Friday, December 10, 2010

Wrapping up an exciting two weeks of INDYCAR announcements... and forcasting more to come

INDYCAR had a plethora of announcements in the past two weeks ranging from team sponsors to series sponsors, and speculation on driver rides. IndyCar Garage puts a spin on the recent announcements and forecasts the next round of announcements coming within the next couple months.

1. Team Penske announced several new sponsors to their three car line up, including Shell sponsoring Helio at Indy, Briscoe in the IZOD livery, and Meijer, Verizon and Auto Club as associate sponsors. This is not only huge for Penske, but the series in general. For one, it gives IZOD a chance to activate its brand more through one of the top teams in INDYCAR, (yes its sad to see them leave RHR), but for Briscoe, Helio and Will Power, it allows for three of INDYCAR’s biggest stars to be marketed on a national platform, something INDYCAR needs. The shell sponsorship for Helio at Indy is also a big get, as Helio could possibly win his fourth Indy 500 this year and his car could be immortalized forever in the Indy 500 collection.

2. Sarah Fisher stepped up last week and signed an American Driver (Ed Carpenter) to driver her #67 Dollar General IndyCar. Fisher wants to focus more on starting a family and becoming a full time team owner. Sarah will be missed this year, but would be missed even more if she can’t transition her team over to 2012 with the new equipment. Additionally, Ed has stated that he hopes to find more sponsorship to run the full 2011 schedule, HELLO FUZZY’S VODKA, please kick in the additional money to fund ED! I know the sponsorship crossover of Dollar General and FUZZY’S Vodka isn’t the best, but hey… ED needs to run the whole season.

3. Mazda has stepped up and announced that they will sponsor three scholarships as part of the newly named MAZDA Road to Indy program, which is the official INDYCAR Ladder system. Champions in the USF2000 Series, Star Mazda Championship and Firestone Indy Lights now will have the opportunity to graduate into the next series and move up the ladder, which leads to the IZOD IndyCar Series and the Indy 500. Starting in 2011 drivers in those three feeder series will now actually have the confidence to know that they are RACING for a spot to move up and drive at the next level. Many owners and media types have came down hard on the ladder system for not allowing drivers to move up. The Mazda scholarships change everything and now finally allow drivers see a true ROAD TO INDY. Suggestion to INDYCAR, market the heck out of the first guy who makes it all the way through each series. Early possible candidates for that include Zach Veach, Sage Karam, and possibly Conor Daly.

Now for the Silly Season drama announcements that will be coming…

Announcements that WILL HAPPEN:
Las Vegas will be announced as the series finale… it’s just a matter of sponsorship

Edmonton will return to the schedule on the July 24th date, this helps INDYCAR because of the bigger sanctioning fee

Graham Rahal and Charlie Kimball will be announced as Ganassi drivers as part of a Satellite team for Ganassi.

Vitor Meira will be announced as the driver for A.J. Foyt Racing for two more years

Andretti Autosport will start to revive plans for the 2011 lineup, one that includes four cars and a one off entry for the Indy 500 as part of a five car program for Indy

Announcements that SHOULD HAPPEN
Tony Kanaan will announced as the driver for de Ferran Dragon Racing for 2011

J.R. Hildebrand will be announced as the driver for Panther Racing for 2011

Sam Hornish Jr. will announce his one off intention for the 2011 Indy 500

John Andretti will return with Andretti Autosport for the 2011 Indy 500 (fifth entry)
The Start time of the 2011 Indy 500 is moved back to 11 A.M. Eastern which puts it at noon Indiana time because of day light savings.

Announcements that MIGHT HAPPEN
Several NASCAR (Stewart, Kahne, Johnson, Busch brothers, Earnhardt Jr.) drivers have interest in becoming involved with INDYCAR in 2012, some as team owners and some as possible drivers, look for some sort of announcement regarding a stock car driver and their plans for 2012.

Robby Gordon officially announces his entry into the 2011 Indy 500

Milka Duno re-signs with Dale Coyne racing for 2011

IndyCar Garage’s Christmas list for IndyCar in 2011

More Sponsorship for American Drivers

Michael Andretti runs a one off for the 2011 Indy 500 only to be out qualified by Mario Andretti

Andretti Autosport and Sarah Fisher Racing relocate to Main Street in Speedway, Indiana as part of Speedway’s Redevelopment plan.

Three aero more aero kits are announced for 2012, giving us six different types of cars on the track powered by three different engines.

INDYCAR’s 16th street offices redo their logo on their building and rebrand it as INDYCAR and get ride of the old IRL Logo.

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