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

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- April 4, 2005 Today's IRL headlines 1. Bumps in the road can't stop AGR 2. The spoils of victory 3. Road-course firsts 1. Bumps in the road can't stop AGR: Things couldn't have worked out better for...

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- April 4, 2005

Today's IRL headlines
1. Bumps in the road can't stop AGR
2. The spoils of victory
3. Road-course firsts

1. Bumps in the road can't stop AGR: Things couldn't have worked out better for Andretti Green Racing at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on April 3.

First, Marco Andretti, the 18-year-old son of team co-owner Michael Andretti, won the Menards Infiniti Pro Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg from the pole in his and AGR's first start in the series.

Then in the IndyCar Series event, Dan Wheldon led a top-four street-course sweep for the team.

"It looks like the fix is on, I guess," Andretti said. "God, I'm starting to believe maybe it was. It couldn't have gone any better. I mean, there's nothing. I mean, we qualified pole. Marco qualified pole, won the race. We won one, two, three. Every seat was filled in the stands. There was a big line still to get in. Where else could you have made it any better?"

There where a few bumps in the road for the team, which won for the 12th time in only its third year of full-time IndyCar Series competition.

Reigning series champion Tony Kanaan and Dario Franchitti each battled their way through the pack to post podium finishes. Franchitti, who finished third, found himself mired behind several cars who were on different pit strategies, while Kanaan overcame a pit-road penalty which dropped him to 17th-place.

"I think the fact we passed 30 or 40 cars today. I think that's probably the most amazing thing and the most exciting thing," Franchitti said. "We shouldn't be focusing on three maneuvers here. There's a lot more to it than that, I would say."

Kanaan said the team did benefit from some racing luck as well.

"You've got to be lucky. And I think we're lucky," he said. "We talked about it before the race started. We pretty much knew where the passing places were. You know, there was only three, and pretty tough ones. So I would say I wasn't surprised. I think it was a very exciting race."

2. The spoils of victory: In addition to a perfect race weekend, Andretti Green Racing reaped a number of benefits for winning the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Bryan Herta, the Marlboro Pole Award winner, collected the Firestone Performance Award and its $10,000 prize for leading Lap 56 (106-mile mark), while race winner Dan Wheldon was presented with an engraved Formula One timepiece from TAG Heuer, the official timekeeper and watch of the Indy Racing League. It is the second time this season Wheldon has won the timepiece that TAG Heuer presents to the winner of each IndyCar Series event.

The design of the TAG Heuer Formula 1 has been upgraded and redesigned from its original version. It now features a titanium-coated steel bezel, protective bumpers, and the six legendary features that define a TAG Heuer sportswatch -- screw-in crown, unidirectional turning bezel, luminescent hands and hour markers, scratch resistant sapphire crystal, water resistance to 200m and a double safety clasp.

Dario Franchitti recorded the fastest lap of the race for the second consecutive event, giving him the lead in the season-long chase for the Argent Mortgage Fastest Lap Award.

3. Road-course firsts: Here are some of the firsts from the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the first non-oval event in IndyCar® Series history.

First Car on Track for practice, First Right Hand Turn in practice and First Lap Practice Completed - Helio Castroneves

First Contact with a Tire Barrier - A.J. Foyt IV

First Qualifier - Ed Carpenter

First Firestone Fast Six - Dario Franchitti, Helio Castroneves, Tomas Enge, Bryan Herta, Sam Hornish Jr., Tony Kanaan

First Marlboro Pole Winner - Bryan Herta

First Race Leader into first right hand turn - Bryan Herta

First Lap Leader - Bryan Herta

First Lead Change - Lap 17 (Ryan Briscoe took lead after Bryan Herta and others pitted on lap 16)

First pass on track for the lead - Dan Wheldon (Lap 92 passing Briscoe and Kanaan after they made contact in Turn 10)

First Full Course Caution - Lap 14 as a result of an accident involving Helio Castroneves and A. J. Foyt IV.

First Pit Stop - Herta, Scheckter, Franchitti, Dixon, Wheldon, Matsuura, Hornish Jr., Kanaan, Carpentier, Meira, Yasukawa, Enge and Sharp (all on Lap 16 during full course caution)

First Winner - Dan Wheldon

***

The 10th season of IndyCar Series competition continues with the Indy Japan 300 on April 30 at Twin Ring Motegi. The race will be telecast by ESPN at Noon (EDT) on April 30 and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network at 11:30 p.m. (EDT) on April 29. The race also will be available on XM Satellite Radio channel 152 "XM Extreme." ESPN2's coverage of the Menards Infiniti Pro Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be telecast at 3 p.m. (EDT) on April 8. The next Menards Infiniti Pro Series race is the Futaba Freedom 100 on May 27 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast at 2 p.m. (EDT) on May 27.

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Tomas Enge , Helio Castroneves , A.J. Foyt IV , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Dan Wheldon , Ryan Briscoe , Marco Andretti , Sam Hornish Jr. , Ed Carpenter