IRL: Indy Racing League news and notes, 2006-03-01

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- March 1, 2006 Today's IRL headlines 1. Dreyer & Reinbold Racing returns with Lazier 2. What's New For 2006 1. Dreyer & Reinbold Racing returns with Lazier: Dreyer & Reinbold Racing announced today that 2000...

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- March 1, 2006

Today's IRL headlines
1. Dreyer & Reinbold Racing returns with Lazier
2. What's New For 2006

1. Dreyer & Reinbold Racing returns with Lazier: Dreyer & Reinbold Racing announced today that 2000 IRL IndyCar® Series champion Buddy Lazier will race for the team during the 2006 IndyCar Series season.

Lazier, the 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner, will drive the No. 5 Honda-powered Dallara in his second stint with the team. He first drove for the team in the 88th Indianapolis 500 as part of a joint effort with Hemelgarn Racing.

"We've had continuing discussions with Buddy since he drove for us in 2004," team co-owner Dennis Reinbold said. "Robbie (Buhl) and I are thrilled to have his championship caliber rejoin the team because we know he's committed to succeeding and that he's willing to drive the wheels off of the race car to do it."

Lazier's hiring is one of a number of changes the team plans to unveil this season. Also included are a new number, a new paint scheme and a number of additional personnel.

"We wanted to shake things up this year for a fresh start, so changing and improving things to meet the stiff competition has been our focus," Reinbold said.

Lazier will make his debut with the team at the IndyCar Series Open Test at Homestead-Miami Speedway on March 2.

"I've enjoyed my past relationship with Dennis, Robbie and everyone at DRR," Lazier said. "We have almost a month of hard work until our first race and ample time to test at Homestead this weekend to reacquaint ourselves. We look forward to a strong season and ramping up to build podium finishes on a regular basis."

Returning for its third season with DRR is Indianapolis-based Roll Coater, which coats steel for multiple industrial uses. Also joining the team is Escort Radar Detectors. "Racing for Kids", for whom Buhl has served as national spokesman since 1989, will also partner with the team.

"Buddy's successful driving record speaks for itself," said Buhl. "He clearly knows his way around the racetrack, and I look forward to him joining our pre-race hospital visits on behalf of Racing for Kids."

Among the league's most experienced drivers, Lazier has started 91 IndyCar Series races, with eight wins, a pole, and 26 top-five finishes. Last season, he made six starts for Panther Racing with a top finish of fifth at the Indianapolis 500.

2. What's New For 2006: The IRL IndyCar® Series teams continue preparation for the 2006 season with a three-day Open Test at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Cars will run on the 2.21-mile road course on March 2-3 and on the 1.5-mile oval on March 5. Here's a look at some of the changes for 2006.

One engine for everyone

* The IndyCar Series will be powered by Honda Racing Indy HI6R V-8 engines exclusively beginning this season. With all teams having equal access to equipment, it could be one of the most competitive seasons in IndyCar Series history.

Ethanol-blended fuel debuts

* The IndyCar Series, which has been recognized for its technical leadership in automobile racing, is now the motorsports leader in renewable and environmentally responsible fuel produced in America. The Honda V-8 engines in 2006 are powered by an ethanol/methanol blend (methanol had been the fuel since the Indy Racing League's inception). In 2007, 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol will flow through the systems. The 2006 season will not be the first time ethanol has powered a car in the famed Indianapolis 500. At the 1927 race, a car driven by Leon Duray experimented with using ethyl (grain) alcohols.

"I am INDY"

* The Indy Racing League has forged a marketing alliance with rock legend Gene Simmons and entertainment industry veteran Richard Abramson, principals in the Hollywood-based Simmons Abramson Marketing company. The broad-based agreement will see Simmons Abramson Marketing actively engaged in the league's marketing, event, public relations, sponsorship, merchandising and branding efforts -- from its IndyCar Series to the venerable Indianapolis 500. The centerpiece of the relationship is the new "I am INDY" campaign.

Old Faces in New Places:

* 2005 IndyCar Series champion Dan Wheldon will defend his championship with a new team -- Target Chip Ganassi Racing. The team has switched to Dallara chassis for Wheldon and 2003 IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon.

* Vitor Meira, who finished seventh in points in 2005 and is considered the best IndyCar Series driver yet to win a race, moves to the familiar No. 4 of Panther Racing.

* Two-time IndyCar Series race winner Tomas Scheckter joins Vision Racing's two-car effort as teammate to Ed Carpenter. Scheckter will drive the No. 2 Honda-powered Dallara for Vision.

* 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Lazier returns to the IndyCar Series full-time with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. Lazier will drive the No. 5 Honda-powered Dallara.

* Paul Dana, whose rookie season ended when he was injured in an accident while practicing for the Indianapolis 500, will again compete for Bombardier Rookie of the Year honors. Dana, and the sponsorship from Team Ethanol, moves to Rahal Letterman Racing.

Marco Arrives:

* Third-generation driver Marco Andretti steps up from the Indy Pro Series as driver of the IndyCar Series championship-winning No. 26 Honda-powered Dallara. Andretti's car will carry the Arca Ex colors, with Klein Tools and Jim Beam moving to the car of teammate Dario Franchitti. Andretti is also a candidate for Bombardier Rookie of the Year.

Return to Racing:

* Open-wheel racing standout Michael Andretti ends his three-year retirement this season to race against his son. Andretti will drive the No. 1 Vonage/Jim Beam Honda-powered Dallara at the 90th Indianapolis 500 in May.

* 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner Eddie Cheever also ends a three-year hiatus to race in the IndyCar Series. Cheever will drive his own No. 51 Cheever Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone in at least the first four races of 2006.

***

The IRL IndyCar Series opens the 2006 season with the Toyota Indy 300 at 3:30 p.m. (EST) 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 and www.indycar.com. The fifth season of Indy Pro Series competition opens with the Miami 100 at 12:30 p.m. on March 26 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be telecast at 1 p.m. on March 31 by ESPN2.

-irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Eddie Cheever , Buddy Lazier , Michael Andretti , Dan Wheldon , Marco Andretti , Paul Dana , Chip Ganassi , Jim Beam , Ed Carpenter , Vitor Meira , Richard Abra
Teams Panther Racing , Chip Ganassi Racing , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing