IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2005-08-15

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- Aug. 15, 2005 Today's IRL headlines 1. Sharp's Kentucky victory continues IndyCar Series' competitive trend 2. Sprint car racer Dodge lands on "Fast Track To Indy" 3. Wheldon, Sharp join exclusive list 4.

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- Aug. 15, 2005

Today's IRL headlines
1. Sharp's Kentucky victory continues IndyCar Series' competitive trend
2. Sprint car racer Dodge lands on "Fast Track To Indy"
3. Wheldon, Sharp join exclusive list
4. Several share post-race rewards

1. Sharp's Kentucky victory continues IndyCar Series' competitive trend: Scott Sharp's victory in the AMBER Alert Portal Indy 300 on Aug. 14 at Kentucky Speedway continued one of the most competitive seasons in IndyCar Series history.

Sharp was the eighth different winner of the season and the eighth different in as many events dating back to Dan Wheldon's win at the Indianapolis 500. The IndyCar Series recrd for race winners in a season and longest streak of different winners is nine.

Including the other six wins, by Tomas Scheckter (Texas), Helio Castroneves (Richmond), Tony Kanaan (Kansas), Dario Franchitti (Nashville), Sam Hornish Jr. (Milwaukee), Bryan Herta (Michigan), four IndyCar Series teams and each engine and chassis manufacturers have scored wins during the stretch.

"Any time you can get a win feeling like you're racing against the best that there is, it feels that much more rewarding, and then, that much more proven," Sharp said. "There's great drivers that have not won this year, the guy that was second (Vitor Meira) has not won yet, and he's a great driver. Great drivers deserve to win races. It's definitely gratifying to be able to pull one out."

Numbers of note

5: The starting position of Tony Kanaan, who made a bold move to skirt the Row 2 starters to become the first driver this season outside of the front-row starters to lead the first lap.

6: Races is the last seven events that have had a margin of victory of less than 1 second.

10: IndyCar Series seasons that Sharp has led at least one lap. His 60 laps led in the victory at Kentucky were the most since he led 105 from the pole at Kentucky in 2001. He finished second.

13: Cars of the 16 running at the finish that were on the lead lap -- the third time this season that more than 10 cars were running on the lead lap at the finish.

14: Positions gained by Alex Barron, who finished fourth after starting 18th.

***

2. Sprint car racer Dodge lands on "Fast Track To Indy:" As the son of a sprint car driver who dreamed about racing in the Indianapolis 500, Geoff Dodge grew up with his own aspirations of driving in the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing."

Thanks to a partnership between the Indy Racing League and the Knoxville Nationals, Dodge is one step closer to realizing the family's dream.

Dodge, winner of the "Fast Track to Indy Rookie of the Year" program at the 45th Knoxville Nationals, earned a test in a Menards Infiniti Pro Series race car in October. Upon passing that test, officials from the Indy Racing League and Knoxville Raceway will work together to secure sponsorship for Dodge to compete in a minimum of six Menards Infiniti Pro Series races in 2006, including the Futaba Freedom 100 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway just days before the Indianapolis 500. In just four seasons, five drivers have graduated from the Menards Infiniti Pro Series to compete in the Indianapolis 500.

"I'm absolutely tickled," said Dodge, who started racing go-karts when he was 14.

The 21-year-old Colorado Springs, Colo., native started competing in sprint cars in 2003. This year, he joined 118 competitors in 410 sprint cars at the Knoxville Nationals Aug. 10-14. The top rookie, 18 years or older, had the "Fast Track to Indy" program as an extra incentive.

"I was in North Platte ( Neb.) and had gotten back from the shop, working on race cars, and I was laying on the couch watching the re-run of (Speed TV's) 'Wind Tunnel' from earlier on Sunday and (Dave) Despain mentions that, 'Hey, there's an announcement from Knoxville Raceway and the IRL about this rookie program.' And I'm thinking, 'Holy cow. That's a heck of a deal for somebody.'

"I never really thought that we'd even be in contention for it, because there are a lot of good racers here, and I don't have a whole lot of seat time in a 410."

In preliminary action on Aug. 10, Dodge finished third in his heat and then 15th in the A feature. That qualified him for the C Feature on Aug. 14.

"We went and did our thing and raced as hard as we could, and (Sunday) afternoon we looked at where we lined up and we thought, 'Man, we've got a shot at this thing,' he said.

Dodge's 14th-place effort in the C Feature gave him the points necessary to clinch the "Fast Track to Indy" title.

"Indy was something that I dreamed about as a kid, but honestly never thought I'd ever have a chance to make an attempt at it," Dodge said.

Turning the dream into a reality has begun.

***

3. Wheldon, Sharp join exclusive list: Dan Wheldon and Scott Sharp surpassed the 1,000 laps led mark during the AMBER Alert Portal Indy 300 at Kentucky Speedway. Wheldon has now led 1,049 laps during his IndyCar Series career while Sharp has led 1,043 laps.

There are now 10 drivers who have led more than 1,000 laps during their IndyCar Series career:
Sam Hornish Jr. - 2,219
Tony Stewart - 1,515
Helio Castroneves - 1,513
Tony Kanaan - 1,513
Tomas Scheckter - 1,213
Greg Ray - 1,193
Dan Wheldon - 1,049
Scott Sharp - 1,043
Gil de Ferran - 1,036 Buddy Lazier - 1,027

***

4. Several share post-race rewards: Several IndyCar Series drivers reaped benefits following the AMBER Alert Portal Indy 300.

Race winner Scott Sharp 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.

Runner-up Vitor Meira collected the Firestone Performance Award and its $10,000 prize for leading Lap 115 of the race, while Danica Patrick posted the fastest race lap, making her eligible for the season-long race for the Argent Mortgage Fastest Lap Award.

Tomas Enge and Dario Franchitti lead in the season-long standings 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.

***

The 10th season of IndyCar Series competition continues with the Honda Indy 225 on at 3:30 p.m. on Aug. 21 at Pikes Peak International Raceway. 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 Bluegrass 100 will be shown at 5 p.m. (EDT) on Aug. 18. The next Menards Infiniti Pro Series race is the Pikes Peak 100 on Aug. 21 at Pikes Peak International Raceway. It will be telecast at 3 p.m. (EDT) on Aug. 25.

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Stewart , Tomas Scheckter , Tomas Enge , Greg Ray , Buddy Lazier , Scott Sharp , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Alex Barron , Dan Wheldon , Geoff Dodge , Sam Hornish Jr. , Danica Patrick , Vitor Meira