26-car grid limit introduced
IndyCar has announced that the grid size will be capped at 26 cars for 2011, with the exception of the Indianapolis 500 (which will still have its traditional 33 runners) and the season finale at Las Vegas Motor Speedway which will be extended to 30 to allow for the additional guest drivers tempted by the $5m challenge.
For the other 15 races of the season, 24 starting positions will be decided by times set in qualifying, with two provisional spots then available to non-qualifiers in a similar fashion as happens in NASCAR. In the majority of the races the provisionals will go (in order) to the 2010 champion, the 2009 champion, the 2010 Indy 500 winner, the leading driver in the points standing not already qualified, the best practice laptime at the current event of the next best qualifying time, until the positions are filled.
IndyCar is reserving the right to vary the procedure at Sao Paulo and Twin Ring Motegi and will announce arrangements closer to the races themselves.
“This new procedure will ensure that our fans see the best drivers and teams in every race we stage, while adding more drama to the qualifying process,” said Brian Barnhart, president of competition and racing operations for IndyCar.
Beatriz in at Dreyer & Reinbold
Dreyer & Reinbold Racing has announced that Ana Beatriz will return to the team to compete for the full 2011 IndyCar season.
Beatriz, who won two races in two seasons in the Firestone Indy Lights in 2008 and 2009, ran a very limited 2010 campaign with the team, but this year will have a full run of 7 races thanks to sponsorship from Brazilian petroleum company Ipiranga.
"I'm definitely thrilled to have my deal done with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and Ipiranga," said Beatriz. "It's a dream come true that this has all come together. It's great to be back at D&RR; they know me already and what it takes to make me grow as a driver."
Beatriz will have Britain's Justin Wilson as her team mate for the season.
D&RR also announced this week that it has renewed a multi-year partnership with Charter Communications, the fourth-largest cable operator in the US, which will serve as the primary sponsor of Wilson's #22.
Rahal/Schmidt team-up to back Howard Indy 500 bid
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and Sam Schmidt Motorsports have announced a partnership for the Indianapolis 500 to give 2006 Firestone Indy Lights champion Jay Howard a real shot at the victory.