Indy Racing League News and Notes -- Dec. 1, 2004
Today's IRL headlines
1. IRL Corporate Offices Support Local Toy Drive
2. Dana Tests IndyCar Series Car With Hemelgarn
3. Nashville Superspeedway Adds SAFER Barrier
1. IRL Corporate Offices Support Local Toy Drive: The Indy Racing League corporate office is serving as a drop-off point for an Indianapolis television station's annual toy drive this holiday season.
Race fans and other Indianapolis residents are encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy to the IRL office at 4565 W. 16th Street in Indianapolis by Dec. 17 to donate to the Fourth Annual RTV6 Toy Drive.
The drive provides toys for thousands of Indiana children during each holiday season. Last year, more than 12,000 toys were collected and the drive has collected more toys than the previous year.
"So many children go without presents during the holidays because their families must provide necessities such as food, shelter and medicine," WRTV-6 meteorologist Kevin Gregory said. "With the help of our friends, we're able to make the RTV6 Toy Drive bigger than before to ease the burden for thousands of Hoosier families."
2. Dana Tests IndyCar Series Car For Hemelgarn: Paul Dana, who finished second in the IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series in 2004, tested an IRL IndyCar® Series car Nov. 29 at Phoenix International Raceway with Hemelgarn Racing.
Dana, a native of St. Louis who now lives in Indianapolis, completed approximately 80 laps in the team's 2002-spec Dallara on the 1-mile oval. He also practiced pit stops.
"Paul did a good job," said team manager Lee Kunzman. "He took his time getting comfortable at first, but then was right on race pace. He got into the high 20-second range. For the track conditions and how we had the car set, those were the lap times we expected."
In 12 races this season in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series, Dana recorded seven top-five finishes, including four seconds and his first career victory. He was thrilled with his first experience driving an IndyCar Series car.
"It was awesome to finally get a chance to drive an IndyCar Series car," he said. "To have been chasing this for so long, it's a dream come true. The amount of grip the thing has is unreal. It makes great power. It sounds awesome. It handled well and was really predictable, which made my job easier. I had a blast and can't wait to do it again."
Hemelgarn Racing was a founding team in the IndyCar Series in 1996 and, in partnership with USAC team owner Roger Johnson, in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series in 2002. Dana, who raced in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series with Hemelgarn in 2004, hopes to remain with the team.
"It's no secret that we've been working hard to put a program together to step up," Dana said. "Today was just the first step. I'd like to thank Ron Hemelgarn for giving me the opportunity to drive his car. Hopefully we'll have something to announce about our 2005 plans soon."
3. Nashville Superspeedway Adds SAFER Barrier: Dover Motorsports will add the SAFER Barrier to Nashville Superspeedway in time for its 2005 racing season.
Installation of the SAFER Barrier, which is designed to reduce the level of impacts made by race cars, will start this month at the 1.33-mile concrete facility.
Nashville Superspeedway is the 10th track where the IndyCar Series races to install the barrier.
'It's the right thing to do,'' Nashville Superspeedway Vice President and General Manager Cliff Hawks told the (Nashville) Tennessean. ''This is an extremely fast race track and we feel it is necessary to do everything we can to protect our drivers. Clearly the SAFER walls offer protection in the event of a crash.''
The IRL IndyCar Series opens its 10th season of competition with the Toyota Indy 300 at 2 p.m. (EST) on March 6, 2005 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be broadcast live on ESPN and the IMS Radio Network. The 2005 Menards Infiniti Pro Series season also opens on March 6 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be broadcast by ESPN2 at 4 p.m. (EST) on March 17.