INDYCAR SERIES NEWS AND NOTES -- March 12, 2007 Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines 1. New-look Dreyer & Reinbold Racing looking for success in 2007 2. Jenkins leads ESPN2's coverage of Indy Pro Series 3. Indy Pro Series Season...
INDYCAR SERIES NEWS AND NOTES -- March 12, 2007
Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines
1. New-look Dreyer & Reinbold Racing looking for success in 2007
2. Jenkins leads ESPN2's coverage of Indy Pro Series
3. Indy Pro Series Season Preview: SWE
1. New-look Dreyer & Reinbold Racing looking for success in 2007: Dreyer & Reinbold Racing won its debut race in the IndyCar Series in 2000. It hopes a series of key off-season moves can help it return to the winner's circle.
The biggest move comes behind the wheel as the team expands to a two-car operation for the first time since 2003. Sarah Fisher, who drove two races for the team last season, joins 2004 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice as the team's drivers.
"We expect to be much more competitive this year," team co-owner Dennis Reinbold said. "We have devoted the off-season toward overall improvement and expansion in order to meet this goal. We are very excited to get started; I think that we are ready."
With preparation for 2007, the team revamped its engineering department, hiring John Dick and Chris Finch and adding gearbox and shock departments -- programs that were outsourced in the past.
"With the changes and additions we've made internally to grow Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, we are in as good as a position to consistently be in the hunt at a lot of events," team co-owner Robbie Buhl said. "Part of this change is our growth and evolution as a team. We have hired key manpower and this shows the commitment we are willing to put forth race in and race out."
With Rice the team adds a driver it expects to contend for wins on ovals and road/street courses. Rice had a breakout season in 2004 at Rahal Letterman Racing, but failed to show consistent form over the last two seasons. He enters this season with the same approach he took when he joined Rahal Letterman Racing.
"I think with the engineers they brought in, myself and teaming up with Sarah, I think we're going to run quite well this year -- a lot better than people think," Rice said. "With the efforts that Robbie and Dennis have put into this team, the money they spent to make us run up front and be competitive, I think it's going to end up showing. It should be a very exciting year for us at Dreyer & Reinbold. These guys are really smart. I think we can put together a really good car and a very good year.
"It's no different than what happened in 2004 when I came out with Todd Bowland. It took us a few rounds to get acquainted, figure out what we needed to do, things started rolling really well after that. There's no reason why we can't do that this year."
Fisher, who has made more than half of her 50 IndyCar Series starts with the team, will join Rice for oval events and could make her road course debut if sponsorship can be found. Still, she looks at her return to the team as a new beginning.
"I've looked at 2007 since I got the shot to return to the series in Kentucky back in August," Fisher said. "I've trained the hardest I've every trained; it's amazing how much I know that is going to help me. To have a team that backs up that focus is a really great feeling. It's the first time I've been able to train towards something I believe can be a winning situation."
She's also excited to work with Rice, who she said is an ideal teammate.
"We've worked together really well already during spring training," she said. "I think this year we are working like a proper team should be working together. We know the areas we have to consistently work on. As a team, we are all pumped up for the season to start. Everyone has been working so hard."
DREYER & REINBOLD RACING
Car numbers: 5 (Fisher), 15 (Rice)
Drivers: Sarah Fisher, 26, of Commercial Point, Ohio, and Buddy Rice, 31, of Phoenix.
Team manager: John O'Gara
Race engineers: Chris Finch (Fisher), John Dick (Rice)
Chief mechanic: Andy O'Gara (Fisher), Fran Reilly (Rice)
2. Jenkins leads ESPN2's coverage of Indy Pro Series: Veteran motorsports broadcaster Bob Jenkins will return to the ESPN family in 2007 to call the play-by-play of ESPN2's coverage of the Indy Pro Series, which will air live on indycar.com and on a tape-delayed basis on the all-sports network. Robbie Buhl and Mike King will complete the broadcast team for the 16 races. Jenkins, one of the first announcers hired by the network when it debuted in 1979, anchored ESPN's and ABC's coverage of the NASCAR Nextel Cup from 1981-2000 as well as working on the IndyCar Series broadcast team for several years. He also worked for the IMS Radio Network, anchoring the Indianapolis 500 broadcast from 1990-99. "All signs point to the most competitive season yet for the Indy Pro Series, with new teams, an impressive list of drivers and some new venues," Jenkins said. "Having been away from the play-by-play role for a few years, I'm excited about making a return to ESPN and working with Robbie and Mike." Buhl will return for his fourth season providing analysis after retiring from driving in the IndyCar Series in April 2004 after 78 starts that included two victories and 30 top-10 finishes. He remains a co-owner of Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and is the national spokesman for Racing For Kids. King, the radio voice of the IndyCar Series, joins the broadcast team as pit reporter. King and Jenkins are two of only five men who have been the "Radio Voice of the 500." ESPN2 has been the exclusive home of the Indy Pro Series since the series debuted in 2002. In 2007, the Freedom 100 from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Carb Day (May 25) will be aired on the same day while the remaining telecasts will typically air on the Thursday or Friday following the race. ESPN2 telecasts more than 4,800 hours of live and/or original programming to more than 91 million homes each year. The race telecasts will also air around the globe on various ESPN affiliates. The complete 2007 television schedule is below:
3. Indy Pro Series Season Preview: SWE: Leading up to the season-opening Miami 100 on March 24, we'll preview the teams and drivers that will compete in 2007 for the Indy Pro Series' Firestone Firehawk Cup. Today, is SWE:
Owner: Steve Eppard
Driver: Jon Brownson (No. 34)
Team Manager: Gary Miller
Chief Mechanic: Larry Zelesnik
Overview: Onlookers weren't sure what to expect last May when Steve Eppard formed the SWE team to compete in the Indy Pro Series. The team didn't have the highest budget in the paddock, but there aren't many people who know the Indy Pro Series cars as well as Eppard, who owns a separate company that supplies parts and services to both Indy Pro Series and IndyCar Series teams. The results in half a season of competition were encouraging. In six starts, the team recorded four top-10 finishes. This year the team returns to the racetrack with a full off-season of preparation and testing under its belt and a feeling that the sky is the limit.
Watch For--Maturity: While the Indy Pro Series is designed to groom young, up-and-coming racers for the next level, that doesn't mean older, more mature racers can't also enjoy success in the series. Marty Roth, 48, who made 33 Indy Pro Series starts from 2002-06 has advanced to the IndyCar Series, where he has made five starts, including two Indianapolis 500s. SWE looks for some of the same in 2007 with 53-year-old Jon Brownson. Brownson has competed in Star Mazda since 1998, following 10 years as a professional skier. Brownson was sixth-quick on the oval at the Open Test at Homestead-Miami Speedway last month.
IN THEIR OWN WORDS
Steve Eppard, owner: "The Homestead oval Open Test was very encouraging for the SWE 'riders of the storm' team. Tim Wardrop (chief engineer) was excited to see Jon run his fifth lap by at 28.8248 (seconds). Jon went back out and again matched that time on his 10th lap. Jon and Tim changed the car around after that and did some testing as that's what a test is for. Jon held the pole for the majority of the morning and was P3 at the lunch break. The team only ran a total of 63 laps for the day with many of the teams running 150 plus. I think SWE may have found a good combination if Jon can run times like this by himself. It took all day with cars running the draft to put SWE at P6, only .0637 seconds off P1. Testing is not racing so I can't wait to go back and see Jon do what Jon does best - race."
Jon Brownson, driver: "I'm so looking forward to the new season with SWE Racing in the Indy Pro Series. Team owner Steve Eppard has assembled an awesome team. Steve and team manager Gary Miller and the crew, have given me such a great car to drive. It has been a wonderful experience from the first time I sat in the No. 34 car. To be .06 seconds off quick for the day at the first Homestead open oval test is most encouraging.
"And my race engineer, Mr. Tim Wardrop, is totally awesome. He's absolutely the best. Getting into our car with his setup on it, is like heaven on earth. This team gives me hope and the tools to realize my first goal - to be the oldest Rookie of the Year ever in the Indy Pro Series.
"In the off-season, I've been competing in some downhill ski races in my home state, Colorado. This winter, I won a downhill race there that had put me in the hospital the last time I raced it. So life is good. I think it's good cross-training. After some time at 80+ mph on skis in a downhill course, a switch seems to click in my head and suddenly everything is happening very slowly just like it does in our Indy Pro Series car when everything's working just right and I'm in that zone."
The 2007 IndyCar Series season begins under the lights with the XM Satellite Radio Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on March 24. The race will be telecast live by ESPN2 at 8 p.m. (EDT) and broadcast by 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 and www.indycar.com. The sixth season of Indy Pro Series competition begins with the Miami 100 on March 24 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be telecast at 5 p.m. (EDT) on March 28 by ESPN2. ESPN2 also will preview the upcoming season of the IndyCar Series with a one-hour special that will air at 7 p.m. (EDT) March 16.