IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League notebook 2003-09-24

Indy Racing League Notebook Plenty of points scenarios; Penske to be honored INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2003 -- One of the best championship battles in the history of motorsports has an incredible list of scenarios that will determine ...

IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League notebook 2003-09-24

Indy Racing League Notebook Plenty of points scenarios; Penske to be honored

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2003 -- One of the best championship battles in the history of motorsports has an incredible list of scenarios that will determine which driver will take home $1 million and the coveted 2003 IRL IndyCarTM Series Championship Cup.

The IRL IndyCar Series Champion will be honored at the Championship Celebration Oct. 25 at EPCOT at Walt Disney World Resorts.

With one race remaining, the Chevy 500 Oct. 12 at Texas Motor Speedway, five drivers are eligible for the IndyCar Series Championship. The standings are the closest they have ever been heading into the final race of the season, with two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves and Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver Scott Dixon tied for the lead with 467. Andretti Green Racing driver Tony Kanaan is third with 460, followed by two-time IndyCar Series Champion Sam Hornish Jr. at 448 and 2003 Indianapolis 500 winner Gil de Ferran at 437.

Some drivers control their own destiny, while others have to have some help in order to win the IndyCar Series Championship. For a complete 2003 IRL IndyCar Series Championship scenarios sheet and points possibility chart, log on to www.indycarseries.com.

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, Tied for first, 467 points): Castroneves controls his own destiny in the points chase. If he wins the Chevy 500, he wins the championship. He can finish as low as 21st and still win, depending on where the other four drivers finish.

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone, Tied for first, 467 points): Dixon also controls his own destiny in the points chase. If he wins the Chevy 500, he wins the championship. He can finish as low as 21st and still win, depending on where the other four drivers finish.

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, Third-place, 460 points): Kanaan, like Castroneves and Dixon, controls his own destiny. If he wins the Chevy 500, he wins the championship. Kanaan can finish 14th and still win, depending on where the other four drivers finish.

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, Fourth-place, 448 points): Hornish needs to the win the Chevy 500, a race he has won the past two years, in order to have a chance at his third consecutive championship. Even if Hornish wins the race and leads the most laps, earning the two bonus points to get 52 total points, he still needs Castroneves and Dixon to finish no better than fourth and Kanaan to finish no better than second.

If Hornish wins and does not earn the two bonus points for leading the most laps, Castroneves, Dixon and Kanaan must finish outside of the top three. Hornish can finish in seventh and lead the most laps and still win, depending on where the other four drivers finish.

GIL DE FERRAN (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, Fifth-place, 437 points): De Ferran needs to win the Chevy 500 and needs a lot of help in order to win the IndyCar Series Championship in his final season. If he wins, he needs Castroneves and Dixon to finish no better than 10th, Kanaan to finish no better than seventh and Hornish to finish no better than third. De Ferran can mathematically win if he finishes second, but should he finish third or worse, he will not win the championship.

***

Penske to be honored: Roger Penske, owner of Penske Racing Inc., will be honored on Sept. 30 at the 18th Annual Great Sports Legends Dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City.

The Great Sports Legends Dinner pledges to bring the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis more than $1 million closer to a cure. Throughout the past 17 years, more than $20 million has been raised at the Sports Legends Dinners, making it the cornerstone of the Miami Project's annual budget. The Sports Legends Dinner has gained a reputation for uniting individuals from the worlds of sports, business and entertainment. More than 1,300 people attend this gala event each year, which honors great sports legends from different athletic categories.

Penske will be honored along with other sports legends including retired baseball star Cal Ripken Jr., retired basketball star David Robinson, boxer Oscar de la Hoya, retired football star Jim Brown, retired gymnast Dorothy Hamill, golfer Bruce Fleisher, track and field star Michael Johnson and horse-racing jockey Laffit Pincay, Jr.

NBC Nightly News Anchor Tom Brokaw will serve as the master of ceremonies at the event. In addition, legendary CBS Evening News Anchor Walter Cronkite will receive the "Great American Icon Award" and recording artist Gloria Estefan will be the recipient of "The Buoniconti Fund Humanitarian Award."

***

Mears, Luyendyk join Firestone Heroes of Indy Roster: The Firestone Heroes of Indy driver line-up gained a driver and a flag man for the historic race set for Oct. 12 at Texas Motor Speedway. The race will feature 10 of the greatest drivers in the history of the Indianapolis 500 in a 25-lap showdown driving identically-prepared Thunder Roadsters on a quarter-mile paved oval prior to the IRL IndyCar Series season-ending Chevy 500.

Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk is the eighth driver named to race. He won the "500" in 1990 and 1997. His 1990 average speed of 185.981 mph still stands as the race record. Luyendyk is one of only seven drivers to win three poles at the Indy 500, doing so in 1993, 1997 and 1999.

Luyendyk joins legends Johnny Rutherford, Gordon Johncock, Parnelli Jones, Pancho Carter, Bill Vukovich II, Lloyd Ruby and Jim McElreath as drivers of the Thunder Roadsters.

Rick Mears will serve as the event's flagman, working closely with pace car driver Al Unser and grand marshal A.J. Foyt. The three men are the only drivers to win the Indianapolis 500 four times.

In addition to his four victories, Mears hold Indianapolis 500 records for most poles (six), wins from the pole (three), front-row starts (11), consecutive front-row starts (six, 1986-91) and consecutive races led (six, 1979-84). He also holds the record for most times setting the four-lap track record, doing so five times.

"The addition of Luyendyk and Mears to the already stellar field will make the Firestone Heroes of Indy even more of a treat for the fans," said Eddie Gossage, Texas Motor Speedway general manager. "Arie has Texas ties having won the first ever IndyCar Series race at the speedway in 1997. Rick's accomplishments at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during his career are nothing short of remarkable."

The remaining drivers will be announced in the near future.

The Thunder Roadsters are produced by 600 Racing and resemble the roadsters that dominated the Indianapolis 500 and Indy-style racing through the 1950s and 1960s. The cars are powered by a 1250cc Yamaha engine and will be sporting special Firestone Firehawk tires for the event.

The Firestone Heroes of Indy race will include a full weekend of activities celebrating the accomplishments of drivers who established much of the history of the Indianapolis 500. In addition to practice and qualifying for the race, the participants will participate in autograph sessions open to the public and a special Heroes reception featuring "Mom" Unser's fabled chili, a longtime tradition with participants at the Indianapolis 500.

***

Nice deal: Auto Racing fans have a unique opportunity Sept. 26, during United States Grand Prix week in Indianapolis, to visit two of the IRL IndyCar Series top teams' headquarters, Pennzoil Panther Racing and Target Chip Ganassi Racing. The two racing operations will open their shops to a selected group of racing enthusiasts for a special tour followed by presentations, cocktails and dinner as part of the CARA Charities "Indy Shop Tour."

In addition to the tour, fans will have a chance to witness presentations by Formula One Medical Director Professor Sid Watkins, M.D., SPEED Channel Formula One announcer Rick DeBruhl and IndyCar Series owner and former Formula One driver Eddie Cheever.

Professor Watkins, the head of Formula One Safety and Medical for more than two decades, is known worldwide as a racing expert in safety and has written a book about his experiences called, "Triumph and Tragedy in Formula One."

DeBruhl, anchor of the 16-race Formula One Championship for the SPEED Channel, is a veteran auto-racing announcer who will explain how the F-1 telecasts are translated to the United States viewers.

Cheever, the 1998 Indianapolis 500-Mile Race champion and veteran F1 driver, will talk about the differences in the two fastest forms of close-course motorsports in the world.

ABC/ESPN announcer Bob Jenkins will be the emcee. The event begins at 4 p.m. (EST) at the famed Columbia Club on Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis. Private buses will transport the guests to the racing shops with special tours and question-and-answer periods. The guests then will return to the Columbia Club for a cocktail party, buffet dinner and presentations by Cheever, Watkins and DeBruhl.

Tickets for the "Indy Shop Tour" are $150 and include the custom coach transportation, the shop tours, the cocktail party, dinner and the special racing presentation. Call CARA Charities at (317) 299-2277 or e-mail at carachar@aol.com for reservations.

The "Indy Shop Tour" is one of several major fund-raising events held annually by CARA Charities. CARA Charities was founded in 1981 and has distributed over $3.25 million dollars to numerous racing and community organizations. CARA serves the community through charitable work and promotes the friendship of all those involved in the motor sports family.

***

Now Available: IndyCar Series, the official video game of the Indy Racing League, is now available for personal computers on PC CD-ROM. The PC version includes direct input wheel support to give gamers the ultimate IndyCar Series racing experience.

IndyCar Series offers players the opportunity to play the entire IRL IndyCar Series season, including the Indianapolis 500.

The game has been available for the PlayStation2 computer entertainment system and Xbox video game system from Microsoft since the spring of 2003. For additional game information, check out the game's dedicated web site at: www.codemasters.com/indyracingleague.

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