IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2005-02-25

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- Feb. 25, 2005 Today's IRL headlines 1. Don't overlook Herta, Franchitti as contenders 2. Chevy SSR returns as IndyCar Series safety vehicle 3. Roth aims for double duty again in 2005 4. Show car in ...

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- Feb. 25, 2005

Today's IRL headlines
1. Don't overlook Herta, Franchitti as contenders
2. Chevy SSR returns as IndyCar Series safety vehicle
3. Roth aims for double duty again in 2005
4. Show car in Kentucky

1. Don't overlook Herta, Franchitti as contenders: Note -- The following story is part of a series previewing each of the teams competing in the IRL IndyCar® Series.

Kim Green's comments were just what Dario Franchitti and Bryan Herta wanted to hear.

"Both Bryan and Dario have every intention of being good teammates, but they intend on knocking Tony (Kanaan) and Dan (Wheldon) off the top spot," the Andretti Green Racing co-owner said.

Thanks for the confidence boost, boss. Will it be difficult to supplant the reigning IndyCar Series champion and runner-up? No doubt. Is it doable? Certainly. Franchitti, with two victories and eight top-10 finishes, was sixth in points last season. Herta, who had 10 top-10 finishes, was ninth.

They've already served notice to the entire IndyCar Series field that they'll be a force on the ovals and the series' venture into road- and street-course racing. In testing at the 1-mile Phoenix International Raceway two weeks ago, Franchitti topped the overall speed chart in the No. 27 ArcaEx Dallara/Honda/Firestone. Herta was seventh in the No. 7 XM Satellite Radio entry. And both are chomping at the bit to turn right.

Franchitti, who returned to the series after back surgery limited his participation in 2003 to three events, placed in the top 10 in half of the 16 events and led six races but witnessed additional opportunities slide away.

"We've worked to correct some problems and I think we're ready," said Franchitti, whose two victories in 20 IndyCar Series starts came on 1-mile ovals.

Herta had a high finish of second and led four races for a total of 67 laps in his first full season with AGR.

"I'm back with the same group of people this year on the No. 7 XM Satellite Radio car, and I expect that we'll be able to build on the experience that we had from last year working together and that we'll be regular competitors for wins," said Herta, who had one victory in 11 events in 2003 for Andretti Green Racing as the substitute for the injured Franchitti. "Hopefully, each race day my teammates and I can fight each other for the win."

Capsule look at Andretti Green Racing
Team owners: Michael Andretti, Kim Green, Kevin Savoree
Car numbers: 7 (Herta), 11 (Kanaan), 26 (Wheldon), 27 (Franchitti)
Chassis/engine/tires: Dallara/Honda/Firestone
Team managers: John Anderson, George Klotz
Chief engineers: 7 (Martin Pare), 11 (Eric Cowdin), 26 (Eddie Jones), 27 (Allen McDonald)

Co-owner Kim Green's viewpoint

About Herta: "We are really striving to help Bryan get a win this season. He was such a good teammate last year in working with the other three drivers and all the engineers to get the best possible race cars each weekend. During the season he also became Honda Performance Development's key driver for feedback on the engine which helped all the Honda drivers. We expect more of the same from him because he is the ultimate team member that you could hope for."

About Franchitti: "He proved he can win and became a master on short-oval tracks. Dario always has been a very key contributor to helping develop car setups. Going forward, I see Dario being more determined now that he's competed on every circuit that the IRL runs, a much better familiarity with the series and the race cars and the needs of the race cars. I think he's going to be a title contender in 2005."

***

2. Chevy SSR returns as IndyCar Series safety vehicle: The Chevy SSR will again serve as the official safety vehicle for all 2005 IRL IndyCar® Series events, with the exception of the 89th Indianapolis 500 in May. The two SSRs prepared for safety vehicle duties are virtually identical to their counterparts in Chevrolet showrooms.

The selection of the Chevy SSR as safety vehicle for the 2005 season continues GM's tradition of leading the IndyCar Series field, which began with the league's founding in 1996. It also marks the second year a truck-based Chevrolet will lead the charge to the green flag in IRL races.

Chevy's SSR is truly a unique vehicle, blending the characteristics of an open-air roadster with the styling of a pickup. A highlight of the SSR's design is a unique one-button, power-operated retractable hardtop that stores out of sight in a separate compartment located behind the driver and passenger.

The frame and chassis of the SSR are similar in design to Chevy's midsize TrailBlazer family of sport utilities. All major exterior panels are of one-piece stamped steel. Under the hood is a 6.0-liter LS2 small-block V-8 that generates 390 horsepower at 5,400 rpm and 405 lb-ft of torque at 4,400 rpm. That power drives the rear wheels through a four-speed automatic transmission. Rounding out the SSR's sporty appearance are 19-inch front and 20-inch rear tires and wheels.

"The SSR brings a high-profile, high-image vehicle to the IndyCar Series that is sure to thrill race fans," said Ken Ungar, senior vice president of business affairs for the IRL. "We can't wait to see it leading the field throughout the 2005 IndyCar Series season."

Few modifications were made to the SSRs to prepare them for their safety duties at the head of the pack in the IndyCar Series. Heavy-duty engine and transmission oil coolers, higher rate springs and shock absorbers, and a lower restriction exhaust system ensure optimum performance in the harsh environment of professional racing.

Safety equipment includes racing-style safety belts and strobe lights recessed into the tailgate. A patriotic red, white and blue paint scheme and IndyCar Series logos provide high visibility on the race track. Chevrolet's "An American Revolution" marketing theme also is featured prominently on the vehicle. An onboard camera gives television viewers an unrivaled view from the track.

***

3. Roth aims for double duty again in 2005: Note -- The following story is part of a series previewing each of the teams competing in the IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series

The month of May 2004 was one of the busiest periods in Marty Roth's racing career. The Toronto native logged more than 1,500 miles at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as he practiced for both the Futaba Freedom 100 and the Indianapolis 500.

Roth, who began racing cars in 1987, formed his own race team prior to the 2004 season. He began the season in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series, competing at Homestead-Miami, Phoenix and Indianapolis. He made headlines in March when he purchased a car for the IndyCar Series and announced his intentions to compete in the 88th Indianapolis 500.

After logging all of those practice miles, Roth became one of two drivers (Jeff Simmons) to compete in both races at Indianapolis in the same year. Roth finished 16th in the Futaba Freedom 100, falling out due to an electrical problem, and 24th in the Indianapolis 500, completing 128 laps before an accident.

This year, he plans to run a full season in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series and compete again in the Indianapolis 500.

"We're working hard to get a sponsor for the Indy 500," said Roth. "We definitely are trying to get the big car out for the big show.

"We've got a great team of guys. (Team manager Mark Moore) has put guys together he's worked with in the past, and we're real happy with them. We're getting used to working with each other and getting out there and running. I'm looking forward to the season. We're starting off right. Everybody is on the same page, so it should be an exciting year."

Capsule Look At Roth Racing
Chassis/engine/tire: Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone
Owner: Marty Roth
Driver: Marty Roth
Team manager: Mark Moore
Chief mechanic: Rick Duman

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4. Show car in Kentucky: A Menards/Johns Manville IndyCar Series car will be on display in the Kentucky Speedway booth at the Florence Mall Car Show Feb. 25-27 in Florence, Ky.

***

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 televised 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 televised by ESPN2 at 4 p.m. (EST) on March 17.

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Michael Andretti , Dario Franchitti , Bryan Herta , Marty Roth , Kim Green , Jeff Simmons , John Anderson