IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2006-12-06

INDYCAR SERIES NEWS AND NOTES -- Dec. 6, 2006 Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines 1. IndyCar Series, INDY DownForce Fan Club To Sponsor Rumble In Ft. Wayne Indoor Races 2. Doubleheaders prove to be twice as nice for Indy Pro ...

INDYCAR SERIES NEWS AND NOTES -- Dec. 6, 2006

Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines
1. IndyCar Series, INDY DownForce Fan Club To Sponsor Rumble In Ft. Wayne Indoor Races
2. Doubleheaders prove to be twice as nice for Indy Pro Series
3. Hornish earns AARWBA honor
4. Danica in a Super Bowl spot? Find out Feb. 4:

1. IndyCar Series, INDY DownForce Fan Club To Sponsor Rumble In Ft. Wayne Indoor Races: The IndyCar Series has partnered with The Rumble Series of Indoor Racing to create the INDY DownForce FanZone at the USAC Rumble in Fort Wayne at the Fort Wayne (Ind.) Memorial Coliseum Expo Center on Dec. 30-31.

The INDY DownForce FanZone, which will be located just outside the grandstand of the 1/6th-mile indoor oval, will feature race simulators and racing and entertainment oriented booths. In addition, fans attending the event will have the opportunity to meet three-time IndyCar Series champion Sam Hornish Jr. from 4:45-6:45 p.m. on Dec 29.

Members of INDY DownForce that purchase reserved seats and show their membership cards at the event will be able to take a 30-minute guided pit tour . Additionally INDY DownForce members will have access to a hospitality area during the entire race weekend.

Club members also will have an opportunity to meet with fan club staff on Dec.30 to discuss ideas related to INDY DownForce's 2007 pre-race parties. Anyone can take advantage of this promotion by signing up to be a member via the "Fan Club" link found on indycar.com.

Entries from the USAC National, Ford Focus and Kenyon Midget Cars will compete at the Rumble in Ft. Wayne, with a full USAC Midget Special event after 7 p.m. each night. Outlaw Modified Winged Midgets, Lucas Oil Quarter Midgets and Competition Karts will also race for a each day. Former IndyCar Series and NASCAR Nextel Cup Series champion Tony Stewart has won the event three times.

2. Doubleheaders prove to be twice as nice for Indy Pro Series: When the Indy Pro Series^Ù introduced two doubleheader race weekends in 2006, the intent was to increase the amount of racing while keeping the costs in check. The series also wanted to ensure the competitiveness of both races.

Mission accomplished.

Following successful doubleheader events at St. Petersburg, Fla., and Infineon Raceway in 2006, the Indy Pro Series will add two additional doubleheader events in 2007 -- at Watkins Glen International and on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in support of the United States Grand Prix.

"We were very pleased with the success of the doubleheaders in 2006," Indy Pro Series executive director Roger Bailey said. "With track time at a premium, this allows us to maximize our on-track time while reducing costs."

The result is a series-record 16 races scheduled for 2007 -- conducted during 12 event weekends.

"The addition of the doubleheaders and the tripling of the prize money have both been tremendous changes," said Brian Stewart, whose team has won the past two entrant championships. "Once you get to a racetrack, the costs only go up a bit to run a second race."

The secondary challenge to hosting a doubleheader race weekend is maintaining the integrity of the competition.

Without two qualifying sessions, the question became how to grid the second race. While other series use the finishing order from the first race, Indy Pro Series officials opted to invert the top six finishers.

"The winner of the first race has already secured 50 championship points," Bailey said. "To put them at the front of the grid in the second race would give them a very good chance of sweeping the weekend and perhaps gain an unfair advantage in the championship. We wanted to balance the competition and make it a bit more difficult for someone to dominate an entire weekend."

The policy led to exciting racing.

"For spectators, the entertainment level of both of our second races last year was great," driver Alex Lloyd said. "In race two, people can do stuff. There's a chance to make some moves.

"I really liked the way the Indy Pro Series used the reverse grid. It's 50/50 for a driver. If you're the quickest car out there, the second race is going to be much harder. It's a bit of a lottery in the second race. The pole sitter for the second race may not be the quickest guy out there. If you start sixth, it's tougher and there are more chances for you to crash."

Lloyd and Raphael Matos had no problem with the reverse grid in 2006. Matos swept the series' first doubleheader on the streets of St. Petersburg. After winning the pole for the first race, Matos led the first 25 laps and 35 laps overall to win the first race. He started sixth in race two, but passed for the lead for good on Lap 8.

At Infineon, Lloyd finished second in the weekend's first race, quicker in his mind than race winner Wade Cunningham, but unable to make a pass in the evenly matched cars.

In race two, however, Lloyd started fifth -- one position ahead of Cunningham. The Englishman garnered his second victory of the season, moving past the four cars ahead of him and into first place on Lap 9.

He's looking forward to more doubleheaders in 2007 when he drives the No. 7 Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry.

"Increasing the number of doubleheaders is great," Lloyd said. "With one or two, there's a better chance that luck will be against you. The more races like this, the better chance to gain the good luck or for it to even out."

3. Hornish earns AARWBA honor: For the past two years, the IndyCar Series champion has walked away with the Jerry Titus Award from the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association. Reigning IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500 champion Sam Hornish Jr. is a strong contender to make it three in a row.

Hornish, the top vote-getter in the open-wheel category, was named to the organization's All-America Auto Racing first team. He joins NASCAR's Jimmie Johnson and Todd Bodine, NHRA's John Force and Tony Schumacher, and ARCA's Frank Kimmel as drivers eligible for the Titus Award.

The award, given in remembrance of the late racer/journalist, signifies the top vote-getter on the All-America team regardless of category, and is announced at the AARWBA banquet Jan. 13 at the Hyatt Regency in Indianapolis.

Hornish won four races, including the 90th Indianapolis 500 with a dramatic frontstretch pass of rookie Marco Andretti that gave Roger Penske a 14th victory in "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing." Hornish also was nominated for Autosport's International Driver of the Year award and is among the finalists for the SPEED Performer of the Year award.

Dan Wheldon, who came within a few laps of successfully defending his IndyCar Series title, was named to the second team. Hornish's Team Penske teammate, two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves, was an honorable mention selection.

4. Danica in a Super Bowl spot? Find out Feb. 4: GoDaddy.com, which will serve as an associate sponsor on Andretti Green Racing's No. 7 Team Motorola Honda-powered Dallara in 2007, formally introduced Danica Patrick as its spokesperson on Dec. 5 at Phoenix International Raceway.

"I've been a Go Daddy customer for a while and I'm thrilled to join the team," Patrick said. "It'll be fun to be in a Go Daddy commercial and be a part of Go Daddy's innovative marketing campaigns.

GoDaddy.com is a leading Internet domain name registrar which has drawn publicity for its edgy advertising. While GoDaddy.com CEO and founder Bob Parsons confirmed that the high-profile company will use Patrick in ads, he stopped short of saying if Patrick will be in featured in a Super Bowl ad.

"Will Danica be in it? Maybe," Parsons said. "She's definitely Go Daddy material. I haven't decided on which concept we'll use yet. We may use a concept with Danica, with Candice (Michelle, the current 'Go Daddy Girl) with both of them or with neither of them."

GoDaddy.com is one of several companies that will feature Patrick in their plans in 2007.

Midwest-based retail and grocery chain Meijer will continue its sponsorship of Patrick's car for the second consecutive season, and she'll be featured as part of XM Satellite Radio's "Andretti Green Racing Hour."

Patrick will co- host the show with teammates Marco Andretti, Dario Franchitti, and Tony Kanaan, AGR co-owner Michael Andretti and former IndyCar Series driver Bryan Herta. The weekly, one-hour show debuts spring 2007 on the sports talk radio channel XM Sports Nation (XM Channel 143).

"I am thrilled to become part of both the Andretti Green Racing and XM Satellite Radio teams," said Patrick. "'The Andretti Green Racing Hour' promises to be much more than a racing show, featuring the team's experiences both on the track and off. My experiences as the newest member of AGR are guaranteed to be interesting."

-credit: irl

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Stewart , Todd Bodine , John Force , Tony Schumacher , Helio Castroneves , Michael Andretti , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Jimmie Johnson , Frank Kimmel , Dan Wheldon , Sam Schmidt , Marco Andretti , Alex Lloyd , Roger Bailey , Wade Cunningham , Sam Hornish Jr.