IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League news and notes 2006-02-21

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- Feb. 21, 2006 Today's IRL headlines 1. Cheever returns to drive own car in 2006 2. Indy Pro Series returns to ESPN2 3. Pappas, Harvey join Panther Racing 1. Cheever returns to drive own car in 2006: Cheever...


Today's IRL headlines
1. Cheever returns to drive own car in 2006
2. Indy Pro Series returns to ESPN2
3. Pappas, Harvey join Panther Racing

1. Cheever returns to drive own car in 2006: Cheever Racing announced today it will field an IRL IndyCar® Series entry for at least the first four races of the 2006 season, including the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500.

Team owner and 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner Eddie Cheever, Jr. will drive the car, marking his return to the IndyCar Series after a three-year hiatus. Cheever, who last drove an IndyCar Series machine in the 2002 season, made his return to competitive racing late in 2005 when he drove in a GP Masters event in South Africa and also competes in the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series.

"This shouldn't be a surprise, because I've never stopped driving. I simply took a different role in our IRL operations the last few years," Cheever said. "After our team's strong showing with the Crown Royal car at Daytona, I was excited about the prospect of driving again at Indy. With Honda as the IRL's sole engine supplier creating parity in the IndyCar Series, it only made more sense to continue our team's legacy of Indianapolis 500 competition."

One of the most recognized names and faces in motorsports, Cheever has won races all over the world in virtually all types of race cars.

Born in Arizona, Cheever moved to Italy with his parents when he was six years old. As a teenager, he became a skilled go-kart racer. He eventually progressed through various forms of European road racing to the pinnacle of motorsports - Formula One.

After 132 races in Formula One - the most by any American driver in the history of F1 - Cheever returned to the U.S. and began pursuing his dream of winning the Indianapolis 500. When the Indy Racing League debuted its new engine and chassis formula in 1997, Cheever won the very first race.

Cheever has five career IndyCar Series victories as a driver, including the Indianapolis 500. He has recorded 18 top-five and 35 top-10 finishes in 70 starts.

In 2006, Cheever Racing will compete its 10th IndyCar Series season, the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve and the Indy Pro Series.

2. Indy Pro Series returns to ESPN2: Same-day coverage of the Freedom 100 from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway highlights ESPN2's coverage of the Indy Pro Series in 2006.

ESPN2, which reaches more than 88 million homes in the United States, has televised Indy Pro Series races since the series' inception in 2002.

"The Freedom 100 at Indianapolis continues to be our marquee event," said Roger Bailey, executive director of the Indy Pro Series. "We're thrilled to have the race shown in its entirety alongside the other activities on Carb Day."

In addition to the race, the Carb Day telecast on the Friday before the Indianapolis 500 will include coverage of the final IndyCar Series practice and the Pit Stop Competition. The telecast begins at 3 p.m. (EDT) on May 26.

The five other oval races on the Indy Pro Series schedule will be televised on a tape-delayed basis and packaged into 30-minute programs. The six road-course races will be featured in one-hour shows, including the doubleheader races at St. Petersburg and Infineon.

All of the race telecasts are scheduled for Thursday and Friday afternoons.

The Indy Pro Series is the premier ladder series for drivers, teams and sponsors striving to compete in the IndyCar® Series and the Indianapolis 500. The 12-race schedule in 2006 features six races on ovals and six races on road courses, including competing on both circuits at the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Teams compete for $3 million in prize money in cars that generate 420 horsepower and speeds in excess of 190 mph. The 2006 season opens March 26 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

3. Pappas, Harvey join Panther Racing: Panther Racing has bolstered its engineering staff by adding veteran race engineers Bill Pappas and Brent "Woody" Harvey.

Pappas, who served as a race engineer at Target Chip Ganassi Racing for more than six seasons, will serve as the race engineer for Vitor Meira's Honda-powered Dallara, while Harvey, who worked with driver Chris Festa at Sam Schmidt Motorsports in 2005, will be an assistant engineer.

It is Harvey's second stint at Panther Racing. He served as Mark Taylor's engineer during Taylor's Indy Pro Series championship season in 2003.


The IRL IndyCar Series opens the 2006 season with the Toyota Indy 300 at 3:30 p.m. (EST) 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 with the Miami 100 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be telecast at 1 p.m. on March 31 by ESPN2.

The complete 2006 television schedule is below: <pre> Race Date(s) Telecast Date & Time (ET) Race Venue March 26 March 31 at 1 p.m. Homestead-Miami April 1 & 2 April 7 at 4 p.m. St. Petersburg, Fla. May 26 May 26 at 3 p.m. Indianapolis (oval) June 4 June 8 at 2 p.m. Watkins Glen July 1 July 6 at 2 p.m. Indianapolis (road course) July 15 July 20 at 2 p.m. Nashville July 22 July 27 at 2 p.m. Milwaukee Aug. 13 Aug. 17 at Noon Kentucky Aug. 26 & 27 Aug. 31 at 2 p.m. Infineon Sept. 9 Sept. 14 at 2 p.m. Chicagoland


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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Eddie Cheever , Sam Schmidt , Chip Ganassi , Roger Bailey , Chris Festa , Vitor Meira
Teams Panther Racing , Chip Ganassi Racing