IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2005-03-09

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- March 9, 2005 Today's IRL headlines 1. Patrick resting following Miami accident 2. Yasukawa optimistic despite crash at Miami 3. IndyCar Series stars play poker for charity 4. Herb Records Career-Best...


Today's IRL headlines
1. Patrick resting following Miami accident
2. Yasukawa optimistic despite crash at Miami
3. IndyCar Series stars play poker for charity
4. Herb Records Career-Best Finish
5. IndyCar Series car on display

1. Patrick resting following Miami accident: Bombardier Rookie of the Year candidate Danica Patrick is resting at home following a March 6 accident during the Toyota Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Patrick, driver of the No. 16 Rahal Letterman Racing Argent/Pioneer Panoz/Honda/Firestone, was running 10th in her IRL IndyCar® Series debut when she was caught up in an eight-car accident on Lap 159. Patrick sustained a concussion and is scheduled to see a Phoenix area doctor for a follow-up evaluation.

"I had a lot of fun while I was out there," Patrick said. "The car was great, but I was just trying to be patient and get a feel for the race. Sunday was the longest race of my career, and since it was only my 12th day in an IndyCar (Series car), I wanted to gain as much experience as possible and increase my comfort level. Going into the race, I just wanted to finish. Every lap I run in an IndyCar is experience, and that experience is going to pay benefits later in the season. I really don't remember the accident, but I know we were having a pretty decent race for our first time out. I just wish I could have finished."


2. Yasukawa optimistic despite crash at Miami: Despite finishing 17th and severely damaging its car in an accident, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing left Homestead-Miami Speedway confident it can compete with the IRL IndyCar® Series' top teams.

"We ran up in the top five, and were running as well as anybody on the track," team co-owner Dennis Reinbold said. "Things would've worked out fine had we been able to get through that mess. We'd have been back to fourth or fifth and had a good car to the end. But the main thing is that we can now consider ourselves a front-running car at this point and that's our plan. All of our off-season changes are very exciting at this point because we know now that we can compete with anybody anywhere."

New driver Roger Yasukawa ran as high as fifth position and spent the majority of the day in the top 10 in the No. 24 Honda-powered Dallara. Yasukawa's day ended with an accident not of his doing on Lap 159, taking away any hope for a solid finish.

"Roger did everything he could've to try to avoid that incident," team co-owner Robbie Buhl said. "He was having just an outstanding run (Sunday). He proved that we've got a guy that's willing to drive our race car."

Yasukawa was running sixth and gaining ground, but he missed the pit road entrance on Lap 148 during an attempted green flag stop. As he slid through the edge of the grass in Turn 4, a small fire broke out which caused a yellow flag. Several cars pitted, and the crash occurred as the race went back to green. He was racing in the 11th position

"I'm not sure what happened. All I saw was flying parts going by," Yasukawa said after the race. "I had to go to the high side, but there was no where to go. But man, we had a great race car."


3. IndyCar Series stars play poker for charity: Marlboro Team Penske drivers Sam Hornish Jr. and Helio Castroneves and 2004 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice are among the racing stars who will participate in the Mobil High Endurance Charity Poker Challenge March 10 in Las Vegas.

Racing stars from NASCAR and the IRL will compete in a high-stakes poker tournament with $50,000 going to the winner's charity of choice. The runner-up will receive $10,000 for his favorite charity, and every participant will earn $4,000 for the charity of his choice.

The tournament will be held at the Golden Nugget.


4. Herb Records Career-Best Finish: For Jon Herb and his Racing Professionals team, expectations in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series run high.

Although both team and driver recorded their best-ever result with a third-place finish at the 2005 season opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway March 6, the team wants to accomplish even more.

"I think this is about what we expected, at least out here," said Herb, 34, whose team debuted in the series at three races last season. "I mean, obviously the (Sam) Schmidt (Motorsports) team has been strong, has a history of winning races and championships. That's the team to beat out here."

Herb, who qualified fourth at the 2004 season finale at Texas Motor Speedway, qualified fifth for the Homestead-Miami 100 with a quick lap of 185.821 mph (28.7696 seconds). His effort was more than a half-second and 3 mph slower than pole sitter Travis Gregg's top lap. Gregg and Sam Schmidt Motorsports teammate Jaime Camara started on the front row and were 1-2 for the entire 67-lap race on the 1.5-mile oval.

"Obviously, we didn't have the speed those guys had," Herb said. "We're going to have to go back and work on it so we can come back and deserve it next time we get back up there."

While Gregg and Camara raced to a comfortable lead, Herb found himself in a pack competing for third place. He passed rookies Nick Bussell and Mishael Abbott, who had qualified third and fourth, respectively, and took over third place on Lap 3.

Herb battled Bussell, Al Unser and P.J. Chesson for third position for the next 17 laps, relinquishing the position to Chesson on Laps 13 and 15, but securing the spot for good on Lap 16. He held off Wade Cunningham, who moved into fourth on Lap 57, by 1.1629 seconds to finish on the podium.

"You know, we're not going to sit and be happy with that," Herb said. "It's time to move on and try and work on the next one."

Herb's opportunity to improve comes March 19 on the 1-mile oval at Phoenix International Raceway.


5. IndyCar Series car on display: A Team Penske IndyCar Series car will be on display at the Watkins Glen International booth during The Syracuse Motorsports Show March 11-13 at the New York State Fairgrounds.


The 10th season of IndyCar Series competition continues with the XM Satellite Radio Indy 200 Presented by Argent Mortgage on March 19 at Phoenix International Raceway. The race will be broadcast by ABC Sports and the IMS Radio Network. The race also will be available on XM Satellite Radio channel "XM Extreme" (Channel 152). ESPN2's coverage of the Menards Infiniti Pro Series Miami 100 will be shown at 3 p.m. (EST) on March 14. The next Menards Infiniti Pro Series race is the Phoenix 100 on March 19 at Phoenix International Raceway. The race will be broadcast March 24 at 3 p.m. (EDT).


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jon Herb , Robbie Buhl , Helio Castroneves , Sam Schmidt , Mishael Abbott , Roger Yasukawa , Buddy Rice , Nick Bussell , P.J. Chesson , Travis Gregg , Wade Cunningham , Jaime Camara , Sam Hornish Jr. , Danica Patrick , Al Unser
Teams Team Penske , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing