Indy Racing League News and Notes -- Jan. 4, 2005
Today's IRL headlines
1. Winning AGR cars headed to Japan
2. Gregg Rejoins Sam Schmidt For Full Season
1. Winning AGR cars headed to Japan: Steve Price says he's losing a friend.
Price, a mechanic on the IRL IndyCar® Series championship-winning team of Tony Kanaan, had seen the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone entry through an unprecedented 3,305 laps in the 2004 season.
He polished and protected it, and even talked to it.
Now the car is destined for a place of honor in the Honda Collection Hall at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan. On the way, it will be displayed at the North American International Auto Show Jan. 15-23 at Cobo Hall/Exhibition Center in Detroit.
Kanaan set numerous IndyCar Series records, including leading 889 laps and recording 15 top-five finishes.
"I grow attached to my car," said Price, a certified aerospace machinist. "It's a memento to me of what we've done. I take it personal; maybe too much. It's my baby. I don't like to see anything happen to it."
There are six crew members assigned to each Andretti Green Racing entry on race weekends who cover mechanical issues -- the crew chief, four mechanics and a gearbox person. Much like the four Andretti Green Racing drivers who get along famously, a bond developed during the championship season between the crew members.
"We all get along with our crew chief (Jeff Simon) and he understands what we're doing," said Price, also the right rear tire changer on the No. 11 entry. "He knows we have the same goals, so he lets us do our thing.
"We can joke with each other while we do our jobs, go out to dinner with each other and do things outside the shop with each other. It just makes it easy. When you have a team like this, it gives you the opportunity to do what you love and appreciate what you do."
Price will be able to visit the car when the IndyCar Series competes for the third consecutive year at Twin Ring Motegi on April 30.
Like the No. 11 entry, the No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone car will become a "running" member of the Honda Collection Hall. The car, driven by 2004 IndyCar Series points runner-up Dan Wheldon, was the first Honda to win on its home track. A stop at the Los Angeles Auto Show Jan. 7-16 at the Los Angeles Convention Center is scheduled before it is shipped to Japan.
2. Gregg Rejoins Sam Schmidt For Full Season: Travis Gregg will drive for Sam Schmidt Motorsports in the IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series in 2005.
Gregg, 26, from Camden, Ohio, contested three races with the team in 2004. He debuted at Kentucky where he qualified on the pole position and led 57 laps before finishing fifth. Gregg also started on the front row at Chicagoland and Texas and finished the season with a second-place finish.
"We are very pleased to add Travis to our team for 2005," said team owner Sam Schmidt, who will also field a car for Chris Festa in 2005. "With his past racing experience and his excellent performances with us last year, the crew is looking forward to contending for the championship. Travis honed his skills and gained sufficient confidence to compete for victories immediately. In addition, I believe Travis and Chris will make excellent teammates due to their varied backgrounds, but similar driving styles."
Gregg began racing go-karts at age 7, raced Formula Atlantics in the late 1990s and spent the past few years racing sprint cars on dirt tracks in the Midwest before testing and racing with Sam Schmidt Motorsports last season.
"With the three races last year, learning from driving legends like Rick Mears and testing this winter, I feel we are prepared to win races and the championship," Gregg said. "The team is fantastic, and I feel like we can pick up right where we left off at Texas. I'm looking forward to the tests at Homestead and Phoenix with the other series participants."
Sam Schmidt Motorsports captured the Menards Infiniti Pro Series championship in 2004 with Thiago Medeiros. The team recorded six wins, nine pole positions and led 645 of 850 laps in 12 races.
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.