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This Nascar fan wants to learn more about IRL -
Can anyone recommend websites/forums, etc.?
Is there a basic FAQ somewhere along the lines of "Telling Tommy about the IRL"?
I'd like to get a basic understanding of their qualifying procedures, etc.
The IRL website is not the most helpful so far, although I haven't clicked on everything yet.
Any help will be appreciated.
Oly,Bet365 and SIA have the IRL up every week with some other books putting it up now and then.
I think the IRL offers some great opputunities to cash at decent prices compared to CART which has pretty much become a joke.
IndyCar tests show contenders, pretendersBy John Oreovicz
Special to ESPN.com
The first open test of the 2006 IRL IndyCar Series season at Phoenix International Raceway was a good opportunity for several teams and drivers to get accustomed to the spec Honda engine that will be used by all competitors.
The new year started with a familiar name atop the timing screens, as 2005 IndyCar Series champion Dan Wheldon christened his move to Target/Ganassi Racing with a dominant performance. The 26-year-old Englishman was the only driver to top 178 mph at PIR.
Only 16 car/driver combinations were present at Phoenix, which may be cause for worry for IRL chief operating officer Brian Barnhart. But Barnhart was pleased with the fact there were no serious mechanical problems or incidents during two days of running.
Here's how the IRL's Sweet 16 ranked at Phoenix along with a brief analysis of their prospects in 2006:
1. Dan Wheldon, 178.453 mph -- Since he announced his move from Andretti Green Racing to Target/Ganassi, Wheldon has talked of the importance of getting his season off to a good start. Test times don't mean much, but it's always a psychological boost to be quickest. Wheldon's experience with the Dallara/Honda package being adopted by Ganassi this year will speed up the team's learning curve, and the presence of race engineer Andy Brown (ex Panther Racing) will only help. A favorite to repeat as champion.
2. Scott Dixon, 177.802 mph -- The move to the dominant Dallara/Honda combination should put an end to the struggles Dixon and Ganassi endured with their Panoz/Toyotas for the last two years. The Dixon/Wheldon pairing bonded in the best possible way by co-driving to victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in one of Ganassi's Lexus-Riley sports cars and Dixon's motivation will be higher than ever with the defending series champion now sitting in the other Target car.
3. Helio Castroneves, 177.596 mph -- Will this be the year Castroneves finally puts together a consistent championship challenge? Like Ganassi, Penske was hampered by a lack of Toyota horsepower the last two years and the move to Honda should allow the team to capitalize on its successful Dallara chassis setups. The odds-on favorite to claim a third win at Indianapolis.
4. Sam Hornish, 177.239 mph -- In 2005, the American star was much more comfortable and relaxed in his second year with Penske, but the Toyota power deficit was too much to overcome. It's to bad that as Hornish finally gets access to the dominant Honda motor, so does everyone else. Still, he should be right in the thick of the championship chase and desperately wants to score a good result at Indy.
5. Bryan Herta, 176.216 mph -- Herta has always been quick at Phoenix (he set the outright track record in a CART Champ Car in 1995), but PIR is no longer an active IRL track. Will anything accomplished in testing there translate to any other track on the IndyCar slate? Herta, who is AGR's lead development driver, certainly hopes so.
6. Tony Kanaan, 175.342 mph -- The 2004 IndyCar Series champion is a two-time Phoenix winner. After two straight championships, Andretti Green Racing has nothing to prove, but they still must not be pleased to see Ganassi and Penske already running in front of them. With series-wide engine parity, AGR has lost its advantage of being the de facto Honda factory team.
7. Tomas Scheckter, 175.277 mph -- With Panther Racing's equipment set to be auctioned off, Scheckter seems to have landed at Vision Racing. The arrival of the quick South African and Honda engines made an immediate and positive impact on Tony George's team as Scheckter and Ed Carpenter ran 7-8.
8. Ed Carpenter, 175.073 mph -- Thanks to Honda horsepower and some coaching from Scheckter, Tony George's stepson was higher up the order than he ever had been before in an IndyCar. "Vision was a perfect example of how the sole engine supplier has leveled the playing field for everyone -- with equal accessibility to equipment, they jumped to seventh and eighth on the speed charts," observed Barnhart.
9. Scott Sharp, 174.760 mph -- The only driver who has been around since the IRL's first event ten years ago is still a top-10 runner despite being saddled with a Panoz chassis. Semi-teammate Kosuke Matsuura has been awarded a Dallara and if the Panoz proves uncompetitive, look for Fernandez Racing to make the same change for Sharp.
10. Kosuke Matsuura, 174.360 mph -- The Japanese driver (and Honda favorite) returns for his third IRL campaign with a Dallara chassis. Matsuura immediately adapted to the new car and ran consistently during the Phoenix test, but he's not likely to threaten for race wins.
11. Dario Franchitti, 174.252 mph -- Tipped as a championship favorite in 2005, the Scotsman's season got off to a slow start and he never really recovered. He needs to reverse that trend in 2006 because he is running out of championship opportunities in a young man's game.
12. Buddy Rice, 173.801 mph -- After a miserable 2005 campaign, Rice was relatively happy with his form at Phoenix, which traditionally has not been one of Rahal Letterman Racing's better tracks. But will the loss of Vitor Meira, considered RLR's best development driver, hurt the team?
13. Danica Patrick, 173.765 mph -- Short ovals were Danica's weak point in 2005, though she is working hard to improve her form on bullrings. But unless the Panoz chassis is allowed aero modifications, she and her teammates will continue to struggle on tracks less than 1.5 miles long. Her light weight will continue to be an advantage on foot-to-the-floor speedways.
14. Marco Andretti, 173.614 mph -- Remarkably, Marco has driven in only a handful of oval races in his career, and none in a car remotely as powerful as an IndyCar. He'll be fine on longer tracks, but is likely to struggle on bullrings until he learns the art of oval setup and racing.
15. Felipe Giaffone, 172.389 mph -- This Brazilian is a former IRL race winner drafted into A.J. Foyt's struggling team. He'll run better than the woefully inexperienced A.J. Foyt IV did over the last couple of years, but is unlikely to sniff a legitimate race win.
16. Paul Dana, 170.587 mph -- Northwestern grad Dana walked away from a job covering the Champ Car World Series for AutoWeek magazine to pursue a driving career. Early returns suggest he is much better at selling sponsorship than he is driving a racecar.
John Oreovicz covers open-wheel racing for National Speed Sport News and ESPN.com