IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2005-06-14

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- June 14, 2005 Today's IRL headlines 1. Texas event draws ESPN's best IndyCar Series rating 2. Drivers gear up for Open Test at the Glen 3. Wheldon, Patrick among nominees for award 1. Texas event draws...

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- June 14, 2005

Today's IRL headlines
1. Texas event draws ESPN's best IndyCar Series rating
2. Drivers gear up for Open Test at the Glen
3. Wheldon, Patrick among nominees for award

1. Texas event draws ESPN's best IndyCar Series rating: ESPN's coverage of the IRL IndyCar® Series' Bombardier Learjet 500k on June 11 from Texas Motor Speedway had a ratings increase of 150 percent, according to Nielsen Media Research, making it the highest-rated and most-viewed IndyCar Series race in the network's history.

Saturday's prime-time race coverage garnered a 1.0 cable rating, the equivalent to 880,000 households and more than 1.3 million viewers.

According to Nielsen Media Research, the race produced a 200 percent increase in ratings for adults (18+) from 0.2 in 2004 to 0.6. The rating for men 18-34 increased 100 percent (from 0.2 to 0.4). Females 18+ saw a 300 percent increase in rating (from 0.1 to 0.4) and males 18+ saw a 200 percent increase (from 0.3 to 0.9).

ESPN's previous high rating was a 0.9 and 809,000 households for the Toyota Indy 300 from Homestead-Miami Speedway on Feb. 29, 2004.

According to Nielsen Media Research, 46 of the country's top 56 markets saw an increase in ratings vs. 2004, with 20 of those markets showing a three-fold increase and ratings in 36 markets at least doubling.

The Dallas-Fort Worth market had the biggest audience with 62,000 homes tuned in for a 2.7 rating and a 5 share. Indianapolis saw the biggest rating with a 4.3, representing 46,000 homes and an 8 share.

Saturday's pre-race programming, which included ESPN Original Entertainment's "Danica Patrick: Road to Indy," earned a 0.4 rating and 383,000 households, matching last season's race coverage from Texas Motor Speedway, according to Nielsen Media Research.

ESPN will telecast the next four IndyCar Series events with ESPN2 broadcasting live coverage of the SunTrust Indy Challenge from Richmond International Raceway on June 25.

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2. Drivers gear up for Open Test at Glen: Helio Castroneves had so much fun at a compatibility test two weeks ago at Watkins Glen International that he can't wait for June 15.

That's when he'll be joined by most of his IndyCar Series competitors -- including Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon, Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year Danica Patrick and Tomas Scheckter, winner of the June 11 Bombardier Learjet 500k at Texas Motor Speedway -- at an Open Test at the historic complex.

The public test is in preparation for the Sept. 23-25 Indy Grand Prix at Watkins Glen presented by Argent Mortgage.

Castroneves, driver of the No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, and Darren Manning, driver of the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz/Toyota/Firestone, completed 20 laps in the closed test on the 3.4-mile, 11-turn road course.

"The layout is unbelievable," said Castroneves, who finished fifth in the twilight race at Texas. "The safety things the IRL asked they did, except a few things yet that are not a big issue. We're going to really enjoy being at that place, not only for the layout but the history that is over there.

"We'll have 20 laps more than anyone else, but we're going to go there, have a good time and try to set up the car for race weekend. "We used the (May 31) session to get familiar with the track and make sure we were comfortable with the circuit; we weren't necessarily looking for speed."

The Glen's heritage stems from its role as host of the U.S. Grand Prix from 1961-80. To accommodate the increased speeds of the sleek IndyCar Series cars, the circuit underwent $6 million in capital improvements since last fall.

Most of the changes involved creating more run-off room and better sight lines for the drivers. It was accomplished by moving some of the guard rails. The run-off area in Turn 1 was elevated and paved, and new tire barriers were installed around the track. A 42-row grandstand along the frontstretch also was added.

The official circuit record is 1 minute, 33.291 seconds set by Bruno Giacomelli in an Alfa-Romeo during qualifying for the 1980 U.S. Grand Prix.

***

3. Wheldon, Patrick among nominees for award: Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon and IndyCar Series rookie Danica Patrick are among the second-quarter nominees for the Speed Channel Driver of the Year.

Wheldon, driver of the No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone and current series points leader, recorded wins at St. Petersburg, Twin Ring Motegi and Indianapolis to tie Kenny Brack's IndyCar Series record for consecutive victories.

Patrick, driver of the No. 16 Rahal Letterman Racing Argent Pioneer Panoz/Honda/Firestone, started and finished fourth in the Indianapolis 500, the best performance by a woman driver in the 500-Mile Race. She also qualified second and finished fourth at Motegi and is the first woman to be nominated for the award.

An 18-member panel will select the winner of the award. Fans can participate in voting via an online ballot at www.speedtv.com through June 22. Results will be released on June 23.

At the end of the year, a special separate vote will be held for the Speed Channel 2005 Driver of the Year.

***

The 10th season of IndyCar Series competition continues with the SunTrust Indy Challenge on June 25 at Richmond International Raceway. The race will be telecast by ESPN2 at 7:30 p.m. (EDT) and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network. The race also will be available on XM Satellite Radio channel 152 "XM Extreme." ESPN2's telecast of the Firestone 100 will be shown at 3 p.m. (EDT) on June 16. The next Menards Infiniti Pro Series race is the Liberty Challenge on June 18 at the 2.605-mile road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It will be telecast at 5 p.m. (EDT) June 21 by ESPN2.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Darren Manning , Helio Castroneves , Kenny Brack , Dan Wheldon , Bruno Giacomelli , Chip Ganassi , Jim Beam , Danica Patrick
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing