IRL: Indy Racing League notebook 2003-02-26

Indy Racing League Notebook Foyt IV in Dallara at Homestead; Penske pair on court with Kournikova INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2003 -- A.J. Foyt IV will make his IRL IndyCarTM Series debut in a Dallara chassis in the Toyota Indy 300...

Indy Racing League Notebook
Foyt IV in Dallara at Homestead; Penske pair on court with Kournikova

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2003 -- A.J. Foyt IV will make his IRL IndyCarTM Series debut in a Dallara chassis in the Toyota Indy 300 on March 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway despite testing recently in a Panoz G Force chassis, team owner A.J. Foyt said Feb. 26.

2002 IRL Infiniti Pro Series champion Foyt, 18, will drive the No. 14 Conseco/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone on the 1.5-mile oval. His teammate, veteran Shigeaki Hattori, will remain in the No. 5 EPSON/A.J. Foyt Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone.

"Other teams are running Dallaras, which seem to have more downforce or more grip, which is what you want on the short tracks and flat tracks like Homestead," Foyt IV said. "I'm anxious to get my first race in the Conseco 14 under my belt. My goals are pretty simple: I want to qualify decent, run all day and finish the race."

Foyt IV crashed in a Panoz G Force chassis during testing Feb. 18 at Homestead-Miami. So team owner and four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt ordered a new Dallara for his grandson's debut.

A.J. Foyt Enterprises took delivery of the chassis Feb. 22. There wasn't enough time to paint the car in the familiar green-and-white colors of primary sponsor Conseco, so the black carbon-fiber chassis will carry white decals.

The team has repaired the Panoz G Force damaged in the testing crash and will have it ready as a backup car.

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Castroneves, de Ferran on court with Kournikova: Marlboro Team Penske teammates Helio Castroneves and Gil de Ferran took time from their preparation for the season-opening Toyota Indy 300 to play in an exhibition tennis match Feb. 26 with pro tennis stars Anna Kournikova and Jan-Michael Gambill in Key Biscayne, Fla.

Kournikova and Gambill were at the Tennis Center at Crandon Park preparing for the NASDAQ-100 tournament next month.

Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Castroneves and Kournikova dominated the team of two-time CART champion de Ferran and Gambill, winning four of five games After the match, Castroneves and de Ferran taught Kournikova and Gambill about IndyCar Series racing and cars. An IndyCar Series car promoting the race this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway was at the Tennis Center, and the drivers gave the tennis stars a brief overview of the car.

"I had a great time this afternoon," said Castroneves, who plays tennis regularly. "Anna was a fantastic partner.

"I've been playing tennis since I was young, and I really enjoy the sport. I try and play as much as I can, and I play every off weekend I get. It was really fun to get out here with the pros."

Said de Ferran: "Well, it's been awhile since I played tennis, and I guess it showed today. Helio and Anna were certainly picking on me -- I think I was just out there for decoration.

"I had a good time, though, and it was fun to play with Jan-Michael. He's a great player, and I really enjoyed getting out there on the court. After my performance today, I think I'll have to start playing more often."

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Kelley signs Kruse: Kruse International has signed as an associate sponsor of IRL IndyCar Series standout team Kelley Racing for the 2003 season, team officials announced.

Kruse will be an associate sponsor of the No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Toyota/Firestone driven by 1996 series co-champion Scott Sharp and the No. 31 Corteco Dallara/Toyota/Firestone driven by two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr.

Kruse International, headquartered in Auburn, Ind., is the world's largest collector car auction firm with 52 years of experience, selling more vintage and collector cars than all other auction firms combined. Kruse International first became involved with Kelley Racing as a partial-season partner in 2002.

"The partnership with Kelley Racing and the IRL is a natural fit for Kruse International because my business is centered on incredible cars, fast action and excitement, and so is theirs," said Dean Kruse, founder and CEO of Kruse International. "This is the first full year of what I think will be a long and successful relationship with Kelley and the IRL."

Kruse International will leverage its sponsorship to drive traffic to its exotic and collectibles car auctions held in the race markets that coincide with the race weekends.

The first of these combined efforts will coincide with this weekend's season opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Kruse International will play host to the 31st Annual Fort Lauderdale Collector Car Auction on March 1-2 at the War Memorial Auditorium in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and also will have 15 to 20 exotic cars on display at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Throughout the season, fans that attend IndyCar Series races can register at the Kelley Racing merchandise unit to win a classic Ford Mustang that will be given away by Kruse International at the end of the season.

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Chilly test: Andretti Green Racing planned to test its electronics systems Feb. 24 at Texas Motor Speedway, but air temperatures in the 30-degree range prevented the team from taking any high-speed laps on the 1.5-mile oval.

"We were trying to see if the heater worked inside the car today," team co-owner Kim Green said with a laugh.

Andretti Green Racing will make its IRL IndyCar Series debut March 2 in the Toyota Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway with drivers Michael Andretti, Dario Franchitti and Tony Kanaan.

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Season opener party: A party to celebrate the start of the 2003 IRL IndyCar Series season will take place March 2 at the Pavilion at the Brickyard Crossing Golf Resort & Inn in Indianapolis during the ABC telecast of the Toyota Indy 300 on ABC.

Brickyard Crossing is on the grounds of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, east of the track on 16th Street.

The race telecast will be featured on large-screen televisions. A buffet also will be included, with a cash bar.

Tickets are $7.95 and available at the door. A percentage of sales will be donated to the Brian's Wish Foundation and its fight against Lou Gehrig's Disease.

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Hot laps: 1999 Indianapolis 500 Bank One Rookie of the Year Robby McGehee will fly with in a U.S. Navy Blue Angels stunt acrobatic jet March 1 at El Centro, Calif. McGehee, a licensed pilot, will fly as a passenger in an F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet -- Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Scott Dixon and Tomas Scheckter visited young patients Feb. 18 at the Betty Jane France Pediatric Center, Speediatrics® at Homestead Hospital in Homestead, Fla.

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Al Unser Jr. , Shigeaki Hattori , Scott Sharp , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , A.J. Foyt IV , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Kim Green , Chip Ganassi , A.J. Foyt
Teams A.J. Foyt Enterprises , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing