IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2005-06-27

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- June 27, 2005 Today's IRL headlines 1. Red Bull Cheever Racing basking in best weekend of season 2. Wheldon, Patrick earn ESPY nominations 3. Kanaan's streak ends 4. Engine manufacturer's battle heats up 5.

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- June 27, 2005

Today's IRL headlines
1. Red Bull Cheever Racing basking in best weekend of season
2. Wheldon, Patrick earn ESPY nominations
3. Kanaan's streak ends
4. Engine manufacturer's battle heats up
5. Several share post-race rewards
6. IndyCar Series approaches milestone

1. Red Bull Cheever Racing basking in best weekend of season: Red Bull Cheever Racing didn't win the SunTrust Indy Challenge, but placing both of his cars in the top-six at Richmond International Raceway was the next best thing for team owner Eddie Cheever.

"I think the strong point of the weekend was the torque of the Toyota engine," said Cheever, who saw his cars among the fastest cars on the time sheets in every practice session. "Both drivers did a good job of working with each other throughout the weekend. I am proud of them. The engineers should also be proud, because this is an oval where handling is paramount."

Canadian Patrick Carpentier, who was making his debut at Richmond, earned the best finish of his IRL IndyCar® Series career, finishing third in his first race at the .75-mile oval. It was the team's first top-five finish in more than a year.

"We ran well and qualified well," Carpentier said. "I didn't know if this was going to happen, but we kept working and working during the race. There were a lot of close calls out there, which caught up a few guys, but I love it. That's racing here. Toyota and Dallara really helped us at the test last week, and the Red Bull team gave me a really good car. It was fun in traffic... inside, outside.

Alex Barron, meanwhile, finished a season-best sixth, his best-ever finish at RIR despite a pit stop mistake which dropped him back to 15th early in the event.

"The car was really solid all race," Barron said. "The first stop I came in and I was confused pitting at night. I drove up, but didn't turn in, so it put me back. We fought all the way back forward, so it shows how strong our car was. Coming in sixth, we really needed that, and it just shows that all of the hard work has paid off, and we're really happy with the result. Hopefully it's the start of a good future for us as we head down the stretch this season."

The result was the team's best since it finished 1-2 with Tomas Scheckter and Buddy Rice at Michigan in 2002. Carpentier hopes that the result is a sign of things to come for the team.

"When you're in the front, it's a different universe," he said. "I was so happy in the car, I was laughing. Wheel-to-wheel racing is what I like. We've (the team) been having some ups and downs, but we're going to have more of these. I love this league. That's why I'm here."

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2. Wheldon, Patrick earn ESPY nominations: Dan Wheldon, winner of the 2005 Indianapolis 500, and IndyCar Series rookie Danica Patrick have been nominated for 2005 ESPY Awards presented by ESPN.

Wheldon is nominated in the "Best Driver" category along with drag racer Greg Anderson, NASCAR Nextel Cup champion Kurt Busch and Formula One champion Michael Schumacher.

"Obviously, the category that I have been nominated for, 'Best Driver,' means a lot to me," said Wheldon. "Anytime you are compared to a seven-time world champion like Michael Schumacher makes you very excited. To win an ESPY would be icing on the cake after winning the Indianapolis 500. It is going to be a great evening, and I am really looking forward to it."

Patrick is nominated in the "Breakthrough Performance" category along with Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade.

"It's a tremendous honor," Patrick said. "It hasn't come just in the races this season, it's been something that's been building since I started racing when I was 10 years old. Fourteen years later, things I've been dreaming of have been slowly making their way into reality. I just hope things keep going better."

Fans can vote for Wheldon and Patrick online at http://espn.go.com/espy2005/index.html.

ESPN will broadcast the 13th annual ESPY Awards on Sunday, July 17. Coverage of the event begins at 9 p.m. (EDT).

3. Kanaan's streaks ends: Tony Kanaan's accident at Richmond marked the first time he failed to finish an IndyCar Series event in 25 races and ended an IRL and IndyCar Series record streak of 22 consecutive top-10 finishes.

Kanaan's last DNF occurred in August 2003 when he was involved in an accident with Tomas Scheckter at Nazareth Speedway. His last finish outside the top-10 was a 14th-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway in October 2003.

"I didn't want to hit my teammate (Bryan Herta), so I got on the apron and spun," Kanaan said of his Richmond accident. "The first DNF in a year and seven months. I knew it was going to happen one day. So today was the day. We didn't start the weekend too good, so let's forget about it and go to Kansas."

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4. Engine manufacturer's battle heats up: Helio Castroneves' win at Richmond was the first time in IndyCar Series history that three different engine manufacturers have posted a win in as many races.

Castroneves' win for Toyota followed Dan Wheldon's win for Honda at Indianapolis and Tomas Scheckter's win for Chevrolet at Texas.

"The wins by each of our three engine manufacturers in the past month enhances one of the League's founding principles of giving each of our competitors a level playing field," IRL President and COO Brian Barnhart said. "We could not be happier with the performance and the reliability of Chevrolet, Honda and Toyota.

In the season-long engine manufacturer's race, Honda continues to lead the standings with 59 points, while Toyota is six points behind with 53 points. Chevrolet has 42 points.

***

5. Several share post-race rewards: Several IndyCar Series drivers reaped a number of benefits following the SunTrust Indy Challenge.

Race winner Helio Castroneves was presented with an engraved Formula One timepiece from TAG Heuer, the official timekeeper and watch of the Indy Racing League. TAG Heuer presents an engraved Formula One timepiece to the winner of each IndyCar Series event.

The design of the TAG Heuer Formula 1 has been upgraded and redesigned from its original version. It features a titanium-coated steel bezel, protective bumpers, and the six legendary features that define a TAG Heuer sportswatch -- screw-in crown, unidirectional turning bezel, luminescent hands and hour markers, scratch resistant sapphire crystal, water resistance to 200m and a double safety clasp.

Dario Franchitti collected the Firestone Performance Award and its $10,000 prize for leading Lap 110 of the SunTrust Indy Challenge, while Tomas Enge posted the fastest race lap for the second consecutive event, tying him with Dario Franchitti for the lead in the season-long standings for the Argent Mortgage Fastest Lap Award.

Argent will award $25,000 to the entrant of the driver who completes the fastest lap the most number of times in the 2005 IndyCar Series season. Enge and Franchitti each have two fastest laps.

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6. IndyCar Series approaches milestone: The SunTrust Indy Challenge was the 49th IndyCar Series race to finish with a margin of victory of less than one second.

Odds are that Kansas Speedway could be the site of No. 50.

Three of the four previous races at Kansas have had a margin of victory of less than 0.2 of a second, including last year's race when Buddy Rice beat Vitor Meira by .0051 of a second. The race was the closest in Kansas Speedway history and the second-closest in IndyCar Series history.

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The 10th season of IRL IndyCar competition continues with the Argent Mortgage Kansas Indy 300 at 1 p.m. (EDT) July 3 at Kansas Speedway. The race will be broadcast live on ESPN and the IMS Radio Network. The race also will be available on XM Satellite Radio channel 152 "XM Extreme." The next Menards Infiniti Pro Series race is the Cleanevent 100 on July 16 at Nashville Superspeedway. It will be telecast at 3 p.m. (EDT) July 21 by ESPN2.

-irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Michael Schumacher , Greg Anderson , Tomas Enge , Kurt Busch , Eddie Cheever , Helio Castroneves , Patrick Carpentier , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Alex Barron , Dan Wheldon , Buddy Rice , Brian Barnhart , Danica Patrick , Vitor Meira