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IRL NOTEBOOK News and notes



Published: Sat, July 23, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Wheldon being wooed: Dan Wheldon finds himself in demand these days. The winner of the Indianapolis 500 and the IRL's IndyCar Series points leader acknowledged Saturday he is being wooed by -- and listening to -- teams in both Formula One and NASCAR. "As of a certain date this year, I became a free agent," Wheldon told The Associated Press. "I'm certainly at that stage where I've become established in the IndyCar Series and I feel confident in my abilities and the team I'm with and enjoy being part of it. I wouldn't be doing the business side of my life justice if I didn't look into other opportunities to see just how different championships work and the future of different championships out there." Winning Indy was a major goal when the 27-year-old left his native England to race in America. Now that he has accomplished that, it might be easier to leave -- although he'd love to win it more than once. "The biggest thing for me is the Indianapolis 500," Wheldon said.

Weather or not: Racing 225 laps at the Milwaukee Mile may not be too comfortable for the drivers, who will have to endure temperatures expected to reach 95 degrees and an expected blanket of humidity that will make it feel like it 102 degrees outside the cockpit. "It could get pretty uncomfortable," said Sam Hornish Jr. "The biggest thing is that the track is going to be changing a lot during the race and the heat is going to pull the oil out of the track and make it pretty difficult."

Danica watch: Rookie Danica Patrick has already won a pole this year, so qualifying sixth on Saturday wasn't a big disappointment. She was also sixth-fastest in the morning practice session, but went into time trials worried that her speed might not hold up as temperatures warmed into the 90's and the track became more slick. "I'm just glad my time stood up for the qualifying session," Patrick said. "With the temperature change, I wasn't sure if I could stay in the top five or six, but the car was well-balanced."

No luck: After having former series champion Scott Dixon crash twice in a short time and miss the race a year ago with injuries to his right thumb and left ankle, the Target Ganassi Racing team ran into some more bad luck Saturday. Rookie Ryan Briscoe lost control and backed his car hard into the turn two wall during practice. He was cleared to drive by IRL medical officials, but team general manager Mike Hull said it was decided to hold the 23-year-old Australian out of today's race. "From our experience, Ryan can pass Dr. [Henry] Bock's test, but he's not going to be 100 percent the next day," Hull said. "We've got a lot of racing left to do this season. We always try to make decisions based on the future, not just today." Dixon and Darren Manning, the third Target Ganassi driver, will race, but both will be starting well back in the 21-car field. Dixon qualified 18th, while Manning will start last after taking one warmup lap and coming in without qualifying.

Associated Press




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