IRL: Notebook 2002-06-14

Indy Racing League Notebook: IRL has closest finishes anywhere; Schmidt team helps with driving program INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, June 14, 2002 -- Jeff Ward's win by .0111 of a second over Al Unser Jr. in the Boomtown 500 on June 8 at Texas ...

Indy Racing League Notebook:
IRL has closest finishes anywhere; Schmidt team helps with driving program

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, June 14, 2002 -- Jeff Ward's win by .0111 of a second over Al Unser Jr. in the Boomtown 500 on June 8 at Texas Motor Speedway was the closest finish in modern Indy-style racing.

The Indy Racing League now owns the two smallest margins of victory, and both came on the high-banked, 1.5-mile Texas oval.

Ward's skimpy margin bettered the .0188-of-a-second margin set by Sam Hornish Jr. in last October's race at Texas. Both drivers came from behind out of the fourth turn on the outside lane of the track.

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Schmidt helps with motorist safety program: Indy Racing League team Sam Schmidt Motorsports will take an active role in the launch of The Drivers Edge, an innovative new program being launched June 20 in Las Vegas to provide teen drivers with behind-the-wheel experience to assist their development as safe, successful drivers.

Team owner Sam Schmidt, a Las Vegas resident, and team driver Richie Hearn, also of Las Vegas, will assist Drivers Edge founder Jeff Payne and other professional drivers as they provide comprehensive, real-life training for young drivers to help avoid accidents. The program, which will take place at Sunset Station, will include classroom and field study, with expert instruction on lane changes, braking, dealing with unexpected situations and more Nevada and Las Vegas government officials will join professional driving instructors, who have trained Hollywood superstars for driving roles, for the launch of this important program.

The June 20-21 program in Las Vegas is the start of a planned nationwide program that will include written, video and hands-on training. Payne has launched the program in association with community-oriented corporations, including Sprint, Saturn, Stations Casinos and National Airlines.

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Firestone tire telemetry debut a success: Indy Racing fans watching the thrilling Boomtown 500 on June 8 at Texas Motor Speedway noticed a new graphic displayed on screen during in-car camera shots from Al Unser Jr. and Scott Sharp -- Firestone tire telemetry.

Officials from the Indy Racing League and Firestone Racing worked together to implement the new system, which showed tire pressures on the No. 7 Corteco/Bryant Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone driven by race runner-up Unser and the No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone driven by Sharp.

"The new system demonstrates the critical importance of tire inflation pressure out on the track and how that affects tire temperatures and race car handling," said Al Speyer, Firestone Racing executive director. "We are very pleased with the way the Firestone tire telemetry package worked on the television broadcast. We think it adds another piece of good information for the fans at home, allowing them to understand more about how these amazing machines work."

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City of Miami honors Castroneves: Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves received a proclamation from the city of Miami recognizing his victory in the 86th Indianapolis 500 on May 26.

Miami Mayor Manuel A. Diaz made the presentation to Indy Racing League points leader Castroneves at the city of Miami's commission meeting.

Castroneves, a native of Brazil, lives in Miami.

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Charity work keeps de Ferran busy: Gil de Ferran is in the midst of one of the busiest stretches of the Indy Racing League season, with four races in five weeks between June 8 and July 7. But that hasn't kept de Ferran, a resident of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., from staying very active in charity work in South Florida.

de Ferran donated a checkered flag-themed chair that he painted to Chairs that Care, a fundraising event to benefit the Henderson Mental Health Center and the Junior League of Greater Fort Lauderdale. The chair sold for $800.

Other celebrities who hand-painted chairs for the event included comedian Bill Cosby and singers Ray Charles and Jimmy Buffett.

de Ferran also donated a signed photograph of himself, teammate Helio Castroneves and Marlboro Team Penske owner Roger Penske, and two passes to the Michigan Indy 400 on July 28 at Michigan International speedway, to the Harley Dog Days event benefiting the Auxiliary of the Humane Society of Broward County. The package sold for $3,000.

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Blair Racing helps out: First-year Indy Racing team Blair Racing recently presented a $10,600 check to the Greater Bay Area Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants wishes to ill children in the San Francisco-Oakland area.

The funds were raised during an auction May 25 at Indianapolis, the day before the 86th Indianapolis 500. Team owner Larry Blair played host to the event, in which many pieces of racing memorabilia were auction.

Blair Racing driver Alex Barron was named Indianapolis 500 Bank One co-Rookie of the Year after finishing fourth in the No. 44 Rayovac Blair Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone. Barron is seventh in the Indy Racing League point standings.

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Hot laps: Dallara USA, Inc., an affiliate of Motorsports Spares International, Inc., will distribute spare parts for the Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series, company officials recently announced. Dallara USA will distribute spare parts for the entire Infiniti Pro Series car, except for engines and tires. The Infiniti Pro Series debuts July 7 at Kansas Speedway -- Indy Racing veteran Jeret Schroeder is scheduled to drive the Indy Racing two-seat race car before a sellout crowd June 16 for the Sirius Satellite Radio 400 NASCAR Winston Cup race at Michigan International Speedway. Schroeder's drive will help promote the inaugural Michigan Indy 400 that takes place July 28 on the 2-mile oval at MIS -- Indy Racing standout Robbie Buhl visited young patients June 13 at The Children's Hospital in Denver as part of his work as national spokesperson for Racing For Kids. Buhl will drive in the Radisson Indy 225 on June 16 at Pikes Peak International Raceway in nearby Fountain, Colo. -- The Racing for Corey organization will play host to a luncheon from 2:30-6 p.m. (MDT) June 15 at Pikes Peak International Raceway. Wish kids and families of the non-profit wish-granting organization, Dream Weavers, will be the guests. Dream Weavers, based in Pueblo, Colo., helps grant wishes of children suffering from life-threatening illnesses -- Former Indianapolis 500 Chief Starter Duane Sweeney will celebrate his 80th birthday June 19. Birthday greetings can be sent to 6170 Racine Place, New Berlin, WI 53146.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Robbie Buhl , Jeff Ward , Scott Sharp , Gil de Ferran , Jeret Schroeder , Alex Barron , Sam Schmidt , Roger Penske
Teams Team Penske