In the Fast Lane: For a change, it's a good time to be in IndyCar racing. Already riding high from the unification, then Graham Rahal's first victory, the series got its biggest boost yet with Danica Patrick's win late Saturday night at Motegi, Japan.
For a change, it's a good time to be in IndyCar racing. Already riding high from the unification, then Graham Rahal's first victory, the series got its biggest boost yet with Danica Patrick's win late Saturday night at Motegi, Japan. "It's great for Danica and the league," said Indy Racing League founder and Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Tony George. "Everybody has been waiting for this day to arrive, and it finally has." Ticket sales are reportedly increased significantly for upcoming races, and sales of Patrick souvenirs and memorabilia are up 900 percent. Her souvenir company, MainGate, has announced it will have new gear for the Indianapolis 500 commemorating her win and will have three trailers at the track selling her merchandise. Patrick is delighted that the fallout from her win is helping the series overall. "You know, it's definitely been publicized, and people are finding out about it, and in turn, people are just finding out about IndyCar more," she said. "And so I think that there's a chain reaction, and a lot of people are affected. And it's not just about me; it's about finding out about the league, too. "I hope that it's growing and that's the idea. We are all working hard to do everything we can to capitalize on all of the great moments that happen with all of the different drivers in the league and I guess this week, it's me." Pit Crew Promotion AirTran Airways is running a contest in which the winner can be part of Patrick's pit crew for a race. Fans can enter and select the race of their choice at www.airtran.com. Good Omen The Caterpillar team is bringing the chassis which finished third at Talladega last fall and third at the Budweiser Shootout in February to the race at Talladega this weekend. "We know we've got a strong restrictor-plate package, so we're hoping for good things this weekend," said driver Dave Blaney. "These next couple of tracks are usually pretty good for this Caterpillar team, so we're hoping for good things during this next stretch of racing." Talladega is an impound race, meaning drivers must start the race with the car in the same configuration in which it was qualified. Blaney is outside the top 35 in owner points (37th) and must qualify for the race on time. NASCAR News - AJ Allmendinger is returning to the No. 84 Red Bull Toyota this weekend after a six-week absence during which Mike Skinner drove the car. Allmendinger has not qualified for a race this year. - Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kurt Busch and Brian Vickers took part in a Goodyear tire test earlier this week in Indianapolis. - Dollar General will be the new sponsor of the Nationwide Series race at Chicagoland Speedway the evening of July 11. - Max Papis will drive the No. 70 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the two Sprint Cup road races this season. Top 10 Young Jayce Van De Veer of Washington placed 10th Saturday in his exhibition race that was part of the St. Louis AMA Supercross. The 8-year-old got a tough starting spot and was third going into the first turn but came out 15th after being forced to the outside, said his father, Brad. "It was a great experience," Brad Van De Veer said. "He got to meet all the pros, and they treated him very well." Jane Miller is the Peoria Journal Star motorsports columnist. Write her at 1 News Plaza, Peoria, IL 61643, call (309) 686-3207 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.