IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2005-08-10

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- Aug. 10, 2005 Today's IRL headlines 1. Enge cleared to race at Kentucky 2. Questions to be answered at Kentucky Speedway 3. Barron takes checkered flag in remote control car event against Bay Area teens 1.


Today's IRL headlines
1. Enge cleared to race at Kentucky
2. Questions to be answered at Kentucky Speedway
3. Barron takes checkered flag in remote control car event against Bay Area teens

1. Enge cleared to race at Kentucky: Bombardier Rookie of the Year candidate Tomas Enge will return to the No. 2 ROCKSTAR Panther Racing Chevrolet-powered Dallara after missing the last two IRL IndyCar® Series events due to injury.

Enge, who suffered fractures to his T-12 and L-1 vertebra during an accident at Nashville Superspeedway on July 16, was cleared to compete in the AMBER Alert Portal Indy 300 this weekend at Kentucky Speedway by the Indy Racing League medical staff on Aug. 9.

"Well, obviously this is a big relief for me," Enge said. "I have been dying to get back into my ROCKSTAR Chevy for three weeks now. My crew guys have worked so hard this year, and it's time we get them a great result. The IRL medical staff is clearly one of the best in all of motorsports, and they've taken good care of me this season. But, quite honestly, I hope I don't have to see those guys again for a long time."


2. Questions to be answered at Kentucky Speedway: Will it be a record-setting weekend for the Menards Infiniti Pro Series at Kentucky Speedway?

Will a record sixth different driver win, or will someone become the season's first three-time winner? Will points leader Wade Cunningham post his first race victory as he extends his record number of consecutive top-five finishes to nine? Will Marco Andretti, winner of the two road/street events, win in his second-ever oval start?

Those questions and more will be answered Aug. 13 in the 67-lap, 100-mile sprint known as the Bluegrass 100 on the 1.5-mile tri-oval in Sparta, Ky.

A record-tying number of drivers -- five -- have won races this season. Andretti, the 18-year-old grandson of Mario Andretti and son of Michael Andretti, has won twice.

"I'm looking forward to the Kentucky race," said Andretti, who will drive the No. 26 Vonage entry. "Our test down there last week went pretty good. It's pretty bumpy so it took me awhile to go 'flat,' but I got there eventually. I'm just looking forward to running a Pro Series race again and getting another shot on an oval. It'll be something new, which is always pretty exciting."

Sam Schmidt Motorsports teammates Jaime Camara and Travis Gregg are also two-time winners in 2005. Gregg, a Camden, Ohio native, was the pole sitter at Kentucky in 2004 in his series debut.

"Kentucky is a really special track for me," said Gregg, who has recorded victories on the 1.5-mile ovals at Homestead-Miami Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway. "The track is a short drive from Camden. Next to Lawrenceburg (Speedway in Ind.), I'd say Kentucky is my home track. Last year, in my first Menards Infiniti Pro Series race, I won the pole, led 57 laps and finished in the top five.

"Hopefully I can use Kentucky to give me some good luck, which I've needed lately, and some really great, close racing like it was at Texas."

Single-race winners include Jon Herb and 2003 Kentucky champion Jeff Simmons. Simmons' victory came in the last series race July 25 at Milwaukee.

"It feels fantastic to get that first win for Kenn Hardley and everyone that has worked so hard at Team ISI," said Simmons, whose 2003 victory at Kentucky followed a win at Gateway International Raceway. "It was a long time coming, so long that I could hardly remember where victory circle was.

"I have won at Kentucky before, but we have struggled on all of the one-and-a-half mile and larger tracks. Hopefully we can change that this weekend. If we can find a way to be competitive on the big, flat-out tracks, we can still make a run at the championship."

But a number of drivers, including Cunningham, will be looking for their first victories of the season.

"I expect we will be in good shape at Kentucky," said Cunningham, who holds a 36-point lead in the standings on the strength of top-five finishes in all eight races. "We have tested there this season, and the team and I are always looking to improve our performances, so we would be very disappointed not to finish at the front."

Other drivers gunning for their first win include Nick Bussell, a 22-year-old from Ionia, Mich., who has six top-five finishes, including two thirds; and Jay Drake, the 2004 USAC National Sprint Car champion, who has two thirds and four top-fives.

As the Menards Infiniti Pro Series race cars speed towards the checkered flag at 190 mph, one thing seems certain. The winner who steps forward as the answer to the many questions will be just thousandths of a second ahead of his competitors. The widest margin of victory at Kentucky Speedway has been 0.1119 of a second.


3. Barron takes checkered flag in remote control car event against Bay Area teens: The speeds were much slower and competition much younger for IndyCar Series driver Alex Barron on Aug. 9 at Jack London Square in Oakland, Calif.

Barron, who drives the No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Toyota-powered Dallara, competed against two Sonoma Valley teenagers in a remote control car racing event in advance of the Argent Mortgage Indy Grand Prix at Infineon Raceway, Aug. 26-28.

Barron, who often dabbles in remote control car racing, started off slowly, losing the first three-lap race on a makeshift road course designed by Tom Dyer, an instructor at the Jim Russell Racing School. Barron roared back, though, taking the final two races, and bragging rights.

"It was pretty neat to race against an IRL driver," said Chris Vega, a 15-year-old sophomore at Sonoma Valley High School. "I really didn't know what to expect but we had fun."

Barron, a California native who is currently 12th in the standings, had fun with the event.

"The kids were great," said Barron, who has three top-10 finishes this year. "I got off to a slow start, but I figured this thing out and finished pretty strong. I hope I can do the same when we come back out here and race later this month."

The event was also held as a promotion for the first IRL Grand Marshal's Banquet, which will take place on Aug. 26 at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn. The banquet, which will honor grand marshal Al Unser, is a benefit for the El Nido Teen Center in Sonoma through Speedway Children's Charities, the charitable arm of Infineon Raceway. Both Vega and Barron's other competitor, 14-year-old Jordan Rose, are members of the teen center.

"It was pretty fun to beat Alex," Rose said. "I had fun today and we're really appreciative that the funds from the banquet are going to help our teen center."


The 10th season of IndyCar Series competition continues with the AMBER Alert Portal Indy 300 Presented by GPS Industries at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) on Aug. 14 at Kentucky Speedway. The race will be broadcast by ABC and the IMS Radio Network. The race broadcast will also be carried on XM Satellite Radio channel 152 (XM Extreme). The next Menards Infiniti Pro Series race is the Bluegrass 100 on Aug. 13 at Kentucky Speedway. The race will be telecast on ESPN2 at 5 p.m. (EDT) on Aug. 18. The season finale of "The Fast Life" airs at noon (EDT) on Aug. 14 on ESPN2.


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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Tomas Enge , Jon Herb , Michael Andretti , Alex Barron , Sam Schmidt , Mario Andretti , Al Unser Sr. , Marco Andretti , Jeff Simmons , Jay Drake , Nick Bussell , Travis Gregg , Wade Cunningham , Jaime Camara , Tom Dyer
Teams Panther Racing