INDYCAR News and Notes – July 15, 2015
1. NBCSN Viewership Up for Second Straight Event
2. Bourdais a Driver of All Types
3. Consistency Leads to Positive Results for Andretti
4. Drivers ‘Get Found’ with ‘Paper Towns’ Author Green
5. Of Note
1. NBCSN Viewership Up for Second Straight Event: For the second consecutive event, viewership of an NBCSN telecast of a Verizon IndyCar Series race showed a significant viewership gain over the 2014 race.
NBCSN’s July 12 telecast of the ABC Supply Co. Inc. Wisconsin 250 at Milwaukee IndyFest marked the network’s most-watched Verizon IndyCar Series race since Sept. 4, 2011, at Baltimore, with an average viewership of 532,000. That is up 66 percent over the 2014 race at The Milwaukee Mile. On June 27, the MAVTV 500 recorded more than an 80 percent gain over the 2014 race at Auto Club Speedway.
Average viewership and ratings for all Verizon IndyCar Series telecasts this season is up over 2014, which showed a 25 percent gain over the previous year.
NBCSN telecasts the Iowa Corn 300 live from Iowa Speedway at 8 p.m. ET July 18 as the Verizon IndyCar Series championship remains up for grabs. The network also will telecast races Aug. 2 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and Aug. 23 at Pocono Raceway leading into the finale Aug. 30 at Sonoma Raceway.
The Verizon IndyCar Series championship has been decided in the final race for the past nine years, and the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma carries double points just to make it more interesting for contenders. There have been eight different winners in the 12 races this season.
2. Bourdais a Driver of All Types: So what does a driver do after winning a race? If you’re Sebastien Bourdais and you just won the ABC Supply Wisconsin 250, you hop behind the wheel of your family’s motorcoach and drive it to the next event, the Iowa Corn 300.
Following a victory tour of Milwaukee morning shows July 13, Bourdais packed up his wife, Claire, children, Emma and Alex, and a the spoils of victory – a 22-pound wheel of cheese – in the motorhome and headed to Newton, Iowa, and another opportunity for Bourdais to continue his ascent in the Verizon IndyCar Series standings.
Through three-fourths of the Verizon IndyCar Series season, he’s secured two victories and five other top-10 finishes and stands in sixth place in the championship. Bourdais, who gathered up his son and daughter in his arms minutes after prevailing over Helio Castroneves by 2.2366 seconds in the arduous 250-lap Milwaukee race, won for the fifth time on an oval.
“It’s one of those days where just everything works out,” said Bourdais, who led three times for a field-high 118 laps on the 1.015-mile oval.
Of course, it’s worked out well over Bourdais’ Indy car career – 34 victories to tie Al Unser Jr. for seventh all time, four series championships and 33 pole starts – that was bisected by an unsatisfying stint in Formula One.
“I respect the stats because you put yourself on a very special list with very respected and great drivers. But I don’t live for stats,” said Bourdais. “I don’t look and contemplate myself. It’s not me. I just enjoy the moment, have fun with it.”
Driving for powerhouse Newman/Haas Racing from 2003-07, Bourdais won 41 percent of his starts. He returned to Indy car racing part time in 2011 and didn’t compete in a full season until 2013 with overmatched Dragon Racing. Now in his second year with KVSH Racing, co-owned by former Indy car driver Jimmy Vasser, Kevin Kalkhoven and James “Sully” Sullivan, the on-track performance is matching his competitive spirit in waves.
“(KVSH Racing) gave me a chance to finally get me back in a car that’s something able to contend for wins,” he said. “Not every weekend, but it’s a very competitive field. When you look who can win every weekend, it’s actually not so easy.
“I’m 36 years old, and I don’t feel I’ve been any better than I am right now. I’m just hoping it lasts as long as it can.”
3. Consistency Leads to Positive Results for Andretti: Marco Andretti is the only Verizon IndyCar Series driver this season to complete every lap of all 12 races. That’s 1,557 laps without a mechanical failure, issues with the Honda engines or on-track incident.
Cumulatively, it represents opportunities for the Andretti Autosport driver to deliver results. Since finishing sixth in the 99th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, Andretti has reeled off four top fives in past six races in his No. 27 Andretti Autosport Honda. He placed eighth in the ABC Supply Wisconsin 250.
“I attribute the consistency, really maximizing what we have, to the 27 team in general,” he said. “My dad (team owner Michael Andretti) is calling awesome races, everybody on the timing stand is doing a great job, the guys are flawless in the pits, my engineer (Nathan O’Rourke) is a rock star. I’m really pleased with the 27 side.
“It’s putting yourself in good positions, knowing when to go for it and when to not. That comes with experience.”
There’s extended optimism for this weekend’s Iowa Corn 300. Andretti Autosport drivers have won the past five races and six of the eight at the 0.894-mile oval. Marco Andretti has four top-three finishes, including a victory in 2011, in eight starts.
“We roll off there with good cars; the team’s record there is better than mine,” he said. “That’s the first thing; you have to have a good car and then you need to execute. Those podiums of mine are great, but we want to win races.”
On July 1, Andretti and CFH Racing co-owner/driver Ed Carpenter in the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet tested aerodynamic components on the variably-banked track to confirm INDYCAR’s race-specific configurations. Andretti said the racing should be similar to the past, which means excitement throughout the 268.2 miles under the lights.
“The behavior of the car we were pretty happy with toward the end of the test,” he said. “I think we were about a change away from having a car that can win a race.”
4. Drivers ‘Get Found’ with ‘Paper Towns’ Best-Selling Author Green: Verizon IndyCar Series drivers Josef Newgarden, Sage Karam and Conor Daly walked the red carpet July 14 at a special event in downtown Indianapolis to promote New York Times bestselling author John Green’s latest film, “Paper Towns.”
Green and actors Nat Wolff and Halston Sage, who both star in the coming-of-age film based on Green’s young adult-oriented novel of the same name, were in Indianapolis as a part of their “Get Lost Get Found” tour in advance of the July 23 theatrical release of “Paper Towns.” It is the second movie made from one of Green’s books. “The Fault in Our Stars” was in theaters last summer and another movie based on his novel, “Looking for Alaska,” is in the works.
Green, an Indianapolis resident, is a fan of the Verizon IndyCar Series and is known for riding his bicycle to the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. Newgarden, Karam and Daly, three of INDYCAR’s rising stars, walked the red carpet at the Old National Centre before attending the event, which consisted of a fans’ question-and-answer session with Green and the actors. Afterward, the drivers snapped photos with Green, the actors and Indianapolis Colts players Anthony Castonzo and Jack Mewhort.
Newgarden, winner of two Verizon IndyCar Series races this season and the pole winner at last weekend’s ABC Supply Wisconsin 250 at The Milwaukee Mile, was excited to meet Green.
“He’s met a lot of the other INDYCAR guys and he’s been such a big supporter of the series and (is) a fan,” Newgarden said. “That was the best part for me, just getting to meet him and chat with him and see what he does in his world.”
5. Of Note: Team Penske teammates Juan Pablo Montoya and Will Power are nominees to win Best Driver honors at the 23rd ESPY Awards, which will be telecast at 8 p.m. ET today on ABC. Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay won prestigious Best Driver accolades the past two years. … With his runner-up showing in the ABC Supply Wisconsin 250, Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves finished second for the 38th time in his career, breaking a tie with Bobby Rahal for second on the Indy car roll of runner-up finishes since 1946. Mario Andretti leads the list with 56 bridesmaid performances. … CFH Racing driver Luca Filippi and his wife, Elisa, welcomed their first child into the world on July 14, when daughter Mia was born. … Austin Cindric, 16-year-old son of Team Penske president Tim Cindric, will make his ARCA Racing Series stock car debutJuly 17 as part of the Verizon IndyCar Series Iowa Corn 300 race weekend. … AutoZone will serve as an associate sponsor on Montoya’s Team Penske car at Iowa.