IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2007-03-15

INDYCAR SERIES NEWS AND NOTES -- March 15, 2007 Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines 1. Ethanol marketing, activation centered around IndyCar Series partnership 2. Beck tabs Barron for Homestead race 3. Season Preview: Kenn...


Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines
1. Ethanol marketing, activation centered around IndyCar Series partnership
2. Beck tabs Barron for Homestead race
3. Season Preview: Kenn Hardley Racing
4. Primetime ESPN2 Telecast to Kickoff 2007 IndyCar Season

1. Ethanol marketing, activation centered around IndyCar Series partnership: While the IndyCar Series and its teams tune up their Honda engines for a new era of motorsports -- the introduction of 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol -- the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC) has been fine tuning its first-ever national marketing campaign around its partnership with the IndyCar Series. The first and only motorsports series to run 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol, the IndyCar Series is at the forefront of this push for renewable energy. This decision makes the IndyCar Series, the cutting-edge leader in motorsports safety and technology, a leader in renewable and environmentally responsible fuel produced in the U.S. As part of its marketing activation EPIC has planned:

* Mobile Marketing Unit: EPIC's mobile marketing unit will travel to all 16 domestic IndyCar Series events in 2007 and will be located at in each track's midway area. The interactive unit is designed to educate consumers with videos, show cars and child-friendly exhibits. It also will make appearances at selected fairs and environmental festivals across the country.

* Media Buy: EPIC's television partnership with ABC/ESPN is its first on any national network and includes an ESPN.com aspect. Ethanol's IndyCar Series-specific commercial will run during IndyCar Series telecasts. EPIC also has committed to local advertising buys in race markets.

* Pump Tours: Building on the success of pump tours in 2006 that allowed consumers to buy E10 fuel in race markets at a reduced price, EPIC will continue the tours and enhance them with its mobile marketing units. The tours included IndyCar Series drivers and local political leaders and serves as an initiation for many consumers to an ethanol-enriched product.

* Fan Packs: In partnership with the IndyCar Series, a minimum of 5,000 fan packs will be distributed at all domestic IndyCar Series events. The fan packs will include posters, giveaways and other fan-friendly marketing items.

"This is our first truly national marketing effort," said Reece Nanfito, senior director of marketing for EPIC. "Our partnership with the IndyCar Series will allow us to highlight the benefits of ethanol fuel. There is no better way to showcase ethanol's performance aspects than with a car going 220 mph."


2. Beck tabs Barron for Homestead race: Greg Beck said he sought "a driver for the first race that makes sense" for the resurrected IndyCar Series team. He turned to Alex Barron, who has made 59 series starts. Barron will drive the black No. 98 CURB/Agajanian/Beck Motorsports Dallara/Honda/Firestone in the prime-time XM Satellite Radio Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on March 24. Barron will have to take refresher laps next week before joining the first practice session.

"We thought he would be a good fit with the project we're working on," said Beck. "He's a former race winner and just a good guy all around."

Barron, 36, who has two victories and 27 top-10 finishes, competed in his first IndyCar Series race in 2001 with Sam Schmidt Motorsports at Gateway International Raceway (21st-place finish). His last start was the 2005 season-ender at California Speedway with Red Bull Cheever Racing (14th-place finish in race and 11th in points). Last year, he finished 14th in the Atlantics standings. In four Indianapolis 500 starts, Barron's best finish was fourth in 2002, when he advanced 22 positions in a Blair Racing-prepared car and was named the co-Rookie of the Year. After filing the entry on March 14, Beck said the team is committed to the Homestead and Kansas (April 29) events plus the 91st Indianapolis 500.

"This project would not be possible without Mike Curb and Cary Agajanian," Beck said. "Mike and Cary have been longtime supporters and this is an opportunity they have given us to go out and run and build our program. We're excited to be back in the IndyCar Series."


3. Season Preview: Kenn Hardley Racing: 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 Kenn Hardley Racing:

Owner: Kenn Hardley
Driver: Stephen Simpson
Team Manager: Mark Moore
Chief Mechanic: Mike King

Overview: The 2007 season could be a breakthrough season for Kenn Hardley Racing. The team has won six races over the past two seasons and finished second (2005) and third (2006) in the point standings. Despite losing driver Bobby Wilson, the race winner at Watkins Glen last year, the team has brought in a highly regarded rookie in Stephen Simpson. Simpson has been competing in A1GP, recording two top-five finishes. The South African was fourth-quick on the Homestead-Miami Speedway road course during February's Open Test.

What's New--Relationships: In addition to a new driver, Kenn Hardley Racing enters 2007 with a working relationship with Team Moore Racing. Tom Wood, who drove for KHR in seven races the past two seasons, and team manager Mark Moore splintered off from KHR to form their own team. The two entities, however, will work out of the same race shop.

Watch For--Run for the championship: Kenn Hardley Racing missed the last two championships by a total of 72 points. Building on its recent success with an experienced driver like Simpson should put the team in the thick of the championship battle once again.


Kenn Hardley, owner: "Our deal came together a little bit later than we had hoped, but we're thoroughly optimistic that this is going to be a good year. After finishing second and third the last two years with a chance to win the championship both years, there's no reason in my mind that we're not going to be extremely competitive this year. Stephen jumped in the car at the Open Test without any (off-season) testing and was quickly up to speed. And although that wasn't our primary focus -- we did a lot of full-tank testings -- Stephen got very comfortable with the team and the car very quickly. I think most team owners going into the first race are optimistic, but I think it's going to be a fun year for Kenn Hardley Racing."

Stephen Simpson, driver: "The Open Test was a good first test for us. I'm very pleased to be a part of the Indy Pro Series and with Kenn Hardley Racing. It's a great team and a great championship. I'm really looking forward to a good year. Considering two weeks ago I was on a beach in South Africa, to be here having done a day in the car already, it's good. I think we've got a lot of work still to do, a bit more time to find, but I'm looking forward to a successful season."


4. Primetime ESPN2 Telecast to Kickoff 2007 IndyCar Season: The longstanding and historic relationship between the IndyCar Series and ESPN continues in 2007 with ESPN2's live primetime telecast of March 24 event from Homestead-Miami Speedway. ESPN is in its 12th year with the IndyCar Series and ESPN on ABC will celebrate its 43rd year at the Indianapolis 500 in May. The entire 17-race season for the IndyCar Series will appear on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN on ABC. The 2007 television schedule will include seven events on ESPN on ABC, five on ESPN and five on ESPN2.

The networks will also cover Indianapolis 500 qualifying May 12-13 and 19-20. In addition, ESPN2 will be on the air live from Indianapolis Motor Speedway with SportsCenter at the Indianapolis 500.

The 30-minute show will air each weekday at 5:30 p.m. starting May 7 with updated news and information, as well as coverage of practice, leading up to the May 27 race. The ESPN alliance dates back to the series' inaugural 1996 event and with ABC's' first broadcast of the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race in 1965, a relationship that is the second-longest in sports between a network and sports property. Only CBS and The Masters have been together longer.

All IndyCar Series telecasts in 2007 will continue to be enhanced with technology from Sportvision, Inc., the nation's premier innovator of sports and entertainment products for fans, media companies and marketers. Data boxes in the race cars are used to track real-time telemetry, miles per hour and other data, helping viewers to better experience the extreme speed of IndyCar Series competition. The Sportvision pointers can also be used to help viewers identify cars when they are racing in a tight pack, as often occurs in IndyCar Series racing.

The popular "Side-by-Side" feature, used in IndyCar Series telecasts for the past two seasons, will also continue in 2007. During commercial breaks, a split screen format showing the advertisement on one side and racing action on the other allows viewers to not miss anything that might happen on the track during the break. <pre> The complete 2007 IndyCar Series TV schedule:

Date Venue Network Time March 24 Homestead-Miami Speedway ESPN2 8 p.m. April 1 Streets of St. Petersburg ESPN 2:30 p.m. April 21 Twin Ring Motegi ESPN Noon April 29 Kansas Speedway ESPN2 4:30 p.m. May 27 Indianapolis Motor Speedway ABC Noon June 3 The Milwaukee Mile ABC 4 p.m. June 9 Texas Motor Speedway ESPN2 10 p.m. June 24 Iowa Speedway ABC 1 p.m. June 30 Richmond International Raceway ESPN 7:30 p.m. July 8 Watkins Glen International ABC 3:30 p.m. July 14 Nashville Superspeedway ESPN 7:30 p.m. July 22 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course ABC 1:30 p.m. Aug. 5 Michigan International Speedway ESPN2 Noon Aug. 11 Kentucky Speedway ESPN2 6:30 p.m. Aug. 26 Infineon Raceway ESPN 3:30 p.m. Sept. 2 The Raceway at Belle Isle ABC 3:30 p.m. Sept. 9 Chicagoland Speedway ABC 4 p.m. (all times Eastern)

*** </pre>

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.

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Alex Barron , Sam Schmidt , Tom Wood , Stephen Simpson , Bobby Wilson