INDYCAR SERIES NEWS AND NOTES -- Sept. 20, 2006

Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines
1. IndyCar Series Returns To Richmond International Raceway In 2007
2. Hornish Wins Third-Quarter Driver's Award
3. Hornish's Wife Reaps Reward, Too
4. Andretti to visit Phillies

1. IndyCar Series Returns To Richmond International Raceway In 2007: The IndyCar® Series will return to Richmond International Raceway in 2007 for a seventh consecutive night race, the SunTrust Indy Challenge on Saturday, June 30.

"We are excited to host the seventh year of IndyCar Series racing at Richmond International Raceway in 2007," said Richmond International Raceway president Doug Fritz. "Some of the most talented drivers will battle it out on the shortest track on the circuit. It's amazing to think that they will again turn laps in less than 16 seconds and reach speeds of more than 170 mph on a ¾-mile track. The previous six races have been well-attended by our great fans and we look forward to having an even bigger and more exciting race next year."

The .75-mile oval has hosted the IndyCar Series since 2001 and is one of the most popular stops among IndyCar Series drivers and teams. Three IndyCar Series champions, including 2006 champion Sam Hornish Jr., won at Richmond en route to their series titles.

"The IndyCar Series and Richmond International Raceway have teamed up to offer great short-track racing excitement and tradition under the lights at the shortest track on the IndyCar Series schedule," said Brian Barnhart, president and COO of the Indy Racing League. "Doug Fritz and his entire team at Richmond International Raceway have done a great job in building IndyCar Series racing in the mid-Atlantic region and we look forward to its continued growth."

The IndyCar Series has previously announced nine events for 2007:
* April 1 -- Streets of St. Petersburg, Fla.*
* April 29 -- Kansas Speedway
* May 27 -- Indianapolis Motor Speedway*
* June 3 -- The Milwaukee Mile*
* June 9 -- Texas Motor Speedway
* June 24 -- Iowa Speedway*
* July 8 -- Watkins Glen International*
* July 14 -- Nashville Superspeedway*
* Aug. 11 -- Kentucky Speedway*

The remainder of the 2007 IndyCar Series schedule will be announced at a later date.
* denotes Indy Pro Series event to be held also.

2. Hornish Wins Third-Quarter Driver's Award: IndyCar Series champion Sam Hornish Jr. topped third-quarter voting for the Driver of the Year Award.

A previous quarterly winner in voting by a nationwide panel of print and broadcast journalists, he is a front-runner for the year-end award selected in a separate vote.

"That's some exciting news," said Hornish, who secured his third series title in a tiebreaker over 2005 champion Dan Wheldon.

Hornish, the reigning Indianapolis 500 champion, won three of the eight races in the quarter. He also had second- and third-place finishes. Hornish received nine first-place votes and totaled 115 points. NASCAR Nextel Cup driver Kevin Harvick was second in the balloting with 81 points.

"Obviously, it's been a great year with a few exceptions," said Hornish, who will receive a trophy and Maurice Lacroix wrist watch. "It shows the great teamwork at Marlboro Team Penske."

3. Hornish's Wife Reaps Reward, Too: Sam Hornish Jr. earned more than $3.8 million during the IndyCar Series season, including a $1 million bonus for winning the series championship. His wife also will receive a special reward.

Rock & Republic CEO and head designer Michael Ball will present Crystal Hornish with a pair of one-of-a-kind, custom-made jeans for her part in the scintillating season-long championship battle -- wearing the "lucky jeans."

The story began a few days before Hornish claimed the biggest victory of his auto racing career in the 90th Indianapolis 500 on May 28. A shopping excursion included a gift of Rock & Republic jeans from Hornish to his wife of two years, and she wore them on Race Day. When Crystal joined her husband in Victory Lane, the lucky jeans ritual was born.

She also wore the jeans at Richmond International Raceway, Kansas Speedway and Kentucky Speedway -- all Hornish victories in the No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone. Crystal, wearing her Rock & Republic jeans -- joined her husband to celebrate the series championship on the specially built stage in the Chicagoland Speedway grandstand Sept. 10.

"Sam rolls, but Crystal really rocks," said Ball, whose company was a sponsor of the Vision Racing cars driven by Tomas Scheckter, Ed Carpenter and Townsend Bell this season. "She stood by her man in her Rock & Republics until he won."

Rock & Republic is known for cutting-edge fashion and appeal among A-list celebrities, which now includes Crystal Hornish, and has brought the same appeal to the IndyCar Series. Ball wanted to set a precedent in the global fashion arena by being a pioneer as the first premium luxe brand to venture into the world of elite professional auto racing.

"Unbelievable," Crystal Hornish said. "I only have one pair and was looking to buy another because I like them so much. I was just at the store the other day and noticed they have a lot of different styles. I think one of the cool things about their jeans is there are so many different kinds. They have a lot to choose from.

"Now to get my own custom-designed pair is just unbelievable."

4. Andretti to visit Phillies: IndyCar Series Bombardier Rookie of the Year Marco Andretti will throw the first pitch before the Philadelphia Phillies-Florida Marlins game on Sept. 22 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.

***

The IndyCar® Series will conduct a two-day compatibility test at Daytona International Speedway on Sept. 26 and 27 that will feature five drivers from four teams. The last four IndyCar Series champions, Sam Hornish Jr. of Marlboro Team Penske, Dan Wheldon and Scott Dixon of Target Chip Ganassi Racing, and Tony Kanaan of Andretti Green Racing will join Panther Racing's Vitor Meira at the test on the 10-turn, 2.73-mile circuit.

-credit: irl