Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines
1. Fans have chance to "trick out" safety cars
2. Castroneves nominated for award for dancing
3. Kanaan finishes sixth in Formula Nippon event
4. Look for Castroneves on talk shows

1. Fans have chance to "trick out" safety cars: IndyCar Series fans now have the chance to "trick out" the paint and graphics on the new Honda Accord Safety Cars to be used during the 2008 IndyCar Series season.

Through a contest starting today and lasting through Jan. 1, 2008 on the indycar.com Website, fans will be able to register, download a template of the all-new, 268-horsepower Honda Accord Coupe, and then create their own unique paint schemes and decals for the vehicles that will pace 14 of the 15 domestic IndyCar Series events during the 2008 season.

The contest winner will receive a pair of tickets to the season-opening IndyCar Series race at Miami-Homestead Speedway on March 29, 2008, along with pit/garage passes and travel accommodations for both the winner and a guest.

"Everyone at Honda is enthusiastic about the new Accord and its role as the new Safety Car for the IndyCar Series," said Robert Clarke, president of Honda Performance Development. "This is the highest-performing, best-looking Accord yet. We eagerly anticipate seeing the paint and graphic schemes developed by fans. It's a great opportunity for our supporters to become even more involved in the IndyCar Series."

Completely redesigned with an aggressive, sportier stance for 2008, the Honda Accord features the latest generation Honda Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) technology; a lower center of gravity, new independent multi-link rear suspension, V-6 power and available 18-inch wheels. Modifications to the Accords required for IndyCar Series Safety Car duty include safety roll cages and high-performance wheels and tires for race-track use.

Participants in the contest may enter through the indycar.com Website. All entrants must be at least 18 years of age, and each contestant may submit only one entry. IndyCar Series officials will nominate the top 10 designs on Jan. 2, and online voting from fans Jan. 7-11 will then select three finalists. A celebrity panel, including IndyCar Series legends, will determine and announce the winning design on Jan. 15.

"The Honda Safety Car contest provides a unique opportunity to engage our fans in the design process," said John Lewis, vice president for marketing and league development, Indy Racing League. "Not only are we proud to have the power of the Honda Accord Coupe pace our events but to have the winner's design adorn the Safety Car will remind us of one the most important reasons we are all here -- the fans."

The Delphi Safety Team also will continue to use Honda vehicles in 2008, operating a fleet of Honda Ridgelines as well as a Honda Pilot, all equipped for the team's various safety and medical needs.

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2. Castroneves nominated for award for dancing: Helio Castroneves is far from being a rookie on the race track, but his exploits on "Dancing With The Stars" have earned him a nomination for the "RACER Magazine Rookie of the Year," which will be presented as part of the Speed Performance Awards.

Castroneves is nominated along with Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton, NASCAR driver Juan Pablo Montoya and Champ Car driver Robert Doornbos.

The Speed Performance Awards are selected by the fans who vote for their favorite video clips at www.speedtv.com. The first three categories, "RACER Magazine Rookie of the Year," Biggest Hit" and the "Oops Award.", opened for voting on Nov. 19.

The second series of categories -- "Temper, Temper," "Biggest Upset" and "Heartbreak" will open to fan voting beginning Nov. 26 and the final three categories -- "Best Rivalry," "Best Finish" and "Tell it Like it Is" will be open to fan voting beginning Dec. 3.

All of the awards will be part of a one-hour SPEED Performance Awards special to air in February.

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3. Kanaan finishes sixth in Formula Nippon event: For a one-off, Tony Kanaan was pleased with his finish.

The 2004 IndyCar Series champion advanced 12 positions to finish sixth in the Japan Formula Nippon finale at Suzuka Circuit last weekend. Kanaan had never driven at the track -- or driven the Formula Nippon car -- before the first of two practice sessions. "I was pleased at the end of the day, after all I gained 12 positions in the race," said Kanaan, who won the IndyCar Series race at Twin Ring Motegi in April. "The (standing) start especially was difficult, since I hadn't done one in 12 years."

Kanaan said he spoke with Formula 1 drivers Rubens Barrichello and Felipe Massa about Suzuka Circuit and watched in-car camera tape to learn the racetrack."

"I really liked Suzuka; I'd like to be back next year but with more time to practice," Kanaan said. "I absolutely love going to Japan. I love the culture, the food and the country. I always look forward to racing at Motegi and was fortunate to get my first win there in 2007. I have been partnered with Honda for a long time so it was very special for me to win at Motegi."

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4. Look for Castroneves on talk shows: Helio Castroneves will appear on two national talk shows this week. Castroneves will appear on CNN's "Larry King Live" on Nov. 21 and "Ellen" on Nov. 23 to discuss his success on "Dancing With the Stars."

The two-time Indianapolis 500 winner will be joined by his professional dance partner Julianne Hough for his visit to Ellen DeGeneres' nationally-syndicated, afternoon talk show, while the three finalists of the reality dance competition and their partners will appear on Larry King's long-running evening interview show. Larry King Live airs at 9 p.m. (ET) on CNN.

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The 2008 IndyCar Series season begins under the lights on March 29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The 16-race schedule, one of the most diverse in all of motorsports, features races on 11 ovals, three permanent road courses and two temporary street circuits, all broadcast worldwide through a comprehensive, long-term agreement with ABC Sports/ ESPN. The 2008 Indy Pro Series season also begins on March 29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The 16-race schedule, which features eight ovals and four road/street course doubleheader weekends, will be televised by ESPN2.

-credit: irl