IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League notebook 2003-04-02

Indy Racing League Notebook Penske to use one Panoz G Force at Motegi; Series stars ready for IROC INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, April 2, 2003 -- Marlboro Team Penske has used a Dallara chassis for all of its 19 prior starts in the IRL ...

Indy Racing League Notebook
Penske to use one Panoz G Force at Motegi; Series stars ready for IROC

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, April 2, 2003 -- Marlboro Team Penske has used a Dallara chassis for all of its 19 prior starts in the IRL IndyCarTM Series, but the team will give the Panoz G Force chassis a try for one of its entries at the Indy Japan 300 on April 13 at Twin Ring Motegi.

Alex Barron will drive the No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone at the 1.5-mile oval in Japan. Barron is replacing regular Penske driver Gil de Ferran, who was injured in a crash during the Purex Dial Indy 200 on March 23 at Phoenix International Raceway.

Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves, the team's other regular driver, will remain in a Dallara chassis at Motegi, driving the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone.

"Dallara has done a fantastic job for our organization over the past two years," said Tim Cindric, president, Penske Racing, Inc. "However, our philosophy has always been to continually evaluate our options to ensure we are racing the most competitive equipment available to achieve the best possible results for both our team and our sponsors.

"With Gil's accident in Phoenix, we were no longer in a position to take four Dallaras to Motegi since we had been preparing a G Force for testing prior to Indianapolis. Fortunately, we were able to shake down the G Force at Fontana with an eye toward using it as a primary car for Alex Barron in Motegi.

"Obviously, the experience that we gain in Japan will accelerate our evaluation process prior to Indianapolis. That said, we feel that both of our drivers are in an excellent position to win the IRL's first race in Motegi."

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IndyCar Series drivers ready for IROC: Three IRL IndyCarTM Series stars will compete in the second round of the True Value IROC Series on April 5 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.

Two-time series champion Sam Hornish Jr., two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves and 2001 Bombardier Rookie of the Year Felipe Giaffone represent the IndyCar Series in IROC, racing's "all-star game." Twelve drivers from various North American series compete in identically prepared stock cars in the four-race series, which concludes Aug. 2 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Hornish finished eighth, Giaffone 10th and Castroneves 11th in the IROC season opener Feb. 14 at Daytona International Speedway. NASCAR Winston Cup star Mark Martin won the race.

IROC rookie Giaffone tested April 1 at Talladega along with World of Outlaws driver and IROC participant Danny Lasoski and IROC test drivers Dick Trickle and Andy Hillenburg. NHRA Funny Car star Ron Capps also tested, becoming the first drag racer to drive an IROC car. Capps does not race in the series.

"I'm really enjoying this track," Giaffone said. "It is different from Daytona, much wider, smoother and feels like there is more banking. There will be a lot of racing action here and more side-by-side racing and, for sure, the last lap will be very exciting."

The race will be televised at noon (EDT) April 12 on ESPN.

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Wynonna to lead 500 Festival parade: Five-time Grammy Award-winning recording artist Wynonna Judd will lead the 2003 500 Festival Parade on May 24 as grand marshal, Festival officials announced.

Wynonna first came into prominence as part of the legendary duo, The Judds, in 1984 and has since become one of the most celebrated success stories in music history. Her music is described as eclectic, drawing from country, rock, pop and folk.

In her two-decade career, Wynonna has sold 30 million records worldwide and has won more than 60 industry awards. Her highly anticipated radio single, "What the World Needs," will debut on country radio in late April, followed closely by her sixth solo album this summer.

In addition to Wynonna and the 33 qualified drivers of the Indianapolis 500, the 500 Festival Parade will include such celebrity highlights as country singer Darryl Worley, Olympian Bode Miller, actor George Hamilton and NBC "Scrubs" star John McGinley.

The 2-mile parade steps off at North Street and Pennsylvania Avenue in downtown Indianapolis, heads south on Pennsylvania to Washington Street, travels west on Washington to Meridian Street, and proceeds north on Meridian to 11th Street.

Tickets are $12.50 for reserved bleacher seats, $15 for reserved chair seats, and $25 in the V.I.P. reserved seats in the TV zone. To order tickets or for more information, call (317) 927-3378 or (800) 638-4296 or go online to www.500festival.com.

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Witherill on TV: IRL Infiniti Pro Series standout Cory Witherill will be featured in a four-minute segment on the syndicated racing show "MotorWeek."

The show is scheduled to air on Speed Channel at 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. (EDT) Thursday, April 3 and 8:30 a.m. (EDT) Tuesday, April 8.

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IRL veteran Velez dies: Indy Racing League veteran Fermin Velez died March 31 in Barcelona, Spain, after a battle with cancer. He was 43.

Velez made six IRL starts between the 1996 and 1996-97 seasons. His best finish was ninth at Orlando, Fla., in 1997.

Former IMSA champion Fermin Velez, who died of cancer on Monday, March 31, in Barcelona, Spain.
Photo by American Le Mans Series.
An accomplished sports car racer, Velez won the IMSA World Sports Car title in 1995 and 1997 and the FIA World Sports Car Group C2 championship in 1987 and 1989. He also won the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1995 and 1997.

Condolences to the family can be sent to Marnie Lincoln, c/o Road Atlanta, 5300 Winder Highway, Braselton, GA 30517.

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Hot laps: Coca-Cola and Texas Motor Speedway will team up to promote IRL IndyCarTM Series racing through their newest twist-off campaign, "What Gets You Racing." One of every eight consumers in North Texas can win anything from race tickets for the Chevy 500 on Oct. 15 at Texas to a grand prize of Texas Motor Speedway season tickets and pit passes. This promotion runs from April 1-June 30 in Dallas-Fort Worth and surrounding areas -- A lucky fan will win a free one-year lease on a Cirrus SR20 aircraft, plus a $5,000 flight training allowance, at the Bombardier 500 on June 7 at Texas Motor Speedway. Fans can register to win the lease in person in the Cirrus area of the Flying Magazine Expo Pavilion near the speedway's main entrance. A one-year lease on a Cirrus SR20 is valued at $30,000 -- The Indy Racing League will play a part in the "Buzz-Free Prom" test promotion for juniors and seniors in Dallas/Fort Worth area high schools. As a promotion to end the use of drugs and alcohol at the prom, the students will be asked to sign cards stating they will not partake in these activities, in return for discounts and chances to win prizes. Among those prizes are tickets to the Bombardier 500 on June 7 at Texas Motor Speedway and Indy Racing League T-shirts, posters, fan guides, bumper stickers and other merchandise -- CARA Charities will conduct a Bowl-A-Thon on May 3 at Raceway Lanes in Indianapolis. Teams of six bowlers will compete, with proceeds going toward CARA's charitable work. Each bowler will be charged $15, which includes two games of bowling and shoe rental. Donations also are welcome. For information, contact Bill Powers at (765) 342-7477 or powers13@scican.net.

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Dick Trickle , Ron Capps , Cory Witherill , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Alex Barron , Andy Hillenburg , Danny Lasoski , Fermin Velez , Sam Hornish Jr. , Mark Martin
Teams Team Penske , Team Penske