Notes: Wade Cunningham in at Foyt for Indy

Former Indy Lights champ to test on May 7 at Texas before ROP

Familiar part-timer Wade Cunningham will suit up for A.J. Foyt at the Indianapolis 500. The New Zealand native will step into the No. 41 machine for the month of May alongside the team’s regular driver, England’s Mike Conway.

Cunningham has plenty of experience at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, winning the Firestone Indy Lights’ Freedom 100 there three times. Obviously, he hopes for the same success in his first attempt at The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

“Indy means more to me than anything else,” he said in a team release. “Winning at Indy in the Firestone Indy Lights series is the only thing that kept my career on track, so it’s important to me to go there and do well in IndyCar and prove that the results can translate.”

Last year, Cunningham competed in three events at Texas (twin races) and Kentucky for Sam Schmidt Motorsports. His top finish of seventh came at the latter track.

“I think Wade will do a great job for us at Indy and I think he’ll be a big asset to our team,” Foyt said in the release. “I’m really looking forward to working with him.”

More from Baltimore…

Wednesday’s Baltimore Sun reported that Dale Dillon, the head of the Downforce Racing team that has taken over as promoters of the Baltimore Grand Prix, may be on his way out of the venture.

The piece, penned by Julie Scharper, also said that INDYCAR officials had met with Baltimore city officials on Monday to discuss the subject and other matters pertaining to the race, slated again for this Labor Day weekend.

Downforce took over as the BGP’s promotion group earlier this year from the financially beleaguered Baltimore Racing Development, whose accumulation of $12 million in debt last year overshadowed an otherwise successful inaugural running.

Ratings jump for Long Beach

After starting the season with lower ratings in the first two races, the IZOD IndyCar Series has some needed good news on the television front: Sunday’s exciting Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach netted a 0.32 final rating/468,000 viewers for NBC Sports Network, making a 45 percent jump from last season’s event (0.22 rating/323,000 viewers).

The season opener at St. Petersburg last month on ABC garnered a 0.9 final rating, down from a 1.2 in 2011. Round 2 at Barber Motorsports Park on NBC Sports Network — the first race for the channel after ditching its former identity as Versus — fared worse, drawing a 0.25 final (down from a 0.34 in 2011).

Series CEO Randy Bernard, as well as prominent drivers such as Will Power and Dario Franchitti, have beseeched NBC to get the word out better. According to the AP’s Jenna Fryer, the Peacock responded with steady promotion of Long Beach on its networks’ coverage of the NHL’s Stanley Cup Playoffs.

NBCSN will cover the next race on the calendar, the Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300 presented by Nestle (Apr. 29, 11 a.m. ET).