IRL: Test in the West notebook 2002-02-06

INDY RACING LEAGUE TEST IN THE WEST NOTEBOOK Testing popular with fans; New car numbers grab attention FONTANA, Calif., Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2002 - California Speedway officials estimated that more than 2,500 fans had passed through the infield...

INDY RACING LEAGUE TEST IN THE WEST NOTEBOOK Testing popular with fans; New car numbers grab attention

FONTANA, Calif., Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2002 - California Speedway officials estimated that more than 2,500 fans had passed through the infield gates by 3 p.m. (PDT) Feb. 6, the first day of on-track activity for the seventh annual Indy Racing League Test in the West.

Infield seating areas were open free of charge to fans to watch the afternoon session.

New numbers: Cars participating in the Indy Racing League's Test in the West were sporting car numbers in the new league-mandated placement areas, which fans will notice in 2002.

The Indy Racing League has moved one of the designated car number placements from the sides of the engine cowling to the sides of the rear-wing end fences. All cars must still carry a car number on its nose, as well.

"This is something we did for the fans," said Brian Barnhart, vice president of operations for the Indy Racing League. "On sleek Indy Racing cars, it's a challenge to find an area large enough on the car where we can place numbers that are beneficial to the fans."

Numbers on the car end fences must be a minimum of 11 inches high and 18 inches wide. Nose numbers must be 9 inches tall.

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ABC team preparing: New ABC Sports driver analyst Scott Goodyear was very active in the garage area, preparing for the upcoming Indy Racing League season. ABC play-by-play announcer Paul Page also was taking notes and pictures during the two days the league spent at California Speedway.

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Cheever, Giaffone on national radio show: Eddie Cheever Jr. and Felipe Giaffone will be special guests on the nationally syndicated radio program, "LOVELINE," from 1-3 a.m. (EST) Feb. 7. The show is distributed to 83 affiliates in major markets across the nation. In Los Angeles, the show is heard on KROQ 106.7 FM.

Hosted by Adam Carolla and Dr. Drew, "LOVELINE" consists of live phone-in calls that run the gamut from the strange and silly to the sometimes serious. Carolla and Dr. Drew help each caller by dispensing advice night after night.

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Unser, Rutherford busy with rookies: With four rookies participating in the Test in the West, Indy Racing driver coaches Al Unser and Johnny Rutherford were busy along pit road consulting with the first-time drivers.

"I've talked to them and they respond, so they have all gained," Unser said. "This is a wide-open racetrack. You have to get the car to work for the driver. You have to make the driver brave enough but yet keep him calm."

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Many visitors in pits: Many motorsports personalities, including several Indy Racing drivers, attended the first two days of the Indy Racing League Test in the West at California Speedway.

Former Indy Racing League Executive Director Leo Mehl used the Test in the West to escape the winter weather in northern Ohio. Also, longtime NASCAR official Les Richter, the man who directed the birth of the California Speedway, was present both days.

Drivers not participating in the on-track activities but seen in the pits included Tyce Carlson, Airton Dare, Roberto Guerrero, Max Papis, Memo Gidley, Cory Witherill, Richie Hearn, Shigeaki Hattori, Roberto Moreno, Chris Menninga and Brandon Erwin.

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Cheever lands another sponsor: Red Bull Cheever Racing announced today that Lincoln Financial Group (NYSE: LNC) will sponsor 1998 Indianapolis 500 champion Eddie Cheever Jr. and the No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Infiniti in the 2002 Indy Racing League.

"We are pleased to welcome Lincoln Financial Group to the team," Cheever said. "The company was founded nearly a century ago by a group of Fort Wayne, Ind., businessman. It makes sense that they be involved in the Indy 500, which has a history just a few years younger than their own.

"They will find the full Indy Racing League schedule will provide the marketing benefits they desire at a great value."

Cheever will serve as a spokesperson for the annuities operation of Lincoln Financial Group as part of the sponsorship program.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Eddie Cheever , Shigeaki Hattori , Airton Daré , Scott Goodyear , Cory Witherill , Memo Gidley , Brandon Erwin , Roberto Guerrero , Max Papis , Richie Hearn , Chris Menninga , Tyce Carlson , Brian Barnhart , Al Unser