IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2007-02-08

Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines 1. Camara, AGR return to Indy Pro Series in partnership with AFS Racing 2. Rookies earn licenses at Phoenix test 3. IndyCar Series honors groundbreakers 4. Andretti appears at Chicago Auto ...

Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines
1. Camara, AGR return to Indy Pro Series in partnership with AFS Racing
2. Rookies earn licenses at Phoenix test
3. IndyCar Series honors groundbreakers
4. Andretti appears at Chicago Auto Show

1. Camara, AGR return to Indy Pro Series with partnership with AFS Racing: Andretti Green Racing will return to the Indy Pro Series in 2007 with a car driven by three-time Indy Pro Series race winner Jaime Camara. The No. 11 oso*fresh Dallara/Firestone will be an Andretti Green Racing entry and will be prepared and maintained by AFS Racing, owned by Gary Peterson.

"We really feel like this is a great opportunity for Andretti Green Racing," said Kim Green, chief executive officer of Andretti Green Racing. "Teaming with AFS Racing, which won two races in 2006, and a veteran driver like Jaime Camara puts us in contention from the very start of the season. I felt like Jaime did a good job driving the Indy Pro Series entry last season and continued to improve as he got seat time."

Camara, who hails from Goiana, Goias, Brazil, ran the full Indy Pro Series slate in 2005 and 2006. He won the Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2005 on the way to a fifth-place finish in the series standings. He also won at Nashville Superspeedway. Last year, Camara won at The Milwaukee Mile.

"I'm looking forward to returning to the Indy Pro Series in 2007 with Andretti Green Racing and the new guys with AFS Racing," Camara said. "The 2006 season was disappointing in some respects, but I thought we did a great job coming together and pulling out a win at Milwaukee. This will be my third year on some of the tracks and I feel like I will have a definite advantage over the field at certain stops on the schedule. AFS Racing scored two wins last season and hopefully we can add to that and contend for a championship."

One of the founding teams of the Indy Pro Series, AFS Racing will begin its sixth season of competition. The team has competed in nearly every Indy Pro Series race since, earning 38 top-10 finishes in 56 starts and collecting its first two Indy Pro Series wins in 2006 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and at Infineon Raceway. Peterson served as the team's original driver while both Arie Luyendyk Jr. and former series champion Thiago Medeiros have also made starts.

"We're very excited to be aligned with Andretti Green Racing, the team tied for the most wins in Indy Racing League history, for our 2007 Indy Pro Series effort," Peterson said. "With the combination of AGR, AFS Racing and Jaime, I believe we'll see the No. 11 oso*fresh car in the championship hunt all season."

The 2007 season is Andretti Green's third year of competition in the Indy Pro Series. The team accumulated three victories and three poles with Marco Andretti in 2005 and its best finish in the points championship with Jonathan Klein in 2006 when he finished second.

By entering a car in Indy Pro Series competition, Andretti Green will earn up to five additional testing days for its IndyCar Series program with Camara gaining an opportunity to test the first half of each day.

"From an IndyCar standpoint, I thought Jaime did a tremendous job when he was able to get in the car during our extra test dates," Green said. "He was able to give us valuable setup information and was a real asset to our drivers and engineers. I'm looking for big things from our Indy Pro Series effort in 2007."

Camara and the rest of the Indy Pro Series field will open the 2007 season on March 24 at Homestead-Miami Speedway with the Miami 100.

2. Rookies earn licenses at Phoenix test: Five drivers passed the Indy Pro Series rookie test Feb. 7-8 on the 1-mile oval at Phoenix International Raceway, bringing the number of drivers who have passed the rookie test this offseason to nearly 30.

Sam Schmidt Motorsports' drivers Logan Gomez and Ryan Justice, who each made road course starts in the Indy Pro Series last year, were among the drivers passing the oval rookie test under the eye of Indy Pro Series technical director Butch Meyer.

Other drivers who earned their licenses were Pablo Perez, who has been announced as one of two drivers for Chip Ganassi Racing's new Indy Pro Series entry, as well as potential rookie drivers in the series Ken Losch and Mirl Swan.

"All of these guys have been very impressive," Meyer said. "They're all turning laps in about the 24 seconds range, which is very quick. It's been a busy offseason with all of these rookie tests, but it should lead to a hotly contested championship."

Eleven drivers and five teams participated in the private test at Phoenix tuning up for the Indy Pro Series' pre-season Open Test which will be Feb. 20-22 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The opening race of the series-record 16-race schedule is March 24 at Homestead-Miami.

3. IndyCar Series honors groundbreakers: Each February, Americans honor the accomplishments of African-Americans during "Black History Month." The celebration was started in 1926 as Black History Week by Harvard scholar Dr. Carter G. Woodson. In 1926, Woodson organized the first annual Negro History Week, which took place during the second week of February. Woodson chose this date to coincide with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln -- men who had greatly impacted the black population. It evolved into Black History Month.

The IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series honor the accomplishments of these groundbreaking African-Americans:

When Willy T. Ribbs became the first African-American to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 in 1991, he broke more than a speed barrier.

Backed by entertainer Bill Cosby, Ribbs' efforts at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway laid the groundwork for others to follow in the IndyCar Series and the Indy Pro Series. Ribbs, who started 29th in the 500-Mile Race, also started 30th and finished 21st in the 1993 race. He also competed in the 1999 IndyCar Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Racing brothers George and Lloyd Mack followed Ribbs behind the wheel of IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series machines, but the impact of the pioneering effort also has been felt outside the race car, where African-Americans have served as mechanics, investors, sole team owners and race officials. Also, Morgan Freeman (2004) and Colin Powell ('05) drove the pace car for the Indianapolis 500. A permanent display of African-American involvement in "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" is at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum.

4. Andretti appears at Chicago Auto Show: IndyCar® Series driver Marco Andretti will join his grandfather, racing legend Mario Andretti, for an appearance at the Chicago Auto Show on Feb. 10-11.

Andretti, the 2006 Bombardier Rookie of the Year, will sign autographs and greet fans on behalf of Firestone at the Bridgestone Americas booth, which showcases Bridestone Firestone's leading products and new technologies, interactive tire displays and racing cars including Marco Andretti's No. 26 NYSE Group IndyCar Series car, a Formula 1 car and an exact replica of the car in which Mario Andretti won the 1967 Daytona 500.

"Over the years, the Andretti name has become synonymous with Firestone Racing," said John Gamauf, President of Consumer Tire Replacement Sales, Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire, LLC. "More so than anyone else, Mario and Marco are qualified to talk about our quality and commitment to excellence. We are very proud that Mario won so many important races -- including the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500 -- on Firestone tires and now his grandson is collecting victories on our tires, carrying on that family tradition."

Marco Andretti will join his grandfather at 11 a.m. on Feb. 10. He will also be available for autographs in the booth from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Feb.10 and from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Feb. 11.

***

The 2007 IndyCar Series season begins under the lights with the XM Satellite Radio Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on March 24. The race will be telecast live by ESPN2 at 8 p.m. (EDT) 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 and www.indycar.com. The sixth season of Indy Pro Series competition begins with the Miami 100 on March 24 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be telecast on at 5 p.m. (EDT) on March 28 by ESPN2.

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Arie Luyendyk , Sam Schmidt , Mario Andretti , Willy T. Ribbs , Gary Peterson , Marco Andretti , Kim Green , Chip Ganassi , Ryan Justice , Jaime Camara , Jonathan Klein , Logan Gomez , Mirl Swan , Thiago Medeiros
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing