IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2007-03-08

INDYCAR SERIES NEWS AND NOTES -- March 8, 2007 Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines 1. The Greening of Racing: IndyCar Series technology enhances its environmental footprint 2. Season Preview: U.S. Pro Racing 1. The Greening...

INDYCAR SERIES NEWS AND NOTES -- March 8, 2007

Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines
1. The Greening of Racing: IndyCar Series technology enhances its environmental footprint
2. Season Preview: U.S. Pro Racing

1. The Greening of Racing: IndyCar Series technology enhances its environmental footprint: Corn-fueled and battery-powered, this isn't your typical racing series. Long recognized for its leadership in motorsports safety and innovation, the IndyCar Series continues to expand its role by improving auto racing's environmental footprint through its use of 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol in the 3.5-liter Honda Indy V-8 engine that powers all of its race cars as well as the Honda Accord Hybrid Pace Vehicle. The IndyCar Series is the first in motorsports to utilize these technologies proven to benefit the environment.

"It feels good to provide some of the most exciting and competitive racing in the world, knowing that the IndyCar Series' fuel choice is not affecting the environment," said Brian Barnhart, president and chief operating officer of the Indy Racing League, the sanctioning body of the IndyCar Series. "We hope we can set the pace for all of our fans, encouraging them to follow our on-track lead and utilize ethanol-enriched fuel and hybrid technology in their personal vehicles."

Ethanol is a cleaner energy source that has been shown to reduce harmful air pollution by reducing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. The IndyCar Series previously had used methanol, a fuel produced from natural gas, a non-renewable source. Since ethanol is produced from agricultural products that can be replanted, such as corn, the supply can continually be replenished. It is also 100 percent biodegradable, meaning it won't harm groundwater.

"Our partnership with the IndyCar Series enables us to demonstrate that performance and environmental responsibility can go hand in hand with ethanol," said Tom Slunecka, executive director for the Ethanol Information and Promotion Council. "If an IndyCar Series car can run on environmentally-friendly ethanol at speeds in excess of 220 mph, then so can consumer cars using ethanol-enriched gasoline on our nation's highways."

Passenger cars using an ethanol-blended fuel can see similar environmental benefits. The use of ethanol as a fuel additive improves the environment because its high level of oxygen increases the efficiency of the combustion process, resulting in lower emissions and improved air quality. Fuel enriched with a 10 percent ethanol blend reduces harmful tailpipe emissions by more than 30 percent. Even the co-products from the ethanol production process at the nation's 110 ethanol plants, including IndyCar Series supplier Renova Energy in Torrington, Wyo., don't go to waste.

The product, known as Distiller's grain, is used as a highly nutritious livestock feed. Additionally, the carbon dioxide that is produced during fermentation is purified and compressed for sale to the carbon beverage and dry ice industries.

In addition to ethanol power, the Honda Accord Hybrid serves as the pace vehicle at IndyCar Series events. Hybrid technology is a more efficient energy source. When the Honda Accord Hybrid pace car slows or stops, the engine shuts down, but the car is still powered by its electric motor and battery, reducing the car's emissions. Energy is saved whenever the vehicle is not going up a hill or accelerating quickly. However, when additional power is needed, it is there. The Accord Hybrid utilizes power from the battery to provide extra acceleration when needed. The IndyCar Series "goes green" with its season on March 24 under the lights at Homestead-Miami Speedway, airing live on ESPN2. The event will mark the first time a race will run on 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol, setting the trend to bring the use of renewable fuels to other forms of motorsports.

***

2. Season Preview: U.S. Pro Racing: Leading up to the season-opening Miami 100 on March 24, we'll preview the teams and drivers that will compete in 2007 for the Indy Pro Series' Firestone Firehawk Cup. Today, is U.S. Pro Racing.

CAPSULE LOOK
Owners: Jim Guthrie, Mike Lee
Drivers: Sean Guthrie (No.4), Tom Wieringa (No. 40)
Team Manager: Jim Guthrie
Chief Mechanics: Mike McGuire, Randy Ruyle

Overview: With a year under their belts and a new business partner on hand, U.S. Pro Racing feels like its ready to challenge for more race victories in 2007. Not that it wasn't impressive during its inaugural Indy Pro Series campaign in 2006. Competing as Guthrie Racing, the team won the pole position and both races on the streets of St. Petersburg in the season's second event. Nine drivers combined to record four top-five finishes.

This year, team co-owner Jim Guthrie, who won IndyCar Series rookie of the year honors as a driver in 1997, has brought in Mike Lee as a business partner and changed the team's name.

The team will field two cars for Sean Guthrie, Jim's 18-year-old son, and Tom Wieringa, who made two Indy Pro Series starts last year.

What's New--Continuity: Last year, nine drivers combined to make 18 starts for the team. This year, the team plans to campaign Guthrie and Wieringa for the full season. That continuity should breed familiarity among the team and lead to stronger results on the track on a more consistent basis.

Watch For--A Young Winner: Jim Guthrie hoisted an IndyCar Series trophy at Phoenix International Raceway in 1997. This year, the team hopes Sean Guthrie will hoist an Indy Pro Series trophy. While the series has had younger winners, such as Marco Andretti, a win by Guthrie would make him one of the youngest in series history.

IN THEIR OWN WORDS

Jim Guthrie, co-owner: "This will be my first time since the Blueprint Racing days with a partner. That worked out well, so we'll try it again. Mike brings some unique skills to the team. He brings sponsorship and sales skills to the team where I'm more on the operations side -- making the car go faster."

Sean Guthrie, driver: "With the new combination of the two teams, Mike Lee and Jim Guthrie, we're looking for a really strong, well-funded team. We're going to compete in all 16 races. Hopefully we're going to record a few victories. We'd like to do well with Tom, and I plan to run for the championship. I think there are probably four or five guys who have a viable chance at it, and I think we're one of them. After a few victories and a couple of top-five finishes, I think we've got a really good shot at it."

Tom Wieringa, driver: "I'm looking forward to putting together a complete season this year. We did get a little taste of it last year and really liked it. I think we did halfway decent with what we had. I'm happy to be with what I think is one of the top teams, with Guthrie. I'm looking forward to working with the crew there. We gelled well last year, so I think we can just build on that for this year, and we should have a good run."

***

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 at 5 p.m. (EDT) on March 28 by ESPN2 ESPN2 also will preview the upcoming season of the IndyCar Series with a one-hour special that will air at 7 p.m. (EDT) March 16.

-credit: irl

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Series INDYCAR , INDYLIGHTS