IRL: Indy Racing League notebook 2004-10-19

IRL News and Notes -- Oct. 19, 2004 Today's IRL headlines 1. Casey Golf Tournament A Success 2. Matsuura Claims Bombardier Rookie of The Year Title 3. Manning, Dixon To Race In Grand-Am Event 4. Fan Wins New Car At Texas 1. Casey Golf...

IRL News and Notes -- Oct. 19, 2004

Today's IRL headlines
1. Casey Golf Tournament A Success
2. Matsuura Claims Bombardier Rookie of The Year Title
3. Manning, Dixon To Race In Grand-Am Event
4. Fan Wins New Car At Texas

1. Casey Golf Tournament A Success: Several members of Indy Racing League community gathered near the Texas Motor Speedway the day after the season-ending Chevy 500k set the off-season into full swing.

One hundred and seventy golfers participated in The 14th Phil Casey Indy Racing Charity Golf Tournament presented by Firestone Racing, Spot-On Cables and Frank Weiss Machines.

The event attracts players from all aspects of the Indy Racing League, including drivers, team members, corporate sponsors and fans.

This year's winning team included IRL President and CEO Tony George, IRL Senior Vice President for Racing Operations Brian Barnhart, IRL Director of Operations John Lewis and Indianapolis Motor Speedway Senior Vice President for Business Affairs Joie Chitwood.

"I want to thank everybody who played," said Casey, the IRL's technical director. "Without you, this wouldn't be possible. It turned out really great this year. We had 170 players. I'd like to thank all the people who helped and Tony George and Hulman-George family because without them we couldn't do this."

Proceeds from the tournament along with a charity raffle and auction held at the event, benefit Valley Children's Hospital in Fresno, Calif., and the Racing for Kids® Foundation. Tournament organizers expect to beat last year's record total.

Casey organized his first charity tournament for a very personal reason.

His granddaughter, Jennifer Burkhart, was diagnosed with pediatric diabetes at a young age. Her initial denial of the disease almost sent her into a coma and she was treated by the doctors at Valley Children's Hospital.

"I was diagnosed with diabetes when I was 3," said Burkhart, who attended the tournament for the first time. "At first, we donated to the pediactic diabetes but I wanted more children at VCH to benefit. So we've given more money to other parts of the hospital, including the Ronald McDonald House. The people there have my heart."

Former driver and current IndyCar Series team owner Robbie Buhl, a long-time tournament supporter, selected Racing for Kids to receive funds from the 2004 tournament. Buhl is national spokesperson for the foundation, which is designed to use motorsports to bring public attention and funding to health care needs of children.

Racing for Kids will donate its half of the funds to Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis.

"This is the fourth year I've played in the tournament, and I play with the same group of guys every year," said two-time IndyCar Series champion Sam Hornish Jr. "It's fun to come out to the tournament. It's great way to celebrate the end of the year. It's a relaxing start to the end of the year. We get pretty serious. When we don't do well, we get upset about it, but it's for charity. I'm pretty happy to be involved with it. I feel pretty lucky to be doing what I'm doing, so it feels good to give something back."

Among the other drivers who played were IndyCar Series drivers Darren Manning, Ed Carpenter and A.J. Foyt IV and Menards Infiniti Pro Series drivers P.J. Chesson and James Chesson.

"I've got to give Scott Goodyear a little bit of ribbing," said Manning, whose team, which included Goodyear and ABC/ESPN pit reporter Jamie Little, finished fourth. "We birdied or eagled every hole as soon as he left. This is a great get-together. It's good to get everybody here at the end of season. Next year, we need to get more of them out."

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2. Matsuura Claims Rookie Of The Year Title: Unlike the battle for the 2004 IRL IndyCar® Series championship, the 2004 Bombardier Rookie of the Year title wasn't decided until the final race.

Kosuke Matsuura, Ed Carpenter and Mark Taylor engaged in a season-long battle for the rookie championship, with Matsuura holding a 36-point advantage over Carpenter entering the season-ending Chevy 500k on Oct. 17 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Though neither Matsuura nor Carpenter finished the race at Texas, Matsuura's 19th-place finish was good enough to claim the $50,000 Bombardier Rookie of the Year title, 280-245. Taylor finished third with 232 points.

Matsuura finished 14th, Carpenter finished 16th and Taylor tied for 17th in the 2004 IndyCar Series point standings.

"I am pleased and very happy to earn Rookie of the Year," Matsuura said. "It is very special to me. This was my first year to race on the ovals, and so many people helped me with my learning curve. I think we showed several times this year that we have a lot of potential."

Matsuura, driver of the No. 55 Panasonic/ARTA Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone, earned one top-five and four top-10 finishes in 2004. He finished a career-best fourth at Kentucky Speedway on Aug. 15 and led at both Texas Motor Speedway in June and Chicagoland Speedway in September. Matsuura also was named Bank One Rookie of the Year at the Indianapolis 500.

"Kosuke is an extremely talented driver, and he has both the talent and hunger to win races," said team co-owner Adrian Fernandez, a three-time race winner in his first IndyCar Series season. "This is his first year ever of competing on ovals, and he has obviously shown that he is a quick learner. I have watched him mature with each race, and we look forward to building on his experience next season."

Matsuura credited his team, Super Aguri Fernandez Racing, with his success.

"The team has always been there for me, and I would to thank them very much," Matsuura said. "I want to say a special thanks to (co-owners) Adrian, Aguri (Suzuki) and Tom (Anderson) and also to Panasonic, Autobacs and Honda."

***

3. Manning, Dixon To Race In Grand-Am Event: Target Chip Ganassi Racing drivers Scott Dixon and Darren Manning will team to race in the Lexus Grand American on Oct. 31 at California Speedway in Fontana, Calif.

The IndyCar Series drivers will drive a third Lexus Riley Daytona Prototype fielded by CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing With Felix Sabates.

"In the past few weeks, excitement over the CompUSA Team's successes this year has been shared with our IndyCar team with whom they work along side at the race shop in Indianapolis," said CompUSA team owner Chip Ganassi. "There's also been a lot of talk and excitement over the IRL going road racing next year. That combination led to talks of adding a third CompUSA entry with Scott and Darren that would allow them to get a little taste of the competitive world of Rolex Grand Am racing and also get a little tune up for their return to road racing. It's thanks to our partners at Lexus and CompUSA that it all came together for this Rolex Series finale and we're all looking forward to having a great race weekend."

Dixon drove for the team earlier this year when he participated in the season opener at the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

"The 24 hours at Daytona was a good first time introduction to endurance racing for me," said Dixon, who will also be competing in the final round of the Crown Royal International Race of Champions that weekend. "We had a fair race at Daytona but the CompUSA team, along with Lexus and Riley Technologies has really worked hard and improved from that initial race and that really shows in how very successful their first season has been. It will be really interesting to compare the experience. I've never run on the Fontana road course but I'm really looking forward to it. The team has got a championship on their mind and it'll be great to be part of it."

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4. Fan Wins New Car At Texas: Aaron Alfrey drove away from Texas Motor Speedway on Oct. 17 in a 2005 Chevrolet Equinox.

Alfrey was one of eight finalists invited to the Chevy 500 for the grand prize giveaway during pre-race activities. His name was drawn from a bag and he was given the keys to a Chevy Equinox AWD outfitted with Pioneer electronics, including a 480-watt power amplifier, an XM Digital Satellite tuner, a DVD Navigation system and an overhead DVD player for the rear seats. It has IRL branded 18-inch Victory Wheels, a custom painted dash and door panels from Heritage Customs.

***

The 2005 IRL IndyCar Series season begins with the Toyota Indy 300 on March 6 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The 2005 Menards Infiniti Pro Series season also opens on March 6 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Mark Taylor , Darren Manning , Robbie Buhl , Scott Goodyear , A.J. Foyt IV , Adrian Fernandez , Scott Dixon , James Chesson , Kosuke Matsuura , Chip Ganassi , Tony George , P.J. Chesson , John Lewis , Jamie Little , Felix Sabates , Brian Barnhart , Sam Hornish Jr. , Ed Carpenter
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing