IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2006-07-26

Today's IRL headlines 1. AGR reaps benefits from association with Indy Pro Series program 2. Bucknum races at site of father's only Indy-style victory 3. Michigan governor to join Ethanol Pump Tour 4. Team Penske shoots for first MIS IndyCar...

Today's IRL headlines
1. AGR reaps benefits from association with Indy Pro Series program
2. Bucknum races at site of father's only Indy-style victory
3. Michigan governor to join Ethanol Pump Tour
4. Team Penske shoots for first MIS IndyCar Series win

1. AGR reaps benefits from association with Indy Pro Series program:

When IndyCar Series teams were told they could earn bonus testing days by fielding full-time entries in the Indy Pro Series, only one team jumped at the chance -- Andretti Green Racing. On July 22-23 at the Milwaukee Mile, the fruits of the team's effort began to pay off. Tony Kanaan earned his first IndyCar Series win of 2006 in the ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt 225, while Kanaan's protege, Jaime Camara, netted his first victory of the season in the Milwaukee 100. The weekend sweep -- AGR's first on an oval -- came less than two weeks after Indy Pro Series driver Jonathan Klein and IndyCar Series driver Dario Franchitti shared an Andretti Green Racing IndyCar Series machine at the 1-mile oval.

Rookie Marco Andretti also tested at Milwaukee. "I should thank Jonathan Klein, Marco (Andretti) and Dario and the team for the IPS program, because that really helped us," said Kanaan, the 2004 IndyCar Series champion. "I think the test was very important. That put us in the right spot right from the beginning of the weekend. It's much easier tuning a good car than finding a good car." As part of the bonus test program, IndyCar Series teams that field full-time entries in the Indy Pro Series can earn up to six bonus tests. Test days are earned after every four Indy Pro Series event and must be shared by the Indy Pro Series driver and an IndyCar Series driver. Andretti Green Racing has used three bonus testing days this season -- Camara and Kanaan shared a car at Nashville Superspeedway on June 16; Klein and Franchitti shared a day at Milwaukee on July 10; and Camara and Kanaan tested at Michigan International Speedway on July 19.

Klein and Franchitti are scheduled to test together at Kentucky Speedway on July 31. "I really like what they did with the Indy Pro Series thing," team co-owner Michael Andretti said. "I just wish more teams would jump on board. Maybe now they'll look at it, because it is an advantage to get those extra days. I think it had a lot to do with our win here. Jonathan (Klein) and Jaime (Camara) have done a lot to help us, as well. It's been a good program for us." While the benefits to Andretti Green Racing's four-car efforts are evident on the track, the program also aids in the development of the Indy Pro Series drivers, who turn laps under the watchful eye of their more experienced teammates.

"I think it has (helped) in a sense that track time is track time," Klein said. "No matter what kind of car you drive in, it's going to be beneficial to whatever your program is. Track time is track time and seat time is seat time. There's nothing that can make up for that." Added Franchitti, who enjoys the role of mentoring young teammates, such as Marco Andretti, Klein, Camara and Jay Howard: "(Testing is) pretty golden right now. That was a huge bonus, to be able to get in the car, especially somewhere like Milwaukee that's so tricky. That's part of the deal. They're trying to help the IPS series. We definitely reaped the benefits of that relationship this year."

2. Bucknum races at site of father's only Indy-style victory:

Jeff Bucknum will be making his first start at Michigan International Speedway and want to do this weekend. But the visit to the track has special meaning to the IndyCar Series newcomer. Bucknum's father, Ronnie, was the first winner at Michigan International Speedway when he won on Oct. 13, 1968. It was the only Indy-style victory for Bucknum, who started three Indianapolis 500, and made 11 Formula One starts for Honda. "It's exciting to be racing there. It's a great track," said Jeff Bucknum, who will drive the No. 14 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing Honda-powered Dallara for A.J. Foyt. "Knowing that the inaugural open-wheel race was won by my dad makes it even more special. I saw a documentary on television with footage of my dad winning the race. The track's grounds have changed a lot since he won the race but the actual track itself is exactly the same, so it's going to be fun to go there."

3. Michigan governor to join Ethanol Pump Tour:

Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm will join IRL IndyCar Series drivers Buddy Rice, Vitor Meira, Jeff Simmons and Kosuke Matsuura at a Marathon gas station in Ypsilanti, Mich. to pump the lowest-priced fuel in her state on July 27. The drivers will pump E-10 unleaded fuel, a 10 percent ethanol/gasoline blend, for $2.20 per gallon from 11 a.m. -- 12:30 p.m. Simmons, driver of the No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Ethanol Honda-powered Dallara, will drive the IRL's gas-powered two-seater during the event. "The two-seater rides at the Ethanol Pump Tours are always fun but we never drive that far," Simmons said. "Anytime we can get the governor involved in talking about ethanol is good. I'm looking forward to having Governor Granholm as well as three of my competitors out there helping pump ethanol-enriched fuel for Michigan drivers."

4. Team Penske shoots for first MIS IndyCar Series win:

Penske Racing has nine Indy-style wins at Michigan International Speedway, but has yet to visit Victory Lane in the IndyCar Series. Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves hopes this is the weekend that he or Sam Hornish Jr. will join Rick Mears (1981, 1983, 1991), Bobby Unser (1979, twice), Mark Donohue (1971), Tom Sneva (1975), Mario Andretti (1980) and Danny Sullivan (1988) as Penske drivers who won at MIS. "It would be fantastic to give Roger a win at Michigan," Castroneves said. "It would mean a lot, but it would have a different meaning for me. Roger's team is where I have achieved so much -- my first podium, my first pole position. I really hope to win at Michigan for Roger." ***

The next IndyCar Series event is the Firestone Indy 400 at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) on July 30 at Michigan International Speedway. The race will be telecast live by ABC Sports and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network. A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPN Deportes. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio channel 145 "IndyCar Racing" and The fifth season of Indy Pro Series competition continues with the Kentucky 100 on August 13 at Kentucky Speedway. ESPN2's coverage of the Milwaukee 100 will be telecast by ESPN2 at 2 p.m. (EDT) on July 27.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Michael Andretti , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Mario Andretti , Rick Mears , Bobby Unser , Tom Sneva , Danny Sullivan , Buddy Rice , Jeff Bucknum , Marco Andretti , Kosuke Matsuura , Jeff Simmons , Jaime Camara , Jay Howard , Jonathan Klein , A.J. Foyt , Mark Donohue , Vitor Meira
Teams Team Penske , Team Penske