Firestone extends backing of IndyCar race at Texas

Leave a comment

Texas Motor Speedway president/general manager Eddie Gossage has confirmed that Firestone, the official tire supplier of the IZOD IndyCar Series, will remain the sponsor of the series’ summer event at TMS.

“Another great partner @FirestoneRacing announces a 3-year extension of our June @IndyCar race, the #Firestone550 ! Very proud 2 work w/ them,” Gossage tweeted earlier today.

In a statement, Firestone Racing executive director Al Speyer said that his company was thrilled to continue working with TMS through the 2015 season.

“In my opinion, the IZOD IndyCar Series at Texas Motor Speedway features some of the best racing on the planet and the Firestone brand is proud to be associated with it,” he said.

Since the 1997 season, Texas Motor Speedway has put on 24 IndyCar races, which have perennially been amongst the best-attended in the series outside of the Indianapolis 500. But the track’s presence on the open-wheel circuit was put into danger following the death of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon in the 2011 season finale at Las Vegas Motor Speedway — which features similar characteristics to TMS’ 1.5-mile, high-banked oval.

A palpable sense of anxiety amongst the drivers surrounded last June’s race at TMS, which was the first on a high-banked oval for IndyCar since the Wheldon tragedy. But a new aerodynamic package that put more control in the drivers’ hands helped break up the previous form of pack racing and the ensuing race was a bonafide barn-burner that saw Justin Wilson take the checkered flag in dramatic fashion:

That outing may have saved TMS’ open-wheel legacy, as toward the end of last summer, it was announced that the IndyCars would return to Fort Worth in 2013.

Now, with Firestone’s extension, it appears the IndyCar faithful will get to enjoy “America’s Original Nighttime IndyCar Race” for a few more seasons.

IndyCar star Scott Dixon to test skills on ‘American Ninja Warrior’

Getty Images
Leave a comment

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Scott Dixon will be the latest IndyCar driver to enter the realm of reality TV when he auditions in Indianapolis next week for “American Ninja Warrior.”

The four-time IndyCar champion, nicknamed “The Iceman,” thought it sounded fun when he was approached with the idea of trying out. As the competition has drawn near, Dixon is wondering what he got himself into.

“I feel a lot of pressure on this one,” Dixon told The Associated Press before heading to this weekend’s Honda Grand Prix of Alabama IndyCar race at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. “When it got to be about a month away, I figured I should start training for it, and it’s pretty hard stuff.”

IndyCar drivers Helio Castroneves, Josef Newgarden and Tony Kanaan all auditioned for the show, which follows competitors as they tackle a series of obstacle courses in qualifying rounds across the country. None of IndyCar’s contestants advanced out of the first round and neither did NASCAR driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Dixon’s appearance comes about the same time the Game Show Network has Sebastien Bourdais as a guest host for “Daily Draw” for the entire week leading into the month of May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Most recently, Alexander Rossi and Conor Daly teamed to finish fourth on “The Amazing Race,” and James Hinchcliffe was a runner-up last year on “Dancing With The Stars.” Castroneves is a former “DWTS” winner.

Dixon, the 2008 winner of the Indianapolis 500 who ranks fourth on IndyCar’s all-time wins list, is accustomed to success. But the New Zealander not so sure he’s going to become the next great ninja. Most of his fitness work focuses on endurance training, and preparing for the obstacle course has taken Dixon out of his element.

“It’s not my wheelhouse,” he said. “This is agility kind of stuff and I’m looking forward to the process. I’m not looking forward so much to the failure, because it’s going to happen at some point, so I guess I just have to make the most of it and enjoy the experience.”

Dixon was famously robbed at gunpoint in the drive-thru of a Taco Bell last year hours after he won the pole for the Indy 500. Asked if his ninja training will have him better prepared should that happen again, he did not think so.

“I suppose if I run away it would help,” Dixon said. “But I don’t exactly have a ninja toolkit to get me through that situation.”