IRL: Indy Racing League notebook 2004-09-27

Indy Racing League News and Notes -- Sept. 27, 2004 Today's IRL headlines 1. Patrick Racing Points To 2005 With Enge 2. Analyzing Data From Two-Day Test The Next Step 3. CARA Charities To Honor Broeman, DeRea 1. Patrick Racing Points To 2005...

Indy Racing League News and Notes -- Sept. 27, 2004

Today's IRL headlines
1. Patrick Racing Points To 2005 With Enge
2. Analyzing Data From Two-Day Test The Next Step
3. CARA Charities To Honor Broeman, DeRea

1. Patrick Racing Points To 2005 With Enge: Tomas Enge will replace Jaques Lazier in the No. 20 Patrick Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone for the final two events of the IRL IndyCar® Series season.

Enge, who turned 28 on Sept. 11, has been a top competitor in FIA Formula 3000 -- the official feeder category for Formula One -- for six seasons and has competed in three F1 races.

"Of course, I'd like to build my career from these races and make good progress," said Enge, whose oval experience consists of test sessions with Patrick Racing at Chicagoland Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway this year and one with Panther Racing in 2003.

"I don't know what to expect from these races because it's obviously completely different. They are different kinds of races and you also have to think differently. I'm looking forward to it, but I'm a little bit anxious. Hopefully, we will have fun, good results and we can move on together."

That corresponds to team owner U.E. "Pat" Patrick's plans. Enge will join the practice groups Oct. 1 for the Toyota Indy 400 at the 2-mile California Speedway. He'll also compete in the Chevy 500 at the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway on Oct. 17.

"The intent of doing these two races is to get a head start on next year," said Patrick, who has won the Indianapolis 500 three times as an owner.

Patrick Racing technical director Steve Newey said he's looking forward to working with Enge, who had six victories and eight pole positions in 55 Formula 3000 starts.

"I've watched his career from this side of the pond for several years and have been very impressed with what he has accomplished in Formula 3000," Newey said. "I'm confident Tomas will adapt very quickly, although there will be a learning curve -- particularly when it comes to racing with 21 other cars on the track. But I'm confident the learning curve will be very short and he will be successful with our team."

In 10 Formula 3000 races this year (all teams are supplied with identical chassis and engines), Enge was runner-up at Monza and Magny-Cours as he teamed with Tony Schmidt in Ma-Con Engineering entries.

He finished fourth in points (Vitantonio Liuzzi was the champion).

Drivers who have graduated from Formula 3000 to Formula One include former Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya, Mark Webber, Nick Heidfeld, David Coulthard and Rubens Barrichello. Having competed in Formula 3000 since 1998 and with the IndyCar Series adding two road courses and a temporary street circuit to the 2005 schedule, Enge is looking forward to new challenges.

"The IRL is a great opportunity to step up in my career," said Enge, who drove the Jordan Mugen-Honda 199 car in his first F1 test in 1999. "If I can continue next year in the IRL with Patrick Racing, it will be a good opportunity. Of course, it will be a great advantage to think about it through the winter and prepare for next season instead of coming in as a rookie in the 2005 season."

Patrick Racing entered the IndyCar Series season late -- for the 88th Indianapolis 500 in May with two-time 500-Mile Race winner Al Unser Jr. behind the wheel. After three races, Unser announced his retirement in June. Jeff Simmons had a one-race tryout at Kansas Speedway on July 4, and Lazier took over at Nashville Superspeedway two weeks later.

Lazier, 33, who had a season-best finish of eighth (at Pikes Peak International Raceway) in seven events, has one victory and 15 top-10 finishes in 43 IndyCar Series starts over six seasons. He could return in 2005 as part of an expanded team.

"The team really enjoyed working with Jaques and he did a very good job for us," Newey said. "We would like to continue to work with Jaques on possibly putting together a program next year. We think that much of him. He helped us come together as a team."

***

2. Analyzing Data From Two-Day Test The Next Step: Indy Racing League officials were satisfied with the performance of the IRL IndyCar® Series cars at private testing held at the Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sept. 22-23, but will wait before announcing its full road-course package.

"I think we're all very pleased with the progress of the cars," IRL Senior Vice President for Racing Operations Brian Barnhart said. "The cars were extremely reliable. We didn't identify any major issues with the cars that will prevent us from putting on a show everywhere we go."

Five IndyCar Series teams, representing each chassis-engine combination available, recorded more than 700 miles of testing on the 13-turn, 2.21-mile road course during two days at the track. Among elements evaluated were the cooling system, brakes and transmission.

"I think everyone was happy with every aspect (of the test)," Barnhart said. "All the major components we went down there to test performed well. It's just a matter of sitting down with everybody and going over what we have with regards to brakes. It will take us time to analyze the data. We ran a number of combinations down there. We just need to talk to all the teams and drivers and get their thoughts on it."

In addition to evaluating parts, the test gave IndyCar Series drivers Dario Franchitti, Buddy Rice, Scott Dixon, Helio Castroneves and Alex Barron a chance to reacquaint themselves with their road racing backgrounds.

It also gave Ed Carpenter and Sam Hornish Jr. their first opportunity to drive an Indy-style racing car on a road course.

"It's been a while since I've done the right-left thing," said Hornish, who last drove a road course in 1999. "I'm just getting in the swing of things and knocking off all the cobwebs. I'm trying to get comfortable with all the shifting, the braking points and what not. Right now, I'm trying to get all my rhythm right. I guess the rest will come.

"I've never driven an open-wheel car of this size on a road course. It's all new to me. These other guys have had experience driving CART cars and what not. It's taken a little time to get used to driving a little heavier car on a road course."

Carpenter, who advanced to the IndyCar Series by running mostly on ovals, said his only road-racing experience consisted of racing his shifter kart and a 10-lap run in a Skip Barber Pro Series car. But he said IndyCar Series drivers with limited road-course experience can become good road racers.

"I learned a lot in the half-day that I ran. I can't wait to test somewhere else now," he said. "I think if you are a good race car driver, you can adapt to anything. It's just a matter of seat time and putting in the time it takes. Race car drivers can race anything. They just have to get used to what they are driving."

In August, IRL officials announced that the IndyCar Series would race at a modified 10-turn, 1.77-mile course at Infineon Raceway on Aug. 28, 2005 and the historic 3.4-mile, 11-turn long course at Watkins Glen International on Sept. 25, 2005. Earlier this month, the IRL announced it also would race on a temporary street circuit in downtown St. Petersburg, Fla., on April 3, 2005.

***

3. CARA Charities To Honor Broeman, DeRea: Two of open-wheel racing's most recognized personalities, Ina Broeman and Father Phil DeRea, will be honored for their contributions to the sport on Oct. 1 at CARA Charities' "Beach Blanket Bash" at California Speedway.

Broeman and DeRea will serve as the honorary chairpersons for the annual event that raises money for CARA Charities as well as other causes.

Broeman recently retired as category director for the Marlboro brand of Philip Morris USA and has been a popular contributor to charity work throughout the sporting industry, including CARA Charities. She has been a major advocate of the CARA programs and assisted at many of the CARA events.

"In the many years that I have been involved in auto racing, it always amazed me what CARA has always done to support not only the local community hospitals, but also the entire racing family," Broeman said. "They are truly an integral part of the racing community and essential for our sport."

DeRea, who will move to Rome in November to take a new position as Rector of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart at Piazza Navona, has served as Roman Catholic Chaplain in the open-wheel community for more than 20 years.

"I am thrilled to be honored by CARA at this great event," DeRea said. "CARA Charities has assisted every part of the motorsports community over the years. Its contribution to causes within this great sport is just immeasurable. I feel grateful to have been involved with this tremendous group."

***

The 2004 IRL IndyCar Series season continues with the Toyota Indy 400 at 3 p.m. (EDT) on Oct. 3 at California Speedway. The race will be broadcast live on ESPN and the IMS Radio Network. The next Menards Infiniti Pro Series event is the California 100 at 7:30 p.m. (EDT) on Oct. 2 at California Speedway. The race will be broadcast by ESPN2 at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) on Oct. 7.

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Panther Racing