Series news and notes 2010-05-31

Today's IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines: 1. Indianapolis 500 win pays back Ganassi's faith in Franchitti 2. Wilson auctions off Indy 500 helmet for charity 3. Vote for Tire-ific Move of the Race 1.

Series news and notes 2010-05-31

Today's IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines:
1. Indianapolis 500 win pays back Ganassi's faith in Franchitti
2. Wilson auctions off Indy 500 helmet for charity
3. Vote for Tire-ific Move of the Race

1. Indianapolis 500 win pays back Ganassi's faith in Franchitti: An agreement scrawled on a cocktail napkin in late August 2008, unofficially welcomed back Dario Franchitti into the IZOD IndyCar Series with Target Chip Ganassi Racing.

Details after that dinner meeting in Detroit would be worked out later because Chip Ganassi and Dario Franchitti have understood each other for years. Both want to win, period.

It was the backstop of Franchitti venturing to stock car racing after winning the 2007 IZOD IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500 championships with then-Andretti Green Racing. He wished to explore new avenues to Victory Circle, and signed with Ganassi's organization.

The venture, however, was short-lived. Franchitti suffered a broken ankle in a Nationwide Series race and the operation was shuttered in June because of a lack of sponsorship.

In some respects, it was fortuitous. Franchitti arrived at Belle Isle in Detroit ostensibly to watch his brother, Marino, compete in an American Le Mans Series race and catch up with friends. He wound up agreeing to switch to Ganassi's IZOD IndyCar Series team to fill the vacancy of Dan Wheldon, who was departing for Panther Racing. Now the racer who outdueled Scott Dixon for the '07 series championship - on the final lap of the final race - would be his teammate.

"It all worked out perfectly," said Franchitti, who on May 30 presented Ganassi's team a fourth Indianapolis 500 victory. "I think it says a lot about Chip, the people he employs. The mind-set, whether it's here or down in Concord (N.C.), we're here to win. If you aren't interested in that, if you take your eye off the ball, he lets you know. That's all he cares about."

Franchitti, starting on the outside of the front row in the No. 10 entry (the first time in Indy 500 history that number has won), led 155 of the 200 laps. A crash on the white flag lap prevented him from taking the twin checkered flags at speed. His 2007 victory also was under caution - the race shortened because of rain.

"It's like comparing my two dogs," Franchitti said. "They are both different but they are both pretty cool. We need a third dog now."

Franchitti is the 18th driver to win the 500 Mile Race twice, joining - among others - Al Unser Jr. and Arie Luyendyk.

"If I thought Dario didn't know how to drive he wouldn't be driving the car no matter what happened in NASCAR," Ganassi said minutes after taking a swig of the milk in Victory Circle at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "I knew he knew how to drive. I knew he was the best driver available when that seat became available, and I told him that.

"His NASCAR experience, that was like a semester at sea or something that we did. We did it, and we're glad we did it, but we're glad we're back home, too. The guy's a champion. He's been there, done that. He knows what it takes. From the first day of practice up until five minutes ago, he's the consummate professional…He's the guy you want in the car in that situation."

***

2. Wilson auctions off Indy 500 helmet for charity: Dreyer & Reinbold Racing's Justin Wilson is auctioning off the helmet he used in the 2010 Indianapolis 500 to raise money for two charities supported by his No. 22 Team Z-Line Designs race team.

Wilson's helmet, inspired by Wilson the Volleyball from the movie "Cast Away," is being sold on online auction site eBay with proceeds benefitting Racing for Kids, which uses the popularity of motorsports to focus public attention and funding on the health care needs of children, and Operation Helmet, which provides free helmet upgrade kits to servicemen deployed overseas.

"For the Indy 500, most drivers want to do something special with the paint scheme on their helmet," Wilson said. "My idea started when Will Power kept shouting "WILSON!" at me like Tom Hanks with his volleyball in "Cast Away." So I decided to paint the top of my helmet like a volleyball.

(Helmet painter) Michael Corby and I then went down to Riley Children's Hospital and had some of the children put their hands in paint then put it on the helmet, and it came out great. "

Bidding on the helmet ends June 4. To bid on it, visit ebay.com and search "Justin Wilson Justin Wilson Helmet Used in 2010 Indy 500"

***

3. Vote for Tire-ific Move of the Race: Fans select the Firestone Tire-ific Move of the Race winner by voting on indycar.com after every race. This $10,000 prize is awarded to the driver best utilizing his or her Firestone tires to make a bold, dramatic move during the event. Nominees for the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race: Dario Franchitti for a dominating performance to clinch his second Indy 500 victory; Tony Kanaan for a stirring drive from 33rd to run as high as second; Marco Andretti for driving from 16th to finish third.

***

The 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series season continues June 5 with the Firestone 550K at Texas Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 8 p.m. (ET) by VERSUS. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 211. The race also will be carried on www.indycar.com. The 2010 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with the Iowa 100 on June 19 at the Iowa Speedway.

-source: irl

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