IRL: Notebook 2002-08-15

McGehee making comeback in hometown; Toyota completes first test INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Aug. 15, 2002 -- Robby McGehee will return to Indy Racing League competition at his hometown track, Gateway International Raceway, for the Gateway Indy 250...

McGehee making comeback in hometown; Toyota completes first test

INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Aug. 15, 2002 -- Robby McGehee will return to Indy Racing League competition at his hometown track, Gateway International Raceway, for the Gateway Indy 250 on Aug. 25 in Treadway-Hubbard Racing entry.

McGehee, from St. Louis, will drive the No. 55 Atlas Van Lines/Sam Schmidt Motorsports G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone for the Treadway team, for which he drove in the entire 2000 IRL season. McGehee finished a career-best second in October 2000 at Texas in a Treadway car.

"I'm glad we were able to put this deal together," McGehee said. "I'm looking forward to being back in the car, especially with the Treadway crew and in my hometown. I had my best IRL finish with Treadway, and they were really strong in St. Louis last year before they broke, so we're hoping to build on that.

"I have to thank all the local St. Louis companies for helping make this a reality, along with Ray Parsons, Sam Schmidt and the entire Treadway team."

1999 Indianapolis 500 Bank One Rookie of the Year McGehee has made seven combined starts this year with Cahill Racing and Beck Motorsports with a best finish of ninth in June at Richmond with Beck. This will be McGehee's first start since finishing 13th in early July at Kansas.

Hideki Noda also will return to the IRL at Gateway. Rookie Noda will drive the No. 28 Nimo Eikoh/Indy Regency Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone fielded by Indy Regency Racing.

Noda, from Osaka, Japan, started the first three races of this season with Convergent Racing, with a best finish of 10th at Phoenix. Noda won an Indy Lights race in 1997 at Portland, Ore., while driving for Indy Regency.

"I enjoy racing in the U.S.A. and teaming again with Indy Regency Racing gives me a unique opportunity to be competitive despite our limited budget," Noda said. I am looking forward to the Gateway event with confidence and peace of mind."

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Traveling man: Indy Racing League championship contender Gil de Ferran will be a globetrotter in the days leading up the Gateway Indy 250 on Aug. 24-25 at Gateway International Raceway near St. Louis.

de Ferran flew from St. Louis to Chicago after completing a two-day test session Aug. 14 at Gateway and hopped a flight to the south of France, where he is reuniting with his family for their summer vacation.

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Toyota finishes successful first test: Marlboro Team Penske driver Helio Castroneves helped Toyota Racing Development fine-tune its 2003 Indy Racing League engine during testing Aug. 12-13 at Kentucky Speedway.

Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Castroneves tested the new Toyota engine with both short- and long-run setups with a Dallara chassis. Toyota is making its debut as an IRL engine manufacturer in the 2003 season.

"We have eight to 10 of these engines that we've been building in rotation," said Lee White of Toyota Racing Development. "We build probably three or four a week for dyno development and virtually every one has been a different spec.

"It's been a very rapid evolutionary process because of time constraints. We've been focusing heavily on performance development because those parts, by the (IRL) rules, have to be submitted by Sept. 1. We're just starting to shift from 80 or 90 percent performance development to something more normal, which is primarily durability development."

Toyota focused its testing energy on the elements of the IRL package that are new to the automotive giant, which has enjoyed success in CART.

"The IRL program is different," White said. "It's a rev--limited format, it's normally aspirated as opposed to turbocharger and is primarily oval-track racing instead of road-course racing. It's a different science.

"We are here primarily focusing on the things we understand the least about, which is the rev limiter, the pit lane crew system. We'll be working some on 'shift without lift,' which is something new for the IRL next year."

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MK to build Falcon chassis: MK Racing, selected by the Indy Racing League in May to be one of three manufacturers for the 2003-05 generation of chassis, will supply IRL cars under the name "Falcon Cars."

Owned by Michael Kranefuss and Ken Anderson, who together have almost seven decades of experience at all levels of racing, Falcon Cars will be designed and manufactured at the company's dedicated 25,000 square-foot facility in Concord, N.C. Falcon Cars will concentrate exclusively on the IRL for the next three years.

"Falcon Cars' technical partners have been critical in helping build a state-of-the-art facility from the ground up," Anderson said. "Without their enthusiastic support, meeting our objectives and deadlines would have been much more difficult. Industry-leading companies in the fields of CAD software, CAM software, CFD analysis, computer hardware, CNC machines, composite manufacturing and rapid prototyping have all come through for us. What we are building is truly world class -- the premier race car engineering facility in the United States."

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Ward Energized for Gateway: The No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone driven by Jeff Ward will feature a new paint scheme at the Gateway Indy 250 on Aug. 25 near St. Louis featuring Energizer batteries.

The black-and-silver trim paint scheme will feature the famous Energizer Bunny® on the engine cover. Energizer is based in St. Louis.

"It's going to be neat to have the Energizer Bunny riding shotgun with me," Ward said.

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Youth rules: When Sarah Fisher won the MBNA Pole for the Belterra Casino Indy 300 on Aug. 10 at Kentucky Speedway, it was the first time a woman accomplished the feat and probably was the first time different 21-year-olds captured the pole in successive races.

Two weeks before, Tomas Scheckter, driving the No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, was the fastest qualifier for the Michigan Indy 400 at Michigan International Speedway. His speed was 221.081 mph. He then rallied from the back of the pack in the last 30 laps to win the race.

Fisher put her No. 23 Team Smart Blade/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing G Force/Infiniti/Firestone on the pole with a speed of 221.390 mph. She was in the thick of battle down to the end, slipping back to eighth, only seconds behind winner Felipe Giaffone.

Scheckter won poles earlier this season at Texas (219.065) and Kansas Speedway (218.547). Prior to their poles, the IRL's youngest pole winner was Sam Hornish Jr. last year at Gateway International Raceway. He had just passed his 22nd birthday.

Other than Indianapolis, where Bruno Junqueira grabbed the MBNA Pole at 231.342 mph, Eddie Cheever Jr. and Fisher own the fastest qualifying speeds of the season. Cheever's lap of 221.422 at California Speedway in April was only 32-hundredths of a mph faster than Fisher's top lap at Kentucky.

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Hot laps: Indy Racing League star Sarah Fisher will sign autographs from 1-2 p.m. (EST) Aug. 17 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Gazebo Gift Shop at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway sponsors an area at the Indiana State Fair -- running until Aug. 18 -- called "Brickyard Plaza presented by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway" and also stages a Mini-Indy 500 for children in pedal cars each day and an IMS-themed float in the nightly parade at the fair -- Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves will compete in a celebrity doubles tennis match at the RCA Championships at 6:30 p.m. (EST) Aug. 16 in Indianapolis. Castroneves, an avid tennis player, will be paired with one of the ATP pros in the tournament. They will play against Olympic runner Bob Kennedy and Stephanie McCarty of the WNBA's Indiana Fever -- Fans now can not only purchase tickets online for Texas Motor Speedway events, they can print their tickets online, too. Fans can go to www.texasmotorspeedway.com, purchase a race ticket for the Chevy 500 Indy Racing League season finale Sept. 15 and print the official ticket for gate admission on race day -- Indy Racing standout Robbie Buhl will visit young patients Aug. 23 at Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital in St. Louis as part of his work as national spokesperson for Racing For Kids. Buhl will drive in the Gateway Indy 250 on Aug. 25 at Gateway International Raceway.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Robby McGehee , Sarah Fisher , Felipe Giaffone , Eddie Cheever , Robbie Buhl , Jeff Ward , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Bruno Junqueira , Sam Schmidt , Hideki Noda , Chip Ganassi , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing , Toyota Racing