IRL: Behind the Barriers: St. Pete

For those interested in making a memorial donation in the memory of Paul Dana, the Dana family has asked that donations be sent to the following: Paul Dana Memorial Fund for Renewable Energy c/o National Bank of Indianapolis 107 N. Pennsylvania...

For those interested in making a memorial donation in the memory of Paul Dana, the Dana family has asked that donations be sent to the following:

Paul Dana Memorial Fund for Renewable Energy
c/o National Bank of Indianapolis
107 N. Pennsylvania St., Suite 100
Indianapolis, IN 46204

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Dario Franchitti was fast right off the transporter this morning. "The first lap of the day today, the car felt right," said Franchitti, who topped both Friday practice sessions. Franchitti had the fastest car at St. Petersburg last year but a fuel pick-up problem forced the Scotsman to make extra pit stops. Despite making the extra stops, he finished third.

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Geoff Dodge will sub for 2005 Indy Pro Series champion Wade Cunningham at St. Petersburg after Cunningham was taken to the hospital on Thursday evening to have his appendix removed. Cunningham started feeling ill after the Homestead race but still managed to take part in the test at Sebring. Dodge, who did not test at Sebring, said he felt guilty about being excited to compete this weekend. "We certainly didn't want to see anything bad happed to Wade," he said. "Hopefully he has a quick recovery and gets back in the car he rightfully deserves to be driving soon. Cunningham was expected to be released from the hospital on Friday afternoon.

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For the first time in the five-year history of the Indy Pro Series, drivers will compete in a doubleheader. The 420-horsepower machines will line up on the starting grid at 3:30 p.m. (EST) on April 1 and again at 11:30 a.m. (EDT) on April 2. The grid for the second race will be determined by the finishing order of the first race with the first six finishers inverted for the start of the second race.

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Al Unser Jr. was an interested spectator at St. Petersburg on Friday. Unser was recently entered in the 90th Indianapolis 500 as a Dreyer and Reinbold teammate to 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Lazier.

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Ed Carpenter looked good cruising around the pits at St. Pete. He said he felt well enough to drive, mentioning that he had been pain-free for several days. The recommendation that he not compete was due to the bruises he received in the practice accident at Miami..

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Roberto Moreno, 47, will pilot the Vision Racing No. 20 at St. Petersburg this weekend. Moreno, who will sub for the injured Ed Carpenter, competed in the Grand American Rolex Series event at Homestead-Miami Speedway last weekend subbing for JC France in the No. 59 Brumos Racing Porsche Fabcar. Moreno tested the No. 20 Indy-car on the Homestead road circuit during an open test March 28. "Yesterday's test was good," Moreno said. "I impressed myself and how quickly I got into the pace. IndyCars are quite tough, but I suddenly realized how quickly I was able to rely on my experience to get the car up to the pace." Moreno competed in seven Grand American races in 2005.

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SWE Race Car Parts, the company that provides gearbox services for the Indy Pro Series, has returned to sponsor the pole award in that series. The SWE Race car Parts Pole Award will include a $1,000 award to the pole winner at each Indy Pro Series event.

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Playa Del Racing has acquired the services of veteran racing engineer Tim Wardrop. Wardrop will serve as the crew chief for Jon Herb's No. 6 Indy Pro Series entry.

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Firestone will host an "Evening of Giving" benefit from 6 to 10:00 p.m. on Monday, May 8 at the Music Mill in Indianapolis. The inaugural event will feature live and silent auctions, music from the Carl Storie Band and a chance to obtain autographs from Indy-car drivers and celebrities. For reservations or more information please call (317) 356-7279.

Indy Racing League Team and Sponsor News

Rusty Wallace has added a Microsoft product to his long list of personal endorsements. Microsoft Streets & Trips 2006 with GPS Locator is the latest version of Microsoft's mapping and travel planning software for the United States and Canada. The new version, which includes a USB plug in for the GPS hardware, includes customizable maps with more than 1.8 million points of interest, from ATMs and gas stations to movie theaters and historic monuments. It also features real-time voice-prompted directions.

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The musical group Black Eyed Peas have customized and designed a one-of-a-kind Honda Civic to be featured at each stop along the Honda Civic Tour. The Civic Hybrid, featured in the group's 'PumpIt' video, will be awarded to a lucky fan at the conclusion of the Honda Civic Tour. Fans can enter the sweepstakes at a kiosk at each show or by visiting www.hondacivictour.com.

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Honda broke ground Monday on a new $15 million Acura Design Center, the latest expansion of Honda's product design and development capabilities in North America. The Acura Design Center, scheduled to open in summer 2007, will play a critical role in the development of new concepts and designs that will lead directly to future Acura products developed in North America. The facility will be located adjacent to Honda R&D America's existing Los Angeles Center, which will continue to research and design future Honda products.

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Celebrating its 20th anniversary as a brand, Acura announced Monday plans to debut a concept version of the all-new MDX luxury sport-utility vehicle, April 12, at the New York International Auto Show. Scheduled to debut later this year, the 2007 Acura MDX will be the second generation of Acura's luxury SUV to be designed, developed and manufactured exclusively in North America.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Rusty Wallace , Al Unser Jr. , Jon Herb , Buddy Lazier , Roberto Moreno , Dario Franchitti , JC France , Paul Dana , Wade Cunningham , Geoff Dodge , Ed Carpenter