IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2005-07-25

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- July 25, 2005 Today's IRL headlines 1. Hornish, Franchitti hope to ride momentum into points chase 2. Carpentier skates to another top-10 3. Wheldon signs deal with BC Ethic 4. Checking out Danica Patrick 5....


Today's IRL headlines
1. Hornish, Franchitti hope to ride momentum into points chase
2. Carpentier skates to another top-10
3. Wheldon signs deal with BC Ethic
4. Checking out Danica Patrick
5. Of note

1. Hornish, Franchitti hope to ride momentum into points chase: Anything can shake up the championship race with seven races remaining in the 10th IRL IndyCar® Series season, including the first-ever road course events. At least that's what Sam Hornish Jr. and Dario Franchitti, among others, are expecting.

The drivers, who have swapped 1-2 finishes the past two short-oval events, moved into a tie for second (309 points) in the standings and cut into Dan Wheldon's cushion. Wheldon, who won four of the initial five races of the season, has a 68-point lead heading into the Firestone Indy 400 at the high-speed 2-mile Michigan International Speedway on July 31.

Reigning IndyCar Series champion Tony Kanaan is 71 points off the pace, and Helio Castroneves is fifth. Both Hornish, a two-time series champion, and Franchitti, who was in the points race mix numerous seasons in CART before moving to the IndyCar Series in 2003, know it's not time to press but let events unfold.

"I think there are a lot of things left to do in this championship," said Hornish, the pole sitter who led 123 laps of the ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt 225 at The Milwaukee Mile on July 24 and fended off Franchitti to win by 0.3836 of a second. "I think it can be done, though it's going to be tough. Dan has been fast. Every time I think we're going to go to a track and he's not going to be quick, he is.

"The closer we catch up to Dan, the more probability there might be he could make a mistake trying to keep us back there, pushing something that he doesn't need to. That feels good. Dario has picked up a lot of points, too. It's real close racing.

"Really, we don't have to push things as hard, but I'm sure we will sometimes because that's what it takes, that last little bit. I look back at a lot of yesterdays, when we gave up a lot of points. We could possibly be leading it right now. But that's how things go. We're looking forward to the future."

Hornish has won two of the four short-oval races (Phoenix, Milwaukee), while Franchitti won at Nashville and Castroneves climbed the fence at Richmond. One -- the 1-mile Pikes Peak tri-oval on Aug. 21 where Franchitti is the defending champion -- is interspersed in the remaining schedule of superspeedways that favor horsepower and road courses where a handling and power marriage is essential.

"Michigan, I've been in the top 10 every time I've raced there and the top five twice," said Hornish, driver of the No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone. "I think that it should be a good weekend for us. Toyota has been trying to move forward as much as they can, getting us some more horsepower.

"Obviously, after that we go to Kentucky. That track has been very good to me. I've only had one finish outside of the top 10 there. Pikes Peak has been pretty good, except for last year. We go into there knowing what our problem was last year, and hopefully don't have that mistake again.

"I think my road course ability is getting better. The more time that we get in these cars, I think the better that I'm becoming with that. St. Petersburg was looking pretty good until the last 15 laps. We go to those races, stay out of trouble, any amount of things could happen.

"I think we've got a lot of races where we could make up points. We just have to go there and stay out of trouble."


2. Carpentier skates to another top-10: Patrick Carpentier said the racing surface during the ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt 225 at The Milwaukee Mile was like a skating rink.

It's an interesting metaphor from the former speed skating competitor. He's spot-on with the analysis though as the record 96 degrees for a race at the 102-year-old facility (according to the track historian) created car setup and driver physical conditioning challenges. The track temperature at the green flag was 126 degrees.

Still, the Red Bull Cheever Racing driver drove to his third top-10 finish in the past four races in his initial IndyCar Series season. Teammate Alex Barron was one position back in eighth after starting a season-high seventh in the No. 51 Toyota-powered Dallara.

"The car was fast, and I think we were pretty close to what the leaders were running," said Carpentier, who extended his series lead in laps completed to 1,922 (of 1,975 total). "Starting from 14th, we had some problems at the beginning, which cost us a little bit. When you can stick with the leaders, it's a lot easier to stick with them at the end. We lost a lap early, and we couldn't find a way to get it back. Overall, I'm pleased with the result, though. The team is definitely getting better and better, and we need to keep working."

Barron moved up two spots in the standings to 12th, while Carpentier remained 10th (47 points out of the top five).

"We ran a really strong race," said Barron, who recorded his second top 10 in the past four races. "The car at the beginning of the race had some understeer, but as the race went on we got faster. I think the most important thing at the end of the day is that we moved up in points. The team put forth a lot of effort this weekend and I think it showed."

Team owner Eddie Cheever Jr. is pleased with the team's progress the past month.

"We had a rough start to the race or we would have finished fourth or fifth," he said. "After the initial problems, we ran really strong, though. We've really made a lot of progress over the last month, and I'm looking forward to Michigan."


3. Wheldon signs deal with BC Ethic: Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon has reached a sponsorship agreement with Blue Collar (BC) Ethic Clothing, a trendy men's apparel company based in Southern California.

In addition to clothing Wheldon off the racetrack, BC Ethic will design a personalized line of Dan Wheldon-branded apparel and assist in marketing the apparel and Wheldon brand at select retail outlets across the U.S.

"As a fan of the fashion world, I'm excited to announce this deal with BC Ethic clothing," said Wheldon. "I really like the look that BC Ethic portrays. They're cool, they're trendy, they're vintage and they're all about fast cars, rock and roll music, the nightlife and looking good. I'm a race car driver, and that's what I'm all about. I'm looking forward to this partnership with the crew at BC Ethic, and I think we're going to have a lot of fun."

Wheldon will waer BC Ethic sleeve patches on his racing firesuit for the remainder of the 2005 IndyCar Series season, and will make appearances at trade shows, product launches, red carpet parties and/or VIP events surrounding the fashion, music and entertainment world in Los Angeles.

"We're extremely happy to be on board as a clothing sponsor to Dan Wheldon, the winner of the 2005 Indianapolis 500," said Mark Zacher, BC Ethic CEO. "Dan's admiration for our clothing and the style he brings to it will prove to be a great fit for both of us. His good looks, his talent behind the wheel and his professionalism will only enhance our company's visibility in the marketplace. We see a bright future for both Dan and our clothing line."


4. Checking out Danica Patrick: Danica Patrick is coming to a checkout line near you.

The IndyCar Series rookie's rise to racing prominence and international media attention is detailed in an "exclusive interview" in the July 31-Aug. 6 issue of TV Guide magazine, just in time for ABC's broadcast of the Firestone Indy 400 on July 31 from Michigan International Speedway (3 p.m. EDT).

In part of the country, Patrick standing next to a race car is the main cover image. In the alternate cover, a photo of her is in the upper right corner with the stars of "Law and Order: Special Victim's Unit" the main photo. This past weekend at The Milwaukee Mile, Patrick was photographed for an upcoming issue of LIFE magazine.


5. Of note: The three engine manufacturers (Toyota, Honda and Chevrolet) were represented by the top three finishers at Milwaukee. -- The track was slippery but the Firestone Firehawks maintained their cool. Dario Franchitti and Tony Kanaan ran the final 95 laps of the 225-lap event on one set of tires.


The 10th season of IndyCar Series competition continues with the Firestone Indy 400 on July 31 at Michigan International Speedway. The race will be broadcast by ABC and the IMS Radio Network. The race broadcast will also be carried on XM Satellite Radio channel 152 (XM Extreme). ESPN2's telecast of the Milwaukee 100 is scheduled for 3 p.m. (EDT) on July 28. The next Menards Infiniti Pro Series race is the Courier-Journal 100 on Aug. 13 at Kentucky Speedway. The race will be telecast on ESPN2 at 5 p.m. (EDT) on Aug. 18. The next episode of "The Fast Life," ESPN2's behind-the-scenes series about the IndyCar Series, airs at noon (EDT) on Aug. 7.


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Eddie Cheever , Helio Castroneves , Patrick Carpentier , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Alex Barron , Dan Wheldon , A.J. Foyt , Sam Hornish Jr. , Danica Patrick
Teams Team Penske