IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2007-04-03

INDYCAR SERIES NEWS AND NOTES -- April 3, 2007 Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines 1. Points leader Lloyd presses for improvement heading to Indy 2. Matsuura penalized for improper comments 3. Kanaan, Dixon praise Manning's ...

INDYCAR SERIES NEWS AND NOTES -- April 3, 2007

Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines
1. Points leader Lloyd presses for improvement heading to Indy
2. Matsuura penalized for improper comments
3. Kanaan, Dixon praise Manning's effort:

1. Points leader Lloyd presses for improvement heading to Indy: Alex Lloyd has conquered the Homestead-Miami Speedway oval and persevered on the streets of St. Petersburg this season. His reward is a 48-point lead in the championship standings after three of 16 rounds.

Lloyd swept the doubleheader race weekend on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn St. Petersburg circuit and has won four of the past five events bridging two Indy Pro Series seasons. He's one victory from tying 2004 series champion Thiago Medeiros for consecutive wins.

Lloyd can be the first to win on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road circuit and 2.5-mile oval when the Indy Pro Series drivers compete in the Freedom 100 on May 25. Lloyd prevailed in the Liberty Challenge last year (part of the United States Grand Prix weekend), overtaking Graham Rahal with two laps to go and winning by 0.666 of a second. In the Freedom 100, he started and finished fifth (Wade Cunningham won the race).

"Four of the last five races that I've competed in I've won, so I've got to enjoy them," said Lloyd, who has accumulated nine top-five finishes in his 11 starts. "It doesn't happen all the time.

"But, for sure, it's not going to be relaxing. I'm going to be training harder than ever, working with the team harder than ever at the factory to make sure that we have the best car we can going into Indy because I know it is the No. 1 race they want to win. Mine, too. I won on Indy on the F1 weekend last year. I really want to win on Carb Day of the Indy 500.

"So we'll be using this time to utilize it to the best we can and working really hard to make sure that we continue to build on this momentum, use these strengths that we've got and make the car and myself that little bit better."

Lloyd won from the pole position in Race 1 on March 31 in the No. 7 Lucas Oil/Isilon Systems/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car. He won from the sixth starting position -- the top six finishers were inverted -- in Race 2.

"We got it together for the day," Lloyd said. "And I think experience from my part paid off. I think experience from the team paid off, just keeping out of trouble where others didn't and be quick where we need to be and take our time. I think that's really helped us for these three races."

***

2. Matsuura penalized for improper comments: IndyCar Series officials have fined Panther Racing's Kosuke Matsuura an undisclosed amount for using inappropriate language during interviews at the April 1 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Matsuura was penalized for violating Rule 8-3-A of the IndyCar Series rulebook, improper conduct. He issued an apology through a statement released by Panther Racing.

"I really wanted to apologize for what I said during my ESPN and IMS Radio Network interviews," he said. "I was upset about the crash, but I didn't need to use the language I did. Since the next race is at my home country, I wanted to return to Japan with good result and enjoy the Indy Japan race, so I am very disappointed with what happened in the first two races. I want to apologize to my sponsors, ESPN, IMS Radio Network, the IndyCar Series an all the race fans who were watching on Sunday. Everybody on my Panther team was frustrated, but I should have expressed my disappointment in a better way. I'm sorry."

Matsuura visited the Indy Racing League offices to meet with Brian Barnhart when he returned from St. Petersburg to express his regret for the comment immediately.

"Kosuke was frustrated, like all of us were, about what happened on the first lap of the race," Panther co-owner John Barnes said. "He knows he should use better word choice in the future, and a pair of interviews don't reflect Kosuke's character. He has the support of the entire Panther family."

***

3. Kanaan, Dixon praise Manning's effort: Tony Kanaan and Scott Dixon were well into their post-race press conference when the drivers were asked about the performance of fellow driver Darren Manning.

Manning was running third for A.J. Foyt's team when he spun while under pressure from Kanaan, but his performance was noted by the drivers who finished second and third.

"He needs a trophy, he should have won a trophy," said Kanaan. "I made my passes by waiting for people to make mistakes. I did it to Manning, although I felt really bad."

"You should," added Dixon, who finished second for Chip Ganassi Racing. "I thought he was doing a very good job. "He drove very well for what he had. Those guys should be proud of what they are doing."

Despite dropping down to 12th in the results due to his spin, Manning was equally pleased with his weekend.

"It was a fantastic weekend overall for a one-car effort," he said. "It's a testament to the spirit of this team."

***

The 2007 IndyCar Series season continues with the Indy Japan 300 at 11:30 p.m. (ET) on April 20. It will by broadcast live by the IMS Radio Network with a same-day telecast at noon (ET) by ESPN. 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 continues with the Freedom 100 on May 25 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast as part of ESPN2's coverage of Carb Day at 4 p.m. on May 25.

-credit: irl

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