IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2007-02-27

INDYCAR SERIES NEWS AND NOTES -- Feb. 27, 2007 Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines 1. Open Test was success for Indy Pro Series, drivers, teams 2. Cabo Wabo joins A.J. Foyt Racing as associate sponsor 3. Open Testing by the ...

INDYCAR SERIES NEWS AND NOTES -- Feb. 27, 2007

Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines
1. Open Test was success for Indy Pro Series, drivers, teams
2. Cabo Wabo joins A.J. Foyt Racing as associate sponsor
3. Open Testing by the numbers
4. Two new Indy Pro Series teams set for 2007

1. Open Test was success for Indy Pro Series, drivers, teams: Everyone and everything passed the test. That's the verdict coming out of the Indy Pro Series' preseason Open Test at Homestead-Miami Speedway Feb. 20-22.

Twenty-four drivers, including seventeen rookies, completed more than 7,760 incident-free miles on the road course and oval. Sixteen teams, including seven new teams, went home with computers full of data for the March 24 kickoff to the 16-race season, and Indy Pro Series officials, who introduced a new road course wing package and unleaded fuel, were satisfied that the cars will perform at peak levels.

"We had a record number of cars on track, and the results were outstanding," Indy Pro Series executive director Roger Bailey said. "The speeds were faster than last year's, and the feedback we got regarding the performance of the new aerodynamic package and the unleaded fuel was all very positive."

On the oval, the top 22 cars were separated by less than seven-tenths of a second after five-plus hours of testing and 2,817 laps. All cars used equally prepared Dallara chassis and engines prepared by Speedway Engines. That the rookie crop was in the top-10 mix caught the attention of individuals watching the action.

"You see the ability, but you see that the laps are needed too," said four-time Indianapolis 500 champion Rick Mears, the Indy Pro Series driving coach. "But that's what the Indy Pro Series is about. I think they're all going the right direction. It's going to be a good year. They're going to each raise each other's level throughout the season."

Bobby Wilson, a 2006 title contender, led the speed chart charge with a quick lap of 185.876 mph (28.7611 seconds) in the No. 1 Brian Stewart Racing car. Alex Lloyd, a two-race winner last season, was second (185.736; 28.7828) in the No. 7 Sam Schmidt Motorsports-prepared Lucas Oil car. Tom Wood, another series veteran, was third (185.621) in the No. 2 Team Moore Racing car.

"Bobby's got some time under his belt, so he's got an advantage there over some of the newer guys," Mears said. "He did a very good job. He's going to be one of the main players -- talent one reason and then having some experience behind him."

Eight first-year competitors were among Nos. 4-15 on the chart. Within the framework of the schedule (seven ovals; nine street/road courses), it's not unreasonable to project any rookie winning races or even the series championship.

"Pretty much everyone was doing what they need to do, and doing a good job of it," Mears said. "There were really no mistakes."

2. Cabo Wabo joins A.J. Foyt Racing as associate sponsor: Sammy Hagar is a legend in the world of rock 'n roll. Now he is joining auto racing legend A.J. Foyt.

Hagar's Cabo Wabo Enterprises has signed as an associate sponsor of A.J. Foyt's IndyCar Series team for the 2007 season. It is the first time in Foyt's storied career that a liquor company has been associated with his Indy car team.

"I'm happy to have Sammy Hagar and his company involved with our team," said Foyt, who is celebrating his 50th anniversary in Indy car racing. "Cabo Wabo is a premium tequila, and I think our race fans will show their appreciation in a responsible way. Our team will help promote responsible drinking which creates a win-win for everyone. And there's nothing I like more than winning."

Hagar's sponsorship of the No. 14 IndyCar Series entry isn't his only involvement with the IndyCar Series or Indy Pro Series. Hagar also is co-owner of Team KMA's Indy Pro Series car driven by Robbie Pecorari.

"To be given the opportunity to be a part of such a great sport, and to do it along side A.J. Foyt's team is such an honor," Hagar said. "The fans, the team, the races, they all represent the best of what motorsports has to offer. We're looking forward to a great season."

3. Open Testing By The Numbers: It's hard to judge results at test sessions, as teams and drivers concentrate on different aspects of performance besides pure speed.

On the road courses, some teams work on aerodynamics, while some focus on improving mechanical grip. On ovals, some focus on race setups and make long simulated race runs using full fuel tanks, which in turn, slow the car, or they run in tight packs, which boost speeds.

But looking at statistics, Dan Wheldon was the top overall driver during five days of Open Testing, Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 on the 2.72-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway and Feb. 21-22 on the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway oval.

Wheldon, who led both nights of testing at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and Helio Castroneves of Team Penske were the only drivers ranked in the top five each day. Five other drivers -- Tony Kanaan, Scott Dixon, defending IndyCar Series champion Sam Hornish Jr., Marco Andretti and Dario Franchitti -- ranked in the top 10 on each day of testing.

"It's been a long off-season, and I'm ready to start the '07 season right now," Wheldon said. "I wish we were racing this weekend."

For Andretti Green Racing, which won 19 of 33 races in 2004 and '05, the test showed it may have closed the gap on Team Penske and Target Chip Ganassi Racing.

Kanaan was consistently quick in the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven car and Andretti said the team shows gains that will consistently put the four-car team (Danica Patrick and Dario Franchitti the other drivers) in positions to challenge for victory on the 1.5-mile and longer racetracks.

"I have to hand it to the NYSE team," Andretti said. "They did an awesome job getting the car ready and finding exactly what we need. There's still work to do but now we're in it. I didn't always look forward to coming to one-and-a-half mile ovals last year, but if this test is any indication, I think we'll be in good shape this year."

Rankings were determined by adding each driver's position on the final speed chart each day. The driver with the lowest score prevails, though it may not be the most accurate indicator of performance. While the top four drivers -- Castroneves, Dixon, Hornish and Wheldon -- during testing a year ago ended up battling for the IndyCar Series title, Vitor Meira, who had just joined Panther Racing, failed to crack the top 10.

4. Two new Indy Pro Series teams set for 2007: Apex Racing and Team Moore Racing are two of the latest teams to join the Indy Pro Series for 2007 after successful testing at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Apex Racing founders Ken Losch and Ryan Ruth see the series as a natural progression for their three-year-old team.

The team began in club Formula Mazda in 2005, where it gained experience and began to assemble everything needed to operate a winning organization with the goal of competing in the Indianapolis 500. In 2006, Apex Racing recorded two victories and nine top-five finishes in the Star Mazda Series.

This year, Losch and Mike Potekhen will compete in the 16-race season that begins March 24 on the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway oval. They participated in the two-day Open Test on the Homestead-Miami Speedway road course and oval Feb. 20 and 22.

"We looked at many options for the upcoming season and we feel that the Indy Pro Series provides us with the greatest opportunity to grow our team," Losch said. "The Indy Pro Series gives us everything that we are looking for, and we feel that it will be the best place for our team to gain the experience needed to move up to the next level."

Mark Moore and Tom Wood formed Team Moore Racing earlier this month. Moore has more than 30 years racing experience in all levels of the sport, while Wood is chairman and managing director of Xtreme Coil, an oil drilling corporation with corporate headquarters in Calgary, Alberta.

Wood raced in the inaugural season of the Indy Pro Series in 2002 and has 15 top-10 finishes in 20 starts overall. He'll compete in the season opener -- the Miami 100 -- March 24 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

"We are off to a great start. I can't wait to get back to Florida for the race," Moore said.

Moore and Wood have competed together with Kenn Hardley Racing for the past 18 months, during which Moore has performed double duty as team manager and race engineer. Team Moore Racing will continue to manage Kenn Hardley Racing during the 2007 season. The combined effort also will utilize the same key personnel who have been instrumental in the team's success.

"We have a very successful working relationship (with Hardley), but with the expansion of the series the timing was right for us to form Team Moore Racing," Moore said. "This sport is a people business and we have all the right people in place to be a winning team. Tom and I are committed to making TMR one of the top teams in the sport."

***

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 Helio Castroneves , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Dan Wheldon , Sam Schmidt , Rick Mears , Marco Andretti , Tom Wood , Chip Ganassi , Alex Lloyd , Roger Bailey , Robbie Pecorari , Bobby Wilson , Ken Losch , Mike Potekhen , A.J. Foyt , Sam Hornish Jr. , Danica Patrick , Vitor Meira
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing