IRL: Indy Racing League Notebook (Feb. 11)

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, Feb. 11, 2000 - There is a chance that Davey Hamilton will keep the streak alive in Phoenix. Hamilton is the only driver to start all 35 Indy Racing League events since the league's inception. But that streak...

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, Feb. 11, 2000 - There is a chance that Davey Hamilton will keep the streak alive in Phoenix. Hamilton is the only driver to start all 35 Indy Racing League events since the league's inception. But that streak appeared in jeopardy after he suffered a minimal T-12 back fracture in an accident during the season-opening Delphi Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway last month. But now Hamilton has his eyes on participating in the MCI WorldCom Indy 200 on March 19 at Phoenix. "My injury to my T-12 vertebra was so small that I don't have any pain or discomfort," said Hamilton, who added that he still can perform such tasks as picking up his 3-year-old son. "My doctor has me wearing a brace just to protect me while it is healing. "Obviously I would like to be in the driver's seat by Phoenix, and my injury is not hampering me from being there. I am still working with Rick Galles on sponsorship for the rest of the season, and if another good ride comes along for me in the meantime, then Rick and I will look at that option together. What is most important to me is that whatever ride I have is with a good, solid team." Hamilton has not been cleared to drive yet by Dr. Henry Bock, Indy Racing League director of medical services. But Hamilton said he is visiting a doctor March 1 for a checkup and hopes to be cleared shortly thereafter. Blueprint buys new G Force: Blueprint Racing Enterprises placed an order this week for a 2000 G Force chassis. The chassis will be delivered in March, and the team will put it into action for the first time at the Las Vegas 500 on April 22. Rookie Niclas Jonsson finished 12th in the season-opening Delphi Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway last month in a 1999 G Force. Robbie Buhl won the event in a 2000 G Force. "I'm excited," said team co-owner Keith Sanders. "This is our third G Force, and after watching the 2000 cars at Disney, we can see that the 2000 G Force is the way to go." New address for Sam: Letters and cards from fans and well-wishers continue to pour into Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis for injured Indy Racing driver Sam Schmidt, who is undergoing rehabilitation at the facility. In fact, so much mail has come in that the hospital has created a new address for correspondence: Sam Schmidt c/o Barnes-Jewish Hospital Guest and Patient Relations Mailstop 90-72-303 One Barnes-Jewish Hospital Plaza St. Louis, MO 63110

Schmidt suffered a fractured spine and was paralyzed from the neck down in a testing accident in January 2000 at Walt Disney World Speedway. Sam Schmidt "Racing to Recovery" T-shirts are for sale on the Treadway Racing Web site at www.treadwayracing.com, with all proceeds going to the Sam Schmidt Foundation. McGehee, Schmidt, Schroeder nominated for F2000 honors: Indy Racing drivers Robby McGehee and Jeret Schroeder and former Indy Racing standout Sam Schmidt were nominated for the U.S. F2000 Hall of Fame class for 2000. McGehee jumped from the U.S. F2000 series to the Indy Racing League last May and earned Bank One Rookie of the Year honors in his Indy Racing debut, the Indianapolis 500. He finished runner-up in the points for league rookie of the year and now drives for Treadway Racing. Schroeder, 1995 U.S. F2000 national champion, drove in the Indianapolis 500 last year and now has a full-time ride in the Northern Light Indy Racing Series with Tri Star Motorsports, partially owned by 1996-97 Indy Racing League champion Tony Stewart. Schmidt finished fourth in the 1996 U.S. F2000 championship and then paved the way for many other drivers by jumping to the Indy Racing League in 1997. He finished a career-best fifth in the Indy Racing League point standings in 1999 but suffered paralysis from the neck down in a testing accident in January 2000. Other nominees are Alex Barron, Mike Borkowski, Steve Challis and Memo Gidley. The 2000 Hall of Fame class will be announced after the first round of the U.S. F2000 season March 19 at Phoenix International Raceway. 1999 Indy Racing League champion Greg Ray and 1998 Indianapolis 500 Bank One Rookie of the Year Steve Knapp were in the inaugural Hall class last year. Carpenter impressive at Phoenix: Ed Carpenter, son of Indy Racing League founder Tony George, had a strong weekend Feb. 5-6 at the Copper World Classic in Phoenix. Carpenter finished ninth in his USAC Coors Light Silver Bullet Series debut and finished 15th in the MCI WorldCom National Midget feature on the 1-mile oval at Phoenix International Raceway. In the 50-lap Coors Light Silver Bullet feature, Carpenter made an impressive climb from the 26th starting position in the Conseco-Menards car. Cody Unser honored: Cody Unser, 13-year-old daughter of Indy Racing standout Al Unser Jr., was presented with a commendation Feb. 4 by the New Mexico State Legislature for her work to combat paralysis and generate public awareness of transverse myelitis. Cody was stricken with the rare spinal-cord infection last year and since has formed the Cody Unser First Step Foundation. New Mexico Speaker of the House Raymond Sanchez made the proclamation, and the entire legislature gave Cody two standing ovations. Her older brother, Al, 16, lifted Cody from her wheelchair and placed her in a seat next to the Speaker. "This is a different kind of race than the Unser family is used to, but I am going to win," Cody told the Legislature. A transcript of the speech and photos of the event are located on the foundation's Web site, www.CodysFirstStep.org . *** Hot laps: 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner Eddie Cheever Jr. will sign autographs Feb. 12 at the Chicago Auto Show. Cheever will sign from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. (CDT) and 2-4 p.m. (CDT) at the Infiniti display at the show, located at McCormack Place in Chicago ... The 10th annual Rich Vogler Memorial Scholarship Foundation fundraiser will take place Feb. 20 at Celebrations on 220 N. Country Club Road in Indianapolis. The function will start at 10 a.m., with a live broadcast of the Daytona 500 on a big-screen television, a buffet lunch included with admission, a cash bar and live and silent auctions of racing memorabilia. All proceeds will be donated to the fund, formed in memory of the late open-wheel driving great Vogler. Tickets are $15 with children under 12 free. For ticket or donation information, call (317) 272-4623.

IRL/IMS

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Stewart , Robby McGehee , Greg Ray , Eddie Cheever , Al Unser Jr. , Robbie Buhl , Memo Gidley , Jeret Schroeder , Alex Barron , Sam Schmidt , Steve Knapp , Mike Borkowski , Tony George , Ed Carpenter