IPS: IRL: Behind the Barriers: Indy day nine

Dario Franchitti celebrated his 31st birthday at the Speedway today. As part of the celebration, Dario's Andretti Green Racing teammates Tony Kanaan, Bryan Herta and Dan Wheldon managed to sneak into ESPN's trackside studio during a live broadcast...

Dario Franchitti celebrated his 31st birthday at the Speedway today. As part of the celebration, Dario's Andretti Green Racing teammates Tony Kanaan, Bryan Herta and Dan Wheldon managed to sneak into ESPN's trackside studio during a live broadcast to slap three cakes on Franchitti's head. Early this morning, team co-owner Michael Andretti gave Dario a ride in the IRL Experience two-seater as a birthday gift.

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Buddy Lazier has landed a ride in the second Dreyer and Reinbold car. Robbie Buhl, who drove for Dreyer and Reinbold in the first three races off the season, retired from the cockpit to concentrate on an ownership position with the team. Felipe Giaffone has been retained to compete with the team for the remainder of the 2004 Indy Racing League IndyCar Series. "I've always enjoyed my relationship with Robbie (Buhl) and Dennis (Reinbold), and I'm pleased to be working with Owen Snyder and all of the crew members for Dreyer and Reinbold," said Lazier.

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Jaques Lazier has been spending a lot of time in turn three working as a spotter for A.J. Foyt Racing. Lazier is hoping to land a ride in one of Foyt's backup cars.

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Robby Gordon has announced that he will be cutting back on his schedule during the month of May. Gordon, who raced in the NASCAR Busch Series and Nextel Cup race at Richmond, still intends to do double duty at Indianapolis and Charlotte but has decided not to race in the Busch Series at Nazareth and Charlotte. "We didn't qualify where we wanted to at Indy, but I have complete faith in my guys that by race time we'll have one of the cars to beat. They're doing everything we ask of them, and now as the driver, I need to run as many laps as possible in order to have a great car for the race. We had the schedule worked out to do it all, but by taking two races off the schedule I think we'll be better prepared for Indy and Charlotte.

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Dreyer and Reinbold Infiniti, located on Indy's north side, will host an autograph session by Menards Infiniti Pro Series drivers Thiago Medeiros, Paul Dana, Jay Drake and Arie Luyendyk Jr. on May 20 from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

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The Menards Infiniti Pro Series teams loaded into the Speedway early this morning and began preparations for their first practice session, which begins at 10:30 a.m. Thursday. The team's transporters are located inside turn one, in line parallel to the IndyCar Series team's hospitality coaches.

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A day with Menards Infiniti Pro Series driver Arie Luyendyk was one of the live auction items at Sunday night's Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation gala held at Eddie Merlot's restaurant on the north side of Indianapolis. As the bidding reached $4,000, the final two bidders were asked to bump their bids to $4,500 and both were awarded with the opportunity to spend the day with Luyendyk Jr. The annual event, which is organized by Restart Communications president Linda Mansfield, raised over $100,000. Veteran television commentator Bob Jenkins was the emcee for the evening.

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Jack Arute's new book, "Jack Arute's Tales from the Indy 500," is now available in bookstores. Arute will be making several book signing appearances around Indianapolis starting May 22 from noon to 1:30 in the Pagoda Plaza. Arute will also be at the Borders bookstore in downtown Indianapolis from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on May 27.

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Robby Gordon , Felipe Giaffone , Robbie Buhl , Buddy Lazier , Arie Luyendyk , Michael Andretti , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Dan Wheldon , Sam Schmidt , Paul Dana , Jay Drake , A.J. Foyt , Eddie M , Jaques Lazier , Arie Luyendyk Jr.