Series news and notes 2009-04-24

Today's IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines * Duno returns to Dreyer & Reinbold Racing at Kansas * HVM Racing, Nelson Philippe partner for Indianapolis 500 * Select quotes from Castroneves, Duno, Rahal availability at Kansas ...

Today's IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines
* Duno returns to Dreyer & Reinbold Racing at Kansas
* HVM Racing, Nelson Philippe partner for Indianapolis 500
* Select quotes from Castroneves, Duno, Rahal availability at Kansas Speedway
* Wheldon gets his kicks in Kansas City
* Royals manager rides in 2-seater

1. Duno returns to Dreyer & Reinbold Racing at Kansas: Milka Duno will return to run a limited schedule with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing beginning April 26 with the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 at Kansas Speedway.

"We are very excited to have Milka back with our team," said team co-owner Dennis Reinbold. "We had significant momentum last year, and we want to pick up where we left off and continue to get results. "Also, we are very proud that CITGO is returning as a primary sponsor on the No. 23 car."

Duno debuted in the IndyCar Series in 2007, making seven starts with SAMAX Motorsports and recording a career-best finish of 11th at Texas Motor Speedway. Last year, she joined Dreyer & Reinbold Racing for 11 races, finishing the season by leading five laps at the season finale at Chicagoland Speedway.

"I'm really happy to be racing and to be back at Kansas," Duno said. "This track is a very special place for me, because I made my debut in the IndyCar Series here. The fans are very supportive. I'm also very happy to be coming back to Dreyer & Reinbold Racing as they did a great job last year. Finally, I must thank CITGO for their fantastic support. I really appreciate the opportunity to be back and will work hard to get some great results."


2. HVM Racing, Nelson Philippe partner for Indianapolis 500: HVM Racing will field a second car in the 2009 Indianapolis 500 with former HVM driver Nelson Philippe at the wheel. Philippe will make his debut in the Indianapolis 500 and the IndyCar Series driving the No. 31 entry as a teammate to E.J. Viso.

"We are excited to have Nelson driving again for HVM Racing," said Keith Wiggins, team principal. "He won for us in (Champ Car in) 2006, which was quite an accomplishment for such a young driver and had his best ever season. Although coming back will be to a new series, a new track, with huge competition and in the biggest event of the year, we will work together to achieve a good result. We always like challenges."


3. Select quotes from Castroneves, Duno, Rahal availability at Kansas Speedway: IndyCar Series drivers Helio Castroneves, Milka Duno and Graham Rahal met with members of the media at Kansas Speedway. Select quotes are below.

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske): "It's great to be back. I was extremely excited to start my season at Long Beach, and I'm ready to race here at Kansas. There have been so many close calls to win a race here, and Team Penske has always been right there. You can see that the competition this year is really high. We are going to continue working hard. Hopefully, we're going to have a good weekend. I want to thank the fans again for sending prayers, good wishes and positive thinking throughout my whole six-month ordeal. I'm extremely happy to be here."

(About new generation of racers): "After racing at Long Beach, I can see that this year is one of those years that everyone has some experience. Everyone knows what they're doing. They've shown great potential in St. Petersburg and Long Beach. It shows that other teams are coming up, and that means that the competition is getting tougher. And with younger drivers like Graham (Rahal) and others, there's no question that it makes our lives a little bit tougher. On the ovals, I think it takes a lot of experience as well. I remember racing against Al Unser Jr. and even (Graham's) dad (Bobby Rahal). On ovals, you've got to have experience and you have to take it easy and let the race come to you. So I think guys with experience are going to continue doing well. But no question that the kids are coming on strong."

MILKA DUNO (No. 23 CITGO/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing): (About high winds today): "I think it will be the same conditions for everybody. Windy or not, we have to do the best that we can in any conditions. It will be a hard job for our engineers, because we have to find a good car for whatever the conditions are on the track."

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 02 McDonald's Racing Team): (About returning to Kansas): "We're starting off on a bit of a different foot this year. We've had an offseason to develop the car. Last year, Kansas was my first oval race. We're a year on now, so we're looking forward to being back. I think we had some minor glimpses of brilliance last year at the end of the year on the ovals. We got up to the top five at Chicago before things went wrong for us. For us, it's nice to have an offseason to develop the cars a bit more. I've only done the Homestead Open Test, so I think no one has had much testing time on ovals, so it will be interesting to see how everybody comes out this weekend."

(About high winds today): "Obviously the weather, if it rains, plays a huge part in our schedule because we don't run in the rain. For us, the wind is certainly something that at certain tracks it affects the car more than others. I remember running in the wind at some ovals last year where it didn't really seem to affect us at all, and then we went to Indianapolis and seemed like a whole different thing from corner to corner depending on the wind. It will be interesting to see what happens, but it'll be the same for everybody. Everybody will be fighting the same thing."

(About learning from last year's race): "Last year's race was actually a pretty good race for me. Even though it was my first (on an oval), it was one of those things where it was a pretty routine race. We kind of ran around, got used to the traffic, got more comfortable with it, but we really didn't make any mistakes. We qualified pretty far back and ended up 12th, so it was a pretty good day for us. This year, we've got higher expectations. Kansas will always be a special place for me because it was my first oval race in the IndyCar Series."


4. Wheldon gets his kicks in Kansas City: According to National Guard Panther Racing driver Dan Wheldon, "there's only two things in England that matter: motorsports and soccer."

Wheldon, along with fellow British drivers Pippa Mann and Martin Plowman, combined those passions April 23 when they attended the MLS match between the Kansas City Wizards and New York Red Bulls.

"Growing up, whenever we'd have a break at school, you would always get a ball and kick it around with your buddies," Wheldon said. "It was just something you did. It was something everyone loved to do."

During pre-game activities, the drivers made their way onto the pitch to meet Wizards standout forward Josh Wolff and goalkeeper Kevin Hartman. They also signed autographs for ticket holders and were interviewed by the ESPN2 broadcast team and local reporters to promote the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300.

"I spent 10 years playing in L.A. and had the opportunity to go out to Long Beach a bunch of times, so for me it's an honor to get to meet a driver like Dan," Hartman said.

For Plowman and Mann, Panther Racing's Firestone Indy Lights drivers, it was an opportunity to get back in touch with the sport.

"Aside from motorsports, football is probably my second-biggest passion in life," Plowman said. "I'm a big fan of Manchester United. I secretly dreamed as a little boy that I could play, but I found out very soon that I had two left feet."

Mann got into soccer during the years she spent in Italy as a youngster, but never lost her passion for the English national team.

"When I was much younger I really got into following the Italian Serie A, which is their main soccer league over there, and I absolutely loved it," she said. "However, I'm a huge fan of whenever England played internationally as well. Whenever they get kicked out of the World Cup, I'm always there crying, shouting, swearing, screaming. If I'm at someone else's house, they have to be really careful the TV doesn't go out the window."


5. Royals manager rides in 2-seater: Kansas City Royals manager Trey Hillman was all smiles before and after he rode in the Indy Racing Experience 2-Seater with driver Davey Hamilton April 24 at Kansas Speedway.

The Royals skipper gave a big thumbs up as the car pulled off pit lane and another thumbs up one lap later as the car circled the 1.5-mile oval at almost 180 mph.

"That was a great experience," said Hillman, who is in his second season at the helm of the Royals. "Very, very cool. It was amazing how fast, obviously, just the thrill of it."

Hillman went into the ride with a curious mind.

"I was kind of interested how close we were going to get to the wall. Back on the backstretch before we hit Turn 3, we got pretty close. You're so low in the car, and being in the back, I kind of wanted a better view, but they've got you cinched in pretty good. I tried to elevate just a little bit, and the first time I did it was on the second lap on the back stretch, and as I started to elevate I felt my neck stiffening up because my head wanted to start wobbling. It was pretty cool."

Following the ride, Hillman toured the paddock area before heading to Kauffman Stadium where the Royals will host the Detroit Tigers.


The 2009 IndyCar Series season continues April 26 with the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 at Kansas Speedway. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 4 p.m. (EDT) by VERSUS. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 211. The radio broadcast also will be carried on The 2009 Firestone Indy Lights season continues April 26 at Kansas Speedway. The race will be telecast at 4 p.m. (EDT) on April 27 by VERSUS.

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Milka Duno , Davey Hamilton , Helio Castroneves , Bobby Rahal , Graham Rahal , Dan Wheldon , Al Unser Sr. , Nelson Philippe , Pippa Mann
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske , HVM Racing