No. 984
February 20, 2018

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April 8, 2009


(Shawn Payne/IRL)
Ryan Briscoe won the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg last Sunday, the opening round of the 2009 IndyCar season. The win was Briscoe’s third and Team Penske’s 30th in the IndyCar Series. Briscoe (No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone) led 46 of 100 laps and held off Ryan Hunter-Reay (No. 21 Vision Racing D/H/F) by 0.4619 of a second to capture the victory. Justin Wilson (No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Sonny’s Bar-B-Q D/H/F) finished third after leading a race high 52 laps. The finishes were the best ever for Vision Racing and Dale Coyne Racing. Dario Franchitti (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Air Wick D/H/F) finished fourth in his first race since winning the series championship in 2007, and Tony Kanaan (No. 11 Andretti Green Racing Team 7-Eleven D/H/F) finished fifth. Briscoe had this to say afterwards: “At the end there, we had some restarts and I was able to get Justin Wilson down on the inside. Team Penske gave me a great car today. Roger Penske calls my strategy, and it was just absolutely perfect today. This is our first race of the season, and it’s such a great feeling to kick it off with a race win. The conditions were tough – it was very tricky on restarts. The tires would get very cold, and it would be very slippery. It was a challenge to keep it between the white lines and off the wall. I had some strong challenges from behind, but my car was very strong today, and I was able to hold them off.” Next up is the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on the streets of Long Beach, Calif., on April 19. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) by VERSUS. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 126. The radio broadcast also will be carried on .

(Jim Haines/IRL)
Last year, Graham Rahal became the youngest race winner in major open-wheel history when he took the checkered flag in the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Last Saturday he became the youngest pole winner in series history when he lapped the 14-turn, 1.8-mile St. Petersburg course in 1 minute, 2.4110 seconds, 103.828 mph. At 20 years, 90 days, Rahal took the record from Marco Andretti, who won the pole last June at Milwaukee at the age of 21 years, 79 days. Rahal survived the first two knockout rounds of PEAK Performance Pole Qualifying to advance to the Firestone Fast Six. The No. 02 Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing driver entered the session with the third-quickest time and came out of the 10-minute shootout on top. “I’ve got my mom here, my little sister, who never comes to the races, so that’s exciting," Rahal said afterwards. "My dad is here for part of the weekend, my uncle, his side of the family, and my mom’s boyfriend Chris. They’ve been at Disney World the last couple of days, and now they’re headed over here. My uncle and my dad were here last year, but this year it worked perfectly with my sister’s spring break. My mom just enjoys coming to the races.” Unfortunately Rahal got punted off by Tony Kanaan in turn one on lap one, but he ended up clawing his way back to 7th at the finish.

(Jim Haines/IRL)
Junior Strous (No. 18 Shell V-Power Knaus HTP) swept both races of the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Firestone Indy Lights doubleheader weekend. Strous edged pole sitter Sebastian Saavedra (No. 27 Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc.) by .4428 of a second in Race 2 to become the third Firestone Indy Lights driver to open a season with two victories. “The team has done an amazing job," Strous said. "We're a new outfit so this gives us a lot of confidence for our next race at Long Beach. We saved our tires in qualifying, so for both races we had a new set of tires while the other guys ran used tires. Both races it was hard to get the temperature in, but after about ten laps the Firestones really gave me enough grip to win the race.” The Firestone Indy Lights season continues April 19 at Long Beach. The race will be telecast at 4 p.m. (EDT) on April 20 by VERSUS.

arrowup.gifAcura. With Audi and Peugeot nowhere to be found, David Brabham and Scott Sharp scored an overall win for Acura in the Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg on Saturday as the auto manufacturer swept both prototype classes (the first to do so) in the second round of the 2009 American Le Mans Series. Brabham and his Acura ARX-02a finished 32.150 seconds ahead of Adrian Fernandez as Acura took the top two overall positions. Fernandez was the LMP2 winner for the second straight race with Luis Diaz in Lowe’s Fernandez Racing’s Acura ARX-01b. Intersport Racing’s Clint Field, Jon Field and Chapman Ducote were second in P1 driving their AER-powered Lola B06/10. Patrick Long and Jörg Bergmeister won GT2 by two laps in their Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. The pairing, class champions together in 2005, gave Porsche its first victory at St. Petersburg after wins by Ferrari in 2007 and 2008. Dirk Müller and Tommy Milner were second in GT2 as Müller picked up two positions in the final 15 minutes driving one of BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team’s BMW M3s. He was more than 15 seconds ahead of Panoz Team PTG’s Dominik Farnbacher, who drove the Panoz Esperante GTLM with Ian James. Fernandez and Diaz also were prototype winners in the MICHELIN Green X Challenge, which goes to the fastest and most energy efficient entry that has the least environmental impact. Hand and Milner were GT winners in their BMW. Both manufacturers won their first MICHELIN Green X Challenge trophies. Next up is the Tequila Patrón American Le Mans Series at Long Beach. The race is set for 4:15 p.m. PT on Saturday, April 18, but will be televised on a delayed basis from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, April 19 on ABC.

(Photo © John Thawley)
Publisher's Note: Once again, ace lens man John Thawley has put together a gallery of images especially for This week it's from the ALMS Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Click here to see more of John's outstanding work. - PMD

arrowup.gifMattel, Inc., IRL. Mattel and the Indy Racing League®, the sanctioning body for the IndyCar® Series, announced an exclusive four-year licensing partnership that will bring racing fans authentic Hot Wheels® product featuring IndyCar Series drivers and teams, the greatest race course - and race - in the world, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and the Indianapolis 500, the world's largest single-day sporting event. The exclusive licensed product line will include highly detailed 1:64- and 1:24-scale Hot Wheels IndyCar Series assortment die-cast cars – showcasing many of the drivers and teams of the IndyCar Series ($4.99 and $24.99, respectively); kid-powered 1:12-scale Hot Wheels IndyCar Series Big Sounds cars with real racing sounds ($29.99); and the IndyCar Series 1:16-scale Tyco® R/C ($29.99). Product will be available at major retailers nationwide starting this month, trackside at all IndyCar Series races and online at

arrowup.gifJeff Gordon. After the longest drought in his illustrious racing career - an excruciating 47 race span - Jeff Gordon won the Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway last Sunday. It was Jeff's 82nd career victory in NASCAR, putting him one win behind Cale Yarborough for fifth on the all-time list. Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip are tied for third with 84 victories. Gordon continues to lead the Sprint Cup points chase in 2009.


See another live episode of "Autoline After Hours" hosted by Autoline Detroit's John McElroy, with Peter De Lorenzo and auto industry PR veteran Jason Vines this Thursday evening, April 16, at 7:00PM EDT at . You can chat with us "live" too. Again, that's "Autoline After Hours" this Thursday evening, April 16, at 7:00PM EDT at .

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