IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2005-07-13

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- July 13, 2005 Today's IRL headlines 1. Menards Infiniti Pro Series points battle moves to Nashville's concrete oval 2. Kanaan to co-host Wind Tunnel 3. MAXIM, IndyCar Series team for promotion 4. Kanaan,...


Today's IRL headlines
1. Menards Infiniti Pro Series points battle moves to Nashville's concrete oval
2. Kanaan to co-host Wind Tunnel
3. MAXIM, IndyCar Series team for promotion
4. Kanaan, Sharp and Foyt IV highlighted on "The Fast Life"

1. Menards Infiniti Pro Series points battle moves to Nashville's concrete oval: The heated battle for the Menards Infiniti Pro Series^Ù title moves to Nashville Superspeedway July 16 for round seven of the 14-race championship.

New Zealand native Wade Cunningham and Camden, Ohio, native Travis Gregg have traded the series points lead in each of the last three races. Cunningham leads Gregg by 10 points with four other drivers within 57 points of the lead.

While all 10 of the series' oval races are 100-mile sprints, the Cleanevent 100 on the 1.33-mile Nashville Superspeedway poses a unique challenge to teams and drivers because it is the only concrete surface on the circuit.

"Being a concrete oval, it has some bumps and a slightly different grip level than the asphalt tracks," said Gregg, who has qualified on the front row in all seven of his career races on ovals. "Car setup is going to be key."

Many of the teams competing in the Cleanevent 100 have tested at the facility recently.

"We were really, really quick at Nashville when we tested there," said Cunningham, who has finished second in four consecutive races. "We went there with a really good setup. The team did a reasonable job there last year. We went there and improved it some more. I was really happy with how the day ended up, and we've got a little bit more coming."

Cunningham secured the points lead for the first time after the Futaba Freedom 100 on the oval at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May. Gregg regained the lead with a win from the pole in the Firestone 100 at Texas Motor Speedway, but relinquished the lead one week later in the Liberty Challenge on the road course at Indianapolis.

Cunningham, who drives the No. 33 entry for Brian Stewart Racing, must hold off Gregg, Jaime Camara and Chris Festa, who all drive for Sam Schmidt Motorsports. The Sam Schmidt team won the Cleanevent 100 in 2004 when driver Thiago Medeiros led every lap.

"I'm ready to fight to regain the points lead," said Gregg. "I was able to get a couple hours of track time a few weeks ago to familiarize myself with the track. I'm really looking forward to it."

Camara, a 24-year-old Brazilian, is third in points. He's 36 points behind Gregg, but only three points ahead of Festa.

"The race at Nashville Superspeedway should be very good," said Camara, who earned the win in the Futaba Freedom 100. "Last year, Sam Schmidt's car dominated the race, and I think everyone at the team is really excited to get back to the track. I'm hoping the weekend will be very successful for me and for the race team."

Festa, driver of the No. 19 SpacePak/CareCentric/SSM entry, is looking to earn the first victory of his career at his "home" track. The Atlanta native is fourth in points on the strength of three podium finishes in the first six races.

"Sam (Schmidt) has had a lot of success racing at Nashville, so I know I'll have a great car − that means I'll be able to focus on racing the track and working on the best line around the track," Festa said.

Also in the thick of the points battle are Jon Herb and Nick Bussell, who rank fifth and sixth, respectively. Herb, who drives the No. 6 AERCON entry for Racing Professionals, is within 10 points of Camara for third and is just one point ahead of Bussell. Herb won the Phoenix 100 in February.

Bussell, a 22-year-old rookie from Ionia, Mich., has turned in four top-five finishes. He is the only driver among the top six without the benefit of a teammate.

"The first half of the season for us has been fairly good," Bussell said. "So far we've pretty much challenged a little bit at every type of racetrack we've run on. I think that's going to help set us up for a good second half of the year."

The first half of the season ends at Nashville with the tightest points race in Menards Infiniti Pro Series history promising to carry over to the next seven races.


2. Kanaan to co-host Wind Tunnel: Reigning IRL IndyCar® Series champion Tony Kanaan will serve as guest co-host of the popular Speed Channel talk show "Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain" on July 17, one day after the Firestone Indy 200 at Nashville Superspeedway.

Kanaan, who earned his first victory in nearly a year on July 3 at Kansas Speedway, is second to his teammate Dan Wheldon in the series point standings. Going into this week's race in Nashville, Kanaan is 76 points behind Wheldon.

"Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain" airs at 9 p.m. (EDT) on Speed Channel.


3. MAXIM, IndyCar Series team for promotion: The IndyCar Series is featured as part of MAXIM Magazine's "Yours For The Taking" promotion.

The August 2005 Issue of MAXIM features the promotion, which invites readers to visit maximonline.com and register for a chance to win a VIP trip to the IndyCar Series' season-ending Toyota Indy 400 at California Speedway on Oct. 16.

The VIP experience includes hotel, airfare, spending money and the race with you and a friend escorted by 4 Maxim models.

The August issue of MAXIM is available on newsstands on July 14.


4. Kanaan, Sharp and Foyt IV highlighted on "The Fast Life": The second season of "The Fast Life," ESPN2's series about the IndyCar Series, continues this weekend.

The show, which focuses on defending IndyCar Series champion Tony Kanaan, 1996 IndyCar Series co-champion Scott Sharp and A.J. Foyt IV, will be telecast at noon (EDT) on July 17. Additional programs of the eight-week series will be telecast by ESPN2 at noon on Sundays throughout the summer.

Hosted by ESPN pit reporter 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 different IndyCar Series drivers.

Each show also includes race previews and reviews and "Kevin Blanch's Tech Tip" using the same Target cut-away car used during the IndyCar Series broadcast. In addition, the shows count down the top moments in IndyCar Series history as voted on by the fans on www.indycar.com.


The 10th season of IRL IndyCar Series competition continues with the Firestone Indy 200 at 7 p.m. (EDT) July 16 at Nashville Superspeedway. The race will be broadcast live on ESPN and 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 Cleanevent 100 on July 16 at Nashville Superspeedway. It will be telecast at 3 p.m. (EDT) July 21 by ESPN2. The next episode of "The Fast Life," ESPN2's behind-the-scenes series about the IndyCar Series, airs at noon (EDT) on July 17.

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Jon Herb , Scott Sharp , A.J. Foyt IV , Tony Kanaan , Dan Wheldon , Sam Schmidt , Nick Bussell , Chris Festa , Travis Gregg , Wade Cunningham , Jaime Camara , Jamie Little , Thiago Medeiros