IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2005-04-05

Today's IRL headlines 1. IRL officials pleased with results from St. Petersburg 2. Andretti welcomed into AGR fraternity 1. IRL officials pleased with results from St. Petersburg: Indy Racing League and IndyCar Series team officials were ...

Today's IRL headlines
1. IRL officials pleased with results from St. Petersburg
2. Andretti welcomed into AGR fraternity

1. IRL officials pleased with results from St. Petersburg: Indy Racing League and IndyCar Series team officials were pleasantly surprised by the performance of the IndyCar Series during its race-use at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

"I think it genuinely did surprise us," said Les Mactaggart, IRL senior technical director. "You always anticipate some level of problems when you go to a completely different track configuration from the ones that you are used to. We thought we had all the ingredients we needed to make the transition as smooth as possible, but it still was a bit of surprise that it went to plan."

Mactaggart said the smooth transition is a product of the development work done over the past two years. Road-course radiators and sidepods mandated prior to the 2004 season helped eliminate any cooling issues associated with taking cars from high-speed to low-speed circuits. Suspension and braking changes were also addressed during off-season testing.

"I think there were many questions marks about these cars and how they would road race, but our team hasn't had any issues with gearboxes or brakes, which is what everyone was worried about," said Scott Roembke, the chief operating officer for Rahal Letterman Racing. "The motors performed as you'd expect from Honda and so did the Panoz. We were totally pleased with the road race cars."

But despite the success of the package's first race performance, Mactaggart said the development of the package in on-going.

"We did have one mechanical failure, but in motor racing you expect some level of that," Mactaggart said. "Regardless of series, you want to make the parts as reliable as possible, but you also want to make it as light as possible. Until you get that aspect right, you expect mechanical issues. There are a many number of things that cause the failure to occur. So for the very few we faced, we were pleasantly surprised."

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2. Andretti welcomed into AGR fraternity: Not even an Andretti Green Racing sweep of the top four spots in the IndyCar Series Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg could take the limelight away from Menards Infiniti Pro Series driver Marco Andretti, winner of the Menards Infiniti Pro Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg earlier in the day on April 3.

The four AGR drivers had plenty to say about the 18-year-old son of team co-owner Michael Andretti during the post-race press conference.

"Well, I think certainly I felt some pressure going into the day after Michael's son Marco won the Infiniti Pro Series race," said IndyCar Series winner Dan Wheldon during his opening statement. "I know maybe in the not too distant future I'm going to be fighting for my seat with him, so I had to make sure I put on a good performance."

The veteran drivers on the team were impressed with the mettle shown by a high school senior who was driving in his first series race. Andretti suffered through the death of his best friend over the weekend, had a continual spotlight of media and fan attention shining on him and had the pressure to perform in front of his grandfather, 1969 Indianapolis 500 winner Mario Andretti, as well as his father.

"I think Marco did a pretty tremendous job this morning," said Dario Franchitti, driver of the No. 27 ArcaEx machine, who finished third. "He was under a lot of pressure, first of all, because his second name is Andretti. It's his first race in the series. We're all there. The crowd are all expecting a lot. His grandfather is there. His dad is there. Everybody's watching him.

"And then this tragedy that happened yesterday, with his best friend, can one guy be put under any more pressure or strain? He goes out there today, takes a lead, makes a mistake, comes back to second, does a great job. He kind of set the standard, put us under a bit of pressure. I think he's now the fifth member of the team."

Reigning IndyCar Series champion Tony Kanaan, the ringleader of the fun-loving teammates, welcomed Andretti into the AGR fraternity.

"What's going to happen is the guy that qualifies the worst out of the four of us (Franchitti, Kanaan, Wheldon and Bryan Herta), Marco will jump in one of the cars, and we will jump in the IPS car. We'll go like that."

Andretti's opportunity to keep the pressure on his new teammates is expected to come in June when he competes with the Menards Infiniti Pro Series on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

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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.

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Michael Andretti , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Dan Wheldon , Mario Andretti , Marco Andretti