IPS: IRL: Kansas: Indy Racing League notebook 2003-07-02

Penske to reach 1,000 starts at Kansas; IRL stars going to bat at Kansas INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, July 2, 2003 -- Penske Racing, the winningest team in Indy-style racing history, will reach a milestone during the Kansas Indy 300 on July 6 at ...

IPS: IRL: Kansas: Indy Racing League notebook 2003-07-02

Penske to reach 1,000 starts at Kansas; IRL stars going to bat at Kansas

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, July 2, 2003 -- Penske Racing, the winningest team in Indy-style racing history, will reach a milestone during the Kansas Indy 300 on July 6 at Kansas Speedway with its 1,000th start.

Gil de Ferran and Helio Castroneves drive Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone entries in the IRL IndyCarTM Series for the team, which is owned by the legendary Roger Penske. They will combine at Kansas to make the 999th and 1,000th starts for the team.

Penske Racing's legacy began June 15, 1968, when the late Mark Donohue climbed into the driver's seat to make the team's first start at Mosport in Ontario. Donohue would go on to finish the race in fifth, but Penske Racing would continue to succeed for the next three-and-a half decades.

In the 35 years that Penske Racing has been competing in open-wheel racing, the team has amassed several records. A brief summary of the team's achievements in hits first 998 starts:

*115 race victories
*11 national championships
*13 Indianapolis 500 victories
*12 Indianapolis 500 pole positions
*141 pole positions
*44 victories from the pole
*32 1-2/1-2-3 finishes
*24 500-mile race victories
*50 1-2 starts

IRL drivers, teams swinging for fences:

Drivers from the IRL IndyCar Series and Infiniti Pro Series will play in a charity softball game at 7:30 p.m. (CDT) Thursday, July 3 at CommunityAmerica Ballpark in Kansas City, Kan.

The event is part of the pre-race promotion for the Kansas Indy 300 IndyCar Series event and Aventis Racing For Kids 100 Infiniti Pro Series event July 6 at Kansas Speedway.

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series drivers will join their IRL counterparts in the softball game, with all proceeds benefiting the BPU Checkered Flag Charities, a charity formed in 2001 by Kansas Speedway and the Board of Public Utilities in Kansas City, Kan., to fund youth and community initiatives in the area.

Drivers scheduled to represent the IRL in the game are IndyCar Series drivers Gil de Ferran, Helio Castroneves; Scott Sharp, Felipe Giaffone, Buddy Rice, Vitor Meira, Tony Renna, Tora Takagi and Robbie Buhl, and Infiniti Pro Series drivers Ed Carpenter and Arie Luyendyk Jr.

IRL President and CEO Tony George and IRL Senior Vice President of Racing Operations Brian Barnhart also are playing in the game.

IRL team members Tim Cindric, Jim Freudenberg, Dave Higuera, Don Lambert, Rick Rinaman, Tom Vasi and Barry Wanser also are scheduled to play.

Drivers, officials, team members and Kansas City-area media members will be split into two teams, the Eliminators and the Crushers.

Tickets are $5 for children and $10 for adults and can be purchased at Kansas Speedway's ticket office (110th Street off Interstate 70), Kansas Speedway's Pit Shop (next door to Kansas Speedway) and CommunityAmerica Ballpark (Parallel Parkway and 110th Street, across the street from Kansas Speedway).

For more information about the softball game, visit www.kansasspeedway.com or call (913) 328-3300.

Chiefs QB coming to Kansas:

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Trent Green will be a guest in the Kelley Racing pits during the Kansas Indy 300 on July 6 at Kansas Speedway.

Kelley fields the No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Toyota/Firestone driven by 1996 series co-champion Scott Sharp and the No. 31 Corteco Dallara/Toyota/Firestone driven by two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr.

De Ferran to sing at Wrigley:

2003 Indianapolis 500 winner Gil de Ferran will sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the seventh-inning stretch of the baseball game between the Chicago Cubs and Florida Marlins on Monday night, July 7 at Wrigley Field in Chicago. The game starts at 7:05 p.m. (CDT).

De Ferran also will meet with Cubs' players during batting practice before the game.

The appearance at Wrigley is part of a media tour by Marlboro Team Penske standout de Ferran in Chicago that day to promote the Delphi Indy 300 on Sept. 7 at Chicagoland Speedway.

Teams to test at Nashville:

Many IRL IndyCar Series teams will participate in an Open Test on Wednesday, July 9 at Nashville Superspeedway, preparing for the series event July 19 at the 1.33-mile concrete oval.

Testing will take place from 1-8 p.m. (CDT). Admission is $5 and free to Nashville Superspeedway season-ticket holders.

De Ferran second in Driver of the Year voting:

Marlboro Team Penske star Gil de Ferran finished second to NASCAR Winston Cup standout Bobby Labonte in second-quarter voting for the Driver of the Year Award.

Labonte edged 2003 Indianapolis 500 winner de Ferran by just three points, 75-72, in balloting of 18 media experts and one cumulative fan vote taken from Internet voting at www.speedtv.com.

IRL IndyCar Series points leader Tony Kanaan earned one first-place vote.

Mennen returning:

Infiniti Pro Series veteran G.J. Mennen, who finished eighth in championship points in 2002, will return to Pro Series competition at the Aventis Racing For Kids 100 on July 6 at Kansas Speedway.

Mennen, who earned a best finish of fourth at the Gateway 100 last August, will drive the No. 25 Automatic Fire Sprinklers Dallara/Firestone/Infiniti for AFS Racing.

"This is an excellent opportunity for me," said Mennen, who finished eighth in the Kansas 100 in 2002. "It has been tough being out of the car for the first four races of the season. I am very thankful to the team for making this opportunity happen. I think that with the quality personnel and equipment that AFS Racing has, we should be able to post a top result. I have been waiting for many years to drive for a team like AFS Racing."

AFS Racing has fielded owner/driver Gary Peterson in the No. 27 Automatic Fire Sprinklers Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone since the series debut in July 2002. The team expanded to a two-car effort in 2003, with IndyCar Series veteran Scott Harrington driving the team's No. 25 entry in the inaugural Freedom 100 on May 18 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Hot laps:

IRL Infiniti Pro Series rookie Paul Dana will welcome guests from ethanol-related businesses Fagen Inc., ICM Inc. and Broin Companies during the Aventis Racing For Kids 100 on July 4-6 at Kansas Speedway. Dana drives the No. 24 Ethanol/Team ISI Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone in the series -- IRL IndyCar Series standout Robbie Buhl will visit young patients at 10 a.m. (CDT) July 3 at the University of Kansas Medical Center as part of his duties as national spokesperson for Racing For Kids.

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