IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2006-01-12

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- Jan. 12, 2006 Today's IRL headlines 1. IRL amends IndyCar Series testing policy 2. Andretti To Test At Sebring 3. Drivers get physical in Indianapolis 4. Dodge relocates to Indianapolis 1. IRL amends...

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- Jan. 12, 2006

Today's IRL headlines
1. IRL amends IndyCar Series testing policy
2. Andretti To Test At Sebring
3. Drivers get physical in Indianapolis
4. Dodge relocates to Indianapolis

1. IRL amends IndyCar Series testing policy: The Indy Racing League has amended its previously announced testing policy for the 2006 IRL IndyCar® Series season.

The three testing days set aside for team testing have been replaced by three one-day Open Tests. The tests will take place at: the road course at Homestead-Miami Speedway on March 28, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval on April 5 and Kansas Speedway on June 12.

The only team tests allowed under the new policy will be rookie or refresher tests deemed necessary by IRL officials.

"We have revised our testing policy from earlier in the off-season based on the commitment from Honda to serve as the league's single-engine supplier," said Brian Barnhart, president and chief operating officer of the Indy Racing League. "This testing format brings more efficiency to the teams, Honda and the league as we ready ourselves for the 2006 season, the league's first featuring its compacted schedule."

The previously announced tests at Phoenix International Raceway (Jan. 24-25), Homestead-Miami Speedway (March 2-5) and Richmond International Raceway (June 22) are not affected.

Teams can still earn bonus testing days by participating in both the IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series.

2. Andretti To Test At Sebring: 2006 Bombardier Rookie of the Year candidate Marco Andretti will test an IndyCar Series car on Jan. 15 and 16 at Sebring International Raceway.

Andretti, the third-generation driver from one of racing's most-storied families, will drive his Honda-powered Dallara as part of the IndyCar Series' rookie test under the supervision of IndyCar Series technical manager Kevin Blanch.

"We'll evaluate how he drives the car, his ability to understand what the car is telling him," Blanch said. "He'll have to do pit stops. He will have to demonstrate everything that we normally do in a rookie test."

The test will be Andretti's first official test of an IndyCar Series machine. He got his first taste of driving an IndyCar Series car in an unofficial test at Michigan International Speedway last August.

3. Drivers get physical in Indianapolis: For most, getting an annual physical consists of a cold stethoscope on our chest, the tightening grip of the sphygmomanometer as our blood pressure is measured and, ahem, "turn your head and cough."

When your occupation involves driving a race car 220 mph within inches of other race cars around a track for two or more hours, the examination gets a little more extensive.

The list of tests, therefore, expands from simply vital signs, a head-to-toe physical and blood screenings to include vision tests, electrocardiograms and a neuropsychological test.

Fifty potential Indy Racing League drivers visited Indianapolis Jan. 9-11 to undergo a battery of medical tests to certify their fitness for competing in the IndyCar® Series or Indy Pro Series^Ù in 2006. They also participated in a two-hour safety meeting at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

"We try to establish a baseline," said Dr. Henry Bock, senior director of medical services for the Indy Racing League. "What is this person like when they are normal? If they are involved in a crash, we can see the anomalies.

"We pay special attention to the eyes and their vision. We want to make sure they have good visual acuity, that they can see well to the side, that they have coordinated eye movement. Their vision is so important to them."

A team of seven doctors, including an optometrist, and eight nurses, conducted the evaluations. The hearing test included making a customized ear mold for each driver. During on-track activities, the ear mold will contain accelerometers to measure forces experienced during an impact.

The medical staff used neuropsychological software from ImPACT, which also is used by 18 National Football League teams and hundreds of universities and high schools among other organizations, to document multiple aspects of neurocognitive functioning.

The computerized test measured attention span, reaction time, visual memory, working memory, response variability, verbal memory, sustained attention, selective attention and non-verbal problem solving.

"The Indy Racing League exam is absolutely the most thorough exam I've ever been through," said driver Chris Festa, who underwent the testing for the second time in his career. "It's a lot more extensive, which is good. They have their own information on us, and they know our tendencies. If we ever have to visit them at the racetrack, it will make them more effective in treating us and will make for a better recovery."

4. Dodge relocates to Indianapolis: Geoff Dodge, the Knoxville Nationals "Fast Track to Indy" Rookie of the Year who will compete in at least six Indy Pro Series races for Brian Stewart Racing in 2006, moved into a home a block away from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Jan. 7. Dodge, a Colorado Springs, Colo., native was the highest-finishing rookie at the 45th annual Knoxville Nationals last August, earning him the opportunity to compete in the Indy Pro Series in 2006.

"It made sense to come to Indianapolis to be closer to the teams and the league office," Dodge said. "There's also a lot more sprint car racing around here, so I may be able to pick up a ride for when I'm not in the Pro Series car."

The first order of business for Dodge in his new city involved passing the Indy Racing League annual physical exam on Jan. 10.

Dodge, who passed his Indy Pro Series rookie test Sept. 12 at Chicagoland Speedway, will get his next opportunity in the race car March 4 and 6 during an Open Test at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The 12-race Indy Pro Series season begins March 26 at the 1.5-mile, high-banked facility.

***

The IRL IndyCar Series opens the 2006 season with the Toyota Indy 300 on March 26 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be broadcast live on ABC Sports and the IMS Radio Network. The fifth season of Indy Pro Series competition also opens on March 26 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Marco Andretti , Chris Festa , Geoff Dodge , Brian Barnhart