IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2006-01-25

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- Jan. 25, 2006 Today's IRL headlines 1. Scheckter tests for Vision Racing 2. Andretti takes to Phoenix oval for refresher test 3. Matsuura enjoying switch to Dallara 4. Early season confusion 5. Stolen IndyCar...

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- Jan. 25, 2006

Today's IRL headlines
1. Scheckter tests for Vision Racing
2. Andretti takes to Phoenix oval for refresher test
3. Matsuura enjoying switch to Dallara
4. Early season confusion
5. Stolen IndyCar Series showcar recovered
6. Cheever to field Indy Pro Series team

1. Scheckter tests for Vision Racing: IRL IndyCar® Series veteran Tomas Scheckter shared Vision Racing's Honda-powered Dallara with Ed Carpenter during the second day of the IndyCar Series' two-day test at Phoenix International Raceway Jan. 25.

Scheckter, who claimed his second IndyCar Series win last season at Texas Motor Speedway, recorded 71 laps with a best lap of 175.277 mph, while Carpenter turned 56 laps with a top lap of 175.073 mph.

"It's only a half a day test, and obviously the team is limited with tires," Scheckter said. "We just want to run some laps and see how it goes."

Though the team has not announced plans to field a second car in the IndyCar Series, Scheckter said he was hopeful the test would lead to more with Vision Racing.

"I've talked to (engineer) David (Cripps) and (team manager) Larry (Curry) and obviously (team co-owner) Tony (George) about adding me to the team," he said. "They want to add a second car, and they want to go about it the right way. They want to win races, so hopefully we can work something out."

Scheckter, the son of former Formula One champion Jody Scheckter, added he targeted a ride with Vision because of his desire to stay in the IndyCar Series.

"This is where I want to be," he said. "It's a great racing series, and I've put four years of my career into this. I want to see the series succeed, and I want to do a good job for whoever I'm driving for."

2. Andretti takes to Phoenix oval for refresher test: Michael Andretti, who will race in the 90th Indianapolis 500 in May, will test an Andretti Green Racing Honda-powered Dallara at Phoenix International Raceway on Jan. 26 as part of an IRL refresher test.

Andretti, who made four starts in the 2003 season before retiring to focus on team ownership, last drove an IndyCar Series machine at the 2003 Indianapolis 500.

"I'm excited for sure," Andretti said. "It'll be interesting to see how long it takes to get up to speed. Three years is a long time, but we'll find out. Marco is starting to go pretty quick now. I'm starting to get a little nervous that he's going to be quicker than me. That's not good. I just want to get comfortable again and hopefully get on pace. That's all I want to do is be on pace and get my feel back."

3. Matsuura enjoying switch to Dallara: The Phoenix test marked the first use of Super Aguri Fernandez Racing's Dallara chassis.

The team will field a Dallara for 2004 Bombardier Rookie of the Year Kosuke Matsuura during the 2006 season, while sister team Delphi Fernandez Racing will continue to field a Panoz chassis for 1996 IndyCar Series co-champion Scott Sharp.

"Last year was a tough season for us," Matsuura said. "We needed to do something to make a change.

"This is the first run with the new chassis, but it seems to be good. We have to work with the car to find the ideal mechanical grip and mechanical balance, but so far we're doing very good."

4. Early season confusion: Testing sometimes gives spotters and drivers a chance to get used to a new look.

For example, a sponsor change left Andretti Green Racing's Dario Franchitti and his spotter Dave Reininger a little confused during the IndyCar Series test at Phoenix International Raceway.

"I kept wanting to go in the ArcaEx pit every time I came into the pit box," Franchitti said.

Franchitti, who drove a car sponsored by ArcaEx for the last three seasons, is driving the Klein Tools/Jim Beam entry this season.

Franchitti's spotter Dave Reininger said he has to pull his hat down to remind him that rookie Marco Andretti is driving the ArcaEx car this season.

5. Stolen IndyCar Series showcar recovered: A trailer and IndyCar Series showcar stolen from Sinden Racing Services' shop on Jan. 21 were recovered in Indianapolis on Jan. 25.

The showcar, a retired race car owned by Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, and trailer, owned by Sinden Racing, were not damaged by the thieves. Police believe that thieves targeted the new unmarked trailer, unaware of its valuable cargo. The car is utilized for sponsorship appearances across the country, and primarily is used each weekend to visit children's hospitals wherever the Indy Racing League competes.

"On behalf of the team, we'd like to extend our thanks to the Marion County Sheriff's department for their quick recovery efforts," said team owner Dennis Reinbold. "We'd also like to thank Scott Jasek at Sinden and the local media for their great job in getting the story out and alerting the public."

Co-owner Robbie Buhl, former driver of the stolen car, was ecstatic with the return of the vehicle. Buhl is the national spokesperson for the "Racing for Kids" charity, and has accompanied the car visiting thousands of young hospital patients.

"To the thieves: Thanks--you did the right thing," Buhl said. "You've made a lot of sick kids very happy by returning their race car. Our mission with Racing for Kids can continue to do good things and brighten their days at children's hospitals across the country."

6. Cheever to field Indy Pro Series team: Cheever Racing announced that Atlanta native Chris Festa will drive for the team in its inaugural season in the Indy Racing League Indy Pro Series^Ù.

Festa, 20, finished sixth in his rookie season in the Indy Pro Series in 2005, driving for Sam Schmidt Motorsports. He recorded six top-five finishes, including a third-place finish in the Liberty Challenge on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the United States Grand Prix weekend. He had a season-best second-place finish at Phoenix International Raceway.

Cheever Racing will enter its 10th season of competition in the Indy Racing League in 2006, but it's first fielding a team in the league's top development series.

"The Indy Pro Series, now well established in its fifth season, offers Cheever Racing an opportunity to take a young gun like Chris and build him up with the final expectation of racing at the Indianapolis 500," said owner Eddie Cheever Jr., who won the Indianapolis 500 in 1998 and competed in Formula One for 12 years. "Our entire group is looking forward to working with Chris on this objective."

The team will field the No. 51 Formtek/CareCentric Cheever Racing entry with Festa behind the wheel.

"I'm really excited," said Festa, who is studying marketing at Florida State University. "I have great respect for Eddie as a driver and owner. I have met the team of engineers and mechanics I will be working with, and together I believe we will be a serious contender in the Pro Series--and that this will be a bridge to the IndyCar Series and even some Grand-Am races."

***

The IRL IndyCar Series opens the 2006 season with the Toyota Indy 300 on March 26 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be broadcast live on ABC Sports and the IMS Radio Network. The IMS Radio Network broadcast is also carried on XM Satellite Radio channel 152, "XM Extreme" and www.indycar.com. The fifth season of Indy Pro Series competition also opens on March 26 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Eddie Cheever , Robbie Buhl , Scott Sharp , Michael Andretti , Dario Franchitti , Sam Schmidt , Marco Andretti , Kosuke Matsuura , Chris Festa , Jody Scheckter , Jim Beam , Ed Carpenter
Teams Dreyer & Reinbold Racing