INDYCAR Series Ready To Start Their Engines, Kanaan and Tracy Find Their Seats

No NameAnalyst IMarch 21, 2011

Dario Franchitti
Dario Franchitti

Two IZOD IndyCar Series teams have announced the signing of the newest members of their teams. Both of these drivers are well-known veterans with well-established resumes.

Tony Kanaan has signed with Indianapolis-based KV Racing Technology to drive the No. 82 GEICO-sponsored Lotus Dallara/Honda. He will have two new teammates in E.J. Viso and Takuma Sato.

The Lotus car he will be driving will honor Jim Clark’s 1965 Indianapolis 500 winning machine. This is a different shade of green for Kanaan, but he plans on wearing it well.

Originally, Kanaan was to drive for De Ferran Dragon Racing in the upcoming 2011 season...until the team had trouble finding sponsorship. Kanaan, the 2004 Series Champion, left Andretti Autosport at the end of last season after spending eight seasons with Michael Andretti’s team.

The newest addition to Andretti Autosport is Mike Conway, who looks to get on the right track this year after missing most of last season after his horrific crash toward the end of the 2010 Indianapolis 500.

The other driver signing that came in was not yet for a full-season ride, but one that many were happy to hear about. Paul Tracy will for sure have a ride in this year's Indianapolis 500, as he has landed WIX Filters as his sponsor. Tracy will be driving for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing this season.

On his Twitter page yesterday, he stated that the "massive part of the puzzle" is now in place, and they are working on finishing the rest of the puzzle now.

While Tracy will for sure have his spot in the Indianapolis 500 this year, it is not yet know when his first start will come.

His team will not be ready for this weekend's race in St. Petersburg for the start of the season, but the team hopes to make its first start on April 10 at Barber Motorsports Park. If it can't make that one, it will almost surely begin at Long Beach on April 17.

Tracy was excited to land the sponsor, and he knows what it means to the Series. “WIX is a great deal, a new sponsor to open wheel,” he said. “We’ve got more stuff in the pipeline, a package of races, so now we’ve got the centerpiece and we can get started on the rest.”

Tracy, the 2003 Champ Car World Series Champion, has competed in 273 IndyCar events and is in the top 10 all time in victories (31), poles (25) and laps led (4,238).

We also found out that Dale Coyne Racing will make its announcement on Tuesday as to who will be driving for the team. It is almost certainly going to be four-time Champ Car Series Champion Sebastien Bourdais in one machine. The other car will most likely be driven by 23-year-old rookie James Jakes.

While a rookie in this series, he does have experience in the GP3 and GP2 series going back to last year. According to team owners, Sebastien Bourdais is going to focus mainly on the street and road courses, rather than the ovals.

Team owner Eric Bachelart said that his team, Conquest Racing, will just have one car for this weekend at St. Petersburg, but that he hopes to have a second car ready for the April 10 race at Barber Motorsports Park. Rookie driver Sebastian Saavedra will be in the car for the team this weekend.

In other news, Bob Jenkins and Jon Beekhuis will have some more company in the VERSUS booth this year. Wally Dallenbach will join the coverage of the IZOD IndyCar Series this season, in what will be a more wide-spread team with VERSUS and NBC.

VERSUS will telecast 12 qualifying sessions and race events, beginning with the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama on April 9–10. The network has expanded its broadcast events from three hours to five continuous hours to include live broadcasts of eight Firestone Indy Lights races.

If you want to see your favorite drivers before this weekend's season-opening race, you will have plenty of opportunities throughout the week. On Tuesday, Will Power will be a guest on three different programs to be run on ESPN. He will be featured on "First Take," the 3:00 p.m. SportsCenter, and the 5:00 p.m. telecast of "NASCAR Now."

On Wednesday, you can find Helio Castroneves on NBC's "Today Show" at 10:00 a.m. He will also go on CNN later that evening. If you can stay up late enough, Dario Franchitti will be a guest on "The David Letterman Show" at 11:30 p.m.

On Thursday, there will be various drivers on the CNN network at 7:00 a.m., while Helio Castroneves continues his busy week with an appearance on "Good Morning America".

It all leads up to an exciting weekend in St. Petersburg, where the season will finally begin. ABC's coverage of the season-opener will begin at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 27th.