IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2005-07-20

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- July 20, 2005 Today's IRL headlines 1. Sharp looks forward to milestone start 2. Castroneves flattered by Stewart's imitation 3. Fans invited to tour garage during Access Amplified 1. Sharp looks forward to...

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- July 20, 2005

Today's IRL headlines
1. Sharp looks forward to milestone start
2. Castroneves flattered by Stewart's imitation
3. Fans invited to tour garage during Access Amplified

1. Sharp looks forward to milestone start: Scott Sharp doesn't look the worse for wear after competing in 99 consecutive races. At 37, he's fit, fast in the No. 8 Delphi Panoz/Honda/Firestone and flattered to have had long-time sponsorship and friendships in the IndyCar Series.

No. 100 in a row (he passed the century mark for career races at Phoenix this year) is a testament to his abilities and fortitude, and the event will add to the occasion.

A decade after competing in his initial Indianapolis 500 in an A.J. Foyt Enterprises-prepared car, Sharp will drive in the ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt 225 at The Milwaukee Mile. Foyt competed as a driver more times The Milwaukee Mile than at any other track in his storied career (an estimated 98 races in Indy-style cars, stock cars, midgets and sprint cars).

"I've known Scott for a long time," said Foyt, who owns the team that will have A.J. Foyt IV in the July 24 show (2:30 p.m. EDT, ESPN and IMS Radio Network Webcast on indycar.com). "He drove for me when the IRL first started and was the co-champion along with Buzz Calkins in '96. He won some races and some poles for us and overall did a great job for us.

"I'm glad to see him still associated with the IRL because I think he is one of the top representatives of our league."

Sharp, who is coming off a fourth place in the Firestone Indy 200 at Nashville Superspeedway, appreciates the sentiments of the four-time Indianapolis 500 winner. He's given his all through a career of ups and downs -- highlighted by eight victories and five pole starts. Now, with the competitive Delphi Fernandez Racing team backing him, Sharp doesn't look to slow down.

"It is hard to believe that 100 races in a row have gone by so quickly," said Sharp, who has six top-10 finishes in the nine events. "It will be a special moment for me at the start of the race at Milwaukee to celebrate my 100th. Certainly we intend to make it a very memorable race. With the Delphi Fernandez team, I feel we have a great chance to win the race, which would cap off a 100 races quite nicely."

Sharp started fourth in the inaugural IndyCar Series race at Walt Disney World Speedway in January 1996 and recorded his first series victory in the 1996-97 season opener at New Hampshire in an A.J. Foyt entry. He joined Kelley Racing for the start of the 1998 season -- a relationship that lasted seven years until team principal Tom Kelley decided to withdraw from motorsports competition.

"The landscape has really changed throughout those 100 races within the IRL. I am very appreciative of the opportunities that I have had in my career, and ecstatic with the opportunity that I have now with this team. I am especially proud that in 92 of those races I have been driving for Delphi. There are very few motorsports sponsor/driver relationships that rival what Delphi and I have, and I hope to extend it a 100 more."

This year, Sharp is revitalized with a new team. He is sixth in the standings (26 points behind Sam Hornish Jr.) with eight events remaining. Sharp set the fastest race lap (201.130 mph on Lap 93) at the 1.33-mile Nashville concrete tri-oval.

"Our short track set-up really rocks," he said. "I can't wait for Milwaukee."

***

2. Castroneves flattered by Stewart's imitation: While NASCAR Nextel Cup driver Tony Stewart has been gaining notoriety for his newly adopted "fence climb" when he takes the checkered flag, it's important to take note of how what has come to be one of the victory celebration was born.

On June 18, 2000, at the Detroit Grand Prix, Marlboro Team Penske driver Helio Castroneves won his first Indy-style race. He was so overcome with emotion, that he forgot to pull into the pits and instead stopped on the front straight. When he saw all the fans cheering on the front straight, he went and scaled the fence to celebrate with them.

"All I wanted to do was show how excited I was to all the fans that had come out to the race," Castroneves said. "I just stopped my car, and my first reaction was to run over to the fence and climb it just to show how much that win meant to me. From there, the rest is history."

Castroneves has replicated his "fence climb" 12 times, including twice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway following Indianapolis 500 victories in 2001 and 2002. His most-recent "fence climb" occurred after his win in the SunTrust Indy Challenge in June.

"I think it's great that Tony (Stewart) is climbing the fence after he wins, it's good to see drivers showing their emotions when they win," Castroneves said. "I'm flattered that he has chosen my way to celebrate. Every time I see a driver climb the fence, it makes me smile because I think it says a lot about the excitement that I convey to the fans when I take the checkered flag."

***

3. Fans invited to tour garage during Access Amplified: Fans can tour the garages at The Milwaukee Mile during Access Amplified from 5:30-8 p.m. (CDT) on July 22 and watch as crews prepare their IndyCar Series cars for practice and qualifying on July 23.

Team engineers and mechanics will be available to answer questions, and Indy Racing League technical officials will answer questions about the high-tech cars at the Target cut-away car. The display is a real IndyCar Series car with sections of the body, engine and suspension removed to expose the components.

Fans also can corral an autograph from Rick Mears and Johnny Rutherford, who between them have seven Indianapolis 500 victories. Vintage open-wheel racing cars also will be on display. The event is free to attend.

***

The 10th season of IndyCar Series competition continues with the ABC Supply A.J. Foyt 225 at 2:30 p.m. (EDT) July 24 at The Milwaukee Mile. 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 event is the Milwaukee 100 on July 24 at The Milwaukee Mile. The race will be broadcast by ESPN2 on a tape-delayed basis at 3 p.m. (EDT) on July 28. The next episode of "The Fast Life," ESPN2's behind-the-scenes series about the IndyCar Series, airs at noon (EDT) on July 24.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Stewart , Buzz Calkins , Scott Sharp , Helio Castroneves , A.J. Foyt IV , Rick Mears , A.J. Foyt , Sam Hornish Jr. , Johnny Rutherford
Teams A.J. Foyt Enterprises , Team Penske