IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2007-10-24

Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines 1. Castroneves remains on Dancing With The Stars 2. Oh Baby!: More baby girls being named Danica 3. Top young drivers test with Sam Schmidt Motorsports 4. Drivers pass Indy Pro Series rookie ...

Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines
1. Castroneves remains on Dancing With The Stars
2. Oh Baby!: More baby girls being named Danica
3. Top young drivers test with Sam Schmidt Motorsports
4. Drivers pass Indy Pro Series rookie test
5. Munter goes green

1. Castroneves remains on Dancing With The Stars: Despite getting his lowest scores of the competition from the judges, Indy Racing League driver Helio Castroneves is moving on to next week on "Dancing with the Stars."

Castroneves and professional dancing partner Julianne Hough received 23 of a possible 30 points Monday night from the three judges for their rumba.

But when viewer votes were combined with those of the judges, Castroneves survived the cut. Only seven of the original 12 couples remain.

Castroneves and Hough will dance either the samba, paso doble, quickstep, tango or cha cha cha, plus a group dance judged by fans on Oct. 29.

"We're doing the best we can and I'm trying to represent the male side of the competition," Castroneves said. "The women are very, very tough, but I think we have a very good chance of moving on. I just need to concentrate on doing what I have to do."

***

2. Oh Baby!: More baby girls being named Danica: IndyCar Series driver Ed Carpenter and reigning Indy Pro Series champion Alex Lloyd recently welcomed their first children to their families.

And while neither considered naming their daughters after IndyCar Series driver Danica Patrick -- the Carpenters chose Makenna, while the Lloyds chose Ava -- many new parents are.

Danica, which is Slavic meaning "morning star," didn't rank in the top 1,000 baby names from 1996-2004, but has shown a steady rise in hospital nurseries since 2005, when Patrick led the Indianapolis 500 and was named the IndyCar Series' Bombardier Learjet Rookie of the Year.

In 2005, Danica returned to the list at 610 and jumped 71 percent to an all-time record ranking of 352 in 2006.

Here's a look at how the name ranked over the last few years.

Ranking of Danica:
Year Rank
2006 352
2005 610
2004 -
2003 -
2002 -

***

3. Top young drivers test with Sam Schmidt Motorsports: With the official announcement that 2007 Indy Pro Series champion Alex Lloyd has signed with Chip Ganassi Racing for 2008, Sam Schmidt Motorsports begins its search to replace Lloyd in earnest.

The team, in conjunction with the Indy Pro Series and Firestone, tested two young, up-and-coming drivers at Sebring International Raceway Oct. 22-23.

Cole Morgan, the 2007 Hankook F2000 champion, and James Davison, who ranks second in Star Mazda, got their first opportunity to drive the 450-hp Indy Pro Series cars.

"It seems like we have to reinvent the wheel every year," said team owner Sam Schmidt, whose drivers have won three of the last four Indy Pro Series championships. "We've had a lot of talented drivers do great things in our cars in the past, but the pressure is always on to continue running well with new drivers every year.

"Personally, offering this test is very rewarding as I only wish this type of opportunity was available when I won the FC National Championship in 1993. I applaud series organizers for making this happen."

Morgan, a 19-year old native of Florida, won the F2000 title on the strength of nine top-five finishes in 10 starts, including six victories.

Along with the championship, Morgan's credentials include many successes in go-kart racing and a second-place finish at the 2006 SCCA Runoffs in the Formula Continental class.

"I am so grateful for this opportunity," Morgan said. "Sam Schmidt has built the most dominant team in the Indy Pro Series, and to be able to test with them is a dream come true. It really shows how committed Sam is to open-wheel racing in the U.S. People as generous as him are few and far between in such a cut-throat sport."

Davison, 21, has a victory and three pole positions to his credit in Star Mazda this season.

Among Davison's other career highlights includes a win at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway in a Formula BMW race during the 2005 United States Grand Prix.

Having won there once, the Indy bug has bit him, and Davison aspires to win there again.

"I must thank Sam for showing an interest and believing in me," said Davison, whose grandfather Lex Davison won four Australian Grands Prix. "It was my first time in the Indy Pro Series car, and I've never driven something that had so much power or weight. The team, the engineers, they all said how surprised they were that I quickly adapted to the car. The pace and consistency that I demonstrated were all very good. I'm just really happy with how it went."

***

4. Drivers pass Indy Pro Series rookie test: Three drivers passed their Indy Pro Series oval rookie tests with Sam Schmidt Motorsports at Kentucky Speedway on Oct. 18. Richard Antinucci, Bia Figueiredo and Matt Lee all successfully completed laps in an Indy Pro Series machine under the direction of series technical director Butch Meyer.

Antinucci, the nephew of 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner Eddie Cheever, won two races in the Indy Pro Series in 2007 driving only the road course events for Cheever Racing. The Kentucky test was the first opportunity for the 26-year-old to drive on an oval.

"Richard did an exceptional job," Meyer said. "We knew from watching him race on the road courses during the season that he is a very talented driver. I was very impressed with the feedback he gave to the engineers throughout the test. He's a very professional race car driver.

"Bia and Matt also did a very nice job and would be very competitive racers in the Indy Pro Series."

Figueiredo, 22, has competed in South American Formula 3 and Formula Renault Brazil while Lee, 17, finished second in Formula BMW competition in 2006 and recorded two top-10 finishes in the Champ Car Atlantic series in 2007.

***

5. Munter goes green: Leilani Munter, who started two Indy Pro Series races in 2007, has commited to purchasing an acre of endangered tropical rainforest for every race she runs in the Indy Pro Series. She has already purchased two acres from World Land Trust this year - one for her debut in the Kentucky 100 and another for the season finale at Chicagoland Speedway.

"I felt a responsibility to do something about the impact I have on the environment because of my racing career," Munter said. "I am speaking out about my actions in hopes of bringing awareness to race fans and the racing community. If I can get one person to think twice about their impact on the Earth and start recycling and conserving energy, then it's working. We need to start taking better care of our planet."

Munter, who holds a degree in biology from the University of California San Diego, is well known for her support of wildlife and environmental causes. She hosts a section on her official site called Leilani's Earth Watch which is dedicated to environmental issues and clean energy. She also has a blog where she is known to speak about green issues. Munter has been a PADI certified scuba diver since 1994 and during her college years was a volunteer at the Stephen Birch Aquarium, part of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography. Munter also volunteered for three years at Project Wildlife - a wildlife rescue, rehabilitation, and release center based in San Diego, Calif.

"World Land Trust helps local organizations buy, protect, and replant tropical rainforest to help absorb the carbon we pour into the air," said Byron Swift, President of World Land Trust-US. "Every time Leilani races, she helps us purchase one more acre of endangered tropical rainforest. It's just great that she's doing this and at the same time raising awareness in the racing community of the need to balance our use of carbon."

Munter's eco-friendly thinking has landed her in the company of other like minded businesses with green initiatives. Her current sponsor, SMART Papers, is an eco-conscious company. They are a leader in recycled papers, using up to 100 percent post consumer waste in their products which insures responsible use of forest resources. Their facility was the first local industrial facility to enter in to a cooperative program with Cinergy aimed at opting out of purchasing power during peak demand summer months. Their wastewater treatment program is so effective that the water they put into the Miami River is cleaner than the water they pull out. SMART Papers is working towards becoming carbon neutral.

"SMART Papers feels as strongly as I do about protecting our Earth's resources," Munter said. "I am proud to carry their colors on my race car."

***

The 2008 IndyCar Series season begins under the lights on March 29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The 16-race schedule, one of the most diverse in all of motorsports, features races on 11 ovals, three permanent road courses and two temporary street circuits, all broadcast worldwide through a comprehensive, long-term agreement with ABC Sports/ ESPN. The 2008 Indy Pro Series season also begins on March 29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The 16-race schedule, which features eight ovals and four road/street course doubleheader weekends, will be televised by ESPN2.

-credit: irl

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series INDYCAR , INDYLIGHTS