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IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2005-06-16

IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2005-06-16
Jun 17, 2005, 11:54 PM

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- June 16, 2005 Today's IRL headlines 1. Second season of "The Fast Life" debuts Sunday on ESPN2 2. Rutherford, Indy-winning Chaparral to visit England 3. Andretti looking forward to second chance at ...


Today's IRL headlines
1. Second season of "The Fast Life" debuts Sunday on ESPN2
2. Rutherford, Indy-winning Chaparral to visit England
3. Andretti looking forward to second chance at Indianapolis
4. Skip Barber Racing to Sponsor Kenn Hardley Racing Car No. 24

1. Second season of "The Fast Life" debuts Sunday on ESPN2: "The Fast Life," ESPN2's series about the IRL IndyCar® Series, returns for its second season beginning this weekend.

The season premiere, which focuses on Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon, will be telecast at Noon (EDT) on June 19. Additional programs of the eight-week series will be telecast by ESPN2 at noon on Sundays throughout the summer.

Hosted by ESPN pit announcer Jamie Little, "The Fast Life" is designed to give the viewer a behind-the-scenes look at the IndyCar Series and its drivers. Each episode will give an all-access peek into the life of a different IndyCar Series driver.

Featured segments this season will include: * A sampling of Bryan Herta and Roger Yasukawa's Southern California lifestyle. * Sam Hornish Jr.'s car-restoration projects in his hometown of Defiance, Ohio. * Alex Barron's ride in the Red Bull stunt plane.

Each show will also include race previews and reviews and "Kevin Blanch's Tech Tip" using the same Target cut-away car used during the IndyCar Series broadcast. Blanch, the IndyCar Series technical manager, will explain the important parts of the car which pertain to each race.

In addition, the shows will count down the top eight moments in IndyCar Series history as voted on by the fans on

"The Fast Life" is produced by IMS Productions and includes an exclusive soundtrack provided by the band Queens of the Stone Age.


2. Rutherford, Indy-winning Chaparral to visit England: Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Johnny Rutherford is usually found behind the wheel of the Chevrolet SSR during IRL IndyCar® Series events, but someone else will handle the duties during the SunTrust Indy Challenge at Richmond International Raceway.

Rutherford has been invited to participate in the annual Goodwood Festival of Speed in England on June 24-26. He will drive the same Pennzoil Chaparral 2K that carried him to his Indianapolis 500 win in 1980.

"They're celebrating the 25th anniversary of my (third Indianapolis 500) victory at Goodwood. Can you believe it's been 25 years? Anyways, the Speedway sent the Chaparral over there, and I'm going to get to run it once again."

Rutherford's Indianapolis 500-winning car is one of only two Chaparral chassis still in existence. The other is in a museum in Midland, Texas, hometown of legendary designer Jim Hall, who designed the car. Rutherford said it will be the first time he's driven the winning car in five years.

"I drove it at the Speedway on the 20th Anniversary, and it still fit," Rutherford said. "Everything felt the same as it did the day I got out of it."


3. Andretti looking forward to second chance at Indianapolis: The eyes of the world will be upon Marco Andretti this weekend when he competes in the Liberty Challenge at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The Liberty Challenge, the sixth race on the Indy Racing League Menards Infiniti Pro Series^Ù schedule, will take place June 18 in front of a large international gathering in Indianapolis for the Formula One United States Grand Prix.

Andretti's name will leap to the forefront for two reasons -- his grandfather, Mario, was the Formula One World Champion in 1978, and his father, Michael, was the last American to compete in Formula One in 1993.

The 18-year-old Andretti will be making just his third start in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series, but is already considered a serious contender for a trip to Victory Circle. Andretti debuted in the series at St. Petersburg, the first street course in series history. He qualified on the pole and led 22 of 40 laps en route to the checkered flag.

"Getting the opportunity to run at Indy twice in a month is pretty unbelievable," Andretti said. "I don't think any of us really expected St. Pete to go as well as it did for us, but it did, so I'm glad we're going to get a chance to get back out there this year and try to do it again. It's really good to be back here, especially when you know you've got a great car for Saturday."

Andretti, who captured Skip Barber and Formula TR 1600 Pro Series titles in 2004, will drive the No. 26 Vonage Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone for the Andretti Green Racing team co-owned by his father. Andretti was third quick in an Open Test on the 2.605-mile road course in March.

"I love this track because you get the feel for an oval, except you're turning right. You're hauling the mail into (Turn) 1 here, and basically it's all about mechanical grip for the infield and trying to trim out as much as you can for the banking."

Beyond Indianapolis, the sky is the limit for the young Andretti. He will continue to compete in the Star Mazda Series, where he is a regular, and he will compete in three additional Menards Infiniti Pro Series races: the 1-mile oval at Milwaukee and the road courses at Infineon Raceway and Watkins Glen International. Gaining the oval experience is critical to his future.

"I'm a road racer by blood, that's what I grew up doing, but I'm a race car driver, so I want to be able to adapt to everything," he said. "I've only raced one oval, here at Indy, and did a test on a short track at Pikes Peak, so I don't really have enough experience."

How quickly he adapts to those ovals will determine where he goes in 2006.

"There's a plan, but it's just the timing of the plan that we're going to have to wait and see," said Michael Andretti, whose team won the 2004 IRL IndyCar® Series championship and the 2005 Indianapolis 500. "I believe that if he continues doing what he's doing this year, he's impressed me a lot, just a little more experience on the ovals, which I think is lacking, then I think there is a possibility for us to do something (in the IndyCar Series in 2005). We're evaluating it. Obviously sponsorship will be part of it. There's a good possibility he could be in the big cars next year, and if not next year, for sure the year after."


4. Skip Barber Racing to Sponsor Kenn Hardley Racing Car No. 24: Skip Barber Racing, the world's largest racing and driving school, has signed with Kenn Hardley Racing for the remainder of the year as an associate sponsor of the No. 24 Menards Infiniti Pro Series car driven by Jeff Simmons. Simmons is the only two-time champion of the Barber Dodge Pro Series championship, winning in 1998 and 1999.

"Jeff is, and has always been an exemplar of our racing ethos: Extremely competitive, very fast, a stand-out professional," said Rick Roso, motorsports marketing manager for Skip Barber Racing. "We look forward to seeing Jeff race to the front in the Kenn Hardley Racing/ISI entry."

Simmons claimed one pole position at Pikes Peak International Raceway and finished second at Chicagoland Speedway in four races driving for Kenn Hardley Racing in 2004. This year the team has been plagued with its share of bad luck by being taken out at Phoenix and St. Petersburg on the first lap.

"I can't tell you how frustrating it is to be running up front and be knocked out before you get one lap in under green," said team owner Kenn Hardley. "But the team is confident that they can turn the season around, and Jeff certainly has the ability to bring it home up front."

Simmons was the quickest driver March 24 in an Open Test on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, site of the next Menards Infiniti Pro Series event.

Skip Barber Racing operates schools at more than 25 racetracks across North America. To learn more about Skip Barber Racing and its racing school and race series (six different championships), log on to

*** The 10th season of IndyCar Series competition continues with the SunTrust Indy Challenge on June 25 at Richmond International Raceway. The race will be telecast by ESPN2 at 7:30 p.m. (EDT) and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network. The race also will be available on XM Satellite Radio channel 152 "XM Extreme." The next Menards Infiniti Pro Series race is the Liberty Challenge on June 18 at the 2.605-mile road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It will be telecast at 5 p.m. (EDT) June 21 by ESPN2.


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