IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2005-02-04

Indy Racing League News and Notes -- Feb. 4, 2005 Today's IRL headlines 1. Lucas Oil Products to sponsor Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry 2. Drivers split on Super Bowl picks 3. Buhl visits Firestone Technical Center 4. Drivers appear at Indiana...

Indy Racing League News and Notes -- Feb. 4, 2005

Today's IRL headlines
1. Lucas Oil Products to sponsor Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry
2. Drivers split on Super Bowl picks
3. Buhl visits Firestone Technical Center
4. Drivers appear at Indiana Ice game

1. Lucas Oil Products to sponsor Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry: Lucas Oil Products will be the primary sponsor of the Sam Schmidt Motorsports car driven by Travis Gregg in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series in 2005.

"We are thrilled to expand our relationship with Forrest and Charlotte Lucas, which began at the 2004 Indianapolis 500," said team owner Sam Schmidt. "Lucas Oil is known worldwide for its high quality line of additives and we are proud to represent the company's first sponsorship in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series. We will work very hard to make it productive for them both on and off the track through new business relationships."

Based in Southern California, Lucas Oil Products is one of the fastest growing additive lines in the consumer automotive industry. It offers a premium line of oils, greases and problem-solving additives that have firmly established the company as a prominent figure in the heavy duty, agricultural, marine, automotive and racing industries. Through innovative product research and development, along with aggressive marketing programs, Lucas Oil Products has established itself as the top-selling additive line in the auto part retailers and American truck stop markets.

"Growing up in Indiana and actually racing a few times myself, I never would have dreamed I would be able to be a primary sponsor of a team at this level of American open-wheel racing," said Forrest Lucas. "We focus a great deal of our marketing and advertising efforts towards motorsports. This avenue has proven highly successful for our company and with this new involvement with last year's championship team and Travis Gregg, Lucas Oil Products will be brought to a whole new level of accomplishments."

Gregg, who competed in three races for the team in 2004, started his first-ever race in the series from the pole and finished second in the season finale at Texas.

Lucas Oil also will be an associate sponsor on the team's other entries driven by Chris Festa and Jaime Camara.

2. Drivers split on Super Bowl picks: Sam Hornish Jr. was backing the Indianapolis Colts to advance to the franchise's first Super Bowl. The New England Patriots -- again -- stalled the drive in the AFC playoffs.

So the Marlboro Team Penske driver in the IndyCar Series, having seen the Patriots' latest convincing victories over the Colts and Pittsburgh Steelers, is picking New England to blow out the Philadelphia Eagles 34-21 in Super Bowl XXXIX on Feb. 6.

"I have to go with the Patriots as they're a solid team with championship experience," Hornish said. "Most of the players already have two Super Bowl rings."

Rahal Letterman Racing's Buddy Rice, a Phoenix resident, also is picking the Patriots.

"I think it would be cool to have another dynasty like the Steelers or the 49ers," he said. "No one has won back-to-back Super Bowls in awhile. The Patriots are a true team. They play well together; they don't a lot of superstars. Just a good, solid team."

Travis Gregg, driver of one of the Sam Schmidt Motorsports entries in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series, said the Patriots know how to win big and win the close ones.

"The Pats are the returning champs, with two rings in the last three years," he said. "They are very well-coached and have great fundamental play. The addition of running back Corey Dillon makes their running game more physical and will move the chains for them. Tom Brady isn't the most talented QB in the league and has to work extremely hard at making his game better. He'll do what it takes to win the big game like he has done in the past.

"However, there are some factors that will make this game interesting on the Eagles' sideline. If Terrell Owens suits up and is able to play and if Donovan McNabb can effectively run the ball out of the pocket the Eagles can keep it close."

On the other side of the ball (so to speak) is A.J. Foyt IV.

"I'm going with the Philadelphia Eagles," he said. "I've got my Eagles jersey and gear ready to go."

Finally, Helio Castroneves will root for the Eagles based on proximity to his team's base of operations.

"It is hard to go against the Patriots as they have won two Super Bowls in three seasons, but the Eagles are the hometown team for Penske Racing based in Reading, Pa., and I think Donovan McNabb is going to play the perfect game," the Sao Paulo, Brazil, native and Miami resident said. "I also got to meet Donovan at ESPN - The Magazine's "Next" Party when we were both featured in the 2000 issue, and he was a great guy so I wish him the best this weekend."

3. Buhl visits Firestone Technical Center: Former IndyCar Series driver and current team co-owner Robbie Buhl visited Bridgestone Firestone's Akron Technical Center on Feb. 4 to participate in a ceremony honoring employees of the center's Advanced Technology Workshop (ATW), which is responsible for the manufacture of tires used in IRL competition.

Buhl was joined by Al Speyer, executive director of motorsports for Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire, LLC, and by Hank Hara, Executive Vice President, Tire Development & Technology.

During the presentation today, Speyer presented a trophy to ATW employees to commemorate their hard work and dedication in making the Firestone Racing program a success. The trophy was a replica of one presented to IRL CEO Tony George last season, to commemorate the 100th event of the IndyCar Series.

"Our racing program has a lot of moving parts and requires a lot of coordination between many Firestone teammates," said Speyer. "But the foundation of everything we do is the ATW employees. They are the ones who put together each IRL tire and their attention to detail and commitment to excellence has made our program the success it is today."

Buhl, a veteran of the open-wheel racing industry, has first-hand knowledge of the quality of work carried out by ATW employees. He won an Indy Lights championship in 1992 on Firestone tires and competed for nine seasons in the IndyCar Series in a Firestone-equipped car. After retiring from the driver's seat in 2004, Buhl now commits himself full-time to his role as a co-owner of Dreyer & Reinbold Racing.

"I'm glad to be here on behalf of the IRL drivers and team owners, to say how much we appreciate ATW's dedication and contribution to our sport," said Buhl. "I was actually involved with Firestone's development work and its re-entry back into open-wheel racing in 1991 with Indy Lights. From that point to where they are now, they can all be very proud of producing such an excellent tire. It's a great product from a performance standpoint and remarkably consistent week in and week out. That constant performance is something that drivers today take for granted, and each one of these employees makes that confidence possible. We've driven a lot of miles on Firestones, and we're truly thankful for that reliability."

Firestone is entering its 10th season as a tire supplier to the Indy Racing League. Since 2000, Firestone has been the league's sole tire supplier and in 2002 was named official tire of the IRL and the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. Throughout that time, the employees of the Akron Technical Center and the Advanced Technology Workshop have been tasked with the research, design and manufacturing process for Firestone tires used in IRL competition.

In honor of Buhl's longtime support of the Firestone Racing program, a contribution to "Racing for Kids" was presented to him on behalf of ATW employees during today's ceremony.

4. Drivers appear at Indiana Ice game: Tomas Scheckter headlines a group of Indy Racing League drivers who will appear at the Indiana Ice's game with the Des Moines Buccaneers on Feb. 5 at Conseco Fieldhouse.

Joining Scheckter will be fellow IRL IndyCar® Series drivers Tomas Enge and Paul Dana. 2004 Menards Infiniti Pro Series champion Thiago Medeiros and Menards Infiniti Pro Series newcomer Nick Bussell.

The drivers will sign autographs and participate in intermission activities. Selected fans will have the chance to compete against the drivers during those ice intermission activities.

***

The IRL IndyCar Series opens its 10th season of competition with the Toyota Indy 300 at 2 p.m. (EST) on March 6, 2005 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be televised live on ESPN and the IMS Radio Network. The 2005 Menards Infiniti Pro Series season also opens on March 6 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be televised by ESPN2 at 4 p.m. (EST) on March 17.

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Tomas Enge , Robbie Buhl , Helio Castroneves , A.J. Foyt IV , Sam Schmidt , Buddy Rice , Paul Dana , Tony George , Nick Bussell , Chris Festa , Travis Gregg , Jaime Camara , Sam Hornish Jr. , Thiago Medeiros
Teams Team Penske , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing , Team Penske