INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES - MAY 4, 2007 Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines 1. Hitachi Power Tools to back Carpenter at Indy 2. Kite, PDM join forces for Indianapolis 500 3. Kanaan leads high-speed chase at Milwaukee 4.
INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES - MAY 4, 2007
Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines
1. Hitachi Power Tools to back Carpenter at Indy
2. Kite, PDM join forces for Indianapolis 500
3. Kanaan leads high-speed chase at Milwaukee
4. Festa at home at Ganassi Racing
1. Hitachi Power Tools to back Carpenter at Indy: Vision Racing announced May 4 that Hitachi Koki U.S.A., Ltd.,will serve as primary sponsor of the No. 20 Honda-powered Dallara driven by Ed Carpenter at the 91st Running of the Indianapolis 500. The partnership also includes an associate sponsorship from Lowe's.
Hitachi and Lowe's will continue as associate sponsors for the remainder of the 2007 IndyCar Series season.
"It is our great pleasure to welcome Hitachi Power Tools and Lowe's to the Vision Racing team for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing," team co-owner, Tony George, said. "Hitachi's reputation for developing the latest in high-tech power tools, commitment to speed, precision and durability as well as its strong consumer appeal makes them a great fit for our team, for the Indianapolis 500, and the IndyCar Series."
The agreement between Vision Racing and Hitachi Power Tools for the 2007 season brings a new partner to the paddock. Hitachi is the only tool manufacturer that offers a complete line of electric, cordless and pneumatic power tools as well as a full line of accessories and fasteners. Hitachi is keenly focused on producing the most technologically advanced tools on the market. Their commitment to technological excellence makes Hitachi Power Tools a perfect fit for the demanding tool-intensive IndyCar Series.
Hitachi Power Tools Director of Marketing, Tim Young, said, "The IndyCar (Series) is the most technologically advanced form of racing in North America. We are proud to support a team and league that breed the same dedication to excellence as we do and offers great visibility to an audience that appreciates superior technology and performance."
Hitachi is utilizing the Vision Racing marketing platform as a new foundation for in-store promotions and as an extension of its relationship with Lowe's.
"I live for Indy and the month of May, so to have Hitachi Power Tools and Lowe's on the car and with the team this year will be a huge asset to our Indy 500 effort," Carpenter said. "I'm hungry for better results at Indianapolis and now we've got the right tools to make it happen. Not to mention, this is a cool sponsor and I'm a big fan of their line of tools."
2. Kite, PDM join forces for Indianapolis 500: Veteran IndyCar Series driver Jimmy Kite will drive PDM Racing's No. 18 PDM Racing Honda-powered Panoz in the 91st Running of the Indianapolis 500, team owner Paul Diatlovich announced May 4.
"This is the third time that I have raced with PDM at the Speedway, which is kind of a record for me," said Kite, a native of Stockbridge, Ga., now living in Missouri. "I really have to thank Paul and all the guys at PDM for believing in me and what I can bring, on the track, to the program. We know we won't be challenging for fastest lap, probably not even fastest on the second weekend, but I feel pretty good about the kind of race car that we will have. Paul has always given me a good car and it is exciting to be back at the Speedway with PDM."
Kite first joined PDM in 2002 but Bump Day qualifying was shortened by a late afternoon rain. As the 6 p.m. gun rang-out, Kite sat next in line to make an attempt.
The combination had better results in 2003 when Kite qualified 32nd, the middle of the three-person final row, but fought his way up to finish 13th, his second-highest career finish in the "500" and the most positions gained in that year's event.
"This is an opportunity for PDM Racing," Diatlovich said. "By investing this kind of time, money and effort into a program, I need a capable gunfighter in the car. There is no one out there that I'd rather have in the car than Jimmy Kite. I have been fortunate to work with some of the best over my career; guys like (Emerson) Fittipaldi, (Tom) Sneva, and (Sam) Hornish (Jr.), and Jimmy is on even par with any of those guys at this facility."
PDM Racing, which dates back to 1996, is one of the few original IndyCar Series teams still in operation. The team has entered the Indy 500 every year since its inception. Kite's No. 18, a number long associated with the team, will be overseen by veteran chief mechanic Rob Stark. The car is maintained in Indianapolis at the famous Leader Card Racers' shop owned by the legendary A.J. Watson.
"Paul is taking a big gamble," Kite said. "He doesn't have all the funding in place and he has turned away guys with money because he believes in me and what we can do together. That is huge for me. It really builds up your confidence."
3. Kanaan leads high-speed chase at Milwaukee: Tony Kanaan spent several hours evading the Milwaukee police May 3. Fortunately for the 2004 IndyCar Series champion, it was part of a training exercise with the city's police academy and didn't result in as much as a ticket, not to mention a pair of silver bracelets and a night of accommodations compliments of the city.
Kanaan was in Milwaukee to do a series of media appearances to promote the ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt Indy 225 that will take place at The Milwaukee Mile on June 3. After a series of interviews, Kanaan was let loose on the track's infield road course in a red Honda Civic SI Coupe.
A fan of watching police pursuits on television, it was the Brazilian's turn to have two Crown Victorias in his rearview mirror.
"I think there are a few things that kids want to do when they grow up -- it's be a race car driver, a police officer, a pilot -- stuff like that," said Kanaan, the reigning race winner. "I was one of those.
"It was fun. It's the only time you can relax when you're being pursued by a cop. I would never put myself in this position. It's nice to see how they work, how they train, security measures that they take. They are in a tougher spot than we are. We have a job that is high-risk, but we expect more or less what is going to happen, and they don't. It's a totally different ballpark. I already had a lot of respect for them. Now I have even more."
Sgt. Craig Henry, one of three sergeants who trains Milwaukee's police recruits, appreciated Kanaan's involvement.
"The thing that is most valuable to the recruits in having some like Tony there is that he validates what we're doing," Henry said. "The techniques that are used in professional driving are the same techniques that we're using, the hand positioning, the way you transverse a corner or a curve using the apexes, coming in high, exiting high. They've been watching the cars out there doing it. It's the perfect model."
4. Festa at home at Ganassi Racing: For Chris Festa, there's no better place to be than Chip Ganassi Racing. The 21-year-old Atlanta native is in his first season with the team, driving the team's Indy Pro Series effort.
On May 3, he reaped the rewards of Ganassi's involvement in both the Indy Pro Series and the IndyCar Series by testing the IndyCar Series car at The Milwaukee Mile. The test is one of five bonus test days the team will earn in 2007 for running cars in both series.
"It's great," said Festa, who had run more laps in an IndyCar Series car by lunch (15) than he did all of last year (10) when he participated in a Firestone tire test at Kansas Speedway. "It's a lot of fun. I'm just trying to work up to it little by little and not get greedy. Thus far I'm having fun.
"Everybody at Target Chip Ganassi Racing is great. It's a great organization, great team. Great drivers have driven there in the past. There's so much knowledge there for me to learn from and getting into an Indy car for the first time with them is a great opportunity for me. I can really learn a lot from these guys."
Festa, who shared track time with 2003 IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon in the No. 9 Honda-powered Dallara, was under the watchful eye of team managing director Mike Hull.
"One of the biggest benefits (to Target Chip Ganassi Racing) is Chris Festa," Hull said. "I know that we're granted some testing because we have an Indy Pro Series program, but actually what it does in a very firsthand, first-person manner, it allows us to look at young drivers -- of which the first person in this program today is Chris Festa.
"We've been extremely excited about him, his ability. He's a 21-year-old future rising star for Indy car racing. He's already proven that he's able to drive an Indy car. That's a huge benefit for us. It's great to have young American talent in our race car. It doesn't matter where in the world the driver comes from, but we're happy that it's Chris Festa."
Festa, who tested his Indy Pro Series car at The Milwaukee Mile on May 2, returns to competition on May 25 in the Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He'll race at Milwaukee on June 3.
The 2007 IndyCar Series season continues with the 91st running of the Indianapolis 500 at 1 p.m. (ET) on May 27. The race will be telecast live by ABC and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network. 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.