Notes: Bourdais takes Wheldon Trophy at Surfer’s

Sebastien Bourdais notched a victory and runner-up finish in the two-race V8 Supercars weekend at Surfer’s Paradise, Australia to lead a strong contingent of IZOD IndyCar Series drivers and come away with the Dan Wheldon Memorial Trophy.

Bourdais co-drove with three-time Supercars champ Jamie Whincup this past weekend on the Gold Coast, and the duo were able to hang on late for a win in Race No. 1. In Race No. 2, Bourdais and Whincup were once again in the hunt for victory, but couldn’t get past the team of Will Davison and Mika Salo and were forced to settle for second.

Still, it was enough for Bourdais to successfully defend the Wheldon Trophy, named after the late IndyCar star and given to the top international co-driver at Surfer’s. He was also able to help Whincup extend his lead to 218 points over Mark Winterbottom in the Supercars standings.

“I couldn’t be any happier for Jamie,” said Bourdais. “He leaves the Gold Coast with an even bigger points lead, so it’s been great today.”

Obviously, Whincup was equally thrilled with Bourdais’ help on the weekend.

“It’s almost déjà vu, we had a win and a second last year and two poles too,” the Aussie said. “I can’t thank Seb and the team enough.”

Team Penske’s Will Power also had a strong weekend. Co-driving with Winterbottom, the ‘Toowoomba Tornado’ netted a pair of third-place finishes.

Other IndyCar drivers taking part in the event at the Gold Coast were Ryan Briscoe (finished 4th and 5th with Garth Tander), Graham Rahal (finished 8th and 11th with Rick Kelly), Justin Wilson (finished 13th and 20th with Greg Murphy), Mike Conway (finished 14th and 16th with Taz Douglas), James Hinchcliffe (two DNFs with Michael Caruso), Simon Pagenaud (one DNF and 8th in Race 2 with Lee Holdsworth), and Marco Andretti (two DNFs with Tim Blanchard).

New IZOD IndyCar Series champ Ryan Hunter-Reay will be honored in a public celebration this Wednesday night in his hometown of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The celebration is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. local time outside of YOLO Restaurant in the city’s downtown section, and Hunter-Reay will be on hand to sign autographs and take pictures. He’ll also be presented with a proclamation by Fort Lauderdale mayor Jack Seiler at 7:30 p.m.

One day before, Hunter-Reay will turn laps in a Firestone test session at Homestead-Miami Speedway. That test is closed to the public and will be the first time that Hunter-Reay’s been back in his No. 28 Andretti Autosport machine since winning the championship last month at Auto Club Speedway.

Speaking of Andretti Autosport, the team has announced that Carlos Munoz will race for their 2013 Firestone Indy Lights program and also step up to the big cars for the 97th Indianapolis 500 next May.

Munoz, a native of Colombia, had a fine rookie season in FIL this past year, claiming two victories (Edmonton and Auto Club Speedway), five podiums and nine top-10s — good enough for fifth in the standings.

“It means a lot that they trust in my capabilities with it being my first IndyCar race,” said Munoz of his Indy 500 drive in a press release. “It’s a great honor, and I know that there will be some pressure there to do a good job.

“My first priority is to start the Indy Lights season on a positive note and work each weekend at winning the championship. Once that happens, I think we will be very successful for the Indy 500.”

Take a moment to pause and remember Tony Renna, the young American driver that was killed nine years ago today in a test session at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Renna was testing for Chip Ganassi Racing — where he was slated to race in 2004 — on October 22, 2003 when his car spun out, got airborne, and hit the catch fence in Turn 3. The 26-year-old died instantly.

Before joining Ganassi, Renna had acquitted himself well in a handful of races in 2002 and 2003 for the now-defunct Kelley Racing team. Considering Renna’s talent and Ganassi’s resources, the future appeared bright for the young racer.

Sadly, that future was never realized. May God continue to comfort his family and friends.