IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2007-07-31

Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines: 1. Munter joins Schmidt team for Kentucky, Chicago 2. Duno, Herb return for Michigan race 1. Munter joins Schmidt team for Kentucky, Chicago: Leilani Munter will make her Indy Pro Series...

Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines:
1. Munter joins Schmidt team for Kentucky, Chicago
2. Duno, Herb return for Michigan race

1. Munter joins Schmidt team for Kentucky, Chicago: Leilani Munter will make her Indy Pro Series debut Aug. 11 at the Kentucky Speedway in the No. 57 SMART Papers/Lucas Oil car prepared by Sam Schmidt Motorsports.

Munter, who passed her rookie test at Kentucky in May, also will compete in the season finale at the Chicagoland Speedway on Sept. 9.

Lead sponsorship comes from SMART Papers, a premium brand in the graphic communications industry and North America's largest independent manufacturer and marketer of premium coated and uncoated printing papers.

"Racing in the Indy Pro Series is a big step in my career," said Munter, who began racing stock cars in 2001. "I am deeply appreciative to Sam Schmidt for giving me the chance to drive for a championship team and to SMART Papers for becoming my primary sponsor in the series."

"Leilani represents the new generation of women who are fast moving into professional open wheel racing," SMART Papers chairman Tim Needham said. "She is a talented racer and a smart competitor. She's also environmentally smart and a smart businesswoman. SMART Papers is delighted to sponsor Leilani's first two races in the Indy Pro Series. We believe she has a smart, winning future."

Munter joins series points leader Alex Lloyd, Logan Gomez and Ryan Justice in the Sam Schmidt Motorsports stable. The team has won two of the last three driver's championships and boasts 26 pole positions and 20 race wins in the Indy Pro Series.

"We are very pleased to add Leilani to our team for the Kentucky and Chicagoland events in 2007," team owner Sam Schmidt said. "Leilani has honed her skills and gained sufficient confidence to be competitive in the Indy Pro Series immediately. In addition, I believe Alex Lloyd, Ryan Justice and Logan Gomez will be excellent teammates due to their success and experience so far this year."

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2. Duno, Herb return for Michigan race: Milka Duno and Jon Herb will compete at Michigan International Speedway for the first time in the IndyCar Series, joining the field for the Firestone Indy 400.

Duno, who last raced at Richmond a month ago, will test a new Dallara chassis on the 2-mile oval before joining the Aug. 4 practice groups. Tomas Enge, a former IndyCar Series driver, will assist in setting up the car for the sweeping turns and 18-degree banking.

"I am so excited coming to Michigan with a new car, and now the use of a backup car," said Duno, who debuted in the series in April in the No. 23 CITGO car for SAMAX Motorsport. "Most teams have the winter months to prepare. Unfortunately, we didn't have this luxury and we have been a little on the back foot with testing and preparation of a second car.

"I knew with our late entry that this year was going to be a challenge and I am grateful to CITGO and the team for all their hard work to get to this point."

Herb, who has 15 starts in the IndyCar Series and 23 in the Indy Pro Series, last competed in June at Texas Motor Speedway in the No. 19 Aercon/Dad's Root Beer Special.

"From my perspective, I've been to Michigan on a couple of occasions with the ARCA stock car series and really enjoyed that track," Herb said. "The wide-open corners suited my style; I can really drive it in there. I've always wanted to go back with the IndyCar Series, but hadn't had the opportunity until this year."

The Chicago native is seeking to expand the sponsorship base, which would allow him to race in the season finale at Chicagoland Speedway.

"Obviously, we'd like to be going to more events," said Herb, who also competed in the 91st Indianapolis 500 in May. "We've been picking and choosing. That's not necessarily a bad thing if you do it well. We haven't had the success I'd like to have at Indy or Texas. Hopefully, Michigan will be a turning point as far as getting some results.

"It's capitalizing on the momentum we have putting things together. We've shown that we can compete here, but we have to capitalize on it and realize the fruits of our efforts. I'm a Chicago native and I'd like to run that race. We're working on it."

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The next IndyCar Series event is the Firestone Indy 400 at Noon on Aug. 5 at Michigan International Speedway. The race will be televised live by ESPN2 and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network. The next Indy Pro Series event is the Kentucky 100 on Aug.11 at Kentucky Speedway. The race will be broadcast at 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 16.

-credit: irl

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Series INDYCAR , INDYLIGHTS