Story posted - Jan 22 2013 4:08 PM

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

1. Firestone Indy Lights kicks of 2013 with Homestead Open Test
2. Kimball hopes for clean, smart Rolex 24 debut
3. "INDYCAR" personalized plate up for bid in Houston
4. Anderson moves up to Pro Mazda with Juncos

1. Firestone Indy Lights kicks of 2013 with Homestead Open Test: After missing the Chris Griffis Memorial Mazda Road to Indy test in October, 2012 Star Mazda champion Jack Hawksworth will get to gauge where he stands amongst other Firestone Indy Lights competitors in the series' first Open Test on the Homestead-Miami Speedway road course Jan. 23-24. (Participant List Below)

This will mark the Englishman's second test in a Firestone Indy Lights car after a private team session in November at Sebring International Raceway.

With the temperatures expected in the 70s for the two-day test, Hawksworth and Sam Schmidt Motorsports will be looking to complete a checklist of items to prepare for the season opener at St. Petersburg in March.

"With the weather forecast set to be good for two days, it will give us the opportunity to experiment with some different changes and tweaks to the car set-up in order to try and understand the Indy Lights car more and also the best way for me to extract performance from it," Hawksworth said. "Alongside this it will be a great relationship-building exercise as I will get to see more of how the team works, and vice versa the team will get more of an idea of how I work."

Hawksworth will be joined under the Sam Schmidt Motorsports awning by Gabby Chaves, who finished second to Hawksworth in the 2012 Star Mazda Championship.

Other drivers expected to participate include Zach Veach and Carlos Munoz (Andretti Autosport), Peter Dempsey and Mike Larrison (Belardi Auto Racing), Juan Pablo Garcia and Mikael Grenier (Team Moore Racing) and Giancarlo Serenelli (Juncos Racing).

2. Kimball hopes for clean, smart Rolex 24 debut: Neither the Daytona Prototype's horsepower, its braking nor suspension caught Charlie Kimball off-guard during his initial round of testing the Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates car for the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

Actually, not feeling the wind at his visor was the thing that struck the IZOD IndyCar Series driver.

"It was the first time I've ever driven anything with a roof competitively," said Kimball, who will compete in his first Rolex Sports Car Series race this weekend. "Just very different sensations, visuals, audio, and it took me a couple of laps to get used to it. The last time I was on a track with three or four different classes of cars at the same time was British Formula Ford on a track day at Donington Park (England) where you had everything from the Jaguar Le Mans car to Formula Ford to a 1970s' Mustang sports car."

Kimball is among more than 10 INDYCAR drivers, including reigning IZOD IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay and Indianapolis 500 champion Dario Franchitti, who will compete in three categories in the 51st edition of the endurance race on the 3.56-mile, 12-turn Daytona International Speedway circuit.

Kimball, who is entering his third season with Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing, will co-drive the No. 01 car with Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas and Juan Pablo Montoya. Pruett and Rojas have teamed up to win the Grand-Am series title six times, including the past three championships. A Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates car has won the 24-race four times, the latest in 2011.

Getting a handle on the car didn't prove elusive. It's just different from his regular ride.

"Pruett was on the stand during my first stint and watched the telemetry and said, 'You might want to consider doing this,'" Kimball said. "'In an IndyCar you have a third of the weight and the same horsepower. This takes a little longer to develop so give it a second to get going. Feel like you're driving slower and you'll actually go faster.'"

The rookie of the group is welcoming to any and all pointers. He's texted questions to Pruett and introduced topics to Rojas during their recent physical workouts in Indianapolis.

"Much of the advice hasn't been about driving the car or racing the car or looking out for traffic," Kimball said. "It's been about the perspective of your job in the car is to get in, not hit anything, drive it at 95 percent while taking care of the car and the gearbox, the brakes, the engine and tires and hand the car over to the next guy in a position to go out and win the race. Run clean, run smart.

"For an IndyCar, that's totally different. The green flag flies and you're nose to the grindstone for the whole time."

Running after dusk on a road course is another other element new to Kimball.

"At night, it's a different perspective," he said. "You come off the banking into the infield and there's the first hairpin. You come back around and you're facing cars coming off the banking and see these yellow, bright headlights. You get used to ignoring that input."

Current INDYCAR drivers in the Rolex 24 At Daytona:

Daytona Prototype category: Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon, Sebastien Bourdais, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Simon Pagenaud, Justin Wilson (defending race winner), Alex Tagliani

GT category: Tony Kanaan

GX category: James Hinchcliffe, Spencer Pigot, Tristan Vautier

Other notables with Indy car ties: Paul Tracy, Rubens Barrichello, Bruno Junqueira, Felipe Giaffone, Gustavo Yacaman, Rafael Matos, Christian Fittipaldi, A.J. Allmendinger, Memo Gidley, Scott Sharp, Alex Figge, Max Papis, Jonathan Bomarito and Jorge Goncalvez.

3. "INDYCAR" personalized plate up for bid in Houston: Be on the lookout soon for an automobile (or truck) with a Texas license plate bearing INDY CAR.

The personalized license plate will be sold to the highest bidder at the Great Plate Auction 2013 at the Houston Auto Show. Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver Graham Rahal will host the auction Jan. 25 (7 p.m. in Hall B of Reliant Center; free to the public). Proceeds benefit area charities.

Indy car racing returns to the area with the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston Presented by the Greater Houston Honda Dealers on Oct. 4-6 on a temporary street course around Reliant Park.

On Jan. 26, Rahal and Miss Grand Prix of Houston, Angela Anderson, will greet show attendees from 2:30-3:30 p.m. at the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston Presented by the Greater Houston Honda Dealers booth. On display during the show is the No. 14 ABC Supply Co.-sponsored car for A.J. Foyt Racing.

"Having IndyCar back in Houston is so exciting for our town," event managing director Austin Crossley said. "One Texan will show their true fan pride by having INDY CAR on their license plate. The number of INDYCAR fans is growing all the time, and growing especially fast in Texas. This plate will stand for that, and all the thrill, skill and technology that IndyCar represents."

The high bidder will own the plate for 10 years, and it is legally transferable.

4. Anderson moves up to Pro Mazda with Juncos: American driver Scott Anderson is moving up the Mazda Road to Indy ladder.

The Colorado native, who recorded two wins and a pole en route to a third-place finish in the 2012 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda, will graduate to the Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires with Juncos Racing.

"I'm extremely excited to be working with Juncos Racing this year," Anderson said. "We spent a lot of time making this decision, and I am confident that we will be a great match. I am looking forward to seeing how things unfold.

"I want to thank Juncos Racing for this opportunity, Derek Daly and the Derek Daly Academy for their support in coming to this decision, the OtterCares Foundations for their continued partnership, Laser Nails, and Neuropathy Testing Centers."

Anderson's racing career began at the age of 14 in karts and continued into various open-wheel series throughout the United States.

Anderson, the 2011 Skip Barber National Champion and MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development scholarship recipient, made his Star Mazda debut at Road Atlanta in October.

"I'm very happy to have Scott with us for this 2013 season," said Juncos Racing owner Ricardo Juncos. "He has shown a lot of potential by winning the Skip Barber Championship, and finishing very strong in the USF2000 Championship. He is very mature and knows what he wants. There is no doubt for me that he will be very fast and strong this year in the Pro Mazda Series."

Juncos Racing, which won the 2010 Star Mazda championship with Conor Daly, has helped develop many young drivers through the years - including Daly, Connor De Phillippi, J.V. Horto and Martin Scuncio.


The 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series season opens with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg March 24 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. The race will be televised live at noon (ET) by the NBC Sports Network (Verizon FiOS 90/590, DirecTV 220, DISH 159 and AT&T UVerse 640) and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network on SiriusXM and The 2013 Firestone Indy Lights season begins March 23 on the Streets of St. Petersburg. The race will be televised by NBC Sports Network at 11 a.m. (ET) on March 24.


Firestone Indy Lights
Homestead©\Miami Speedway Open Test
Jan. 23©\24, 2013
Car Driver Hometown Entrant
2 Juan Pablo Garcia Mexico City Team Moore Racing
4 Mike Larrison (R) Avon, Ind. Belardi Auto Racing
7 Gabby Chaves (R) Bogota, Colombia Sam Schmidt Motorsport
9 Peter Dempsey Ashborough, Ireland Belardi Auto Racing
12 Zach Veach (R) Stockdale, Ohio Andretti Autosport
22 Mikael Grenier Stoneham, Canada Team Moore Racing
26 Carlos Munoz Bogot¨¢, Colombia Andretti Autosport
45 Giancarlo Serenelli (R) Caracas, Venezuela Juncos Racing
77 Jack Hawksworth (R) Bradford, England Sam Schmidt Motorsports
87 TBD Juncos Racing
Ten cars entered. All cars use Dallara chassis and Firestone tires.
(R) ¨CRookie
Issued: 1/22/2013

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