IRL: Indy Racing Leauge News and Notes 2005-07-07

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- July 7, 2005 Today's IRL headlines 1. Patrick on pace for top rookie performance 2. Carpentier, Carpenter and Matsuura highlighted on "The Fast Life": 3. Enge pleased with test at Infineon Raceway 4. IMS...

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- July 7, 2005

Today's IRL headlines
1. Patrick on pace for top rookie performance
2. Carpentier, Carpenter and Matsuura highlighted on "The Fast Life":
3. Enge pleased with test at Infineon Raceway
4. IMS Radio Network begins Podcasts

1. Patrick on pace for top rookie performance: Danica Patrick knows she still has a lot to learn to be a championship-contending driver in the IRL IndyCar® Series. But eight races into her rookie season, she says she is deserving of high marks.

"I'd have to give myself a pretty darn good grade," the 23-year-old from Roscoe, Ill., said. "I think I've adapted well to the situations. I feel comfortable in traffic more and more all the time. The only times I feel uncomfortable is when the car is off. That's normal. Everybody's going to feel like that."

Despite driving in two oval race prior to joining the IndyCar series, Patrick has reason to feel confident about her results in the No. 16 Rahal Letterman Racing Argent Pioneer Honda-powered Panoz.

Her two fourth-place finishes and four top-10 finishes have eclipsed the results of several rookies who went on to win Bombardier Rookie of the Year, including reigning rookie titlist Kosuke Matsuura. She's also led the most lap of any rookie since Tomas Scheckter in 2002.

Patrick's season is on par with the season of another former top rookie, current IndyCar Series point leader Dan Wheldon, who followed up his 2003 Rookie of the Year campaign with a breakout season in 2004. Wheldon claimed the first of his seven wins to date in his 19th start.

At Kansas Speedway, Patrick became the fourth IndyCar Series rookie to win a pole position when she won the Marlboro Pole Award for the Argent Mortgage Indy 300. It was the first pole position for a rookie since Vitor Meira won the pole at Texas Motor Speedway in October 2002.

Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Johnny Rutherford, who serves as a driver coach and pace car driver for the IRL, said Patrick has all the tools needed to be a winning race car driver.

"She has excellent hand-eye coordination. She proved that at Indy when she saved the car a couple times in dangerous situations," Rutherford told reporters earlier this year. "She has that look in her eyes. That's the thing that jumps out at you. It's that little extra spark; that passion for racing that you look for in a winner."

Winning, though, has proven to be tough for rookies in the IndyCar Series, especially lately. Just three true rookies have won in their maiden season in the series, and two of the wins, Buzz Calkins' win at Walt Disney World in 1996 and Jim Guthrie's win at Phoenix in 1997, were claimed during the series' infancy. The last rookie to win a race was Scheckter at Michigan Speedway in July 2002.

That doesn't mean that young drivers can't succeed early on. Sam Hornish Jr. and Tony Stewart claimed victories in their ninth and 10th starts, respectively, after slow starts to their careers. Patrick is confident she can emulate those results.

"We've worked well as a team. We've almost had pole at two races, I think, then finally got one. I think that's great. I think that my driving is becoming much more precise and much more calculated. I feel like I'm maturing pretty well as a driver.

"I think when the car is right, I can do a pretty good job," Patrick said. "I think I'm doing a good job. I think if I wasn't, people would be telling me."

***

2. Carpentier, Carpenter and Matsuura highlighted on "The Fast Life": The second season of "The Fast Life," ESPN2's series about the IndyCar Series, continues this weekend with another all-new episode.

The show, which focuses on IndyCar Series newcomer Patrick Carpenter, Vision Racing driver Ed Carpenter and 2004 Bombardier Rookie of the Year Kosuke Matsurra, will be telecast at Noon (EDT) on July 10. Additional programs of the eight-week series will be telecast by ESPN2 at noon on Sundays throughout the summer.

Hosted by ESPN pit announcer Jamie Little, "The Fast Life" is designed to give the viewer a behind-the-scenes look at the IndyCar Series and its drivers. Each episode will give an all-access peek into the life of a different IndyCar Series driver.

Each show also includes race previews and reviews and "Kevin Blanch's Tech Tip" using the same Target cut-away car used during the IndyCar Series broadcast. In addition, the shows will count down the top eight moments in IndyCar Series history as voted on by the fans on www.indycar.com.

***

3. Enge pleased with test at Infineon Raceway: IndyCar Series rookie Tomas Enge took his first trip around Infineon Raceway's twisting road course behind the wheel of an open-wheel car on Wednesday and came away pleased.

Enge, who drives for ROCKSTAR Panther Racing, took part in a one-day test session and posted a top time of 1 minute, 18.90 seconds over the 12-turn, 2.26-mile serpentine circuit. The native of the Czech Republic did not participate in the IRL's open test session at Infineon Raceway in April.

"I have raced here before in a Ferrari in the ALMS (American Le Mans Series) and the track layout is different but I like it," Enge said. "It will be good to come back here and race again. It's a good circuit."

Enge drove a Ferrari at Infineon Raceway in ALMS competition in 2003 with co-driver Peter Kox. The duo placed fourth in the GTS class. Enge tested in advance of the Argent Mortgage Indy Grand Prix, set for Aug. 26-28 at Infineon Raceway. This will mark the first-ever event on a permanent road course in the 10-year history of the IRL, as well as the first major open-wheel race in 35 years at Infineon Raceway.

***

4. IMS Radio Network begins Podcasts: "Indy Racing Weekly," the IMS Radio Network's weekly program about the IndyCar Series can be downloaded at www.indycar.com

Each week's program will be available for download to user's computers or portable audio devices through podcasting technology. In addition to the weekly show hosted by IMS Radio Network anchor Mike King, IndyCar Series races and other IMS Radio Network programming will be available via podcast.

Podcasting is a method of publishing files to the Internet, that allows users to subscribe to a feed and receive new files automatically by subscription. There is no fee associated with the IMS Radio Network podcasts and a free client can be obtained at www.indycar.com/multimedia/radio.

***

The 10th season of IRL IndyCar competition continues with the Firestone Indy 200 at 7 p.m. (EDT) July 16 at Nashville Superspeedway. The race will be broadcast live on ESPN and the IMS Radio Network. The race also will be available on XM Satellite Radio channel 152 "XM Extreme." The next Menards Infiniti Pro Series race is the Cleanevent 100 on July 16 at Nashville Superspeedway. It will be telecast at 3 p.m. (EDT) July 21 by ESPN2. The next episode of "The Fast Life," ESPN2's behind-the-scenes series about the IndyCar Series, airs at noon (EDT) on July 10.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Stewart , Tomas Scheckter , Tomas Enge , Buzz Calkins , Jim Guthrie , Dan Wheldon , Peter Kox , Kosuke Matsuura , Jamie Little , Sam Hornish Jr. , Danica Patrick , Ed Carpenter , Johnny Rutherford , Kosuke Matsurra , Patrick Carpen , Vitor Meira
Teams Panther Racing