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Andersen Racing Is Busy With Driver Tests at Sebring

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SEBRING, Oct. 29, 2010: The Firestone Indy Lights, Star Mazda and USF2000 seasons are over for 2010, but Andersen Racing is busy this week giving five drivers the opportunity to test cars on two different steps on the Road to Indy.

The team, which is based at Andersen RacePark in Palmetto, Fla., and sponsored by Allied Building Products Corp., is conducting the tests at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Fla.

Conor Daly of Noblesville, Ind., the 2010 titlist in the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear, and Nick Andries of Pinellas Park, Fla., who raced in the Skip Barber National series as well as selected events in the Star Mazda series this year, completed a half-day test yesterday in the team’s Firestone Indy Lights cars.

Daly, who drove for Andersen Racing in the Star Mazda series in 2009, continued to build on what he learned yesterday with another day of Firestone Indy Lights testing today thanks to support from Performance Friction, the Star Mazda series and Andersen Racing. Performance Friction is the exclusive brake pad and disc supplier for the Star Mazda and USF2000 series, and its also supplies brake components for many Firestone Indy Lights teams and many other series around the world.

Daly, 18, drove a Firestone Indy Lights car once before in a test conducted by Sam Schmidt Motorsports last month at Putnam Park in Mount Meridian, Ind.

“It was good; we learned a lot and improved the car quite a bit,” said Daly Thursday afternoon after the Andersen Racing test. “It was great to work with the Andersen Racing team again; I enjoyed it.

“We did about 150 laps over the two days. It was all clean. From my perspective it was very productive.

“I have no idea what I’ll be doing next year yet, but I thank Mazda and the series, Andersen Racing and Performance Friction for providing the opportunity to do this test,” Daly added.

Daly said he liked driving a Firestone Indy Lights car. “They’re a lot heavier [than a Star Mazda car] but the power is nice; it’s always fun to be in a faster race car,” he said.

“Yesterday both Nick and Conor did about 46 laps and today Conor did just over 90 laps, so Nick did about 75 miles and Conor did about a total of 225 miles,” noted Mike Reggio, one of Andersen Racing’s engineers.

“Neither driver had any issues at all,” Reggio said. “Both took it easy and got used to the car, and neither of them even dropped a wheel. Nick did his fastest lap at the end of the day yesterday. Both gave good feedback. It was nice to see how Conor’s feedback has improved over the year since I worked with him in the past.”

“It was my first time in a Firestone Indy Lights car, and it was really fun,” said Andries, 19. “It’s definitely different from the Mazda, but I had a good time. I was happy with my performance. I just wanted to learn as much as possible.

“There’s a lot more horsepower in a Firestone Indy Lights car than the Star Mazda car, and it’s definitely heavier,” Andries added. “The main differences were the horsepower and I think the Star Mazda brakes better. But overall I thought the car was stable; it’s not as responsive as a Star Mazda car, but it’s definitely fast, that’s for sure.”

Like Daly, Andries’ plans for 2011 are up in the air. “Right now I’m leaning towards a full season in Star Mazda and maybe some Firestone Indy Lights races, but it’s a matter of finding funding, like everything else,” he said.

Andersen Racing is the top team in the Star Mazda championship. It won the team title in 2008 and 2010, and finished second in those point standings in 2009.

Tristan Vautier of Corenc, France, who finished fifth in the 2010 Star Mazda series for Andersen Racing as a rookie, is scheduled to get his first taste of driving a Firestone Indy Lights car in a half-day test tomorrow at Sebring. Vautier, 21, won the first Star Mazda race he ever competed in when he was victorious at the season opener at Sebring in March. He also won a Star Mazda race at New Jersey Motorsports Park in June.

Anders Krohn, 22, of Stavanger, Norway and Houston, Texas, who finished second in the 2010 Star Mazda series in an Andersen Racing mount, completed an Andersen Racing Firestone Indy Lights test earlier this year at Putnam Park, and even competed in the Firestone Indy Lights race at Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, N.Y. in July with the team.

The top two drivers in the Championship class of the “Cooper Tires Presents the USF2000 National Championship Powered by Mazda” are slated for half-day tests in Andersen Racing Star Mazda cars tomorrow at Sebring too. The champion is Andretti Autosport’s Sage Karam of Nazareth, Pa., while the runner-up is Patrick McKenna of Dublin, Ireland, who drives for Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing. As part of his winnings, Karam, 15, earned a scholarship from Mazda valued at $350,000 to help him advance to the Star Mazda series next year.

McKenna hopes to join Karam there in 2011. Earlier this week McKenna, 23, learned that he’d been named the Dunlop Motorsport Ireland “Young Driver of the Year” for the second consecutive year.

Karam drove a Star Mazda car once before in a test conducted last year by World Speed Motorsports at Thunderhill Raceway Park in Willows, Calif.