From Amy Konrath
Today’s IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines:

1. Romancini, Indy 500 rookies honored at Rookie Luncheon

2. Jeans & Jewels event kicks off Indianapolis 500 Race Week

3. Indianapolis 500 drivers take on troops in Pro vs. GI Joe event

1. Romancini, Indy 500 rookies honored at Rookie Luncheon: Mario Romancini hopes his four-lap qualifying speed translates into a full 500 miles on May 30.

Romancini, the driver of the No. 34 Conquest Racing car, qualified 27st in the 33-car Indianapolis 500 field, with a four-lap average speed of 224.641. His effort earned him $5,000 and the Fastest Rookie of the Year award from the American Dairy Association of Indiana.

“It was my first Bump Day and I hope it was my last one,” said Romancini, who gambled by withdrawing a qualified and re-qualified on Bump Day. “There was a lot of tension going on; it’s very difficult, and a lot of pressure. But we made a quick decision to go out to the track again, and it paid off for us. In the end we were able to put in four solid laps, and here we are.”

Romancini is thrilled to be driving in the 500 and honored to be named the fastest rookie of the month, but he is focused on his next task: driving in the 2010 Indianapolis 500.

“It’s a long race and I think the most important thing is we have a fast car, not only for one lap but also for the entire race,” he said. “I had a good experience here with the (Firestone) Indy Lights when I started 18th but finished third, so hopefully, I will be able to use some of the experience that I got there and put it into good use here at the 500.”

Five other rookies were honored at the 36th Annual Fastest Rookie of the Year Awards Luncheon, which was held inside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first time.

Ana Beatriz who qualifed in the 21st position, the highest female qualifier; Simona de Silvestro who is one spot behind in 22nd. Bertrand Baguette in 24th, Takuma Sato qualified for the 31st spot, and after much drama, Sebastian Saavedra qualified for the 33rd spot in the 33-car field of the 94th running of the Indianapolis 500.

2. Jeans & Jewels event kicks off Indianapolis 500 Race Week: The Indy Family Foundation will again host the popular Jeans and Jewels gala on May 26 to support the Benevolent Fund of Motorsports and its mission of providing financial support to participants in the motorsport community who have needs arising from death, injury or illness.

The “Jeans & Jewels” gala event serves as the unofficial kickoff to the Indianapolis 500 race weekend and will be held this year at the Conrad Hotel in downtown Indianapolis. The one-of-a-kind event will be a fun, casual event with 2010 Indianapolis 500 field and Firestone Freedom 100 drivers as the honored guests.

“This is a chance for fans and drivers to mingle while wearing their favorite jeans and raising money for a great cause,” said Heather Carpenter, wife of Vision Racing driver Ed Carpenter and president of the Indy Family Foundation board. “It’s the fashionably casual event to be at during race week.”

Guest will have the opportunity to purchase artwork and jewelry during the event, which features art from the Evan Lurie Gallery and jewelry from G Thrapp Jewelers and Reis Nichols Jewelers to benefit the Indy Family Foundation, The Benevolent Fund of Motorsports and the Women’s Fund of Central Indiana.

The Indy Family Foundation, a 100 percent volunteer committee of the Benevolent Fund of Motorsports, was formed in 2007 to allow the IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights community to serve in the social and development activities of the fund.

3. Indianapolis 500 drivers take on troops in Pro vs. GI Joe event: Indianapolis 500 competitors Townsend Bell, Simona De Silvestro, Raphael Matos and Davey Hamilton will compete against members of the Indiana National Guard and select members of our U.S. Armed Forces in Iraq in a unique competition at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 26.

Select service members at USO Center in Baghdad will put their gaming skills to the test as they go head-to-head with the driversin a friendly online videogame battle of Activision’s GUITAR HERO 5® through an event set up by Pro vs. GI Joe.

Troops from the Indianapolis National Guard will also be on-hand to play the pros in-person. The troops will not only have the chance to meet and play against the drivers, but will also have the chance to challenge their fellow soldiers in Iraq.

Pro vs. GI Joe, a non-profit group based in Fairfax, Va., sets up real-time video game competitions between professional athletes, musicians, celebrities, high-ranking military officials & politicians in the states and troops stationed overseas via the Internet using PlayStation, Xbox Live and /or the Nintendo Wii as a way to give back to the military men and women in a truly unique, fun, and interactive way


The 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series season continues May 30 with the 2010 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at noon (ET) by ABC. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 211. The race also will be carried on www.indycar.com. The 2010 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with the Firestone Freedom 100 on May 28 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway The race will air live on VERSUS.