IRL: Notebook 2002-03-21

Schroeder making return at Fontana; Cheever looks for luck INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, March 21, 2002 - Indy Racing League veteran Jeret Schroeder will make his season debut March 24 in the No. 18 PDM Racing/Immke Auto Group G ...

Schroeder making return at Fontana; Cheever looks for luck

INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, March 21, 2002 - Indy Racing League veteran Jeret Schroeder will make his season debut March 24 in the No. 18 PDM Racing/Immke Auto Group G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone in the Yamaha Indy 400 at California Speedway.

Schroeder replaces Tyce Carlson, who announced his retirement as a driver and his intention to enter team ownership last weekend after the Bombardier ATV Copper World Indy 200 at Phoenix.

Schroeder, 32, from Vineland, N.J., has made 19 career Indy Racing League starts since 1997 with a best finish of fourth in 2000 at Las Vegas.

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Cheever looking for luck at Fontana: The start of the 2002 Indy Racing League season has been a nightmare for 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner Eddie Cheever Jr.

First, he crashed out of the season-opening 20th Anniversary Grand Prix of Miami on March 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Lap 4 after being hit by rookie teammate Tomas Scheckter. Then Cheever was eliminated in a three-car crash just past midway of the Bombardier ATV Copper World Indy 200 on March 17 at Phoenix International Raceway.

Cheever is 25th in the series point standings after two starts in the No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone. But he's looking for luck - and his first taste of success this season - during the Yamaha Indy 400 this weekend at California Speedway. "It's a horrible start of the year," Cheever said. "I have been knocked out of both races from other people's mistakes. I know that stuff happens, but two-for-two is ridiculous. We've gone really well with the Infiniti engine on the large ovals, and the Red Bull Cheever Racing team had a good test in Fontana. "I hope that California Speedway is big enough that everybody can avoid running into me."

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310 getting Mohr help: Actor/comedian Jay Mohr will serve as an honorary crew member for 310 Racing and driver George Mack during the Yamaha Indy 400 on March 24 at California Speedway.

Mohr is the host of "MohrSports," a new show that debuts April 2 on ESPN. Mohr will interview several Indy Racing drivers this weekend for this show.

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Home crowd gives Boat a push: Billy Boat, with a boost from many hometown Phoenix fans, has claimed the top spot in the balloting for the IRL Crew's Most Popular Driver Award (MPDA) for Indy Racing League drivers. Fans can vote at every Indy Racing event. Last week's event, the Bombardier ATV Copper World Indy 200, took place at Phoenix International Raceway, just miles from Boat's residence in Glendale, Ariz. The top five drivers in the season voting are separated by only 12 votes. Boat leads Helio Castroneves, Eddie Cheever Jr., Al Unser Jr., and Sam Hornish Jr. The season-long race for the MPDA is organized and administered by the IRL Crew, Indy Racing's official fan support organization. Fans can vote next at California Speedway during the Yamaha Indy 400 on March 22-24.

Hornish leads driver index again: Indy Racing League points leader Sam Hornish Jr. sits atop the racing world for the second straight week, according to The Race Report Dominator Index, a weekly Internet poll. Hornish scored 132.60 points in the weekly poll. Defending Formula One World Champion Michael Schumacher was second at 124.60, with CART driver Cristiano da Matta third at 116.80. NHRA superstar John Force was fourth and NHRA driver Larry Dixon fifth. Schumacher won the season award last year in the Dominator Index. The Dominator Index ranks drivers according to their domination of their respective series. The TRR Dominator Index looks at a driver's championships over a career, wins in a season, average starting position and average finishing position to determine his or her domination within a specialty. The TRR Dominator Index is published every Tuesday at http://www1.theracingreport.com/.

Bud hooks up with Andretti for Indy: Budweiser will serve as an associate sponsor of the No. 39 Motorola/Archipelago Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone driven by veteran Michael Andretti in the 86th Indianapolis 500 on May 26, Anheuser-Busch officials announced March 20.

Double duty again?: John Andretti was the first to drive in the Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 on the same day in 1994. He wants to do it again this May.

"I sure would like to," Andretti said. "I've got Kyle's (car owner Kyle Petty) blessing, and we're working toward it and seeing if we can pull something together that's real high quality. If it's not, then I won't do it.

"And also it's got to work in with the plans of my sponsors and everything else, too. I haven't got a full blessing, but I've got a blessing from the Big Guy and now I just have to keep moving along."

Boerger promoted at Kansas: Jeff Boerger, who now serves as vice president and general manager of Kansas Speedway, has been named president of the facility As president, Boerger will oversee the day-to-day operation of the speedway, including track promotion and ticket sales, and monitor civic and community responsibilities. Boerger. also will negotiate operating agreements for the track and manage local. and state government affairs and legislation .

The second annual Ameristar Casino Indy 200 is scheduled for July 7 at Kansas Speedway. Last year's inaugural event, won by Eddie Cheever Jr., was a sellout.

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Hot laps: The Indy Racing League is scheduled to be featured in a segment in Fox Sports Net's "The Best Damn Sports Show Period" on March 21. Show reporter Leeann Tweeden visited California Speedway this week, took a ride in the two-seat Indy Racing car and interviewed Indy Racing drivers Eliseo Salazar and J.J. Yeley and IRL President and CEO Tony George. Check local listings for show time in your area ... A party for Indy Racing fans will start at 3 p.m. (EST) March 24 at the Flag Room at the Brickyard Crossing Golf Resort and Inn, where the ABC telecast of the Yamaha Indy 400 will be shown ... Kentucky Speedway recently launched its new-look Web site at www.kentuckyspeedway.com . The site features many new enhancements, including more news, fan information, corporate information and easier online ticketing. The third annual Belterra Casino Indy 300 is scheduled for Aug. 11 at Kentucky Speedway ... Paul Menard, son of Team Menard owner John Menard, also will race in the Rolex Grand-Am sports car race March 23 at California Speedway, a support event for the IRL's Yamaha Indy 400.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers John Andretti , Tomas Scheckter , Larry Dixon , John Force , Eddie Cheever , Eliseo Salazar , Billy Boat , Helio Castroneves , Michael Andretti , Jeret Schroeder , George Mack , Tyce Carlson , J.J. Yeley , Paul Menard , Sam Hornish Jr. , Cristiano da Matta