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The 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series was the 16th season of the IndyCar Series and the 100th recognized season of American open wheel motor racing. The season was sanctioned by IndyCar and was part of the Mazda Road to Indy. The season began in March and concluded in October, consisting of seventeen events.

2011 IndyCar season
IZOD IndyCar Series
Start dateMarch 27
End dateOctober 16
Drivers' championUnited Kingdom Dario Franchitti
Rookie of the YearCanada James Hinchcliffe
Indianapolis 500 winnerUnited Kingdom Dan Wheldon
Discipline champions
Oval championNew Zealand Scott Dixon
Road course championAustralia Will Power
← 2010
2012 →
Dario Franchitti (left) won his fourth Drivers' Championship (third straight title) while Will Power (right) finished second in the championship for the second consecutive season.

It was the final season running the IR–05 Dallara spec cars, which had been the series' sole chassis supplier since 2007. It was also the final season running the Honda Indy V8 normally-aspirated engines which had been the series' sole engine supplier since 2006. The events took place in twelve states of the United States, as well Canada, Brazil, and Japan. The schedule featured ten street/road courses and eight on oval tracks. The premier event was the 95th Indianapolis 500, won by Dan Wheldon.

Dario Franchitti claimed his fourth IndyCar Series Championship title. He went into the final race of the season leading Will Power by 18 points. However, the race and the season were both marred by a 15-car pile-up early in the race that claimed Wheldon's life. The race was abandoned after 12 completed laps and the final points total reverted to the previous event, with Franchitti winning the title.

Rookie of the Year honors went to Canadian James Hinchcliffe, who led American J. R. Hildebrand in the rookie standings by 6 points going into the final race. Hildebrand's season was highlighted by a nearly winning the Indianapolis 500. His 2nd-place finish at Indy earned him top rookie honors for the race.

Series newsEdit

  • The 95th Indianapolis 500 marked the third race of the three-year-long Centennial era, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the 100th anniversary of the first Indianapolis 500-mile race.
  • Sunoco would become the official fuel of the series starting in 2011 and running through 2018. Sunoco would work with APEX–Brasil and UNICA to provide ethanol for the series.[1]
  • On January 11, the series made several announcements with regards to the upcoming season:
    • The governing body adopted the doing business as name of INDYCAR (all capital letters). The legal entity remains Indy Racing League, LLC, and is specifically mentioned in the INDYCAR Rule Book.
    • The "restart zone" on ovals were moved from turn 3 to just before the start/finish line.
    • Restart procedures would mimic those of NASCAR, including double-file restarts, separate pitting for lead lap and non-lead lap cars, and the waving around of lapped cars that did not pit. The "free pass" rule would not be implemented.
    • Pit stall selection for each race would be determined by the qualifying order of the previous round at the track of the same type (e.g., road course or oval). Exceptions to this will be the season opener at St. Petersburg, which would be set by final entrants' points from 2010, and the Indy 500, which carries its own pit selection process.
  • On March 6, the series announced that the maximum field size for every IndyCar event this season would be limited to 26 cars, except for the Indianapolis 500 (which remains at the traditional 33) and the Las Vegas finale (34 cars).[2]
  • Firestone has signed an extension to remain as the series' sole tire supplier through 2013.[3]

2011 IndyCar Series scheduleEdit

  • The 2011 schedule contained the following 17 races. Unless a flag is displayed, the race was held in the United States.
Rnd Date Race name Track Location
1 March 27 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Streets of St. Petersburg (S) St. Petersburg, Florida
2 April 10 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama Presented by Legacy Credit Union Barber Motorsports Park (R) Birmingham, Alabama
3 April 17 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Streets of Long Beach (S) Long Beach, California
4 May 1
May 2
Itaipava São Paulo Indy 300 Presented by Nestlé Streets of São Paulo (S)   São Paulo, Brazil
5 May 29 95th Indianapolis 500 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (O) Speedway, Indiana
6 June 11 Firestone Twin 275s Texas Motor Speedway (O) Fort Worth, Texas
7 June 19 The Milwaukee 225 Milwaukee Mile (O) West Allis, Wisconsin
8 June 25 Iowa Corn Indy 250 Presented by Pioneer Iowa Speedway (O) Newton, Iowa
9 July 10 Honda Indy Toronto Exhibition Place (S)   Toronto, Ontario
10 July 24 Edmonton Indy Edmonton City Centre Airport (S)   Edmonton, Alberta
11 August 7 Honda 200 at Mid-Ohio Presented by Westfield Insurance Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (R) Lexington, Ohio
12 August 14 Indy 225 New Hampshire Motor Speedway (O) Loudon, New Hampshire
13 August 28 Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma Infineon Raceway (R) Sonoma, California
14 September 4 Grand Prix of Baltimore Streets of Baltimore (S) Baltimore, Maryland
15 September 18 Indy Japan: The Final Twin Ring Motegi (Road Course) (R)   Motegi, Japan
16 October 2 Kentucky Indy 300 Kentucky Speedway (O) Sparta, Kentucky
17 October 16 IZOD IndyCar World Championship Presented by Honda Las Vegas Motor Speedway (O) Las Vegas, Nevada

(O) Oval/Speedway

(R) Roud Course

(S) Street Circuit

Schedule developmentEdit

Existing contractsEdit

  • The São Paulo Indy 300 has a contract through 2019.[6]
  • The Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will continue through 2013.[7] City officials look to extend the contract through 2014.[8]
  • Iowa Speedway has been finalized a two-year extension through 2011.[9]
  • Infineon Raceway signed an extension through the 2011 season.
  • An agreement has been signed with the city of Long Beach to extend the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach to 2015 with an option through 2020.[10]
  • Barber Motorsports Park signed a three-year deal through 2012.[11]
  • Mid-Ohio has a contract through 2011.[12]
  • The Octane Racing Group, who promotes the Formula 1 Grand Prix of Canada and the NASCAR Nationwide race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, will take over as promoters of the Honda Edmonton Indy, having agreed a three-year extension. The race was announced as "canceled" on November 3, 2010 due to an impasse in negotiations between the race promoters and the city of Edmonton.[13] However, negotiations to revive the race restarted the next week.[14] On November 26, 2010, the Edmonton, Alberta city council voted to restore the Honda Edmonton Indy using extra funding from private sources and new parking revenue.[15] INDYCAR officially announced the race's return to the schedule on January 11, 2011.[16]

New or returning racesEdit

Discontinued racesEdit

Team and driver chartEdit

Team No. Drivers Rounds
A. J. Foyt Enterprises 14   Vitor Meira All
41   Bruno Junqueira[N 1] 5
  Ryan Hunter-Reay
AFS Racing 17   Raphael Matos 1–5
Andretti Autosport 7   Danica Patrick All
26   Marco Andretti All
27   Mike Conway All
28   Ryan Hunter-Reay All
43   John Andretti[N 2] 5
Bryan Herta Autosport 98   Dan Wheldon 5
  Alex Tagliani 17
Chip Ganassi Racing 9   Scott Dixon All
10   Dario Franchitti All
38   Graham Rahal All
83   Charlie Kimball (R) All
Conquest Racing 34   Sebastián Saavedra (R) 1–14, 17
  João Paulo de Oliveira (R) 15
  Dillon Battistini (R)[23] 16
36   Pippa Mann (R) 5
Dale Coyne Racing 18   James Jakes (R) All
19   Sébastien Bourdais 1–4, 9–11, 13–15
  Alex Lloyd 5–8, 12, 16–17
Dragon Racing 8   Paul Tracy 3, 6, 9–10, 17
  Ho-Pin Tung (R)[N 3] 5
20   Scott Speed (R) 5
  Patrick Carpentier[N 4]
88   Ho-Pin Tung (R)[N 3] 13
Dreyer & Reinbold Racing 11   Davey Hamilton[24] 5–6, 17
22   Justin Wilson 1-10
  Simon Pagenaud (R) 11
  Tomas Scheckter 12
  Giorgio Pantano (R)[25] 13-15
  Townsend Bell[26] 16-17
23   Paul Tracy[27] 5
24   Ana Beatriz (R) 1, 3-17
  Simon Pagenaud (R) 2
HVM Racing 78   Simona de Silvestro 1–12, 14–17
  Simon Pagenaud (R) 13
KV Racing TechnologyLotus 5   Takuma Sato All
59   E. J. Viso All
82   Tony Kanaan All
Newman/Haas Racing 02   Oriol Servià 1
2 2–17
06   James Hinchcliffe (R) 2–17
Panther Racing 4   J. R. Hildebrand (R) All
44   Buddy Rice[28] 5, 16–17
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 15   Jay Howard 17
30   Bertrand Baguette 5
  Pippa Mann (R) 12, 16–17
Sam Schmidt Motorsports 17   Martin Plowman (R)[N 5] 11, 13–14
  Hideki Mutoh[N 6] 15
  Wade Cunningham (R)[N 6] 16–17
77   Alex Tagliani 1–15
  Dan Wheldon[29] 16–17
88   Jay Howard[N 7] 5–6
99   Townsend Bell 5
  Wade Cunningham (R) 6
Sarah Fisher Racing 57   Tomas Scheckter[30] 17
67   Ed Carpenter 5-8, 11–14, 16–17
SH Racing 07   Tomas Scheckter[N 8] 5, 14
Team Penske 3   Hélio Castroneves All
6   Ryan Briscoe All
12   Will Power All

Team and driver movementsEdit

Race summariesEdit

Round 1: Honda Grand Prix of St. PetersburgEdit

Podium Finishers
Pos Grid No. Driver Team Laps Time Led
1 2 10   Dario Franchitti Chip Ganassi Racing 100 2:00:59.6886 94
2 1 12   Will Power Team Penske 100 +7.1612 6
3 8 82   Tony Kanaan KV Racing TechnologyLotus 100 +16.1045 0
Race average speed: 89.260 mph (143.650 km/h)
Lead changes: 3 between 2 drivers
Cautions: 5 for 13 laps

Round 2: Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by LegacyEdit

Podium Finishers
Pos Grid No. Driver Team Laps Time Led
1 1 12   Will Power Team Penske 90 2:14:42.9523 90
2 3 9   Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing 90 +3.3828 0
3 7 10   Dario Franchitti Chip Ganassi Racing 90 +15.5243 0
Race average speed: 92.194 mph (148.372 km/h)
Lead changes: None
Cautions: 6 for 20 laps

Round 3: Toyota Grand Prix of Long BeachEdit

Podium Finishers
Pos Grid No. Driver Team Laps Time Led
1 3 27   Mike Conway Andretti Autosport 85 1:53:11.1000 14
2 12 6   Ryan Briscoe Team Penske 85 +6.3203 35
3 7 10   Dario Franchitti Chip Ganassi Racing 85 +6.7163 0
Race average speed: 88.676 mph (142.710 km/h)
Lead changes: 7 between 6 drivers
Cautions: 3 for 12 laps

Round 4: Itaipava São Paulo Indy 300 presented by NestleEdit

  • Sunday May 1, 2011 – 1:20 p.m. BRT (12:20 p.m. EDT) & Monday May 2, 2011 – 9:05 a.m. BRT (8:05 a.m. EDT)[4]
  • Streets of São PauloSão Paulo, Brazil; Temporary street circuit, 2.536 miles (4.081 km)
  • Distance: 75 laps / 190.200 miles (306.097 km); reduced to 55 laps / 139.480 miles (224.471 km) due to rain and two-hour time limit.
  • Race weather: 93 °F (34 °C), scattered showers (Sunday); 79 °F (26 °C), scattered clouds (Monday)
  • Television: Versus (Bob Jenkins, Jon Beekhuis, Wally Dallenbach Jr., Robin Miller(May 1), Davey Hamilton(May 2), Kevin Lee
  • Nielsen ratings:
  • Attendance: 41,000 (Sunday)
  • Pole position winner: #12 Will Power, 1:21.8958 sec, 111.478 mph (179.406 km/h)
  • Most laps led: #12 Will Power, 32
  • Summary:
  • Race Report: 2011 São Paulo Indy 300
  • Summary: Rain forced a postponement of the race after 15 laps. On Monday morning, the race resumed. Leader Will Power pitted for fuel on lap 36, giving the lead to Takuma Sato. With rain soaking the course, Sato's team hoped to stretch out their fuel window in hopes of a caution, and the possibility of leading the race when the time limit expired. Sato was forced to pit on lap 48, and Power retook the lead. The race ended after 55 laps with Power the victor.
Podium Finishers
Pos Grid No. Driver Team Laps Time Led
1 1 12   Will Power Team Penske 55 2:04:05.2964 32
2 5 38   Graham Rahal Chip Ganassi Racing 55 +4.6723 0
3 4 6   Ryan Briscoe Team Penske 55 +7.9037 0
Race average speed: 67.442 mph (108.537 km/h)
Lead changes: 2 between 2 drivers
Cautions: 6 for 21 laps

Round 5: 95th Indianapolis 500Edit

Top Three Finishers
Driver Team Laps Time Laps
1 6 98   Dan Wheldon Bryan Herta Autosport 200 2:56:11.7267 1
2 12 4   J. R. Hildebrand Panther Racing 200 +2.1086 7
3 29 38   Graham Rahal Chip Ganassi Racing 200 +5.5949 6
Race average speed: 170.265 mph (274.015 km/h)
Lead changes: 23 between 10 drivers
Cautions: 7 for 40 laps

Round 6: Firestone Twin 275sEdit

  • Saturday June 11, 2011 – 7:45 p.m. CDT (8:45 p.m. EDT)
  • Texas Motor SpeedwayFort Worth, Texas; Permanent racing facility, 1.455 miles (2.342 km)
  • Distance: 2 races of 114 laps / 165.870 miles (266.942 km)
  • Race weather: 91 °F (33 °C), clear skies (Race 1); 87 °F (31 °C), clear skies (Race 2)
  • Television: Versus (Bob Jenkins, Jon Beekhuis, Dan Wheldon, Lindy Thackston, Robbie Floyd, Kevin Lee, Robin Miller)
  • Nielsen ratings: 0.55 rating,[79] (0.38 overnight)[80]
  • Attendance: 73,000 (announced crowd)[81]
  • Pole position winner: #77 Alex Tagliani, 48.6834 sec, 215.186 mph (346.308 km/h) (Race 1, 2-lap qualifying); #82 Tony Kanaan (Race 2, draw)
  • Most laps led: #10 Dario Franchitti, 110 (Race 1); #12 Will Power, 68 (Race 2)
  • Race Report: 2011 Firestone Twin 275s
  • Summary: The popular "twin race" format from the 1970s and early 1980s returned to Indy car racing at Texas. Dario Franchitti dominated the first race, which saw only one caution. Wade Cunningham and Charlie Kimball crashed on lap 92, with Cunningham crashing Dan Wheldon's Indy 500 winning car from two weeks prior. At halftime, the drivers chose their starting positions for race #2 by a blind draw on a stage on the frontstretch. Tony Kanaan was the lucky driver who picked position number 1. Will Power picked starting position #3, but the winner of the first race, Franchitti, was mired back in 28th starting position. Controversy followed the race, as many in the paddock believed the blind draw was an unfair method to select the starting positions (many thought they should have simply inverted the field). The second race went without a caution, and Power went on to win. Franchitti was not a factor, but charged all the way to 7th at the finish.