IRL: Weekly Notebook 98-02-04

PEP BOYS INDY RACING LEAGUE WEEKLY NOTEBOOK INDIANAPOLIS, Feb. 4, 1998 - Notes and quotes from the Pep Boys Indy Racing League: IMS, USAC strengthen ties: The Indianapolis Motor Speedway will provide sales, marketing and ...

PEP BOYS INDY RACING LEAGUE WEEKLY NOTEBOOK

INDIANAPOLIS, Feb. 4, 1998 - Notes and quotes from the Pep Boys Indy Racing League:

IMS, USAC strengthen ties: The Indianapolis Motor Speedway will provide sales, marketing and promotional support to the United States Auto Club in an effort to develop and expand future opportunities for young drivers in open-wheel racing.

USAC sanctions 11 different racing series, including midgets, sprint cars and Silver Crown championship cars. The organization, based in Indianapolis, sanctions nearly 180 events annually, including the Pikes Peak Hill Climb and the World Land Speed Record competition.

"The agreement helps guarantee that young men and women competing in American open-wheel, oval racing will continue to have an opportunity to develop their skills and have a chance to compete in the Indy Racing League and the Indianapolis 500," said Tony George, president and chief executive officer of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "We look forward to working closely with USAC as partners in guaranteeing a bright future for open-wheel racing in the United States."

Said USAC President John Capels: "This agreement we have reached with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway maintains our long association, and through their marketing and promotional efforts and resources, it will enhance USAC's ability to accelerate its participants' hopes and dreams to reach that final level of motorsports achievement."

        Many USAC drivers have become stars in the Pep Boys Indy Racing
League, including defending series champion Tony Stewart.  ***

Tyler staying with Chitwood: Rookie Brian Tyler will drive for Chitwood Motorsports at the Phoenix 200 on March 22 after making an impressive IRL debut with the team last month at the Indy 200 near Orlando, team spokesman Andre Carollo said.

Tyler, two-time defending USAC sprint car champion, finished 19th at Walt Disney World Speedway just one week after winning the USAC Silver Crown race at Disney. Tyler climbed to 11th after 80 laps but crashed on Lap 121 after his Dallara/Aurora was tapped from behind. Tyler was unhurt in the accident. ***

Taking the test: The next IRL race may not take place until March 22 at Phoenix, but the league's teams and drivers aren't taking vacations.

Many teams will participate in open, private, and Goodyear and Firestone tire tests leading up to the Phoenix 200. Teams will test at Phoenix International Raceway, Texas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Arizona Motorsports and its driver, Dr. Jack Miller, started the busy schedule of team testing Feb. 3-4 at Phoenix. Many teams will attend the main test session before the Phoenix 200, the annual "Test in the West" Feb. 25-27 at the 1-mile oval in Phoenix. ***

Blueprint lands sponsor: Team Blueprint, which fields a car for rookie John Hollansworth Jr., will receive associate sponsorship this season by Lycos, one of the largest World Wide Web sites.

Team Blueprint weekly updates and photos will be featured on the popular Web site, http://www.lycos.com. The team also will use the Lycos site for advertising to potential additional car sponsors. Lycos is a free, global Internet navigation and community network that features a powerful search engine to help online users find information quickly and easily. Hollansworth is scheduled to make his IRL debut March 22 at the Phoenix 200. Robbie Groff drove for the team at the season-opening Indy 200 on Jan. 24 after Hollansworth was unable to finish his IRL rookie test in time for the race. Hollansworth is scheduled to finish his rookie test later this month at Texas Motor Speedway. ***

Tony's fan club grows: Add Indianapolis 500 veteran George Snider to the list of admirers of defending IRL champion Tony Stewart. Snider owns the USAC Silver Crown car that Stewart drove to victory from the 25th starting spot at the Skoal Bandit Racing Copper World Classic Feb. 1 in Phoenix.

"He's a hell of a race driver," Snider said of Stewart. "He's got a feel that most people don't have. He's also got a desire you don't see in a lot of people." ***

Smooth moves by Arie: Two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Arie Luyendyk showed grace under pressure while helping the MOMO Ferrari team win the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona sportscar race Feb. 1 at Daytona Beach, Fla.

The Ferrari shared by Gianpiero Moretti, Didier Theys, Mauro Baldi and Luyendyk encountered only two serious problems during the twice-around-the-clock race, and Luyendyk was at the wheel during both.

Luyendyk calmly drove the car to the pits when a wheel bearing broke, and guided the car through the infield grass toward the pits when a tire shredded.

        "We were fortunate that the few things that did happen were easy
to fix,"  Luyendyk said. 

All four drivers earned their first career Rolex 24 Hours victory. *** Lucky sevens: A line in the Chastain Motorsports media kit insists, "No, we are not superstitious."

Oh, really?

Chastain and driver Stephan Gregoire must be considered one of the more superstitious bunches in the IRL. For instance, the number 7 appears quite often for Gregoire and the team. oGregoire's first Indy 500, in 1993, was the 77th running of the race. oThe team's car number is 77. Gregoire originally wanted No. 14, but A.J. Foyt's team uses that number. So Gregoire settled for 7+7. oThe team's address is 777 Stony Lane. oThe team's first G Force chassis was numbered 777. oThe team's phone number starts with two sevens. oGregoire finished the Indy 500 Mini-Marathon running race in 77 minutes. ***

Next event: Phoenix 200, March 22, Phoenix International Raceway. Tickets are available at (602) 252-2227.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Stewart , Didier Theys , Stephan Gregoire , Mauro Baldi , Brian Tyler , Tony George , Gianpiero Moretti , Jack Miller