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Category: Indianapolis 500

NASCAR's Jeff Gordon, 3 others nominated for state racing award

Gordon

Four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon was among four candidates nominated for this year's Justice Brothers-Shav Glick Award, given to those who have made distinguished contributions to motor racing in California.

Gordon, a native of Vallejo, not only won four titles in what is now NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series, he also is third in career Cup wins with 85 behind Richard Pettty (200) and David Pearson (105).

The other nominees are Tommy Ivo, a child TV star who became a successful drag racer and member of the Motorsports Hall of Fame; A.J. Watson, longtime Indianapolis 500 car builder and chief mechanic; and Tony Adamowicz, a sports-car driver who raced from the 1960s through the 1980s.

The winner will be announced March 25 at the NASCAR race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana.

The award is named after sponsor Justice Brothers, a maker of auto-care products, and the late Los Angeles Times motor racing writer Shav Glick, himself a member of the Motorsports Hall of Fame.

Past winners include Dan Gurney, Rick Mears, John Force and Don Prudhomme.

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-- Jim Peltz

Photo: NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon at the Super Bowl last Sunday in Indianapolis. Credit: Tannen Maury/EPA

Danica Patrick, now in NASCAR, will skip Indianapolis 500

Danica Patrick will not race in the Indianapolis 500.
Danica Patrick said Monday she will not race in the Indianapolis 500 this year as she focuses on her shift to NASCAR stock-car racing.

The former IndyCar driver said she would race that day, May 27, in NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, one of 10 races she plans in NASCAR's premier Sprint up Series this year driving for Stewart-Haas Racing.

She also is driving a full schedule in NASCAR's second-level Nationwide Series for JR Motorsports, a team co-owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Patrick shot to fame when she nearly won the 2005 Indy 500 as a rookie. Given her love of the Memorial Day weekend classic, there was speculation she might enter the race despite her move to NASCAR.

But she told reporters at NASCAR's media tour in the Charlotte area that "I'm not going to do the Indy 500" this year although she added that "I hope to do it in the future."

Patrick also did not rule out driving this year in the Brickyard 400, the NASCAR race held each summer at  Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

--Jim Peltz

Photo: Danica Patrick signs a fan's shirt during the NASCAR Hall of Fame induction festivities Saturday in Charlotte, N.C. Credit: Bob Leverone/Associated Press

Dan Wheldon crash: Two injured drivers treated and released

Wheldon1

This post has been updated. See below for details.

Two other IndyCar drivers involved in the 15-car wreck that killed British driver Dan Wheldon at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday were treated for minor injuries, their teams said.

Will Power of Penske Racing, who finished second in the title standings behind champion Dario Franchitti, complained of pain in his upper back after his car went airborne in the crash.

But "there was no evidence of significant injuries so he has been released" from University Medical Center in Las Vegas, Penske Racing said.

Another driver, Pippa Mann of the Rahal Letterman Lanigan team, had surgery Sunday night at the same hospital to treat a severely burned pinkie finger on her right hand. She was being released Monday morning, her team said.

[Updated, 12:20 p.m. Oct. 17: A third driver, J.R. Hildebrand, suffered a “severely bruised sternum” in the accident and was held overnight at University Medical Center but was released Monday, his team, Panther Racing, said.]

The Izod IndyCar Series, meanwhile, announced that it canceled its championship banquet scheduled for Monday night at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas.

The series also said information on a public memorial for Wheldon will be released at a later date.

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Graphic: Comparing tracks at Las Vegas and Indianapolis Motor Speedways

-- Jim Peltz

Photo: Drew Boyd places a checkered flag at a gate of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as part of a memorial for two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon. Credit: Scott Olson / Getty Images

Dan Wheldon killed in Indy Car crash [video]

Dan Wheldon, the 2011 Indianapolis 500 winner, died Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in a multi-car crash on Lap 13 of the IndyCar Series season finale.

Officials decided to call the race, but the drivers did a five-lap tribute to Wheldon. IndyCar Series CEO Randy Bernard made the official announcement of Wheldon's death without further comment.

"IndyCar is very sad to announce that Dan Wheldon has passed away from unsurvivable injuries," Bernard said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family today. IndyCar, its drivers and owners, have decided to end the race. In honor of Dan Wheldon, the drivers have decided to do a five-lap salute to in his honor."

The crash and its aftermath are in the top video below. Below that video is a second video, this one celebrating Wheldon's Indy 500 win.

 

 

Indy 500 victory:

 

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Graphic: Comparing tracks at Las Vegas and Indianapolis Motor Speedways

--Houston Mitchell

 

 

Danica Patrick may switch to NASCAR -- and still race in Indy 500

Photo: Danica Patrick. Credit: Nick Laham / Getty Images Danica Patrick's days as an IndyCar driver may not be coming to a complete end after all. Even if she becomes a full-time NASCAR driver as expected, she may still take part in the biggest IndyCar race of them all.

Patrick reportedly is in the final stages of a deal to run a full-time Nationwide Series schedule as a part of JR Motorsports as well as compete in limited Sprint Cup Series races for the team owned by Tony Stewart. Those talks include a plan to allow her to continue racing in the Indianapolis 500, the Associated Press reported, citing an unnamed source.

JR Motorsports co-owner Kelley Earnhardt has said it would be tough for Patrick to compete for a Nationwide championship if she runs in the Indianapolis 500, which requires drivers to spend much of May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. NASCAR had three Nationwide races during that span this year.

Patrick, who finished third at the Indianapolis 500 in 2009, has one career IndyCar victory and is ranked 11th in the series standings. She is winless in 19 career Nationwide races, but JR Motorsports co-owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. says she's "way ahead of the curve" as a NASCAR driver.

"I would like for her to run full time, and I'm sure she is considering that, and I think she would enjoy it,” Earnhardt said at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "I feel confident that she's content where she is and happy with what we're doing. I think things are looking positive for us to put something together."

Stewart has also expressed interest in working with Patrick in the Sprint Cup Series.

"Anybody that's got a Cup team that would have the availability would jump at the chance to do something with her," Stewart said in May. "You would be crazy not to entertain an offer like that and an opportunity for her to drive a race car for you."

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-- Chuck Schilken

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo: Danica Patrick. Credit: Nick Laham / Getty Images

Indianapolis 500 winner: Dan Wheldon

Indy5_600

Dan Wheldon won his second Indianapolis 500 in a wild finish in which California rookie J.R. Hildebrand had the victory in his grasp but crashed on the final turn.

Hildebrand, conserving fuel when others were forced to pit, passed defending winner Dario Franchitti with only a few laps remaining and was leading Wheldon when the white flag came out to signal the final lap at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

But as the 23-year-old Hildebrand entered Turn 4, he slammed into the wall. He kept his car moving forward but not fast enough to prevent Wheldon from passing him to reach the checkered flag first.

"I just kept pushing," Wheldon told a television audience after he took a gulp from the celebratory bottle of milk in Victory Lane. Choking back tears, he said, "I never gave up. It's just an incredible day."

Hildebrand settled for second, Graham Rahal was third and Tony Kanaan fourth.

Wheldon, a British driver, won the Indy 500 in 2005, but after winless seasons in 2009-10, he failed to get a full-time ride this season. But a group led by veteran driver Bryan Herta hired Wheldon to at least drive in this year's Indy 500.

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Update: Dario Franchitti leads with 100 miles left in race

Indy 500 trivia: Why does the winner drink milk?

The history of the Indianapolis 500

-- Jim Peltz in Indianapolis

Photo: Dan Wheldon guides his car to the finish line while J.R. Hildebrand's car grinds against the wall coming out of Turn 4 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the 100th anniversary race on Sunday. Credit: Mark J. Rebilas / US Presswire

Indy 500 Update: Dario Franchitti leads with 100 miles to go

Indy3_600

Dario Franchitti, seeking his third Indy 500 win and second in a row, led this year's race with 100 miles to go Sunday.

Oriol Servia of Spain was second, and Graham Rahal was third after starting all the way back in 29th in the 33-car field. His father, Bobby Rahal, won the Indianapolis 500 in 1986.

Franchitti teammate Scott Dixon of New Zealand was fourth and Tony Kanaan fifth as more than 200,000 looked on at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Danica Patrick had charged to seventh after starting 25th but fell back to 12th after the most recent restart.

Alex Tagliani, the pole-sitter, also was running in the top 10, but the Canadian lost control and scraped the Turn 4 wall on Lap 147, ending his race.

And on Lap 156, Ryan Briscoe and Townsend Bell of Pacific Palisades collided and slammed into the wall. Briscoe drives for the powerful Team Penske, and his two teammates also were having a lousy day. Will Power was 15th after losing a wheel early in the race, and Helio Castroneves was 19th.

Despite fears of more wrecks, the use of "double-file restarts" after caution periods -- used for the first time at Indy this year -- were mostly free of accidents but nerve-wracking as the cars restarted side by side instead of single file as they reached speeds of more than 220 mph.

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Update: Oriol Servia leads at the halfway point of race

Indy 500 trivia: Why does the winner drink milk?

The history of the Indianapolis 500

-- Jim Peltz in Indianapolis

Photo: Dario Franchitti leads Scott Dixon late in the 100th anniversary race of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday. Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski / EPA

Indy 500 Update: Oriol Servia takes the lead

Oriol Servia in the lead Oriol Servia of Spain passed Dario Franchitti for the lead of the Indy 500, and teammates Marco Andretti and Danica Patrick were charging toward the front at the 300-mile mark.

Scott Dixon, Franchitti's teammate at Target Chip Ganassi Racing, was running third.

Andretti, who narrowly missed winning the famed race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2006, was fourth after starting 27th. And Patrick climbed to 10th after starting 25th.

Former Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon was fourth, and Townsend Bell, who lives in Pacific Palisades, was running fifth.

Ryan Briscoe was ninth, but his other teammates at powerful Team Penske were struggling. Helio Castroneves, seeking his fourth Indy 500 victory, was 19th, and Will Power was 22nd after his car had a wheel come off during an early pit stop.

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Update: Scott Dixon leads by narrow margin

Indy 500 trivia: Why does the winner drink milk?

The history of the Indianapolis 500

-- Jim Peltz in Indianapolis

Photo: Oriol Servia leads a line of cars at the Indy 500. Credit: Robert Laberge / Getty Images

Indy 500 Update: Scott Dixon leads by narrow margin

Scott Dixon at Indy 500

 

Scott Dixon led the Indianapolis 500 by a narrow margin over his teammate Dario Franchitti halfway through the 200-lap race Sunday. Just as the race reached halfway, rookie James Hinchcliffe crashed into the outside wall to bring out the third caution period of the day.

Dixon won the famed race in 2008, and Franchitti is the defending winner. Both drive for the team Target Chip Ganassi Racing.

Dan Wheldon, another former winner, was running third and pole-sitter Alex Tagliani was fourth on a warm, mostly sunny day in front of more than 200,000 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Some other drivers were climbing through the field, including Marco Andretti and Danica Patrick of the Andretti Autosport team, who had qualified poorly for the race. Andretti was 10th after starting 27th, and Patrick was 15th after starting 25th.

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 Update: Scott Dixon leads after 100 miles

Indy 500 has favorites and potential spoilers

Indy 500 trivia: Why does the winner drink milk?

-- Jim Peltz in Indianapolis

Photo: Scott Dixon makes a pit stop at the Indy 500, May 29, 2011. Credit: Darron Cummings / Associated Press

Indy 500 Update: Scott Dixon leads after 100 miles

Indy2_600

Scott Dixon led the Indianapolis 500 and Alex Tagliani was second after 100 miles Sunday, while defending race winner Dario Franchitti and Tony Kanaan were charging toward the front.

Tagliani was the pole-sitter for the 100th anniversary of the famed race, and he and Dixon swapped the lead several times as in the early stages of the 200-lap event.

Dixon, of New Zealand, won the Indy 500 in 2008. Franchitti, a teammate of Dixon’s at Target Chip Ganassi Racing, started ninth but had climbed to third. Kanaan was eighth after starting 22nd.

Australian Will Power, one of the pre-race favorites who drives for Team Penske, started fifth but suffered a big setback when the left rear tire fell off his car as he left the pits during a caution period around lap 20.

It was a costly and uncharacteristic mistake by Team Penske, and because Power had to return to the pits to replace the tire, he fell back to 29th.

The caution period set the stage for the first "double-file restart" in the Indy 500, a new rule in the Izod IndyCar Series this year in which the field restarts in rows of two by two rather than single file.

The format has been criticized by some drivers as raising the risk of accidents, and as the field moved into Turn 1, driver E.J. Viso lost control and slammed hard into the outside wall, bringing out another yellow flag.

But as the green flag waved again after Viso’s wreck, the field had a clean restart.

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Indy 500 has favorites, but also several potential spoilers

Indy 500 trivia: Why does the winner drink milk?

The history of the Indianapolis 500

-- Jim Peltz in Indianapolis

Photo: Scott Dixon leads the field into Turn 1 at the start of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday. Credit: Jonathan Ferrey / Getty Images

Indianapolis 500 Preview: Warm day dawns for 100th anniversary race

Indydawn

After a week of rain, cold and tornado warnings in central Indiana, there were partly sunny skies and warmer conditions Sunday morning at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the 100th-anniversary edition of the Indianapolis 500.

Indeed, temperatures were expected to reach the high 80s and the chance of rain was listed at only 10% for the race, which many observers said was shaping up to be one of the more compelling Indy 500s in recent years.

Though Canadian Alex Tagliani is on the pole, with a qualifying speed of 227.472 mph, many of the top drivers in the Izod IndyCar Series are starting deep in the 33-car field. That's likely to spark lots of passing in the 200-lap race as those drivers charge to the front.

Defending race winner and reigning IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti is starting ninth. Helio Castroneves, looking to become only the fourth driver in history to win the race four times, is starting 16th.

Simona De Silvestro, the young Swiss driver who burned her hand in a crash at practice but returned to qualifying anyway, starts 23rd. And the popular Danica Patrick starts 25th.

The race starts at noon EDT, and look for in-race updates at latimes.com/sports.

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Indy 500 has favorites, but also several potential spoilers

Indy 500 trivia: Why does the winner drink milk?

The history of the Indianapolis 500

-- Jim Peltz in Indianapolis

Photo: The front-stretch grandstands at dawn Sunday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Credit: Mark J. Rebilas / US Presswire

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