IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2005-07-14

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- July 14, 2005 Today's IRL headlines 1. Pennzoil backs Lazier at Nashville 2. Wheldon, Kanaan ranked among best in Speed Channel rankings 3. IndyCar Series on the road: 4. Wheldon, Patrick attend ESPYs 1.

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

Today's IRL headlines
1. Pennzoil backs Lazier at Nashville
2. Wheldon, Kanaan ranked among best in Speed Channel rankings
3. IndyCar Series on the road:
4. Wheldon, Patrick attend ESPYs

1. Pennzoil backs Lazier at Nashville: 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Lazier will drive the familiar yellow of Pennzoil for Panther Racing during the Firestone Indy 200 at Nashville Superspeedway on July 16.

The team announced July 14 that the No. 95 Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone will carry sponsorship from Pennzoil, which has been a partner with Panther Racing since the team's inception in 1997. Tomas Scheckter will drive the platinum No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Racing car this weekend.

Jonathan Byrd's Cafeteria and American Sentry Guard, both sponsors of Lazier's effort during the Indianapolis 500, also will be major supporters of the effort at Nashville and Michigan International Speedway on July 31. Team principals are exploring additional funding for other races.

"You know, when we agreed to put Buddy Lazier back into one of our cars, we started to look at all kinds of new sponsorship options," Panther co-owner John Barnes said. "But the first one to step up was already here in our backyard. We're proud of our partnership with Pennzoil and thrilled that they're going to help us put Buddy Lazier back in Victory Lane."

As team principals noted at Texas Motor Speedway in June, Chevrolet was instrumental in creating the opportunity for the team and Lazier, who won the inaugural IndyCar Series race at Nashville Superspeedway in 2001.

"Chevrolet was very pleased with Buddy's effort and performance at Indianapolis and almost immediately after the checkered flag we were working together to find a way to put Buddy in a Panther car for more races this season," Barnes said. "Chevrolet has proven it is dedicated to provide the best engines possible for our team this season and adding a third car with Buddy driving gives the Chevy Indy V-8 an even better chance to end up in Victory Lane."

Lazier counts the 1996 Indianapolis 500 among his eight IndyCar Series victories -- tied for second in series history. He finished fifth in this year's Indianapolis 500.

"All I asked of Panther in the Indy 500 was to give me a car that could win the race, and they did just that," Lazier said. "I know that every time I get into one of their Chevrolets, I've got a shot."

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2. Wheldon, Kanaan ranked among best in Speed Channel rankings: IRL IndyCar® Series points leader Dan Wheldon and reigning IndyCar Series champion Tony Kanaan are ranked among the top five in the latest Speed Channel driver rankings.

Wheldon is solidly in second place, behind Formula One standout Fernando Alonso, while Kanaan is fifth, .08 of a point behind No. 4 Kimi Raikkonen.

In all, nine IndyCar Series drivers are ranked among the top 40. Other IndyCar Series drivers ranked are: Dario Franchitti (No. 23), Helio Castroneves (No. 24), Vitor Meira (No. 27), Tomas Scheckter (No. 29), Scott Sharp (No. 30), Sam Hornish Jr. (No. 34) and Bryan Herta (No. 35).

STATS, Inc., in partnership with SPEED, developed the formula for weekly driver rankings, inclusive of NASCAR Nextel Cup, Formula One, Champ Car World Series and Indy Racing League competitors. Current year results, last 10 races, last five races and last race are factored in equally, with an adjustment factor to compensate for the series different scoring systems. In addition, a "competition difficulty factor" has been included to balance the competitive depth of each series.

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3. IndyCar Series on the road: A Johns Manville IndyCar Series car will be on display during the American Le Mans Series event weekend at Infineon Raceway July 15-17. A Meijer IndyCar Series car will be on display July 16-24 at the International Plaza area during the RCA Tennis Championships at the Indianapolis Tennis Center.

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4. Wheldon, Patrick attend ESPYs: IndyCar Series stars Dan Wheldon and Danica Patrick will take stock of items in their gift bags on the flight to Nashville, Tenn., after attending the ESPY Awards July 13 at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles.

Both drivers, who will compete in the Firestone Indy 200 this weekend at Nashville Superspeedway, received nominations in the 13th edition of the ESPY Awards that commemorated the past year in sports by recognizing major sports achievements and saluting the leading performers and performances. Winners were determined by an online fan vote.

Patrick, an IndyCar Series rookie who started and finished fourth in the 89th Indianapolis 500 in May and leads the Bombardier Rookie of the Year standings, was nominated in the "Best Breakthrough" category. Also nominated were Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who set an NFL rookie record with 13 victories; 2004 Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova; and Miami guard Dwyane Wade, who followed up an impressive rookie season by averaging 24.1 points and 6.8 assists this year in leading the Heat to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Wade took home the hardware.

Wheldon, who has won four of the eight IndyCar Series events, was nominated in the "Best Driver" category along with reigning NASCAR Nextel Cup champion Kurt Busch; Formula One champion Michael Schumacher, who set an F1 single-season record in 2004 with 13 victories; and Greg Anderson, who won the 2004 NHRA POWERade Championship Series and set a series record with 15 Pro Stock victories. Schumacher won the award.

Patrick and actor and actor Patrick Dempsey, an IndyCar Series fan, presented awards for best male and female Olympic performances. Other presenters included the cast of HBO's "Entourage," Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and husband/wife singers and reality TV series stars Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson. Manning also was a double winner (best NFL player and record-breaking performance).

Actor Matthew Perry served as host of the program at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles, and Destiny's Child performed in one of its final TV appearances. The show will be televised by ESPN and ESPN Deportes at 9 p.m. (EDT) July 17, preceded by a red carpet special at 8 p.m. on ESPN2.

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The 10th season of IRL IndyCar Series 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 17.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Michael Schumacher , Kimi Raikkonen , Greg Anderson , Kurt Busch , Buddy Lazier , Scott Sharp , Helio Castroneves , Fernando Alonso , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Dan Wheldon , Patrick Dempsey , John Barnes , Sam Hornish Jr. , Danica Patrick , Vitor Meira
Teams Panther Racing