IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2005-11-03

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- Nov. 3, 2005 Today's IRL headlines 1. Wheldon nominated for two Autosport Awards in London 2. Eleven drivers to compete in Granja Viana 500 3. IRL visits Grand Central Station 1. Wheldon nominated for two...

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- Nov. 3, 2005

Today's IRL headlines
1. Wheldon nominated for two Autosport Awards in London
2. Eleven drivers to compete in Granja Viana 500
3. IRL visits Grand Central Station

1. Wheldon nominated for two Autosport Awards in London: Dan Wheldon, the 2005 Indy Racing League IndyCar® Series champion and winner of the 89th Indianapolis 500, has been nominated for two prestigious Autosport Awards - International Racing Driver of the Year and British Competition Driver of the Year. Wheldon will attend the annual Autosport Awards dinner and reception on Dec. 4 at the Grosvenor House hotel in London.

"The Autosport Awards are a highlight of my year, and it's a real honor to be nominated by such a well-respected motorsports magazine," said Wheldon. "It's always nice being back in London with my racing friends and my family, and I'm hoping I have the chance to get on stage and thank all the people that made my 2005 IndyCar (Series) season such a success. I couldn't do what I do without a lot of support."

After a runner-up finish in the 2004 IndyCar Series championship, in which he posted three race wins and 12 top-4 finishes, Wheldon recorded one of the most dominating seasons in American open-wheel racing history this year. He became the first Englishman to win the Indianapolis 500 since the late Graham Hill in 1966; the first driver to win both the Indianapolis 500 and a major Driver's Championship since Jacques Villeneuve in 1995; and the first driver in IRL history to win both the Indianapolis 500 and the IndyCar Series Championship.

In 2005, Wheldon won four of the first five races of the season for the first time in IndyCar Series history. Overall, he captured six wins in 17 races, breaking Sam Hornish Jr.'s record for most wins in a season, and recorded 12 top-5 finishes and 15 top-10 finishes. Wheldon also set records for races led (15), total points (628) and earnings ($2,711,005).

In less than three seasons in the IndyCar Series, Wheldon is already tied for second place all-time in career wins with nine; having accomplished this in only 49 starts.

Other nominees in the International Racing Driver of the Year category include 2005 Formula 1 champion Fernando Alonso, 2005 Formula 1 runner-up Kimi Raikkonen, and 2005 LeMans 24 Hours champion Tom Kristensen. The British Competition Driver of the Year nominees include Formula 1 star Jenson Button, DTM (German Touring Cars) driver Gary Paffett and World Touring Car Championship driver Andy Priaulx.

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2. Eleven drivers to compete in Granja Viana 500: Eleven drivers from the Indy Racing League will participate in the ninth annual Granja Viana 500-mile go-kart race in Brazil November 19-20.

Dan Wheldon and Tony Kanaan, the past two IndyCar® Series champions, will lead a contingent of drivers that also includes IndyCar Series stars Felipe Giaffone, Bryan Herta and Vitor Meira.

Menards Infiniti Pro Series^Ù drivers Marco Andretti, Nick Bussell, series champion Wade Cunningham, Chris Festa, Travis Gregg and Bobby Wilson also will compete.

"I'm really excited to race again at this 500-mile go-kart race," said Kanaan, who has been a member of the winning team five times. "Everybody will be trying very hard to beat us since we won last year, and it will be very difficult for us to defend our title. Our team is really strong, and I've been practicing my go-karting as much as possible while I've been at home in Miami."

Last year, Kanaan, Wheldon, Giaffone and Formula One driver Rubens Barrichello finished first in the nearly 12-hour event on the 20-turn, 7/8-mile course located on the outskirts of Sao Paulo. Meira and Helio Castroneves were part of the second-place team.

Seventy-four teams, composed of between two and 10 drivers, will compete at the facility built, owned and maintained by the Giaffone family. The karts are all powered by 13-hp Honda engines. All proceeds from the event are donated to charity.

The IRL, Firestone, FedEx Express and Howard Sales, Inc. are backing the entry of the Menards Infiniti Pro Series team, which was put together by championship team owner Brian Stewart.

Cunningham won the CIK-FIA World Karting Championship in 2003, while Festa, Gregg, Bussell and Wilson also have significant karting accomplishments in the past.

"I've never done anything like this," Cunningham said. "When I was racing karts, it was difficult to stop and enjoy yourself. You were always competing. Now that I've moved on, it should be a lot of fun, really enjoyable."

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3. IRL visits Grand Central Station: The Indy Racing League will be among the exhibitors at the 2005 Popular Science Best of What's New show at Grand Central Station in New York from Nov. 8-10.

The annual exhibit, which features the top 100 innovations in science and technology, is expected to draw more than 1.5 million visitors.

The IRL's "cutaway" car, which allows people to view the inner workings of an IndyCar Series car, will be on display, and fans will be able to race against each other on two IRL simulators. The exhibit will be accompanied by educational boards demonstrating safety innovations and technology in open-wheel racing.

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The IRL IndyCar Series opens the 2006 season with the Toyota Indy 300 on March 26, 2006 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be broadcast live on ABC Sports and the IMS Radio Network. The fifth season of Menards Infiniti Pro Series competition also opens on March 26 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jenson Button , Rubens Barrichello , Jacques Villeneuve , Kimi Raikkonen , Andy Priaulx , Tom Kristensen , Felipe Giaffone , Helio Castroneves , Fernando Alonso , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Dan Wheldon , Marco Andretti , Gary Paffett , Nick Bussell , Chris Festa , Travis Gregg , Wade Cunningham , Bobby Wilson , Graham Hill , Sam Hornish Jr. , Vitor Meira