IRL headlines

1.      Ratings increase for 96th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race

2.      Teams test Milwaukee before heading to Detroit

3.      Lions defensive star Suh is Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle event grand marshal

4.      Mayer takes over a Grand Prix of Baltimore general manager

5.      Did you know? - Indy 500

1. Rating improve for 96th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race: ABC's coverage of the 96th Indianapolis 500 showed an increase  in ratings and viewership over the 100th Anniversary race in 2011.

Based on fast national numbers provided by Neilsen Media Research and ESPN, the 2012 race won by Dario Franchitti delivered a 4.34 household rating and 6,857,100 viewers - the race's best number since 2008. The rating is an 8 percent increase among households (4.34 vs. 4.03) from last year's race.

2. Teams test Milwaukee before heading to Detroit: Nearly 13 hours after accepting a check for $303,430 for placing seventh in the 96th Running of the Indianapolis 500, Justin Wilson was back behind the wheel of the No. 18 Sonny's BBQ car at the Milwaukee Mile on May 29.

The Indianapolis 500 commenced five consecutive weekends of IZOD IndyCar Series races, with the Milwaukee IndyFest on June 15-16. Up this weekend is the return of the series to the Belle Isle street circuit for the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix. Wilson won the last race (2008) on the 2.07-mile, 14-turn course.

"In some ways it's fun because you're always thinking about the car and you're just in that mentality," Wilson said about the stretch that also includes Saturday night races at Texas Motor Speedway (June 9)  and Iowa Speedway (June 23). "You don't go home and switch off and start thinking about home life. In that respect, it's nice to keep going. But, at the same time, I miss the family so we try to catch up as best we can."

Wilson will return to his home in Colorado following the Firestone 550 on the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway. In the meantime, his wife and daughters flew to England before the "500" to visit family so they missed seeing his run from the 21st starting position to match his best Indy 500 finish.

"It's a tough schedule to have one day off after the Indy 500. It's tough on the guys to get the cars ready, but it's something we feel is important," Wilson said of testing on the relatively flat Milwaukee oval. "We want to hit that weekend with the right set-up right off the bat.

"It will take a bit of tuning to go from our old set-ups to something that will work for this car, but I think it will be fine. I've driven four different types of cars there, so I understand what to look for in the car on that track."

Joining Wilson were Dale Coyne Racing teammate James Jakes; Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe, Helio Castroneves and Will Power; KV Racing Technology's Rubens Barrichello, Tony Kanaan and E.J. Viso; Panther Racing's JR Hildebrand; Panther/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing's Oriol Servia; Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing's Josef Newgarden; Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon; Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing's Graham Rahal; Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing's Charlie Kimball; Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports' Simon Pagenaud; Andretti Autosport's Ryan Hunter-Reay and James Hinchcliffe; and A.J. Foyt Racing's Mike Conway.

Grandstand seating on June 15 for the Milwaukee IndyFest is free, promoter Andretti Sports Marketing announced.

Gates open at 8 a.m. with a full day of activities, highlighted by IZOD IndyCar Series practice and qualifications and the 100-lap Firestone Indy Lights race. Off the track, there will be concerts, a Family Fun Zone and the INDYCAR Fan Village (infield activities require a general admission ticket).

3. Lions defensive star Suh is Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle event grand marshal: Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh will serve as the grand marshal of the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix on June 3.

"This is such a positive event for Detroit and I love racing so this is really going to be a special weekend," he said.

The 2010 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award winner, Suh has also made a positive impact in the community. He was named the most charitable athlete by The Giving Back Fund in 2011 for his $2.6 million donation to the Nebraska University athletic and engineering departments. Giving back to the Detroit community as well, Suh's foundation has donated toys to the Detroit Medical Center, hosted local football camps and offered scholarships and spent time mentoring high school students.

4. Mayer takes over a Grand Prix of Baltimore general manager: Tim Mayer, whose father, Teddy, was co-founder of McLaren Racing, has been named as general manager of the Grand Prix of Baltimore.

Mayer's appointment coincides with the launch of ticket sales for the Aug. 31-Sept. 2 event on the streets of downtown Baltimore that features IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights races. Get tickets and event details at http://www.RaceOnBaltimore.com and all Ticketmaster outlets.

5. Did you know? - Indy 500: Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing driver Charlie Kimball matched his career-best finish of eighth in the Indianapolis 500. It was his best finish on an oval. … Dario Franchitti joined Helio Castroneves as three-time Indianapolis 500 winners in the fewest number of starts (nine). Louis Meyer won for the third time in his ninth start, but it was his 10th Indianapolis 500 because he drove as a relief driver only in his rookie year. … Jean Alesi was the third driver in Indianapolis 500 history to start and finish 33rd in the race. Both Dempsey Wilson (1960) and Ronnie Duman (1966) started and finished 33rd. … The 500 Mile Race represented the eighth time that Castroneves completed the full 500-mile distance. Castroneves joined Ted Horn and A.J. Foyt as the only drivers to have completed the full 500 miles eight times without the aid of a relief driver. The use of relief drivers was a common practice at the Indianapolis 500 before World War II.

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The next IZOD IndyCar Series race is the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix  on June 3 at the Raceway at Belle Isle Park in Detroit. The race will be televised by ABC at 3:30 p.m. (ET) and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network on SiriusXM (XM 94 and Sirius 212). The next Firestone Indy Lights race is the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix  on June 2 at the Raceway at Belle Isle Park in Detroit. The race will be televised by NBC Sports Network at 5 p.m. (ET) on June 7 and broadcast live by the IMS Radio Network.


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