Iinside Indy:/I Yellow For Gregoire

With the retirement of Lyn St. James on Sunday, sponsor Yellow Freight System needed to find a driver to sponsor in this year’s Indianapolis 500.

Company officials didn’t have to look far to find their man. Dick Simon Racing driver Stephan Gregoire will carry the company’s colors, as St. James did last year for Simon.

"With 44 IRL starts, including six Indianapolis 500 participations, Stephan Gregoire is one of the most experienced drivers, and we believe that he is a real contender in this year’s race," said Greg Reid, senior vice president and chief communication officer for Yellow Corp. "Dick Simon Racing is one of the best Indy Racing teams and team owner Dick Simon one of the most recognized auto racing personalities."

"Motorsports sponsorships have proven to be a cost-effective way to increase our brand identity to an audience of millions of people that includes most of our current and prospective customers," said Yellow Freight president James Welch. "Our involvement with Stephan Gregoire is symbolic. It’s our way of telling the world that Yellow is a completely high-performance company just like Stephan Gregoire, we’re going to be a tough, high-performance competitor every day.

"Our drivers may not drive as fast as Stephan, but they are just as committed to winning customers and proving that we are the best transportation services company in America, by far."

Gregoire drives the No. 7 Dallara-Aurora in the Indy Racing Northern Lights Series. He has been without a primary sponsor for the first three races of the season after Mexmil pulled out on the eve of the first race of the season.

Yellow also sponsors the NASCAR Busch Series’ Phoenix Racing Team with driver Jimmy Spencer.

Casey Carries on Mears Legacy: Casey Mears certainly knows the importance the month of May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. After all, father Roger participated in the race and uncle Rick won the Greatest Spectacle in Racing a record four times.

Still, when he arrived at the track as a competitor on Sunday for practice, he was taken aback.

"As for my first official day at Indy, it was awesome," said Mears, who drives the No. 31 G Force Aurora. "It's amazing the number of people that were here on opening day and I can tell the month is going to be pretty intense compared to the season we've run so far."

The return of big-name drivers such as Tony Stewart, Arie Luyendyk, Michael Andretti and Scott Goodyear has created a level of hoopla that has been absent for quite some time. But, because he is accustomed to the goings on at Indy, Mears doesn’t think he’ll get caught up in the drama that is Indy.

"The fact that I am so new to all of this, I believe really plays in my favor," Mears said. "I can certainly appreciate all of the legacies, but without getting too caught up in all of the hype that I get overly distracted."

Mears was 16th fastest in Sunday’s opening day of practice for the Indianapolis 500. He turned in a lap at 216.501 mph. He completed 65 miles of practice.

Happy Returns: Scott Goodyear and Arie Luyendyk proved that their brief retirements have not hindered their driving abilities.

Goodyear put Cheever Indy Racing’s No. 52 Dallara-Aurora in the Top 5 with a 220.084 mph lap that was good enough for fourth on opening day. Luyendyk, who hasn’t raced since 1999 at Indy, was seventh fastest in Treadway Hubbard Racing’s No. 5 G Force-Aurora.

Both drivers were pleased with their progress during the first day of practice.

"We went a little quicker today than we did at the test here in April, and to have both Eddie and myself in the top-four on the first day is very good," said Goodyear, a two-time runner-up in the Indianapolis 500. "I think we have more speed in there yet, so I'm very pleased."

Luyendyk completed 36 laps of practice in windy conditions.

"I'm excited to be back in Indy," the two-time winner said. "Today, it took some time to get up to speed in the Treadway/Hubbard Racing Meijer car due to windy conditions. I just wanted to take my time and get comfortable with the car. I do not think that it is important to be at the top of the speed charts on the first day, but it was nice not to be too far off the pace for the day."

Yet Another Indy Upgrade: It’s not as dramatic a change as the addition of the Formula One track in the infield or the rebuilt Pagoda tower, but another piece of the Brickyard underwent a change in the offseason.

The former flagstand was removed and was replaced by a battleship-style perch that is taller than the former box-style flagstand.

The new version of the flagstand was just completed this past month.

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Auto Club 500

@ Auto Club Speedway
Saturday, October 19, 2013
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