Today's IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines
1.Mutoh trains with Matsui in Japan
2.IZOD IndyCar Series represented at Rolex 24
3.Duno set to join Latin American Hall of Fame
1. Mutoh trains with Matsui in Japan: In Indianapolis, it's not uncommon to find an IZOD IndyCar Series driver working out alongside another professional athlete as they train at sports performance centers in preparation for the 2010 season.
So it made sense that Hideki Mutoh would take the same approach as he prepares for the season while in Japan.
Mutoh, the 2008 IZOD IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year, spent this week working out at the private training camp of Houston Astros second baseman Kazuo "Kaz" Matsui in Tokyo.
"I met Matsui when we were racing in Kentucky in 2008, and he came to the race when he was in town for a game (at Cincinnati)," said Mutoh, who returned the visit as Matsui's guest at Cincinnati's Great American Ballpark and remained in contact with the former Japanese baseball MVP. "He was holding a private training camp in Tokyo and invited me."
Though the camp is focused on baseball skills, Mutoh has been able to apply the training to skills he uses in racing. Mutoh has participated in speed and coordination training, including sprint drills and games of catch to improve his hand/eye coordination.
Mutoh isn't the only professional athlete at Matsui's training camp. Hideo Tokoro, a MMA featherweight fighter in the DREAM organization, and Koji Uehara, a pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles, are also participating in the camp.
"I have had a good time so far but I think things get a bit more intense on when we are joined by a MMA fighter," Mutoh joked. "It may be safer in the car."
2. IZOD IndyCar Series represented at Rolex 24: Raphael Matos co-drove the winning GT class car in the 2008 Rolex 24 At Daytona. This weekend, he'll aim for his second win co-driving the Brumos Racing Daytona Prototype that won the '09 overall title.
Matos, last season's Apex-Brasil Rookie of the Year award winner in the IZOD IndyCar Series, is among several IZOD IndyCar Series drivers who will compete in the 48th annual endurance race on the 3.56-mile, 12-turn Daytona International Speedway circuit. The green flag waves at 3:30 p.m. (ET) Jan. 30.
"I'm with the Brumos team that won the overall race last year and we have a great driver lineup, we have a great package and we have everything that it takes to win that race," said Matos, who competed in the Daytona Prototype class last year with Supercar Life Racing/Level 5.
"Seat time is always good. I spend a lot of time karting in the off-season, and anything you're driving you're keeping your focus and that's always going to help you in an IndyCar."
Also on the Brumos team are five-time race winner Hurley Haywood, who announced it would be his final Rolex 24 At Daytona, three-time winner Butch Leitzinger, and '09 overall winners David Donohue and Darren Law.
"Representing the defending champions is really exciting and I could not be with a better team to achieve my goal of earning an overall victory," Matos said. "I know there is a good chance to make history, not only for myself, but for Hurley and the Brumos team once again."
Reigning IZOD IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti and '08 series champion Scott Dixon will co-drive the No. 02 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates entry with 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya and Jamie McMurray. Justin Wilson, a 2009 IZOD IndyCar Series race winner, will co-drive the companion No. 01 car with Marino Franchitti, Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas.
"It's a good lineup with the 01 and 02," said Dario Franchitti, who co-drove the overall winning car in the 2008 race. "It's always fun to do the Rolex 24 and warm up for the season. You get to race against some of your old pals again, which is kind of cool. My brother is driving with us. I'm really looking forward to being on the same team with him, though it's not in the same car."
Ryan Hunter-Reay, who will drive the No. 37 IZOD car for Andretti Autosport this season, will join Lucas Luhr, Richard Westbrook, Scott Tucker and Christophe Bouchut in the Level 5 Motorsports Daytona Prototype. Buddy Rice, the 2004 Indianapolis 500 winner, will co-drive the Spirit of Daytona car with Paul Menard and Antonio Garcia.
KV Racing Technology co-owner Jimmy Vasser will join Jimmie Johnson, Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty in driving the GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing car in Daytona Prototypes.
3. Duno set to join Latin American Hall of Fame: IZOD IndyCar Series driver Milka Duno will be inducted into the Latin American International Sports Hall of Fame during ceremonies Jan. 30 in Laredo, Texas.
Duno will be the first Venezuelan athlete inducted into the Hall of Fame, which was founded in 1975 to recognize individuals who have excelled in sports and/or have contributed to the promotion of sports and goodwill in the Latino community.
"The Latin American International Sports Hall of Fame is proud and honored to have selected Milka Duno as a 2010 inductee," Hall of Fame founder Pitin Guajardo said. "Milka was selected for her racing achievements, her personal excellence in education and her passion in stressing the importance of education to students of all ages."
Duno, who has made 27 IZOD IndyCar Series starts, was the first Hispanic woman to compete in the Indianapolis 500 and IZOD IndyCar Series. Duno has many other racing accolades, and as Guajardo noted her work through the Milka Way program was a factor in the Hall of Fame selection.
Duno, a qualified Naval Engineer with four master's degrees, started the Milka Way program and wrote the award-winning bilingual book "Go, Milka, Go!" to stress the importance of education to students. She will speak to students at United High School in Laredo on Jan. 29.
"I am very passionate about education and I want to do everything that I can to inspire students of all ages to study hard and aim for the stars," Duno said. "As a young girl growing up many athletes served as inspirations for me -- as athletes have for millions of children all over the world-- and I feel that it is important for young people to have these sources of inspiration. I never imagined that one day I might be recognized in this way.
"It is both a privilege and a responsibility to be included among all the other Hall of Fame alumni and I will do my best to live up to that privilege and responsibility."
The 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series season begins March 14 with the Sao Paulo Indy 300 on the streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at noon (EDT) by VERSUS. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 211. The race also will be carried on www.indycar.com. The 2010 Firestone Indy Lights season opens with the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg March 28 on the streets of St. Petersburg. The race will air live on indycar.com.