IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2007-03-13

INDYCAR SERIES NEWS AND NOTES -- March 13, 2007 Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines 1. Honda Accord Hybrid returns to pace IndyCar Series in 2007 2. Indy Pro Series Season Preview: Playa Del Racing 3. Drivers spend final weekend...

INDYCAR SERIES NEWS AND NOTES -- March 13, 2007

Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines
1. Honda Accord Hybrid returns to pace IndyCar Series in 2007
2. Indy Pro Series Season Preview: Playa Del Racing
3. Drivers spend final weekend of off-season behind wheel
4. Yellowcard to headline St. Pete post-race concert

1. Honda Accord Hybrid returns to pace IndyCar Series in 2007: The Honda Accord Hybrid will return as Official Pace Car for the IndyCar Series in 2007. It marks the second consecutive season that Honda -- an industry leader in promoting alternative and regenerative power sources for passenger cars -- has provided vehicles utilizing hybrid technology to pace IndyCar Series events. The Delphi Safety Team also will continue to use Honda trucks in 2007, operating a fleet of Honda Ridgelines as well as a Honda Pilot, all fully equipped for the various safety and medical needs of the team.

Now in its third year of production, the Accord Hybrid features Honda's third generation of the Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) that operates in combination with Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) technology to deliver high levels of fuel efficiency from the 3.0-liter Honda V-6 engine, along with highly responsive and powerful performance. The result is an SAE-rated 253 horsepower and 232-foot pounds of torque.

"I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised by the Accord Hybrid," said Johnny Rutherford, three-time Indianapolis 500 race winner and current pace car driver for the IndyCar Series. "From the first time I drove one, the available power and torque were both greater than I expected. The Hybrid is capable of performing everything that I ask of it on race weekends, and more."

The Accord Hybrid's list of technical features includes more than just hybrid engine technology. Electric Power Steering enhances steering response, Drive-by-Wire throttle control enhances acceleration, and a four-wheel independent suspension provides the handling required for an IndyCar Series pace car. The air conditioning system also features hybrid technology that switches to an electric compressor to keep occupants comfortable when the vehicle is not in motion. The Accord Hybrid is just one of many examples of the Honda philosophy of creating products with the highest environmental performance, manufactured with the lowest environmental impact. Honda also is recognized as an industry leader in the development of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, which emit only water, and in the use of alternative fuels.

Modifications to the Accord Hybrids required for IndyCar Series Pace Car duty include a safety roll cage and high-performance wheels and tires for racetrack use. The Accord Hybrids again will be utilized at all domestic IndyCar Series races in 2007, except the Indianapolis 500. Honda Performance Development (HPD), a subsidiary of American Honda Motor Co., is the single provider of engines for the IndyCar Series. HPD will be responsible for the preparation and maintenance of the Honda Indy V-8 engines used by all teams for competition in the IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500.

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2. Indy Pro Series Season Preview: Playa Del 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 Playa Del Racing:

CAPSULE LOOK
Owners: Jeff Brougher, Gary Sallee, Susan Schafer
Driver: AJ Russell (No. 12)
Team Manager: David Morgan
Chief Mechanic: Rick Duman

Overview: Playa Del Racing returns for its second season in the Indy Pro Series after campaigning half of the schedule last year. Despite limited participation, the team recorded four top-10 finishes in six starts, leading the team to believe it can enjoy even better success in 2007.

What's New--Everything: Playa Del Racing welcomes a new driver, engineer and gearbox specialist to the fun-loving team. Veteran engineer Mike Colliver returns to PDR to help rookie driver AJ Russell. Gearbox specialist AJ Smith also joins the crew.

Watch For--A one-of-a-kind rookie: Most of the rookies in the Indy Pro Series got their racing start in go-karts and then moved up into formula cars. Russell took a different route to the Indy Pro Series. The 23-year-old began racing quarter midgets and has since raced trucks and supermodifieds.

IN THEIR OWN WORDS

Gary Sallee, co-owner: "Our race team just keeps on growing. Every aspect of our operation is improving every day. I think we have all the tools in place to put our car into position to win some races this year. We're going to have some fun this season. That is for sure."

Susan Schafer, co-owner: "Playa Del Racing has so much potential. We've got some of the best guys in the business working on our cars this season, and I have all the confidence in the world in them. We expect to be running up front all year. I can't wait for Homestead."

AJ Russell, driver: "I am really excited for this opportunity with Playa Del Racing for the 2007 Indy Pro Series season. I think we had a great test at Homestead in February, and I'm ready to have a great result when we return to Homestead for the race. I can't wait to give these guys a run they can be proud of."

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3. Drivers spend final weekend of offseason behind wheel: Three IndyCar Series drivers will spend their final off-weekend before the 2007 season behind the wheel of race cars. Andretti Green Racing's Dario Franchitti and Tony Kanaan will join Team Penske's Helio Castroneves in the 12 Hours of Sebring on March 17. Castroneves will drive Penske Racing's No. 7 LMP2 entry with regular drivers Romain Dumas and Timo Bernhard, while Franchitti and Kanaan will share Andretti Green Racing's No. 26 LMP2 entry with Bryan Herta.

"We're excited about the lineup we've assembled for our American Le Mans Series debut," team co-owner Kim Green said. "Dario, Tony and Bryan have a long history together and have a great chemistry between them, which should be very beneficial to us as we prepare for the 12 Hours of Sebring."

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4. Yellowcard to headline St. Pete post-race concert: The Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and XM Satellite Radio will join together to present a concert starring multi-platinum-selling rock group Yellowcard after the race April 1. Yellowcard will take the stage 30 minutes after the IndyCar Series race, which is scheduled to begin at 2:45 p.m. (ET).

The performance will be held in the Honda Plaza, located inside the race circuit adjacent to the Mahaffey Theater and is included as part of the race-day ticket. The punk-inspired quintet formed in Jacksonville, Fla. in 1997. In late 2004, the band released the double platinum album Ocean Avenue which featured the hits "Back Home," "Way Away" and "Only One," along with the title track. Yellowcard's sophomore effort, Where We Stand, was reissued in June 2005, and Lights and Sounds was released in early 2006. Upon its first week of release, Lights and Sounds entered the Billboard Top 200 at number five and earned the number one spot on the Alternative Album chart.

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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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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , David Morgan , Timo Bernhard , Kim Green , Romain Dumas , Johnny Rutherford
Teams Team Penske , Team Penske