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Jul 02, 2013 - 06:41 AM
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IndyCar News And Notes
Posted by: newsla on Jul 02, 2013 - 06:41 AM
IndyCar News
IndyCar News And Notes


Today's IZOD IndyCar Series, Firestone Indy Lights and Mazda Road to Indy headlines:

1. Fuzzy's Triple Crown bonus solely in Kanaan's hands

2. Briscoe to balance races at Pocono, Lime Rock on Holiday Weekend

3. Pagenaud races to the clouds in Honda minivan

4. Tagliani delivers strike on Canada Day

 

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1. Fuzzy's Triple Crown bonus solely in Kanaan's hands: There are a million reasons why Tony Kanaan needs to win the Pocono INDYCAR 400 Fueled by Sunoco on July 7
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As the Indianapolis 500 winner Kanaan can earn a $1 million bonus if he can sweep the superspeedway races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Pocono Raceway and Auto Club Speedway on Oct. 19 and complete the Fuzzy's Triple Crown. A potential consolation for Kanaan and others is a $250,000 bonus for winning two of the three.

Pressure isn't foreign to Kanaan, who realized the first goal to winning the bonus on May 26 by winning the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race in his 12th start.

"Obviously I'm the only one that has a chance to win the Triple Crown, so the pressure is on. But I'm excited," Kanaan said. "Pocono will be the third of four races I will run in the Sunoco "Turbo" car, and after the success we have had in the first two -- finishing on the podium at both Texas and Iowa -- I really want to keep that momentum going at Pocono and hopefully do even better."

Kanaan is a noted fast closer, which was displayed in the past two superspeedway events. At Indianapolis, he started 12th, was leading by Lap 9 and was in the top three for the final 30 laps in a race that featured a record 68 lead changes. He started 13th at Texas, was running fourth with 10 laps left and passed Ed Carpenter on Lap 222 to finish third.

Kanaan, driving the No. 11 Sunoco "Turbo" car, got his first look at the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway June 25 during a Chevrolet manufacturer test with KV Racing Technology-SH Racing. He'll participate in an Open Test on July 4 in advance of the 160-lap race July 7 (noon ET on ABC).

"I have never raced at Pocono Raceway, but we know we had a good car at Indy and had a good test at Pocono a few days ago," Kanaan added.

The three oval races renew the tradition of the Triple Crown from 1970s and '80s Indy car competition. The previous Triple Crown included 500-mile races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Pocono Raceway and Ontario (Calif.) Speedway from 1971-1980 and from 1981-1989 at Indianapolis, Pocono and Michigan International Speedway.

Only Al Unser won all three races in a single season, when the four-time Indy 500 winner drove the Jim Hall-owned First National City Travelers Checks-sponsored car in 1978.

"For Tony to win after all his tries, it was really good for him," Unser said of Kanaan earning the 500 Mile Race victory. "The man is capable of winning; he showed that. But there are about 10 other guys out there that will be close chasing him. If he can win Pocono and then California, I'd be happy to have him join me as a Triple Crown winner, for sure."

Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka unveiled the Fuzzy's Triple Crown Trophy designed by Jostens, which is on tour in eastern Pennsylvania, in May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

"Tony did a great job in winning the Indy 500 and he is our clubhouse leader going into the Pocono Race on July 7," said company founder and namesake Fuzzy Zoeller, the 1979 Masters champion and 1984 U.S. Open winner. "Tony can become the second person to win the Triple Crown if he wins at Pocono and Fontana. Not to mention that he can make a good haul by just winning one more."

2. Briscoe to balance races at Pocono, Lime Rock on Holiday weekend: The Fourth of July weekend will be eventful for National Guard Panther Racing driver Ryan Briscoe, who will sandwich an ALMS race at Lime Rock Park in between testing and competing in the Pocono INDYCAR 400 Fueled by Sunoco on July 7.

Briscoe, who tested the team's No. 4 Chevrolet at Pocono on June 25 will miss on-track activity on July 6 and not make a qualification attempt.

"It will be a busy weekend between racing the National Guard Chevrolet at Pocono and the Level 5 car at Lime Rock," Briscoe said. "It's great that Panther is giving me the opportunity to race at Pocono even though I won't be here Saturday for practice and qualifying. Fortunately, I will be able to prepare the car for the race and it was a big bonus having the test day last week and then the Open Test on (July 4) to get as much track time as possible."

The July 7 race will mark Briscoe's fourth start in the No. 4 National Guard Chevrolet and the race will be Panther's first career start at Pocono's "Tricky Triangle" - a unique tri-oval where Indy cars last competed in 1989.

"Last week, we spent our time working on our race prep and we worked hard on trying to find something that will get us through the field during the race," Briscoe said. "Pocono's a big track and it's a long 400-mile race, so we feel plenty confident even having to start in the back. I know the National Guard crew will work hard, and with all the track time we'll have on Thursday, we can get to the front."

Panther will be running a special red, white and blue National Guard livery in honor of the Fourth of July weekend that also highlights the 150th anniversary of the Medal of Honor. Panther hosts many Medal of Honor recipients as part of its "Operation: Hire Our Guard" veteran employment program, and former U.S. Marines Capt. (Ret) James E. Livingston, who received the Medal of Honor for his heroic efforts in the Vietnam War, will be a guest of the team this weekend.

"This is obviously a big weekend for us with it being the Fourth of July and we've got some important guests that will be attending the race, so we're looking forward to getting to Pocono and getting to work," Panther managing partner John Barnes said. "I'm not concerned about missing qualifying and having to start in the back of the field; Pocono is a big place and we'll have 400 miles to help Ryan work his way to the front. This is the first time we've had an extended period of time to test with him and that will pay off for us on Sunday."

3. Pagenaud races to the clouds in Honda minivan: Simon Pagenaud said that his trip in the Honda Odyssey in the 91st Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on June 30 was "a win for all the 'soccer moms.' ''

Pagenaud, the driver of the No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports car in the IZOD IndyCar Series, spent his off weekend in Colorado for the event in the specially-outfitted van. He finished second in the Exhibition Class on the 12.42-mile, 156-turn course.

"For me, it was amazing," he said. "Pikes Peak was always a dream for me, ever since I was a kid in France. There is a lot of interest in this event in Europe, and I think that's why you saw so many French drivers this year. Honda prepared a great car, really unique I have to say.

"With more than 500 horsepower, the conditions (rain, fog and light snow at high elevation) were tricky and kept me busy. I feel very blessed and very proud. I'd like to come back again next year with something even more crazy."

Eleven drivers representing Honda R&D Americas and Honda Performance Development competed, with one class victory and eight other top-five results.

Meanwhile, two other IZOD IndyCar Series driver who moonlighted on the off weekend posted top-eight finishes in the Rolex Sports Car Series' Six Hours at the Glen.

Justin Wilson teamed with Firestone Indy Lights veteran Gustavo Yacaman to finish sixth, while Sebastien Bourdais finished eighth in the Starworks with Alex Popow entry after leading the event during his driving stint.

4. Tagliani delivers strike on Canada Day: Right down the middle, Alex Tagliani reports, is where the ceremonial first pitch that he delivered before the Toronto Blue Jays hosted the Detroit Tigers at Rogers Centre on July 1 traveled.

The IZOD IndyCar Series driver, who will compete in the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader at Exhibition Place on July 13-14, joined the Blue Jays in celebrating Canada Day by donning special red jerseys for the country's 146th birthday.

"My goal was to not bounce it before the plate," the driver of the No. 98 Barracuda Racing car said. "Trust me, I have seen all the worst first pitches that made it on YouTube and I didn't want to get there. It was absolutely a thrilling feeling on Canada Day to throw the first pitch to (Blue Jays left-handed pitcher) Mark Buehrle, a race fan. He signed the ball for me and he would have been invited to our pit for the Toronto races if the Blue Jays were in town.

"The atmosphere was amazing and I was surprised by how many IndyCar fans where in the seats on the field. I guess they love action and want to see it from close."

The first 20,000 fans in attendance for the sold-out game received a red replica Blue Jays hat, while one fan received a 2013 Honda Civic Touring Sedan during the game.

"Overall, thanks to Honda because it's a great way to promote the upcoming Toronto races and to engage sports fans."

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