INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- Aug. 14, 2006 Today's IRL headlines 1. Hornish has another special trip to Kentucky 2. Fisher to return at Chicagoland 3. Drivers reap post-race rewards 4. Rutherford Named Grand Marshal of Indy Grand Prix of...
INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- Aug. 14, 2006
Today's IRL headlines
1. Hornish has another special trip to Kentucky
2. Fisher to return at Chicagoland
3. Drivers reap post-race rewards
4. Rutherford Named Grand Marshal of Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma
5. Of note
1. Hornish has another special trip to Kentucky: Two-time IndyCar Series champion Sam Hornish Jr. has good memories of Kentucky Speedway. In fact, it seems good things happen to him at the track every three years. In 2000, while driving for PDM Racing, Hornish led his first-ever IndyCar Series event before fading to ninth after running out of fuel. It led to his first big break in racing -- a full-time ride with Panther Racing. "Instead of doing interviews, I was getting told that I was getting the opportunity to drive the Pennzoil Panther car," said Hornish, who led 38 laps in the 2000 event. "That's a pretty special moment." Three seasons and two IndyCar Series titles later, Hornish began a late-season charge into contention for another IndyCar Series title with a dominating win at Kentucky. It sparked a stretch where Hornish won two of the next three races. On Aug. 13, Hornish, the 2006 Indianapolis 500 winner, won at Kentucky again, taking the checkers in the Meijer Indy 300 presented by Coca-Cola and Secret and re-claiming the IndyCar Series point lead with two events to go in the process. "To win here in '03 for the first time, and now today, I figure every three years, I have something pretty special happen," he said. "We have a whole bunch of fans from northwest Ohio, from all over Ohio that come down here. I have a lot of fun racing here." Hornish drove away from championship rivals Scott Dixon, Helio Castroneves and Dan Wheldon to earn his fourth victory of the season. But despite the win, with the 2.26-mile road course at Infineon Raceway looming, Hornish said the victory provides a lift in the season-long battle between the quartet of red-and-white colored cars fielded by Marlboro Team Penske and Target Chip Ganassi Racing. "It's been the four of us out there battling all along," Hornish said. "You know, none of us want to concede anything because we know that those are the next three guys or the three guys that are around you for the points championship. Not only are we fighting for race wins, for poles, we're fighting for the championship. "We're all fighting tooth and nail, and hopefully I'll figure out the right combination at the end to keep all three of them behind me." And as if the pressures of such a close title fight aren't enough, Hornish has a more personal stake in the championship hunt. "If Helio wins, I don't get Roger (Penske) his first championship in the IRL," Hornish said. "If Scott and Dan win, then they are two time championships, and that takes away something that I have that nobody else has right now. I'd like to make it that I'm the only three time champion."
2. Fisher to return at Chicagoland: Following a 12th-place finish in the Meijer Indy 300, officials with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing confirmed that Sarah Fisher will drive the No. 5 Honda-powered Dallara in the Peak Antifreeze Indy 300 at Chicagoland Speedway on Sept. 10. "We are looking forward to Chicago," team co-owner Dennis Reinbold said. "We will be working hard between now and then to get (Sarah) a very good race car that we can go make some noise with." Fisher, who started 12th at Kentucky, fell as far back as 18th early in the race, but flirted with the top-10 on two occasions. She passed Jeff Simmons on a Lap 195 restart to claim 12th. "We had a little bit of trouble with straight lines," she said. "I don't know if we put on too much downforce or what. We'll review that and try and figure it out. We had a good race car down low, and I got a run on some guys. The draft now is different when they cut you off; so that is something I'll have to think about for the next go-around. "A long time ago when we were in Chevys, aiming for a top 12 would have been sweet. What we did today shows that we are still here. I'm still here. We'll have it figured out for Chicago. Really, today was about getting into a rhythm. I'm in better shape than I was back then. I'm more calculated. I have better car control. I'm more mature about how the cars handle and with my feedback." Reinbold, who also serves as the team's race strategist, agreed. "Sarah did a great job getting back in the car," said Reinbold, who noted that Ryan Briscoe will drive the car on the road course at Infineon Raceway on Aug. 27. "She drove an incredible race. She liked the car; the handling was good. Her starts and restarts were excellent. Everyone in the pits did a great job. It's hard to leave today in the 12th place."
3. Drivers reap post-race rewards: Sam Hornish Jr. again reaped the benefits from winning an IndyCar Series event. As the Meijer Indy 300 race winner, Hornish was presented with a Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT Camera and an engraved Aquaracer Automatic timepiece from TAG Heuer, the official timekeeper and watch of the Indy Racing League. TAG Heuer presents an engraved Aquaracer Automatic timepiece to the winner of each IndyCar Series event. The Aquaracer concept is founded on providing the accuracy that all water sports demand. Based on the design and features of the timeless 2000 series, launched in 1982, TAG Heuer's watchmakers and designers have created an original, prestigious sports watch that is water-resistant to 300 meters. Bryan Herta collected the Firestone Performance Award and its $10,000 prize for leading Lap 132 of the race, while Marco Andretti claimed the Lincoln Electric Hard Charger Award and its $2,000 prize for being the race leader who started furthest back. Tomas Scheckter won the K&N Award and its $2,000 prize for being the highest-placed eligible finisher. Helio Castroneves claimed the Marlboro Pole Award and its $10,000 prize.
4. Rutherford Named Grand Marshal of Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma: Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Johnny Rutherford has been named grand marshal of the Aug. 27 Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway. Rutherford, who handles special projects for the Indy Racing League and drives the Honda Accord Hybrid Pace Car, won the Indianapolis 500 in 1974, '76, '80 and is one of only two drivers to win the prestigious race from the pole twice (1976, '80). "I'm honored. I remember in the early 1970s racing at what was then-Sears Point Raceway and having a great time," Rutherford said. "To see how much the track has progressed over the years is really gratifying. For Infineon Raceway to ask me to be Grand Marshal of the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma is a real honor." Rutherford will be honored at the annual Grand Marshal's Banquet, which will be held on Aug. 25 at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn. All proceeds from the gala will benefit the Valley of the Moon Teen Center in Sonoma through Speedway Children's Charities, the charitable arm of Infineon Raceway. "We are ecstatic to be part of this event and know that this money will not only enhance the programs that we have, but it will also enable us to develop new programs," said Stefanie Shackelford, board president of the Valley of the Moon Teen Center. The selection of Rutherford as Grand Marshal continues a trend that began last year at Infineon Raceway when Al Unser Sr. had the honor. Unser competed in the first major open-wheel race at Sears Point Raceway in 1970, the USAC IndyCar 150, placing third. Rutherford competed in that same race, taking fifth place. In addition to honoring Rutherford, the evening will also feature IRL drivers Marco Andretti (Andretti Green Racing), Vitor Meira (Panther Racing) and possibly others. The evening will be hosted by ABC/ESPN commentator Dr. Jerry Punch.
5. Of note: Buddy Rice will join the Red Bull-sponsored Brumos Porsche entry for the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series season finale Sept. 2 at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah. -- Indy Pro Series team owner Eddie Cheever Jr. won the Grand Prix Masters event at Silverstone, England on Aug. 13. -- With three races remaining, including two races at Infineon Raceway, nine drivers -- Jay Howard, Jonathan Klein, Bobby Wilson, Nick Bussell, Jaime Camara, Wade Cunningham, Brett Van Blankers, Chris Festa and Alex Lloyd -- remain eligible for the Firestone Firehawk Cup, given to the winner of the Indy Pro Series.
***The next IndyCar Series event is the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) on Aug. 13 at Infineon Raceway. 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 www.indycar.com. The fifth season of Indy Pro Series competition continues with the Sonoma 100 doubleheader on Aug. 26-27 at Infineon Raceway. ESPN2's coverage of the doubleheader races will be televised at 2 p.m. on Aug. 31.