News and notes 2009-04-15

Today's IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines Patrick nears one-year anniversary of victory Friendly wager Dollar General offers Indianapolis 500 sweepstakes Conquest partners with Rubicon Sports Agenc Kimball partners with Novo ...

Today's IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines
Patrick nears one-year anniversary of victory
Friendly wager
Dollar General offers Indianapolis 500 sweepstakes
Conquest partners with Rubicon Sports Agenc
Kimball partners with Novo Nordisk

1. Patrick nears one-year anniversary of victory: One year ago, Danica Patrick traveled to Long Beach for a press conference in the United States following her first career victory hours earlier in Japan. She vaguely remembers hanging out in the interview room of the Long Beach Convention Center, groggy from celebrating during an overnight flight.

But what made April 20, 2008, special occurred when Patrick was introduced as the winner of the IndyCar Series race at Twin Ring Motegi -- becoming the first female to win a major closed-course auto race.

It actually was the second such introduction; the first coming some 15 hours earlier and an ocean away in front of an overflow room of media and overjoyed spectators in Japan. In her fourth full season, in her 50th IndyCar Series start, Patrick wouldn't have to answer that question about when she would earn her first victory.

This week, Patrick returns to Long Beach, where she was whisked after the Japan triumph to meet a second round of media. It's where Danica-mania escalated into Danica-mega-mania.

"You know, it's going to be one of those things that's remembered," she said that day. "It's a first and firsts are in the history books."

Fifty-one weeks later, how does the writer of history view the feat?

"I don't think enough time has passed to really have that sort of deep reflection and introspect to the event and what it did and what it meant to me," said Patrick, who will compete in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach for the first time.

"One thing I've heard more of over the last few months is parents that I know or are involved in racing say, ‘You know what, my two little girls love you' or ‘My mom loves you.' It's really very flattering when people say things like that.

"I still get people saying congrats on the win. I don\'t feel any different. I think it will take more time to get that reflection that it deserves for the moment."

Patrick, whose No. 7 Motorola Honda-powered Dallara was eighth with 10 laps left on the 1.5-mile egg-shaped Twin Ring Motegi oval, rode to the front of the pack when the leaders were forced to pit for fuel. She then blew past Team Penske's Helio Castroneves on Lap 198 of 200 of the Indy Japan 300. Patrick remained focused entering the final turn, anticipating seeing the checkered flag for the first time after years of expectations.

Patrick finished a career-high sixth in the championship standings with 10 top-10 finishes in 17 races. She, of course, wanted more.

"Quite simply, my job is to win races so I really wish I would have won more than just the one last year," she said. "But we just didn't have the speed and the strength we needed to contend for more victories and to grab them. They say the first win is the hardest to get, which I agree with. It's even more realistic now with having a win, and hopefully more will come now."


2. Friendly wager: Former teammates Dario Franchitti and Tony Kanaan have embraced a friendly wager for the remainder of the 2009 season. Franchitti, who won the IndyCar Series championship in 2007 with close-cropped hair, has agreed to trim his now full head of hair when he wins a race. In return, Kanaan, who favors a shaved head, will allow his hair to grow uncut from the time he wins a race until he wins again.

"The thing is, you guys have all seen me with a shaved head but you've never seen Tony with his full afro," Franchitti wrote on his weekly blog. "When Tony lets his hair grow he's got the world's biggest 'fro. A giant disco afro at that. It's unreal. Looks like an oversized costume wig. I'm definitely going to go win this one."


3. Dollar General offers Indianapolis 500 sweepstakes: Dollar General is celebrating its sponsorship of Sarah Fisher Racing in the Indianapolis 500 by offering customers a chance to win a trip to the race and meet driver/ team co-owner Sarah Fisher. The discount retailer is partnering with AMP and Frito Lay to bring customers the "Ticket to the Indy 500" sweepstakes from April 11-May 19. "Ticket to the Indy 500" sweepstakes will award 10 grand prize packages that each include two tickets to the race on May 24 and a meeting with Fisher prior to the race. Also, one $100 Dollar General gift card will be awarded each day during the sweepstakes period. To enter the sweepstakes, customers 18 years of age or older living in Dollar General's 35-state market area can purchase any AMP or Frito-Lay product at a Dollar General store, then visit to enter the required information from the cash register receipt. The sweepstakes will be in all 8,400 Dollar General stores. "To have Dollar General in conjunction with AMP and Frito-Lay activating our IndyCar program in all 8,400 stores is huge for our small team," said Fisher, who will attempt to make her eighth start in the race. "We look forward to the opportunity of hosting Dollar General customers at the largest sporting event in the world."


4. Conquest partners with Rubicon Sports Agency: Conquest Racing has called upon the services of the newly formed Rubicon Sports Agency to oversee the team's commercial department. Recently created by Rubicon Race Team owners Jim Freudenberg and Jason Priestley, the Rubicon Sports Agency focuses on the commercial elements of racing such as sales, marketing, sponsor activation and driver management. Conquest's relationship with the agency's sales and activation division will see Jim Freudenberg become the Commercial Director for Conquest Racing. "We all know how vital it is in the racing industry to build a strong and successful commercial platform, and partnering with the Rubicon Sports Agency will help us build on what we have," team owner Eric Bachelart said. "We look forward to working with Jim and Jason. The relationship with the Rubicon Sports Agency is a welcome addition to our sales and marketing department. They will not only help us with our immediate marketing efforts but also work on building our program for 2010 and beyond."


5. Kimball partners with Novo Nordisk: Firestone Indy Lights driver Charlie Kimball has formed a partnership with Novo Nordisk, a world leader in diabetes care, with the goal of showing that with proper management, diabetes does not have to be a roadblock.

"When I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes just a year and a half ago, I knew I could not allow the disease to get in the way of me chasing my dream of being a race car driver," said Kimball, who uses Levemir, an insulin produced by Novo Nordisk to help manage his diabetes. "My goal is to win the Firestone Indy Lights title. With the combination of insulin and delivery devices, such as the Levemir FlexPen, I have learned that daily diabetes management and glucose control can be easily and successfully integrated into my busy life both on and off the track."

Kimball, who is the only American open-wheeled racing driver to talk publicly about his diabetes, has a history of breaking the mold. He made international history with a podium finish in the Formula 3 Euro Series in his first race after he was diagnosed with diabetes in 2007.

"Charlie is a role model for anyone who feels inhibited by diabetes as he continues to accomplish remarkable achievements with the disease," said Camille Lee, vice president of diabetes brand marketing, at Novo Nordisk. "He proves that with today\'s treatment options, diabetes can be managed even in the most challenging circumstances."

Kimball has committed to working closely with his doctor, utilizing a regimen which includes Levemir FlexPen, an up to 24-hour long-acting basal insulin administered in a prefilled pen; and NovoLog, a rapid-acting insulin that can be taken 5-10 minutes before a meal, to help manage his blood glucose levels.

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Sarah Fisher , Helio Castroneves , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Charlie Kimball , Jason Priestley
Teams Team Penske , Conquest Racing