IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2006-04-28

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- April 28, 2006 Today's IRL headlines 1. Patrick prepares for another "Month of May"-nia 2. Familiar faces: Teams upgrade personnel to remain competitive 3. Indy Pro Series drivers visit Eldora 1. Patrick ...

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- April 28, 2006

Today's IRL headlines
1. Patrick prepares for another "Month of May"-nia
2. Familiar faces: Teams upgrade personnel to remain competitive
3. Indy Pro Series drivers visit Eldora

1. Patrick prepares for another "Month of May"-nia: Danica Patrick doesn't pull on her helmet again until May 9, but she'll be in the news until arriving in the Rahal Letterman Racing garage.

First is Patrick's inclusion in People Magazine's "World's Most Beautiful People" issue that hit newsstands April 28. Patrick joins film/TV actors and musicians Eva Longoria, Jessica Alba, Terrance Howard, James Blunt and Beyonce among 94 others. One is Vision Racing co-owner and "Grey's Anatomy" star Patrick Dempsey. Actress/social crusader Angelina Jolie is on the cover.

In text accompanying a photo of Patrick, she says her skin takes a beating on race weekends. "You sweat so much. We have a helmet and this head sock; the sun's on you. I do Microdermabrasion every month. And facials -- they hurt so good."

Second is the tour to promote her autobiography "Danica Patrick: Crossing the Line," which will be on shelves May 2. The tour begins May 1 in New York with appearances on "The Today Show" on NBC (check local listings), "Centerstage with Michael Kay" on the YES Network, "Showbiz Tonight" on CNN Headline News, and a taping for same-day airing on "Inside Edition." Patrick also will sign copies of the book from 1-2 p.m. at Borders at 100 Broadway.

An appearance on CBS' "The Early Show" kicks off May 2, followed by ESPN2's "Cold Pizza" and "Video Views" for Business Week. On May 3, Patrick will be a guest on "Fox & Friends" on the Fox Network and tape a segment on "Live with Regis & Kelly." The New York portion of the tour concludes with an appearance on the "Late Show with David Letterman" on CBS.

"Danica Patrick: Crossing the Line," which was written with Laura Morton in the off-season, chronicles her life with tales from the track and insights into her personal life.

Other book signings will be held from 7-8 p.m. at Barnes & Noble, 555 12th St. NW in Washington on May 4 and from 7-8 p.m. at Borders, 8675 River Crossing Blvd. in Indianapolis on May 7.

"Writing a book is a situation that I didn't think would come up so early in my life," the 24-year-old Patrick said. "I'm imagining that people think it's quite funny that I have a book out about my life that was finished when I was 23. I guess some people thought I had a story to tell, and I do."

2. Familiar faces: Teams upgrade personnel to remain competitive: Walking through a crowded paddock on race weekend, one team member blends with another as personnel scurry to make adjustments to the car before the next session on the track. Casual fans don't notice the individuals in the garages, but racing insiders do -- the faces in the Indy Pro Series^Ù paddock are increasingly familiar.

Indy Pro Series teams are boosting their efforts by hiring very experienced crew members. Among the teams with new hires in 2006 are AFS Racing, Michael Crawford Motorsports, Playa Del Racing and Sam Schmidt Motorsports.

"We have some really great guys on our crew right now," said AFS Racing driver Arie Luyendyk Jr., a veteran of 41 Indy Pro Series starts. "A few of them are from (Target Chip) Ganassi, a few of them have come over from Champ Car. It's a pretty solid team."

Gary Penission is the crew chief and team manager for AFS Racing. Penission most recently worked for Target Chip Ganassi Racing on the sports car side and also on Ryan Briscoe's IndyCar Series effort. He was part of Greg Ray's IndyCar Series championship effort in 1999.

"The Indy Pro Series started out with guys that couldn't get on with an IndyCar Series team," Penission said. "From when it started to now, it has come quite far. You can notice that just by looking around. The teams, haulers, crews, everything looks more professional."

Penission brought along two other Ganassi employees with him. Andrew Koers and Kenneth Natalie each had spent at least four seasons with the team.

Upstart Michael Crawford Motorsports hired six crew members with experience from Target Chip Ganassi Racing, Panther Racing, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and Forsythe Championship Racing.

Sam Schmidt Motorsports brought in Grant Bentrud from Herdez Racing to be the chief mechanic for Jaime Camara. They also hired two crew members from Panther Racing.

"Any time you have very professional mechanics and engineers on board from a higher series, it brings the caliber of racing up," Luyendyk said. "I think the Pro Series has reached a level to where you can't get by with mechanics who aren't very professional and have good backgrounds, so I think it's good for the series. It shows that the series is strong and that you need the hire the best people to do the best job because of the competitiveness."

3. Indy Pro Series drivers visit Eldora: Geoff Dodge and Cheever Racing teammates Nick Bussell and Chris Festa will visit Eldora Speedway April 29.

The trio will sign autographs next to the IMS Fan Tour and will be interviewed over the public address system. They will then watch the second night of Border Wars featuring USAC Sprint Cars.

League officials will give away eight tickets to the Freedom 100 over the public address system. Fans can also sign up for a drawing for two tickets to the Indianapolis 500.

***

The 2006 IRL IndyCar Series continues with the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500 at 1 p.m. (EDT) on May 28 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. ABC will broadcast the race live beginning at noon (EDT). A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPN Deportes. Live coverage on the IMS Radio Network begins at noon (EDT). 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 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 Greg Ray , Sam Schmidt , Ryan Briscoe , Chip Ganassi , Nick Bussell , Chris Festa , Jaime Camara , Patrick Dempsey , Geoff Dodge , Danica Patrick , Arie Luyendyk Jr.
Teams Panther Racing , Chip Ganassi Racing