IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2006-08-24

INDYCAR SERIES NEWS AND NOTES -- Aug. 24, 2006 Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines 1. Lincoln Tech to sponsor Meira for remainder of 2006 2. Indy Pro Series championship race by the numbers 3. Bucknum Returns to Home Track...

INDYCAR SERIES NEWS AND NOTES -- Aug. 24, 2006

Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines
1. Lincoln Tech to sponsor Meira for remainder of 2006
2. Indy Pro Series championship race by the numbers
3. Bucknum Returns to Home Track with A.J. Foyt's ABC Supply Team
4. Dreyer & Reinbold turns to Briscoe #5. Of note

1. Lincoln Tech to sponsor Meira for remainder of 2006: Panther Racing announced a primary sponsorship agreement with Lincoln Tech for the remainder of the 2006 season.

The Lincoln Tech automotive training school was the primary sponsor on Vitor Meira's No. 4 Honda-powered Dallara at Kentucky Speedway on Aug. 13, and following a successful weekend, the partnership was renewed for the final two events of the year.

"We knew if Lincoln Tech and Panther Racing worked together for one weekend we could both see the positive benefits of this partnership," Panther co-owner John Barnes said. "What's exciting for us is Lincoln Tech activated with our marketing partner, ignition, during the weekend and experienced the marketing power of a sponsorship with Panther. We had a great time together in Kentucky and I anticipate two more great race weekends in Infineon and Chicago."

Meira, one of six drivers eligible for the IndyCar Series championship, finished sixth at Kentucky, his 10th top-10 finish of the seasion. Meira is fifth in the IndyCar Series point standings with two races remaining on the schedule.

"We're excited to be supporting Panther Racing's winning team for the remainder of the season, said David Carney, chairman and C.E.O. of Lincoln Educational Services Corporation, the parent company of Lincoln Tech. "This sponsorship highlights Lincoln Tech's commitment to preparing students for the exciting and fast-growing automotive and motor-sports career fields. We're proud to see our graduates achieve their dreams through their Lincoln Tech education."

Barnes and one of Meira's race mechanics, Mike Armstrong, are graduates of Lincoln Tech. Panther's CEO and team owner graduated from the school in the early 1970s and Armstrong completed his studies in 2003 with a degree in Automotive Service Management from Lincoln Tech's Indianapolis location.

2. Indy Pro Series championship race by the numbers: Wins
7 -- Wins by Mark Taylor in 2003, the most by a champion
1 -- Wins by Wade Cunningham in 2005, the fewest by a champion
4.5 -- Average number of wins by the series champion
2 -- Wins by Jay Howard, 2006 points leader

Weeks at No. 1
12 of 12 -- Weeks atop the point standings by Mark Taylor in 2003, the most by a champion
10 of 14 -- Weeks at No. 1 by Wade Cunningham in 2005, the fewest by a champion (by percentage)
86.7 -- Percentage of weeks the champion has led the series in points (39 of 45)
6 of 9 (66.7%) -- Weeks at No. 1 by Jay Howard in 2006

Age
25 -- Mark Taylor's age in 2003, the oldest Indy Pro Series champion
18 -- A.J. Foyt IV's age in 2002, the youngest champion
21.5 -- The average age of the four Indy Pro Series champions
25 -- Jay Howard's age in 2006

Final Points Margin
134 -- Thiago Medeiros' margin in 2004, the widest margin in series history
30 -- Wade Cunningham's margin in 2005, the closest margin in series history
73.25 -- The average margin in the first four seasons
25 -- Jay Howard's lead in 2006 with three races remaining

Number of points leaders during the season
3 -- Point leaders in 2005, the most in a season (Cunningham, Travis Gregg, Jon Herb)
1 -- Point leader in 2003, the fewest in a season (Taylor)
2 -- Average number of points leaders per season
2 -- Points leaders in 2006 (Howard, Jeff Simmons)

3. Bucknum Returns to Home Track with A.J. Foyt's ABC Supply Team: The Bucknum name will be forever linked with Infineon Raceway. IndyCar Series driver Jeff Bucknum sat in a race car for the first time at Infineon in 1992, taking a three-day school. He then went on to compete in regional Formula Ford events to hone his skills.

Once Bucknum began his professional career, he made appearances at the natural terrain circuit in a range of events including the Barber Dodge Pro Series, Star Mazda and Indy Lights Series. He graduated to the major leagues with appearances in the ALMS and in 2005, the IndyCar Series after receiving a call from A.J. Foyt.

But the Bucknum name has even more experience at Infineon. Jeff's father, Ronnie Bucknum made many appearances at the track, then known as Sears Point Raceway, driving Roger Penske's all-conquering Camaro in the TransAm Series. Indeed, in 1968, the elder Bucknum went on to cinch the TransAm Manufacturer Championship for Penske and Chevrolet. Ronnie Bucknum was a truly versatile driver who experienced success in Formula 1, IndyCars and sports cars around the world.

"Infineon is certainly my home track. I have many thousands of miles here and have had many successes, and a few disappointments," said Jeff Bucknum. "It is one of the most complex, challenging and technical tracks in North America. An IndyCar is a particular challenge at Infineon as there are no straights to take a breath or relax, even for an instant. Our races here are about two hours of non-stop action, making it tough both physically and mentally."

4. Dreyer & Reinbold turns to Briscoe: Dreyer & Reinbold Racing turns to a road course ringer again this weekend at Infineon Raceway.

Ryan Briscoe, who started from the pole in the inaugural race on the 12-turn, 2.26-mile circuit last year and recorded a third-place finish in June at Watkins Glen International for the team, returns in the No. 5 Honda-powered Dallara for the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma.

Sarah Fisher competed in the car at Kentucky Speedway two weeks ago (started and finished 12th), and will drive in the season-ending race at Chicagoland Speedway on Sept. 10. Briscoe, who recently moved from Indianapolis to Charlotte, N.C., last week drove in a V8 Super Car race in his native Australia.

"I love Infineon," said Briscoe, who claimed the top spot after the "Firestone Fast Six" competition that followed single-car qualifying. "I was on pole there last year and I can't wait to head back there with the Dreyer & Reinbold team. We've had success together. We got third at Watkins Glen and that was a great result, and I think another top five won't be out of the question."

Briscoe, 24, who also competed with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing at Nashville (ninth) and Milwaukee (18th), said the Infineon Raceway facility is a handful for drivers, crew members and engineers.

"The track has a lot of blind corners," he said. "It can get dirty at times up the line, so you have to really make sure you have the car above the racing line; though the big thing is elevation changes. There are lots of variations of corners, so you aren't going to have a perfect car. No one is. You just have to make sure the car is good in all the right places."

5. Of note: Vitor Meira will join the Lowe's Fernandez Racing duo of Adrian Fernandez and Mario Haberfeld for the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series' Discount Tire Sunchaser at Miller Motorsports Park on Sept. 2. -- IndyCar Series drivers Buddy Rice, Scott Sharp and Kosuke Matsuura rolled up their pant legs to compete in the "Great Grape Stomp" on Aug. 23 in San Francisco to promote the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma this weekend at Infineon Raceway. Sharp was declared the winner after his jug of juice outweighed second-place finisher Matsuura.

***

The next IndyCar Series event is the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) on Aug. 27 at Infineon Raceway. The race will be telecast live by ESPN and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network. A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPN Deportes. 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 Sonoma 100 doubleheader on Aug. 26-27 at Infineon Raceway. ESPN2's coverage of the doubleheader races will be televised at 2 p.m. on Aug. 31.

-credit: irl

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