INDYCAR News and Notes – Aug. 12, 2015

1. Andretti, Castroneves Don’t ‘Tire’ of Firestone Testing

2. Successful INDYCAR Viewership Promotion Named Award Finalist

1. Andretti, Castroneves Don’t ‘Tire’ of Firestone Testing: Before breaking for lunch at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Verizon IndyCar Series drivers Helio Castroneves and Marco Andretti had turned almost 70 percent of the 200 laps for the Indianapolis 500. Neither seemed to mind the workout on the 2.5-mile oval.

“Every time you have an opportunity to be here, especially with helping Firestone develop even better tires, it’s important,” three-time Indy 500 winner Castroneves said after exiting the No. 3 Team Penske Chevrolet.

“The beauty of working with Firestone is they try all the details, and that’s why we’re here. It’s about grip – left side and right side – and what line you can take, and they really want your feedback after every run.”

Firestone annually tests at IMS, and the advent of the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race on May 29, 2016, added some weight to the morning and afternoon sessions. The introduction of aerodynamic bodywork components to the race cars this year and expected increase in 2016 lap speeds make testing essential.

“It’s very important to Firestone. We were here in 1911 (for the first Indy 500) and we’re going to be here for the 100th running, so it’s a great milestone for Firestone,” said Dale Harrigle, chief engineer for Bridgestone Americas Motorsports and manager of race tire development.

Additionally, four drivers participated in concurrent team testing at IMS: the Chevrolet-powered cars of Tony Kanaan (No. 10 Chip Ganassi Racing), Ed Carpenter (No. 20 CFH Racing) and Simon Pagenaud (No. 22 Team Penske), along with the Honda-powered car of Ryan Hunter-Reay (No. 28 Andretti Autosport). Pagenaud noted some benefits of the testing could be implemented for the upcoming ABC Supply 500 on the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway tri-oval on Aug. 23.

“We don’t get much testing during the season, so it’s great to be here to get ready for next year already,” Pagenaud said. “We’re doing a lot of aero testing. With the new aero kit, we didn’t really get a chance to extract the best out of it yet. There’s so much potential; we’re trying to understand all the bits and pieces. There are a lot of combinations that we’re trying.”

2. Successful INDYCAR Viewership Promotion Named Award Finalist: A digital marketing program developed by INDYCAR to increase viewership of Verizon IndyCar Series race broadcasts, which met with well-measured success, has been named a finalist for the 2015 Digiday Signal Awards.

In conjunction with Nielsen, INDYCAR defined a targeted digital advertising strategy for the 2014 season and enlisted the services of Rocket Fuel, a programmatic marketing services company, to implement it. The program utilized the INDYCAR “Rivals” campaign featuring the personal perspectives of Verizon IndyCar Series drivers.

Rocket Fuel focused on digital promotions outside the reach of television, with 98.5 percent of digital audience members stating they had not seen a TV promotion for Verizon IndyCar Series race broadcasts. Overall results showed those exposed to the campaign were 21 percent more likely to watch race broadcasts in 2014 and that they watched more race time overall throughout the season. In addition, Rocket Fuel’s technology allowed INDYCAR to focus on discrete target audiences. In one instance, the precise targeting resulted in an amazing 100 percent increase in tune-in for a coveted demographic.

“We are pleased that INDYCAR and Rocket Fuel are being recognized as nominees for the Digiday Signal Award,” said C.J. O’Donnell, Chief Marketing Officer, INDYCAR. “Our highly successful digital marketing campaign highlights the ground-breaking efforts of our partners at Nielsen and Rocket Fuel, along with the creativity of our own INDYCAR marketing team.

“The 2014 ‘Rivals’ campaign was the first step in the evolution of the INDYCAR brand and certainly resonated with our desired audience,” continued O’Donnell. “It is one reason TV viewership of Verizon IndyCar Series races increased 25 percent in 2014 and laid the groundwork for the ongoing growth of our TV ratings and viewership in the 2015 season.”

The Digiday Signal Awards, to be presented for the first time Sept. 24, honor tech platforms simplifying the marketing process for brands, agencies and publishers. In all, 85 finalists were selected from four main categories including ad tech, commerce tech, marketing tech and content/publishing. Rocket Fuel is nominated in the category for “Programmatic/Real-Time Bidding Platforms and Supply-Side Platforms.”