IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2008-02-14

INDYCAR SERIES NEWS AND NOTES -- Feb. 14, 2008 Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines 1. 7-Eleven fuels Patrick swimsuit frenzy 2. Michael Andretti to be inducted into Motorsports Hall of Fame of America 3. Tschops Sipuka passes ...

INDYCAR SERIES NEWS AND NOTES -- Feb. 14, 2008

Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines
1. 7-Eleven fuels Patrick swimsuit frenzy
2. Michael Andretti to be inducted into Motorsports Hall of Fame of America
3. Tschops Sipuka passes rookie test with Brian Stewart Racing

1. 7-Eleven fuels Patrick swimsuit frenzy: 7-Eleven stores are offering a gift to the first 25 customers and racing fans purchasing a copy of the new Sports Illustrated's annual Swimsuit Issue. Beginning Feb. 14, participating 7-Eleven stores will feature a special display including the SI magazine issue and 25 copies of a colored poster of IndyCar Series driver Danica Patrick. The 11" x 14" poster depicts Patrick as seen in the four-page spread of her first-time appearance in the Swimsuit issue and first time posing in a swimming suit. Patrick is one of four Andretti Green Racing drivers and is sponsored by 7-Eleven, Inc.

Patrick's appearance in the magazine, which is expected to be read by more than 69 million people, has proven extremely popular with fans. According to Internet search engine Yahoo.com, Patrick ranks third for most searches after Valentine's Cards and SI Swimsuit Issue.

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2. Michael Andretti to be inducted into Motorsports Hall of Fame of America: Andretti Green Racing co-owner Michael Andretti is among seven racing greats who will be inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America when the organization stages its annual induction ceremony Aug. 13 in Detroit.

Andretti, the son of Hall of Famer Mario Andretti, is one of the first second-generation open-wheel race drivers. He was the Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year in 1984 and won the CART championship in 1991. During his driving career, he won 42 races, 32 poles and led 6,702 laps. As a team owner, he has won three IndyCar Series titles and two Indianapolis 500s.

Others who will be inducted are Buddy Baker, John Force, Richie Ginther, Paul Goldsmith, Wayne Rainey and Betty Skelton.

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3. Tschops Sipuka passes rookie test with Brian Stewart Racing: Tschops Sipuka, a national racing champion in South Africa, successfully completed his Indy Pro Series rookie test with Brian Stewart Racing at Phoenix International Raceway on Feb. 7.

"I think he did awesome," said Stewart, whose team has won two of the last three Indy Pro Series team championships. "Tschops (pronounced Chops) was very impressive for a guy who had never seen an oval before. He was flat around Phoenix and running times that were comparable to the other guys there."

IndyCar Series technical director Kevin Blanch oversaw the test and came away impressed with Sipuka in and out of the car.

"He had never seen an oval before, so he had no preconceptions of what to do," Blanch said. "We told him about his line and then showed him where he was doing wrong and he was right on the line. He was told he could run flat out and within a few laps, he could drive flat out."

Sipuka, an automotive engineer in South Africa, has competed in both touring cars and formula cars in South Africa and throughout Europe. He won back-to-back Volkswagon Cup titles in 2002 and 2003 and was named the 2002 South African Motorsportsman of the Year by the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists.

He also has competed in Formula Volkswagen in Germany, the Fun Cup, a 25 Hour endurance race held at the famed Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium, saloon car racing in Malaysia and Super Truck racing in South Africa.

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The 2008 IndyCar Series season begins under the lights with the GAINSCO Auto Insurance Indy 300 on March 29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The 16-race schedule, one of the most diverse in all of motorsports, features races on 11 ovals, three permanent road courses and two temporary street circuits, all broadcast worldwide through a comprehensive, long-term agreement with ABC Sports/ ESPN. All races in 2008 will be telecast in High Definition. The 2008 Indy Pro Series season also begins on March 29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The 16-race schedule, which features eight ovals and four road/street course doubleheader weekends, will be televised by ESPN2.

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers John Force , Michael Andretti , Mario Andretti , Wayne Rainey , Buddy Baker , Danica Patrick