IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2005-03-03

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- March 3, 2005 Today's IRL headlines 1. IRL, XM Satellite Radio announce multi-faceted partnership that includes broadcast rights, marketing and entertainment initiatives 2. Menards Infiniti Pro Series readies...

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- March 3, 2005

Today's IRL headlines
1. IRL, XM Satellite Radio announce multi-faceted partnership that includes broadcast rights, marketing and entertainment initiatives
2. Menards Infiniti Pro Series readies for fourth season

1. IRL, XM Satellite Radio announce multi-faceted partnership that includes broadcast rights, marketing and entertainment initiatives: XM Satellite Radio and the Indy Racing League today announced a multi-faceted, multi-year agreement to broadcast IRL IndyCar® Series races live and nationwide on XM, beginning with the Toyota Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway at 2 p.m. (EST) on March 6. IRL programming will be heard on Extreme XM (XM Channel 152).

As the exclusive satellite radio partner of the IRL, XM will transmit the IMS Radio Network's pre-race, race and ancillary programming on the Extreme XM channel, plus IRL news updates and additional programming heard on a variety of XM talk channels.

In addition, XM Satellite Radio will be an associate sponsor of the IndyCar Series Fan Experience, a one-of-a-kind, interactive mobile entertainment experience at IRL events designed to bring fans closer to the excitement of the IndyCar Series. The Experience's live performance stage will be known as the "XM Satellite Radio Live" stage, offering up live entertainment at each and every race across the country. The Experience is divided into four properties -- Pole Position, Tech, XM Satellite Radio Live, and Pit Stop.

XM will host top music acts to perform at the XM Satellite Radio Live stage at various events during the 2005 season, such as Velvet Revolver at the upcoming XM Satellite Radio Indy 200 at Phoenix International Raceway on March 19.

XM is the title sponsor of the XM Satellite Radio Indy 200 and the primary sponsor of the Andretti Green Racing car driven by Bryan Herta in the IndyCar Series. The XM agreement with IRL is the latest joint effort between the nation's leading provider of satellite radio and the league's drivers, teams and tracks.

"The IndyCar Series boasts some of the most exciting competitions in professional sports, and we know that XM Satellite Radio fans and IRL fans alike are going to love hearing every minute of the action on XM," said Steve Cook, executive vice president of sales, marketing and customer operations, XM Satellite Radio.

"Like the IndyCar Series, XM Satellite Radio is an industry leader using cutting-edge technology to thrill and entertain its subscribers," said Ken Ungar, the IRL's senior vice president, business affairs. "We are thrilled that our fans can find the IndyCar Series on XM Satellite Radio wherever they live or travel from coast to coast."

In addition to being the exclusive satellite radio partner of IRL, XM is the official satellite radio network of Major League Baseball, with games for every team all season long; the exclusive satellite radio network for NASCAR, with every race in all three national championship series, and the official satellite radio service of the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten, and Pac-10 college sports conferences, offering college football and basketball games for more than 30 schools.

The latest models of XM radio receivers, such as the portable Delphi XM2go MyFi radio, the Delphi XM SKYFi2 radio, and the Audiovox XR9 radio, have sports tickers that display the current scores for professional and college sports teams on the XM receiver's display screen.

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2. Menards Infiniti Pro Series readies for fourth season: The IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series opens its fourth season of competition March 6 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The starting grid for the first of a series-high 14 races features two former race winners, eight rookies and the first woman to compete in the series.

Jeff Simmons and P.J. Chesson, who have combined for five victories, hope a strong start at Homestead-Miami translates into a run for the series championship.

"This is certainly the best chance I've had so far to try to get multiple wins and try to run for the championship," said Simmons, 28, who will drive the No. 24 Team ISI Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone. "We expect to be competitive right off the bat, and obviously we're looking for a championship. We're not here to run second. We want to win races and win a championship."

Simmons' two wins came in 2003 while Chesson earned three consecutive victories last season.

"I've never been to Homestead-Miami Speedway before, but I think I'll be able to adapt pretty quickly," said Chesson, 26, who raced on pavement for the first time last year after four years of World of Outlaws competition. "We had good results last year in our first visits to a lot of tracks."

Chesson joins Genoa Racing, which earned race victories in both 2002 and 2003.

Sam Schmidt Motorsports will field four of the eight rookies entered for the Homestead-Miami 100 as it begins defense of its championship. Jaime Camara, Chris Festa, Travis Gregg and Scott Mayer aim to pick up where 2004 champion Thiago Medeiros left off. Medeiros won six of 12 races in 2004, winning the championship by a 134-point margin.

"I think the series is going to be really tough this year," said Festa, 19, who has been racing open-wheel cars for two years after five years of karting. "You've got a third-year veteran with Jeff Simmons, and the other guys on this team are really good as well, and you've got some other drivers coming into the series that are pretty talented, so it's going to be a tough year for us. But the Schmidt team has won the championship, and fortunately I'm in one of their cars, so that makes things a little easier, but I'm going to have to work hard. It's definitely a realistic view for us. If not me, then the other guys on this team as well."

Gregg, 26, competed in three races last season for Sam Schmidt Motorsports, capturing a pole position and earning two top-five finishes.

Other rookies entered include: Nick Bussell, 21, a World Karting Association champion; Wade Cunningham, 20, the 2003 world karting champion; Jay Drake, 35, the 2004 United States Auto Club sprint car champion; and Mishael Abbott, 23, a karting and Formula Mazda veteran who will be the first woman to compete in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series.

"Being the first woman to compete in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series means the world to me," Abbott said. "I've always been proud of my accomplishments, being the first female to win a professional shifter kart race in the United States, being the first to test the Infiniti Pro Series car at Las Vegas two years ago, and now the first woman to actually compete in the series fulfills one of my lifelong goals.

"I've driven the Homestead-Miami road course more times than I can remember and now to compete on the oval fulfills a lifetime dream, especially in my own back yard. I can't wait for the race to start."

Abbott will drive the No. 91 Hemelgarn 91 Johnson Motorsports entry.

The Menards Infiniti Pro Series, the premier ladder series for the IRL IndyCar® Series, also makes stops at Phoenix International Raceway (March 19), St. Petersburg, Fla. (April 3), Indianapolis Motor Speedway (May 27 and June 18), Texas Motor Speedway (June 11), Nashville Superspeedway (July 16), The Milwaukee Mile (July 24), Kentucky Speedway (Aug. 13), Pikes Peak International Raceway (Aug. 21), Infineon Raceway (Aug. 28), Chicagoland Speedway (Sept. 11), Watkins Glen International (Sept. 25) and California Speedway (Oct. 16).

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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 broadcast by the IMS Radio Network and indycar.com. 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 Bryan Herta , Sam Schmidt , Steve Cook , Mishael Abbott , Scott Mayer , Jeff Simmons , Jay Drake , Nick Bussell , Chris Festa , P.J. Chesson , Travis Gregg , Wade Cunningham , Jaime Camara , Thiago Medeiros