Series news and notes 2009-02-09

Today's IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines 1. VERSUS names Firestone Indy Lights broadcast team 2. Xtrac announces discounts for IndyCar Series teams 3. Patrick nominated for Kids Choice Award 4. Fisher adds sponsorship from ...

Today's IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines
1. VERSUS names Firestone Indy Lights broadcast team
2. Xtrac announces discounts for IndyCar Series teams
3. Patrick nominated for Kids Choice Award
4. Fisher adds sponsorship from IUPUI

1. VERSUS names Firestone Indy Lights broadcast team: Mike King, Arie Luyendyk Jr. and Kevin Lee will call the action for Firestone Indy Lights telecasts in 2009. VERSUS, the exclusive cable television home of the IndyCar® Series, will air the races in an hour-long show each Monday after events. The network's Firestone Indy Lights coverage begins at 6 p.m. (ET) April 6.

King, who has anchored the IMS Radio Network's coverage of the IndyCar Series since 1999, has been a pit reporter for Firestone Indy Lights telecasts on ESPN2 for the past two seasons.

"There's definitely a difference between calling an IndyCar Series race on radio and then playing to pictures on television," King said. "I believe I need to bring that same energy to the (Firestone Indy) Lights series. That's the way I do races. While you cut down a bit on the descriptive part television announcing, you still have to be excited about great racing.

"My style is the way I feel about racing. I'm essentially the guy in the stands jumping up and down rooting for all of them and wanting to see a great race. Until someone says to me calm down I don't plan to calm down."

Luyendyk moves to the booth as analyst following a series-high 62 starts, including his first career victory in the 2008 season finale at Chicagoland Speedway in September.

"I'm definitely excited about the opportunity," said Luyendyk, who has filled in on occasion on the radio broadcasts. "No one on the team knows more about the Firestone Indy Lights drivers, teams and cars than me so that's going to be an advantage for me on the broadcasts."

Luyendyk said joining King in the booth will be a fun way to stay involved while looking for opportunities in the IndyCar Series.

"It is not a career change for me because I still have a passion to be an IndyCar Series driver," he said. "It's just another new experience and another interesting job."

Lee is also a veteran of the IMS Radio Network, calling IndyCar Series races since 2001. He hosts a weekly motorsports show in Indianapolis.


2. Xtrac announces discounts for IndyCar Series teams: Xtrac, the exclusive gearbox supplier of the IndyCar Series, is responding to the global economic downturn by passing on reduced prices - more than 50 percent in one case - to teams for the 2009 season.

The end-of-season price review was waived, and the service charge for the Assisted Gearchange System (pneumatic paddle shift system) has been cut by more than half. Further savings will be forthcoming with an extended AGS service life and the '09 software update at no cost. The AGS enables gearshifts to be made to Xtrac's gearbox by using shift paddles mounted on the rear of the steering wheel.

"We have been a part of the IRL formula since 2000, and we are willing to share in the pain of the economic crisis," said Peter Digby, Xtrac's managing director. "In some cases, we will be offering savings of over 15 percent plus reduced AGS service costs and intervals. This is a big step."

A current 7.5 percent volume discount for spare gearbox parts COD orders will be expanded May 1 to between 7.5 percent and 15 percent for a range of gearbox consumables, including gear ratios and dog rings.

"I think it shows what a great partner the Indy Racing League has in Xtrac," said Brian Barnhart, president of competition and operations for the sanctioning body. "In these economic times, to help reduce the costs of participation in the IndyCar Series is quite a gesture on their behalf."

In December, chassis supplier Dallara Automobili reduced prices on parts by 8 percent to 20 percent.


3. Patrick nominated for Kids Choice Award: Danica Patrick will attempt to defend her title as Nickelodeon's Favorite Female Athlete. The IndyCar Series star is among the nominees for Nickelodeon's 22nd Annual Kids' Choice Awards. Patrick is nominated for Favorite Female Athlete along with Candace Parker, Serena Williams and Venus Williams.

Patrick won the honor last year, edging out the Williams sisters and WNBA player Cheryl Ford in online voting that drew more than 88 million votes.

Voting for the 2009 awards begins March 2 at Winners will be announced during a live show on March 28.


4. Fisher adds sponsorship from IUPUI: Sarah Fisher Racing announced a partnership with Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), which will be a sponsor of the IndyCar Series driver/team owner for the IndyCar Series season.

"It's wonderful to have IUPUI back at SFR and to be a part of the educational platform to inject new engineering blood into open-wheel racing," said Fisher, whose first-year team partnered with IUPUI for the 2008 Indianapolis 500.

The program was used as a platform to promote IUPUI offering the first four-year Motorsports Engineering degree program in the nation. To further the partnership, Fisher visited campus on several occasions to talk with undergraduate students about her real-life experience in the field. Early in Fisher's career, she was a student in the EDDP program, a joint venture between the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology, IUPUI and Butler University.

"We are thrilled to be one of Sarah's sponsors for this year's IndyCar Series," said Dr. Yurtseven, Dean of the School of Engineering and Technology. "We see this sponsorship as an investment in opportunity for our students, and Sarah couldn't be a better role model as she was once a student here at IUPUI.

"This sponsorship shows support for motorsports and dedication to advancing our Motorsports Engineering program. Our hope is that this educational partnership will inspire students to be proactive and enable them to connect and engage with the motorsports industry in new and exciting ways."

The IU Schools of Liberal Arts, Physical Education & Tourism Management, and the Kelley School of Business have collaborated with the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology on this sponsorship.


The 2009 IndyCar Series season opens April 5 with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. The race will be telecast live at 2 p.m. (EDT) by VERSUS. The 2009 Firestone Indy Lights season begins with a doubleheader race weekend April 4-5 at St. Petersburg.

-credit: ims

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Sarah Fisher , Brian Barnhart , Danica Patrick
Teams Williams