IRL: Orlando Race Day Notes

Ken Plotkin - motorsport.com Northern Light Technology, Inc., a leading internet search engine, and the Indy Racing League announced that Northern Light will be the series sponsor of the Indy Racing League. The series will be named the ...

Ken Plotkin - motorsport.com

Northern Light Technology, Inc., a leading internet search engine, and the Indy Racing League announced that Northern Light will be the series sponsor of the Indy Racing League. The series will be named the Northern Light Indy Racing League. Highlighting the five year areement is establishment of the Northern Light Cup, which includes a $1 million dollar award to the season winner of the Northern Light Indy Racing League Championship. Also established is the Northern Light Circle of Champions, with $500,000 annual driver awards to be disbursed at IRL events. The awards will increase proportionately as races are added to future seasons.

Northern Light will promote the Indy Racing League on broadcast media, on the internet, with consumer promotions, and with business-to-business marketing programs. "Today's announcement is a major step forward for our series," said Tony George, Indy Racing League founder and CEO of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "Northern Light's commitment increases the forward momentum of our series and is a genuine marketing and media parnership for both of our groups."

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Derrick Walker officially announced he will enter sprint racing star Sarah Fisher in the 2000 Indy Racing League season. The effort, which will begin at the Phoenix 200 on March 19, is sponsored by long time Walker Racing sponsor Cummins Engine Company. Walker, who now operates IRL and CART teams, feels that during his first IRL season he expects to "Learn what it's all about and become a part of the community." He looks forward to growing together with Fisher. "She has what it takes. We just have to give her the platform."

Fisher, who began racing at age 5 in quarter-midgets and progressed to 800 horsepower winged sprint cars, has spent her life working towards full time professional racing. "To have it happen with Derrick Walker and his team is an incredible opportunity. The knowledge and support is tremendous."

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Donnie Beechler did double duty today, running in both the IRL Delphi Indy 200 and the USAC Coors Light Silver Bullet Series race. While his Silver Bullet run ended on lap 9 (of 50) with a flat tire, he had a successful day in the Delphi Indy 200, completing all 200 laps and finishing sixth. Beechler also pocketed the $10,000 Firestone "First to 100 Award" for being the first Firestone-shod entrant to reach 100 laps. That award is a greater challenge this year than in the past, since all cars in the IRL are now equipped with Firestone tires.

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In addition to winning his second career Indy Racing League race today, Robby Buhl took the Net Race Live Lap Leader Award,the MCI Worldcom Long Distance Award, and the Lincoln Electric Hard Charger Award.

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While official attendance at Walt Disney World Speedway is never released, today's race was a sell-out. Fewer than 500 tickets were available this morning, and all were sold by race time. Most of the crowd stayed to watch the supporting event, the Coors Light Silver Bullet race, won by Brian Tyler.

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Eddie Cheever, who came within a whisker of giving the Infiniti Indy its first victory today, was using an interim engine, a destroked version of last year's 4 liter engine with a 90 degree crankshaft. Frank Honsowetz, Manager, Infiniti Motorsports, explained "We could have developed this year's engine to use the 180-degree crankshaft, but since the performance benefit would be minimal, we decided to focus our attention on our all-new 35A engine. If everything goes according to plan, we could debut the Infiniti Indy 35A at Las Vegas."

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During pre-race ceremonies, CARA Charities presented a check for $2,000 to the Arnold Palmer Women and Children's Hospital of Orlando, Fla. The donation, sponsored by Bridgestone/Firestone Foundation, is part of CARA Charities' "Buckle Up Baby" infant car seat campaign.

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Also during pre-race ceremonies Pennzoil Panther Racing donated $5,000 to Spinal Conquest on behalf of injured Indy Racing League driver Sam Schmidt. Team co-owner Jim Harbaugh and Pennzoil executive Clyde Beahm presented the check to IRL driver Davey Hamilton, sponsored by Spinal Conquest.

Schmidt suffered paralysis from the neck down after a testing accident earlier this month at Walt Disney World Speedway.

Spinal Conquest is an organization committed to research and rehabilitation for those who have suffered spinal injuries. Donations can be made by calling Spinal Conquest at (877) 904-CURE.

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Medical update:

Driver Davey Hamilton, transported to Sand Lake Hospital following a Lap 23 accident, was found to have a T-12 spinal fracture. He was released this afternoon.

Driver Jacques Lazier, transported to Orlando Regional Medical Center after a Lap 110 accident, was found to have a L-1 spinal facture. He will be kept overnight for observation, and is expected to be released in the morning.

Both drivers are expected to be cleared to drive.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Eddie Cheever , Davey Hamilton , Jacques Lazier , Donnie Beechler , Brian Tyler , Tony George , Robby Buhl
Teams Panther Racing