Auto Racing (113)
It’s hard to believe that Graham Rahal is only 24-years-old. It feels like he’s been in the IndyCar Series for a while and the answer is he has. He’s in his sixth season in IndyCar – more than many drivers have amassed in their full careers.
At the age of 19 and with a year of Champ Car racing under his belt, Rahal made his IndyCar Series debut with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing and became the youngest person to ever win a major American open wheel race at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
He spent his last few years at Chip Ganassi Racing with moments of success accumulating 13 top-ten finishes with four of them being podium spots, but that second win eluded him.
In 2013, Rahal had the opportunity to be a driver on his father Bobby’s team, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and he jumped at the chance. It’s been a struggle this year, but a well-deserved fifth place finish at the Iowa Corn Indy 250 this past Sunday might lead to a string of success with half the season still to go.
As the son of the legendary Bobby Rahal, he’s been around racing for as long as he can remember and he would love nothing more to have the Rahal name once again in the winner’s circle.
To learn more about Graham, here’s our up-close and personal Q & A with the young IndyCar driver.
Born: Columbus, Ohio
Residence: Indianapolis, Indiana
First street car: Subaru WRX STI - and turned it into a race car with a Cosworth race engine
Cars he currently owns: Acura MDX, 1974 BMW 2002 Turbo, Porsche Cayenne GTS and a 1964 Mini Cooper that I restored for my high school senior project that I will never sell!
Longest road trip taken: It was two years ago after the Iowa race. We drove back to Indy which was some seven hours or so, showered and got right back in the car to head to Columbus, Ohio to pick up the boat and everything else. We got a few hours of sleep then we were in the car for 20 hours to St. Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada. It stunk badly. I don't know how the truck drivers do it!
Pets: I have four dogs: Deo, Dove, Dude and Dexter
List of Favourites:
Vacation spot: My mom's house in St. Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada
Sports team: The Ohio State Buckeyes
Movies: Grown Ups and Zero Dark Thirty
Foods: sushi, pizza, or some good Mexican food
Race track: Road America
Racing memory: Winning St. Pete in 2008
Driver growing up: Bobby Rahal of course :-)
Is there a motto you live by: Everything happens for a reason
If you’re not familiar with Dale Coyne driver Justin Wilson – just look for the tallest driver on the Indycar grid standing 6’3”. It’s not just his height that makes him stand out, as Wilson is one of the more talented drivers getting the most out of his Dale Coyne race car.
Currently, Wilson sits in eighth position in the driver’s championship in an IndyCar season that’s wide open. Consistency has been key for Wilson, as he’s tasted the podium twice with two third place finishes and has landed in the top ten, six times.
The oval part of the season is soon to conclude after Iowa and Pocono that is followed by a stretch of seven road/street courses, which are Wilson’s specialty. If Wilson can stay competitive in those races, he will be in a good position for his best finish in the IndyCar series.
The road/street courses start with the Honda Indy Toronto, which will host a double header for the first time in its 27-year history. Toronto is the second of three double-headers during the year and Wilson was in Toronto to promote the race and help unveil the custom-made Waterford Crystal race trophies at William Ashley's flagship location in Yorkville.
Wilson is interested to see how the driver’s treat both races. “It’s going to be very physical. In the 1st race in Detroit the drivers hung back and went all-out in the 2nd race,” Wilson said. “It will be interesting to see what people do this time around.”
Wilson is looking forward to the Honda Indy Toronto and considers the Toronto track at Exhibition Place one that he can win.
“It’s a track that fits my style and where we can be competitive all weekend,” Wilson said.
Add in a much helpful teammate in Mike Conway, who will re-join Dale Coyne for the road/street courses and we can be seeing Dale Coyne racing up with the front runners. Conway dominated the podium in Detroit with a first and third place finish in both races. Wilson sees the benefit in a competitive teammate as they can learn from each other and test out more things with the race car that he can’t do as a lone driver.
To get to know more about the racing world and Dale Coyne’s Justin Wilson, we are introducing our new segment called Up-Close and Personal.
Team: Dale Coyne Racing (IndyCar)
Born: Sheffield, England
Residence: Longmont, CO
First street car: 1995 Peugeot 306 Diesel
Longest road trip: 18 hours from Mid-Ohio track to Florida
Favourite vacation spot: haven’t taken a vacation in 10 years. Life has been one big vacation and when you’re travelling for your profession, all I want to do is relax at home. Maybe soon I will head to the Caribbean – you never know.
Pets: none, however my mom makes up for it as she has 10 horses, cats, dogs, guinea pigs, hens – you name it. My kids love it when there.
Favourite race track: Watkins Glen – the place where I got my first win for Dale Coyne Racing.
Favourite racing memory: winning the Rolex 24 hours of Daytona driving the No. 60 for Michael Shank Racing
Favourite driver growing up: Nigel Mansell, always appreciated the talents of Ayrton Senna, but I wanted to root for the underdog.
MONTREAL, QC - The reigning three-time champion Sebastian Vettel took off comfortably from the start and never looked back. It was the ideal drive for any pole sitter as Vettel was never pressured during the 2013 Canadian Grand Prix.
The Infiniti Red Bull Racing driver finished 14.4 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Fernando Alonso of Ferrari. The win extends Vettel’s lead over Alonso in the driver’s championship to 36 points.
“I was pushing very hard at the beginning to get away and open a gap. It’s Canada, you usually go close to the walls and sometimes even closer than I wanted,” Vettel said. “I felt I had more pace at the beginning of the race…it’s good to have some time on your hands. We had a great car and always had enough pace on hand to control the gap.”
It was a very different battle for second place between Alonso and Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton, who started in second, held that position for most of the race until lap 63 that saw a ferocious battle between the two rivals. Alonso got the best of Hamilton on his third passing attempt that ended with Hamilton giving the Ferrari driver a little bump that thankfully caused no incident.
“We were very close in pace. We had some action there, but it was nice to have this battle with such intelligent drivers,” Alonso said. “We fight at 300 km/h and you feel safe while you’re racing…this is real racing and I’m very happy to see this back after Monaco.”
Rounding out the top five were Vettel’s teammate Mark Webber and Hamilton’s teammate Nico Rosberg.
Webber was involved in one of the rare incidents on track when Caterham’s rookie driver Giedo van der Garde didn’t get out of the way despite the waving blue flags to let a lead-lap driver through. Webber’s Red Bull made contact with van der Garde leading to losing a part of his front wing. Van der Garde was assessed a stop and go penalty, but Alonso took full advantage of the situation and passed Webber four laps later.
Other notable storylines in the race was Jean-Eric Vergne who steered his Toro Rosso to sixth place, his best finish of his career.
Lotus Renault’s Kimi Raikkonen might not have had his best race, but placed ninth, tying Michael Schumacher’s record of 24 consecutive races in the points. Raikkonen currently sits third in the driver’s championship with 88 points, eight points back of Alonso.
And then there was Valtteri Bottas who started on the second row in third position to only see his Williams car drift back into their average grid position, eventually ending up in 14th.
“The start of the race was not so great. I was missing some traction and the other cars were quite a lot quicker than me and it was difficult to keep up with them,” Bottas explained. “I enjoyed the qualification result for a while and really hoped we could get some points.”
Outside of the race itself, there is some concern over Montreal’s hold on the F1 calendar after its contract expires after next year’s race. The FIA has wanted to see improvements in its paddock and other areas of the track, but the federal government has been uneasy in increasing its current $15-million contribution. When it comes to Vettel’s perspective of Montreal, they all wish for it to stay on the calendar.
“In terms of atmosphere, the whole city enjoys the Formula One Grand Prix,” Vettel said. “To me this race belongs 100 percent on the calendar, because for us drivers we love seeing grandstands completely sold out and a lot of people enthusiastic about the Grand Prix.”
But the day belonged to Infiniti Red Bull and Vettel. For pure racing fans, it was a near flawless drive that showcased Vettel’s skills and the car’s dominance. Only one lack of concentration happened during the last third of the 70 lap race when Vettel missed his braking point into Turn 1 and had to cut across the grass. It cut the first to second place gap from 18 seconds to 14, but that made no difference in the end.
It was Vettel’s first win in Canada and a nice reward after being passed by Jenson Button on the last lap two years ago in a rain-delayed and soaked track. It looks like another year where Vettel might win another championship, but things can turn around very quickly in Formula One and there are plenty of races left for the likes of Alonso, Raikkonen and Hamilton to catch up.
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) -- Helio Castroneves still knows how to climb the frontstretch fence to celebrate a victory at Texas.
And welcome back to Victory Lane, Roger Penske.
Castroneves led the final 132 laps Saturday night for his and Team Penske's first victory this season, and the fourth of the driver's career at the 1 1/2-mile, high-banked track.
"Texas is awesome. I love this place," Castroneves said after celebrating by climbing up the fence as he had done in previous victories. "The car was absolutely on rails."
Still, this race was different from his victories in the past - 2004, 2006 and 2009 - at a track so often known for drivers getting to go flat-out and side-by-side just about every lap. Different setups and tires have changed that.
"Very, very different, nothing like the previous ones," Castroneves said. "Hardly went flat-out. When I took the lead, I was able to go flat-out. Other than that, the entire race was very, very difficult to go flat. ... Setup is a big part of it, and I'm very fortunate to have the great guys in my group."
Former series champion Sam Hornish Jr. was the only other three-time IndyCar winner at Texas. His last came for Penske, who now has eight victories at the track which hosted its 25th IndyCar race.
Castroneves won with an average speed of 177.257 mph and finished 4.7 seconds ahead of Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Motorsports. The combined margin of his previous three victories at Texas was 1.0038 seconds.
Hunter-Reay led 35 of 228 laps.
"The drivers had to drive it tonight," Hunter-Reay said. "I'll tell you, that was interesting. That was hard to even get by some of slower traffic. You were just searching everywhere for grip. I had so many catches out there that I thought were going into the wall. It's going to be tough to go to sleep tonight."
With six other top-10 finishes in the first seven races, Castroneves entered the night tied with Marco Andretti for the season points lead.
Andretti, who led the first 53 laps after starting on the front row, finished fifth. He dropped to second, 22 points behind Castroneves.
Castroneves took the lead from Andretti, going around him in Turn 3 on lap 96, and stayed there for his 28th career victory. He is the seventh driver to win in eight races this season.
"Running like a Swiss watch," Castroneves said. "Everything was smooth."
Before Oriol Servia spun out right in front of him on lap 113, Castroneves had built a 14-second lead over defending race winner Justin Wilson. Castroneves was able to get around Servia's car without any issue.
That ended a sequence when Castroneves went 61 laps without a stop before going into the pit during that caution.
"He drove a flawless race." Penske said. "I think Helio had probably as good of execution as we've had in a long time."
Only five drivers finished on the lead lap, and they all were in Chevrolets, with Indianapolis 500 winner Tony Kanaan third, followed by Ed Carpenter and Andretti. The highest-finishing Honda was Dario Franchitti, just ahead of Castroneves teammate Will Power, the polesitter.
While nothing obscene, a clearly frustrated Andretti motioned with his hand to Sebastien Bourdais while completing a pass less than 70 laps in at Texas.
It was a week earlier in the first race of the Detroit doubleheader that Andretti was the target when Sebastian Saavedra flashed both of his middle fingers after the two made contact on the track. That motion by Saavera was caught on live television, and earned him a $30,000 fine from IndyCar.
Bourdais was placed on probation for the rest of the season for comments made toward officials on pit road after an accident with Power in Sunday's race in Detroit. Power also was put on probation until the end of the season for throwing his gloves at Bourdais.
Andretti gave up the lead when he pitted after 53 laps. He had led only 38 laps in the first seven races, including 31 at Indianapolis last month. But he got in front for only four more laps at Texas.
Wilson started 20th, but had moved up to fifth within the first 85 laps. He finished 15th, two laps behind Castroneves.
The command for drivers to start their engines was given by Jennifer Simonds and Anna "Sam" Canaday, teachers who used their bodies to shield kindergarteners when an EF5 tornado made a direct hit on Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Okla., on May 20.
CJ Gillaspie, captain of the West Volunteer Fire Department, which lost five members in a fertilizer plant explosion April 17, waved the green flag as the honorary starter.
Texas was the fourth of five races in a four-week span for IndyCar, which started with the Indianapolis 500 before the doubleheader weekend at Detroit. The series is in Milwaukee next Saturday before only one race the following three weeks.
Montreal, QC - It was a rainy, gloomy qualifying session at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve that had its share of spins and crashes. At the end of the session, Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel took his third consecutive pole position at the Canadian Grand Prix.
Vettel, the current leader in the Formula One driving standings edged Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton for the second consecutive year. Hamilton was on a great run with a minute to go, but made a mistake nearing the end sending him off track and ending his chances for pole. Last year, despite starting behind Vettel, Hamilton was the one who finished with the victory and he will be looking for a repeat performance.
On the flip side, Vettel hopes to extend his lead in the standings on Sunday with his first Canadian Grand Prix victory. "I'm very happy that the first run was good enough. It was really tight with Lewis…no matter what the conditions, we should be in decent shape,” said Vettel.
A nice story saw Williams’ driver Valtteri Bottas reach the Q3 session for the first time in his career and landed his Williams in P3. It was an impressive showing for the Finnish-born rookie and a lone bright spot this year for a Williams team searching for answers.
"It means a lot. It's way more up in the grid then we could’ve imagined. A nice boost for the team. We did everything quite right today," Bottas said.
Montreal is always a challenging track for drivers and even more so in rainy conditions. The three qualifying sessions saw many corners missed, as well as many spins along the way. The biggest crash of qualifying came from Ferrari’s Felipe Massa in the second qualifying session with two minutes to go. On Turn 3, Massa hit the white line and spun sideways into the wall halting the session for some time.
Rounding out the top 10 for tomorrow are Nico Rosberg in fourth followed by Vettel’s teammate Mark Webber, Fernando Alonso, Jean-Eric Vergne, Adrian Sutil, Kimi Raikkonen and Daniel Ricciardo.
The battle between Vettel and Hamilton should be a good one to watch and it will be interesting to see if Bottas can continue his surprising pace in Montreal. You can catch the Canadian Grand Prix starting at 2pm ET.
Mark Webber has come a long way in his 14-year Formula One racing career. The 36 year old veteran started as a test driver for Arrows, got his first start with perennial bottom feeders Minardi and then bounced around to three other teams before landing at Red Bull Racing in 2007. Throughout his seven years with Red Bull, Webber has shown himself to be a competitive teammate, a winner and definitely outspoken.
Last year, Webber remained loyal to Red Bull and signed a one-year deal to stay on and partner Sebastian Vettel. Unfortunately with a one-year deal you don’t have much security and that wasn’t helped earlier in the year by a disregarding of team orders in Malaysia by three-time champion Vettel that took away a tenth career victory from Webber and gave it to the reigning champ. Given all the uncertainty surrounding Webber’s future at Red Bull, he still is fifth in the driver standings with plenty of races left in the season.
I had the chance to sit down at a roundtable discussion with Mark Webber ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal to discuss the track, racing and Red Bull’s new title sponsor – Infiniti. Infiniti and Red Bull have had a partnership since 2011, but as a title sponsor, the team is now known as Infiniti Red Bull Racing, which is a pretty big deal. A big enough deal that Vettel was named Infiniti’s Director of Performance.
As for Webber, he’s looking forward to the race in Montreal. A race that he called a top event on the circuit with a lot of character, history and memories. He has never won the Canadian Grand Prix, only finishing on the podium once in 2011 with a third place finish, so his favourite memories were when he was a child watching the likes of Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell.
Webber is ready for the difficult challenge that the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve presents. He acknowledged the toll the track takes on its drivers and its race cars, but believes his experience and team can help him achieve success.
Webber is one of the few old school drivers still around. Despite his dislike for new gadgets and KERS in the race cars, he does embrace modern technology. He believes you have to go forward with technology and the use of Infiniti’s resources has currently helped the Red Bull team and will in the future. “There were safety issues in the past with cars blowing up and people dying, so clearly technology has helped to develop and understand cars a lot more,” said Webber.
After this year, Webber’s future with Red Bull is up in the air, but he wants to focus his attention to the Canadian Grand Prix. Results in the coming months will be a key factor in deciding his future with the team. He acknowledges a strong relationship with Red Bull’s owner Dietrich Mateschitz – but Webber wants to be in charge of what he decides to do. After 14 years of Formula One racing and seven of them at Red Bull, he feels he has the right to decide on his own terms. There’s no sign of retirement, so we will be seeing Webber on the starting grid next year whether it’s in a Red Bull car or a competitor. Let’s just hope Vettel’s antics in Malaysia weren’t the decisive blow.
Follow along via twitter @david_miller11 to see if Mark Webber can get his first victory in Canada.
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Tony Kanaan had the car. He had the nerves. And he finally had the luck.
Now he has the trophy, too.
Kanaan won his first Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, ending 12 years of frustration with a crowd-pleasing victory for the popular Brazilian driver.
After coming so close so many times, he couldn't help but feel nervous on that long, anticlimactic final lap under the yellow caution flag.
"I started to check everything in my car," he said. "Do we have enough fuel? Four wheels? You kind of go crazy. The pace car guy, whoever it was, this guy is actually celebrating. I'm like, `Go! Can you go quicker? It's going to be a long lap if keep doing that.'"
Kanaan is Indy's hard-luck loser no more. He is its champion at last, with a dose of good luck for a change.
"I have to say, the last lap was the longest lap of my life," Kanaan said.
It was one of Indy's most popular victories. As the crowd roared its approval, Kanaan flipped up his visor to wipe away tears. Then in Victory Lane he gave his bride of two months a long kiss and poured the celebratory winner's bottle of milk over his head.
The losers were pleased with the outcome, evidenced by a scene similar to rivals lining up to congratulate Dale Earnhardt when he finally won the Daytona 500 on his 20th try. Dario Franchitti, whose crash brought out the race-ending caution, stood grinning by his crumpled car, two thumbs up as Kanaan passed under yellow.
"When I saw who was leading, it cheered me up a little bit," said Franchitti, last year's winner. "He's a very, very deserving winner."
The fans thought so, too, standing on their feet, screaming, "TK! TK! TK!" as he and team owner Jimmy Vasser went by during the traditional victory lap. It felt magical to Kanaan, as if he'd given the crowd at Indianapolis Motor Speedway a gift.
"It means a lot to me because so many people, I could feel that they wanted me to win, and it's such a selfish thing to do because what are they getting from it?" Kanaan said. "I'm the one who gets the trophy. I believed that this win was more for people out there than for me.
"I wanted it all my life, but over the years I was kind of OK with the fact that I may never have the chance to win."
His chance came at the end of a history-making race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where Kanaan knew he had to pounce at the green flag for the final restart with three laps to go. He did, zipping inside leader Ryan Hunter-Reay to roar into the lead - where he wanted to be in case another caution came out.
"I knew I had to get the lead on the restart because it could be a yellow, which happened to me plenty of times here, and it did," Kanaan said. "How funny is life? The yellow was my best friend."
Kanaan had his fair share of chances to win at Indy, but came up short time and time again. He was leading when the rain came in 2007, only to lose to Franchitti when the race resumed.
In all, Kanaan went into Sunday's race with 221 laps led at Indy - more than any non-winner except Michael Andretti and Rex Mays - but his second-place finish to Buddy Rice in 2004 was the closest he had come to victory. He had a pair of third-place finishes, including last year - again to Franchitti.
"It's wonderful for him," said Mario Andretti, himself a victim of bad luck at Indy. "He's raced here long enough that he deserves it, no question."
The win for Kanaan and car owner Vasser was celebrated throughout the paddock. Alex Zanardi, who came from Italy to watch the race and gave Kanaan one of his 2012 London Paralympics medals as good luck, wept behind the pit wall as Kanaan took the checkered flag.
"I tell you I'm starting to think (the medal) really works," said Zanardi, who lost his legs in a 2001 crash in Germany. "It's a dream come true to see Tony win, to see Jimmy Vasser win, my dear friend. I'm so happy, I'm so happy."
It was Vasser who brought Zanardi's medal to Kanaan before the race, telling his driver that Zanardi wanted him to rub it for good luck.
"I actually cuddled with the thing," Kanaan admitted.
Vasser, caught in the middle as a driver during the political fighting in open-wheel racing, only got the chance to run at Indy eight times in his career - but not during his prime. He had goose-bumps on the celebratory lap with Kanaan as the crowd chanted the driver's name.
"I never won it as a driver. In fact, I couldn't win it as a driver," Vasser said, "so I had to hire the right guy to do it, get a baby Borg on my shelf," referring to the winner's Borg-Warner trophy.
It will be one adorned with Kanaan's likeness, and the driver joked he could finally "put my big nose on that trophy."
Fellow Brazilian Helio Castroneves, like Franchitti shooting for a record-tying fourth Indy win, was happy for his long-time friend.
"Finally he's able to win this race. He's so close so many times, but the good news is the good old boys are still able to run fast," Castroneves said.
Carlos Munoz, a 21-year-old rookie making his first IndyCar start, finished second and Hunter-Reay was third.
"T.K. is such a fan favorite, absolutely, it's great to see him win it. If anybody is going to win it in the field, he's one of the few I'd like to see other than myself," Hunter-Reay said. "We were leading on that last restart, I knew I was a sitting duck, and I wasn't too bummed about it because I knew we had enough laps to get it going again and have a pass back. Maybe I would be third on the last lap, which is where I wanted to be."
Only there was no racing on the last lap. Franchitti brought out the caution seconds after Kanaan passed Hunter-Reay for the last of 68 lead changes - exactly double last year's record.
On the final lap, the leaders came to the finish line all bunched up around Kanaan, saluting the IndyCar stalwart who had longed to add the final missing piece to his resume. That was about as slow as anyone had driven all day. The average speed was 187.433 mph, another Indy record.
Marco Andretti finished fourth, failing to win for the eighth time but taking over the IndyCar points lead. Justin Wilson was fifth in the highest-finishing Honda on a day that was dominated by Chevrolet. Castroneves was sixth. Pole-sitter Ed Carpenter led a race-high 37 laps and finished 10th.
For a time, it appeared the win would go to AJ Allmendinger, who led 23 laps in his Indy debut for Roger Penske.
Fired by Penske from his NASCAR ride last year after failing a NASCAR drug test, Penske gave him a second chance with this IndyCar opportunity. Seven years after leaving open-wheel racing, Allmendinger finally ran "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" and was leading when his seat belt came undone, forcing him to pit.
It put Allmendinger off the pit cycle, and he was forced to stop for gas twice far in advance of the rest of the field. It meant Allmendinger had to drive his way back to the front each time, and he finally sputtered out at seventh.
"I'll be honest, pretty special moment to be leading at Indy," he said. "My body kind of went numb, my mind was racing and I could feel my heart beating really fast, and that's a special moment I'll never forget."
A year after 34 lead changes and a frantic finish created what many considered the best 500 ever, IndyCar had its hands full trying to top itself.
This one might have done it, with the slicing and dicing at the front, over and over and over again. The 68 lead changes involved 14 drivers, and 28 of the 33 cars were running at the end. With 100 miles to go, 25 drivers were on the lead lap.
"It was a hell of a race. That's all I can say," said Mario Andretti. "This is riveting competition, that's all I can tell you. It's just amazing. The reliability of the cars is there. The product is there. It's unbelievable racing, the best I've seen in years."
Toronto, ON - On a beautiful holiday Monday in downtown Toronto along the waterfront two Canadian IndyCar drivers talked confidently about their chances in next week 97th running of the Indianapolis 500. Andretti Autosport’s James Hinchcliffe and Barracuda Racing’s Alex Tagliani both have a legitimate shot at winning the 500 – something us Canadians have not seen in a while.
Hinchcliffe is already a two-time winner in the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series out of four races run this year. He qualified ninth for the Indianapolis 500 and will start on the outside of the third row. Last year saw Hinchcliffe start second after barely missing the pole, but this year he’s more determined than ever to drive his #27 Go Daddy car to another victory.
“When you win – it’s such a great feeling and it justifies all those awful days and bad experiences you’ve had at the track. They all just disappear. I thought I wanted to win it before, but now that I have – I want it so much more,” explains Hinchcliffe.
More good news for Hinchcliffe is that all four of his Andretti Autosport teammates all made the fast nine and will start in front of him.
“We’ve practiced all month long running in a pack together and we know each other and each other’s cars inside and out. With all of us being in the top nine we’re in a great position to get to Lap 150 and fight it out for the win.”
It’s a different story altogether for the Canadian veteran Alex Tagliani. The native of Lachenaie, Quebec is the lone wolf for his Barracuda Racing team run by former IndyCar driver Bryan Herta. He also is the top qualifying Honda engine driver starting in 11th position behind ten Chevrolets. Compared to Hinchcliffe, Tagliani’s chances don’t seem as good, but keep in mind that there were nine Chevrolets at the top of qualification charts last year and the 2012 Indianapolis 500 came down to a battle of guts between two Honda driver’s Dario Franchitti and Takuma Sato, eventually won by Franchitti.
Tagliani showed his confidence and happiness with his car and team that hasn’t been heard since his remarkable winning pole performance back in 2011 for Sam Schmidt Motorsports.
“I’ve never had a car hooked up like this. I’ve done 40 laps in these tires and I can still see the treads – no blisters on the tires like others have. For what we can control it seems like we have a car has a good enough chance to win as anybody else,” said Tagliani.
Tagliani feels that it’s his time to shine after struggling to find sponsors, teams and reliable engines over the past two seasons. His relationship and similarities with team co-owner Herta is striking and Tagliani feels it can work to their advantage.
“Bryan [Herta] is very mellow like me and passionate about racing. He doesn’t care about the glamour of racing and is a low-profile guy that just wants to win,” Tagliani gleefully explains.
Tagliani has shown some promise this year, but hasn’t run with the top cars in any of the races thus far. Perhaps his experience and a trip back to the Indianapolis 500 can turn Tagliani’s season around and catapult him back into the driver’s championship.
As for the mayor of Hinchtown, nothing seems unreachable for Hinchcliffe this season. Outside of two miserable 26 place finishes, Hinchcliffe is having a dream season where the sky’s the limit. We don’t know if a Canadian will win the Indianapolis 500, but regardless it’s nice to see that Canadian racing is going strong and that we have a fighting chance with both of these great Canadian racers in the field.
TOKYO, Japan – Honda Motor Co., Ltd. today announced its decision to participate in the FIA Formula One (F1) World Championship from the 2015 season under a joint project with McLaren, the UK-based F1 corporation.
Honda will be in charge of the development, manufacture and supply of the power unit, including the engine and energy recovery system, while McLaren will be in charge of the development and manufacture of the chassis, as well as the management of the new team, McLaren Honda.
From 2014, new F1 regulations require the introduction of a 1.6 litre direct injection turbocharged V6 engine with energy recovery systems. The opportunity to further develop these powertrain technologies through the challenge of racing is central to Honda’s decision to participate in F1. Throughout its history, Honda has passionately pursued improvements in the efficiency of the internal combustion engine and in more recent years, the development of pioneering energy management technologies such as hybrid systems. Participation in Formula 1 under these new regulations will encourage even further technological progress in both these areas. Furthermore, a new generation of Honda engineers can learn the challenges and the thrills of operating at the pinnacle of motorsport.
Commenting on this exciting development, Takanobu Ito, president and CEO of Honda Motor Co., Ltd. said:
“Ever since its establishment, Honda has been a company which grows by taking on challenges in racing. Honda has a long history of advancing our technologies and nurturing our people by participating in the world’s most prestigious automobile racing series. The new F1 regulations with their significant environmental focus will inspire even greater development of our own advanced technologies and this is central to our participation in F1. We have the greatest respect for the FIA’s decision to introduce these new regulations that are both highly challenging but also attractive to manufacturers that pursue environmental technologies and to Formula One Group, which has developed F1 into a high value, top car racing category supported by enthusiastic fans. We would like to express our sincere gratitude to Mr. Jean Todt, the President of FIA and to Mr. Bernie Ecclestone, the CEO of Formula One Group who showed great understanding and cooperation to help realize our participation in F1 racing. The corporate slogan of Honda is “The Power of Dreams”. This slogan represents our strong desire to pursue and realize our dreams together with our customers and fans. Together with McLaren, one of the most distinguished F1 constructors, Honda will mark a new beginning in our challenges in F1.”
Also, Martin Whitmarsh, CEO of McLaren Group Limited said:
“The names of McLaren and Honda are synonymous with success in Formula One, and, for everyone who works for both companies, the weight of our past achievements together lies heavily on our shoulders. But it's a mark of the ambition and resolve we both share that we want once again to take McLaren Honda to the very pinnacle of Formula One success. Together we have a great legacy – and we’re utterly committed to maintaining it.”
Jean Todt, president of FIA said:
"I am very happy to hear about Honda’s important decision to return to Formula One with McLaren from 2015.The introduction of the new power train next year, in the form of a 1.6 litre, 6 cylinder engine with direct injection and energy recovery, is a very exciting challenge and demonstrates a vision for the future of the sport. I am sure that Honda will become a strong contender in the years to come. ”
Bernie Ecclestone, CEO of Formula One Group said:
"It is a great pleasure to see Honda back in Formula One. Their engine technology and passion for motor sports make them a natural Formula One contender.”
History of Honda Participation in F1 Racing:
1964 - 1968: Participated as an “all Honda” team including both the engine and chassis
1983 – 1992: Participated as an engine supplier (Won both the driver’s and constructors’ championship titles for four consecutive years from 1988 through 1991)
2000-2005: Participated as an engine supplier and joint developer of the chassis
2006-2008: Participated as an “all Honda” team including both the engine and chassis
SAO PAULO (AP) -- On the final turn of the final lap, James Hinchcliffe finally saw an opening - and made sure he squeezed into it.
Hinchcliffe made a last-ditch move on Takuma Sato, going past the Japanese driver on the inside of the last bend to win IndyCar's Sao Paulo 300 on Sunday.
The Canadian was barely even sure that Sato was finally behind him by the time the checkered flag went down in front of him.
"I don't think I was sure until after we crossed the line," said Hinchcliffe, who earned his second victory of the season and his career. "I didn't think we had it. It wasn't really until I crossed the line that I realized, `We got it!'"
The Canadian, also the winner in the opener in St. Petersburg, Fla., moved from third to second with three laps to go and then dueled with Sato before finally making the gutsy move as right before the finish at the Anhembi street track.
Sato, coming off his first career victory two weeks ago in Long Beach, drove in too hard for the hairpin at the end of the long back straight and gave just enough space for Hinchcliffe to get past.
"To win a race on the last corner of the last lap is one of the coolest feelings," Hinchcliffe said. "To make a last-corner pass, that's something I'll remember for a long time. Takuma was making that race car really wide and he was defending the inside pretty well. He just outbroke himself just a little bit and I was able to do a high-low (pass) and got the win."
Sato had successfully defended the lead from Hinchcliffe on two other occasions during the final laps but couldn't hang on at the end with older tires.
"I think I tried everything I could to defend," Sato said. "I was really struggling on the grip the last laps. I really had to deal with a lot of things. The last few laps were great fun from a driver's point of view. It's a real pity that I lost it on the final lap of the race on the final corner."
The last Canadian to win in Brazil was Greg Moore in 1998.
"Obviously, Greg Moore was my hero growing up," Hinchcliffe said. "When I got to IndyCar, the biggest pressure I put on myself was to maintain the reputation that Canada has with their IndyCar drivers. To be able to do that now, not only make it to this level, be successful at that level. I'm proud."
Despite losing the race, Sato leaves Brazil with the lead in the drivers' standings. American Marco Andretti, who finished third Sunday, moved to second for the championship.
Helio Castroneves, who led coming into his home race, had an incident-filled race and finished 13th to drop to third in the championship.
Castroneves' Penske teammate Will Power, who won the previous three races in Brazil but started only 22nd after a mishap in qualifying, retired on lap 19 because of an apparent gear shift problem.
Andretti has had an unusually good start to the season on road and street circuits. It was the second third-place finish for him this year - he was also on the podium in St. Petersburg - and the result gives him some momentum going into the Indianapolis 500.
"I think right now we're on par for a great season," he said. "This is what used to be the tough part of the season for me. We've been getting some decent results where I used to struggle, so I'm pleased with that."
Spaniard Oriol Servia was fourth in the second-to-last race for Panther DRR racing, which will not compete after the Indy 500 because of financial difficulties.
American Josef Newgarden, who started last after changing an engine before the race, managed a fifth-place finish, the best of his career. Pole-sitter and current IndyCar champion Ryan Hunter-Reay ran up the front for a while but finished only 11th after a flat tire. Andretti teammate and front-row starter EJ Viso of Venezuela was sixth.
Tony Kanaan's impressive weekend despite an injured right hand ended in disappointment when he ran out of fuel before a pit stop on lap 51 while running second.
After stopping on top of the cross-finish line, he put both hands on top of his visor in disbelief as fans packing the stands at the Sambadrome front straight loudly applauded. He finished 21st, three laps back.
"I couldn't believe that something like that happened. I wanted to win this one for the fans really bad, they supported me all week," he said. "It's tough, but it happens. I leave with my head up because I know that I did everything that I could."
Power's winless streak was extended to 15 races after his disappointing weekend in Brazil. The "King of Sao Paulo" was the pre-race favorite after winning all three previous races at the Anhembi circuit. He dominated the first two practice sessions on Saturday, but a red flag kept him from posting a fast lap in qualifying.
Power had moved to 11th place by Lap 18 before the mechanical failure ended his hopes of another victory.
"We don't know what happened," Power said. "I had no real warning, unfortunately. I had such a good car. I was passing a car a lap."
Castroneves came boosted by the best start of his career after three straight top-10 finishes, but it was a difficult day for the Brazilian, who got involved in at least three crashes in the 75-lap race.
"We didn't have the race we wanted, everything happened to us," the three-time Indy 500 winner said. "But we have to move on and think about Indy."