The latest news from around the world courtesy of Press Snoop Lynne Huntting...

The Friday weather was warm and the drivers were hot for the first ever road course race for the Indy Racing League's IndyCar Series at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma CA for the Argent Mortgage Indy Grand Prix. Friday's weather was typical of the wine country summer, warm and clear, with the afternoon breeze. Saturday promises to be even warmer.

Aussie Rookie RYAN BRISCOE/Target Chip Ganassi Panoz/Toyota was the overall fastest driver Friday with a time of 1:16.5744/108.130 mph. Brazil's HELIO CASTRONEVES/Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota was second fastest at 1:16.6157/108.072 mph, and fellow countryman, TONY KANAAN/Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda was third. Fourth was SCOTT DIXON, Briscoe's Ganassi teammate.

Another fast Rookie was newbie GIORGIO PANTANO of Italy, who was fifth fastest overall Friday in the Target Chip Ganassi Panoz/Toyota. He was just hired by CHIP GANASSI to run the two IRL road course races - Infineon Raceway and Watkins Glen International, and this is his first IRL race. He replaces DARREN MANNING who was recently let go. Pantano is currently racing in the new GP2 series which runs with Formula One at the European venues. He comes from a European open wheel background, including F3000 where he was 2001 runner-up, behind SEBASTIAN BOURDAIS of France, currently the Champ Car World Series points leader. Pantano was also a test driver for the Bennetton F1 team in 2000, McLaren in 2001 and Williams in 2002. He was third overall in the 2003 F3000 Series. Then came Jordan F1 in 2004, for whom he ran 14 Grands Prix.

Twenty-one IndyCar drivers are competing this weekend, including five Rookies. All compete on Firestone tyres. There are a variety of chassis/engine combinations, with Dallara (13) and Panoz (8) representing the Chassis builders; and engines built by Chevrolet (3), Honda (10) and Toyota (8).

Media darling, DANICA PATRICK/Letterman-Rahal Racing Panoz/Honda was nineteenth fastest.

MARCO ANDRETTI, fastest overall Friday in the IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series, is one of the few drivers this weekend who has already raced at Infineon this season, albeit on a different configuration. The third-generation Andretti racer drove in the STAR Mazda Series last month during the American Le Mans weekend.

Qualifying for both IRL IndyCar and Menard's Infinity Pro Series is on Saturday.

Also on the busy weekend race schedule are Rounds Five and Six of the SCCA Pro Racing Mazdaspeed Miata Cup Presented by Hankook Pacific Tour and the Moly Shield Oil Historic Grand Prix Series.



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