IRL: Indy Racing League news and notes 2005-07-12

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- July 12, 2005 Today's IRL headlines 1. Watson's joins Panther Racing 2. Kite returns close to home 3. Rice to give fan ride of a lifetime 1. Watson's joins Panther Racing: Watson's, America's Family ...

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- July 12, 2005

Today's IRL headlines
1. Watson's joins Panther Racing
2. Kite returns close to home
3. Rice to give fan ride of a lifetime

1. Watson's joins Panther Racing: Watson's, America's Family Fun Store, will serve as an associate sponsor on the No. 95 Panther Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone driven by Buddy Lazier on July 16 at Nashville Superspeedway.

The midwest chain of stores sells everything from swimming pools, spas, hot tubs and pool tables to tanning beds and patio furniture. The Nashville store will host both Lazier and teammate Tomas Enge from 6-8 p.m., on July 14. The Nashville store is located on Old Hickory Blvd (exit 62 off I-24 East).

Lazier and Enge will be available for photos and autographs during the event, and fans also can see one of Panther's show cars, which also will be at the store.

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2. Kite returns close to home: Jimmy Kite will have only one race to prepare for this weekend at Nashville Superspeedway, but likely will be busy as a ticket broker for the Firestone Indy 200.

The July 16 twilight race is 270 miles from Kite's hometown of Stockbridge, Ga.

"I know I must be pretty close to home because I'm getting calls from people I have never met asking me for tickets," said Kite, who two weeks ago competed in the Argent Mortgage Indy 300 and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event. "Seriously, I'm lucky to have a lot of friends and family coming up from Georgia to watch. Since the IndyCar Series doesn't race in Atlanta or Charlotte anymore, Nashville is my home race. It should be a pretty good place for them to come and see."

The 1.33-mile oval is the only place the series competes on a concrete surface.

"The concrete will be a little different, but the last concrete track I raced one of these cars was at Dover and I loved it," said Kite, driver of the No. 91 Ethanol Hemelgarn Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone. "I have my eyes set on that Gibson guitar they give to the winner, but honestly we're just looking for a strong finish."

Hemelgarn Racing won the inaugural IndyCar Series event at the track in 2001 with Buddy Lazier. Last year, Tony Kanaan beat Sam Hornish Jr. to the finish line by 0.3375 of a second to win the Gibson guitar.

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3. Rice to give fan ride of a lifetime: 2004 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice will pace the CARQUEST Clash USAC Silver Crown race at Stafford Motor Speedway in Connecticut on July 13 in the The Jim Beam drink smart two-seater.

Four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser will be the honorary starter. The race is part of the CARQUEST Extreme Wednesday lineup at the facility east of Hartford.

Fans who purchase advance tickets to the event will be entered in a sweepstakes, with the winner receiving the opportunity to ride in the back seat. For more information, call the Stafford Motor Speedway box office at (860) 684-2783.

On July 12, Connecticut Gov. Jodi Rell served as backseat driver as some hot laps in the two-seater were around the state capitol.

The car will also give rides to fans at Watkins Glen International during the The Finger Lakes Wine Festival, supported by The Corning Museum of Glass.

For $25, fans can take a ride in the Indy-style car for a lap around the track and experience the same twists and turns that an IndyCar Series driver will endure during the Inaugural Watkins Glen Indy Grand Prix presented by Argent Mortgage September 23-25. Rides begin at 10 a.m. and run until 4:30 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday, weather permitting.

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The 10th season of IRL IndyCar Series competition continues with the Firestone Indy 200 at 7 p.m. (EDT) July 16 at Nashville Superspeedway. 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. The next episode of "The Fast Life," ESPN2's behind-the-scenes series about the IndyCar Series, airs at noon (EDT) on July 17.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Enge , Buddy Lazier , Jimmy Kite , Tony Kanaan , Al Unser Sr. , Buddy Rice , Jim Beam , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Panther Racing