IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2006-02-23

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- Feb. 23, 2006 Today's IRL headlines 1. Abbott to race opener with Michael Crawford Motorsports 2. Case Automotive Group partners with AGR 3. Vonage to sponsor Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg 4. Wheldon, ...

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- Feb. 23, 2006

Today's IRL headlines
1. Abbott to race opener with Michael Crawford Motorsports
2. Case Automotive Group partners with AGR
3. Vonage to sponsor Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
4. Wheldon, Patrick featured in ESPN.com poll

1. Abbott to race opener with Michael Crawford Motorsports: Michael Crawford Motorsports, the youngest team in the Indy Racing League Indy Pro Series, has signed Mishael Abbott to drive in the season-opening Miami 100 March 26 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Abbott, a 24-year-old from Coral Springs, Fla., also will test the team's No. 8 Indy Pro Series machine at the facility March 4 and 6 in the series' first Open Test of 2006.

"This is another great step forward," said Crawford, who opened the doors of Michael Crawford Motorsports in January. "I'm really excited to work with Mishael. She brings a lot to the program. She qualified fourth at Homestead last year. We want to live up to that, do better than that."

Abbott was the first woman to compete in the Indy Pro Series last year when she made four starts. She finished eighth on the 1.5-mile oval at Homestead-Miami in her series debut.

"I'm so excited to race for the local Florida fans in the Indy Pro Series at Homestead-Miami, especially under the successful leadership of Michael Crawford Motorsports," said Abbott, who is pursuing dual degrees from Florida Atlantic University in elementary education and at the University of Indianapolis in sports marketing.

Both Abbott and Crawford believe this is the first step in what promises to be a highly successful 2006 campaign.

"I feel like this can really be a breakout season for me," Abbott said. "If I can secure funding for the full season, I know I can get closer to my goal of someday winning the Indianapolis 500."

Said Crawford: "We started with a super test in January, and now we've signed our first driver. We're still in serious conversation with several individuals about driving our second car."

The Indy Pro Series is the premier ladder series for drivers, teams and sponsors striving to compete in the IndyCar® Series and the Indianapolis 500. The 12-race schedule in 2006 features six races on ovals and six races on road courses, including competing on both circuits at the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Teams compete for $3 million in prize money in cars that generate 420 horsepower and speeds in excess of 190 mph. The races are telecast to more than 88 million homes in the United States on ESPN2.

2. Case Automotive Group partners with AGR: The Rick Case Automotive Group, one of South Florida's most recognized car dealers, has joined forces with Andretti Green Racing as the team's exclusive Honda dealer sponsor.

Rick Case's logo will be featured on each of the team's Honda-powered cars in all 14 races, beginning with the Toyota Indy 300 on March 26 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The Rick Case Automotive Group, founded in 1962 and headquartered in South Florida since 1986, is owned and operated by Rita and Rick Case. With 13 dealerships in Florida, Georgia and Ohio, the Rick Case Automotive Group offers Acura, Hyundai, Mazda, Mitsubishi and Honda Cars & Cycles products.

3. Vonage to sponsor Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg: Vonage Marketing, subsidiary of Vonage Holdings Corp., a leading provider of broadband phone service, has become a sponsor of the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, race officials announced.

Vonage, based in Holmdel, N.J., is the "Official Internet Phone Service Provider" for the event, which will be held March 30 through April 2 in downtown St. Petersburg, Fla. Its sponsorship will be highlighted by prominent signage within the race course and will also be activated through an online promotion and retail promotions with Michael Andretti at Circuit City stores in the Miami and Tampa/St. Petersburg areas leading up to the event.

"Vonage looks forward with great excitement to sponsoring the Honda Grand Prix, along with the Andretti Green Racing team," said Michael Tribolet, president of Vonage America. Presenting our brand to the Indy race fans on the track at St. Pete, will help bring our low priced calling plans to Florida residents."

The 2006 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, which will be held on a 14-turn, 1.8-mile temporary street circuit, will feature the second round of the 14-race IndyCar Series and support races from the Indy Pro Series and Sports Car Club of America. The IndyCar Series event will be televised live on ESPN and broadcast live on XM Satellite Radio (Extreme XM, channel 152).

"We're thrilled to enter into a partnership with Vonage for the Honda Grand Prix," said Kevin Savoree, managing director of the event and co-owner of Andretti Green Promotions. "Vonage will be a great sponsor for what we believe is becoming one of the premier street races in the country."

4. Wheldon, Patrick featured in ESPN.com poll: Two of the IndyCar Series' hottest stars are featured in ESPN.com Page 2's "Hottest Athlete" poll.

Reigning IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500 champion Dan Wheldon and 2005 Bombardier Rookie of the Year Danica Patrick are among the candidates in the "Hottest Male Athlete" and "Hottest Female Athlete" voting. They are the only race drivers listed in the poll.

To vote for Wheldon: visit sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/features/hottestMen_Vote

To vote for Patrick, visit: sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/features/hottestWomen_Vote

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The IRL IndyCar Series opens the 2006 season with the Toyota Indy 300 at 3:30 p.m. (EST) on March 26 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be broadcast live on ABC Sports and the IMS Radio Network. The IMS Radio Network broadcast is also carried on XM Satellite Radio channel 152, "XM Extreme" and www.indycar.com. The fifth season of Indy Pro Series competition opens with the Miami 100 at 12:30 p.m. on March 26 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be telecast at 1 p.m. on March 31 by ESPN2.

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Michael Andretti , Dan Wheldon , Mishael Abbott , Danica Patrick