IZOD IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay’s currently in New York on a victory tour after his title-clinching effort in last Saturday’s MAV TV 500 at Auto Club Speedway outside Los Angeles.
In addition to showing up in a variety of radio and TV interviews, Hunter-Reay, whose fourth-place finish clinched the title by a mere three points over Will Power, made time today to visit the Empire State Building for a nice little photo op.
The first American IndyCar champ since 2006 isn’t done with his work in the Big Apple just yet. Tomorrow, you can find him on Fox News Channel’s “Fox and Friends,” The Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive,” and on CBS’ “The Late Show with David Letterman.”
The MAV TV 500 drew around 30,000 to Auto Club Speedway, which was a relatively decent turnout despite the race beginning in temperatures around 100 degrees. Apparently, the ISC-owned track was impressed enough to indicate its interest in returning as the IndyCar season finale in 2013.
ACS vice president of sales and marketing Dave Allen told Riverside, California’s The Press-Enterprise that the track would be open to an October season finale if the 2013 schedule turns out to be an expanded one.
ACS’ multiple racing lanes helped make for a thrilling finale that featured 29 lead changes. Such a display can only help ACS re-establish IndyCar racing in southern California if the series wants to do so.
In other 2013 schedule news, expect the final decision on Pocono Raceway’s possible return to the open-wheel landscape to come in about one week per track vice president Bob Pleban in an interview with the Pocono (Pa.) Record. Pleban also told the paper that “speculation” is centered around a July date for the IndyCars that would be sandwiched between its two NASCAR events in June and August.
Considering that CEO Randy Bernard has said that he wants the 2013 docket to be put out on the same day, it appears we won’t have much longer to wait on the entire matter.
Former Champ Car standout A.J. Allmendinger has been re-instated by NASCAR after being suspended for substance abuse this past summer, but the American driver hasn’t yet decided whether to stay or leave the stock car world.
An intriguing possibility of Allmendinger going back to open-wheel for Penske Racing — which fired him from its NASCAR operation after the suspension — seemed to emerge last weekend when he showed up at the MAV TV 500 as a guest of former boss Roger Penske.
Allmendinger told USA Today that the appearance has strengthened the friendship between himself and Penske. However, he also said that while he had some casual conversations with IndyCar team owners, he admitted to having “unfinished business” in NASCAR.
That’s not a surprising view for him to have, certainly. But with Ryan Briscoe basically a free agent (Penske Racing has told him that he can look around as they expect any funding for a potential Briscoe ride to come late in the offseason), there could be an opportunity for Allmendinger to snag one of the most coveted rides in IndyCar and revive his career.
Allmendinger collected five wins and 14 podiums in 40 Champ Car starts from 2004 to 2006 before migrating to NASCAR.
Mike Conway still hopes to continue IndyCar racing despite admitting his comfort problems with oval racing and stepping out of the No. 14 A.J. Foyt Racing machine this past weekend at ACS.
In an interview with SPEEDTV.com’s Marshall Pruett, the Englishman thanked those who supported his decision and said he was open to staying in the series as a road and street course racer. Conway has shown to be talented with that particular discipline, as his 2011 win at Long Beach can attest.
“It’s just going to depend, really, on what people are looking for,” Conway told Pruett. “I love racing in the IndyCar Series; it’s been great the last four years. I’d love to be able to continue it.”
Whether Conway’s hopes will pan out with a team that wants to use different drivers for ovals and road/street courses remains to be seen.
All quotes have been attributed to their proper subjects and organizations.