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Allmendinger Savoring A Trip To The Barber

John Sturbin | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, April 5 2013

A.J. Allmendinger will be driving for Roger Penske this weekend – in an Indycar. (File photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images)

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Team Penske has won all three IZOD IndyCar Series races run at Barber Motorsports Park, with Will Power (2011 and ‘12) and Helio Castroneves (2010) prevailing. That brief history has given A.J. Allmendinger the confidence

that the car he’ll drive in Sunday’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama is fully capable of winning on the 17-turn, 2.38-mile road-course in Birmingham.

“I have high expectations of myself and I don’t want to go out there and waste anyone’s time and (team- owner) Roger (Penske’s) money,” Allmendinger said. “I want to go out there and be up-front from the start. There’s a fine line, though, of having lofty expectations and realistic expectations.”

Allmendinger – who won five races in Champ Car from 2004-06 – has tested the No. 2 IZOD Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet three times in the past seven weeks. He went through a rookie oval orientation on the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway quadoval in Fort Worth last week as a prelude to the Rookie Orientation Program scheduled for April 11 at the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 26.

While no other IndyCar Series races are scheduled beyond Indianapolis for “The Dinger,” he is lobbying to run “as many races as possible.”

“To go to Barber and think I’m going to win the race – that’s what I hope to do and what I want to do – but it’s about having realistic expectations, get all the laps in, get better as the weekend goes on,” Allmendinger said. “If I feel like I’m competitive at the end of the weekend – wherever that puts me in the finishing order – and I feel like I’m a lot better than when I started, I’ll be happy.”

Sunday’s race will be televised live at 3 p.m. (EDT) by the NBC Sports Network (Verizon FiOS 90/590, DirecTV 220, DISH 159 and AT&T UVerse 640) and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network, including on Sirius and XM Channels 211 and www.indycar.com. The next Firestone Indy Lights race is Sunday’s Legacy Indy Lights 100 at Barber Motorsport Park. The race will be broadcast by NBC Sports Network at 1 p.m. (EDT), immediately preceding the IndyCar Series race broadcast.

Ana Beatriz will be in the driver’s seat of Dale Coyne Racing’s No. 18 Honda-powered Dallara this weekend at

Ana Beatriz is back and driving for Dale Coyne. (File photo courtesy of the IZOD IndyCar Series)

Barber Motorsports Park and through the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500.

“I’m very excited to be back and race at Barber and Long Beach,” said Beatriz, who will mark her 25th IndyCar Series start in the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. “I didn’t think I would be back in a car until Brazil, but I want to thank Ipiringa and Dale for making it possible for me to drive fulltime through Indianapolis.

“We didn’t have the finish we would have liked to in St. Petersburg, but I’m confident that we can get a better finish this weekend.”

The team also announced that Justin Wilson’s No. 19 car will carry the colors and markings of the Boy Scouts of America for the rest of the season. Wilson, who finished ninth in the season-opener at St. Pete, will continue the tradition Dale and Gail Coyne started four years ago with the BSA partnership.

Indiana native Conor Daly, son of former Formula 1 and Indy-car driver Derek Daly, will drive A.J. Foyt Racing’s No. 41 ABC Supply Dallara/Honda in next month’s Indianapolis 500, teaming with Takuma Sato.

“I almost can’t describe what it means to have the opportunity to race in the Indianapolis 500,” said Daly, of Noblesville, Ind. “I’m so thankful that A.J. and (team director) Larry (Foyt) have given me my first shot at the greatest race in the world. I know this will sound cheesy but I’ve never been happier in my life; this race means so much to me.”

Daly tested with the team in mid-December (two days before his 21st birthday) at Sebring International Raceway. He competed the past two seasons in the European-based GP3 series, and has won in nearly every formula _ Firestone Indy Lights, GP3, Star Mazda and Skip Barber _ in which he’s competed. Daly won national titles in the Star Mazda (2010) and Skip Barber (2008) series. Daly made his GP2 debut March 22-24 at Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia with seventh- and 13th-place finishes.

“He ran well at Sebring when we needed someone to do some testing in the offseason,” said A.J. Foyt, first four-time winner of the Indy 500. “He was fast, smooth and didn’t get in trouble. When we made a change on the car he felt it. I found him to be very savvy on the chassis setups. In fact, when we made a minor change which was really nothing, he thought about it and said it felt no different. I told him that was the right answer because we didn’t do anything he’d be able to feel, so that impressed me, too.

“I’ve run a lot of rookies at Indy and I think Conor will do a good job for us.”

Wade Cunningham, the 2005 Firestone Indy Lights champion, is the most recent Indy 500 rookie with Foyt’s team, starting 26th and finishing 31st due to an electrical issue in 2012. A.J. Foyt Racing last won the Indianapolis 500 in 1999 with Kenny Brack behind the wheel.

Daly is scheduled to participate in the Rookie Orientation Program on April 11 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Candidates must complete two of three phases of car control, placement and consistent driving on the 2.5-mile oval (10 laps at 200-205 mph, 15 laps at 205-209 mph and 15 laps at 210-plus mph) during the day. Drivers may complete the third phase during the first week of practice.

A.J. Allmendinger (Team Penske), Tristan Vautier (Schmidt Peterson Motorsports) and Carlos Munoz (Andretti Autosport) also are scheduled to participate in the program led by IndyCar Series driver stewards Arie Luyendyk and Johnny Unser.

Opening Day at IMS is May 11. Pole Day is May 18 and Race Day is May 26.

“I’m excited about bringing Conor to Indy for his first race at the 500,” Larry Foyt said. “I’ve been watching him come up through the open-wheel ranks and when we met at the F1 race in Austin, Texas, last year, we hit it off immediately. Doing the test at Sebring confirmed he could make the step-up to an Indy-car. With my dad’s guidance, the potential is there for a great month of May.”

Dallara will present a trophy to the winner of Sunday’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama to mark its 200th IZOD IndyCar Series victory.

Dallara has designed and built chassis for teams competing in the IndyCar Series since 1997, and has been sole chassis supplier since 2006.

“When Dallara and INDYCAR met in 1997, we began a relationship that has lasted many years,”

said Stefano De Ponti, head of Dallara operations in the United States. “We went through these battles against other important manufacturers (G Force and Riley & Scott) and here we are. We celebrate our 200th victory and it’s remarkable.

“I’ve been in motorsports basically all my life and (reaching a milestone) is a personal satisfaction, and thinking not of the results that have been achieved but thinking of the job that has been done for people on both sides. It will be a good feeling to move forward and achieve another 100 victories.”

Dallara’s INDYCAR victories by the numbers:

1st _ Jim Guthrie at Phoenix International Raceway for Blueprint Racing (1997)

50th _ Scott Sharp at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan for Kelley Racing (2003)

100th _ Tony Kanaan at Twin Ring Motegi for then-Andretti Green Racing (2007)

150th _ Will Power at Sao Paulo, Brazil, for Team Penske (2010)

199th _ James Hinchcliffe at St. Petersburg, Fla., for Andretti Autosport (2013)

Most wins by driver

Scott Dixon _ 23

Dario Franchitti and Helio Castroneves _ 21

John Sturbin | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, April 5 2013
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