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JR Hildebrand Fired
June 1 - Ryan Briscoe expected to be flying
to Europe after the Indianapolis 500.
Instead, he landed in Detroit.
"It was a surprise for sure," he said Friday. "It
Briscoe said Panther Racing managing partner
John Barnes called him Tuesday morning,
asking if he was available if needed for the
Detroit Grand Prix. Two days later, he had a
temporary job as JR Hildebrand's loss ended up
being Briscoe's gain.
Panther Racing parted ways with Hildebrand
on Thursday after his third major mistake
since joining the team in 2011. The team
called it "mutual agreement" with the 2009
Indy Lights champion, who made 37 starts in the
No. 4 National Guard/Panther Racing Chevrolet.
Briscoe is only scheduled to race Saturday and
Sunday's races in the Motor City because he's
committed to running full time for Level 5
Motorsports in the American Le Mans Series
and the 24 Hours of LeMans.
"Any IndyCar races I'll be doing for the rest of the
year will have to work around my commitment
with those guys," he said.
Briscoe spun out during Friday's opening practice
session, but avoided a wall on Belle Isle's 2.36-
mile street course. He finished 12th in Sunday's
Indianapolis 500 for Chip Ganassi Racing in his
only IndCar race this year.
"Even though you can't compare Indianapolis to
Detroit, I just spent the whole last month in an
IndyCar," Briscoe said. "So I feel like I'm
comfortable in the cockpit. I've been doing plenty
of racing this year so I feel like I'm sharp and ready
to go. It's been a whirlwind for sure, but the team
has done an amazing job in getting the car turned
around and getting me all fitted and ready to go."
The 31-year-old Briscoe spent most of the
previous five seasons with Team Penske after
making his IndyCar Series debut with Ganassi in
2005. The Australian has seven career IndyCar
Series wins, including one last year.
Hildebrand almost won the Indy 500 two years
ago, but crashed in the final turn and finished
second to Dan Wheldon.
In this year's IndyCar series opener, he wrecked
Will Power under caution at St. Petersburg,
saying he was distracted while talking with his
team and adjusting equipment in the car. In
Sunday's Indy 500, he lost control in Turn 1 and
slid into the outside wall - the first wreck of the
race. The 25-year-old native of Sausalito, Calif.,
is winless in 39 IndyCar starts. He had one top-
five finish in five races this year.
IndyCar In Detroit - Race 1
June 1 - Mike Conway on Saturday proved he's the Izod
IndyCar Series' new king of street-circuit racing by putting
in a dominating performance to win race one of the
Chevrolet Dual in Detroit – IndyCar's first doubleheader
The win by a part-time driver was only part of the story on
the Belle Isle street circuit.
Conway – driving for Dale Coyne Racing -- first won the
pole for Sunday's race during the Saturday morning
session, then dominated the Saturday race. He finished
12.9 seconds ahead of reigning series champion and
Andretti Autosport star Ryan Hunter-Reay.
This was just Conway's second race of the season. He
drove Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing's car in the April
21 race in Long Beach, Calif., qualifying fifth.
Conway skipped the Indianapolis 500, a race he's twice
crashed out of in spectacular fashion, because he has
chosen not to compete on oval tracks. The pair of 70-lap
races this weekend are right up his alley, however.
Conway led by as many as 19 seconds for one of the
smallest teams in the sport. Dale Coyne Racing fields two
cars, and this win was just its third ever. Justin Wilson
won for Dale Coyne's team in 2009 at Watkins Glen (N.Y.)
International, adding an oval-track victory at Texas Motor
Speedway last year. Wilson finished third in Detroit on
Saturday, giving Coyne two of the three positions on the
Hunter-Reay's last chance to catch Conway came with
three laps to go when Ryan Briscoe, driving the Panther
Racing car in place of the recently ousted J.R.
Hildebrand, slid into the tire barrier. But race control
decided not to throw a full-course caution, allowing
Conway to maintain his advantage and not have to defend
against Hunter-Reay on a restart. Then again, had a full-
course caution occurred, the race very easily may have
ended under yellow just as the Indianapolis 500 did last
Saturday's race was supposed to be held in the wet,
according to local forecasts, but rain never arrived.
A.J. Allmendinger jammed his thumb when he ran over
the back of Scott Dixon's car on the opening lap.
Allmendinger's car then slammed into the tire barrier,
ending his race. Allmendinger couldn't be more apologetic,
blaming himself several times for the contact. He said he
didn't see the pack slowing in front of him.
Sunday's race could be Allmendinger's last in IndyCar for
Team Penske. Team president Tim Cindric said they
have “no plans” to field another entry in upcoming races
Meanwhile, Allmendinger will return to NASCAR's Sprint
Cup Series next weekend at Pocono Raceway.
The race also featured an interesting tangle between
Sebastian Saavedra and Marco Andretti that resulted in
Saavedra slamming the tire barrier, then flipping off
Andretti when he came back around the track.
|Dale Coyne with his drivers Mike Conway and Justin Wilson
Andretti entered the race with the series' points lead, but
he lost it with a 21st-place finish (out of 25 cars). Team
Penske's Helio Castroneves now holds the championship
James Hinchcliffe also provided some interesting
television after he ran over an out-of-bounds tire being
used as a barrier, then dragged it back to the pits.
Qualifying for Sunday's race was held prior to the first race,
and there was some controversy after drivers were split
into a pair of 15-minute groups.
Conway won the pole six weeks after making his season
debut with a fifth-place starting spot at Long Beach. This
pole was his first in the series for the driver now only racing
on road courses.
It also was the first such qualifying honor for Coyne's team,
which named Conway to drive its car earlier in the week.
The No. 18 car started the season with Ana Beatriz
competing in the first five races, including the Indianapolis
500, where she finished 15th.
E.J. Viso started on the pole Saturday, a personal first,
after top qualifier Dario Franchitti served a 10-spot
penalty for changing an engine prematurely at Indianapolis.
Franchitti's Honda was about 200 miles short of the
2,000-mile requirement when it needed changing three
days prior to pole qualifying.
Graham Rahal, Charlie Kimball and Josef Newgarden
also served engine-change penalties from Indy.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing's James Jakes earned
his first front-row start due to Franchitti losing 10 spots; he
Off the track, IndyCar officials confirmed the series will
introduce bodywork kits for the 2015 season that will help
competitors resume pursuit of speed records at all tracks,
particularly Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where Arie
Luyendyk's track record of 237.498 mph has stood since
IndyCar in Detroit - Race 2
June 2 - Welcome back, Honda. A day after Mike
Conway dominated the first Detroit race at Belle Isle
Park, Simon Pagenaud gave the engine
manufacturer a second consecutive weekend race win.
Honda did more than that. It got a podium sweep with
James Jakes finishing a career-best second and
Conway in third.
The victory was the first in two IndyCar seasons for
Pagenaud, a former American Le Mans Series
"It's unbelievable. I don't know how we did it," said
Pagenaud, who started sixth in the 70-lap race on the
2.346-mile, 13-turn street course. "It's a great feeling.
One I hope of more to come. I started karting when I
was eight so it's been 21 years of hard work to finally
win an IndyCar race."
Honda also finished in fourth (Scott Dixon) and fifth
(Dario Franchitti), in part because Chevrolet's top
driver, Will Power, was at the epicenter of a 10-car
Chevrolet had the top four positions in last month's
Indianapolis 500, a race won by Tony Kanaan.
Pagenaud finished 5.6 seconds ahead of Jakes for the
first victory for Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports. Sam
Schmidt had an official role in Dan Wheldon's 2011
Indianapolis 500 victory that was entered by Bryan
Pagenaud became the third first-time winner this
season and the sixth overall in seven races.
At the other end of the spectrum was AJ
Allmendinger, who had almost the same thing
happen to him two days in a row. He crashed on the
first after the field slowed and he ran over the right
side of Dixon's car; Sunday's trouble happened exiting
“I'm embarrassed, honestly,” he said. “I don't know
where I go from here.”
Simona De Silvestro had completed every lap this
season until she hit the turn eight wall hard on lap
nine. It appeared something came off the car,
perhaps cutting the tire.
Ryan Hunter-Reay bumped the wall exiting turn
seven, and that ruined his ability to turn the car in the
same spot as De Silvestro hit. Like her, his day was
The big crash came on a restart on lap 28. Sebastien
Bourdais ran into the back of Power approaching turn
one, and that turned Power sideways in front of the
pack. What happened from there was a mess of epic
Ten cars took at least some kind of damage, with Alex
Tagliani essentially buried in the tire barrier. Also
collected: Ed Carpenter, Ryan Briscoe, EJ Viso,
Wilson, James Hinchcliffe, Helio Castroneves and
Bourdais received a penalty for avoidable contact.
Display of Anger Costs Saavedra
June 7 - IndyCar issued $40,000 in fines - $30,000 to
Sebastian Saavedra for making an obscene gesture -
and placed two drivers on probation Thursday for
incidents at Detroit last weekend.
Saavedra was penalized for flashing both of his middle
fingers at Marco Andretti after contact between the
two in Saturday's doubleheader opener at Belle Isle
ended Saavedra's day. The obscene gesture was
caught on live television. IndyCar said in fining
Saavedra he can pay the money or work it off by
making appearances on behalf of the series.
''Quite an expensive one,'' Saavedra tweeted moments
after the penalty was announced. ''I guess ill stop
getting my everyday hair massage until I pay it off.''
Saavedra is known for his eccentric hairstyle.
On Friday, Saavedra said he was surprised ''big time''
by the $30,000 fine. While he knew he would get a
penalty for his gesture, he was mad when he heard
what the amount of the fine was.
IndyCar also placed Will Power on probation for the
rest of the season for throwing his gloves at Sebastien
Bourdais following an accident during Sunday's race.
Bourdais was placed on probation for the rest of the
year for comments made toward officials on pit road
after the same accident.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, meanwhile, was
fined $10,000 for a pair of technical violations found on
James Jakes' car after Friday qualifying. The team
was fined $5,000 for each violation, which both
involved the rear wing.
LEFturn Dead at 37
June 13 - Race car driver Jason Leffler died from
injuries suffered in a sprint-car race June 12 at
Bridgeport Speedway in N.J.
Leffler competed in the Indianapolis 500 in 2000 and
the Brickyard 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in
2001, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2008.
He won four USAC national series titles while winning
on tracks throughout the Midwest.
The Long Beach, Calif., native, who was affectionately
known as "lefTurn" and had the nickname stenciled
above his driver's side window, leaves behind a
5-year-old son, Charlie.
Formula One Tires
June 13 - Pirelli have ruled out changing the
construction of their Formula One tires until at least
August due to teams failing to reach agreement at
last week's Canadian Grand Prix.
Announcing their compounds on Thursday for the next
three races - in Britain, Germany and Hungary - the
Italian company said they had abandoned a plan to
introduce a new tire at Silverstone this month.
"This decision is due to the fact that the new tires,
which were brought to the Friday free practice
sessions in Canada, could not be tested sufficiently
due to rain," Pirelli said in a statement.
It added that the teams had also "failed to agree
unanimously about introducing the changes".
"Instead a change in the tyre production process
should now ensure that the delamination issue has
been addressed," Pirelli said.
Formula One's sole provider has been in the headlines
all season after some teams, with champions Red Bull
among the most vocal, complained that the 2013 tires
did not allow them to race as before.
The tires have been designed to encourage more
pitstops and overtaking by losing performance quicker
but that has led to criticism that drivers have had to
make too many stops and reduce speeds to make
them last. (Think Monaco last month.)
The tires have also suffered from delamination - when
the tread peels off while the tyre remains inflated.
Although not worried about safety, Pirelli are
concerned about their image and are keen to prevent
Pirelli are also in the spotlight for conducting a 'secret'
tire test with Mercedes in Spain last month that has led
to both parties being summoned to appear before a
motor sport tribunal in Paris next week.
Drivers will use hard and medium tires at the June 30
British Grand Prix and in Hungary on July 28.
Germany, on July 7, will be medium and soft.