Indy Racing League News and Notes -- Aug.16, 2004 Today's IRL headlines 1. Matsuura Comes Of Age At Kentucky 2. Kanaan Sweeps Post-Race Awards 3. Team to visit Target House 1. Matsuura Comes Of Age At Kentucky: Adrian Fernandez had many things...
Indy Racing League News and Notes -- Aug.16, 2004
Today's IRL headlines
1. Matsuura Comes Of Age At Kentucky
2. Kanaan Sweeps Post-Race Awards
3. Team to visit Target House
1. Matsuura Comes Of Age At Kentucky: Adrian Fernandez had many things to celebrate after winning the Belterra Casino Indy 300 on Aug. 15 at Kentucky Speedway.
The win was Fernandez' first in the IRL IndyCar® Series and clinched the manufacturer's title for Honda. But the highlight of the weekend for Fernandez and Fernandez Racing co-owner Tom Anderson may have been the performance of rookie teammate Kosuke Matsuura, driver of the No. 55 Panasonic ARTA Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone entry that Fernandez Racing fields with former Japanese racer Aguri Suzuki.
Matsuura, who claimed the Bank One Rookie of the Year Award at the Indianapolis 500 and leads the race for the season-long Bombardier Rookie of the Year Award, finished fourth at Kentucky, his best finish in the IndyCar Series.
"I am very happy with our fourth-place finish, and very happy for Adrian with his win today," Matsuura said. "Adrian helped me a lot for the race. We were talking at the (IRL) autograph session (Aug. 14), and he gave me some good advice and also some things to think about with the car. We decided to change the setup on my car to match his. The first 150 laps were only OK, but we were able to charge to the front at the end."
Matsuura started 10th in the race but found himself in a fight for 12th place following his first pit stop. By Lap 140, the 24-year-old from Aichi, Japan was running seventh, and even though his final pit stop dropped him out of the top 10, Matsuura fought his way back to eighth for the final 35-lap green flag run.
"Today is the day that I believe Kosuke Matsuura grew up," said Anderson, who serves as managing director of Super Aguri Fernandez Racing. "He had an opportunity to throw it all away a couple of times and he didn't. He waited. He was patient.
"In the middle of the race, we were quite a ways back and needed to be patient. We had a great stop on his last pit stop, and he drove a very, very mature and professional race. To me, this is probably the turning point for Kosuke. It was a tremendous job that he did today. I am really pleased on that front."
Matsuura's late charge to the front included several three-wide moves for second place with Dan Wheldon and Buddy Rice. The performance helped seal the win for Fernandez, who was keeping tabs on his teammate's charge up to fourth in his mirrors.
"Kosuke is one of the best drivers we have had, and he's a great character, great guy to work with," Fernandez said. "He just obviously lacks experience, but he's catching up very quickly and he is starting to understand why we do things sometimes the way we do and why you need to use your head sometimes and why you need to be patient sometimes and things like that. He's starting to understand. For him to finish fourth today and push the way he was pushing, he was making me very happy."
2. Kanaan Sweeps Post-Race Awards: For the second consecutive event, Tony Kanaan earned the $10,000 Firestone Performance Award and $7,500 for winning the Marlboro Lap Leader Award for leading 126 of the 200 laps.
The Firestone Performance Award commemorates Firestone's participation in every IRL IndyCar Series event since the league's inception. Sunday's race was the 98th in series history, and Kanaan earned the award for leading Lap 98 of the Belterra Casino Indy 300.
Kanaan will be presented with his awards during pre-race festivities at the Honda Indy 225 at Pikes Peak International Raceway.
*** 3. Team to visit Target House: Target Chip Ganassi Racing drivers Scott Dixon and Darren Manning and team owner Chip Ganassi will visit Target House families Aug. 17 in Memphis, Tenn.
Funded by Target Stores and its vendor and celebrity partners, Target House is a home-away-from-home for families with children receiving treatment at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. As an extension of St. Jude's commitment to care for any child regardless of the family's financial resources, Target House provides fully furnished apartments free of charge.
The visit will include an autograph session, photos, dinner and some play time with the children and families. Dixon, the reigning IndyCar Series champion, and Manning will bring along copies of the IndyCar Series video game, an Xbox and two Target/RC Magazine remote control Indy-type cars that will be donated to the Target House recreation room.
The IndyCar Series continues with the Honda Indy 225 at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) on Aug. 22 at Pikes Peak International Raceway. The race will be broadcast live on ABC and the IMS Radio Network. The Menards Infiniti Pro Series Pikes Peak 100 will take place at 1:45 p.m. on Aug. 22 at Pikes Peak International Raceway. The race will be broadcast by ESPN2 at 4 p.m. on Aug. 25.