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Teams set for 6,400-mile trip to Japan Firestone Indy Lights teams to test at Indianapolis April 11 IndyCar Series forms promotional partnership with Mac Tools Sarah Fisher Racing announces three-race schedule Helio, Julianne to reunite at Indianapolis 500

1. Teams set for 6,400-mile trip to Japan: IndyCar Series teams are packed and ready to go for their 6,400-mile trip to Japan. After returning from the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, teams had just four days at their race shops to prepare their equipment for the trip to Japan, which will culminate with the Indy Japan 300 at Twin Ring Motegi on April 19. Two Boeing 747 cargo planes will depart from Indianapolis International Airport for Japan on April 12.

By the numbers: 9 – Teams that are packed and ready to go to Japan 35 – Dallara chassis that will make the trip to Japan 6,400 – Air miles between Indianapolis and Tokyo 2 – Boeing 747 cargo planes 13 –Time difference in hours between Indianapolis and Tokyo 11 – Days between the race at St. Petersburg and the start of practice at Twin Ring Motegi 6 – Days between the race at Twin Ring Motegi and the start of practice at Kansas Speedway

2. Firestone Indy Lights teams to test at Indianapolis April 11: With a two-week break between the street racing doubleheader at St. Petersburg and the superspeedway event at Kansas Speedway, Firestone Indy Lights teams have turned their attention to the series' biggest stage, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

More than 20 drivers are scheduled to participate in an April 11 Open Test on the famed 2.5-mile oval. That is, if Mother Nature doesn't interfere with the only on-track activity prior to the Firestone Freedom 100 on May 25.

"I'm really hoping we do get to test," said Sean Guthrie, who finished 11th in his Firestone Indy Lights debut at Indianapolis in 2006. "We think we have a good car for the oval at Indy." The test is a chance for drivers such as Guthrie and his Guthrie Racing teammate Logan Gomez, Andrew Prendeville, Chris Festa, Marc Williams and Al Unser III to reacquaint themselves with the track.

"It's a prestigious track. It's such an awesome race to be involved with," said Williams, who will participate with Integra Motorsports, which won a Formula BMW event on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's road course as Team Apex USA in 2006. "(Last year's Freedom 100) was my first ever oval. I feel as though I was trying to build confidence then and just picked up the laps then. Now I can't wait to have a test there and get myself prepared for this event. It will just be great to do it properly." While some drivers will be re-acclimating to the track, several drivers, including points leader Richard Antinucci, will be seeing the oval for the first time. In all, 11 Indianapolis newcomers will get their first chance at the oval.

"I'm psyched. I've come to Indy three or four times for racing, but it's always been down the road at O'Reilly Raceway Park," said Panther Racing's Brent Sherman. "So to finally be able to roll into town and run at the big track is exciting for me. I was close to running at the Brickyard (in NASCAR) a few years ago but that didn't work out. So this is going to be interesting. Obviously, every race driver wants to run at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in this series or any series, and now I'm psyched at the opportunity to do that for the first time Friday."

Sherman's teammate, Dillon Battistini, who won his oval debut at Homestead-Miami Speedway, hopes to repeat the feat at Indianapolis.

"I'm really looking forward to my first test at Indianapolis," he said. "It means a lot to me to have the opportunity to drive on such a historic racetrack. This will be the fastest I've ever driven anywhere, and I'm extremely excited about that. I know Indy is going to be a lot different than Homestead, but I just hope that our team can have as much success here as we did a few weeks ago in Miami."

3. IndyCar Series forms promotional partnership with Mac Tools: IndyCar Series officials announced a promotional partnership with Mac Tools, an industry-leading professional tool and equipment company. The agreement will give Mac Tools a presence at IndyCar Series races around the country in 2008.

            A key aspect of the partnership will be the Mac Tools “Lap Leader Award.” The award program will track laps led by all IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights entries displaying the Mac Tools logo on their cars over the course of the season. The IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights entry that has led the most laps at the end of the season will be awarded an allotment of Mac Tools products at the season-ending Indy Racing League award banquet. 

            In addition to the “Lap Leader Award,” Mac Tools will supply the IndyCar Series with tools to use during the season, and provide teams with a discount on Mac Tools product purchases. Mac Tools also plans to produce a limited-edition Indianapolis 500 toolbox.

4. Sarah Fisher Racing announces three-race schedule: Sarah Fisher Racing will debut at the 92nd running of the Indianapolis 500 in May and also will compete at Kentucky Speedway and Chicagoland Speedway in 2008.

Team co-owner Sarah Fisher, a veteran of 67 IndyCar Series starts since her debut in 1999, will drive the No. 67 Honda-powered Dallara for the team she helped form during the offseason. The team recently secured sponsorship from ResQ Pure Power Energy Drink, a cold-packaged, non-alcoholic, sports and energy drink with all natural ingredients that can be found in convenient stores, grocery stores and other outlets that sell energy drink products.

“ResQ is an all natural energy drink and that aligns perfectly with what my brand represents,” Fisher said. “ResQ is very big-picture orientated and understands the value of the IndyCar Series and we are happy to provide that platform to them for their marketing efforts.” Fisher will be attempting her sixth start in the Indianapolis 500 in May. She was the third woman to qualify for the event when she debuted in 2000. That same season, Fisher became the first woman to lead laps in the IndyCar Series, when she paced the field for nine laps at Kentucky en route to a third-place finish. Kentucky also was the site of Fisher’s only career pole – also the first for a female driver – in 2002.

5. Helio, Julianne to reunite at Indianapolis 500: “Dancing with the Stars” champions Helio Castroneves and Julianne Hough will be reunited at the 92nd Indianapolis 500 on May 25. Before Hough can cheer on Castroneves as he attempts to win his third Indianapolis 500, Castroneves will cheer on Hough as she performs the National Anthem.

“I’m excited to have Julianne play such a key role at the Indianapolis 500, especially since so many of the fans that are going to be at the race enjoyed watching us on “Dancing with the Stars,” Castroneves said. “We had the opportunity to visit the Speedway while taping the show last year, and I got to show her my face on the Borg-Warner Trophy and the yard of bricks. After that brief introduction, I’m really excited Julianne will finally have the opportunity to experience everything the Indy 500 has to offer.” Hough will release her first country music album May 20 and will go on tour with country superstar Brad Paisley beginning June 11. 

            The 2008 IndyCar Series season continues with a unique weekend - two races on two continents - the Indy Japan 300 on April 19 at Twin Ring Motegi and the Long Beach Grand Prix on April 20 on the streets of Long Beach, Calif. Points will be awarded for both races with IndyCar Series drivers participating in Japan and Champ Car World Series competitors in Long Beach. The Motegi race will be telecast in High Definition at 11:59 p.m. (EDT) by ESPN2 on April 18 and re-aired at 3 p.m. (EDT) by ESPN.

The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, April 18 at 11:30 p.m. (EDT). A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPNDeportes. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio and The Long Beach race will air on April 20 at 5:30 p.m. (EDT) on ESPN2. The 2008 Firestone Indy Lights season continues April 27 with the Kansas Lottery 100 at Kansas Speedway. The St. Pete 100 doubleheader will be telecast at 5:30 p.m. (EDT) on April 10 by ESPN2.

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