IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2006-08-31

IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2006-08-31

Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines 1. Road to Chicagoland -- Sam Hornish Jr. 2. Road to Chicagoland -- Bobby Wilson 3. New look for Kanaan 4. Racing in Utah 1. Road to Chicagoland -- Sam Hornish Jr.: (Note: This week, ...

Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines
1. Road to Chicagoland -- Sam Hornish Jr.
2. Road to Chicagoland -- Bobby Wilson
3. New look for Kanaan
4. Racing in Utah

1. Road to Chicagoland -- Sam Hornish Jr.: (Note: This week, we'll examine the season of each of the contenders for the IndyCar Series championship and how they became a title contender. Today, second-place driver Sam Hornish Jr.)

Even if Sam Hornish Jr. doesn't win the IndyCar Series title this year, he'll always remember 2006.

"I won the 500," the two-time IndyCar Series champion said. "Even if I win more Indy 500s, I'll always remember that I won my first one in 2006."

The 2006 season has been a banner year for the native of Defiance, Ohio. In addition to the landmark win at Indianapolis, he also scored wins at Kansas (on his 27th birthday), Richmond and Kentucky. A third IndyCar Series crown would allow Hornish to join Dan Wheldon as the only drivers to win the Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar Series title in the same season.

"No matter what the results this year, we've tried to put it behind us," Hornish said. "After every race, even if you've won, you put that behind. Things have turned out pretty well this year."

But there's been disappointment, as well. Hornish fell out of races at Michigan (mechanical) and Nashville (accident) despite leading and racing among the frontrunners.

"Michigan was a tough race to put behind because there wasn't anything I could do and there wasn't anything the team could do," Hornish said. "I lost a lot of points to Helio (Castroneves) and Dan (Wheldon) and Scott (Dixon), as well. Nashville wasn't as bad because I know what I did there. We just have to make sure we don't do that again."

Hornish enters the final race of the 2006 season trailing his teammate, Castroneves, by one point and with Wheldon 18 behind. Hornish, who outdueled Castroneves to claim the race win and the title in the season finale in 2002, is confident due to his experience and his track record at Chicagoland Speedway, where he's recorded two wins and five top-five finishes in five races.

"I know what to do if I'm leading the points, and I know what to do if I'm behind," he said. "I know most of the time what I'm capable of and what I need to do in a race. I always want to win the race, but I think the big thing is to be smart about it and give myself the opportunity to win the race and the title."

And he knows that if he comes up short in the championship race, he always has something to remember the season and something to look forward to in 2007.

"The biggest thing entering the year was Indy and try to capture the win there," Hornish said. "No matter what happens after that, after you win Indy, you've had a good season. We've won some races, but we're always looking forward to what the next thing is."

2. Road to Chicagoland -- Bobby Wilson: (Note: We'll examine the season of each of the contenders for the Indy Pro Series championship and how they became a title contender. Today, third-place driver Bobby Wilson.)

Bobby Wilson's first full season in the Indy Pro Series may lead to another milestone in his racing career.

The 24-year-old from Oconomowoc, Wis., won titles in karting and Formula Ford before joining the IndyCar Series' developmental series late in the 2005 season. He began the season driving for Michael Crawford Motorsports but left the team after three races for Kenn Hardley Racing, which hired Wilson after the team's driver Jeff Simmons graduated to the IndyCar Series in April.

Since joining Hardley's team for the Freedom 100 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Wilson has posted nine consecutive top-10 finishes, including a win at Watkins Glen and a second in the Valley of the Moon 100 at Infineon Raceway. He's the only driver in the series to complete every lap this season.

"We've had some ups and downs this season, so far," Wilson said. "I've just been trying to take it race by race and have been trying to pick up my performance for the end of the year. We definitely showed how strong we can be with the win at Watkins Glen earlier this year and now we need to show that on the oval at Chicagoland as well."

Wilson is third in Indy Pro Series points heading into the season finale at Chicagoland Speedway. He remains within striking distance of leader Jay Howard and enters the 100-mile race knowing anything can happen.

"It's basically go big or go home for us," Wilson said. "We need to win this race and hope that we get a little help from the others. It's just one of those situations where we have to do our best and the points will take care of itself if we can do that."

3. New look for Kanaan: Thanks to a lucky Brazilian fan, 2004 IndyCar Series champion Tony Kanaan will sport a new look for the Peak Antifreeze Indy 300 on Sept. 10.

Fernando Perdiz de Carvalho of Sao Paulo, Brazil, won a contest sponsored by BAND Sports, which televises IndyCar Series events in Brazil, to design the helmet scheme to be used by Kanaan in the season-ending IndyCar Series event. Hundreds of entries from around Brazil were received, according to Kanaan's official website.

Kanaan will present the helmet to Perdiz de Carvalho at the Grandja Viana 500 go-karting race later this year in Brazil.

4. Racing in Utah: IndyCar Series title contender Scott Dixon will join CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates regular drivers Scott Pruett and Luis Diaz to compete this weekend in the nine-hour Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series season finale at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah.

Panther Racing's Vitor Meira will join Lowe's Fernandez Racing regular drivers Adrian Fernandez and Mario Haberfeld in the No. 12 Daytona Prototype, while Buddy Rice will drive the No. 58 Red Bull Daytona Prototype with regular drivers Darren Law and David Donahue.

***

The final IndyCar Series event of the 2006 season is the Peak Antifreeze Indy 300 presented by Mr. Clean at 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 10 at Chicagoland Speedway. The race will be telecast live by ABC 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 concludes with the Chicagoland 100 on Sept. 9 at Chicagoland Speedway.

-credit: irl

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