The Indy Racing League kicked off official testing for its two series (IndyCar & Indy Lights) today with rookie-only sessions for Indy Lights drivers, and is slated to give the 4 IndyCar Series rookies (Doornbos, Conway, Matos & Barrett) time later today.
With 12 rookies hitting the track today, we are looking at Panther Racing's British invasion as their new Brit-Pop-Girl, Pippa Mann, is currently topping the speed chart and her fellow Brit teammate Martin Plowman in 4th (just a little under 1 mph behind her). Its great to see Panther do well (as they always have in Lights) but the real test will be to see if Dan Wheldon can complete Panther's Trifecta of British headlining.
It is also good to report that via TSO we've been able to confirm that the new Indy Lights 180-degree crank in the engines has given the engines a great new pleasing sound resembling that of the IndyCar Series and being about a billion times better than the sawed-off-header obnoxious sound they used to have. I've not been in person yet but from the sound on TSO's mp3, I can safely say many of us will be very happy to be able to bring family to races without the fear of requiring heavy duty sound canceling headphones/earplugs; and can get back to enjoying the racing.
I'm not sure why indycar.com is not letting anyone in on their timing & scoring but for those who want in just take a click here and bookmark it for future use when the mian page doesn't show the link: http://scoring.indycar.com/2008/
As we reported earlier, VERSUS will be doing some pre-season coverage of the IndyCar Series over the 4 weeks preceding the opening at St. Petersburg. It was a great start and now today we are getting the complete look at exactly what additional programming VERSUS will be giving fans, further providing us all with insight as to why the switch to VERSUS is a good one for fans.
In 2009 IndyCar fans will be getting roughly 130+ hours of coverage including 3 hour minimum live coverage on every race that includes pre & post-race interviews & analysis; a 1 hour qualifying/analysis show the day before each race; 1 hour of flag-to-flag coverage of Indy Lights and then a re-broadcast of IndyCar events for roughly at least 7 hours of coverage each week IndyCar has a race, and ALL of it in glorious High Definition.
"Indy Car fans have been asking for significantly more coverage of the sport, and with our new partnership with VERSUS we have responded to our fans in a way that we think they will love," said Charlie Morgan, president and chief operating officer for IMS Productions. "With the new VERSUS schedule, it will be a weekend of Indy Car programming with qualifying coverage, expanded race day coverage, and race encores"
I am hoping that VERSUS will attempt to give us a live coverage of at least the final 2 rounds of the awesome new made-for-TV format of road racing qualifications. I'm also assuming that VERSUS is smart enough to not follow ESPN's amazingly silly idea to put all race-rebroadcasts at 7 a.m. the following morning (on ESPN Classic no less).
Pictures by: pantherracing.com & versus.com