INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- Feb. 1, 2006 Today's IRL headlines 1. IndyCar Series paddock turns attention to Super Bowl XL 2. A Conversation With-- Paul Dana 3. Wheldon finalist for Driver of the Year 1. IndyCar Series paddock turns ...
INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- Feb. 1, 2006
Today's IRL headlines
1. IndyCar Series paddock turns attention to Super Bowl XL
2. A Conversation With-- Paul Dana
3. Wheldon finalist for Driver of the Year
1. IndyCar Series paddock turns attention to Super Bowl XL: An Indianapolis native, Marlboro Team Penske president Tim Cindric was rooting for the Indianapolis Colts to advance to their first Super Bowl since the franchise packed its bags in Baltimore 20-plus years ago and settled in the "Crossroads of America."
Of course, the Peyton Manning-led team came up two victories short. But Cindric and the team's IndyCar Series drivers, Sam Hornish Jr. and Helio Castroneves, will attend the game Feb. 5 in Detroit nonetheless -- courtesy of Roger Penske. The team owner is chairman of the Super Bowl XL Host Committee.
Cindric will have a rooting interest.
"Really, from our perspective, we're pulling for Roger," Cindric said. "I think the time and effort he's spent over the last three or four years on this process, it's more than I think even he imagined. To do it his way, and to do it the right way, I think the city of Detroit and everybody will be pretty proud of what they put on.
"It's going to be a good time. I know we're looking forward to it."
Others in the IndyCar Series paddock have their allegiances. Andretti Green Racing crew members Dave Sharpley, a native of western Pennsylvania, and Mike Horvath, a native of Seattle, made a friendly wager on the game. Bombardier Rookie of the Year candidate Marco Andretti, a native Pennsylvanian, also has a team to follow.
"I was a Colts fan until they lost, but now, of course, I've got to go back to the home town," he said. "Dad's definitely a diehard Steelers fan, so he's happy."
Said Michael Andretti: "The Steelers have been my team since I was this big (a little kid), so I'm excited about it."
Buddy Rice, the 2004 Indianapolis 500 champion, said he is a longtime Steelers fan.
"It would be nice to see them win," he said. "On the other hand, part of me is pulling for Seattle since it's their first time there. It should be a good game."
2. A Conversation With-- Paul Dana: (Note: Part of a series of several off-season conversations with Indy Racing League personalities)
Paul Dana gets a second chance to make a grand opening in 2006. Dana, who will drive the No. 17 Team Ethanol Panoz/Honda/Firestone for Rahal Letterman Racing this season, saw his promising rookie season end with an injury sustained in a crash at Indianapolis. He recently talked about his return to the cockpit and his "big break" with one of the IndyCar Series' top teams.
Q. You got back behind the wheel of an IndyCar Series machine at Phoenix. Did the test go well for you?
PAUL DANA: It did. I hadn't been in an Indy Car since my crash at Indy last May. As a team we took it slow and built up the laps. To log more than 300 miles of testing in my first test back in the car is a significant milestone.
Q. You've joined a new team for 2006, Rahal Letterman Racing. Is your head still spinning from the announcement made prior to the test?
PAUL DANA: It has been a whirlwind couple of weeks helping finalize everything with Team Ethanol's deal with Rahal Letterman Racing. I've dreamed about an opportunity like this all of my life, and now that the preseason testing is underway, there is a lot of work to be done.
Q. Where does signing with Rahal rank in your racing moments as far as the big break or whatever?
PAUL DANA: Easily it's the top. To be able to learn from a guy like Bobby (Rahal) who has done it all in the car and done it all as an owner outside of the car. Everywhere you turn there, you're surrounded by people who are absolutely some of the best in the business. You're not worried about whether the bolts are tight and whether the setup is right. I just have to drive. You spend your whole career trying to create that environment where all you have to do is push the pedals and then focus on the process, and the results tend to take care of themselves.
Q. What kind of pressure does driving for a top-level team bring?
PAUL DANA: I don't think it's any different. You don't do this at this level unless you expect to win. That's always your standard. You just want to be surrounded by people who have the same attitude and the ability to do it. The standard doesn't change at all. The tools with which to accomplish it have changed. That's what we all want.
3. Wheldon finalist for Driver of the Year: Defending IndyCar Series champion Dan Wheldon is one of six finalists for the SPEED Channel Driver of the Year Award.
Wheldon, who became the first driver in more than a decade to win the Indianapolis 500 and series championship, won a record six IndyCar Series events in 2005, including four of the first five races of the season. He recorded 12 top-five and 15 top-10 finishes in 17 starts and led 752 laps.
In addition to Wheldon, other drivers nominated include: Greg Anderson (NHRA) Sebastien Bourdais (Champ Car), Steve Kinser (World of Outlaws), Tony Schumacher (NHRA) and Tony Stewart (NASCAR).
The winner will be announced exclusively on Speed Channel on Feb 15.
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 IMS Radio Network broadcast is also carried on XM Satellite Radio channel 152, "XM Extreme" and www.indycar.com. The fifth season of Indy Pro Series competition also opens on March 26 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.