IRL: Notebook 2002-10-17

Hemelgarn to select chassis; Toyota excited about IRL. INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2002 -- Ron Hemelgarn, owner of Hemelgarn Racing, has not decided which chassis the team, which won the 1996 Indianapolis 500 and 2000 Indy Racing League ...

Hemelgarn to select chassis; Toyota excited about IRL.

INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2002 -- Ron Hemelgarn, owner of Hemelgarn Racing, has not decided which chassis the team, which won the 1996 Indianapolis 500 and 2000 Indy Racing League championship with Buddy Lazier, will use in 2003.

"This is the most crucial year that we've had in a long time, as far as picking that right chassis," Hemelgarn said. "I'm looking at all of our options."

The 2003 season, the eighth season of IRL competition, is the first year that new chassis and engine rules for 2003-2005 will take effect. Hemelgarn is already signed as a development team for Chevrolet engines and will use Firestone tires, the exclusive tire of the Indy Racing League.

Chassis selection is not new for Hemelgarn, who fielded a Riley and Scott chassis in the early part of 2000. Lazier won at Phoenix in the chassis before the team switched to a Dallara prior to that year's Indianapolis 500. The team has used a Dallara ever since.

Hemelgarn has three chassis to select from: Dallara, Panoz G Force and the newest chassis, Falcon, produced by MK Racing.

"I haven't jumped in real fast," Hemelgarn said. "I want to see all of the cars and what they are doing before I actually make that decision. Dallara has been a very dominating car. I have seen their (2003) car. I was over in Italy a few weeks ago, and it's a very, very nice car. I want to go and see G Force cars, and I'm planning a trip there within the next couple of weeks to see their car and so on.

"I think they're all going to be phenomenal, so to make a decision today would not be right until we have all the information from everybody, and that's what we're doing. We're going to do it as a team, collectively, and we'll make that decision here probably within the next few weeks of what we're going to go with."

*** Toyota ready for Indy Racing: Officials from Toyota are excited about the 2003 Indy Racing League season, the first season the engine will compete in the IRL.

"We're excited to be here," said Lee White, group vice president and general manager of Toyota Racing Development. "We're very much looking forward to next year, and I think we're all confident that the IRL season next year is going to be something to see. It's going to be very exciting."

White and other officials kept tabs on Indy Racing action throughout the 2002 season.

"We watched it extremely close," White said. "I was at virtually every event at least for one or two days. At this point in time there's nothing quite like it in terms of on-track excitement. I just hope we get a lot more fans in the stands and on television coming out to watch it because this coming year, with all of the new teams coming in, the existing teams that have statements to make, and new manufacturers, new cars and a new package, I can't help but think that it's going to be extremely exciting and a lot of fun."

*** Roquin staying busy: Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series entrant Roquin Motorsports has remained busy since the series season finale Sept. 14 at Texas Motor Speedway.

"We want to build on our experience in 2002 and get a head-start on 2003 by doing as much winter testing as possible so when the season starts, we'll be in full swing," said owner/driver Rolando Quintanilla. "We're planning to run two cars, and we're ready to test drivers. We're scheduled to take delivery of the new Infiniti B-spec engine soon, and our second car has already been ordered."

In addition to its Infiniti Pro Series effort, the team fields drivers Jeffrey Jones and James Gue in the Formula Ford 2000 Zetec Championship. Jones, who finished second in both FF2000 races Oct. 10 at Road Atlanta, is leading the Rookie of the Year standings and is second in points with a mathematical chance to claim the series title. In addition to Quintanilla, who made his professional debut in FF2000 in 1998, graduates of FF2000 competition include two-time Indy Racing League champion Sam Hornish Jr., Bank One Indianapolis 500 co-Rookie of the Year Alex Barron, and Infiniti Pro Series standouts Ryan Hampton, Cory Witherill and Arie Luyendyk Jr.

***

Hot laps: An Indy Racing League car will be on display at the Mid-America booth Oct. 19 at KSU Stadium in Manhattan, Kan. where the University of Texas Longhorns football team, ranked seventh in the country, will play the Kansas State Wildcats, ranked 19th in the country--The Indy Racing League Championship Celebration, which took place Oct. 5 at the House of Blues in Chicago, will be broadcast at 12:30 p.m. (EDT) Oct. 18 on ESPN2.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Buddy Lazier , Alex Barron , Rolando Quintanilla , James Gue , Ryan Hampton , Sam Hornish Jr. , Arie Luyendyk Jr.
Teams Toyota Racing