2011 IndyCar Rd.12--New Hampshire 225

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2011 IndyCar Rd.12--New Hampshire 225

Post by mlittle » Fri Aug 12, 2011 5:01 pm

With Mid-Ohio in the rear-views, the stars of the IZOD IndyCar Series now make their way to New England and the 1-mile paperclip oval that is New Hampshire Motor Speedway......

How long has it been since the series last graced Loudon? Well.......
---Bill Clinton was President of the United States
---Gasoline was still under $2 American
---Tony Stewart was still racing IndyCars instead of stock cars

Open Test Session #1, 9-11:30am, 11 August 2011
Open Test Session #2, 1-4pm, 11 August 2011
Practice Session #1, 9-10:15am, 13 August 2011
Practice Session #2, 12-1pm, 13 August 2011
PEAK Pole Qualifying, 3pm, 13 August 2011
Final Practice Session, 10:15-10:45am, 14 August 2011
New Hampshire 200, 4pm ABC Sports

--Bobby Rahal(1): 1992
--Nigel Mansell(1): 1993
--Al Unser, Jr.(1): 1994
--Andre Ribiero(1): 1995
--Scott Sharp(1): 1996
--Robbie Buhl(1): 1997
--Tony Stewart(1): 1998
Last edited by mlittle on Wed Aug 17, 2011 3:26 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by mlittle » Fri Aug 12, 2011 5:03 pm

Track Map, New Hampshire Motor Speedway
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Post by mlittle » Fri Aug 12, 2011 5:09 pm

New Hampshire 225 Entry List

Oriol Servia, #2 Telemundo-NHR
Helio Castroneves, #3 Guidepoint Systems
(R)J.R. Hildebrand, #4 National Guard
Takuma Sato, #5 Lotus-KV Racing
Ryan Briscoe, #6 Penske Truck Rental
Danica Patrick, #7 GoDaddy.com
Scott Dixon, #9 Target
Dario Franchitti, #10 Nikon
Will Power, #12 Verizon Wireless
Vitor Meira, #14 ABC Supply Co.
(R)James Jakes, #18 Acorn Stairlifts
Alex Lloyd, #19 Boy Scouts of America
Tomas Scheckter, #22 Z-Line Designs
(R)Ana Beatriz, #24 Ipringa-DRR
Marco Andretti, #26 Snapple
Mike Conway, #27 @FollowAndretti
Ryan Hunter-Reay, #28 DHL/Circle K
Pippa Mann, #30 Novus-RLLR
(R)Sebastian Saavedra, #34 Conquest Racing
Graham Rahal, #38 Service Central
E.J. Viso, #59 PDVSA-KV Racing
Ed Carpenter, #67 Dollar General
Alex Tagliani, #77 Boers & Wilkins
Simona de Silvestro, #78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy
Tony Kanaan, #82 GEICO-KV Racing
(R)Charlie Kimball, #83 Novolog-Levemir FlexPen
(R)James Hinchcliffe, #06 Sprotts-NHR
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Drivers Zero In On NHMS Record

Post by mlittle » Fri Aug 12, 2011 5:32 pm


---LOUDON, N.H. -- On his way to winning the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series championship, Dario Franchitti earned the inaugural A.J. Foyt Oval Trophy (the highest points producer with 262) with two victories intertwined with six top-five finishes in the seven events.

He leads through five races this season – three points ahead of Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon – and also is the overall championships points leader by 62 over Team Penske’s Will Power and 93 over Dixon.

Though he hadn’t driven on the 1.025-mile New Hampshire Motor Speedway oval in an IZOD IndyCar Series car at speed prior to 5½ hours of practice Aug. 11 for the MoveThatBlock.com Indy 225, Franchitti looked as if he was as comfortable as, say, competing at The Milwaukee Mile.
He had a quick lap of 21.5665 seconds (171.099 mph). The Indy car lap record is 21.466 seconds by Andre Ribeiro (Ana Beatriz’s manager) in qualifying on Aug. 19, 1995. The IZOD IndyCar Series track record is 21.719 seconds by Richie Hearn in 1996 – the first of three times the series raced at then-New Hampshire International Speedway.

“My first order of business today was to learn the track and the first run felt good,” Franchitti said. “It is definitely a lot easier to learn a place when the car is doing what you want it to. I think we are in good shape now and we will be chasing the track a little bit. We’ll see if we can continue this form into the weekend.”

Power, who was 19th on the combined practice sheet (22.2861 seconds) in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske entry, is certainly cognizant of the championship gap. Through 11 events in 2010, he led Franchitti by 50 points. A 14th-place finish Aug. 7 in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio, coupled with Franchitti's runner-up finish to Dixon, dropped him from 38 to the 62 points arrears. “I was more aggressive in (the two races in) Canada,” said Power, who counts the Edmonton Indy as one of his four victories this season. “Sometimes I’d be a little bit more conservative over a whole season and that’d be one way to tackle the championship. But now I have no choice but to be aggressive, because I’m hunting a points lead down. It’s either be conservative and finish second or be aggressive and really go after it and win the championship. I don’t want any regrets. Just be smart about it and make very good decisions, but at the same time really race to win.’’

Dixon (21.6204; 170.672) was second and Graham Rahal (21.6644) was third in the No. 38 Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing car. KV Racing Technology-Lotus teammates Tony Kanaan (21.7368), Takuma Sato (21.7713) and E.J. Viso (21.7743) were fourth through sixth.

"We believe that the momentum we built on the previous short ovals, Milwaukee and Iowa, are paying off here," Viso said. "Today we did some good simulations of qualifying and all three cars ran roughly the same lap times. Now we concentrate on working on our race pace, which I consider is going to be very important at this race probably more than at other ones. The track has some bumps and it's difficult to overtake so it's going to be long and physical."

Newman/Haas Racing’s Oriol Servia and James Hinchcliffe joined Ryan Hunter-Reay, driving the No. 28 Team DHL/Circle K/Sun Drop Citrus Soda car for Andretti Autosport and Charlie Kimball in the No. 83 Levemir and NovoLog Flex Pen car for Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing in the top 10.

The top 10 were separated by less than four-tenths of a second. The 27-car field piled on 4,105 laps with one incident in which Pippa Mann spun and made light contact with the tires on the inside of the Turn 2 exit. She was checked and cleared to drive.

There are two practice sessions Aug. 13 (the series yields to Whelen Modifieds on Aug. 12) prior to two-lap qualifications.
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Franchitti On Point in Loudon....

Post by mlittle » Mon Aug 15, 2011 5:40 am

----It required two laps of almighty commitment around the tricky Loudon track for Dario Franchitti to snag a convincing pole position on Saturday.

As the only driver to qualify above the 170 mph mark, Franchitti came close to pushing that margin beyond 171 mph, settling for a two-lap average of 170.843 mph on the one-mile oval.

After his run, the exasperated Scot made it clear just how much effort was required to start first in the 26-car field.

“[No. 10 car engineer] Chris [Simmons] and the whole Target crew did an amazing job with the Nikon car there," he said. "The first time you take it wide open it takes a little bit of faith. You commit to Turns 1 and 2 going flat on that first lap and hope it’s going to stick. I wouldn’t want to do it again. That was about as good as we could do it today. I’m really stoked.”

Oriol Servia will start tomorrow's race alongside Franchitti, earning his best qualifying position of the year in the Telemundo-sponsored Newman/Haas Racing entry.

“We have the best car when it counts, and I had the best car of the weekend on my qualifying run," he said. "The car felt awesome.”

KV Racing's Tony Kanaan rebounded after a poor qualifying run at Mid-Ohio to take third in his GEICO-sponsored machine.

His car lacked speed earlier in the day, but the team clearly found something for the afternoon.

“The track now is back to where it was," he said. "It was a good run.”

James Hinchcliffe backed up his Newman/Haas teammate with a swift run to fourth--his best performance of the year in time trials.

“Both cars have been super strong all weekend long," he said, posting the top qualifying run amongst the six rookie drivers in the field. "I would have liked to have been a tiny bit quicker. It’s definitely going to be a 'track position' race, so it’s good to be starting up front.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay, coming off a podium at Mid-Ohio, has been Andretti Autosport's most consistent performer of late and will start fifth.

“I’ve got to thank my teammates," he said. "They’ve been helping me. Man, this place is hairy to qualify at. I love these places. It’s a lot of fun, but man, the margin [of error] is so small. We’ll work from there and try to approach [the race] a little bit more conservative than we did at Milwaukee.”

Ryan Briscoe brought a bit of sunshine to Team Penske by qualifying sixth. The Aussie has set the pace for the three-car team for the second straight week, while his teammates have been slightly off the pace.

“Right now it feels really good to be in the [top 6]," he said. "It’s been a really tough weekend so far for Team Penske. It’s the best my car’s felt all weekend. The important thing is the progress we’ve made.”

After dominating the field last weekend, Scott Dixon will have some passing to do at Loudon after qualifying seventh, .441 seconds off of his teammate's pole run.

“For my run there, the car had way too much downforce," said the Kiwi. "I was flat. Kind of frustrating. Some of my teammates were trimmed out and I should have done that. The track has changed a lot and we can just hope for the best tomorrow for the Target team. We have about a lane and a half for the race so it will be tough to pass."
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RHR Wins Controversial Loudon Race

Post by mlittle » Wed Aug 17, 2011 3:30 pm

(from SU 14 August 2011)
---After dominating practice and qualifying, it was Dario Franchitti's race to lose. By the end of the event, Ryan Hunter-Reay was the victor, the driver in second believed he was the rightful winner and Will Power let the series--and the world know what he thought of IndyCar's officials.

And after leading the first half of the race from pole, putting Power one lap down and stretching a lead to second by more than 12 seconds, Franchitti's cruise to his fifth win of 2011 ended against the wall under odd circumstances, setting up a crazy run to the finish.

On the Lap 118 restart for the crash that ended the day of Tony Kanaan, Tomas Scheckter and Marco Andretti, Franchitti and Takuma Sato came together on the front row, with the Ganassi driver spinning left across the bow of the KV Racing-Lotus entry, hitting the inside wall on the pit straight.

With Franchitti's car resting backwards with broken suspension and Sato forced to pit for a new right front tire and nose, Ryan Hunter-Reay was promoted to the lead from fourth where he'd take command of the event.

Late in the race, after pausing for the second yellow flag of the day for light rain, the Lap 217 restart--done on a track that was too slick for the race to resume--saw Danica Patrick spin in front of half the field on the front straight and mayhem ensued.

Will Power was collected in the chain reaction, as was Ana Beatriz, Takuma Sato and Ed Carpenter, ending their respective races on the spot.

Power, Patrick's team owner, Michael Andretti, Sato's team owner Jimmy Vasser and others fired scathing criticism towards the series for resuming the race after drivers advised Race Control the conditions were unsuitable.

After leaping from his car, the Team Penske driver was seen giving Race Control the middle finger with both hands before he was swept away to cool down in the paddock.

"I was begging [Race Control], 'please, do not go green, it's too slippery,'" he said "And from what [his strategist] Tim Cindric was saying, so was everyone else. So everyone was saying it."

Power said he would not bother going to talk to IndyCar Race Director Brian Barnhart about the choice to throw the green flag.

"There's no use," a heated Power continued. "He makes such bad calls all the time. This has got to be it. They cannot have the guy running the show, because that was the decision that put a lot of drivers in danger and you saw how many people crashed on the front straight. Shame on him. I just can't believe they make decisions like that.

"What are those guys up there doing? [Race Control member] Little Al [Unser Jr], he's raced; he'd never races in those conditions. To me, it was disgraceful."

The Aussie also knows a fine is likely on the way for his post-race actions.

"Yeah, I know that I lost my temper, and that was bad of me to do that, but I was so emotional about it," he admitted. "We had such a good day. We begged them. We begged them not to do it."

A red flag followed on Lap 220 and the race was soon checkered where the order was reverted back to Lap 215, restoring the crashed cars to their respective positions.

Vasser made his feelings known before Race Control hit the rewind button on the results, forecasting what ultimately took place.

“It was still clearly damp on the track, [with] raindrops coming down," he said. "I don’t know what they were thinking in race control. It was just an asinine decision. They should revert the order back since the race didn’t go green.”

Barnhart owned up to the mistake to go green and explained the call to revert the running order.

"It was a mistake on the race official’s part," he said, "and obviously the only fair thing to do is go back to the running order before that restart."

Power and Patrick benefited the most from getting their positions back, but more frustration and controversy was brewing due to that decision made by Race Control.

As the five-car accident was happening, Hunter-Reay--leading the field--failed to get away in a timely manner and was passed by Oriol Servia and Scott Dixon. Although the yellow flag flew right away, Servia and Dixon were rather emphatic that the race went green; therefore their positions at the time of the yellow should have been honored.

“They called it, ‘leader Car 2,” Servia said of the radio transmission he heard in his helmet from Race Control before the yellow came out. "I think it was really wet out there and we shouldn't have gone out, but they threw the green and I was ahead when the yellow went out. Any racing, even here, when you call the leader that is the way it stands. They called me the leader and then they decide to [rescind] it. I am very upset. Race control called leader car No. 2 and that is when the yellow came, we were ahead."

Dixon, who has become open-wheel's VP of Common Sense in recent years, explained the situation and his feelings in a crystal-clear manner.

“It went green," he said, backing up Servia's assertion. "We’re not racing USAC; we’re not racing on dirt. [Those in Race Control] just need to be consistent. It’s not ‘make things up as you go’ racing, it’s IndyCar racing. I’m fine if they make decisions, they just need to be consistent. To be honest, it should have never of gone green. In my eyes, Oriol won the race and I finished second. Ryan [Hunter-Reay] just didn’t go [at the start]. It’s just a bizarre day.”

The IndyCar Series told SPEED.com that Rule 7.1A1bIIIe was used to determine the finishing order, which states: "Laps completed will be scored, unless stated otherwise."

The rule is written in such a ways that it leaves open the possibility for great interpretation.

The field lined up to take the restart and Servia crossed the start/finish line in first, which completed that lap. The fact that Race Control called Servia as the leader upon completing the lap support his claim.

But looking at a replay of the sequence of events, the green flag waved briefly before the yellow waved once again, meaning the cars did not cross the start/finish line under green.

One of the first drivers to cross the start/finish confirmed the in-car yellow light system that Race Control triggers to signal a caution period did not appear until he was almost in Turn 1, highlighting the disparity between when the yellow flag waved (the waving of the yellow flag is not the official start of a caution period) and when the yellow lights went active (the official start of a caution period)...

Ignoring the waving yellow, it's possible the the cars did indeed cross start/finish under green.

One final note on the topic was the question of which lap was used to officially score the race. Cars circulated for three laps under yellow before the red flag came out. Why the series chose to go back multiple laps to set the finishing positions is another curiosity.

The series confirmed to SPEED.com it had received protests from its competitors, and distributed an initial results list Sunday night with the finishing order listed as tentative until final rulings are made.

With strong convictions held on both side of the protest, the decision--whatever it is--won't be easy for some to swallow.

Prior to the post-race flipping of birds and war of words, the series threw the checkered flag as drivers sat in their cars under the red flag, awarding Hunter-Reay the win.

Hunter-Reay, despite the bobble on the Lap 217 restart, was the class of the field after Franchitti's exit, building upon his podium finish at Mid-Ohio last weekend with a much needed win at Loudon.

“It was crazy," he said. "You never knew what was going to happen. Traffic was really hard to negotiate at times. We have great chemistry in the team. After the year we’ve had, we’ve just been chipping away at it. After the gearbox problem at Long Beach (which cost him the win), maybe this is payback.”

Hunter-Reay's first win of 2011 also served as his first oval victory in the IZOD IndyCar Series. His win moved him from 13th to eighth in points, and delivered Andretti Autosport its third win of the season.

Servia's second-place finish was a welcome change in fortunes after a string of frustrating races, and Dixon's run to third moved him to just 26 points behind Will Power in the fight for second in the championship.

Like his Newman/Haas teammate Servia, Canadian rookie James Hinchcliffe made up for poor finishes at the last three rounds by finishing fourth.

“I think finishing fourth today is a great result," he said, after running as high as second. "Throwing that green and trying to restart the race [in the wet] was crazy. At the end of the day fourth and second for Newman/Haas is a great result."

Power was ecstatic to be awarded fifth, as was Danica Patrick in sixth and Takuma Sato in seventh.

Franchitti was fairly direct in apportioning the blame for his crash on Sato, despite the Ganassi driver appearing to gently veer into Sato's car. The question raised by the Scot, however, was why Sato was just inches away on the double-file restart.

"[Sato] kept coming up and I don’t know what he was going to do," he said. "He had a very clear view of where I was and he kept coming up. We had a good race car overall and we were strong all weekend. It is really unfortunate for Team Target. He started coming up into me before the restart. I really don’t know what he was thinking."

Sato soon gave Franchitti the answer he was seeking.

"It was my fault," he said. "I had some debris in my eyes, there were tears. It's not an excuse but it was my fault. It was too close."

Stepping back to the start of the race, Graham Rahal's dark cloud appeared on the first lap as Mike Conway spun on the exit of Turn 2 and hit Rahal as he took avoiding action. The two were out on the spot.

"All I saw was smoke," said Rahal of the billowing tire smoke that enveloped Conway's car. "This is just our luck. We dominated this weekend. This is just terrible."

Tomas Scheckter turned in his usual heroics, going from 18th to ninth on the opening lap. When the race resumed, Helio Castroneves executed the same spin as Conway, bending his suspension on his 200th start for Team Penske.

On the restart for Castroneves' crash, Scheckter got as high as third and the race settled into a normal rhythm for 25 competitors, while Franchitti looked like he was on fast-forward.

The Scot lapped Will Power on Lap 55--well before the first pit stop--and led until the first yellow for rain fell on Lap 76.

The race resumed on Lap 108, and two laps later it was time for three more cars to exit. Scheckter and Marco Andretti hit each other exiting Turn 2, making it three-wide with Tony Kanaan. With Scheckter turning left in front of Kanaan, the Brazilian's car helped to lift Scheckter's Dreyer & Reinbold entry off the ground, and the two continued into the infield grass, where Kanaan hit the tire barriers and executed a slow roll.

In the process of landing on his head, Kanaan also managed to destroy a port-a-potty...

The restart after that crash found Franchitti and Sato coming together, and Panther Racing's JR Hildebrand became collateral damage as well. Turning right to avoid the crashed Franchitti, Hildebrand found himself in the path of E.J. Viso, who was hard on the accelerator at the time.

After the race, Hildebrand gave his take on the situation.

“Obviously the yellow was going to come out so I just checked up," he said. "I didn’t know if Dario was going to spin back onto the track so I moved up to the middle a little bit and then I just got cleaned out by EJ [Viso]. It’s awesome to get drilled by a lapped car under yellow. It’s frustrating because we were having a really good day. Our car was really hooked up at the end of a run. We were on the lead lap and looking pretty good. I’m frustrated for the guys; they worked really hard. And for the National Guard, they had a lot of people out here as well.”

Hunter-Reay led the field on the Lap 126 restart, and by Lap 127, Power had worked his way up to fourth. After being a lap down earlier, the team took time during the numerous yellows to improve the handling of the Verizon Wireless-sponsored entry and it showed.

By Lap 196, Hunter-Reay had lapped up to eighth-place and held a lead over Servia that ranged between 1-3 seconds, depending on traffic.

Ten laps later, the yellow flag was out again for rain and to the surprise of the teams and drivers, the choice was made to go back to green as the amount of rainfall increased.

"It was actually raining hard on the lap we were coming back to green than any of the laps before," said Hunter-Reay.

That ill-fated decision--one that was made despite numerous drivers advising Race Control to stay yellow--is one many drivers told SPEED.com after the race is simply inexcusable.

Whether the belief is accurate or not, for a certain percentage of the drivers who competed at Loudon, the takeaway feeling is that their safety was jeopardized in order to have a green-flag finish.

As sports fans witness in stick-and-ball sports, once players lose faith a coach, commissioner or referee, it's nearly impossible to repair the relationship.

The question the IndyCar Series will need to answer coming out of Loudon is whether its drivers have any faith left in Race Control.

note........both Target/Ganassi Racing & Newman-Haas Racing have filed protests over the results of the race
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