IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2006-11-28

INDYCAR SERIES NEWS AND NOTES -- Nov. 28, 2006 Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines 1. IndyCar Series trio nominated for honors 2. Patrick to receive March of Dimes award 3. Indy Pro Series teams test potential drivers 4. Kanaan,...

INDYCAR SERIES NEWS AND NOTES -- Nov. 28, 2006

Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines
1. IndyCar Series trio nominated for honors
2. Patrick to receive March of Dimes award
3. Indy Pro Series teams test potential drivers
4. Kanaan, Wheldon try for Granja Viana 500 three-peat

1. IndyCar Series trio nominated for honors: Sam Hornish Jr. headlines a trio of IndyCar® Series drivers on the ballot for the 2006 Auto Racing All-America team.

Hornish, a three-time IndyCar Series champion and 2006 Indianapolis 500 winner, is joined by 2005 IndyCar Series titlist Dan Wheldon and two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Helio Castroneves as nominees in the open-wheel category. All three drivers have been previously honored as members of the team.

Others nominated in the open-wheel category are Sebastien Bourdais (Champ Car), A.J. Allmendinger (Champ Car), and Justin Wilson (Champ Car).

Balloting for the team will be conducted by the more than 300 members of the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association. The annual vote selects two nominees from each of seven categories for the first team, which is honored at the annual AARWBA banquet Jan. 13 in Indianapolis. The winner of the Jerry Titus Award also will be announced at the banquet.

The Titus Award honors the team's top driver -- the one earning the most votes in the balloting regardless of category. The last two IndyCar Series champions -- Tony Kanaan (2004) and Wheldon -- also won the Titus Award.

2. Patrick to receive March of Dimes award: One of the IndyCar Series' brightest young driving talents, Danica Patrick has blossomed into one of the country's brightest sports stars.

On Nov. 29, Patrick will receive the Sportswoman of the Year award from the March of Dimes (New York State Chapter) at its 23rd annual luncheon at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York. Noted journalist Frank Deford will introduce Patrick.

The Sports Luncheon, which raises funds for March of Dimes support programs for mothers and babies, also will honor tennis great Andre Agassi as Sportsman of the Year, WNBA president Donna Orender with the Sports Leadership Award and HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg with the Corporate Leadership Award.

Since the season ended at Chicagoland Speedway, Patrick has continued to race around. She was in Monaco to film the recently-released Jay-Z video from his comeback CD, has been promoting winter car care tips through her PEAK Antifreeze sponsorship, and has been featured in GQ and PINK magazines.

Patrick, the 2005 Bombardier Rookie of the Year, will make her debut in an Andretti Green Racing car at an Open Test Jan. 31 at Daytona International Speedway. The first of 17 IndyCar Series races will be under the lights March 24 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

3. Indy Pro Series teams test drivers: Three Indy Pro Series teams tested nine drivers at Homestead-Miami Speedway during Thanksgiving week. Six of the drivers, who were in an Indy Pro Series car for the first time, were granted their rookie licenses.

Brian Stewart Racing, which won the entrant championship the past two seasons, put five drivers behind the wheel of the 420-horsepower cars: Paul Guadagnoli, Brad Jaeger, Shane Jantzi, Patrick Larmour and Andre Villarreal.

Dave McMillan Racing and Part Sourcing International each tested two drivers: Gian Maria Gabbiani and Paet Hidalgo, and CR Crews and Jon Brownson, respectively.

Gabbiani, Guadagnoli, Hidalgo, Jantzi, Larmour and Villarreal all passed the rookie test on the 1.5-mile, high-banked oval.

Brownson passed his rookie test in October, while Crews competed in four Indy Pro Series events in 2006, recording two top-10 finishes. Jaeger passed his test last year.

"All of these guys were turning laps in the 29 second range, which is good for around here," Indy Pro Series technical director Butch Meyer said. "Three or four of them really stand out and could be front-runners right away in 2007."

Unlimited private testing from the end of the season until Feb. 18 is vital to teams as they look for drivers for 2007 and as they strive to develop a competitive edge on the competition.

Team owner Brian Stewart, a member of the Canadian Motorsports Hall of Fame, utilized the test to give an opportunity to two Canadian champions among others.

Jantzi, of Ayr, Ontario, won his fourth Ontario Formula Ford championship since 2000, recording 11 wins and three seconds in 14 races. Stewart also rewarded Larmour, winner of the Brian Stewart Racing Karting Championship. The 19-year-old from Woodbridge, Ontario, has been karting since age 13.

"That's my obligation to Canadian racing is to help out Canadians," said Stewart, who won several championships as a driver in the 1960s and '70s. "There are others out there working hard for drivers from other countries. I do it for the Canadians. Shane and Patrick are examples of guys who can benefit from this. Once you have a license, who knows what can happen."

Guadagnoli, who lives in Deville, La., has raced power boats since 2001 and is hoping to transition to racing cars. Jaeger, a Cincinnati native, made seven starts in the Star Mazda Championship in 2006. Villarreal, a Miami native, has competed in Stars of Karting, Skip Barber regional series and the USAC Ford Focus Midget series.

"Paul and Andre, they're both only 19. They're using this test to feel out other avenues of racing," Stewart said. "With Brad, this was more than just a rookie test. I tested him last year, so this was more of an opportunity to do a proper test -- make changes to the car, really see what he can do."

Gabbiani has competed mostly in Europe, including as a test driver in A1GP. Hidalgo, a California native, has competed in Sports 2000.

The Indy Pro Series will conduct a pre-season Open Test for all teams and drivers Feb. 20 and 22 at Homestead-Miami. The first of 16 races in 2007 will be held at the facility on March 24.

4. Kanaan, Wheldon try for Granja Viana 500 three-peat: IndyCar Series champions Tony Kanaan and Dan Wheldon will attempt to win their third straight 500 Milhas Granja Viana this weekend at Kartodromo Da Granja Viana near Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Kanaan, Wheldon and Formula 1 star Rubens Barrichello will share two karts as they try to defend their title. The trio will join race host and IndyCar Series veteran Felipe Giaffone in one kart and with World Touring Car driver Augusto Farfus in another.

"Karting is my passion, and I always have a lot of fun racing, especially with a lot of friends wheel to wheel," said Kanaan, who along with Barrichello have won six of the previous nine 500-mile races.

IndyCar Series drivers Helio Castroneves and Vitor Meira are also listed on the pre-race entry list. Meira will share a kart with Christian Fittipaldi and Mario Haberfeld, while Castroneves will drive with Cristiano Federico, Renato Russo and Daniel Serra.

Indy Pro Series driver Jaime Camara will drive with Giaffone, Carlos Barrichello and Otavio Mesquita.

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Rubens Barrichello , Mario Haberfeld , Justin Wilson , Felipe Giaffone , Helio Castroneves , Christian Fittipaldi , Tony Kanaan , Dan Wheldon , Sébastien Bourdais , Jon Brownson , A.J. Allmendinger , Paet Hidalgo , Skip Barber , Augusto Farfus , Otávio Mesquita , Brad Jaeger , Jaime Camara , Gian Maria Gabbiani , Daniel Serra , Shane Jantzi , Sam Hornish Jr. , Danica Patrick , Vitor Meira