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Catching up with Munoz: Rookie on the rise

June 16th, 2014

6.16.14 (via IndyCar.com) – Carlos Munoz caught worldwide attention with a runner-up finish in his maiden Indianapolis 500 Mile Race in 2013, and the 22-year-old Verizon IndyCar Series rookie has continued on the fast track in the first half of this season.
 
He is sixth in the championship and leads the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings through eight races. Munoz’s four top-10 finishes have been punctuated by third place at Long Beach, where he advanced eight positions relative to his qualifying. Sixth for Dual 2 at Belle Isle on June 1 is his best qualifying effort.
 
Catching up with Munoz, 22, a Miami resident and driver of the No. 34 Cinsay AndrettiTV.com HVM car, heading into the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston Presented by the Greater Houston Honda Dealers:
 
Q: How would you assess your overall performance in the first half of the season?
 
A: It’s been an OK year apart from the mistakes I’ve made at Barber (bouncing off tire barrier) and Texas (spin on pit lane). I’m improving a lot on road and street courses and proving a lot. In Detroit we were really fast but the strategy just wasn’t the correct one (finished seventh and eighth). Next is Houston, which will be really tough with the doubleheader. My goal was to start improving a lot right from the start and that’s why we put all the testing in this part of the year because we knew in the beginning it would be tough for me.
 
My goal is to stay there in the championship and win the rookie award, and my main goal is to learn as much as I can this year and a make it a big year next year.
 
Q: What, if anything, has been a surprise in your first full season?
 
A: The car, mainly. You can have the perfect car and then make little changes and have a bad car in the next session. In IndyCar, you have to have everything together to be in the (Firestone) Fast Six for qualifying – the good car, the good lap, the good temperatures. Everything is sensitive and you have to have everything in the right moment to get the most out of it.
 
Q: What have been a few keys you’ve learned about IndyCar racing so far this season?
 
A: Indy Lights is a great school for drivers because it gives you the basis for the racing and the ovals. It’s hard to race on ovals because you have to be aware of the others around you all the time, the strategy, tire management — all this counts. Each race I have learned a lot. I feel like I did during my first Indy Lights year. I learned step by step and toward the end of the season I won and the second year I challenged for the championship. Next year is the big year.
 
Q: There are distinct personalities at Andretti Autosport with Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay and James Hinchcliffe. How do you feel you’ve fit in?
 
A: We work as a team, which is the mentality (team owner) Michael (Andretti) wants. We have a great relationship and work well together. A lot of drivers will say that, but in this case it’s true. The first day I stepped into the team, whether it was in Indy Lights or this year in IndyCar, I felt welcome.
 
 
 
 
 

Ryan Hunter-Reay looks to break post-Indy 500 slump

June 12th, 2014

6.11.14 (via USA Today) – Ryan Hunter-Reay caught up on sleep and sent links to funny videos to teammate James Hinchcliffe. He was even thinking about catching a movie while waiting out the rain Wednesday at the Milwaukee Mile.

Hunter-Reay's life has slowed down just a tad since winning the Indianapolis 500 a few weeks ago. He wouldn't mind bouncing back from three disappointing finishes since his milestone victory.

A 19th-place finish last weekend at Texas. Finishes of 16th and 19th the previous week in dual races in Detroit.

"Absolutely, a tough run, but we've had more difficult times, that's for sure," Hunter-Reay said.

He has followed a breakneck pace since the highlight-reel finish at Indy on Memorial Day weekend, the first American to win the race in eight years. The media spotlight has been intense, though he'll gladly take the attention that comes with victory.

There is a break in the race schedule until dual races in Houston on June 28-29, though testing is ongoing. Hunter-Reay is third in points among drivers behind first-place Will Power and Helio Castroneves.

 

Read more here…

 

 

 

Scott Speed, Andretti Autosport are golden at X Games Austin

June 7th, 2014

6.7.14 (via MotorSportsTalk) – Scott Speed and Andretti Autosport are now 2-for-2 in Red Bull Global Rallycross this season after the ex-Formula One and NASCAR driver captured the X Games gold medal at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
 
Speed, driving the No. 77 7Up Volkswagen Polo, ran the table in today’s elimination rounds, winning his quarterfinal and semifinal heats before beating skateboarding icon Bucky Lasek and another F1/NASCAR veteran, Nelson Piquet Jr., in the final.
 
“This thing is so fast – it’s always so fast,” Speed told ESPN. “It’s just a matter for us to stay clean and if we can get out in front, they can’t catch us…Our car is so good, it makes my job easy.”
 
Speed opened the season with a win on NBC last month at Top Gear Festival Barbados.
 
In today’s final, Speed won the holeshot heading into the first turn with Liam Doran and Piquet following in second and third. Those front three plus Austin Dyne took the joker on the opening lap of the 10-lap final, but on Lap 3, Dyne sustained contact with Patrik Sandell in the hairpin when the latter tried to pass him on the inside.
 
Dyne was left with a broken suspension and could not continue. That brought out a Red Flag and also led to Race Control barring Sandell from the remainder of the final.
 
Speed, Doran, Piquet and Lasek lined up again for the restart with eight laps left, but Doran ran his Citroen wide in the rush to Turn 1 and fell all the way to last.
 
Meanwhile, Speed earned the holeshot again and went on a relatively easy cruise to the win, while Lasek picked up the silver medal in his Subaru after Piquet earned a black flag for running the joker twice (a no-no in GRC racing).
 
 
 
 
 
 

VW’s Rule The Roost In First X Games Heats

June 7th, 2014

6.7.2014 (via thecheckeredflag.co.uk) - VW lead the way on the opening day of the Red Bull Global Rallycross at X Games Austin as Scott Speed, Anton Marklund and Tanner Foust all took victories in their first heats; Travis Pastrana was the only non-VW win as he piloted his Subaru to a win in his heat.

Joni Wiman set the pace early on in the day as he gained the top seeding after qualifying but an accident in his heat sent him head-on into the hairpin wall. While Wiman was not injured, his car was wrecked and had to sit on the sidelines for the rest of the race.

“We’ve had a lot of pace here,” said Scott Speed to GlobalRallyCross.com, “We’re trying not to do anything stupid. I took a very conservative start, and Isachsen was super aggressive, so I let him have the spot. Then I ran around until I got close enough to pass him on the joker without any incident, and just tried to go as easy on the car as possible.”

Speed took victory in his heat as he finished almost a second faster than the two Subaru’s of Sverre Isachsen and Bucky Lasek. Lasek will be doing everything he can to win tomorrow after missing out on a medal in the Skateboarding Vert final. Brian Deegan finished in fourth place while Pat Moro registered a DNF.

“I was on the outside, which I think isn’t seen as the favorable spot,” said Foust. “I got by (Patrik) Sandell and was in the lead, but then there was a red flag because (Steve) Arpin stalled it in the hairpin. So we did it again, and lightning struck twice there—I got by Sandell on the outside that time.”

Foust would finish the race 1.5 seconds ahead of the Olsbergs MSE Ford of Sandell, with Rhys Millen finishing in third place ahead of Liam Doran in his Citroen DS3. Steve Arpin rounded out the 5-car field in last place, 6.2 seconds down.

Anton Marklund took a win in his round ahead of Nelson Piquet Jr, who is also taking part in the GRC Lites races this weekend. Austin Cindric would finish third while Wiman failed to finish after colliding with the wall.

X Games legend Travis Pastrana took the win in his heat to break the VW clean-sweep, ahead of a hard fought battle between reigning GRC champion Toomas Heikkinen and Ken Block. While the Gymkhana icon took the second place, Heikkinen will be looking to make up for lost time tomorrow. Ricky Johnson and Emma Gilmour rounded out the field.

Read more…

Red Bull Global Rallycross Arrives at X Games Austin

June 6th, 2014

6.5.2014 (via thecheckeredflag.co.uk)
Red Bull Global Rallycross has officially arrived in Austin, Texas as part of the X Games package after drivers shook down their cars in first practice.

With a 19-car strong entry list (was previously 20, but Sarah Burgess will not be taking part) featuring the likes of Tanner Foust, Ken Block, Scott Speed, Brian Deegan and Britains very own Liam Doran the X Games moves to Austin, Texas and the Circuit of the Americas.

“We look forward to participating at X Games this weekend in Austin as part of our multi-year collaboration,”said Colin Dyne, Red Bull GRC CEO. “Circuit of the Americas is one of the greatest race circuits in the world, and we are proud to be competing at a venue of such incredible caliber.”

Talking after first practice Scott Speed told fans “Practice in the books, we have a ton of speed, just need to stay clean through the weekend” via his Instagram account. Speed will be hoping to add another victory to his 2014 season after winning in Barbados.

 

Read more here…

Montagny: “I’ve had a smile on my face since the first lap”

June 5th, 2014

6.5.2014 (via fiaformulae.com Franck Montagny is the first driver to be confirmed for the Andretti Autosport Formula E Team and we spoke with him following his first outing in the fully-electric Spark-Renault SRT_01E…

 

How does it feel to be announced as a Formula E driver for the first fully-electric racing championship?

Well I’m very happy to be part of it and I’m proud to be here at the beginning of the story. It’s a new championship and it’s completely different with a unique approach to racing. It’s not only a new racing series but a new era of motorsport.

 

Having driven the car for the first time during the shakedown at Donington Park, what are your feelings of the car?

The car is very special and honestly I have had a smile on my face since the first lap I stepped into it and I still can’t stop. It’s good fun to drive and if I have fun inside the car I think people outside will like it.

 

With the different levels of power available have you had the chance to experience a variety of feedback from the car?

I’ve tried full power once on an in-lap just to get a feeling and it’s fantastic but I guess this is not the way we are going to run the race. The power is not the most important thing, we have to bring the show to the people and I think we can do that.

 

Read more here…

Teams complete first successful shakedown at Donington Park

June 4th, 2014

6.4.2014 (via fiaformulae.com)  Teams competing in the all-electric FIA Formula E Championship got their first chance to familiarise themselves with their Spark-Renault SRT_01E cars today during a shakedown session at Donington Park.  

The teams completed a full-day of systems checks at the Leicestershire track in wet conditions using a modified configuration of the National Circuit, which included an additional chicane on the main straight.

The seven confirmed drivers – Daniel Abt and Lucas di Grassi (Abt), Sam Bird and Jaime Alguersuari (Virgin Racing), Bruno Senna and Karun Chandhok (Mahindra Racing) and Franck Montagny (Andretti Autosport) – were all in attendance together with several new drivers under evaluation.

Rob Arnott, Team Manager at Andretti Autosport, said: “The car has run exceptionally well for us, almost like clockwork. We’ve had virtually no issues which say a lot for a car straight out of the box and Franck [Montagny] has been really surprised with the car and its balance, especially in the wet. I was concerned the tyres wouldn’t be able to cope being a ‘one-stop-shop’ so to speak but they are very impressive and a good compound. Tomorrow we’ll debrief and analysis the data but it’s apparent battery management is going to be key.”

 

Read more here…

BRABHAM: My emotional month of May

May 31st, 2014

5.31.2014 (via RACER.com) – The Indy Grand Prix and the Indy 500 have come and gone, and the month of May is almost over; it has certainly gone by in a flash. I have been absorbed solely into racing and nothing else during this time and it feels nice to finally have a little bit of a break before the next race at Pocono in July.

There have been some highs and lows, but it has been an amazing experience. It was very gut wrenching and saddening for my whole family to lose my grandfather, Poppy. I know he would have been very upset with me if I had let his passing interrupt my focus for the Freedom 100, as racing was everything to him. So, I tried to look on the positive side and stay clear-minded.
 

Poppy's life was absolutely amazing; he lived in a great era and what he achieved during his time on this earth was incredible. I'm completely blown away from all of the support and condolences from everyone. It has made me incredibly proud, especially when I went to Lucas Oil Raceway and saw that all the USF2000 and Pro Mazda competitors had the same tribute sticker that I ran at the Freedom 100 on their cars. It was hard to keep my emotions in check. I had a strong month racing-wise and I felt Poppy was with me all the way.
 

There was a great deal of expectation leading into the Freedom 100 Indy Lights race. The hype of the Indy 500 and everything else going on around us was hard to totally absorb. We also only had two days on track; I wish we had more time on The Speedway as it was such a blast to drive on. It went by so quickly and it was all over before I knew it.
 

Practice didn't start out so well for us. We all did qualifying simulations in the only morning practice session on Thursday, and straight away it became apparent that the Sam Schmidt cars were very quick. The team and I were still confident we could go out and be in contention for pole, but it was a little disheartening when that didn't happen. Zach Veach and I spent the rest of the session working together on our race setups. My racecar felt very good in practice, and Zach and I worked really well together, but it was hard to tell how we both compared to the rest of the field.
 

Qualifying went as we thought with Zach and I lining up in the second row behind Luis Razia and Jack Harvey. Everyone was very close except for Luis, who absolutely smoked us, which was a worry. I figured it would be really hard to break the draft in the race, and I felt as though my race setup was really good so I remained confident.
 

Carb Day was amazing! I was surprised at how many people were at IMS. I almost missed the drivers briefing because it was chock-a-block traffic getting into the track. It was a really cool experience to be competing in front of such a big crowd. They gave us all the pre-race lead in's and introductions, which was really special. It made it a little more nerve-wracking before the start of the race, but once we pulled out of pit lane, all my emotions and butterflies disappeared; I was only focused on the race.

 

 

 

Read more here… 

 

 

 

Marco Andretti rides Indy 500 momentum to Detroit Grand Prix

May 31st, 2014

5.31.2014 (via Daily Tribune) – Marco Andretti smiled when he was reminded that Honda engines were in both cars that won IndyCar races on Belle Isle last year. “We have to keep it up,” the driver of the No. 25 Snapple Honda said.

The game within the game will be part of the drama this weekend when the IndyCar Series stages two points races in Detroit, corporate home of Honda rival Chevrolet, which also happens to be the title sponsor of the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix.

“We sure are,” Andretti said when asked if drivers are aware of the competition between the engine makers.

Andretti, 27, wore a golf shirt embroidered with logos of sponsors, Honda included, when he signed autographs and chatted with fans at a Kroger store in Shelby Township on Thursday.

The Pennsylvania native’s appearance represented calm before the racing storm that begins Friday with two practice sessions that precede 70-lap races Saturday and Sunday on the 2.3-mile Belle Isle street course.

“Track position, qualifying, pit stops: We need to execute everything,” Andretti said. “I need to get the monkey off my back. I need a win.”

Andretti came to Michigan feeling good about his driving and his season, even if he does thirst for a first-place finish. He took third last Sunday in the Indianapolis 500, which was won by Andretti Autosport teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay. Andretti led 20 laps in the 98th running of the 500, which paid double points, and posted his third top-10 finish in five races this season.

“As much as I was disappointed with not winning the Indy 500, you have to look at the positives,” the grandson of open-wheel racing legend Mario Andretti and son of two-time Belle Isle winner Michael Andretti said.

“It was like two podium (top three) finishes because of the double points,” Marco said.

 

Read more here…  

 

 

Andretti Formula E Announces Team’s First FIA Formula E Driver

May 29th, 2014

5.29.14 – Andretti Formula E, the FIA Formula E division of race team Andretti Autosport, will welcome French-native Franck Montagny to the team's stable of full-time drivers. With a diverse and extensive racing resume, Montagny becomes the first driver announced for Michael Andretti's two-car Formula E effort.

Although both new to Formula E for its debut season, the relationship between Andretti and Montagny dates back to 2008 when Montagny competed in the ALMS series with Andretti Autosport, he then returned to the team in 2009 with the IndyCar Series and again for the 2014 Grand Prix of Indianapolis.

"It is a great honor to be racing again with Andretti Autosport and Michael Andretti." said Montagny. "I worked a great deal with the team in 2008 and 2009, and again this year, and working together on this new electric challenge will be exciting. I am convinced that this new fully-electric technology in the automotive industry will become a very important characteristic of our day to day lives in the future, and this high-level racing competition will very quickly bring new technical developments just as Formula 1 did in the past for everyday automobiles."

In addition to his resume with Andretti Autosport, Montagny boasts 12 starts at the historic 24 Hours de Le Mans with four-podium finishes, in addition to five years of Formula One experience with seven grand prix competitions.

In addition to his time on track as a driver, Montagny has spent a great deal of time working in front of the camera with the French TV Group TF1 as a Formula One consultant and pit reporter for "Canal+".

The FIA Formula E Championship will travel to Beijing, China for the debut round of competition taking place in September 2014.

For more information visit AndrettiAutosport.com or FIAFormulaE.com.

 

 

 



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