IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2008-01-30

Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines 1. Helio, Danica, Marco ready for "Super" weekend 2. Schmidt tabs Davison as second driver 3. Team E joins Indy Pro Series 1. Helio, Danica, Marco ready for "Super" weekend: IndyCar ...

Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines
1. Helio, Danica, Marco ready for "Super" weekend
2. Schmidt tabs Davison as second driver
3. Team E joins Indy Pro Series

1. Helio, Danica, Marco ready for "Super" weekend: IndyCar Series drivers Helio Castroneves, Danica Patrick and Marco Andretti will make appearances at several events surrounding Super Bowl XLII in the greater Phoenix area.

Castroneves, a two-time Indianapolis 500 champion, plans to attend annual Super Bowl parties hosted by Playboy, Sports Illustrated, Maxim and ESPN: The Magazine.

Patrick, who will be featured in GoDaddy.com's commercial during the game broadcast, will attend GoDaddy's party as well as the game. Patrick and Andretti will both attend the Stars in the SKYE party.

Following the Super Bowl, Castroneves heads to New Orleans where he will serve as a Monarch in the Krewe of Orpheus' annual Lundi Gras parade on Feb. 4 -- the day before Mardi Gras officially begins. The procession, highlighted by 36 floats, will parade along its traditional Uptown route culminating with Orpheuscapade -- a black-tie affair featuring live music and dancing.

Joining Castroneves as members of the 2008 Monarchs and Nobility are "American Idol" finalist Josh Gracin, New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton, two of the members of Salt N' Pepa, Lance Bass and Kevin Meaney.

"I have to say, it's been a really busy two weeks," Castroneves said. "I've had the time of my life during the past few months. It's a tremendous honor to be selected as one of the Monarchs for the Krewe of Orpheus parade. I'm really looking forward to being involved and I think it's the perfect way to celebrate my first Mardi Gras. I'm also looking forward to being in Phoenix this weekend; it's always such an electric crowd during the week leading up to the Super Bowl."

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2. Schmidt tabs Davison as second driver: Australian James Davison has signed with Sam Schmidt Motorsports and will compete in the Indy Pro Series during the 2008 season.

The 21-year-old Davison finished second in the Star Mazda Championship in 2007, winning a race at the famed Mosport circuit in Canada. His accomplishments were rewarded by Sam Schmidt Motorsports in October when the team invited him to test in Sebring, Fla.

"From the beginning, we've been impressed with James," team owner Sam Schmidt said. "He's a very eager driver, and we'll do our best in providing him with the tools that he needs to take his career to the next step."

"This is an opportunity of a lifetime that I've worked very hard for," Davison said. "I'm joining the number one team in the Indy Pro Series, and I'm going to give it everything I've got."

Davison has raced in Champ Car Atlantic, Formula BMW, Formula Ford, and in karts in both the Unites States and Australia. His proudest racing moment to date was winning the Formula BMW race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the 2005 United States Grand Prix.

He said he hopes to join 2007 Indy Pro Series champion Alex Lloyd as a winner on the famed circuit's road course and oval, and more importantly, to progress towards his ultimate goal of winning the Indianapolis 500.

"It's going to be a new experience (to race in an oval-based series)," he said. "However, I know I have very good people behind me at Sam Schmidt Motorsports. I have high expectations for the season that I am determined to fill."

Davison joins Ana Beatriz as drivers for the team that has won two entrant championships in the Indy Pro Series.

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3. Team E joins Indy Pro Series: Team E will compete as a new entry in the Indy Pro Series in 2008 with veteran driver Bobby Wilson behind the wheel.

Team E, based in Odessa, Fla., is owned by Florida businessman Neil Enerson.

"I met Neil a couple of years ago doing some karting work, coaching his son," said Wilson, who won the Stars of Karting championship in 2003. "Neil went to a few races (in 2007), saw the marketing potential of this series, how it's taking off. We started talking about running a car, went through the numbers and put it all together."

Enerson, who owns a natural gas utility, was impressed with Wilson and the opportunities offered in the Indy Pro Series.

"The Indy Pro Series is the best series to be in," Enerson said. "It's the best bang for the buck and the easiest sell sponsorship-wise. Now is a good time to make this jump. It's a lot to take on, but it's something I want to do and something I can do."

The team acquired all new equipment, including a Dallara chassis and transporter, and hired veteran engineer Dave Conti and veteran team manager Doug Hoy.

"We've put together a first-class operation," Wilson said. "We've got great people, people that want to be here. All of the guys called us. We didn't have to go out looking for people."

Wilson, 26, debuted in the Indy Pro Series in 2005, competing in three races for Brian Stewart Racing, the season after he won the Formula Ford 2000 Zetec championship. In 2006, he split the season between Michael Crawford Motorsports and Kenn Hardley Racing, recording his first series victory in the rain at Watkins Glen. Last year, he returned to Brian Stewart Racing, winning on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Father's Day. He finished fourth in the championship in both 2006 and 2007.

Despite his past success with established teams, Wilson believes this is his best opportunity to win the Firestone Firehawk Cup.

"I'm really pumped about the season," Wilson said after the team's first test at Sebring International Raceway on Jan. 24-25. "The test was the first day that everyone on the team was together, and we came out of the box hitting on all cylinders. There were no hiccups, nothing missing.

"I look at everybody else and ask, 'What will it take to beat them?' I don't see anything that should keep us from being up front. Winning is our only goal, the championship is our ultimate goal."

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The 2008 IndyCar Series season begins under the lights with the GAINSCO Auto Insurance Indy 300 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. All races in 2008 will be telecast in High Definition. 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

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Sam Schmidt , Marco Andretti , Alex Lloyd , James Davison , Bobby Wilson , Ana Beatriz , Danica Patrick