Notes: Barber race telecast rating jumps 50 percent

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The Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by America’s First continues to be a favorite of fans attending in person and watching on television.

Sunday’s race telecast on NBCSN drew a rating 50 percent higher than the 2016 telecast. Weekend attendance at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham totaled 82,745 and resulted in a 10 percent increase in ticket revenue.

The final TV rating was 0.39, up from a 0.26 rating in 2016. Top-rated local markets included Indianapolis, Birmingham, West Palm Beach, Richmond (Virginia) and Phoenix – the latter the site of this weekend’s next Verizon IndyCar Series race, the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix. The race from the Phoenix Raceway oval will also be televised on NBCSN at 9 p.m. ET Saturday.

With a three-year extension announced last year with sanctioning body INDYCAR, the Barber Motorsports Park race promoted by ZOOM Motorsports is set on the schedule through at least 2019. This year’s race was the eighth at the scenic road course and its popularity continues to grow.

“It’s a great validation of what they’ve been doing here; they’re part of the fabric of the Birmingham community,” said Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Company, the parent of INDYCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “The race fans are tremendous here, and (ZOOM Motorsports officials) have broadened their efforts with a workforce development component that the state and local governments are involved in. They’ve really done a great job.

“It’s a great track and all our drivers love being here. It earns the moniker of ‘The Augusta of Indy car racing.’”

Loftus Robinson renews Dreyer & Reinbold Racing partnership

Loftus Robinson, an Indianapolis-based commercial real estate developer, will continue its partnership with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing in this year’s 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.

Sage Karam and Loftus RobinsonLoftus Robinson’s DRR partnership marks the third consecutive year that the local company has been a partner with the No. 24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Chevrolet. Sage Karam of Nazareth, Pennsylvania, returns as the team’s driver.

Loftus Robinson, operated by founding principals Drew Loftus and Kyle Robinson, focuses on mixed-use multi-family housing, office and hotels. The company uses its Indy 500 involvement to cultivate existing and future project relationships.

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, founded in 2000 by Indianapolis car dealer Dennis Reinbold, has successfully qualified all 37 drivers entered in the Indy 500. The Indy 500 legacy of the Dreyer and Reinbold families dates to the 1920s with Reinbold’s grandfather, Floyd “Pop” Dreyer, who served as a crewman/mechanic on the famed Duesenberg cars after a successful motorcycle racing career.

“Being an Indianapolis-based company, we felt it has been important to partner with another local company, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, in the famed Indy 500,” said Loftus. “The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has served as a great backdrop for our businesses growth. We have enjoyed our relationship with Dennis and his racing team. They have built a tremendous infrastructure to assist us and our partners through the event. We’re anxious to see Sage back on track in the No. 24 DRR Chevrolet this May.”

Chevrolet closes gap in manufacturers’ battle

On the strength of Josef Newgarden’s win for Team Penske last weekend, Chevrolet narrowed its deficit to Honda in the Verizon IndyCar Series manufacturers’ championship to 29 points.

Newgarden won the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by America’s First in the No. 2 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Team Penske Chevrolet. It was Chevy’s first race win of the 2017 season, following two for Honda.

Chevrolet garnered a total of 91 points at Barber Motorsports Park to total 226 for the season. Honda added 70 points to its season total that now stands at 255 heading to Saturday night’s Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix at Phoenix Raceway (9 p.m. ET, NBCSN and Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network).

INDYCAR Grand Prix attendees can visit IMS Museum for free

Admission to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum will be free for INDYCAR Grand Prix ticket holders during the two-day event on the IMS road course, May 12-13.

A general admission or reserved seat ticket must be presented for entry to the museum, located in the IMS infield, between Turns 1 and 2 of the oval, just inside Gate 2. The IMS Museum features race cars and other memorabilia from every era of the Indianapolis 500, as well as cars and artifacts from many other forms of racing.

A new museum exhibit this year honoring legendary A.J. Foyt, who earned his record-setting fourth Indianapolis 500 victory 40 years ago, in 1977.

Children 15 and under gain free admission both days of the INDYCAR Grand Prix weekend, and at all IMS racing events, in general admission areas when accompanied by a ticketed adult. Fans will be allowed to walk on the track after the 85-lap race on the 2.439-mile road course.

Visit IMS.com to buy tickets and learn more about the INDYCAR Grand Prix and 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil that follows on the 2.5-mile oval on May 28.

Mann secures ride in Lamborghini Super Trofeo series

Pippa Mann, who will attempt to make her sixth Indianapolis 500 start next month, has been named to drive a Prestige Performance/Wayne Taylor Racing entries in the pro-am category of the 2017 Lamborghini Super Trofeo North American Series. Mann, 33, will team with Jackie Heinricher to form an all-female team.

Prestige Performance won the pro driver and pro-am driver and team championships in the series last year. This year’s schedule features five event weekends, opening at Circuit of the Americas from May 4-6 before Mann joins Dale Coyne Racing for her Indy 500 effort.

“I am thrilled to be joining Prestige Performance and Wayne Taylor Racing for the 2017 Super Trofeo season,” Mann said. “Learning a new car, a new team, a new series, and new tracks will be a big learning experience for me, and I’m extremely excited not only to have this opportunity, but to have this opportunity with such a great team.”

From the fans