IRL: Indy500 notebook 2000-05-08

INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, May 8, 2000 - Indy Racing Northern Light Series rookie Sarah Fisher showed during testing last week that her preparation for her first Indianapolis 500 is right on schedule. Fisher, 19, completed 207 laps...

INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, May 8, 2000 - Indy Racing Northern Light Series rookie Sarah Fisher showed during testing last week that her preparation for her first Indianapolis 500 is right on schedule.

Fisher, 19, completed 207 laps around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in a Walker Racing Cummins Special Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone, reaching a top speed of 218.50 mph. Fisher competed in a Riley & Scott chassis in the MCI WorldCom 200 in March at Phoenix and the Vegas Indy 300 in March at Las Vegas.

"The Indy 500 is just so competitive that a team needs to use every advantage it can, and we are just trying to see which chassis performs better at the Speedway. We're trying the Dallara to just utilize a different strategy.

"With the speeds at Indy being as close as they are, you have to try every angle you can."

The team officially switched to the Dallara for its primary car at Indy late last week.

Fisher and the rest of the field for the Indianapolis 500 will take to the 2.5-mile oval next on May 13, Opening Day for the 84th edition of the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing."

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Ready to go: Indy Racing drivers Stan Wattles and Dan Drinan passed refresher tests May 3 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, clearing them to start practice for the 84th Indianapolis 500 on Opening Day, May 13.

Wattles and Drinan will be Hemelgarn Racing teammates with 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Lazier. Wattles will drive the #92 March Indy International-Hemelgarn Racing Riley & Scott/Oldsmobile/Firestone, while Drinan will drive the #93 Hemelgarn Racing Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone.

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A vet at age 24: Jimmy Kite is starting to feel like an experienced hand at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at the ripe old age of 24.

Kite will attempt to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 for the third consecutive year, this year with Blueprint Racing. He drove for McCormack Motorsports last year at Indy, finishing 24th. He was 11th as a rookie in 1998 driving for Team Scandia.

"I just look forward to going back to Indy," Kite said. "It's the best race in the world, and it is the most important race I can win in my life. I'm starting to enjoy this place, and I think that will show this month. "The last two years, I was freaked out at this time. In '98, it was my rookie year, and I was going to be running Indianapolis for the first time. Last year, I didn't even have a ride at this time. But this year I have no worries.

"Now I know I can win one of these, and I know that Blueprint is a strong enough team to win any race we enter. All we need is some help from the 'Big Guy' upstairs, and we can be in the winner's circle."

Kite finished a season-best 16th in the Vegas Indy 300 last month in the Founders Bank Group-ZMAX-Blueprint Racing Special G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone.

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Helping hand: Dave Taylor of Team Menard and Ted Bitting of Treadway Racing are collecting donations for Team Menard truck driver, Gary Gooch, who was recently diagnosed with bone cancer.

Gooch is being treated at Bethesda North Hospital in Cincinnati. Get-well wishes can be sent to: <pre> Gary Gooch Gary Gooch c/o Bethesda North Hospital P.O. Box 63 10500 Montgomery Road Newtonsville, OH 45158 Cincinnati, OH 45242

        Donations for The Gooch Fund can be sent to either Taylor or Bitting at:
Dave Taylor             Ted Bitting
c/o Team Menard         c/o Treadway Racing
701 Girls School Road   6071 W. 71st St.
Indianapolis, IN 46231  Indianapolis, IN 46278

</pre> ***

Fashion show: CARA Charities will play host to "Back Home Again In

Indiana," an annual luncheon and fashion gala benefiting local and national children's causes, on May 26 at the Westin Hotel Grand Ballroom in Indianapolis.

The event, two days before the 84th Indianapolis 500, is sponsored by Jacobson's and Conseco. The gala starts at noon with a luncheon, followed by the fashion show.

Actor and singer Jim Nabors is the honorary chair, and ABC-ESPN announcer Bob Jenkins and former CARA Charities president Beth Daly are the hosts.

Many Indy Racing drivers and their families are expected to attend. Some Northern Light Series drivers and their families will serve as models in the fashion show.

Tickets are available at $60 each. For information on tickets, corporate tables or event sponsorships, call CARA Charities at (317) 299-2277 or visit the organization's Web site at www.caraux.org .

***

Hot laps: Northern Light Series iron man Davey Hamilton won the USAC Western States Sprint Car Series feature May 6 at Madera, Calif., to increase his lead in the point standings to 381-326 over runner-up Todd Ellison. Mike Boat, brother of 1998 Indianapolis 500 pole sitter Billy Boat, finished ninth at Madera ... #51 Excite@Home Indy Race Team Crew Chief Dane Harte and his wife, Jane, celebrated the birth of their first child, a son named Taylor Cameron Harte, on May 2 in Indianapolis. Mother, father and son are doing fine. "Anybody who has had a baby knows that it is the best thing in the world," said Harte, crew chief for 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner Eddie Cheever Jr. "It's absolutely better than winning the Indianapolis 500." ... 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner Eddie Cheever Jr. served as co-chairperson of the "Winning With Strides: Breast Cancer Awareness Fashion Show and Luncheon" on May 5 in Indianapolis ... Mexmil Dick Simon Racing driver Stephan Gregoire, an avid long-distance runner, competed in the 500 Festival Indianapolis Mini Marathon on May 6 ... Blueprint Racing has joined the race to cyberspace with its new Web site at www.blueprintracing.com . Surfers can find information about the team and driver Jimmy Kite, photos and a guest book where fans can leave messages for Kite and the team ... Defending Indy Racing Northern Light Series champion Greg Ray led a tour of the Team Menard shop on May 4 for approximately 15 students from St. Luke's Preschool in Indianapolis. Katherine Knapp, the daughter of Team Menard manager and engineer Thomas Knapp, attends St. Luke's ... Veteran Indy-style mechanic Butch Winkle recently was named as the chief instructor of the CAM Training Center in Indianapolis. Winkle will implement all class schedules, oversee development of courses and train most of the students who attend the center, designed to train students about the mechanics of Indy-style racing.

-IRLNS/IMS-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Sarah Fisher , Greg Ray , Eddie Cheever , Buddy Lazier , Stephan Gregoire , Davey Hamilton , Billy Boat , Jimmy Kite , Stan Wattles , Dan Drinan , Mike Boat , Dick Simon