IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League notebook 2003-06-18

Teams stay busy testing; Witherill working to promote Native health INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, June 18, 2003 -- So, what are IRL IndyCarTM Series and Infiniti Pro Series teams doing on a rare week without a race? Pounding the pavement, as in ...

Teams stay busy testing; Witherill working to promote Native health

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, June 18, 2003 -- So, what are IRL IndyCarTM Series and Infiniti Pro Series teams doing on a rare week without a race?

Pounding the pavement, as in testing.

Drivers are turning many test laps this week as teams prepare for a crucial upcoming summer stretch of races.

A lineup of 15 IndyCar Series drivers is expected to participate in an Open Test on Friday, June 20 at Kentucky Speedway. The drivers and teams expected:

*Kenny Brack (Team Rahal), Helio Castroneves (Marlboro Team Penske), Gil de Ferran (Marlboro Team Penske), Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing), A.J. Foyt IV (A.J. Foyt Enterprises), Dario Franchitti (Andretti Green Racing), Felipe Giaffone (Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing), Vitor Meira (Team Menard), Greg Ray (Access Motorsports), Buddy Rice (Red Bull Cheever Racing), Tomas Scheckter (Target Chip Ganassi Racing), Tora Takagi (Pioneer Mo Nunn Racing), Al Unser Jr. (Kelley Racing), Dan Wheldon (Andretti Green Racing), Roger Yasukawa (Super Aguri Fernandez Racing).

Testing starts at 9 a.m. (EDT) and ends at 4:30 p.m. on the 1.5-mile oval. The Belterra Casino Indy 300 take places Aug. 17 at Kentucky Speedway, with the Kentucky 100 Infiniti Pro Series race Aug. 16.

General-admission tickets for the "Test in the Bluegrass" are $10 and available at the track's main entrance starting at 8:30 a.m. June 20. An autograph session will take place at approximately noon, and fans can see race cars on display, register to win official Belterra Casino Indy 300 Pace Cars and participate in an Indy Racing League Pit Stop Challenge.

Three Infiniti Pro Series drivers -- Pikes Peak 100 winner Aaron Fike (Hemelgarn 91 Johnson Motorsports), Jeff Simmons (Keith Duesenberg Racing) and Jonathan Urlin (Brian Stewart Racing) tested June 18 at Gateway International Raceway near St. Louis, site of the Gateway 100 on Aug. 9.

Fike tested June 16 at Kansas Speedway, turning more than 150 laps in the No. 91 RFMS/Hemelgarn Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone in preparation for the Aventis Racing For Kids 100 on July 6 on the 1.5-mile oval at Kansas.

"The test went well, and the car was fast, but we can always find more speed," Fike said. "The car responded well after we made several changes to the car. As the track got slower, our lap times stayed the same. We'll be in good shape when we return in July."

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Witherill to promote health:

IRL IndyCar Series standout Cory Witherill, a full-blooded Native American, is scheduled to appear at the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe's health day event titled "The Race for Health" on July 12 in Needles, Calif.

Witherill also will appear at the annual Native American Basketball Invitational (NABI) to take place July 13 at the America West Arena in Phoenix. The NABI event is a three-day basketball tournament that is one of the largest all-Native American sporting events in the country, with more than 6,000 Indian youths competing.

At each appearance, Witherill will conduct his "Team Diabetes Prevention (TDP)" program that he has designed to educate Native American youths about the prevention of diabetes through healthy diet and exercise.

"I have been speaking to Native American children about tobacco and alcohol prevention for several years now, but realized that the real problem lies with diabetes," Witherill said. "I am really looking forward to working with Native kids on this issue because staying in shape is something I take a lot of pride in and feel that I can be a good role model for them."

Witherill's TDP program consists of a 30-minute multimedia presentation, an interactive game, a TDP hat giveaway, Witherill's race car, photograph and autograph sessions, professionally designed promotional posters and diabetes handout kits for the children.

"I wanted to make this presentation fun for the kids but serious enough so that they take the educational value with them," Witherill said. "My goal is to get this program to every tribe and see an active change in the diabetes statistics in Indian Country. Obviously, I would like to build some corporate and tribal partners along the way to help cover the costs associated with the program, but for now I am just concentrating on the presentations."

"If we can make sure that each and every child that attends my presentation will learn something about diabetes prevention as well as have a good time, then I think we're doing a pretty good job"

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Track to honor Kite:

IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500 veteran Jimmy Kite will be honored by the Auto Tire and Parts NAPA Racepark on June 21 with "Jimmy Kite Night at the Racepark."

Kite races a winged sprint car at the dirt oval in Benton, Mo., when not competing in IndyCar Series or USAC competition.

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Greg Ray , Felipe Giaffone , Al Unser Jr. , Cory Witherill , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , A.J. Foyt IV , Jimmy Kite , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tora Takagi , Kenny Brack , Roger Yasukawa , Buddy Rice , Aaron Fike , Jeff Simmons , Jonathan Urlin , Chip Ganassi , A.J. Foyt , Mo Nunn , Vitor Meira
Teams A.J. Foyt Enterprises , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing