Indy Racing League News and Notes 2008-09-10

Today's IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines 1. Mutoh topped competitive rookie field 2. IndyCar community caps season with charity golf tournament 1. Mutoh topped competitive rookie field: Hideki Mutoh came into the ...

Today's IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines
1. Mutoh topped competitive rookie field
2. IndyCar community caps season with charity golf tournament

1. Mutoh topped competitive rookie field: Hideki Mutoh came into the 2008 IndyCar Series season with the goal of winning Bombardier Learjet Rookie of the Year honors. A 24th-place finish in the season's first race at Homestead-Miami Speedway in March and the fact that many of the nine rookies in the field had considerable experience in high-powered, open-wheel race cars didn't lend itself to an easy task.

Mutoh persevered, however, and clinched top rookie honors in the season finale Sept. 7 at Chicagoland Speedway, edging Justin Wilson by six points and Will Power by 15.

"There were a lot of good Champ Car drivers who joined the IndyCar Series this year," Mutoh said of drivers such as Wilson and Power, who each had more than 30 starts in Champ Car but were considered rookies due to their lack of experience on ovals. "I knew it was going to be tough to win the rookie championship, so I'm very proud to be rookie of the year."

Mutoh, who drove the No. 27 Formula Dream entry for Andretti Green Racing, was seventh in rookie points after Homestead, but moved steadily up through the ranks with top-10 finishes at St. Petersburg, Kansas and the Indianapolis 500 - where he also earned top rookie honors.

Following a 12th-place finish at Milwaukee at the beginning of June, the 25-year-old Tokyo native moved into the lead and remained there the rest of the season. He moved as high as fifth overall in points after a career-best, second-place finish at Iowa.

"Hideki really impressed us with the way he handled his first season in the IndyCar Series," said Andretti Green Racing co-owner Michael Andretti, who also fielded cars for rookie of the year winners Marco Andretti in 2006 and Dan Wheldon in 2003. "He tried to take in as much information as he could from his teammates and really developed a lot as a driver as the year went on. One of our goals for him at the start of the season was for him to win rookie of the year, and he got it done. That's a big accomplishment, especially this year with so many talented drivers coming over as part of unification. We're really happy for him."

Wilson, Power and Graham Rahal (-58 points) also delivered memorable moments during their rookie campaigns. Wilson earned the victory at Belle Isle, Power delivered top-five finishes at Mid-Ohio and Chicagoland, and Rahal became the youngest winner in open-wheel history when he took the checkered flag at St. Petersburg.

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2. IndyCar community caps season with charity golf tournament: Bobby Rahal may never get the chance to race against his son on the track, but the pair share another passion outside of IndyCar Series racing that may just as nerve-wracking - golf.

The 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner and his son, the IndyCar Series' youngest race winner, Graham, were among the more than 150 golfers who participated in the 18th Phil Casey Charity Golf Tournament at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's Brickyard Crossing Golf Course.

I've given up trying to chase him (on the golf course)," the elder Rahal said after his team finished their round. "He hits it a lot farther than I do. I've given up trying to outpower him. I try to use old age and treachery to my advantage with him."

Graham Rahal, whose team finished several strokes behind the tournament winners from Brian Stewart Racing, said there may have been more teams relying on treachery in the tournament.

"It's fun for us to go out and play a round," Graham said. "We played pretty well. I guess the people in front of us had to be cheating because we played really well. It was a lot of fun to hit the ball as hard as you can because I had people behind me if need be."

Proceeds from the tournament, along with a silent auction at the event, benefit Valley Children's Hospital in Fresno, Calif., and the Hole in the Wall Camps.

Phil Casey, who retired as Indy Racing League senior technical director earlier this year, organized his first charity tournament in 1990 for a very personal reason. His granddaughter, Jennifer Burkhart, was diagnosed with pediatric diabetes at age 3. She was treated by doctors at Valley Children's Hospital.

"I say this every year, but I have to thank all the players," Casey said. "Without you, we wouldn't have a tournament and couldn't raise the money."

The Rahals, the tournament co-hosts, selected Hole in the Wall Camps to receive their half of the funds from the tournament, which included players such as IndyCar Series owner/driver Sarah Fisher, Indy Racing League president of competition and operations Brian Barnhart and Target Chip Ganassi Racing managing director Mike Hull.

"It always fun to play golf, and it's even better to play golf for a good purpose," Bobby Rahal said. "Graham has been involved with Paul (Newman) and Hole in the Wall Camps for a couple years, so anything I can do to help that organization, we're going to do it."

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The 2008 IndyCar Series season continues with a non-points paying race Oct. 26 at Surfers Paradise, Australia. The Nikon Indy 300 will be telecast live in High Definition at 10:30 p.m. (EDT) Oct. 25 by ESPN Classic and will re-air at 11 p.m. Oct. 26 on ESPN2. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network. A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPNDeportes. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio and www.indycar.com. The 2008 Firestone Indy Lights season has concluded.

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series INDYCAR , INDY LIGHTS
Drivers Justin Wilson , Sarah Fisher , Michael Andretti , Bobby Rahal , Graham Rahal , Dan Wheldon , Marco Andretti , Chip Ganassi , Will Power , Mike Hull , Hideki Mutoh , Brian Barnhart
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing