INDYCAR News And Notes - Feb. 15, 2013

Story posted - Feb 18 2013 8:44 PM

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

1. Drivers hit track for preseason testing
2. Ganassi teams unite with Novo Nordisk, Kimball's "Race with Insulin" initiative
3. Mazda scholarship winner Portante joins Belardi Auto Racing for USF2000
4. Long-standing sponsor Direct Supply remains with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing

1. Drivers hit track for preseason testing: After completing more than 300 laps of the Sebring International Raceway short course in the Dallara Automobili simulator last week in Italy, Simona de Silvestro is eager to lay some rubber on the 1.7-mile circuit Feb. 19 during KV Racing Technology's initial on-track session of the year.

"What we saw from two days in the simulator I think it would be good to try some things and see how realistic it is compared to the real track," said de Silvestro, who participated in two get-acquainted test sessions with her new team late last fall.

De Silvestro, 24, enters her fourth IZOD IndyCar Series season, but her first with a teammate in 2004 series champion Tony Kanaan.

"It's really exciting and going to Sebring will feel like the start of the season because we'll have a lot of testing in the next four weeks," said de Silvestro, who on March 4-5 will greet attendees of the Geneva International Motor Show in her native Switzerland at the GM Spark EV display. "It's good to get back into the rhythm and start working.

"The team has been working hard to line up all the changes we want to try. I think we'll be pretty busy."

The season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is March 22-24. Assembling the 1.8-mile street circuit for the ninth annual IZOD IndyCar Series event commenced Feb. 15.

Other Chevrolet teams participating Feb. 19:
Team Penske - Helio Castroneves, Will Power and AJ Allmendinger
Panther Dreyer & Reinbold Racing - Oriol Servia

Also scheduled to participate Feb. 19 as part of a Honda manufacturer test:
Target Chip Ganassi Racing - Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti
Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing - Charlie Kimball
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing - Graham Rahal
Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian - Alex Tagliani
Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing - Josef Newgarden
A.J. Foyt Racing - Takuma Sato
Dale Coyne Racing - Justin Wilson

James Jakes, who was recently announced to drive the No. 30 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing-prepared car for the full season, will attend the test along with Mike Conway (announced to drive for the team at Long Beach) but not drive.

Recently announced Tristan Vautier (Schmidt Peterson Motorsports) and E.J. Viso (Andretti Autosport) will get their initial seat time with their new teams Feb. 20 at Sebring. The three other Andretti Autosport drivers (reigning IZOD IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and James Hinchcliffe) also will put in a day's work.

Sebastian Saavedra and Sebastien Bourdais will share time behind the wheel of a Chevrolet-powered Dragon Racing car Feb. 18 at Sebring.

Allmendinger, who recorded five victories in the 2006 Champ Car season and finished behind champion Bourdais and Wilson in the standings, also will participate in the first IZOD IndyCar Series Open Test.

Penske Racing president Tim Cindric said that Allmendinger, who had competed in stock car racing the past six years, could compete in a third Team Penske car in select races this season. Upon completing NASCAR's Road to Recovery program after failing a drug test in June, Allmendinger was reinstated Sept. 18. He is in good standing with INDYCAR.

De Silvestro, Kanaan, Vautier, Servia, Bourdais and Saavedra also will test the following week at Sonoma Raceway, where they'll join Ed Carpenter (Ed Carpenter Racing), Simon Pagenaud (Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports) and JR Hildebrand (Panther Racing). The all-day session Feb. 27 is open to the public and free.

"This week is the calm before the storm," de Silvestro said. "I'm excited to get back behind the wheel and think we're going to have a great start to the season."

2. Ganassi teams unite with Novo Nordisk, Kimball's "Race with Insulin" Initiative: Chip Ganassi Racing Teams and partner Novo Nordisk, a world leader in diabetes care, announced that IZOD IndyCar Series driver Charlie Kimball (No. 83 Novo Nordisk) and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teammate Jamie McMurray (No. 1 Chevrolet SS) will both sport Race with Insulin paint schemes during the race weekend of April 5-7.

The program will show that with the right management plan and "team" support, people with diabetes can start to get their diabetes on track.

In addition to the special paint schemes, all other CGRT cars (Scott Dixon's No. 9 Honda - IZOD IndyCar Series, Dario Franchitti's No. 10 Honda - IZOD IndyCar Series, Juan Pablo Montoya's No. 42 Chevrolet SS - NASCAR, and Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas' No. 1 BMW - GRAND-AM) will run blue tire rims to help launch the Race with Insulin Unites campaign.

The rims will emulate a blue circle, which is the International Diabetes Federation's global symbol for diabetes, to support Kimball's quest to educate people about diabetes.

"If our team can help others understand that even with diabetes, you can live life to the fullest, then we are glad to help," said team owner Chip Ganassi. "Charlie is an emerging talent in the race car, and he is an even better human being. A program like this speaks volumes about him."

Now in his third season with Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing, Kimball was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes during a routine physician's visit in 2007 while racing in Europe.

"I am able to live my dream and compete in the IZOD IndyCar Series because I have been fortunate to have the support of Novo Nordisk and my teammates, who are extensions of my on-track pit crew," said Kimball.

3. Mazda scholarship winner Portante joins Belardi Auto Racing for USF2000: For the second year in a row, a MAZDASPEED Scholarship winner has chosen Belardi Auto Racing to compete in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Powered by Mazda Championship.

Peter Portante, 16, who won the Skip Barber Race Series Championship Shootout at Road Atlanta in December, has signed with the Mazda Road to Indy team for the 2013 season.

"Being a huge fan of formula car racing, I always wanted to give road racing a shot, but with continued success in oval cars we found it tough to make the change," Portante said. "Once we learned about Skip Barber and what they had to offer, it seemed like a no-brainer to us, so we made the switch while running a limited late model season."

Portante participated in the Shootout, a rigorous three-day process of media training, fitness evaluation, and business proposal evaluation on top of the race events.

"If it was not for Skip Barber and the Mazda Road to Indy's Scholarship program we would never be in the position to have signed with a team like Belardi Auto Racing for our first USF2000 season," Portante said. "I can't even begin to tell you how happy I am to be with such a strong team and able to move to the next step of the Mazda Road to Indy."

Said team owner Brian Belardi: "It is awesome to see the Mazda Road to Indy continue to be a choice for young open-wheel drivers, and we are really excited to have Peter make the next step with us. It's great to have another MAZDA Scholarship driver join our team, too, and we couldn't be happier to have it be someone as talented and driven as Portante."

4. Long-standing sponsor Direct Supply remains with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing: Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing and Direct Supply, a sponsor that has been with the team since its inception, have renewed their sponsor partnership for 2013.

Direct Supply, the nation's leading provider of equipment, eCommerce and service solutions to the Senior Living profession, will serve as primary sponsor of Josef Newgarden's No. 67 Honda at Milwaukee and be an associate sponsor for all other IZOD IndyCar Series.

"Direct Supply has been with us since the very beginning, and as our longest standing sponsor continues to support us through thick and thin," said Sarah Fisher, co-owner of SFHR. "We are very honored to call the Direct Supply team an extension of the SFHR family and look forward to continuing the build of a founding relationship."

***

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 www.indycar.com. 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.

 
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