There are a lot of story lines going into this weekend’s three-day Infineon Indy Grand Prix, featuring the IZOD IndyCar series, along with the SSCA Pro Racing World Challenge, Star Mazda, Historic Grand Prix and Formula Car Challenge.
For starters, there is the controversy over won the New Hampshire IndyCar race-RYAN HUNTER-REAY/No.28 Team DHL/Circle K/Sun Drop Citrus Soda, ORIOL SERVIA/No.2 Telemundo Newman Haas Racing, or SCOTT DIXON/No.9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing; the resulting protests filed by NHR and CGR – which were denied; and IndyCar levying a $30,000 fine/30 hours of IndyCar Community Service against WILL POWER/No.12 Verizon Team Penske for his ‘obscene’ gesture aimed at Race Control after said race.
And then, for something completely different, how about the first Chinese driver to race IndyCar. Rookie HO-PIN TUNG of Wenzhou, China will be making his first start. He was entered at the Indianapolis 500, but crashed out in qualifying. Dragon Racing is trying again and Tung will be racing No.88 Mouser.com Schmidt Dragon Racing.
Tung will be one of nine Rookies in the race, although I’d hardly classify J.R. HILDEBRAND of nearby Sausalito CA as a Rookie as far as Infineon is concerned. He’s raced there in several kinds of cars, including a historic Formula One car.
This weekend there are three female drivers – ANA BEATRIZ of Sao Paulo, Brazil in another outing for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, racing No.24 Team Ipiranga; SIMONA DE SILVESTRO of Switzerland for HVM Racing in No.78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy, and DANICA PATRICK of Scottsdale AZ, running her last IndyCar race at the wine country circuit, in No.7 GoDaddy.
USA Today’s Wednesday Crossword puzzle asked for a ten-letter word meaning “A known unknown.” The answer was “Open Secret” which just about describes the longest wait in recent history for someone to announce something everyone already knows. Yes, Danica is going to NASCAR. Quelle Suprise!
Moving right along. Friday at 1 pm local time/4 pm ET, Patrick will have her own media conference.
Three veteran drivers met with the San Francisco media Wednesday to talk about the track. HELIO CASTRONEVES, one of four Brazilian drivers , said Infineon Raceway was a challenging circuit. “It has blind corners, steep corners, and elevation changes. Qualifying is very important, especially for me, with the double-file restarts. Our cars aren’t designed for that.” But, the oft-ebulient racer likes coming to Sonoma, saying “The fans understand us well.”
Dixon, one of 12 drivers who tested Infineon a week ago said “It was a tough test. The new tires are slower, harder, and it’s more difficult to get balanced.” The road course is Target’s biggest weekend all season. More than 450 hospitality guests will be coming.
RHR did briefly address the original/final results from the New Hampshire race – he was declared the winner. “We’re happy to move on.”
The weather and wine country are lures for many of the teams.