IRL: Notebook 2002-06-20

Indy Racing League Notebook: Youngster studies racing safety with help from IRL drivers. INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, June 20, 2002 -- Fourth-grader Jessie Crowbridge recently earned honors for a science project at Wilson Elementary School in Payson,...

Indy Racing League Notebook:
Youngster studies racing safety with help from IRL drivers.

INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, June 20, 2002 -- Fourth-grader Jessie Crowbridge recently earned honors for a science project at Wilson Elementary School in Payson, Utah, after receiving a little help from her friends -- Indy Racing League drivers.

Jessie's project was entitled "Race Car Safety and Survival." Jessie, 10, met with IRL standouts Buddy Lazier and Robbie Buhl during the Radisson Indy 225 on June 15-16 at Pikes Peak International Raceway to do final research for her chosen topic. It was the second time she talked with both drivers this year, as she also interviewed them at the Yamaha Indy 400 in March at California Speedway.

"It was pretty cool," Jessie said of her experiences with the IRL drivers. "I had several questions to ask, and they were really great to talk to. Some of the kids didn't believe I had actually talked to the drivers, and others were really jealous and wanted to come along. Mom says maybe when I'm 12 that I can bring some friends along, too."

Jessie's final project, which stood taller than her, displays digital photos of many of the safety features that protect driver and equipment. Jessie used computer graphics programs to assemble her presentation with help from her dad, Dan Crowbridge. He works for Holmatro, Inc., a world leader in hydraulic and pneumatic safety equipment. The Indy Racing League Safety Crew uses Holmatro tools.

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Happy Father's Day: Gil de Ferran's victory June 16 at Pikes Peak International Raceway not only was his first career Indy Racing League win, but it continued Marlboro Team Penske's uncanny habit of success on Father's Day.

Helio Castroneves, de Ferran's teammate, earned his first career CART victory on Father's Day 2000 at the Detroit Grand Prix and repeated that victory last year.

de Ferran's victory at the Radisson Indy 225 last Sunday was extra special from a father's perspective. de Ferran's children, Anna and Luke, witnessed their dad's victory at Pikes Peak, and de Ferran's father, Luc, watched his son win on television from their native Brazil.

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Fike strikes in USAC: Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series driver Aaron Fike won the Buckeye Nationals USAC National Midget Car Series race June 19 at Attica, Ohio.

Fike took the lead from Dave Darland on the final lap of the 30-lap feature. The win came despite Fike flipping during qualifying.

2001 USAC Silver Crown Rookie of the Year Fike will drive for Hemelgarn 91/Johnson Motorsports during the debut season of the Infiniti Pro Series, which starts July 7 at Kansas Speedway.

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Follow the leader: 2001 Indy Racing League champion Sam Hornish Jr. can move into second all-time in IRL career laps led in the SunTrust Indy Challenge on June 29 at Richmond International Raceway.

Hornish trails 1999 IRL champion Greg Ray, second with 1,149 laps led, by 36 at 1,113. Hornish has led 310 this season, including victories at Homestead-Miami Speedway and California Speedway and moved past Buddy Lazier, who started the season in third with 1,030. Hornish entered his third season with 803 laps led.

Hornish has led five of the first seven races. He was in front for 166 laps at Miami, 67 at Phoenix, 73 at California, one at Nazareth and three at Texas. He failed to lead the Indy 500 and last week's Radisson Indy 225 at Pikes Peak International Raceway. But he finished a close third at Pikes Peak.

If Hornish overtakes Ray, his next goal will be to catch and pass Tony Stewart, the league's all-time leader. Stewart led 1,515 laps in 26 races, including 598 during the 11-race 1998 season. Richmond will be Hornish's 29th Indy Racing start, but he led only 38 laps (all at Kentucky) in his rookie season.

Gil de Ferran led 217 laps at Pikes Peak and has taken the season lead with 340. Al Unser Jr. already has led 56 more laps this season than he did all of last year. He is fifth in the 2002 standings with 132 leading laps, pushing his IRL career total to 428.

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Short and long of it: Seldom, if ever, has there been such a vast difference in the distance led in back-to-back races then there was between Jeff Ward and Gil de Ferran in the past two IRL events.

Ward won the Boomtown 500 at Texas Motor Speedway by about 2 feet. Those were the only 2 feet he led as he edged the nose of his Target Chip Ganassi Racing car in front of Al Unser's Jr.'s Corteco machine at the finish line.

Last Sunday at Pikes Peak, Gil de Ferran had his Marlboro Team Penske car in front for 217 of 225 laps on the way to victory in the Radisson Indy 225.

But look at it in a different perspective. Ward led 2 feet, and de Ferran led 1,145,760 feet.

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Hot laps: Richmond International Raceway and the Indy Racing League are teaming up to bring race fans the largest fireworks display in Virginia this year immediately after the SunTrust Indy Challenge on June 29 at RIR. The fireworks add even more value to the Saturday-night racing double-header, which starts with the Dominic's of New York 100 USAC Weld Racing Silver Crown Series race. Reserved seats are $35, and general admission tickets are $30. Kids 12 and under are free in the general admission sections when accompanied by a paying adult. For more information, contact the Richmond International Raceway ticket office at (804) 345-RACE -- Indy Racing standout Robbie Buhl will visit young patients at 2 p.m. (EDT) June 27 at Virginia Commonwealth University Hospital in Richmond, Va., as part of his work as national spokesman for Racing For Kids. Buhl will drive in the SunTrust Indy Challenge on June 29 at Richmond International Raceway.

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Greg Ray , Al Unser Jr. , Robbie Buhl , Buddy Lazier , Jeff Ward , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Al Unser Sr. , Dave Darland , Aaron Fike , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing