INDYCAR News And Notes - Feb. 28, 2013

Story posted - Feb 28 2013 10:23 PM

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

1. Track time at Sonoma beneficial to 10 drivers, six teams
2. Rahal enjoys talking racing with Fowler
3. Fans can send military member to opening race
4. Of note

1. Track time at Sonoma beneficial to 10 drivers, six teams: Ten driver-car combinations from six IZOD IndyCar Series teams completed a test Feb. 27 at Sonoma Raceway in advance of the first IZOD IndyCar Series Open Test on March 12-13 at Barber Motorsports Park. The season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is March 24.

Spectators were welcome to watch the morning and afternoon sessions and participate in a Q&A with drivers during the break.

"This is a great time of year to be out on track," said JR Hildebrand, driver of the No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing car and a resident of nearby Sausalito, Calif. "Run to run, morning to afternoon, things are much more consistent. Once you get into summer, that element changes. It's a very temperature-sensitive track. As far as the actual track conditions go, they are always a little bit different."

It was the initial on-track activity of the year for Hildebrand and Ed Carpenter Racing owner/driver Ed Carpenter.

Other participants included KV Racing Technology's Tony Kanaan and Simona de Silvestro, Panther Dreyer & Reinbold Racing's Oriol Servia, Dragon Racing's Sebastien Bourdais and Sebastian Saavedra, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports' Tristan Vautier, Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports' Simon Pagenaud, and Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosport.

The 23-year-old Vautier continued to impress after successful tests at Sebring earlier this month. He found Sonoma's 2.3-mile, 12-turn road course to his liking.

"It was a good test, but it was different from Sebring," Vautier said. "We got a good lap at the end of the day, but I need to work on my consistency over the course of a stint. It was a positive experience, but I have a lot to learn."

2. Rahal enjoys talking racing with Fowler: Graham Rahal and PGA Tour member Rickie Fowler had more in common than birdie putts and long drives Feb. 27 during the Kenny G Gold Pro-Am presented by Tire Kingdom at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

"We talked racing the whole way around," said Rahal, who also was joined in the group by Wayne and Wyatt Vince and Jim Smail.

Fowler, who grew up racing motocross, owns a Porsche GT3-RS, a Mitsubishi Evo and a Nissan GT-R. He regularly takes a car onto Palm Beach International Raceway.

Rahal, who was a member of the winning group the previous two years, said he's hopeful of Fowler attending an IZOD IndyCar Series event this season and nabbing a ride in an Indy Racing Experience two-seater. NBC Sports will feature Rahal and Fowler in its third-round coverage March 2 of the Honda Classic.

Rahal, who played only a couple of rounds to prep for the event, said he "didn't bring my game on the front nine but stepped it up late."

The pro-am is a major fund-raiser for the Honda Classic's charity, the Nicklaus Children's Health Care Foundation.

Rahal is involved in two other charity projects.

A tour of the Dallara facility on Main Street in Speedway, Ind., competitions, photos and autographs with drivers and more is part of a special event from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET) March 9.

Proceeds from the $10 per-person admission will be directed to the Graham Rahal Foundation, benefiting Alex's Lemonade Stand and SeriousFun Networks.

Special race tickets to the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio on Aug. 2-4, with partial proceeds benefitting the Columbus (Ohio) Zoo, are available at

The first 1,000 of these tickets include free admission to the Columbus Zoo in 2013 and a Rahal-autographed hero card. All fans purchasing these tickets will be entered to win a VIP experience at the Columbus Zoo and a meet and greet with Rahal during the race weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

3. Fans can send military member to opening race: The Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg has partnered with Wish for Our Heroes, a national military charity, to implement a program focused on sending thousands of local military members to attend the season-opening IZOD IndyCar Series race March 22-24.

Individuals and businesses can make a tax-deductible donation to the program through three options. Learn more about the program at Fans may also make a $10 donation by texting 'America' to 20222. For military members interested in receiving free tickets, make the request at

4. Of note: Lithographs, ornaments, cookbooks and one-of-a-kind items will be available during a garage sale from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. March 2 at the Dallara facility in Speedway, Ind., benefiting CARA Charities. Admission is $5, which will be deducted from the purchase of any item over $10...National Guard Panther Racing driver JR Hildebrand will be a motorsports panelist March 1-2 during the seventh Sloan Sports Analytics Conference at MIT in Cambridge, Mass. Hildebrand was accepted to attend MIT.


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, immediately preceding the IZOD IndyCar Series race broadcast.

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