Page 2 of 2

Kimball signs with PBIR for 2009 Indy Lights season

Posted: Sun Mar 29, 2009 3:31 am
by mlittle

---JUPITER, FL (March 24, 2009) - - Palm Beach International Raceway today announced that Charlie Kimball will pilot the No. 35 Team PBIR Firestone Indy Lights car for the 2009 season.

"We are very excited about the partnership between Charlie and Team PBIR," stated Kane Williams, Palm Beach International Raceway Vice President of Motorsports. "He is a talented driver and will be an asset to our team both on and off the track."

The 24-year-old has forged a high-profile open-wheeled racing career including four race wins in the 2003 US Formula Ford 2000 Championship taking third-place finish in the final point standings. In 2004, Kimball made the jump to European Formula car racing where he achieved two race wins and five poles in the prestigious British Formula Ford.

For the 2005 season, the Southern California native graduated to British Formula 3 where he won five races, becoming the first American to win a British F3 race in 13 years. His results earned him a second-place finish in the point standings, only eclipsed by his much more experienced teammate. In 2006, Kimball became the first American to win a Formula 3 Euro Series race when he won at Zandvoort in the Netherlands.

Kimball then moved up to the 2007 World Series by Renault before having his season cut short in October. He was sidelined prior to the final two races with a diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes. However, his determination to achieve greatness in racing never halted. He worked with a team of diabetes specialists to return to optimal physical form and to the racetrack.

After achieving a better understanding of his diabetes, Kimball returned to the Formula 3 Euro Series and finished second in the opening round of the championship and his first race with diabetes in 2008. Now in 2009, Kimball moves back to racing in the US where he will be able to continue his racing dream as well as help educate people about diabetes.

In their inaugural Firestone Indy Lights season, Team PBIR brings a wealth of engineering and chassis setup experience. The combination of the driver and the team is destined to produce impressive results.

"I am really excited to drive for Team PBIR," stated Kimball. "While they are a new team, the infrastructure, engineers and team manager have been involved in the sport for long time. It is also neat to have people involved that shaped IndyCar Champions and Indy 500 winners working with me behind the scenes. All that experience will give me the tools that I need to get on the track, win, and be successful."

The No. 35 team makes their debut at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Fla.), April 3 - 5, 2009.

"I have not raced in the U.S. since 2003 and it is nice to come home. While I haven't raced on the Streets of St. Petersburg before, I have raced on street circuits at Macau, Pau and Monaco so I have some good experience. They all have their own unique quirks, but the most important task is getting to St. Pete and having our first practice session. That will really show us where we stand and we will build from there."

Posted: Tue Apr 07, 2009 1:56 pm
by mlittle
St. Pete Race 1 top-10..................
1. 18 Junior Strous* Winners Circle Group 40
2. 9 Jonathan Summerton* RLR/Andersen Racing 40
3. 26 J.R. Hildebrand AFS Racing/Andretti Green Racing 40
4. 20 Ana Beatriz Sam Schmidt Motorsports 40
5. 37 Jay Howard Team PBIR 40
6. 7 James Hinchcliffe* Sam Schmidt Motorsports 40
7. 28 Daniel Herrington Bryan Herta Autosport/Vision Racing 40
8. 21 James Davison Vision Racing 40
9. 5 Mario Romancini* RLR/Andersen Racing 40
10. 35 Charlie Kimball* Team PBIR 40
L-R: position, car #, driver(*-denotes FIL rookie), team, laps completed

St. Pete Race 2 top-10..................
1. 18 Junior Strous* Winners Circle Group 40
2. 27 Sebastian Saavedra* AFS Racing/Andretti Green Racing 40
3. 7 James Hinchcliffe* Sam Schmidt Motorsports 40
4. 9 Jonathan Summerton* RLR/Andersen Racing 40
5. 28 Daniel Herrington Bryan Herta Autosport/Vision Racing 40
6. 5 Mario Romancini* RLR/Andersen Racing 40
7. 35 Charlie Kimball* Team PBIR 40
8. 37 Jay Howard Team PBIR 40
9. 44 Gustavo Yacaman* Sam Schmidt Motorsports 40
10. 36 Richard Philippe* Genoa 40

Posted: Tue Apr 07, 2009 1:57 pm
by mlittle
Current Firestone Indy Lights Standings(top-10)..............

1. Junior Strous 100 pts(2 wins)
2. Jonathan Summerton 72 pts
3. James Hinchcliffe 63 pts
4. Daniel Herrington 56 pts
5. Jay Howard 54 pts
6. Mario Romancini 50 pts
7. Sebastian Saavedra 47 pts
8. J.R. Hildebrand 47 pts
9. Charlie Kimball 46 pts
10. Gustavo Yacaman 40 pts

Posted: Tue Apr 07, 2009 1:59 pm
by mlittle

(quoting from
~~~~Mesco Building Products to sponsor Rookie of the Year award

MESCO Building Solutions and Firestone Indy Lights announced today that MESCO will sponsor the "MESCO Building for the Future Rookie of the Year Award" beginning in 2009.

"The real future of the North American open-wheel racing lies with these drivers, and we want to be a part of that. In many respects, it is the last step before they climb into the bigger, more powerful IndyCar Series," said Kim Wells, President of MESCO Building Solutions.

MESCO's partnership with the Indy Racing League official developmental series began with an award given to the highest-finishing first-year entrant in 2008, making the transition from that award to the Rookie of the Year Award a natural fit.

"I'm happy to see MESCO's continued support of the Firestone Indy Lights," said Roger Bailey, Executive Director of Firestone Indy Lights. "Our series has become a destination for drivers and teams who wish to compete in the IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500. And like MESCO, we see our series as a key building block in their future."

MESCO is known as an industry leader in the manufacturing of steel structures and components. MESCO's racing involvement has fostered relationships with many teams, sponsors and drivers resulting in projects including race shops, aircraft hangars, retail stores and regional distribution centers.

In addition to Firestone Indy Lights, MESCO supports rising young drivers with successful programs in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series, Grand Am KONI Challenge, NASCAR Nationwide Series, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.

MESCO Building Solutions is a division of NCI Building Systems Inc. NCI Building Systems, Inc. is the world's largest integrated manufacturer of metal products for the nonresidential building industry. The Company operates manufacturing and distribution facilities as well as sales and engineering offices across North America.

"We work very hard with our racing-related customers to deliver the best product for the best possible price," Wells said. "The way we see it, if they are going to buy a building somewhere, doesn't it make sense to buy it from the company that supports the racing industry? There is nothing we like better then rewarding a team or driver for a solid referral."

Added Steve Owens, MESCO Building Solutions Senior Vice President of Marketing and Business Development: "In general, our focus in motorsports has always been about supporting young drivers that are building for their future."

Posted: Fri Apr 17, 2009 7:29 am
by mlittle

(Team PBIR press release)
~~~Diabetes care leader Novo Nordisk signs deal with Kimball

Firestone Indy Lights driver Charlie Kimball has formed a partnership with Novo Nordisk, a world leader in diabetes care, with the goal of showing that with proper management, diabetes does not have to be a roadblock.

"When I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes just a year and a half ago, I knew I could not allow the disease to get in the way of me chasing my dream of being a race car driver," said Kimball, who uses Levemir, an insulin produced by Novo Nordisk to help manage his diabetes. "My goal is to win the Firestone Indy Lights title. With the combination of insulin and delivery devices, such as the Levemir FlexPen, I have learned that daily diabetes management and glucose control can be easily and successfully integrated into my busy life both on and off the track."

Kimball, who is the only American open-wheeled racing driver to talk publicly about his diabetes, has a history of breaking the mold. He made international history with a podium finish in the Formula 3 Euro Series in his first race after he was diagnosed with diabetes in 2007.

"Charlie is a role model for anyone who feels inhibited by diabetes as he continues to accomplish remarkable achievements with the disease," said Camille Lee, Vice President of Diabetes Brand Marketing, at Novo Nordisk. "He proves that with today's treatment options, diabetes can be managed even in the most challenging circumstances."

Kimball has committed to working closely with his doctor utilizing a regimen which includes Novo Nordisk products Levemir FlexPen, an up to 24-hour long-acting basal insulin administered in a prefilled pen; and NovoLog, a rapid-acting insulin that can be taken 5-10 minutes before a meal, to help manage his blood glucose levels.

He checks his blood sugar regularly and keeps orange juice in his race car for easy access, in case his sugar levels are low while racing.

Posted: Sat Apr 18, 2009 12:58 pm
by mlittle
Long Beach Combined Practice top-10.................
1. 26 J.R. Hildebrand AFS Racing/Andretti Green Racing 1:15.392 93.972
2. 63 Jonathan Bomarito* Genoa 1:15.806 0.414 0.414 93.460
3. 19 Stefan Wilson* Walker Racing 1:16.039 0.233 0.647 93.173
4. 36 Richard Philippe* Genoa 1:16.086 0.047 0.694 93.116
5. 18 Junior Strous* Winners Circle Group 1:16.188 0.102 0.796 92.992
6. 21 James Davison Vision Racing 1:16.212 0.024 0.820 92.962
7. 5 Mario Romancini* RLR/Andersen Racing 1:16.291 0.079 0.899 92.866
8. 27 Sebastian Saavedra* AFS Racing/Andretti Green Racing 1:16.300 0.009 0.908 92.855
9. 7 James Hinchcliffe* Sam Schmidt Motorsports 1:16.316 0.016 0.924 92.835
10. 28 Daniel Herrington Bryan Herta Autosport/Vision Racing 1:16.357 0.041 0.965 92.785
*--denotes FIL rookie entrant
L-R: position, car #, driver, team, time, gap/gap to 1st, speed

Posted: Mon Apr 20, 2009 5:46 am
by mlittle
from SA, 18 April 2009)
Long Beach Qualifying Top-10...................

1. 26 J.R. Hildebrand AFS Racing/Andretti Green Racing 1:15.2695 94.126
2. 7 James Hinchcliffe* Sam Schmidt Motorsports 1:15.4928 93.847
3. 19 Stefan Wilson* Walker Racing 1:15.3353 94.044
4. 36 Richard Philippe* Genoa 1:15.5582 93.766
5. 9 Jonathan Summerton* RLR/Andersen Racing 1:15.8578 93.396
6. 15 Martin Plowman* Panther Racing 1:15.5921 93.724
7. 20 Ana Beatriz Sam Schmidt Motorsports 1:15.9663 93.262
8. 63 Jonathan Bomarito* Genoa 1:15.6753 93.621
9. 59 Ali Jackson* Guthrie Meyer Racing 1:16.0899 93.111
L-R: position, car #, driver(*-denotes FIL rookie), team, time, speed

Posted: Mon Apr 20, 2009 5:48 am
by mlittle
Long Beach 100
Race Results

1. 26 J.R. Hildebrand AFS Racing/Andretti Green Racing 45
2. 36 Richard Philippe* Genoa 45
3. 7 James Hinchcliffe* Sam Schmidt Motorsports 45
4. 9 Jonathan Summerton* RLR/Andersen Racing 45
5. 20 Ana Beatriz Sam Schmidt Motorsports 45
6. 59 Ali Jackson* Guthrie Meyer Racing 45
7. 21 James Davison Vision Racing 45
8. 27 Sebastian Saavedra* AFS Racing/Andretti Green Racing 45
9. 44 Gustavo Yacaman* Sam Schmidt Motorsports 45
10. 28 Daniel Herrington Bryan Herta Autosport/Vision Racing 45

Posted: Mon Apr 20, 2009 5:52 am
by mlittle
Current Firestone Indy Lights Standings(top-10)...................

1 Junior Strous 107(2 wins)
2 Jonathan Summerton 104
3 J.R. Hildebrand 100(1 win)
4 James Hinchcliffe 98
5 Daniel Herrington 76
6 Sebastian Saavedra 71
7 Richard Philippe 71
8 Jay Howard 71
9 Ana Beatriz 69
10 James Davison 63

Saavedra scores maiden FIL victory in crash-filled race

Posted: Mon Apr 27, 2009 6:06 am
by mlittle
(quoting multiple sources)
~~~Sebastian Saavedra leapt into the lead on the 10th lap restart and kept the position for the rest of the 57 laps remaining in this morning's Indy Lights Series race at Kansas Speedway. It was the first oval for the AFS Racing/Andretti Green Racing rookie and to add to it, it was held under the same threatening weather that hit the area last night stopping the NASCAR Truck race and moving it to Monday.

"I think it was unbelievable. Cannot be better. I think the car was great since the first time we touched this track. Very happy for AFS/AGR Racing. I think the guys did an awesome job," said Saavedra. "I think the Firestone Firehawks were unbelievable during the whole race. Just happy, not only for me, but for my whole team."

After the Indy Lights race was completed, a look at the weather maps and one can understand while the Indy Racing League scrambled to make changes in today's schedule, hoping to get the IndyCar Series race started at 3:25pm CDT.

Mindless of the weather, Saavedra laid the pedal down and got by Wade Cunningham as they entered Turn 1 on the 1.5-mile tri-oval for the first of the four restarts due to an incident-filled 67 lap race. He led 58 laps in total.

"This race, I would say the restarts were the main topic. I think in the restarts, everything could happen." Saavedra explained his pass, "Well, I was able to have a good timing behind Wade. I think pull a little bit faster in the shift, get a little bit of slipstream."

The final and fifth caution on lap 58 handed the Colombian the victory in the first oval of the 2009 season for the Indy Lights field. Saavedra moved to the series from Formula BMW and Formula 3 racing. While this is his first win this year, it is the team's second. J.R. Hildebrand in round three on the streets of Long Beach.

For any racer, the first win in a new series is a thrill. To run on an oval for so many laps at speed side-by-side where one slight move could take both drivers out of the race had to be a pressure-cooker. Yet Saavedra not only did it but he won.

"It's an incredible feeling. I already know that Wade's an intelligent guy, all the experience he has, all the experience I still don't have," explained Saavedra. "Just trying to trust each other, and I trusted Wade during the whole race. I knew that he wanted the points, I wanted the points. The best will get them."

For a newcomer, Saavedra has already made his mark, taking one of the two poles at St. Petersburg and now has two podium finishes: 2nd in round two on the St. Pete street circuit and his victory today on the Kansas oval. "Very happy trying to keep it up for the complete season," he said.

Out of the 24 starters, ten did not make it to the end. One of the factors could have been the gusty winds which at times reached up to a near high of 34 miles per hour.

Pole-sitter Cunningham kept in contention and without a doubt, it would have been quite a show in the closing laps. Instead the Sam Schmidt Motorsports racer was forced to settle for second, recording nine laps as the leader.

"The car felt pretty good off the bat. It was pretty difficult with the gearing, with the headwind especially to start with, with the full fuel. We were right in between gears. I felt like we could stay there for a while. On the first restart, might have been the second one, Sebastian got me. It was pretty clear he had a shorter second and third gear than I did. With the headwind, it made his car go that little bit better. He was able to get me," Cunningham said. "On the three or four subsequent restarts I just couldn't get the same kind of run on him. That was tough.

"I tried my best. We ran side-by-side a lot most of the time. A yellow came out. There were a lot of yellows today. But really we weren't fast enough to pass him. And the way the wind was blowing, it definitely made it difficult for third place to really get some air on the car. When Bia (Ana Beatriz) was behind me, she really wasn't much help as a teammate to push me past. It was the same when I was in third.

"It was a good result. Disappointed not to come away with the win. But really Sebastian has had the fastest car and he deserved to win." ended Cunningham.

The Kiwi is now in his third year, albeit 2008 was a limited schedule with different teams and only seven races ran. Third in the 2007 championship, Cunningham has had a rough start to the season in the first three races so taking second today has lifted his spirits.

Third belonged to RLR/Andersen Racing's Mario Romancini, another of the new crop of drivers in Indy Lights this season. Hailing from Brazil with a background in both stockcar and single-seater racing, Romancini scored his first series career podium today.

"I was feeling comfortable. I was talking to my spotter because I was telling him, 'I can't pass him, I can't pass him'," Romancini said referring to Cunningham. "I couldn't lift and try to be on the lowest line, just lifting a little bit behind him, because (Ana) Beatriz was really close. I couldn't actually slow down a little bit to try to do the low line and save the tires because Beatriz was really quick.

"It was challenging," he admitted. "Every lap I'm still learning, learning. I think for the first time, first race, was really good. I want to thank Firestone Indy Lights, my team, they did a fantastic job. Now let's think about Indy."

The overall top-10 was a mixture of rookies and those with experience in not only the series but on the ovals.

Brazilin racer Ana Beatriz placed fourth adding to her 4th in round one and 5th at Long Beach this season. In her second year with Sam Schmidt Motorsports, she knows all three disciplines making up the calendar: Temporary circuits, road courses and ovals. Like today's winner, her first maiden win as a rookie was also on an oval -- Nashville last year.

She also knows how to save it. Beatriz held second and put pressure on Saavedra but just as she was making the move to grab the lead in on the outside of the first turn, her Dallara went sideways. No contact was made but it did drop her down to fourth.

Panther Racing's rookie Martin Plowman is off to an okay start to his learning curve and taking fifth in his first oval could give him confidence heading into Indianapolis in May. The Brit scored his best finish today; he came to the USA with a background in Formula Renault and Formula 3 racing in Europe.

After leaving the Star Mazda series to kick-start his Indy Lights career in 2007, Daniel Herrington has yet to run a full-season. This year he drivers for the new Bryan Herta Autosport team that has partnered with Vision Racing. His best career finish of 3rd was on the Watkins Glen road course in his rookie year. Today, he held off fellow American and the points leader Jonathan Summerton to take sixth.

RLR/Andersen Racing's Summerton ended seventh but the rookie has the early standings lead and has been one of the true consistent drivers this season.

Rounding out the top ten were James Davison (Vision Racing), Andrew Prendeville for Team Moore Racing and Team PBIR's Jay Howard.

Second in the points Junior Strous took the double win in St. Petersburg, had a dismal weekend in Long Beach but stays in the hunt with 11th today, four points adrift of Summerton.

Race winner Saavedra sits 3rd followed by his teammate. Hildebrand is tied with Canadian James Hinchcliffe (SSM) in the points after four races. "Hinch" finished 12th at Kansas.

Those whose race ended early, all but one was checked and releases from the infield medical center. Genoa's
rookie Dillon Battistini was transported to Kansas University Medical Center to run further tests. He was alert and is not in serious or life-threatening condition.

Battistini had contact on lap 57 with Panther Racing's rookie Pippa Mann. On lap 33, Pablo Donoso in his Brian Stewart Racing Dallara contacted the wall and was out of the event. Unlucky 13 saw three rookies taken out of the action: Ali Jackson (Guthrie Meyer Racing), Rodrigo Barbosa (ELFF Racing) and Sergey Mokshantsev (Brian Stewart Racing).

The first caution that opened the door for the race winner to take the lead was on the 2nd lap between Guthrie Meyer Racing's Jesse Mason and Genoa's rookie Richard Philippe.

The next race will be at the famous Brickyard in Indianapolis, Ind., for the Freedom 100 on May 22nd.

Posted: Fri May 22, 2009 2:44 pm
by mlittle
Current Firestone Indy Lights Standings(top-10)..................

1. Jonathan Summerton 130
2. Junior Strous 126
3. Sebastian Saavedra 123
4. J.R. Hildebrand 116
5. James Hinchcliffe 116
6. Daniel Herrington 104
7. Ana Beatriz 101
8. Mario Romancini 91
9. Jay Howard 91
10. James Davison 87
Strous, 2 wins
Hildebrand, 1 win
Saavedra, 1 win

Posted: Tue Jun 09, 2009 4:15 am
by mlittle
Updated Firestone Indy Lights(top-10) Standings..................

1st} J.R. Hildebrand, 198 pts
2nd} Sebastien Saavedra, 188 pts
3rd} Mario Romancini, 178 pts
4th} Wade Cunningham, 163 pts
5th} Jonathan Summerton, 162 pts
6th} James Hinchcliffe, 156 pts
t-7th}[7]Junior Strous, 146 pts
t-7th}[8]Daniel Herrington, 146 pts
9th} James Davison, 145 pts
10th} Jay Howard, 123 pts
--Strous, 2 wins
--Hildebrand, 1 win
--Saavedra, 1 win
--Romancini, 1 win
--Cunningham, 1 win

Posted: Sat Jul 25, 2009 1:35 am
by mlittle
Updated Firestone Indy Lights Standings[top-10]................

1st} J.R. Hildebrand, 319 pts(2 wins)
2nd} Sebastien Saavedra, 268 pts(2 wins)
3rd} Mario Romancini, 249 pts(1 win)
4th} Wade Cunningham, 242 pts(1 win)
5th} James Davison, 236 pts
6th} James Hinchcliffe, 235 pts
7th} Daniel Herrington, 218 pts
8th} Ana Beatriz, 203 pts(1 win)
9th} Gustavo Yacaman, 199 pts
10th} Charlie Kimball, 184 pts

Other wins this season................
--Junior Strous, 2 wins

Posted: Sun Jul 26, 2009 10:33 am
by mlittle

EDMONTON, Alberta - First-time front-row starter Richard Philippe waited 49 laps for an opportunity to overtake J.R. Hildebrand that never arose. So the Firestone Indy Lights rookie settled for a runner-up finish in the Grand Prix of Edmonton. Nothing disappointing about that, really. Hildebrand had the car, didn't make any mistakes and won by 14.0154 seconds on the 1.973-mile, 14-turn Edmonton City Centre Airport circuit.

Hildebrand, who recorded his fourth pole start of the season, led from the green lap and won for the third time in the No. 26 ARPRO car for AFS Racing/Andretti Green Racing. With a third-place finish by teammate Sebastian Saavedra, who advanced two positions from his starting spot, Hildebrand increased his lead in the championship points standings from 51 to 69 heading to the Kentucky Speedway oval on Aug. 1.4

"We were running our own pace and I think the other guys started to fall off a little bit," Hildebrand said. "I was just trying to run the same lap time from start to end and the car came to me a little bit as the tires went off, so I didn't have to take too many risks to accomplish that. We were able to bring home another win.

"It's a great circuit. It keeps you on your toes from top to bottom and front to back. I'm happy for the guys. We had a frustrating weekend at Toronto, but everyone did a get job this weekend. You start to look a little further down the line, but if we just keep focusing race to race we'll be there for sure."

Philippe tied his season high with the second place.

"I'm as happy as I can be with finishing second," he said. "We've come a long way with the Palm Beach International Raceway car. I need to thank the team because they brought their 'A' game. I've been trying to push them a lot to get to the front and here we are splitting two AGR cars, so we're doing something right."

James Hinchcliffe, driving the No. 7 Schmidt Motorsports car, finished fourth and Charlie Kimball was fifth in the No. 35 Team PBIR car. Wade Cunningham, driving the No. 11 Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car, moved up six positions to finish sixth.

Andrew Prendeville, driving the No. 2 TMR-Xtreme Coil Drilling car, finished seventh and Mario Romancini was eighth in the No. 5 Revita/Win Brazil/Allied/Andersen Racing car. Daniel Herrington, driving the No. 28 LeBleu/Bryan Herta Autosport car, started and finished ninth, while James Davison was 10th in the No. 21 People*s Liberation entry for Vision Racing.

5 Questions

Posted: Fri Jul 31, 2009 12:13 am
by mlittle

Roger Bailey, executive director of the Firestone Indy Lights, participated in a Q&A session this week, discussing the 100th Firestone Indy Lights race under the Indy Racing League banner. Below is his interview.

Q: This weekend marks the 100th Firestone Indy Lights race under the Indy Racing League sanction. Does it seem like it's been 100 races since the first one in July 2002?

A: "First, it seems like we reached 100 Firestone Indy Lights races much sooner than the last time we reached 100 races (in the CART-sanctioned Firestone Indy Lights). It seems like only yesterday that we came on board at Kansas and the time has really flown by. All the while, Firestone has been a great partner to me and the series since Day 1. Sometimes they don't get the credit they deserve because they are always there for us and we always expect them to be. But they've done a lot for us and achieved a lot for us."

Q. There have been numerous drivers that have stood out in the series since that first race. Who are some that stand out in you mind?

A: "Alex Lloyd, Raphael Matos, Richard Antinucci, Wade Cunningham have all stood out. The unfortunate part is that there have been fewer opportunities for those guys to move to the next level. Raphael was very fortunate to find a full-time seat with Luczo Dragon, but Alex Lloyd had one of the most dominating seasons in the history of the series and we haven't seen him in a full-time ride."

Q. What race is your most memorable?

A: "Without a doubt, the most satisfying moment for me was when we were able to race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first time with the Freedom 100. We've had seven of them now, but the first one was the crowning jewel of the (current) Firestone Indy Lights program. I've been doing this for a quite a few years now, so a race is a race is a race. We've had some really spectacular races - I go back to the (Logan) Gomez-(Alex) Lloyd finish at Chicagoland was quite memorable - but the most memorable is getting to Indianapolis."

Q. And looking to the future of the series. What do you see for the next 100 races?

A: "I thought the growth of the series would be greater in 2009, but what we didn't factor into the equation was how bad the economy would be. I think we're over the hump and teams are starting to talk to us again. We've already had one IndyCar Series owner express interest in running a team next year and there is a dialogue with several other people. We're not looking for 20-30 people; we're looking for 6-8 solid players to run every race.

"Frankly, we've got the best field this year that we've ever had in terms of talent and quality. We may be down in numbers from the beginning, but in terms of quality it's as strong as any other series in the world. Guys like Tony Kanaan, Helio Castroneves, Dan Wheldon, Bryan Herta and Scott Dixon graduated from the old Indy Lights and talent-wise we're approaching that level again. Once we get the numbers back where we want them, we will be totally whole and I see a great future."

Q. And the perception that the Firestone Indy Lights races are the best race they see week in and week out has to be a great calling card for the series?

A: "You never know if people are saying that to you are just saying it to please you, but the people who have said that to me are the people who know what they are talking about and I know they mean it. Of course, it makes us all feel good about what we're doing. That comes with the quality of the field. We've had our last two races go from green flag to checkered flag without any issues. Sometimes a good race to me isn't so much the on-track action but the fact that everyone can load their cars unscathed when it's time to go home."