IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2007-07-05

Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines: 1. Dixon hopeful of making up ground at The Glen 2. Wilson hopes to repeat road course success 3. Prendeville honored by Indianapolis mayor 1. Dixon hopeful of making up ground at The Glen:...

Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines:
1. Dixon hopeful of making up ground at The Glen
2. Wilson hopes to repeat road course success
3. Prendeville honored by Indianapolis mayor

1. Dixon hopeful of making up ground at The Glen: Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon is hoping this weekend trip to Watkins Glen International is one for the record books.

Dixon will seek to set one record (26 consecutive races running at the finish) and tie another (three consecutive victories at the same venue) in the Camping World Watkins Glen Grand Prix this weekend. If successful, Dixon could gain some ground on points leader Dario Franchitti (he's 65 behind in second place after nine of 17 rounds).

"I think there are always circuits that you like more," said Dixon, who has won from the fourth starting position both years. "I've always had my preferences of road courses No. 1 and then short tracks over big circuits. All the road courses we go to are very technical and enjoyable. Circuits that we go to, when you put the car together setup-wise well it rewards you."

Stringing together quality laps on the 11-turn natural terrain racing ribbon of Watkins Glen is reward in itself.

"At Watkins, the Bus Stop (Inner Loop) itself is very fast but then when you go into the Carousel it's pretty cool, too," Dixon said. "Circuits like that remind me of Phillip Island in Australia. They have corners that our cars are so on the edge. The reward out of those places --because they are a technical track and so long -- is putting a whole lap together. You can go around there all day long, getting one corner right and two or three others wrong and you never get a (competitive) time. I think it's combining it where you get the joy out of it.

"Getting that is experience and when you work together closely with the engineer on your team you overcome those things fairly quickly."

Dixon will be challenged by the usual cast of strong road racers. In particular, Buddy Rice in the No. 15 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing car could create some fireworks on the circuit. He's had two top-five finishes in a row on short tracks (Iowa and Richmond) and is coming off a strong Open Test at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Rice also finished fourth at The Glen last year in a Rahal Letterman Racing car.

"I like coming to Watkins Glen," Rice said. "Hopefully the weather holds out and it's a dry race so that we can continue our top-five progress and try to get on the podium this weekend. I think we have an extremely strong car right now for the road courses. We were pretty fast at St. Pete with the exception of our suspension issue, and we were fast at the Open Test at Mid-Ohio.

"I am definitely looking forward to a strong weekend. Hopefully we can try to get a little further up and keep making some progress in the points."

***

2. Wilson hopes to repeat road course success: The last time the Indy Pro Series visited a road course Bobby Wilson stood on the podium with the winner's trophy in hand. Ditto for the last time the series visited Watkins Glen.

Wilson hopes he can carry momentum from those victories back to The Glen when the Indy Pro Series returns for a doubleheader race weekend July 7-8.

"I think having a little bit of experience at that facility and winning there, obviously, I'm going to have the upper hand," said Wilson, whose first career victory came in the rain at Watkins Glen last June. "So I'm looking to have a good outing. I know that the team's going to be ready and prepped, and we're just going to put on a good show.

"Knowing the track and knowing the layout and all the little bumps there, just grabbing every reference point on the track and being consistent, I think that's what's going to win the race."

Wilson's victory last year came with Kenn Hardley Racing. This year, he's driving the No. 1 Ocala Gran Prix entry for Brian Stewart Racing, and he claimed his first victory of the season June 17 at Indianapolis, leading all 18 laps.

"It's been a year of ups and downs," said Wilson, who ranks fourth in points on the strength of seven top-10 finishes in eight starts. "I was just glad to record a win this year and boost morale on the team.

"I think we're going to keep the ball rolling, and just getting back on to the road course is going to be a good thing."

Twenty-five cars are entered for the Corning Twin 100s, two 29-lap races on the 11-turn, 3.4-mile course. Practice and the first of two qualifying sessions are scheduled for July 6. The second qualifying session and Race 1 are slated for July 7.

***

3. Prendeville honored by Indianapolis mayor: Indy Pro Series driver Andrew Prendeville's efforts to raise money for animal welfare programs have not gone unnoticed by the mayor of the racing capital of the world, Indianapolis.

Prendeville, driver of the RLR/Andersen Racing Best Friends Animal Society No. 5 in the Indy Pro Series, received a special recognition from Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson, who appointed Prendeville "an honorary citizen of the city of Indianapolis" recently.

"Few have earned more respect and gratitude from our citizens or have served our community more notably than Andrew Prendeville," the proclamation read.

Prendeville, 25, of Morristown, N.J., developed a program called "Racing Laps for Best Friends" that allows fans to make donations to Best Friends Animal Society through a Web site at racinglapsforbestfriends.com. Fans make monetary donations based on the number of laps Prendeville completes in his races. He competed in three races this year at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 25, June 16 and June 17.

With headquarters in Kanab, Utah, Best Friends operates the largest no-kill animal sanctuary in the United States. It is affiliated with animal shelters throughout the world, including Indianapolis Animal Care & Control, 2600 S. Harding St., Indianapolis.

As part of his promotional work prior to the Liberty Challenge in June, Prendeville was a guest on WXIN-TV's "FOX59 Morning News." He arranged to have Pacer, a golden retriever mix being cared for at Indianapolis Animal Care & Control, to be on the show with him in the hopes of finding Pacer a new home.

"Our interim administrator, Steve Talley, and all of us really appreciated Andrew thinking of us, and we told the mayor about it," said Adam Garrett, Indianapolis Animal Care & Control's volunteer coordinator and public information officer. "It was great that Andrew was able to get Pacer on TV. He hasn't found a new home here yet, but he's been selected to be on our animal transport to Massachusetts this week.

"With their strong spay and neuter laws, some of the New England states don't have enough strays for their shelters sometimes, so they periodically take some of ours and try to find new homes for them up there," Garrett said. "It's a partnership we have with them. We try to work together, just like Best Friends does. Pacer will leave for New England on (July 5), and hopefully he'll find a new home there."

***

The 2007 IndyCar Series season continues with the Camping World Watkins Glen Grand Prix at 3:30 p.m. (ET) on July 8 at Watkins Glen International. The race will be televised live by ABC and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network. The next Indy Pro Series event is the Corning Twin 100 doubleheader on July 7-8 at Watkins Glen International. The race will be televised by ESPN2 on July 12.

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series INDYCAR , INDY LIGHTS
Drivers Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Buddy Rice , Andrew Prendeville , Chip Ganassi , Bobby Wilson , Phillip Island
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing