Indy Racing League notebook IRL IndyCar Series drivers make their championship game picks INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, Jan. 30, 2004 -- After putting in a combined 5,062 laps in two days of testing at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Indy Racing League ...
Indy Racing League notebook
IRL IndyCar Series drivers make their championship game picks
INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, Jan. 30, 2004 -- After putting in a combined 5,062 laps in two days of testing at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Indy Racing League IndyCar® Series drivers are ready for some football.
Many drivers will take a break before the second round of testing Feb. 11-12 at Phoenix International Raceway, and watching Super Bowl XXXVIII from Houston on Feb. 1 is part of their plans.
Some enjoy the commercials and pre-game hoopla, while others will strictly tune in for the competition between the New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers. Some have rooting interests, while others are more casual fans. But all 18 drivers who participated in testing at the reconfigured 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway in preparation for the Feb. 29 Toyota Indy 300 are sports fans.
"It'll depend what numbers I get in the pool at my Super Bowl party who I'm going to root for," said Andretti Green Racing driver Bryan Herta, an Oakland Raiders fan. "If I had to pick a winner, I think the Patriots. But it's going to be close."
Red Bull Cheever Racing's Alex Barron has been breaking down both teams during the playoffs. The Patriots, the AFC champions, won the title game two years ago.
"I think the Patriots are going to win," he said. "I've been following it right along. I think the Patriots are going to be real solid. Their quarterback doesn't make many mistakes, and they've been running strong all year."
Rookie Ed Carpenter agreed with his Red Bull Cheever Racing teammate's assessment. However, he has another reason to root for the Patriots.
"I have to root for the Patriots. That way at least the (Indianapolis) Colts lost to the Super Bowl champs," said Carpenter, an Indianapolis native who watched the Patriots defeat his favorite team in a conference semifinal.
Conseco/A.J. Foyt Racing's A.J. Foyt IV and Indy Racing League Menards Infiniti Pro Series' driver Brad Pollard share similar sentiments. Both of their favorite teams were knocked out long ago.
"My team is the (San Francisco) 49ers, and they didn't even make the playoffs," Foyt said. "Hopefully, it's a good game."
"Now that the (Kansas City) Chiefs are out of it, I don't have a rooting interest," said Pollard, whose godfather is Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil. "I hope it's a close game."
Marlboro Team Penske's Sam Hornish Jr. said he'll put his feet up, have the chip bowl nearby and enjoy the show.
"I'll watch and enjoy the action, the commercials," he said. "But I don't have a favorite team. If anything, I'll root for the underdog."
That would be the Panthers, who are a seven-point underdog.
On the pole: Indianapolis 500 veteran Scott Pruett put the No. 01 Chip Ganassi CompUSA Lexus-powered Riley Daytona Prototype on the pole for the Rolex 24 At Daytona Jan. 31-Feb. 1 at Daytona International Speedway.
Pruett will be joined on team by Indianapolis 500 veteran Max Papis and Jimmy Morales. Teams of drivers take shifts to drive around the clock on the 3.56-mile road course at Daytona, which incorporates some of the 2.5-mile oval.
IRL IndyCar Series driver Scott Sharp, the 2001 Indianapolis 500 pole sitter, will drive in the No. 59 Porsche Fabcar Daytona Prototype with five-time Rolex 24 winner Hurley Haywood, road racing veteran Tommy Riggins and J.C. France. The car will start in the ninth position. Riggins replaced two-time Indianapolis 500 runner-up Scott Goodyear, who suffered broken ribs Jan. 26 while playing hockey.
Paul Dana, an IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series driver who participated in testing on Jan. 27 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, will drive the No. 11 Ferrari 360 GT as part of the JMB Racing USA team.
IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series veteran Arie Luyendyk Jr., son of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk, will team up with Paul Mears Jr., Mike Borkowski and Nick Ham in the No. 9 Ford Multimatic Daytona Prototype that qualified 13th.
Wrapping up testing: Two days of IRL IndyCar Series and one rain-shortened day of IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series testing were completed without incident Jan.29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Here's what some drivers had to say.
Kosuke Matsuura (No. 55 Panasonic ARTA Panoz G Force/Honda Firestone): "We shook down the new G Force car in these last two days of testing. We changed from Dallara to G Force, so we didn't have any data from last year, and this is our first time to shake down the car. I'm a rookie driver, and I had to learn a lot of things in these last two days. I learned so much, and we will be able to use that date for the race."
Robbie Buhl (No. 24 Team Purex/Aventis/Dreyer & Reinbold Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We're really pleased with our progress over the past two days, but that doesn't mean we're going to lay back and relax. We've got to keep working as hard as ever. We've done a lot of work since the end of the last race to be competitive. It's definitely smoother with the car on the track, so we can be more focused on pit in/pit out, launch control and seeing what Chevy can do to keep improving. Last year, we were behind at the start, so it's important for us to come out strong."
Darren Manning (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "The car has been really consistent. We have gone through a lot of changes and haven't been going particularly very fast. This is the first time we have really run the 2004 car in anger, but we have a lot of good data and can now come back and run the race."
Tickets on sale: Remaining tickets for the 88th Indianapolis 500, scheduled for May 30, went on sale Jan. 30.
Fans can purchase tickets four ways: at www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com, by calling the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Ticket Office at (800) 822-INDY or (317) 492-6700 from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (EST), Monday through Friday, by sending a completed ticket application and payment to Indianapolis 500 Tickets, P.O. Box 24152, Indianapolis, IN 46224, and in person by visiting the Ticket Office on the first floor of the Speedway Administration Building at the corner of 16th Street and Georgetown Road in Indianapolis from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (EST), Monday through Friday.
Of note: A Delphi IndyCar Series car is on display Jan. 31-Feb. 1 in the Chicagoland Speedway booth at the "Chicago World of Wheels Show" in the McCormick Plaza Convention Center, 2301 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago. -- Red Bull Cheever Racing has confirmed that it will compete with Alex Barron in the No. 51 Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone entry and Ed Carpenter in the No. 52 car. -- Former IRL driver Davey Hamilton, who had been part of the IMS Radio Network, will be the driving coach and spotter for Carpenter. Former Indianapolis 500 pole winner Roberto Guerrero will be the spotter for IRL IndyCar Series rookie Mark Taylor.
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.