IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2005-02-16

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- Feb. 16, 2005 Today's IRL headlines 1. Rice, Castroneves share row for IROC 2. Red Bull Cheever Racing gets shot of energy 3. IRL meets with Saginaw Valley State University 4. IndyCar Series goes to NBA ...

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- Feb. 16, 2005

Today's IRL headlines
1. Rice, Castroneves share row for IROC
2. Red Bull Cheever Racing gets shot of energy
3. IRL meets with Saginaw Valley State University
4. IndyCar Series goes to NBA All-Star Game

1. Rice, Castroneves share row for IROC: IRL IndyCar® Series drivers Buddy Rice and Helio Castroneves will start fifth and sixth respectively in the opening round of the Crown Royal International Race of Champions on Feb. 18 at Daytona International Speedway.

Starting positions for the 40-lap race were randomly selected on Feb. 16. Rice's car will start fifth, while Castroneves' car will start sixth. 2004 Champ Car World Series winner Sebastien Bourdais will start on the pole alongside reigning NASCAR Nextel Cup champion Kurt Busch.

"It's a great honor to be racing with all these champions," said Rice, the 2004 Indianapolis 500 winner. "I'm on a huge learning curve here, so I've done a lot of running with Kurt Busch and the other NASCAR guys. Believe it or not, I've learned some things I can take from these cars to apply to our IndyCar Series car."

The International Race of Champions pits 12 drivers from various forms of auto racing in indentically prepared stock cars. Rice will make his debut in the series, while Castroneves will make his fourth appearance in the all-star racing series.

"This has been such a great experience," Rice said. "I'm just hoping I get through the race on Friday night."

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2. Red Bull Cheever Racing gets shot of energy: Note: The following story is part of a series previewing each of the teams competing in the IRL IndyCar® Series.

Alex Barron says he's always "analyzing things -- whether it's racing or things in everyday life -- to make improvements."

Eddie Cheever Jr. has a similar propensity -- an important trait when you're a hands-on IndyCar Series team owner. It didn't take much scrutiny for Cheever to realize that radical changes were necessary after being shut out of Victory Lane for the past two seasons.

Toyota is in as the powerplant for the two-car team. So is seasoned road racer Patrick Carpentier, who finished a career-high third in the Champ Car World Series last year. Also on board is former Formula One technical director Henri Durand, who will be responsible for leading the team's engineering and research and development efforts through technical partner Mecachrome USA.

There is a buzz of excitement and anticipation at the race shop, especially after the Open Tests at Homestead-Miami Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway.

"We are excited for the 2005 season," managing director Max Jones said. "We have assembled a great group here at Red Bull Cheever Racing. Both Alex and Patrick have very strong racing backgrounds and have competed on many road courses. We anticipate strong runs at the new road-course venues and very competitive races where you can see the RBCR cars up front."

Barron, who had five top-10 finishes in the 16-race 2004 season, welcomes the changes as he enters his second full season with the team. He competed in three races for Cheever in the 2003 season.

"We've done a lot in the off-season for the level of the team," he said. "We have a lot of key people right now making decisions. The engineering staff has come a long way.

But what you need to do is set a good base in the off-season of things that you need to go after. We got a head start on that this year with being on board with Toyota. I think that's going to bump us up in the right direction. So far, it's gone great. We have two strong cars running. Everybody's high-spirited. Our hopes are high. I know we want to get in the front every weekend. We definitely want to go for the championship."

Carpentier, almost through the "getting to know you" process, is unabashedly excited about the oval opener on March 6, the three road/street circuits added to the schedule and, well, a new start.

"We expect to run with the leaders," said Carpentier, 33, a native of La Salle, Quebec. "If we do that we will win races."

Capsule look at Red Bull Cheever Racing
Car numbers: 51 (Barron), 83 (Carpentier)
Main sponsor: Red Bull
Owner: Eddie Cheever Jr.
Chief engineers: Garrett Mothersead (No. 51), Iain Watt (No. 83)
Managing director: Max Jones
Chassis/Engine/Tire: Dallara/Toyota/Firestone

Managing director Max Jones' viewpoint

About Alex Barron: "It's great to have Alex back with the team. He is our team veteran and we expect a lot from him. We know we can count on Alex. He shows consistency in his performances and we have lots of information from last season to build on. He is a team player with strong relationships with his crew and engineers. We have a great package put together for the year and we are expecting a great season."

About Patrick Carpentier: "Patrick is a wonderful new addition to the team. We've been working with him for several months and found that he's a great guy who runs hard and has clear-cut ambitions about what he wants and expects for the season. His racing history shows that he is a high-caliber driver and championship contender. It will be great to have him and Alex working together."

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3. IRL meets with Saginaw Valley State University: Indy Racing League executives will visit Saginaw Valley State University Feb. 17 to aid the university as it seeks corporate support to form a community-owned race team, which will eventually compete in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series^Ù.

Brooks Byam, associate professor of mechanical engineering at Saginaw Valley State, has spearheaded the effort to form the team. Byam and IRL executives will make a presentation to more than 75 members of the Saginaw Valley Manufacturers Association at Groening Commons on the campus of the university in University Center, Mich.

"The concept is for a community-supported race team similar to the Green Bay Packers in football," Byam said. "We envision the team serving as a future technology and technical partnership test bed for the region, providing a link between economic development, community resources and education."

"The Indy Racing League and Menards Infiniti Pro Series look forward to working with Saginaw Valley State University," said Roger Bailey, executive director of the Menards Infiniti Pro Series. "This program has the potential to benefit not only the league and the university, but also the students and corporate partners.

"The students will get hands-on experience in all aspects of racing -- engineering, marketing, public relations, and the corporate partners will gain exposure at all of our venues across the country and in business-to-business relationships that we can facilitate with our current partners."

The Menards Infiniti Pro Series, formed in 2002, is the premier ladder series in the IRL, developing drivers for the IndyCar® Series, America's top open-wheel racing series.

Menards Infiniti Pro Series cars boast 450-horsepower, Infiniti V8 engines and can attain speeds of 190 mph on superspeedways such as Chicagoland Speedway and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The Menards Infiniti Pro Series will play host to 14 races in 11 states in 2005, including two at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Futaba Freedom 100 will take place on May 27, two days before the Indianapolis 500. The series also will host a race on the speedway's road course as part of the United States Grand Prix weekend in June.

All Menards Infiniti Pro Series races are televised on ESPN2 with Dr. Jerry Punch serving as the play-by-play announcer and former driver Robbie Buhl serving as the color analyst.

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4. IndyCar Series goes to NBA All-Star Game: The IndyCar Series is coming to the NBA All-Star Game this week. Six 30-second audio and video spots an hour promoting the IndyCar Series brand will run on the 500-square-foot screen at the main entrance of the Pepsi Center in Denver. The game is Feb. 20, with ancillary activities on Feb. 18-19.

Pikes Peak International Raceway staff also will be at the facility offering $10 adult tickets to the Aug. 21 race.

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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.

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Kurt Busch , Eddie Cheever , Robbie Buhl , Helio Castroneves , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Barron , Sébastien Bourdais , Buddy Rice , Roger Bailey , Max Jones