IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2007-08-06

Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines: 1. Big one doesn't change point race 2. Treasure to trash: Franchitti's Indy 500 winning car totaled in crash 3. Indy Pro Series readies for first night race 4. Further check up needed 1. Big...

Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines:
1. Big one doesn't change point race
2. Treasure to trash: Franchitti's Indy 500 winning car totaled in crash
3. Indy Pro Series readies for first night race
4. Further check up needed

1. Big one doesn't change point race: You'll have to excuse IndyCar Series title contenders Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon if they refer to the Firestone Indy 400 as a mulligan.

The top two drivers in the point standings were among the seven drivers involved in a multi-car accident on Lap 143 at Michigan International Speedway on Aug. 5 and resulted in both drivers first DNF of the season.

But despite their early exit from the race, which was won by Tony Kanaan, the gap from Franchitti to Dixon remains at 24 points.

Franchitti finished 13th, but earned the three-point bonus for leading the most laps. Dixon's Target Chip Ganassi Racing team kept pace by repairing his battered race car, and he returned to the race nearly 45 minutes after the crash to improve to 10th position.

"I tried to get past Dario (Franchitti), he just ended up on top of me," Dixon said. "The Target team did a great job getting the car back together so we could get back out there and finish ahead of Dario. It keeps the points the same as it was coming in, so it's like this race never happened."

2. Treasure to trash: Franchitti's Indy 500 winning car totaled in crash: Michael Andretti showed quick wit following a tense situation.

"You can have it now," the Andretti Green Racing co-owner told driver Dario Franchitti. The reference was to Franchitti's Indianapolis 500-winning No. 27 Canadian Club Dallara/Honda/Firestone, which Franchitti had requested of the team to place center stage in the racing memorabilia room of the Scottish farmhouse he recently renovated.

For the immediate future, it's moot after the car's airborne escapade on Lap 143 on the 2-mile oval. Franchitti was uninjured in the incident that caught up seven cars.

"I'm devastated to see my '500' car torn up like that," Franchitti said. "I have to say though that it did it's job; it really saved me. I guess I owe that car a lot. Hopefully, now Michael will drop the price on it for me. I hope we can eventually get it repaired and to Scotland sometime."

3. Indy Pro Series readies for first night race: When the Indy Pro Series opened the 2007 season with qualifying under the lights at Homestead-Miami Speedway, it was the precursor for the series' first race under the lights. That will occur Aug. 11 at Kentucky Speedway when the 67-lap race is scheduled to begin at 9:10 p.m. (EDT).

Drivers are looking forward to showcasing the series in prime time at a track that has featured multiple laps of side-by-side racing. Last year's Kentucky 100 was the second-closest in series history with a margin of victory of 0.0190 of a second.

"I think the night race will be great fun," said series points leader Alex Lloyd, who will be vying for his record eighth victory of the season in the No. 7 Lucas Oil/Isilon Systems entry for Sam Schmidt Motorsports. "I have never raced a night race before. The biggest thing for us will be the fact that we run after the IndyCar Series. The track will have a lot of marbles on it and therefore the second and third grooves will be slippery. This puts more of an emphasis on qualifying, but even if the high line is harder to use effectively I am sure our race will be as exciting as always."

"I think the concept to race at night is good because it is just another way in which this series tries to emulate the IndyCar Series," added 2005 series champion Wade Cunningham, who has two top-three finishes in as many starts at Kentucky. "If anything, the cooler temperature should mean more efficient downforce and better racing."

Most of the drivers in the 21-car field entered in the Kentucky 100 have some experience driving at night.

"I have raced more times at night than in the day," said Sean Guthrie, who finished fifth in last year's race on the 1.5-mile oval. "I used to race on a dirt oval in Albuquerque in go-karts and have won more races at night than I have raced in the day. I believe I have won over 50 main events at night. I really enjoy racing at night as it just adds another element to driving.

"When we qualified at night at Homestead, I truly enjoyed it. The track looks a lot different, and ensuring you drive the same line as during the day is critical. While the track is going to change substantially from day to night, I don't believe it will affect the cars that greatly as the cars are very aero-dependent on the large tracks. The engines will be making more power due to the substantially better air, and the added power should even the field up."

The Kentucky 100 also marks the first time the Indy Pro Series race has been scheduled for after the IndyCar Series event -- although rain forced just that scenario at California in 2005.

"I like the idea of racing after the IndyCar Series," Guthrie said. "I think that it will allow for one of our largest turnouts, and I feel like we can put on as good of if not better show than the IndyCar Series."

The Kentucky 100 is the 13th of 16 races on the 2007 schedule. Practice and qualifying are scheduled for Aug. 10.

4. Further check up needed: Team Penske's Helio Castroneves and AAMCO/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing's Sarah Fisher will need clearance from Indy Racing League director of medical services Dr. Michael Olinger at Kentucky after separate accidents at Michigan International Speedway.

Castroneves injured his right knee in a two-car accident on Lap 58, while Fisher strained her neck in a one-car accident on Lap 83 after her car suffered a mechanical failure.

***

The next IndyCar Series event is the Meijer Indy 300 presented by Coca-Cola and Edy's at 6:30 p.m. (ET) on Aug. 11 at Kentucky Speedway. The race will be televised live by ESPN2 and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network. The next Indy Pro Series event is the Kentucky 100 on Aug.11 at Kentucky Speedway. The race will be broadcast at 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 16 by ESPN2.

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Sarah Fisher , Helio Castroneves , Michael Andretti , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Sam Schmidt , Chip Ganassi , Alex Lloyd , Wade Cunningham , Sean Guthrie
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing