News and notes 2009-04-23

Today's IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines * Drivers use Kansas to prepare for Indy * Andretti Green adds Venom Energy as primary sponsor * Patrick graces cover of Shape magazine 1. Drivers use Kansas to prepare for Indy: When ...

Today's IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines
* Drivers use Kansas to prepare for Indy
* Andretti Green adds Venom Energy as primary sponsor
* Patrick graces cover of Shape magazine

1. Drivers use Kansas to prepare for Indy: When IndyCar Series drivers take the track at Kansas Speedway April 26 for the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300, it will mark the first race on an oval since the 2008 season ended at Chicagoland Speedway last September. The race also comes four weeks before the Indianapolis 500, meaning teams will be trying to use the race at Kansas to build momentum for the month of May.

Among those looking for positive results at Kansas that they can take to Indianapolis are: Scott Dixon, the 2008 IndyCar Series champion, who led 145 of 200 laps at Kansas last year, before going on to win the Indianapolis 500; Dan Wheldon, winner of the last two races at Kansas, who has moved to a new team in 2009; and Sarah Fisher, the driver and co-owner of Sarah Fisher Racing who will make her 2009 debut at Kansas as a tune-up for Indy.

"Kansas is a great circuit for the IndyCar Series to go to just before Indy," said Dixon, who won the pole at Kansas last year and finished third. "It's very different in the fact that the cars are fairly easy to control on that track. Once you get into the draft, it's very different, but for a lot of the rookies it's a great place to feel it out. The track allows you to maybe mess up a little bit, and you can still recover it. There'll be a lot of emphasis on Kansas."

A year ago, Dixon followed up a strong run at Kansas by winning the pole and the race at Indianapolis. Wheldon, the 2005 Indianapolis 500 champion, hopes to create momentum for the Panther Racing team with a strong showing on the 1.5-mile oval.

"We don't really test that much on any ovals," said Wheldon, who has led 226 of the last 400 laps at Kansas. "There will be some people who use the race at Kansas, to some degree, as a test for Indianapolis. From a fan perspective, you're going to see a lot of guys pushing the limits because that's the only race that's before Indianapolis on an oval. That's always been a good event, because it does lead into the momentum. Certainly if you can create some momentum, that helps. You often during May create another form of momentum, but any time you can go into the month of May with a victory under your belt it certainly makes the early part of the month special."

For Fisher, Kansas kicks off a season that will include four races on ovals in 2009. The team that debuted at last year's Indianapolis 500 battling a tight budget has full funding from Dollar General and expects strong results.

"I'm very excited," said Fisher, who has competed in parts of nine seasons and has made four starts at Kansas. "You stare at a car all winter long and come in here every day and just make things happen. When you're able to run a race before the Indy 500, you're able to get all the pit stop qualms and the on--track, day--of mental challenges that you deal with, you're able to sort that out ahead of time and sort of get into a rhythm before you reach that big race. So this is going to give all of our guys, myself, my engineer, a chance to sort of figure things out, get in a roll, be in that rhythm leading into the month of May. I think we're going to have a good result, and I would be pretty upset if we were outside of the top 10. I fully expect us to do that well even as a small team that doesn't compete full--time."

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2. Andretti Green adds Venom Energy as primary sponsor: Venom Energy will be the primary sponsor of the No. 26 Andretti Green Racing car driven by Marco Andretti for the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 at Kansas Speedway this weekend and the Indianapolis 500.

Venom Energy is an energy drink in the Dr Pepper Snapple Group portfolio. The agreement is an expansion of the partnership with Dr Pepper Snapple Group, which will feature multiple brands in a rotation during 10 of the final 15 events of the season and will either hold the position of primary sponsor or major associate sponsor, depending on the race market.

Dr Pepper Snapple Group is in its third season with Andretti Green and has an existing relationship through the Team 7-Eleven program and driver Tony Kanaan. Dr Pepper shared the primary sponsorship position with 7-Eleven on the No. 11 entry this past weekend at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Dr Pepper Snapple Group also will serve as an associate sponsor and the Official Carbonated Soft Drink of the Honda Indy Toronto, which is being promoted by Andretti Green Toronto July 10-12.

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3. Patrick graces cover of Shape magazine: Danica Patrick is featured on the cover of the June issue of Shape magazine, which is available on newsstands and by subscription.

Patrick relays that she relies on win-win "E" strategies -- eating healthy and exercise -- to keep fueled and fit for the rigors of the IndyCar Series. During the racing season, a high-protein diet with complex carbohydrates is in order. Many days, breakfast consists of a three egg-white omelet and a bowl of homemade oatmeal with cinnamon, flax meal, brown sugar and a scoop of peanut butter on the side.

Because Patrick is 5 foot 2 and about 104 pounds -- the lightest driver in the series -- upper-body strength is important to control the 1,600-pound No. 7 Motorola car on the street/road and oval circuits. She tells readers about the diversity of regimens to build endurance and strength.

"I'm really excited for the Shape magazine to be released," Patrick said. "It was an honor to be asked to do the cover on a magazine that I have been a faithful reader of for years. But it was also great to be part of a magazine that is centered on women. It was a lot of fun, a great deal of hard work, but well worth it."

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The 2009 IndyCar Series season continues April 26 with the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 at Kansas Speedway. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 4 p.m. (EDT) by VERSUS. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 211. The radio broadcast also will be carried on www.indycar.com. The 2009 Firestone Indy Lights season continues April 26 at Kansas Speedway. The race will be telecast at 4 p.m. (EDT) on April 27 by VERSUS.

-credit: irl

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