The typical summer morning fog started to burn off in time for the Saturday morning IZOD IndyCar practice at Infineon Raceway. All 28 driver were on course.
The usual suspects were the fastest until 45-minutes into the session when Rookie MARTIN PLOWMAN/No.17 Snowball Express AFS/SSM Racing took over, after running right up the chart. His lap was 1:19.0350. This is his first time in an IndyCar at the Sonoma race track.
Second was DARIO FRANCHITTI/No.10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, from whom Plowman took the lead.
In the last five minutes, out of almost nowhere, local driver, Rookie J.R. HILDEBRAND/No.4 National Guard Panther Racing jumped into third place. But in the last few seconds, WILL POWER/No.12 Verizon Team Penske swapped places with JR.
Fifth was Rookie JAMES JAKES/No.18 Acorn Stairlifts
Other leaders during the session were SCOTT DIXON/No.9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, who finished sixth and RYAN BRISCOE/No.6 Penske Truck Rental, in eighth place behind SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA/No.34 Bogota Es Sundial Conquest Racing.
Ninth and tenth were MIKE CONWAY/No.27 @FollowAndretti and HELIO CASTRONEVES/No.3 Guidepoint Systems Team Penske.
Rookie HO-PIN TUNG/No.88 Mouser.com Schmidt Dragon Racing was eleventh overall.
The sad news out of HVM Racing is that SIMONA de SILVESTRO is now back home in Switzerland, having been denied entrance into the United States. Thursday she landed back in Washington DC, after a few days with the family in Europe. The short version is that despite all the proper documentation, passport well-documented with the appropriate stamps from all her travels, the American official exercised his ‘discretionary’ power and sent her home. She has filed two more requests, with the Swiss Consulate here, but it now has to be handled by the American Consulate in Switzerland, and that office won’t be open until Monday. So….
In the meantime, as team owner KEITH WIGGINS is dealing with Simone telephonically, he had to make a quick decision what to do next. He selected SIMON PAGENAUD to substitute until de Silvestro returned. Wiggins chose Pagenaud because he’s a good driver and he’s driven these cars. The French driver was headed back home from Spain after his Peugeot test when he was redirected to the US. Pagenaud brought his own seat, but no prior knowledge of the track as this is his first time at the 2.303-mile IndyCar-specific Infineon road course.
Wiggins still has not sorted out all the details on his engine deal for next year’s new car. Although there is no price tag on the parts, which can’t be ordered until the engine selection is made, Wiggins said there is a good guess estimate on such things.
Pagenaud was twenty-second.
On her first lap, ANNA BEATRIZ/No.24 Team Ipiranga/Dreyer & Reinbold spun off course exiting Turn Three, and was towed to pits. She spun again in the waning laps.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY/No.28 Team DHL/Circle K/Sun Drop Citrus Soda was also caught out in a single car incident, entering Turn Three. He also was rescued.
JUSTIN BELL and producer NICOLAI IUUL are scouting around, meeting and greeting and generally checking out things. They have a new TV show launching 19 September 2011 on eBay Motorsports. The weekly show will be called The World’s Fastest Cars, after they decided not to call it ‘That Other Car Show.’ This will be the first content show on eBay, which Bell said is the world’s largest website.
Once the first weekly show is aired, it will be available 24/7 until the next week, after which it will be archived. A mobile app is coming.
Bell was mum on which cars will be featured in the premiere show, but did say he has driven a very cool Porsche 918 Hybrid, and the Northern-California based Tesla electric car will featured down the road in a green segment.
Bell had the very choice assignment last weekend to pick (only) five of the concept cars on the lawn at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. He said it was a very difficult decision.