IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League notebook 2003-07-16

Chevy submits request for new engine; Foursome happy with tests at Michigan INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, July 16, 2003 -- GM Racing, the technical arm of GM's motorsports program, has submitted a request to the Indy Racing League for a change in the...

Chevy submits request for new engine; Foursome happy with tests at Michigan

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, July 16, 2003 -- GM Racing, the technical arm of GM's motorsports program, has submitted a request to the Indy Racing League for a change in the Chevrolet racing engine that competes in the IRL IndyCarTM Series.

The new engine is designated the Gen IV Chevy Indy V8.

"After exploring numerous options, GM Racing has finalized plans to introduce a new Chevrolet engine in the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series," said Joe Negri, GM Racing IRL program manager. "We have formally requested IRL officials to approve the Gen IV Chevy Indy V8 for competition in 2003. Pending IRL approval, GM Racing will make the Gen IV Chevy Indy V8 available to Chevrolet teams in accordance with IRL regulations."

Said Brian Barnhart, Indy Racing League senior vice president of racing operations: "At this time we are reviewing GM's request to change engines as well as their process for distributing the new engine packages to its teams. We anticipate a quick response back to GM Racing as they have kept us abreast of their activities throughout the process."

The best finish this season by a Chevrolet-powered driver is fourth by two-time defending series champion Sam Hornish Jr. in the SunTrust Indy Challenge on June 28 at Richmond International Raceway. Hornish also has recorded the best start for the engine this year, third at Homestead-Miami Speedway and Richmond.

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Four drivers test at Michigan: Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves, Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Scott Dixon and Tomas Scheckter and the IRL IndyCar Series' most recent winner, Bryan Herta, tested July 15 at Michigan International Speedway in preparation for the Firestone Indy 400 on July 27.

Castroneves completed approximately 100 laps on the 2-mile oval in a day-long test in a Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone. Weather conditions ranged from clouds in the morning to sunshine in the afternoon.

"It's like I always say, sometimes you're the windshield, and sometimes you're the bug," Castroneves said. "When we come back here next week I hope that we are the windshield."

Castroneves is confident that the test will help him end an 18-race victory drought that dates back to his win in the 2002 Indianapolis 500.

"You have to run at MIS because it's a part of American racing history," Castroneves said. "The challenge here is if you go low or you go high, you have to figure out how to pass the guy in front of you. It's not only you, but 10 other guys that are trying to do that same thing as you. Sometimes you can be leading the race and lose it in the last corner."

Defending Firestone Indy 400 winner Scheckter drove the morning session in a Target Chip Ganassi Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone. Dixon -- a three-time winner this season -- tested the car in the afternoon. They completed 156 laps combined, preparing them for what should be another tight race at Michigan.

"I think it's going to be fierce, I really do," Scheckter said. "Here with five laps to go, you are as alert as when you are starting the race because everybody is around you, and you're wheel to wheel. I think you're going to see a lot of that."

Andretti Green Racing driver Herta -- fresh off his first IndyCar Series victory on July 6 at Kansas Speedway -- completed 106 laps for the day in his Archipelago/Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone.

"We got off to a bit of a rocky start, but once we got running, we ran bunch of laps and learned some things," Herta said. "You don't necessarily have to make the car faster in a test, but when you leave the test with more ideas than you started like we did today, then you know it was productive."

For ticket information for the Firestone Indy 400 and the Michigan Indy 100 Infiniti Pro Series race on July 27, visit the MIS Web site, www.mispeedway.com, or call the MIS ticket hotline at (800) 354-1010.

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Penske duo lays down tracks: While visiting Nashville on July 8 for a media day promoting the Firestone Indy 200, Marlboro Team Penske drivers Helio Castroneves and Gil de Ferran recorded a few songs at RCA's historic Studio B.

Music legends such as Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison and the Everly Brothers made records at the studio.

Castroneves and de Ferran recorded their versions of the Everly Brothers' classic "Wake Up Little Susie" and Presley's timeless standard "Can't Help Falling in Love." The session came just a day after de Ferran sang "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the seventh-inning stretch of a Chicago Cubs' game at Wrigley Field in Chicago.

"What a thrill to be able to record in the same studio in which Elvis Presley recorded," de Ferran said. "It was great to learn about Nashville and its cultural history. I haven't had much exposure to American country music, so it was quite a unique day for me.

"I've done a lot of singing this week, and while I really enjoyed myself, I think Helio and I should stick to auto racing. I'll work on setting my records on the track."

Said Castroneves: "Man, I had so much fun in Nashville. It's great to come to a city where we race and get the chance to check it out. Usually, we spend the entire time in the car on the track, so it was fun to learn about the country music industry that has made Nashville famous."

Castroneves and de Ferran will race in the Firestone Indy 200 on July 18-19 at Nashville Superspeedway.

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USAC star Drake earns Hemelgarn test: USAC star Jay Drake earned an IndyCar Series test with Hemelgarn Racing after winning the Stoops Freightliner USAC Sprint Car Series feature July 11 at Toledo Speedway on "Hemelgarn Racing Night."

Drake led all 30 laps on the ½-mile asphalt oval in the Kunz Motorsports Vital Express/Stanton Race Engines Eagle/Mopar.

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Schmidt files third entry for Nashville: Sam Schmidt Motorsports has filed a third entry for the Nashville 100 IRL Infiniti Pro Series race on July 18 at Nashville Superspeedway, as Ross Fonferko will drive the No. 6 Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone as a teammate to series regulars Brandon Erwin and Tom Wood.

Fonferko, from Wheaton, Ill., is a veteran of Toyota Atlantic and U.S. F2000 racing. He also participated in the Indy Racing League Test in the West in February.

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Schmidt, foundation nominated for honors: Infiniti Pro Series team owner Sam Schmidt and the organization he founded, the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation (SSPF), have been nominated to receive prestigious New Freedom Awards.

The awards program honors extraordinary achievements in creating new freedoms for people who have a disability. Schmidt was paralyzed in an IndyCar Series testing crash in January 2000.

Scott Cronk, the chairman of the board of the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation, will attend the New Freedom Awards Gala on July 22 in the Grand Ballroom at the Navy Pier in Chicago to represent both Schmidt and the SSPF. More than 1,000 people are expected to attend.

Schmidt was nominated in two categories: Best New Freedom Individual and Best New Freedom Individual in an Inspiring Role. The SSPF was nominated in three categories: Best New Freedom Organization, Best New Freedom Research and Best New Freedom Communication Award.

A coalition of more than 40 charitable organizations and leading professionals helping those with disabilities selects the nominees each year.

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Hot laps: A lucky IndyCar Series fan can win four tickets to the Firestone Indy 400 on July 27 at the Web site of popular IndyCar Series driver Sarah Fisher, www.sarahfisher.com. Fans must answer 10 questions at the site regarding Fisher and her racing career to be eligible to win. The contest runs through July 21 -- IndyCar Series standout Robbie Buhl will visit patients July 17 at T.C. Thompson Children's Hospital in Chattanooga, Tenn., as part of his duties as national spokesperson for Racing For Kids. Buhl will race in the Firestone Indy 200 on July 19 at Nashville Superspeedway -- Infiniti Pro Series standout Cory Witherill spoke to Native American children July 14-15 about diabetes prevention as part of his role as host of the Team Diabetes Prevention Racing program. Witherill, a full-blooded Navajo, spoke July 14 to the Ak-chin tribe members and July 15 to Ute Mountain tribe members, with both presentations at the Fort Mojave Indian Community and the Native American Basketball Invitational in Phoenix. Witherill will drive in the Nashville 100 on July 18 at Nashville Superspeedway.

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Sarah Fisher , Robbie Buhl , Cory Witherill , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Brandon Erwin , Scott Dixon , Bryan Herta , Sam Schmidt , Tom Wood , Jay Drake , Chip Ganassi , Brian Barnhart , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing