Indy Racing Notebook Jeff Gordon backs Hornish; Infiniti Pro Series star Fike clinches midget title. INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Sept. 5, 2002 -- Jeff Gordon will be in the pits of Sam Hornish Jr. on Sept. 8 at Chicagoland Speedway as Hornish...
Indy Racing Notebook
Jeff Gordon backs Hornish; Infiniti Pro Series star Fike clinches midget title.
INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Sept. 5, 2002 -- Jeff Gordon will be in the pits of Sam Hornish Jr. on Sept. 8 at Chicagoland Speedway as Hornish tries to zero in on his second consecutive Indy Racing League championship.
No, not that Jeff Gordon: Jeff Gordon of Speedway Engine Development.
Gordon will support Hornish during the Delphi Indy 300 on the 1.5-mile oval. Hornish is third in the series standings, eight points behind leader Helio Castroneves and seven behind second place Gil de Ferran.
Speedway Engine Development is the most successful builder in the seven-year history of the IRL. General Motors engines assembled by the Indianapolis-based shop have won 17 races and captured back-to-back drivers' championships in 2000 and 2001.
Gordon has been Panther's man in the pits since June 1998. Although he has one of the best seats in the house, he seldom sees the cars on the track. His eyes are focused on the laptop computer that displays telemetry data from the Chevy Indy V8 that powers Hornish's No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone.
"My sole responsibility at the track is to look after Panther's engines," Gordon said. "I make sure that the motor is doing what it's supposed to do. I monitor the oil and water temperatures, fuel pressure, oil pressure and the other operating conditions. I look after the motor so that the team can concentrate on race strategy and pit stops.
"At most races, I never see the car until the last few laps. I'm watching the computer screen for anything out of the ordinary. I also monitor the fuel mixture setting so I have the answers when (team engineer) Andy Brown asks whether we can push the engine harder or run it leaner."
Gordon has been with Speedway since co-founders Rick Long and the late Herb Porter opened for business in August 1996.
Racing is an all-consuming occupation for Gordon. Days away from the track are devoted to dyno testing every Chevrolet racing engine that leaves the Speedway shop. Speedway also is one of four independent engine builders -- the others are Menard Engine Group, Roush Industries and VDS Engines -- that are playing a key role in the development of an all-new Chevy Indy V8 engine for 2003.
"I make sure that all of the engines are prepared correctly before they go to the teams," Gordon said. "In a typical week during racing season, we'll run eight engines on the dyno. On average, Speedway has between 35 and 40 engines in rotation among our teams."
Fike clinches Badger title: Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series standout Aaron Fike clinched his first Badger Midget Series championship Sept. 1 despite finishing 20th due to a spin at the 21st annual Fireman's Nationals at Angell Park Speedway in Sun Prairie, Ill.
Fike recorded six Badger victories this season and finished 26 points ahead of second place Davey Ray. Fike, 19, became the youngest champion in the 66-year history of the series.
Fike, from Galesburg, Ill., will drive the No. 91 Hemelgarn Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone in the Chicagoland 100 Infiniti Pro Series race Sept. 8 at Chicagoland Speedway. He is sixth in the series point standings.
Infiniti Pro Series stars to race in unique Midget event: Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series stars Ed Carpenter and Aaron Fike are scheduled to drive in the Indianapolis Twin 25s, a USAC Midget race Sept. 27 at Indianapolis Raceway Park.
The race will include two 25-lap features on the 5/8th-mile oval, with the finishing order of the first race inverted to form the starting lineup for the second race. There will be just a 15-minute break between the two races.
The winner of the first race will earn a $50,000 bonus from Prolong Super Lubricants for winning the second feature from the last starting spot.
Former Indianapolis 500 starters J.J. Yeley and Jason Leffler also are scheduled to compete.
The race takes on the evening of the opening day of the SAP United States Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Gates open at 3 p.m. (EST), with the first race scheduled for 7 p.m. For more information, log on to www.indytwin25s.com.
International journalists visit Speedway: More than 100 worldwide media members covering the World Basketball Championships this week in Indianapolis visited the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sept. 5.
The media took a behind-the-scenes tour of the Speedway, including the Hall of Fame Museum, and were provided lunch.
Hot laps: Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series championship contender Cory Witherill finished 12th in his first SCRA Sprint Car Series start of the season Aug. 31 at Ventura (Calif.) Raceway. Witherill, fourth in Infiniti Pro Series points, drives the No. 92 WSA Healthcare Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone for Hemelgarn 91 Johnson Motorsports -- Indy Racing standout Robbie Buhl will visit young patients Sept. 12 at the Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas, as part of his work as national spokesperson for Racing For Kids. Buhl will drive in the Chevy 500 on Sept. 15 at Texas Motor Speedway.