Today's IRL headlines 1. Luyendyk prepares for Indy 500 2. Klein learning on the track, in the classroom 3. Network LIVE brings orange livery to Panther for Indy Japan 300 1. Luyendyk prepares for Indy 500: What a difference a year makes....
Today's IRL headlines
1. Luyendyk prepares for Indy 500
2. Klein learning on the track, in the classroom
3. Network LIVE brings orange livery to Panther for Indy Japan 300
1. Luyendyk prepares for Indy 500: What a difference a year makes. At least that's the hope of Arie Luyendyk Jr.
A year ago, the 24-year-old Scottsdale, Ariz., native attempted to qualify for the Indianapolis 500. He passed Rookie Orientation on May 21, and with just a handful of laps under his belt, qualified the car for the 500 on May 22. Just hours later, however, the elation faded as he was bumped from the field by Felipe Giaffone.
Luyendyk is returning to Indianapolis this year for another attempt at competing in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. Plans are already in place, which will allow him to participate for more than just the final weekend.
"I am very excited to have finalized our plans to run the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500," Luyendyk said. "We have been working hard ever since last year to raise the funds necessary to compete in this year's race in a competitive effort.
"Although we are still talking and negotiating with potential major sponsors we will move forward as planned with a second weekend qualifying effort."
Luyendyk and his father, two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk, have put together a solid team of personnel and equipment to field the No. 61 entry under the Luyendyk Racing banner.
The team is working with Target Chip Ganassi Racing to acquire a Panoz chassis, and the team has hired veteran engineer Tim Wardrop and chief mechanic Skip Faul.
Wardrop worked with Luyendyk Sr. for many years including 1996 when he set an Indianapolis 500 qualifying record, and in 1997 when he won the pole and the race.
"I'm excited that we are able to give Arie Jr. a great opportunity to qualify for the 500," Luyendyk Sr. said. "This year's effort is very good, and we have proven winners on our team such as Tim Wardrop and Skip Faul.
"It's a special effort all around. We chose number 61 since that was the number I ran when I finished seventh in 1985 in my first Indy 500. We hope it helps lead to a long career of Indycar racing for Arie Jr."
Associate sponsors already in place are: Hubbard, Jumbo Supermarkets, Volusia Properties / FlaCondos.net, GS610 Brake Fluid, Widmaier Chiropractic, Steve Collias, DaCosta Companies / Geoffrey H. Edmunds Realty, Rock Lobster and Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc.
2. Klein learning on the track, in the classroom: Jonathan Klein's freshman year in both the Indy Pro Series and college has been one learning experience after another.
Soon the continuing education program will shift from the University of Dayton, where he is finishing class work, to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for preparation for next month's Freedom 100.
"It's a lot of working ahead while I'm at school if I have an upcoming event," said the Illinois native who drives the No. 27 Klein Tools car for Andretti Green Racing. "Then when I get back, it's also a lot of catching up because one day in college the workload is equivalent to about a week in high school.
"It's been tough. I'm working my butt off to keep up and stay focused. Sometimes it's difficult. You know, as long as I just stay focused and don't stray off of the path of school and then racing, it's not so bad."
Klein's focus on the racetrack isn't questioned. He's posted back-to-back fifth-place finishes in the doubleheader weekend on the temporary street course in St. Petersburg (Fla.) and qualified on the front row for the season-opener on the Homestead-Miami Speedway oval. The results are encouraging, but the former karter and Star Mazda series driver isn't taking anything for granted.
"We're pretty excited, definitely happy with the results at St. Petersburg," he said. "It's unfortunate we couldn't get on the podium. Two top fives is definitely what we're looking for. We want to maximize points even if it means we're one or two positions away from the top three.
"From here on out, we're looking to finish every race and do so in the most successful fashion, whether it's top five, top three. Our goal is to just make sure we keep all four corners on the car for all weekend and maximize points and gain experience.
"So far, we're happy with how it's going. We've done significant testing. I'm getting more comfortable in the car. Things are headed in the right direction."
The Indy Pro Series schedule next leads Klein to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where the 18-year-old will receive instruction from teammate Jaime Camara -- a second-year Indy Pro Series competitor and defending Freedom 100 race winner -- and his Andretti Green Racing "big brothers" on the art of taming the 2.5-mile, low-banked oval.
"The three veteran drivers on the team, Dario Franchitti, Tony Kanaan and Bryan Herta have all played a hand in helping me develop me and my teammate Jaime Camara," Klein said. "Sometimes they'll come by and talk to us about what's happening with their program. We can relate that to what's going on with me and Jaime on the track. There's a connection between their data and what they're experiencing in the car. They can help us out in that respect.
"They also have Marco Andretti driving. He's a young driver, looking to gain as much experience as possible. He doesn't spend as much time helping coach us because he's kind of in the same position as we are right now, trying to learn and gain experience. It's great being affiliated with Andretti Green Racing because there's so much support from the drivers and administration."
Freedom 100 practice will be Klein's first opportunity to drive on the historic track, and something he'll never forget. But an unstated goal is to compete in the Indianapolis 500 before he receives his undergraduate degree.
"It's pretty magnificent to be there watching the Indy 500," he said. "I remember in 2003, it was my first year there, just watching the three rows of cars coming out of Turn 4 to take the (green) flag is breathtaking. I'm real excited to finally get my chance to get on the track and see what I can do.
"The main goal is to become a successful driver in the Indy Racing League. That's been my goal for pretty much as long as I can remember back in the days even when it was just CART and one series. The direction that the IRL and the Indy Pro Series is heading is definitely the most enticing route."
3. Network LIVE brings orange livery to Panther for Indy Japan 300: Panther Racing's championship-winning No. 4 car will have an all-new look April 22 for the Indy Japan 300 at Twin Ring Motegi. Network LIVE, one of Panther's newest associate sponsors, will be on the sidepods of the team's Honda-powered Dallara this weekend for the debut of the bright orange and black No. 4 Honda.
This weekend will mark one of the few times the Panther car has not been primarily yellow. The original car the team used in 1998 was yellow and black, until 2000 when the all-yellow Pennzoil livery was put in place.
The team broke from that style for one race (Kansas Speedway) in 2003, when the car design was altered slightly to promote the movie Terminator 3, staring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Last season the car was platinum for a select number of races -- including the Indianapolis 500 - when Pennzoil was promoting its Pennzoil Platinum Full Synthetic motor oil. Panther Racing's last victory, last June at Texas Motor Speedway, was in the platinum livery.
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The 2006 IRL IndyCar Series continues with the Indy Japan 300 at midnight (EDT) on April 22 at Twin Ring Motegi. ESPN2 will telecast the race at Noon (EDT) on April 22. The race will be broadcast live on the IMS Radio Network beginning at 11:30 p.m. (EDT) on April 21. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio channel 145 "IndyCar Racing" and www.indycar.com. The fifth season of Indy Pro Series competition continues with the Freedom 100 Friday, May 26 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast as part of ESPN2's Carb Day coverage on May 26.