IRL: Indy Racing League notebook 2004-07-19

Indy Racing League News and Notes -- July 19, 2004 Today's IRL headlines 1. Indianapolis 500 Winner Buddy Rice Visits White House 2. Leading Standings At Midpoint Doesn't Ensure IndyCar Series Title 3. IndyCar Series Drivers Hit Links 1.

Indy Racing League News and Notes -- July 19, 2004

Today's IRL headlines
1. Indianapolis 500 Winner Buddy Rice Visits White House
2. Leading Standings At Midpoint Doesn't Ensure IndyCar Series Title
3. IndyCar Series Drivers Hit Links

1. Indianapolis 500 Winner Buddy Rice Visits White House: Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice and members of Rahal Letterman Racing visited the White House on July 19 to meet with United States President George W. Bush.

After a photo opportunity on the South Lawn of the White House with the President, the Indianapolis 500-winning car and the Borg Warner Trophy, Rice and his Rahal Letterman teammates were invited into the Oval Office for a 10-minute tour of the President's office.

"This was pinnacle," said Rice, who was the first Indianapolis 500 winner to visit the White House since Rick Mears visited George H. W. Bush, the current President's father, in 1991 . "For the leader of the free world to take time out his busy day to meet with me and Rahal Letterman Racing is outstanding. I can't thank him enough."

Rice gave President Bush a replica helmet and a model IndyCar Series car. He also participated in an "Ask The White House" chat session, joining Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip and Baseball Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan as the only sports figures to participate in the chat.

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2. Leading Standings At Midpoint Doesn't Ensure IndyCar Series Title: For the second consecutive season, Tony Kanaan leads the IRL IndyCar Series points standings at the halfway point of the season.

But just because Kanaan leads his Andretti Green Racing teammate Dan Wheldon by 69 points doesn't mean that he's a shoe-in for his first IndyCar Series championship.

"To win the championship, you have to win more races than anybody," Kanaan said after winning the Firestone Indy 200 July 17 at Nashville Superspeedway. "That was our weakness last year, and the championship is still so far away that you can lose everything in one weekend. I'm just thinking about doing my best every weekend."

Kanaan already has tripled his win total from 2003 and is the only driver to complete every lap of competition this season. But he also knows leading the championship in July doesn't ensure victory at season's end.

Last year, Kanaan left Nashville with a 14-point lead over Gil de Ferran but wound up fourth, as Scott Dixon clinched the championship in the season finale at Texas.

The only IRL IndyCar Series driver to lead the points race midway through the season and win the championship title was Sam Hornish Jr. in 2001.

Drivers who failed to maintain the lead after leading at the halfway point of the season include Helio Castroneves, Eddie Cheever, Scott Goodyear, Scott Sharp and Davey Hamilton.

"I'm going to take each race as it comes," said Kanaan, who became the fourth IndyCar Series driver to record seven consecutive top-five finishes with his win at Nashville Superspeedway. "It's way too early to be thinking about the championship, other than to just try and get the maximum number of points from each race. That's what I managed to do (at Nashville), and that will be what we'll try to do next week in Milwaukee."

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3. IndyCar Series Drivers Hit Links: IndyCar Series drivers Darren Manning, A.J. Foyt IV and Kosuke Matsuura did a different form of driving on July 19.

Manning and Foyt golfed in the Oscar Meyer/Tombstone Pizza Pro-Am tournament held in conjunction with the U.S. Bank Championship at Brown Deer Park Golf Course in Milwaukee. The PGA Tour event takes place in Milwaukee this week, the same weekend as the inaugural IndyCar Series event at The Milwaukee Mile.

Matsuura played in a charity golf tournament at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis. Proceeds benefited the Benevolent Fund of Motorsports.

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The 2004 IRL IndyCar Series season continues with the Menards A.J. Foyt Indy 225 at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) on July 25 at The Milwaukee Mile. The race will be broadcast live on ABC and the IMS Radio Network. The Menards Infiniti Pro Series Milwaukee 100 will take place at 1 p.m. (EDT) on July 25. The race will be broadcast by ESPN2 at 1 p.m. on July 27.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Waltrip , Darren Manning , Eddie Cheever , Davey Hamilton , Scott Sharp , Scott Goodyear , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , A.J. Foyt IV , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Dan Wheldon , Rick Mears , Buddy Rice , Kosuke Matsuura , A.J. Foyt , Sam Hornish Jr.