IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2006-12-20

Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines 1. Target Chip Ganassi Racing Adds Indy Pro Series Team 2. Testing continues 1. Target Chip Ganassi Racing Adds Indy Pro Series Team: Chip Ganassi Racing will expand its Indy Racing League ...

Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines
1. Target Chip Ganassi Racing Adds Indy Pro Series Team
2. Testing continues

1. Target Chip Ganassi Racing Adds Indy Pro Series Team: Chip Ganassi Racing will expand its Indy Racing League program with the creation of a two-car Indy Pro Series effort to contest the 2007 season. Young drivers Chris Festa and Pablo Perez will join the Indianapolis-based team's stable of drivers which includes 2003 IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon as well as 2005 Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar Series champion Dan Wheldon.

"I am excited about this," said team owner Chip Ganassi. "Despite the fact that we are involved in a number of racing leagues, I am a big proponent of open-wheel racing in the U.S. I feel it is a great form of racing, and anything that we can do as an organization to help cultivate young talent in the cars and also in the garage is a benefit to us as a team and the open wheel racing industry."

"We're pleased to welcome Chip and the entire Ganassi Racing team to the Indy Pro Series," said Roger Bailey, executive director of the Indy Pro Series. "The addition of Chip Ganassi Racing to our lineup of teams, which also includes IndyCar Series entrants Andretti Green Racing and Panther Racing, marks another step forward for the series."

Target Chip Ganassi Racing, which will enter its sixth season of IndyCar Series competition in 2007, will utilize its team in the Indy Pro Series to gauge young drivers who compete in a diverse schedule that features seven races on ovals, seven on road courses and two on street courses. The benefits also include IndyCar Series bonus tests for the team and its drivers.

Team Managing Director Mike Hull sees the launch of the team's newest program not just as an extension of the Target Team's IndyCar Series program, but a challenge in its own right.

"The Indy Pro Series allows us all to see the driver talent and future stars of open-wheel racing," said Hull. "It also enhances the talent this team has. This team has supported the development of young drivers for a long time, and we're always looking for those that are starting to show promise. We believe that Chris Festa and Pablo Perez are those drivers for us. The Indy Pro Series program is just another way to do that."

"We're doing this in support of the future of open-wheel racing and the Indy Racing League," added Hull. "This program will be managed in house, as it should be done. The Indy Pro Series isn't just an extension of our IndyCar Series program, it's a good place to race and see upcoming talent."

Festa, a 21-year-old Atlanta native, will return for his third season of competition in the Indy Pro Series. He has 19 top-10 finishes in 23 career starts.

"This is a great opportunity for me as a driver to join a team of this caliber," said Festa, who will drive the No. 9 Dallara. "Chip Ganassi has a great record of success in motorsports, and the team always does everything first class. There will be a lot of testing opportunities for a young driver like myself. I can't wait to get out there and compete for race wins and the championship. I think I can be an asset and help my teammate and team to develop the program faster."

Perez, a veteran of South America Formula 3 competition, will drive the No. 10 car.

"I am very happy to join Chip Ganassi Racing as they are a great team, very competitive and proven consistent winners," the 24-year-old said. "I am also very excited about racing in the United States for the first time. Most drivers in Argentina always think about racing in Europe in Formula 1, but in my case, I always wanted to race in the Indianapolis 500. This is the first big step towards that ultimate goal. Racing in the U.S. will be a learning process and very different from anything I am used to, especially the ovals but I think it will be a lot of fun."

2. Testing continues: It's the final day of autumn, but IndyCar Series on-track testing continues.

Danica Patrick turned the first laps in the Andretti Green Racing-prepared No. 7 Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone on Dec. 20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway during a Firestone tire test.

Patrick, the 2005 Bombardier Rookie of the Year, moved to Andretti Green Racing in the off-season after two years in the IndyCar Series with Rahal Letterman Racing. She was joined on the 1.5-mile oval -- host of the 2007 season opener in prime time March 24 -- by Team Penske's Helio Castroneves, Vision Racing's Tomas Scheckter and Andretti Green Racing Indy Pro Series driver Jonathan Klein.

On the West Coast at the same time, Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Dan Wheldon and Scott Dixon were participating in a Honda engine test at the California Speedway.

Beginning with the Open Test Jan. 31 at Daytona International Speedway, the Honda engines in every IndyCar Series car will be powered by 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol. Displacement was upped from 3.0 liters to 3.5 liters to provide longer engine life between rebuilds and additional mid-range torque for the diverse 17-race IndyCar Series schedule -- from street/road courses to short ovals to superspeedways.

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Scott Dixon , Chip Ganassi , Roger Bailey , Chris Festa , Mike Hull , Jonathan Klein , Danica Patrick
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , Chip Ganassi Racing