Teams Tuning Up
July 23, 2003 | 3:53 P.M. EST
Points leader Tony Kanaan, driver of the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara, tested along with his Andretti Green Racing teammate Bryan Herta, driver of the No. 27 Archipelago/Motorola Dallara. Both drivers competed at the track previously in CART, but Kanaan has not raced there since 2000, while 1999 was the last time Herta competed on the 1.25-mile oval.
"The track hasn't changed that much since I was last here, and so that was no problem," Kanaan said. "I'm looking forward to the race. We didn't do a lot of laps, but we worked on a lot of changes that we need to make to keep in front of a tight points race. The changes we worked on look to be good ones, and we're optimistic as we prepare to come back here in a couple of weeks. We weren't really fast, but we didn't mean to be today. We set up to get the speed when we come back here in August."
Herta has competed in four events for AGR as a substitute for the injured Dario Franchitti and captured his first IRL IndyCar Series win July 6 at Kansas.
"As a team we're past the 'getting to know you stage,'" Herta said. "Now we just come in every day and go to work, and that's a good feeling. We worked on a lot of big-ticket items and made progress in those areas. We were quick enough, and we feel pretty good coming out of this test."
Sarah Fisher also took part in testing, driving the No. 23 GMAC/AOL/Dreyer & Reinbold Dallara.
"This is the first real test I've had since the Open Test at the start of the season, so it was a real plus for me," Fisher said. "We worked on a lot of changes to the car, so much so that it's a totally different package that we had to get used to a bit. When we do, we'll be more consistent going from new tires to old, from full tanks to empty. The engine situation is what it is until we get the new engine later in the year, so you work on the things you can work on to get better. It was good to get time on this track because it is so different."
Fisher has competed in two races at Gateway with a best finish of 11th, while rookie Roger Yasukawa, driver of the No. 55 Panasonic ARTA Dallara, will be making his first IndyCar Series start at Gateway.
"This was my first time on the track, and it was a learning experience for me," Yasukawa said. "The shifting felt like a road course, but you have to use a little more brake than I was used to on other ovals, so that was good to learn. We weren't as fast as other cars, but we were consistent in a range that I think will make us competitive on race day. I enjoyed the experience."
Target Chip Ganassi Racing tested both July 21 and 22 at Gateway with Scott Dixon testing his No 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force the first day and Tomas Scheckter testing his No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force on the second day.
"We got in a lot of laps, worked a lot on race setups and on changes we think will help us here and the rest of the season," Dixon said. "It was a pretty good test for us."
Buhl featured in Detroit Museum: Robbie Buhl, driver of the No. 24 Purex/Aventis/ Dreyer & Reinbold Dallara, is featured in a new exhibit at the Detroit Historical Museum. The exhibit, "Guts, Glory and Beyond," opened May 17 and focuses on local Detroit sports heroes and their athletic careers. The display includes Buhl's racing suit, IndyCar Series car, racing memorabilia and information on his racing career.
Buhl, a native of Detroit, will compete in the Firestone Indy 400 July 27 at Michigan International Speedway. He has started eight Indianapolis 500-Mile Races, with a best finish of sixth in 1999 and a best start of second in 2002. He scored IndyCar Series wins at New Hampshire in 1997 and Walt Disney World Speedway in 2000 and was the 1992 Indy Lights champion. He also co-drove a Mustang to victory in the GTS class of the 1993 24 Hours of Daytona.
Buhl is one of five Dreyer & Reinbold Racing members that has ties to Michigan. Brian Franzosi, crew chief for Buhl, hails from Bay City, Mich., while Franzosi's dad, Paul, who serves as deadman for Buhl's teammate Sarah Fisher, lives in Oxford, Mich. Dan Miller, left-rear tire changer for Fisher, spends his off-season testing snowmobiles for Yamaha in Michigan. Gary Frost, mechanic, fabricator and right-rear tire changer for Buhl, hails from Romeo, Mich.
Bobby Unser at MIS: Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Unser will be part of several activities surrounding the Firestone Indy 400 July 27 at Michigan International Speedway. Unser will visit MIS throughout the race weekend and will make several appearances in Jackson, Mich., as the Grand Marshal of the Jackson Raceweek Festival. He also will be the keynote speaker at the Breakfast of Champions at the Commonwealth Commerce Center on July 24.
Later that evening, Unser will be guest of honor at the United Way Victory Circle Ball at the Jackson Country Club where Unser and his wife, Lisa, are co-chairpersons. On July 25, Unser will sign autographs along with IRL IndyCar Series and Infiniti Pro Series drivers on Michigan Avenue in downtown Jackson as a part of evening festivities on Jackson's "Pit Row".
"Michigan and Jackson have been like a second home to me," Unser said. "Every time I came to race at Michigan we stayed in Jackson, and I have plenty of friends there."
After IndyCar Series MBNA Pole Qualifying on July 26, in addition to the MBNA Pole Award, MIS will have Unser present the pole winner with the Bobby Unser Pole Award.
"Michigan was kind of like my track," said Unser. "I just really liked the place, and I'm honored to have the pole award named after me."
Unser holds the MIS record for most poles with seven, winning them in 1971-1974, two in 1979 and one in 1980
Penske Restoration Moves: Penske Restoration, where each retired Penske Racing car is restored and refurbished, has recently moved to Auburn Hills, Mich., after maintaining its operations at Michigan International Speedway since 1994. The inventory includes video footage, newspaper clippings, trophies, helmets, race programs and other memorabilia accumulated over the past four-and-a-half decades. The collection dates back to 1958, when Roger Penske first competed in racing as a driver.
The facility boasts one race car from each of Penske Racing's years of competition since 1976, with the exception of each of the years that the team won the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race. All of the winning Indianapolis 500 cars (with the exception of Gil de Ferran's 2003 winning car) are on display at the Penske Racing Museum located at the Scottsdale 101 Auto Collection, which is operated by United Auto Group and is located in North Scottsdale, Ariz.
"Breakfast with the Fans": The Michael Andretti Foundation is introducing "Breakfast with the Fans," an opportunity for fans to see the behind-the scenes activities that take place at IndyCar Series events during the first practice day of the event.
The opportunity is being offered to fans Aug. 22 at Nazareth Speedway, Sept. 19 at California Speedway and Oct. 10 at Texas Motor Speedway. The cost for each event is $75 per person and space is limited to 60 fans in each market on a first-come, first-served basis.
As part of the "Breakfast with the Fans" program, the participants will start the day with a full-service breakfast served at the Team 7-Eleven hospitality area by the Andretti Green Racing chefs. A question-and-answer session will take place with AGR owner Michael Andretti, followed by an autograph session. Fans then will get a an up close look at an AGR team car and will learn about the track and the IndyCar Series.
All proceeds from the fundraisers will be donated to the Michael Andretti Foundation. Fans can secure a spot at the events by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. For additional information, call (800) 324-1321.
Big Win: Tim Neff, chief engineer for Sam Schmidt Motorsports, won the Expert Runabout 1200 Superstock and the Expert Runabout 1200 Limited Southern National Jet-ski Championships July 6 in Houston. Neff, 33, arrived Houston after SSM drivers Brandon Erwin and Tom Wood finished sixth and third, respectively, in the Aventis Racing for Kids 100 at Kansas Speedway earlier in the day.
Hot laps: IRL IndyCar Series fans in the St. Louis area can take advantage of the Domino's Indy Two-Pack for the Emerson Indy 250 Aug. 10 at Gateway International Raceway. Fans receive two mid-level seats, two IRL hats, an event program and a coupon for a large one-topping pizza from Domino's for $79. The offer is available until Aug. 4.. Scott Dixon won the MBNA Pole at Nashville July 18, his fourth career pole in only his ninth start. Tony Stewart previously held the record for least races to attain four poles, taking 11 races to do so.