IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2005-04-18

Today's IRL headlines 1. IndyCar Series teams load up for trip to Japan 2. Rice finishes third in IROC race 1. IndyCar Series teams load up for trip to Japan: Remember that move into your first "real" apartment? How about the transit of ...

Today's IRL headlines
1. IndyCar Series teams load up for trip to Japan
2. Rice finishes third in IROC race

1. IndyCar Series teams load up for trip to Japan: Remember that move into your first "real" apartment? How about the transit of exponentially more possessions to your second house? Remember that strain and stress? Sorry to have hit a nerve.

Anyone who has made a major household move can appreciate Indy Racing League senior director of operations John Lewis' attention to detail for the IndyCar Series' third trip to Japan for the April 30 Indy Japan 300 at Twin Ring Motegi.

The logistics and paperwork of a 13,000-mile roundtrip move of more than 420,000 pounds of equipment -- everything from race cars to the sanctioning body's technical inspection station -- is mind-boggling. Oh, and throw in the 14-hour time difference and customs clearances.

"I actually divide my season in two halves," said Lewis, who will direct the loading of two chartered Nippon Cargo Airlines 747s this week at Indianapolis International Airport for the trip to New Tokyo Airport (Narita Airport) and subsequent move to the facility three hours north.

"From Jan. 1 to getting back from Motegi is one half, and then the month of May starts my second half. Once I get the Japan race over, it's really a different mind-set. If you forget to take something to the race in Kentucky, it's not that important."

Constricting the schedule was last week's Open Test at Infineon Raceway in northern California. Most team haulers returned to their bases by April 15. That gave crews two days to transform the cars from their road-course packages to oval aerodynamic and brake packages and load them for the jaunt to the airport.

"We'll have the same challenge on the download side due to the closeness of opening day (May 8) at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway," Lewis says matter-of-factly. "Teams should have everything back from clearing customs on May 4 and manufacturers on the 5th. All they should have to do is change the motor and change to the Speedway trim. Hopefully, they'll get a day off."

IndyCar Series teams will deliver their pre-packed containers for inspection at Indianapolis International Airport on April 20. Cars are loaded two-high onto specially built 18- and 10-foot pallets and secured by team and IRL personnel. All containers are verified for weight and checked against the team's manifest.

The freighters have a maintenance stop in Anchorage, Alaska, before heading across the Pacific Ocean. After cargo is unloaded and trucked to Twin Ring Motegi, it will clear customs and be available for teams to unpack.

"We're in a bonded area at the racetrack, so you clear customs when you leave the U.S. and you clear Japan customs at the track," Lewis said. "Everything goes back to Japan customs in that same configuration to come back and clear customs here. Everything that came must go; it will come out the same way it came in."

Lewis certainly hopes so for the third leg of this four-part adventure in moving.

***

2. Rice finishes third in IROC race: Reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Buddy Rice is familiar with competing under the lights at Texas Motor Speedway -- just not in a stock car.

The Rahal Letterman Racing driver finished third April 15 in the second round of the Crown Royal International Race of Champions at the high-banked 1.5-mile oval in Fort Worth. The IndyCar Series makes its annual stop at the popular track in mid-June. The action certainly was popular with Rice.

"It was exciting," said Rice, who started eighth. "I have a little bit of seat time here racing in the dark in the IRL. I've always liked this place. I think this is my best finish I've ever had here at this track. I've been running up front a whole bunch of times, but I've just never been able to get a solid finish. This is the first time to get one here and to do it in an IROC car -- a car that I'm not familiar with."

Sebastien Bourdais won the 67-lap race, with Mark Martin second. Based on the reverse order of finish from his IROC debut when he finished last at Daytona, Bourdais started first at Texas. He became the fourth foreign-born driver to win an IROC race, leading the final 22 laps.

The last foreign-born IROC winner was Geoff Brabham at Michigan in 1992. The last open wheel driver to win was Buddy Lazier at Chicagoland Speedway in 2002. Marlboro Team Penske's Helio Castroneves finished 10th in the 12-car field that features identically prepared cars.

Martin is the points leader through two of four races with 42. The next IROC race is Sept. 8 at Richmond International Raceway -- another track that is familiar to Rice and Castroneves. The finale is Oct. 29 in Atlanta. The series winner gets $1 million.

"We're only on the second race," Rice said. "Mark has a win and a second so he's pretty solid right now in the lead. There are still two more rounds so a lot can happen. We'll have to wait and see, but I'm having a blast. This is a great time for me."

***

The 10th season of IndyCar Series competition continues with the Indy Japan 300 on April 30 at Twin Ring Motegi. The race will be telecast by ESPN at Noon (EDT) on April 30 and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network at 11:30 p.m. (EDT) on April 29. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also will be available on XM Satellite Radio channel 152 "XM Extreme" and webcast on indycar.com. The next Menards Infiniti Pro Series race is the Futaba Freedom 100 on May 27 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast on ESPN2 at 2 p.m. (EDT) on May 27.

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Buddy Lazier , Helio Castroneves , Sébastien Bourdais , Buddy Rice , Geoff Brabham , John Lewis , Mark Martin
Teams Team Penske