Story posted - Oct 22 2012 4:12 PM

Today's IZOD IndyCar Series, Firestone Indy Lights and Mazda Road to Indy headlines:

1. Drivers display versatility in separate events
2. Munoz returns to Andretti for Firestone Indy Lights, Indy 500
3. Brabham takes pair of top-fives at Brands Hatch
4. Fisher welcomes National Women's Business Council to her 'home'

1. Drivers display versatility in separate events: On opposite sides of the globe and competing in divergent vehicles/race courses this past weekend, IZOD IndyCar Series drivers again displayed why they're touted as the most versatile in motorsports.

Over in Australia, the Gold Coast 600 pitted 28 international drivers - including nine from the IZOD IndyCar Series -- with the full-time V8 Supercars drivers for two races on the Surfers Paradise street circuit.

Sebastien Bourdais teamed with Jamie Whincup to win the first race and were runners-up in the second. Bourdais, the four-time CART champion who competed for Dragon Racing this past season, earned the Dan Wheldon Trophy as the top-placing international driver for the second consecutive year.

IZOD IndyCar Series championship runner-up Will Power teamed with Mark Winterbottom to finish third in both races.

"I had a lot of fun and really enjoyed working with Mark. He is a brilliant driver and two third places give me two surfboards to take home and use on the lake I live on in Charlotte," Power said.

Team Penske teammate Ryan Briscoe and Garth Tander drove to a pair of top-five finishes. Other series drivers competing were Simon Pagenaud, Justin Wilson, Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe, Mike Conway and Graham Rahal.

Whincup extended his lead in the championship to 218 points over Winterbottom with three races remaining.

"I couldn't be any happier for Jamie. He leaves the Gold Coast with an even bigger points lead so it's been great," Bourdais said.

At Road Atlanta, four-time IZOD IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti co-drove a Level 5 Motorsports entry to third place (second in the LMP2 class to the team's primary car) with his brother Marino in the Petit Le Mans.

The companion car, driven by Scott Tucker and Christophe Bouchut, earned the American Le Mans Series class championship for the second year in a row. Luis Diaz also co-drove the car in the 1,000-mile race (9 hours, 39 minutes) on the 2.54-mile course.

IZOD IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay teamed with Kuno Wittmer and Dominik Farnbacher to finish 20th overall and eighth in the GT class in the SRT Viper GTSR.

2. Munoz returns to Andretti for Firestone Indy Lights, Indy 500: Andretti Autosport announced that Carlos Munoz will return to the team to drive the No. 26 Dialy-Ser car for the 2013 Firestone Indy Lights season. In addition to the full season, he will drive an Andretti Autosport IZOD IndyCar Series entry in the 97th Running of the Indianapolis 500.

The 20-year old from Bogota, Colombia, finished fifth in the Firestone Indy Lights championship. He accumulated a total of five podiums and nine top-10 finishes. Munoz recorded his first win on the streets of Edmonton and followed up with a second win at the season finale in Fontana, Calif.

"I am really happy to stay another year with Andretti Autosport," Munoz said. "I think last year as a rookie, we all did a good job earning two victories and were able to run up front a lot. It was definitely one of my best racing years with the best team. I'm looking forward to my second year in (Firestone) Indy Lights. My main goal is to fight for the championship.

"I think we will have a good chance at doing so because I am looking forward to working with the same crew and engineer. I am looking forward to the preseason test in order to gain some more valuable time in the car."

Munoz's attempt at qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 will mark his IZOD IndyCar Series debut. He will mirror last year's teammate, Sebastian Saavedra, in that he will run both the 500-mile race and the Firestone Freedom 100 during Memorial Day weekend. This will be the first time that Andretti Autosport has run both races for two consecutive years.

"I am just so happy that Andretti Autosport has given me the opportunity to drive (in the Indy 500) for them," Munoz said. "Especially after they just won the championship with Ryan (Hunter-Reay). It means a lot that they trust in my capabilities with it being my first IndyCar race. It's a great honor and I know that there will be some pressure there to do a good job. My first priority is to start the (Firestone) Indy Lights season on a positive note and work each weekend at winning the championship. Once that happens, I think we will be very successful for the Indy 500."

3. Brabham takes pair of top-fives at Brands Hatch: Team USA Scholarship winner and 2012 USF2000 champion Matthew Brabham recorded a pair of fifth-place finishes in the opening rounds of the Formula Renault BARC Winter Series at the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit.

"My race pace was quite quick and I managed to get past a few people," said Brabham, 18, of Boca Raton, Fla., of the 15-minute races.

In wet conditions in the second race, he spun on the first lap and fell to 19th. But Brabham recovered to advance the 14 positions.

"I learned a lot about passing in the wet," he said. "The team did a fantastic job, the car was great and I can't thank everyone enough for the support and the opportunity."

The final two races will take place Nov. 10 at Rockingham.

4. Fisher welcomes National Women's Business Council to her 'home': Sarah Fisher introduced members of the National Women's Business Council to her "home" on Oct. 19.

The co-owner of Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, who competed in the Indianapolis 500 nine times through 2010, hosted the 15 members for their final meeting of the year at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Fisher, who is among the eight business owners/CEOs serving three-year terms on the Council, also gave other members a ride around the historic 2.5-mile oval.

"It was a real honor to host the NWBC at my 'home track,'" Fisher said. "Hearing their excitement as the history and traditions unfolded during our rides was a great experience. Any time that I get to share the sport with new faces is a privilege. They were all such great spirited about the weather too, which made a gray day bright."

The National Women's Business Council is a non-partisan federal advisory council created to serve as an independent source of advice and counsel to the President, Congress and the U.S. Small Business Administration on economic issues of importance to woman business owners.

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