Today’s IZOD IndyCar Series, Firestone Indy Lights and Mazda Road to Indy headlines:
2. Day, Belardi part ways
3. Yacaman meets president of Colombia
4. Breeden joins INDYCAR staff
5. Webb to participate in Goodwood Festival
1. Franchitti nominated for ESPY Award: Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti is one of four champion racers nominated for best driver at the 2012 ESPY Awards.
The three-time Indianapolis 500 and four-time IZOD IndyCar Series champion winner is joined by NASCAR champions Tony Stewart, Formula 1 champion Sebastien Vettel and NHRA champion Del Worsham in the category which will be awarded July 11 in Los Angeles.
On May 27, Franchitti became the sixth driver to win the Indianapolis 500 for a third time. In 2011, Franchitti earned his third consecutive IZOD IndyCar Series championship and fourth overall.
The ESPYS will be hosted by actor/comedian Rob Riggle and televised live (9 p.m. ET, ESPN). Voting for the award is underway at ESPN.com/ESPYS.
2. Day, Belardi part ways: Belardi Auto Racing and Alon Day have mutually decided to cut short their Firestone Indy Lights program together. Both parties remain content and respectable for the efforts made by all those involved and parted company on amicable terms.
A decision was made soon after qualifying for the Sukup 100 in Iowa last weekend, and the No. 9 car was withdrawn from Saturday’s race. A replacement driver for the No. 9 entry will be announced in the coming days.
“It is very unfortunate that we could no longer continue our business relationship with Alon,” said Brian Belardi, team owner of Belardi Auto Racing. “We very much appreciate all of Alon’s hard work and time with the team and wish him the very best in the future. He is a talented young man, and we expect to see him succeed wherever he goes.”
Day, the first Israeli to ever compete in open-wheel racing on American soil, completed six races and acquired four top-10 finishes for Belardi Auto Racing. He acquired his highest finish at Barber Motorsports Park with a sixth place finish back in April.
“Alon shall be taking no further part in the 2012 Firestone Indy Lights Championship with Belardi Auto Racing,” a representative for Day said. “We are truly grateful to all the guys at Belardi Auto Racing for making Alon’s transition over to the USA smooth and comfortable. Alon plans to keep in touch with Brian and the team and wishes them all the very best of luck with their future endeavors.”
3. Yacaman meets president of Colombia: Before he traveled to Iowa Speedway for what was to be his second podium finish of the season, Firestone Indy Lights driver Gustavo Yacamán traveled to his home country of Colombia for a very special meeting.
Yacamán met with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, fulfilling his commitment to personally thank the President for the country’s support of his career.
“I want to thank you for your time and give gratitude for the support that I have thanks to the efforts of Colombia Brand and Coldeportes,” Yacamán said. “The changes in the global economy have transformed the racing world. Your support has been vital to continue my steps towards professionalism. I am very proud of my country.”
The meeting, held at Casa de Nariño in the Emerald Hall, was a pleasant conversation between President Santos and Yacamán. The President congratulated him on his promising career, thanking him for the excellent example he gives to the youth of the country. He also stressed the importance of representing Colombia throughout his career.
Yacamán told President Santos all about his current season and the great work being done this year to reach the pinnacle of open-wheel racing in the U.S., the IZOD IndyCar Series.
Yacamán has four top-five finishes this season and has finished in the top 10 in all seven races so far. His win at the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix street circuit on June 2 was his second career Firestone Indy Lights win.
“It is a pride for the country to have an ambassador like him around the world, it is important to highlight the great work done in this sport and how it has led Colombia to the top of the podium,” President Santos said. “Yacamán’s charisma and dedication is an example and is important to recognize.”
Crepes & Waffles, a private company that sponsors Yacamán’s career, received the thanks of the President and Colombia Brand for their great support.
“We are very proud to be Gustavo’s sponsor,” said Crepes & Waffles representative Beatriz Fernandez. “His message with the sport and his youth are fully identified with us. Our philosophy and our image are very well represented by this young driver.”
4. Breeden joins INDYCAR staff: Matt Breeden, a respected attorney and business advisor, has joined INDYCAR as Vice President of Business Affairs.
Breeden will help lead development of strategic and business plans for INDYCAR, sanctioning body for the IZOD IndyCar Series, Firestone Indy Lights and the Mazda Road to Indy driver development ladder as well as oversee and monitor sanction agreements and contracts between INDYCAR and its partners.
“Matt’s experience and background in racing as well as his reputation as an attorney makes him an ideal fit for INDYCAR,” said Randy Bernard, CEO INDYCAR. “I’m confident that our partners and promoters will learn what we already know, that he is a valuable addition to our team.”
Breeden served as Vice President & General Counsel for Champ Car World Series LLC, where he managed all of the legal affairs for Champ Car, as well as the Toyota Atlantic Series, Trans-Am Series and certain other affiliated entities. He also served as counsel during the unification of open-wheel racing under the INDYCAR banner. He joins INDYCAR from his own private practice – Breeden Legal.
“There was not much that would entice me to leave my law practice, but when the opportunity to work at INDYCAR reared its head it was one of those things I couldn’t pass up,” Breeden said. “I’ve been around Indy car racing my entire life and this position matches up with my skill set very well. I’m really looking forward to helping INDYCAR grow.”
5. Webb to participate in Goodwood Festival: Oliver Webb will take advantage of the off weekend to participate in the Goodwood Festival of Speed in England.
The Sam Schmidt Motorsports driver will race the BAC Mono, a lightweight, high-performance, street-legal single-seat supercar, up the hill during the famed event, the largest car culture event in the world.
“Very very excited to race the @DiscoverMono up the Famous hill of @fosgoodwood this weekend!” the 21-year-old Englishman tweeted on June 26.
Webb, who is seventh in Firestone Indy Lights points, has been a test driver for the Mono, which made its public debut at last year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed.
The 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series race continues with the Honda Indy Toronto on July 8 at the Streets of Toronto’s Exhibition Place. The race will be televised by ABC at 12:30 p.m. (ET) and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network on SiriusXM (XM 94 and Sirius 212). The next Firestone Indy Lights race is the Toronto 100 on July 7 on the Streets of Toronto’s Exhibition Place. The race will be televised by NBC Sports Network at 5 p.m. on July 12.