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INDYCAR NEWS AND NOTES – June 12, 2014

Today’s Verizon IndyCar Series and Mazda Road to Indy headlines:

1. Drivers follow their teams for World Cup

2. Filippi joins Rahal team for Houston, Toronto twin bills

3. Win at Texas satisfying Carpenter as owner, driver

4. Of note

1. Drivers follow their teams for World Cup: Helio Castroneves and Tony Kanaan were occupied by testing on the Milwaukee Mile oval so they couldn’t watch Brazil’s opening match of the FIFA World Cup.

But they received updates.

“The main talk in Brazil is World Cup and has been for some time leading up to the tournament and the whole world is watching,” Castroneves said. “I’d love to watch, too, but work comes first. Right now it’s crazy there and I’m sure they’re going to have a great time.”

For the first time since 1950, Brazil is host to the 32-team international tournament at 12 venues. For the first time since the inaugural World Cup in 1930, all world champion teams (Argentina, Brazil, England, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Uruguay) have qualified for the competition that continues through July 13. Spain is the defending champion, having defeated the Netherlands 1-0 in 2010.

Brazil will attempt to become the first nation to win the World Cup at home since France in 1998. The Brazilians were eliminated in the quarterfinals of the past two tournaments (by France in 2006 and by the Netherlands in 2010).

Brazil is the only country to have played in every World Cup tournament, winning five championships. Its last World Cup title was in 2002. Brazil is led by 22-year-old forward Neymar, who is making his first appearance in the tournament.

“Hopefully, Brazil will go to the final,” Castroneves added. “They have a great team. Winning the World Cup means an (improved) economic situation, better mood and it would be great for everyone.”

With the international lineup of Verizon IndyCar Series drivers, everyone is tuned in to the competition even if they don’t follow the sport during league play.

“It’s like any sport; when you don’t have any team you follow you’re not as interested. When you get to the World Cup I support my country. It means something,” Englishman Justin Wilson said.

Added Carlos Munoz: “I’m from Colombia and follow the national team, and it’s exciting because it’s the first time they have qualified in a long time (16 years). Everyone in Colombia is united about the football and we’re expecting a lot.”

The U.S. squad opens Group G play against Ghana on June 16.

2. Filippi joins Rahal team for Houston, Toronto twin bills: Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing announced today that its will enter the No. 16 car for Luca Filippi in the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston Presented by the Greater Houston Honda Dealers and the Honda Indy Toronto.

Associate sponsorship for the program will come from IMPCO and FightSMA. Graham Rahal is the team’s full-season driver in the No. 15 National Guard car.

“I’m extremely excited to join Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing because there is a lot of respect between myself and Bobby,” said Filippi, 28, about team co-owner Bobby Rahal.  “We have been trying to find a way to work together for a long time and to finally have it happen is a great feeling.  I really love the IndyCar Series.  Since I first drove the car and experienced the atmosphere of the series, I have loved everything about it and can’t wait to get back in a car.”

Filippi made his Verizon IndyCar Series debut in 2013 for Bryan Herta Autosport at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and also contested the street races in Baltimore and the doubleheader races in Houston. He posted a best start and finish of eighth and 10th, respectively, in Race 1 in Houston.

“We tried to get Luca into the team a few years back and even went so far as to build a seat but we were unable to find the funding,” Rahal said. “In the meantime, he went to Bryan Herta’s team and showed what he can do in the few races he ran for them. He has been successful in GP2 in Europe, amongst other series, for a number of years so I don’t think there is any question that he has the pace to run toward the front. On top of that, he is a real gentleman and we are looking forward to working with him and seeing how he can help the team progress.”

Filippi, 28, of Savigliano, Italy, spent the six seasons in GP2. He was runner-up to champion Romain Grosjean with three wins in 2011. Filippi was also a test driver for Honda in Formula One from 2007 until December 2008, when the manufacturer withdrew from the sport.  While working toward a return to Indy car racing, Filippi has been part of Sky Sports’ broadcast team for its Formula One coverage since last year.

“I know the team is capable and has potential but it was good to see Graham on the podium in Detroit and so close to the win,” added Filippi about Rahal’s second-place finish in Dual 1 in Detroit on May 31. “That proved the car is working very well on a street course and I really expect to have a good feeling from the car again. I really enjoyed the Houston course last year so the expectation is high for a good result.

“I don’t know the Toronto circuit but coming from another street course before that, I hope I can build on what we learn in Houston and learn the Toronto course quickly. The circuit looks very, very tricky and demanding but from what I know the atmosphere all around the Toronto weekend looks amazing. I can’t wait to be involved.”

3. Win at Texas satisfying Carpenter as owner, driver: Victory in the Firestone 600 on June 7 at Texas Motor Speedway was personally satisfying for Ed Carpenter as the driver, and maybe more gratifying for the Ed Carpenter Racing team owner.

It was the second victory of the season for the team. Carpenter competes in the oval track races in the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing car, while Mike Conway is in his first year with the team for the street/road course events. He won at Long Beach in mid-April.

The last time two different drivers won in the same car in one season was 2005 when Bruno Junqueira won at Monterrey, Mexico, in the No. 2 Newman-Haas Racing car. He was injured in the Indianapolis 500 and Oriol Servia drove for the remainder of the season, winning at Montreal.

“We’ve got a good group of people, and I think we’re able to show that on track right now,” Carpenter said. “Like I keep saying, I’m really proud of the whole team, the whole effort, the whole group. We have a lot of fun, and it’s even more fun when you’re winning.

“They’ve been giving us great cars all year for myself and Mike, so it’s nice to be able to deliver.”

It was the third career victory for Carpenter (the first since the 2012 season finale at Auto Club Speedway), who led 90 laps in leading Will Power of Team Penske across the finish line by .5427 of a second.

“I want to try to win every session, every race that we go to, whether I’m driving or Mike is driving,” said Carpenter, the sole team owner-driver in the series. “We’re just going to try to keep the intensity up and try to keep fighting for wins. The team is certainly capable and they give us cars. We just got to put it all together week in and week out.”

Carpenter is joining several other teams this week and next for testing on ovals in preparation for events at Pocono Raceway (July 6), Iowa Speedway (July 12) and Milwaukee (Aug. 17).

“We need to use this break to get ready for the next oval races. It’s tough on the whole team after more than a month of work. But that is why we love to go racing,” said Carpenter, who was on the .875-mile Iowa Speedway on June 10 and will test at Milwaukee on June 12.

The next Verizon IndyCar Series event — the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston Presented by the Greater Houston Honda Dealers doubleheader on June 28-29 – commences a series of five races in six races in four consecutive weekends.

4. Of note: SKF has agreed to a multi-year extension with Team Penske that will expand its technical alliance and continue its associate sponsorship of the team’s entries in the Verizon IndyCar Series.  … Dario Franchitti will drive the Lotus 25, which was designed by Colin Chapman, built by Team Lotus and driven by Jim Clark to the British Grand Prix victory at Silverstone in 1963 during the 50th Silverstone Grand Prix commemorative parade in early July.

***

The next Verizon IndyCar Series event is the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston doubleheader on June 28 and 29 at Houston’s Reliant Park. The races will be televised live at 3 p.m. (ET) by the NBCSN (Verizon FiOS 90/590, DirecTV 220, DISH 159 and AT&T UVerse 640) and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network, including on XM 209 and Sirius 213 and www.indycar.com.

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