IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2006-12-19

INDYCAR SERIES NEWS AND NOTES -- Dec. 19, 2006 Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines 1. IndyCar Series receives Innovator in Sports Award 2. Bachelor pool reduced 3. Brian Stewart Racing signs Brad Jaeger 4. Penske Racing engineer...

INDYCAR SERIES NEWS AND NOTES -- Dec. 19, 2006

Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines
1. IndyCar Series receives Innovator in Sports Award
2. Bachelor pool reduced
3. Brian Stewart Racing signs Brad Jaeger
4. Penske Racing engineer promoted

1. IndyCar Series receives Innovator in Sports Award: The IndyCar Series' groundbreaking use of 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol in 2007 was highlighted during the Inter-American Commission on Ethanol hosted by Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on Dec. 18 in Miami.

The IndyCar Series and its partner, the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC), received the Akerman Senterfitt Ethanol Innovator in Sports Award. The series is the first in motorsports to have its engines powered by the renewable, biodegradable and environmentally friendly alternative fuel. The 2007 season opens in prime time March 24 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

"The IndyCar Series' choice of 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol ... sends a message to consumers that performance and environmental responsibility go hand in hand when choosing ethanol-enriched fuel at the pump," said Tom Slunecka, executive director of EPIC.

Bush will co-chair the commission, whose mission is to promote ethanol use, after leaving office Jan. 2. He called for the United States to boost ethanol use to 15 billion gallons by 2015, about double the requirements set forth in the 2005 Energy Policy Act signed by President George W. Bush. The United States has a growing corn-based ethanol program that produced more than 4 billion gallons in 2005.

2. Bachelor pool reduced: Earlier this month, Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver Scott Dixon proposed to Emma Davies in a New Zealand airport. Now Helio Castroneves of Team Penske is engaged to longtime girlfriend Aliette Vasquez.

Dixon, the 2003 IndyCar Series champion, played it cool and planned it perfectly with the help of his parents, Ron and Glenys. As he and Davies, a former Commonwealth Games middle-distance competitor, were exiting baggage claim, they were greeted by a large banner that essentially popped the question. Dixon followed by presenting her a ring. Outside, champagne corks popped to toast the couple.

"It had to be special for my special girl," Dixon said.

Obviously, Davies was flabbergasted.

"It blew me away; I didn't expect it at all," said Davies, of Wales.

Castroneves played it by the book. He sought her father's blessing before springing the question over the Thanksgiving holiday. Blending Brazilian and American cultures, Castroneves selected an engagement ring of a band of diamonds (traditional Brazilian engagement rings are simple wedding bands). "I'm so happy, I just can't put it into words," said Castroneves, 31, who added a November 2007 wedding is planned. "Ali has been a special part of my life for so long, and I can't wait to spend the rest of my life with her. She's been so supportive of me on the track, and I am just so excited to start our new life together."

3. Brian Stewart Racing signs Brad Jaeger: Cincinnati native Brad Jaeger will drive for Brian Stewart Racing in the Indy Pro Series in 2007 as the team attempts to successfully defend back-to-back entrant championships.

The 21-year-old, who won the Pacific Formula 2000 Championship in 2004, impressed during two tests with the team.

"We're really looking forward to working with Brad," team owner Brian Stewart said. "He was a front-runner in Star Mazda. Now it's our job to take him as a rookie and make him into a race winner."

No team molds race winners like Stewart's. The team won two Indy Pro Series championships and claimed four race victories with Wade Cunningham the past two seasons. The team was legendary in Indy Lights in the 1980s and '90s, winning 31 races and two titles with drivers such as Paul Tracy, Cristiano da Matta, Bryan Herta and Jaques Lazier.

"I'm really excited to get on board with Brian Stewart Racing," said Jaeger, who expects to graduate from Vanderbilt University with a degree in mechanical engineering in May. "The program they have is exactly what I need. They've proven themselves as a team that can help a driver progress, get them to their prime -- that's what I need."

Jaeger's racing roots developed in the Cincinnati area, including shifter kart events at a Camden, Ohio, track owned by the family of three-time Indy Pro Series race winner Travis Gregg. After competing in a handful of Sports Car Club of America regional events in 2002 "just for fun," he began competitively racing cars in 2003, finishing second in the Sport 2000 National Championship.

This past season, Jaeger made seven starts in the Star Mazda Championship, winning the pole at the season's first race and earning a 10th-place finish at Milwaukee. Jaeger missed the middle of the season after suffering injuries in a multi-car pileup at Montreal. He returned for the season's final two races.

"Getting back for the last two races was a good step back," Jaeger said. "Now, I'm looking forward to competing in the Indy Pro Series. The cars are amazing. My first time on an oval was in a test with Brian Stewart Racing at Nashville Superspeedway last May. That test couldn't have gone better. The car wasn't quite set up right, but I was still only two-tenths of a second off of Wade Cunningham's times. I walked away with a feeling that the Indy Pro Series is where I wanted to be."

Jaeger will participate in a two-day Open Test at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Feb. 20-22 before opening the 16-race season at the 1.5-mile oval on March 24.

4. Penske Racing engineer promoted: Penske Racing engineer Tom German has been named technical director of Penske Racing, Inc.

German, who joined Penske Racing in 1997, has been race engineer for the No. 6 team since 2000 (16 victories, 22 pole positions). He will continue as race engineer for three-time IndyCar Series champion and 2006 Indianapolis 500 winner Sam Hornish Jr.

"I think that the 2007 season will be a challenge, but we certainly have the right people in place to meet our goals next year," German said.

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Jaques Lazier  , Paul Tracy , Scott Dixon , Bryan Herta , Chip Ganassi , Brad Jaeger , Travis Gregg , Wade Cunningham , Sam Hornish Jr. , Cristiano da Matta
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , Team Penske