INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana -- 1999 Indy Racing League champion Greg Ray is pursuing other drives in the IRL after he requested his release from the No. 41 A.J. Foyt Racing entry for the final two races of the season.
"Aside from leading 41 laps at Richmond earlier this year, it's obvious that our overall performance has not met our expectations - neither mine, nor those of my team at Foyt Racing," Ray said.
Ray, from Plano, Texas, joined Foyt Racing at this year's Indianapolis 500 after driving for Team Menard from 1999-2001. He drove in the Chevy 500 last October for A.J. Foyt Racing.
"The reality of the situation is that right now we are a three-car team operating on a single-car budget," Ray said. "That means we are stretching people and resources way beyond their original intentions. The mechanical failures and other problems we've encountered are due to the limited supply and excessive demands we have had to put on our people and equipment, and that puts a strain on the entire team, from top to bottom.
"Therefore, considering where we are in the points championship, it makes total sense at this point for me to step out of the car and focus my time and energy on developing business opportunities to create a winning program. That is the most appropriate thing to do in this situation - for Foyt Racing and for Greg Ray."
Ray remains under contract to A.J. Foyt Racing through the 2003 season, and he plans to continue working with the team to build a competitive effort through the duration of that contract and beyond.
"A.J. Foyt made a commitment to me for this year and for next season regardless of the sponsorship situation," Ray said. "A.J. is a man of his word, and in his heart of hearts, he keeps the commitments he makes. But I believe it's in no one's best interest for me to run a third car at Chicago and Texas.
"I would certainly love to run Chicago and Texas with another team, if an opportunity presents itself. But my main focus is to develop a race-winning program for 2003, and hopefully we can make that happen at Foyt Racing. As for now, this is certainly a difficult decision, but the IRL is so competitive that it's nearly impossible to be successful when you're operating beyond your resources."
Toyota tests with Kelley, Unser: Toyota continued its development program in preparation for joining the Indy Racing League in 2003 as an engine manufacturer, testing this week with Kelley Racing and two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. on Aug. 26-27 at Gateway International Raceway near St. Louis.
"Everything went fine," said Lee White, general manager of Toyota Racing Development. "We just continue working at the track to fill in blanks of a matrix of questions we have with a whole new venue for us."
Toyota conducted its first on-track test of its IRL engine Aug. 12-13 at Kentucky Speedway with Marlboro Team Penske and driver Helio Castroneves.
"It's fun being with a new group," White said. "We had two tests with Penske, and we got used to their drivers and methodology. But we have multiple teams, and we have to learn how to interact with other drivers and engineering groups, other setups and approaches to deal with the same problem of getting around the race track quickest.
"We're still working on performance development, but we can do a lot of that in the shop. The reason to be at the racetrack is to learn the electronic controls and other things you must deal with to race in the IRL."
Said Unser. "The engine is running great. The test was great, and the Toyota engineers are good people to work with. I'm excited about 2003."
Toyota's next on-track test probably will take place in October, White said.
Lucky Texas fan could win Camaro: Texas Motor Speedway always has offered some of the most unique promotions for Indy Racing League fans, and this year is no exception leading up to the season-ending Chevy 500 on Sept. 15 at TMS.
A lucky fan who predicts the winner of the tight Indy Racing League championship race could drive away from TMS in a new Chevrolet Camaro after the Chevy 500.
Fans may fill out an entry form and mark their choice of four IRL drivers in contention for the 2002 championship - Helio Castroneves, Gil de Ferran, Sam Hornish Jr. or Felipe Giaffone. The forms will then be dropped in the appropriate driver's barrel. During the IRL championship celebration following the Chevy 500, the newly crowned series champion will draw an entry from his barrel on the speedway frontstretch. That lucky fan will win a red 2002 Chevy Camaro, complete with Texas Motor Speedway racing decals.
Fans may enter the contest in a variety of ways. Local radio station KZPS-FM will register fans at numerous remote broadcasts during the next two weeks and The Dallas Morning News also will have mail-in entry forms in the paper beginning Aug. 30. Fans also may register during race week activities at The Dallas Morning News and KZPS display areas along the souvenir midway outside the speedway gates.
Treadway-Hubbard using DartTrainer: Treadway-Hubbard Racing has formed a partnership with Dartfish to incorporate DartTrainer into its Indy Racing League driver development and pit-crew training programs.
Dartfish will work closely with the team to develop a top-notch video enhanced training program aimed at improving driver and pit-crew performance, which can be used throughout the motorsports community.
"The Dartfish video-enhanced training program has tremendous potential in auto racing," said Scott Cronk, vice president of Treadway-Hubbard Racing. "We started using the tool about a week ago, and it has already identified several areas of opportunity. I think it will be especially useful with our young drivers as well as in the offseason development of our over-the-wall pit crew guys."
DartTrainer's patented SimulCamT technology makes it possible for two cars or the same car to appear on the screen at the same time despite the two taking laps at different times. DartTrainer demonstrates the varied acceleration and paths drivers take helping them prepare their race and time trial strategies.
Dartfish has developed visual-based learning systems that are particularly beneficial in the auto industry for car safety training and for process improvement in manufacturing.
In Germany, Dartfish sponsors the PoleVision Racing team, which has used the DartTrainer system with success for the past two seasons in the V8 Star Racing series. Dartfish also has worked with various NASCAR and Formula One teams.
Hot laps: Falcon Cars, one of three Indy Racing League chassis manufacturers for the 2003 season, has reached an agreement for DP Technology to become a sponsor and technical partner. DP, based in Camarillo, Calif., produces the ESPRIT CAM system, a powerful computer-aided manufacturer software program . FranNet of Central Indiana, part of the world's largest network of franchise consultants, recently became an associate sponsor of Treadway-Hubbard Racing's No. 55 entry for the remainder of the 2002 Indy Racing League season . Mike Boat, brother of Indy Racing standout Billy Boat, could clinch the 2002 USAC New Mexico/Arizona Sprint Car championship during the series' "Labor Day Swing" of three races Aug. 30-Sept. 1. Mike Boat leads Mike Martin by 59 points . Indy Racing standout Robbie Buhl will visit young patients Sept. 5 at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago as part of his work as national spokesperson for Racing For Kids. Buhl will drive in the Delphi Indy 300 on Sept. 8 at Chicagoland Speedway.