IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2006-05-04

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES May 4, 2006 Today's IRL headlines 1. Road to Indy: Dreyer & Reinbold hopes championship pairing leads to win 2. Sharp spends last weekend off in race car 3. Marco Andretti to start mini-marathon 4. Castroneves...

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES May 4, 2006

Today's IRL headlines
1. Road to Indy: Dreyer & Reinbold hopes championship pairing leads to win
2. Sharp spends last weekend off in race car
3. Marco Andretti to start mini-marathon
4. Castroneves second in Driver of the Year first-quarter voting
5. Panasonic Showcases Matsuura, IndyCar Series in Times Square

1. Road to Indy: Dreyer & Reinbold hopes championship pairing leads to win: In 1994, Roger Penske paired Indianapolis winners Al Unser Jr. and Emerson Fittipaldi in a formidable 1-2 punch that resulted in Unser's second win in the 500-Mile race.

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing is hoping to recapture some of that magic this year, pairing two-time winner Unser with its regular driver, 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Lazier.

"I can't believe it's been that long since two 500 winners have gotten together," Unser said. "I feel it makes the team that much stronger."

Unser should know. He's been part of the last three teams which paired former winners (1993 with Danny Sullivan for Rick Galles and 1994-95 with Fittipaldi at Penske.) But the two-time Indianapolis 500 winner said chemistry between teammates is more important than past success.

"It's critical to have a teammate that you can get along with," Unser said. "Quite honestly, with Buddy's attitude and his style of driving, we're going to be able to work very well together, be able to share the setups, just do some double duty out there. I'm sure that I'll be able to drive his car. I'm sure he'll be able to drive mine. We'll be able to really work together."

Lazier, the only driver to appear in every IRL-sanctioned Indianapolis 500, returns to Indianapolis chasing a return trip to Victory Lane. Ten years removed from his Indianapolis 500 victory, he still laments the ones that got away.

"I don't think much about (the win)," he said. "But really what I have more on my mind was in 1998 and 2000 when I was runner-up by just a little bit. It's satisfying to think back on winning the Indianapolis 500 -- under any circumstances it's a wonderful accomplishment of a goal and dream."

This season, Lazier returns with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, which has had strong runs at Indianapolis with team co-owner Robbie Buhl. Lazier has soldiered to three consecutive 14th-place finishes in the first three events of the 2006 season, but admits running well at Indianapolis is a primary focus of the season.

"I've spent the better part of 10 years trying to get back to victory lane, and on many occasions felt like I had the team and car to do it," he said. "If you race IndyCars, you race to win, you race to make a living, you race to win championships. I've been fortunate to win the championship within that 10-year period. But what plays on my mind are how close we've been to winning that race a few times.

"The thing about the Indy 500 is the consequences for mistake are so large and the critical nature of the setup of the race car and the race driver being switched on for the whole month of May, the intensity of it. It's a very unique event within our sport. It takes everything and puts it to the max and tests the car and driver like no other place we race."

WINNERS ON THE SAME TEAM (Only teammates who started the race are listed)
(* denotes also won race)

1920 Jules Goux & Howdy Wilcox (Puegeot)
1923 Tommy Milton* & Howdy Wilcox (H.C.S); Ralph de Palma & Dario Resta (Packard)
1937 Bill Cummings & Louis Meyer (Boyle)
1967 Parnelli Jones, Jim Clark & Graham Hill (Team Lotus)
1972 Al Unser & Mario Andretti (Vel's Parnelli Jones)
1973 Al Unser & Mario Andretti (Vel's Parnelli Jones)
1974 Al Unser & Mario Andretti (Vel's Parnelli Jones)
1975 Al Unser & Mario Andretti (Vel's Parnelli Jones)
1980 Mario Andretti, Rick Mears & Bobby Unser (Penske Racing)
1981 Rick Mears & Bobby Unser* (Penske Racing); Gordon Johncock & Mario Andretti (Patrick Racing)
1982 Gordon Johncock* & Mario Andretti (Patrick Racing)
1983 Al Unser & Rick Mears (Penske Racing)
1984 Al Unser & Rick Mears* (Penske Racing); A.J. Foyt & Johnny Rutherford (A.J. Foyt Racing)
1985 Al Unser & Rick Mears (Penske Racing)
1986 Al Unser, Rick Mears & Danny Sullivan (Penske Racing)
1987 Al Unser*, Rick Mears & Danny Sullivan (Penske Racing)
1988 Al Unser, Rick Mears* & Danny Sullivan (Penske Racing)
1989 Al Unser, Rick Mears & Danny Sullivan (Penske Racing)
1990 Rick Mears, Danny Sullivan & Emerson Fittipaldi (Penske Racing)
1991 Rick Mears* & Emerson Fittipaldi (Penske Racing)
1992 Rick Mears & Emerson Fittipaldi (Penske Racing); Tom Sneva & Al Unser (Team Menard)
1993 Al Unser, Jr. & Danny Sullivan (Galles Racing)
1994 Al Unser, Jr.* & Emerson Fittipaldi (Penske Racing)

2. Sharp spends last weekend off in race car: Scott Sharp will spend his last weekend before heading to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on a trip through California with a family member.

The 1996 IndyCar Series co-champion will share a Daytona Prototype with his father-in-law Greg Pickett in the U.S. Sports Car Invitational at Laguna Seca on May 7.

"It is exciting to join the Daytona Prototypes once again and spend some time in a sprint race manner," Sharp said. "I am excited to team with my father-in-law, Greg Pickett. That is really a joy. Greg is a fantastic driver. It is pretty unbelievable how well he can still hustle a car around at age 58. He has put a lot of effort into making a step up to the Daytona Prototypes series on a limited basis this year to get a feel for it, and asked me to drive with him. Of course, I am pleased to do it. I think it will be a really fun weekend more than anything."

Sharp will also team with Pickett when the Grand American Road Racing Series races with the IndyCar Series at Infineon Raceway in August. Both races will be a chance for Sharp to compete against his boss, Adrian Fernandez, who fields Sharp's No. 8 Delphi Honda-powered Dallara.

"It will be interesting to race against Adrian, especially with fenders on our cars," Sharp said. "Hopefully, we will both be in our cars at the same time and we can mix it up a bit and have a good time."

3. Marco Andretti to start mini-marathon: Andretti Green Racing's Marco Andretti won't be running in the One America 500 Festival Mini Marathon, but he will play a key role in the May 6 road race in Indianapolis.

Andretti, the driver of the No. 26 NYSE Group Dallara/Honda/Firestone, will wave the green flag at the start of the race in downtown Indianapolis. One America is a sponsor of Andretti Green Racing.

4. Castroneves second in Driver of the Year first-quarter voting: IndyCar Series points leader Helio Castroneves was second in first-quarter voting in the Speed Channel Driver of the Year contest.

Castroneves, who won the races at St. Petersburg, Fla., and Motegi, Japan and was second in the season-opening race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, received one first-place vote and 68 points.

NHRA drag racer Melanie Troxel topped the voting with 82 points and became the first woman to lead quarterly voting. A total of 14 drivers scored points in the first-quarter voting by the panel of 17 journalists and broadcasters from across the U.S.

5. Panasonic Showcases Matsuura, IndyCar Series in Times Square: Kosuke Matsuura is larger than life in Times Square.

Panasonic, a leader in digital imaging, is bringing the excitement of the IndyCar Series and the 90th Indianapolis 500 to Times Square in New York via its state-of-the-art Astrovision video screen.

Matsuura, driving the No. 55 Panasonic ARTA Dallara/Honda/Firestone, is showcased in the 60-second feature twice every hour. It will continue until the May 28 Indianapolis 500. A new video incorporating additional footage of Matsuura will be introduced in June, and will continue to air 16 times each day for the remainder of the IndyCar Series season.

Matsuura, Rookie of the Year at Indianapolis in 2004, begins practice for "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" on May 9. He is sixth in the championship standings with a career-best three consecutive top-seven finishes, including seventh in the Indy Japan 300 at Twin Ring Motegi on April 22.

"Of course I am disappointed because I expected a better result, but seventh was not too bad," he said. "This was good for the championship points. This was the most important race for me this year, and I had a lot of fans here.

"During the month of May, I think we will have a great car and hopefully we can have a top-five finish in the Indy 500."

***

The 2006 IRL IndyCar Series continues with the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500 at 1 p.m. (EDT) on May 28 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. ABC will broadcast the race live beginning at noon (EDT). A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPN Deportes. Live coverage on the IMS Radio Network begins at noon (EDT). The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio channel 145 "IndyCar Racing" and www.indycar.com. The fifth season of Indy Pro Series competition continues with the Freedom 100 at 12:30 p.m. on May 26 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast as part of ESPN2's Carb Day coverage on May 26. Live coverage on the IMS Radio Network begins at 12:15 p.m. (EDT).

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Robbie Buhl , Buddy Lazier , Scott Sharp , Helio Castroneves , Adrian Fernandez , Mario Andretti , Jim Clark , Rick Mears , Bobby Unser , Tom Sneva , Parnelli Jones , Danny Sullivan , Jules Goux , Greg Pickett , Emerson Fittipaldi , Marco Andretti , Kosuke Matsuura , Melanie Troxel , Gordon Johncock , Roger Penske , Graham Hill , A.J. Foyt , Johnny Rutherford , Al Unser
Teams Team Lotus , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing , Team Penske