IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2006-06-01

Today's IRL headlines 1. Honda passes "500" test 2. A Golden Moment: Indy Pro Series readies for 50th race 3. SunTrust, XM Satellite Radio to sponsor Richmond event 4. Of note 1. Honda passes "500" test: Just before the start of the year, ...

Today's IRL headlines
1. Honda passes "500" test
2. A Golden Moment: Indy Pro Series readies for 50th race
3. SunTrust, XM Satellite Radio to sponsor Richmond event
4. Of note

1. Honda passes "500" test: Just before the start of the year, Honda committed to being the sole engine supplier to the IndyCar Series and supplying the entire 33-car field at the Indianapolis 500. Six months later, Honda passed its biggest test with flying colors.

The 33 Honda-powered cars turned 5,035 race laps or 12,587.5 miles during the Indianapolis 500 without experiencing any issues.

"We believe this is the first time the Indianapolis 500 has been run without a single engine problem," said Robert Clarke, president of Honda Performance Development. "It's an amazing accomplishment for everyone at Honda Performance Development and our technical partner at Ilmor. I'm both extremely proud of the result and grateful for the incredible effort put forth by all of our associates leading up to the race."

2. A Golden Moment: Indy Pro Series readies for 50th race: "I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore."

Dorothy's words to Toto can be echoed by anyone who has followed the Indy Pro Series since its inception in 2002.

Nearly four years ago, 12 cars lined up on the 1.5-mile oval at Kansas Speedway for the first Indy Pro Series race. A.J. Foyt IV won the inaugural race, the first of five wins in seven races as he went on to become the first series champion.

Forty-nine races later, the Indy Pro Series heads to Watkins Glen International for a golden moment in its history -- the 50th race.

"The series is seeing the type of growth we've always expected," said Roger Bailey, who has been the series' executive director since day one. "Twenty years ago when I ran Indy Lights, it took us a good five years to create a sustainable series. We're at that point now with the Indy Pro Series."

The series has witnessed growth in large part to numerous enhancements. The biggest boost was a tripling in prize money for 2006 to $3 million. The series had 19 cars on the grid May 26 for the Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

"It's not just the number of cars," Bailey said, "but it's the quality of the teams, the quality of the drivers in the series right now. The talent level has increased in all aspects."

Indy Pro Series team owner Brian Stewart, who captured two championships in 14 seasons of Indy Lights competition, agrees with Bailey's assessment.

"I think it's a great series," said Stewart, whose first Indy Pro Series championship came last year with driver Wade Cunningham. "I just see it growing and growing. You know, people are phoning about it now. The first couple of years, nobody would phone you, and you weren't sure if it was the place to be. But now the phone rings off the wall with young drivers that want to go on."

Helping drivers and teams move on is the goal of the series. To date, 10 Indy Pro Series drivers have moved up to make at least one IndyCar Series start -- an average of 2.5 per season.

Other notable facts from the first 49 races in Indy Pro Series history:

70 -- Drivers who have started an Indy Pro Series race

27 - Drivers who have led at least one lap

18 -- Race winners

7 -- Career wins by Mark Taylor and Jeff Simmons, most in series history

10 -- Drivers who have moved up to the IndyCar Series (Marco Andretti, Ed Carpenter, P.J. Chesson, Paul Dana, A.J. Foyt IV, Arie Luyendyk Jr., Thiago Medeiros, Marty Roth, Jeff Simmons, Mark Taylor)

6 -- Indy Pro Series graduates in last weekend's Indianapolis 500

24 -- Races with a margin of victory of less than one second

.0170 -- Closest margin of victory (Mark Taylor-Ed Carpenter, Chicagoland 2003)

6 -- Races on road courses

3,160 -- Laps completed

18 years, 22 days -- Youngest race winner (Marco Andretti, St. Petersburg 2005)

34 years, 291 days -- Oldest race winner (Jon Herb, Phoenix 2005)

3. SunTrust, XM Satellite Radio to sponsor Richmond event: For the sixth consecutive year, SunTrust Banks, Inc. will serve as the primary sponsor for the IndyCar® Series race at Richmond International Raceway.

This year, SunTrust will partner with XM Satellite Radio to showcase the SunTrust Indy Challenge Presented by XM Satellite Radio "under the lights" on June 24, as part of the fastest weekend of racing at Richmond International Raceway.

"We are pleased to have SunTrust on board for our IndyCar Series race again this year," track president Doug Fritz said. "We are proud to have such a great partner sponsor the fastest race at Richmond International Raceway. The addition of XM Satellite Radio to our IndyCar (Series) race helps us as track promoters and SunTrust as our title sponsor to reach an even wider audience."

"SunTrust prides itself on supporting the communities we serve through the sponsorship of entertainment, educational and cultural events," said Michael Newbrand, Director of Marketing for SunTrust Mid-Atlantic. "We are looking forward to another thrilling weekend."

"XM is committed to broadcasting exciting racing action to our millions of subscribers across the country," said George Perry, Director of Partnership Marketing for XM Satellite Radio. "We are happy to be on board with SunTrust to bring the SunTrust Indy Challenge Presented by XM Satellite Radio to Richmond International Raceway."

4. Of note: Target Chip Ganassi Racing will use a special paint scheme on the No. 10 Panoz of Scott Dixon to promote Energizer e2 Lithium Batteries this weekend. Instead of the familiar red and white, Dixon's car will be black and blue. -- T.J. Patrick and Paul Hospenthal, the father and husband of IndyCar Series driver Danica Patrick, respectively, rode in the Indy Racing Experience Two-Seater at Watkins Glen. "It was awesome," Patrick said. "It's better than any ride I've been on." Danica Patrick was on-hand to debrief with her family after each ride.

***

The 2006 IRL IndyCar Series continues with the Watkins Glen Indy Grand Prix presented by Tissot at 3:30 p.m. on June 4 at Watkins Glen International. The race will be carried live by ABC Sports and the IMS Radio Network. A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPN Deportes. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio channel 145 "IndyCar Racing" and www.indycar.com. The fifth season of Indy Pro Series competition continues with the Corning 100 at 12:30 p.m. on June 4 at Watkins Glen International. The race will be telecast at 2 p.m. on June 8.

-irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Mark Taylor , Jon Herb , A.J. Foyt IV , Scott Dixon , Marty Roth , Marco Andretti , Jeff Simmons , Paul Dana , Chip Ganassi , Roger Bailey , P.J. Chesson , Wade Cunningham , Robert Clark , Danica Patrick , Ed Carpenter , Arie Luyendyk Jr.
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing