NBA franchise for their game against the Chicago Bulls. The appearance is part of a series of other planned community appearances counting down the 110 days remaining until the 2011 Milwaukee Mile.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced that fans ages 9-17 will be able to visit the Gasoline Alley garage area this May 14-28 with the purchase of a Junior Garage Credential. Can’t wait for the Indianapolis 500 in May? Check out TheGreatest33.com in the meantime where fans can sign up for early admission to the interactive (i.e. very cool) Indianapolis 500 website. This year’s race will also feature a noon ET start time (read about it). This week, Sam Schmidt Motorsports announced that  Jay Howard will join them in an attempt to qualify for the 100th anniversary running of the Indianapolis 500. Read more here about Howard’s first attempts to qualify for the Indy 500 in 2010 and what his goals are for the 2011 running. Are you making plans to be at this year’s race too?

Gasoline Alley

Gasoline Alley at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Fans on Twitter may have caught this week’s big announcement that this spring’s the May Indy Tweetup will present the #BeatCancer Bash in support of Racing for Cancer. New to the May Indy Tweetup? Find out what two IndyCar fans with a seemingly endless phone battery life (it’s not easy to tweet as often as you eat) and a huge passion for racing launched in 2010 and have planned for 2011.

Ryan Hunter-Reay, an ambassador for Racing for Cancer, lent his support this past week for a cross-country bike ride to raise funds and awareness for cancer. Read more about the driver’s efforts here. It’s always cool to keep tabs on what drivers are doing outside of the track, but, speaking of racing…

We’re a month away from St. Pete (a month? No, no, 25 days to be precise) and plans are underway for the party (read more here). And the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach announced this week at on April 16, a star-studded field will race over 10 laps on the Long Beach street circuit in identically prepared, race-ready Scion tCs. Get a look at the celeb line-up here.

Scenic

The overhead view of the temporary street circuit in St. Petersburg for the 2010 Honda Grand Prix of St. Pete.

But first comes testing (Testing? What? Why? Read more here). It’s close, oh so close and we’re ready to watch. Team Penske’s Will Power, Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves, along with KV Racing Technology-Lotus drivers E.J. Viso and Takuma Sato, will join Chip Ganassi’s Charlie Kimball and Vitor Meira for testing on March 1 (as in, only 2 more days). Other drivers will be testing March 9-10 at Sebring International Raceway. All leading up to the March 14-15 Open Test at Barber Motorsports Park. Which driver will you have your eyes on during testing?

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!

Sunday 4:48 p.m.- Thanks for keeping up with the live blog this weekend. Can’t wait for Edmonton! Here are some victory lane photos for you, see the rest here.

The Winner

Will Power #1 at Hondy Indy Toronto

Tons of confetti

Top 3 with lots of confetti!

Sunday 3:25 p.m.- After going through the predictions on both Facebook and Twitter we have two winners from the “Pick the Top Three Trifecta Contest.” Congratulations to both Michael Hannowsky and @ACDonahue for guessing the top three drivers in the right order: Will Power, Dario Franchitti and Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Sunday 2:47p.m.- WE HAVE A WINNER- Will Power to Victory Lane! Highlight video and tons of pictures from throughout the race to come!

Ready for racing

Will Power wins at Honda Indy Toronto

Sunday 2:34 p.m.- Sixth full course yellow of the race- Last year there were only 5! Alex Tagliani and Tomas Scheckter connect in the corner. Justin Wilson spins out and Scott Dixon loses his front suspension. All in one lap!

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