IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2007-04-26

INDYCAR SERIES NEWS AND NOTES -- April 26, 2007 Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines 1. Crashes, travel woes lead to hectic week for Panther Racing crew 2. Duno passes IndyCar Series rookie test 3. Of note 1. Crashes, travel...

INDYCAR SERIES NEWS AND NOTES -- April 26, 2007

Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines
1. Crashes, travel woes lead to hectic week for Panther Racing crew
2. Duno passes IndyCar Series rookie test
3. Of note

1. Crashes, travel woes lead to hectic week for Panther Racing crew: Both of Panther Racing's cars retired early from the Indy Japan 300 at Twin Ring Motegi on April 21 -- directly and indirectly linked to crashes.

Vitor Meira's primary No. 4 Delphi Panther Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone made contact with the SAFER Barrier in Turn 2 during practice, so the team turned to the backup car for qualifying and the 200-lap race. Poor handling limited the car to 50 laps. Kosuke Matsuura, who started ninth, failed to complete a lap in the No. 55 Panasonic Panther car. It also made contact with the SAFER Barrier in Turn 2.

But the disappointing weekend was only the beginning of a long week for the Panther Pack, which will attempt to regroup in the Kansas Lottery Indy 300 at Kansas Speedway on April 29. Travel woes combined with the short turnaround between events added more stress to what was already going to be a stressful week for the team.

"All I can say is that these guys have been busting their butts since the moment they got back from Japan," Panther Racing co-owner John Barnes said. "We've got everything turned around and ready to go for Kansas.

"Even though the results haven't been there yet, our team has been able to bond over these hardships. I think in the long run we'll be better for it. Vitor and Kosuke have been at the shop every day with the guys. The support from drivers has helped make this week a lot easier for everyone."

Here's a timeline of team's post-race escapades:

April 23
6:30 a.m. (Japan time): Depart Holiday Inn Mito for bus ride to Narita Airport in Tokyo (2.5 hours).
11:20 a.m. (Japan time): ANA flight departs Narita Airport for Washington, D.C. (12 hours).
10:40 a.m. (EDT): ANA flight arrives at National Airport in Washington, D.C.; clear U.S. Customs; layover until flight from Washington to Chicago (4 hours).
2:40 p.m.: ANA flight departs Washington, D.C., to Chicago (2 hours).
4:45 p.m.: ANA flight arrives at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago.
5 p.m.: Flight from Chicago to Indianapolis canceled; team has to find rental cars, drive to Indianapolis in Chicago rush hour traffic. (Unexpected 5-6 hours).
11 p.m.: Rental cars arrive at Panther Racing shop; team members travel to their homes.

April 24
9 a.m. (EDT): Panther crew members head to Indianapolis International Airport to load equipment onto transporters for return to shop, where they are met by other team members to unload equipment. Tear apart two crashed race cars and prepare race cars and backup cars for Kansas race.
7 p.m.: Majority of crew still at race shop working.

April 25
6:30--7 a.m. (EDT): Panther crew returns to work, expecting to remain at shop until late evening.
Noon: Meira and Matsuura bring lunch for the 55 employees. Some crew members eat their lunches near toolboxes because they hardly have time to eat in an effort to prepare cars.

April 26
6:30--7 a.m. (EDT): Crew members return to work; will not leave until transporters roll out.
Approx. 3 p.m.: Departure of Panther Racing transporters for Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan.

April 27
5 a.m. (EDT): Team members will meet at Panther Racing shop for flight to Kansas City, Mo.
9 a.m. (CDT): Expected arrival at Kansas Speedway.
10 a.m.: Begin setup for Kansas Lottery Indy 300.

***

2. Duno passes IndyCar Series rookie speed test: Milka Duno passed speed-phase rookie testing for her IndyCar Series racing license during testing on April 26 at Kansas Speedway, allowing her to participate in on-track activity during the Kansas Lottery Indy 300 on April 28-29.

IndyCar Series technical director Kevin Blanch observed the activity on the 1.5-mile oval.

"She understands the car," Blanch said. "She can feel the car with the seat. Her seat tells her what the car is doing. She said that several times today. I asked her several questions and she gave me the answer that I felt other drivers with more experience would have given me. The next step in getting her in the car with traffic and seeing what she can do. In two laps, she's up to the same speed that she was right before she went into the pits. That's the main key -- to be able to go back out there and run the same speed each time. That's one of things we look for. Also, her line was more consistent.

"She's to the point now where she needs to run with other cars and see where she stacks up. We'll be watching her this weekend, especially in traffic, just as we would with any other driver."

Duno would join Andretti Green Racing's Danica Patrick and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing's Sarah Fisher in the lineup for the sixth IndyCar Series race at Kansas-- a first in major open-wheel history.

"I'm happy. I guess now I am Indy," Duno said. "We had a good test. We didn't have all the track time that we were suppose to leading up to this because of the weather conditions. My team did a great job getting the car prepared. I'm learning so much from all the guys that have experience in Indy car racing, especially my engineer, Steve Challis and my driver coach, Pancho Carter. I was trying to do the best I could and follow the grooves. But this is just the first step. Like everyone else, you start with your first race. Every driver has to get experience, and it starts with the first race. The first practice, the first qualifying, the first race."

SAMAX Motorsport owner Peter Baron announced in March that in addition to Kansas, Duno also would attempt to qualify for the 91st Indianapolis 500 (May 27), and events at Texas Motor Speedway (June 9), Iowa Speedway (June 24), Watkins Glen International (July 8), Nashville Superspeedway (July 14), Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (July 22), Michigan International Speedway (Aug. 5), Kentucky Speedway (Aug. 11) and the season finale at Chicagoland Speedway (Sept. 9) in the No. 23 CITGO Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone.

Duno had been competing for SAMAX Motorsport in the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series. The team, which included A.J. Foyt Racing driver Darren Manning, finished second overall in the Rolex 24 At Daytona in January. Her last race in the CITGO-sponsored Daytona Prototype was March 24 in the Grand Prix of Miami at Homestead-Miami Speedway (fourth place with former IndyCar Series driver Patrick Carpentier).

"We're very happy," Baron said. "With all the drama of the rain and cold, it's definitely exciting to be ready and moving forward to Sunday. I feel like we've just passed our college exams. It's nice to get that done and over with. It's exciting but now we are on to the next chapter."

***

3. Of note: There have been three winners in the first three races of the 2007 IndyCar Series season. The last time that happened was 2004 when four different winners won the first four races. The IndyCar Series record occurred in 2000 when each of the nine races was won by a different driver--Indy Pro Series driver Ryan Justice has been cleared by IRL medical officials to participate in the April 27 Open Test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Justice sat out the doubleheader at St. Petersburg after he was involved in an accident during the Miami 100 on March 24.

***

The 2007 IndyCar Series season continues with the Kansas Lottery Indy 300 at 4:30 p.m. (ET) on April 29. The race will be telecast live by ESPN2 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 continues with the Freedom 100 on May 25 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast as part of ESPN2's coverage of Carb Day at 4 p.m. on May 25.

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Milka Duno , Darren Manning , Sarah Fisher , Patrick Carpentier , Peter Baron , Kosuke Matsuura , Pancho Carter , Ryan Justice , John Barnes , A.J. Foyt , Danica Patrick , Vitor Meira
Teams Panther Racing , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing