IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2005-07-05

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- July 5, 2005 Today's IRL headlines 1. IndyCar Series reaches milestone 2. Bidding for Firestone Indy 200 Honorary Starter ends tonight 3. Another record set 4. Several share post-race rewards 1. IndyCar ...

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- July 5, 2005

Today's IRL headlines
1. IndyCar Series reaches milestone
2. Bidding for Firestone Indy 200 Honorary Starter ends tonight
3. Another record set
4. Several share post-race rewards

1. IndyCar Series reaches milestone: Close finishes have been the signature of IRL IndyCar® Series events -- especially on high-banked 1.5-mile ovals. The July 3 Argent Mortgage Indy 300 at Kansas Speedway was no different.

Tony Kanaan's victory over Dan Wheldon was by .0120 of a second, the sixth-closest finish in series history and the 50th finish with a margin of victory of less than one second.

Vitor Meira finished third, just .0242 of a second behind Kanaan and .0122 of a second behind second-place Wheldon. The margin from first to third was the second closest 1-2-3 finish in the series' history.

In all, 50 of the 111 IndyCar Series races have had a 1-2 finish of less than a second. This year, the last three races have had a margin of victory of less than a second.

"I knew that oval racing had the potential to showcase the most exciting racing, from the spectator standpoint, and I knew that NASCAR had a reputation for close racing. But in our young history we may be redeveloping the standard by which close motorsports competition is measured," IRL founder Tony George said earlier this year. "To the credit of our technical team, they have done a good job of developing specifications and writing rules that, for the most part over the last eight years, has led to the parity on the race track that in turn has produced the close finishes."

When it comes to winning nail-biting races, no driver has had more success than two-time IndyCar Series champion Sam Hornish Jr.

Hornish has won five of the 10 closest finishes in IndyCar Series history, including three of the four closest finishes. Hornish defeated Al Unser Jr. in 2002 at Chicago by .0024 of a second, the closest finish in history. The week after Chicago, Hornish defeated Helio Castroneves by .0096 of a second at Texas Motor Speedway in the third-closest finish in history. Hornish repeated at Chicagoland in 2003, defeating Scott Dixon and Bryan Herta in the closest 1-2-3 finish in series history, as .0100 of a second separated the top three.

Hornish, who has been involved in 14 of the 50 finishes, has been involved in nine of the top-20 closest finishes in history and has a record of 6-3. He won the closest finish in history as well as the third, fourth, ninth, 10th and 15th closest and has finished second in the seventh, 11th and 19th closest.

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2. Bidding for Firestone Indy 200 Honorary Starter ends tonight: The online auction for the spot as honorary starter for the July 16 Firestone Indy 200 ends at 10:27 p.m.(EDT) on July 5.

Firestone has placed for bid on the auction website eBay the Honorary Starter's position for the Firestone Indy 200 at Nashville Superspeedway on Saturday, July 16. The highest bidder, provided the offer meets the minimum reserve bid will be invited by Firestone Racing to climb into the flag stand before the race and wave the green flag. Proceeds from the top bid go to United Way of Metropolitan Nashville.

The winning bidder receives four grandstand tickets for the race from Firestone Racing, admission to Firestone's pre-race hospitality area and gets to meet Andrew Firestone, great-grandson of Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. founder Harvey Firestone and most recently star of the ABC-TV reality show "The Bachelor." Transportation to and accommodations for the event weekend are the responsibility of the winning bidder.

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3. Another record set: Eighteen cars of the 22 cars that started the Argent Mortgage Indy 300 finished on the lead lap, setting a series record. The previous high was 14 cars at the 2004 Indianapolis 500.

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4. Several share post-race rewards: Several IndyCar Series drivers reaped a number of benefits following the Argent Mortgage Indy 300.

Race winner Tony Kanaan was presented with an engraved Formula One timepiece from TAG Heuer, the official timekeeper and watch of the Indy Racing League. TAG Heuer presents an engraved Formula One timepiece to the winner of each IndyCar Series event.

The design of the TAG Heuer Formula 1 has been upgraded and redesigned from its original version. It features a titanium-coated steel bezel, protective bumpers, and the six legendary features that define a TAG Heuer sportswatch -- screw-in crown, unidirectional turning bezel, luminescent hands and hour markers, scratch resistant sapphire crystal, water resistance to 200m and a double safety clasp.

Dan Wheldon collected the Firestone Performance Award and its $10,000 prize for leading Lap 111 of the Argent Mortgage Indy 300, while Ryan Briscoe posted the fastest race lap, making him eligible for the season-long race for the Argent Mortgage Fastest Lap Award.

Tomas Enge and Dario Franchitti lead in the season-long standings award. Argent will award $25,000 to the entrant of the driver who completes the fastest lap the most number of times in the 2005 IndyCar Series season. Enge and Franchitti each have two fastest laps.

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The 10th season of IRL IndyCar competition continues with the Firestone Indy 200 at 7 p.m. (EDT) July 16 at Nashville Superspeedway. The race will be broadcast live on ESPN and the IMS Radio Network. The race also will be available on XM Satellite Radio channel 152 "XM Extreme." The next Menards Infiniti Pro Series race is the Cleanevent 100 on July 16 at Nashville Superspeedway. It will be telecast at 3 p.m. (EDT) July 21 by ESPN2. The next episode of "The Fast Life," ESPN2's behind-the-scenes series about the IndyCar Series, airs at noon (EDT) on July 10.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Enge , Al Unser Jr. , Helio Castroneves , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Dan Wheldon , Ryan Briscoe , Tony George , Andrew Firestone , Sam Hornish Jr. , Vitor Meira