INDYCAR News And Notes - May 6, 2013

Story posted - May 06 2013 6:21 PM

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

1. Sato, Andretti carry momentum into Indianapolis
2. Servia shines in Sao Paulo
3. Inside the numbers - Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300 presented by Nestle

1. Sato, Andretti carry momentum into Indianapolis: The first quarter of the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series season has seen three winners in four races, 15 drivers record at least one top-five finish and the emergence of Takuma Sato and Marco Andretti as legitimate championship contenders.

The veteran drivers find themselves 1-2 in the series point standings after four races following podium finishes in the Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300 presented by Nestle.

Sato, driving the No. 14 ABC Supply Honda for A.J. Foyt Racing, backed up his first IZOD IndyCar Series victory at Long Beach on April 21 with a runner-up finish to James Hinchcliffe in the May 5 race. Andretti recorded his second third-place finish of the season and fourth top-seven finish in as many races in the No. 25 RC Cola Chevrolet for Andretti Autosport.

Sato holds a 13-point lead heading to Indianapolis, where his final-lap "no attack, no chance" attempt to overtake Dario Franchitti for the lead last May won him the hearts of many fans. The last time an A.J. Foyt Racing driver led the INDYCAR standings was in 1998 when Kenny Brack won the series title.

"This team is really doing a fantastic job," team director Larry Foyt said. "Takuma is driving just amazingly. Obviously, this is a long month and anything can happen, but it's always a positive to have good momentum going into Indy."

Added four-time Indianapolis 500 champion and team founder A.J. Foyt: "You always like to be leading the points regardless of where you're going. But we've just got to come out of there with a bigger lead in points."

That, of course, will be difficult with another stout field attempting to win "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing." Franchitti and Helio Castroneves, who are aiming for their record-tying fourth victories, and Andretti, who has a trio of top-three finishes in his seven runs on the 2.5-mile oval, are among the early favorites.

"We have some good momentum going and we've always run well at Indianapolis," Andretti said. "Obviously, it's a totally different ballgame being an oval. We just have to get a good race car there. If we can't win, get another good result and keep the points going."

Andretti Autosport teammate Hinchcliffe jumped to fourth in the standings with his victory by .3463 of a second and also has momentum going to Indianapolis, where he started second and finished sixth last May.

"The joke is that we've won every race we've finished. If we can keep doing that, we'll be all right," said Hinchcliffe, whose victories at St. Petersburg and Sao Paulo sandwiched DNFs at Barber and Long Beach. "Heading into the ovals, Andretti Autosport had competitive cars at Indy last year. We improved over the winter. Obviously, everyone else will have as well. If we can keep our momentum up, a day like today proves that when things aren't necessarily going your way, if you keep fighting, don't give up, you can end up on top."

2. Servia shines in Sao Paulo: If anyone wants to hold claim to having "the momentum" heading into the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, it's difficult to argue that the owner isn't Oriol Servia.

The 38-year-old Spaniard made a commanding march through the field in the Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300 presented by Nestle to finish fourth in the No. 22 Panther DRR Chevrolet, his best result of the season.

Servia started 13th in the race after just missing out on the second round of knock-out qualifying. After flying through the field in the early laps of the race, he had worked his way up to fourth for the restart on Lap 40.

Following the restart he was passed by Marco Andretti, and the pair followed each other up to the front of the field before Servia pitted on Lap 51. He re-emerged in 18th place and quickly found himself 10th after a yellow to collect the slowed car of Tony Kanaan led to multiple cars ahead pitting. He looked to be in prime position to finish fifth before getting around Josef Newgarden on the last lap to clinch fourth.

"Yeah, it was a great car," Servia said. "The last two races I had a great car in qualifying. The way the wrecks in qualifying have gone, we have started at the back, but we have gone through the field twice today and finished fourth."

Servia's previous best 2013 finish was sixth place at Long Beach. His qualifying effort of 13th was his best of the season. This is also his highest finish on the streets of Sao Paulo, having finished fifth in 2011. With the result, he moves from 14th to eighth in the standings.

"We work so hard to have the car and the team we have," he said. "We are contenders. We are working well we are doing our jobs right and something is going to happen."

3. Inside the numbers - Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300 presented by Nestle: Some numbers to note from the Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300, the fourth race of the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series season.

.3463 - The margin of victory by James Hinchcliffe. It was the 13th-closest road/street finish in Indy car history.

1 - Lap led by race winner James Hinchcliffe at Sao Paulo. ... Driver who has finished in the top 10 in each of the first three IZOD IndyCar Series events: Marco Andretti.

2 - Consecutive podium finishes at Sao Paulo for Takuma Sato.

3 - Consecutive front-row starts for Ryan Hunter-Reay.

4 - Different teams represented in the top five in the Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300.

7 - Drivers who led laps in the Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300 - the most leaders at Sao Paulo.

8 - Different teams represented in the top 10 in the IZOD IndyCar Series standings.

13 - Points separating Takuma Sato and Marco Andretti in the IZOD IndyCar Series standings. ... Laps led by Sebastien Bourdais at Sao Paulo, his first laps led since the Mexico City Champ Car race in 2007.

20 - Positions improved by Josef Newgarden, the most positions gained by any driver. Newgarden finished fifth to record his first top-five finish.

200 - Consecutive Indy car starts for Tony Kanaan dating to the 2001 CART race in Portland. Kanaan is second to Jimmy Vasser's 211 straight starts.

***

The 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series season continues with the 97th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race on Sunday, May 26, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be televised live at 11 a.m. (ET) by ABC and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network, including on Sirius and XM Channels 211 and www.indycar.com. The next Firestone Indy Lights race is the Firestone Freedom 100 on Friday, May 24, at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be broadcast by the NBC Sports Network live, during the network's coverage of Carb Day.

 
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