IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2006-04-17

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- April 17, 2006 Today's IRL headlines 1. Lloyd signs with AFS Racing for remainder of 2006 2. Hamilton takes New Zealand karting title 1. Lloyd signs with AFS Racing for remainder of 2006: A strong debut on...

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- April 17, 2006

Today's IRL headlines
1. Lloyd signs with AFS Racing for remainder of 2006
2. Hamilton takes New Zealand karting title

1. Lloyd signs with AFS Racing for remainder of 2006: A strong debut on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., has led to a full-season deal in the Indy Pro Series^Ù for Alex Lloyd with AFS Racing.

Lloyd, who earned the prestigious McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year award in 2003, will drive the No. 26 Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc. Dallara in the remaining nine races.

The 21-year-old didn't show any rust from limited racing since 2004. He qualified second on the 14-turn, 1.8-mile course in St. Petersburg. A broken end fence, which punctured a tire, cost him two laps and led to a 10th-place finish in the first of two races. He came back in the second race to finish on the podium, improving from 10th to third in the 40-lap event.

"I am thrilled to be able to announce that I will be completing the year in the Indy Pro Series with AFS Racing," Lloyd said. "We got on so well at St. Petersburg, and it's great to continue to work together. I'm looking forward to a successful season and can't wait to get back into the car."

Team owner Gary Peterson was happy to reward Lloyd, who gave the team its highest-ever finish.

"Alex is an exceptional talent, and with Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc's sponsorship, Alex will get the break he's been working for," Peterson said.

The next challenge for Lloyd will be racing on an oval. The team is planning a private test at Kentucky Speedway on April 23 before participating in an Open Test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on April 27.

"As a driver myself, I know the first time Alex walks through Gasoline Alley to the car he will be awed stepping on the hallowed grounds of the most famous raceway in the world," Peterson said. "Going into Turn 1 for the first time will be a memory he will never forget."

The Freedom 100 at Indianapolis on May 26 will be Lloyd's next race.

"Indy will be a fantastic weekend," Lloyd said. "To be racing on the same bill as the Indy 500 is something quite special. It will be a tough race given that I have no prior experience on ovals, but I'm sure I can get to grips with it quickly and am looking forward to another successful weekend."

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.

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2. Hamilton takes New Zealand karting title: Indy Pro Series^Ù racer Matthew Hamilton was the big winner April 15 on the first day of racing at the two-day Euro City Audi 2006 KartSport New Zealand National Sprint Championships, taking the Senior 100cc Yamaha Light title - and with it an all-expenses-paid trip to Japan courtesy of Yamaha Motor NZ.

Hamilton, winner of multiple New Zealand karting championships, took advantage of a break in the Indy Pro Series' schedule to return home and compete at this year's Sprint Kart Nationals.

Though he was overshadowed by Phillip Watkins and Mitchell Cunningham (younger brother of defending Indy Pro Series champion Wade Cunningham) in qualifying and the two heat races, Hamilton worked his way from 11th to sixth place in the 15-lap pre-final, then won the 25-lap final.

The event Hamilton will attend in Japan is the annual Toyota TDP Challenge, where competitors from Japan and selected Yamaha markets around the world gather to compete against each other at the Mobaru Twin Circuit at Mobaru Motor Sport Land near Mobaru City in the Cibu Prefecture. The event will be held in October.

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The 2006 IRL IndyCar Series continues with the Indy Japan 300 at midnight (EDT) on April 22 at Twin Ring Motegi. ESPN2 will telecast the race at Noon (EDT) on April 22. The race will be broadcast live on the IMS Radio Network beginning at 11:30 p.m. (EDT) on April 21. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio channel 145 "IndyCar Racing" and www.indycar.com. The fifth season of Indy Pro Series competition continues with the Freedom 100 Friday, May 26 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast as part of ESPN2's Carb Day coverage on May 26.

-irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Gary Peterson , Alex Lloyd , Wade Cunningham , Matthew Hamilton