IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League Notebook 2004-01-22

Indy Racing League Notebook Panther Racing car floats in lake at TMS; Foyt, Rutherford will be honored. INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2004 -- Drivers in the southbound lanes of I-35W will do a double-take when they pass Texas Motor Speedway...

Indy Racing League Notebook
Panther Racing car floats in lake at TMS; Foyt, Rutherford will be honored.

INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2004 -- Drivers in the southbound lanes of I-35W will do a double-take when they pass Texas Motor Speedway near Fort Worth.

A bright yellow Pennzoil Panther Racing Indy Racing League IndyCar® Series No. 4 machine has joined the lineup of motorsports cars "floating" in the lake in the Southeast corner of the complex. NASCAR driver Bobby Labonte's Pontiac and Shauna Robinson's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series show vehicle were put in place in 2003.

"The IRL and TMS approached us about having a car for floating on the lake and we were obviously pretty excited about the opportunity," said Doug Boles, co-owner of Panther Racing. "It is great for Panther, Pennzoil, Chevrolet and the IRL to have the 365-day-a-year visibility that the placement provides for us. And, with Pennzoil being a Texas-based company and Chevrolet having sponsored the fall TMS race the last few years, it is certainly a fitting place for the car.

"TMS knows how to put on a great show, both on and off the track, and adding the IndyCar to the lake is just another example of what a great promotional partner the facility is for the IRL."

The Bombardier 500, the first of two IRL IndyCar Series races at Texas Motor Speedway, is June 12. The Chevy 500 is the season finale on Oct. 17.

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Kansas Indy 300 sells out: Tickets for the IRL IndyCar Series Kansas Indy 300 and Indy Racing League Menards Infiniti Pro Series events on July 4 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan., have sold out.

Bryan Herta won last year's Kansas Indy 300, while Scott Dixon took the pole position with a qualifying speed of 218.085 mph on the 1.5-mile tri-oval.

The Kansas Indy 300 is the seventh of 16 races on the 2004 IRL IndyCar Series schedule.

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Hall of Fame calling: A.J. Foyt and Johnny Rutherford on Jan. 27 will be the first inductees into the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame at Texas Motor Speedway.

Foyt, a resident of Hockley, Texas, owns Foyt Enterprises. His grandson, A.J. Foyt IV, will drive the No. 14 Conseco/A.J. Foyt Racing car in the 16 IRL IndyCar Series races this season. A.J. Foyt was the first four-time winner of the Indianapolis 500, and the only driver to win the Indianapolis 500, the Daytona 500 and the 24 Hours of LeMans. He was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1989.

Rutherford, also known as Lone Star J.R., is a Fort Worth, Texas, resident. He is a driving coach and consultant for the IRL, and drives the pace car at almost all IRL IndyCar Series events. Rutherford is a three-time winner of the Indianapolis 500, and is one of two drivers to win from the pole twice. He's a 1996 inductee into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.

Also, retired IRL IndyCar Series driver Gil de Ferran, who won the 2003 Indianapolis 500 and finished second in the IRL IndyCar Series standings, will receive the 2003 Texas Motor Speedway Sportsmanship Award.

The Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame will be located adjacent to The Speedway Club at the track. Hall officials expect to break ground on the facility this year.

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New sponsor for Luyendyk: Borla Performance Industries of Oxnard, Calif., has committed to a personal sponsorship of IRL competitor Arie Luyendyk Jr. for 2004.

Borla Performance Industries is best known for manufacturing high-end exhaust systems for street, off-road and racing applications. The partnership will commence with the Rolex 24 at Daytona on Jan. 31-Feb. 1.

Luyendyk, 22, finished seventh in the 2003 IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series standings. He started from the pole at Michigan and Texas, and his best finish was third at both Pikes Peak and Gateway International Raceway.

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Of note: John Montgomery, father of former Bradley Motorsports and Kelley Racing crewman John Montgomery Jr., is recovering from a Dec. 17 liver transplant in Indianapolis. The younger Montgomery is now a crew chief for the Dublin, Ohio-based Intersport Racing team in the American Le Mans Series. -- Indianapolis 500 veteran driver Robbie Buhl will welcome Olympic wrestling gold medalist Rulon Gardner to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Jan. 23. Gardner, from Afton, Wyo., won the gold medal in Greco Roman wrestling in the 2000 Summer Olympic Games at Sydney, Australia.

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The 2004 IRL IndyCar Series season begins with the Toyota Indy 300 at 2 p.m. (EST) on Feb. 29, 2004, at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be broadcast live on ESPN and the IMS Radio Network.

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Bobby Labonte , Gil de Ferran , A.J. Foyt IV , Scott Dixon , Bryan Herta , A.J. Foyt , Johnny Rutherford
Teams Panther Racing