IPS: IRL: Plenty of contenders for victory at Pikes Peak

Four former winners set to compete at Pikes Peak FOUNTAIN, Colo., Friday, June 6, 2003 -- The annual IRL IndyCarTM Series race at Pikes Peak International Raceway has a reputation for producing gold-standard winners. After all, the victor of...

Four former winners set to compete at Pikes Peak

FOUNTAIN, Colo., Friday, June 6, 2003 -- The annual IRL IndyCarTM Series race at Pikes Peak International Raceway has a reputation for producing gold-standard winners.

After all, the victor of each of the seven previous races at PPIR also has won either an IRL IndyCar Series championship, an Indianapolis 500 or both.

Expect that trend to continue with the Honda Indy 225 on June 15, as the field is stacked with talent. The race starts at 2 p.m. (MDT) on the scenic 1-mile oval, with live broadcasts on ABC and the IMS Radio Network.

Four former winners that account for five of the seven victories at PPIR are expected to compete in the Honda Indy 225, while 2000 winner Eddie Cheever Jr. will not drive, but competes as owner of Red Bull Cheever Racing.

Defending champion Gil de Ferran, driver of the No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone, comes in with plenty of momentum after winning the 87th Indianapolis 500 on May 25. De Ferran led 217 of the 225 laps in last year's event to earn his first IndyCar Series win, while his teammate, two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves, finished second in last year's event and drives the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone.

The only driver with two wins at Pikes Peak is 1999 IndyCar Series champion Greg Ray, driver of the No. 13 TrimSpa Racing Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone. In 1999, when the IndyCar Series conducted two races at PPIR, Ray won both. He also has scored top-10 finishes at Twin Ring Motegi and the Indianapolis 500 with Access Motorsports, a new team he co-owns.

One former Pikes Peak winner, 1999 Indianapolis 500 winner Kenny Brack, is making his return to PPIR for the first time since 1999 after competing in CART full-time from 2000-2002. Brack, driver of the No. 15 Pioneer/Miller Lite Dallara/Honda/Firestone, won at PPIR in 1998 en route to capturing the 1998 IndyCar Series championship.

Buddy Lazier, driver of the No. 91 Delta Faucet/Life Fitness Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, won at PPIR in 2001 and is the 1996 Indianapolis 500 champion and 2000 IRL IndyCar Series champion. Lazier also lives in nearby Vail, Colo.

1998 Indianapolis 500 winner Cheever triumphed in 2000 at PPIR, and while he has semi-retired from driving and will not compete as a driver, he will watch Buddy Rice attempt to score Red Bull Cheever Racing's first victory of the season in the No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone.

Tony Kanaan, who led the points after the Indianapolis 500, will make his first start at PPIR driving the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone as will his rookie teammate Dan Wheldon, driver of the No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone. Both drivers race for Andretti-Green Racing, co-owned by Indianapolis 500 veteran Michael Andretti.

Bryan Herta will drive the third car for Andretti Green Racing, the No. 27 Archipelago/Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone. Regular team driver Dario Franchitti suffered a back injury in a motorcycle accident in April.

Two-time defending IndyCar Series champion Sam Hornish Jr. is also expected to participate at PPIR. Hornish, driver of the No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, finished second at PPIR in 2001 and third in 2002.

Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr., driver of the No. 31 Corteco Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, has never won at Pikes Peak International Raceway, but the family practically renamed Pikes Peak, "Unser's Mountain." Unser won the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in 1983 while his uncle, three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Unser, holds the record for most victories with 13. Bobby Unser also shares a record for most consecutive victories in one division with six.

Al Unser Jr.'s father, four-time Indy 500 winner Al Unser, has two victories at Pikes Peak. Al Unser now is a driver coach for the Indy Racing League. Twelve members of the Unser family have raced in the hill climb with seven family members scoring a total of 37 victories.

Unser's Kelley Racing teammate, Scott Sharp, also is expected to driver at PPIR in the No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Toyota/Firestone. He started on the MBNA Pole for the inaugural IndyCar Series event at PPIR in 1997 and finished third in 2000 and fifth in 2002.

Scott Dixon, who won the season-opening Toyota Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, is expected to compete at PPIR driving the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone along with his teammate, Tomas Scheckter, driver of the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone. Scheckter finished 16th in his first start at PPIR in 2003, and Dixon will make his first Pikes Peak start.

Sarah Fisher, the only woman in the IndyCar Series, is expected to participate in the Honda Indy 225, driving the No. 23 GMAC/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone along with her teammate and co-owner of Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, Robbie Buhl.

Buhl, driver of the No. 24 Purex/Aventis/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, finished second at Pikes Peak in 1998 and third in 2001.

Team Menard has won two races and four MBNA Poles at PPIR and hopes to add to its strong record with Vitor Meira, driver of the No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone.

Felipe Giaffone, driver of the No. 21 Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone, has enjoyed two strong runs at PPIR, finishing seventh in 2001 and fourth in 2002. His teammate, Tora Takagi, driver of the No. 12 Pioneer Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone, will make his first Pikes Peak start.

Rookie A.J. Foyt IV, driver of the No. 14 Conseco/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, is expected to compete at Pikes Peak for the first time. Foyt is the grandson of four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt.

Another rookie, Roger Yasukawa, driver of the No. 55 Panasonic ARTA Dallara/Honda/Firestone, is expected to drive in the Honda Indy 225.

The IRL Infiniti Pro Series returns to action at 2:30 p.m. (MDT) June 14 with the Pikes Peak 100 at PPIR. Ed Carpenter, driver of the No. 14 Futaba/Delphi/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, comes in with plenty of momentum after winning the inaugural Freedom 100 on May 18 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Carpenter dominated the event, leading 39 of the 40 laps en route to winning the first automobile race ever conducted in conjunction with the Indianapolis 500 in the month of May.

Infiniti Pro Series rookie Mark Taylor, driver of the No. 4 Panther Fulmar Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, leads the points standings, 139-91, over fellow rookie Thiago Medeiros, driver of the No. 36 Genoa Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone.

Short-track veteran Brandon Erwin and F2000 veteran Jonathan Urlin are tied for third at 86. Erwin drives the No. 99 Natural Golf/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, while Urlin drives the No. 3 Budget Rent A Car Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone.

Taylor won the first two events of the season, at Homestead-Miami Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway, and finished third at Indianapolis. Medeiros finished second in the first two events of the season and won the pole at Miami.

Matt Beardsley, driver of the No. 12 Alpine Bank/Old Republic Land Title Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, is expected to compete in the Pikes Peak 100. Beardsley is a native of nearby Breckenridge, Colo., and finished fourth at Indianapolis.

Arie Luyendyk Jr., driver of the No. 5 Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone and son of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk, is also expected to race in the Pikes Peak 100.

HONDA INDY 225/PIKES PEAK 100 NOTEBOOK

Schedule: The Honda Indy 225 starts at 2 p.m. (MDT) Sunday, June 15. MBNA Pole Qualifying starts at 3:45 p.m. Saturday, June 14. IndyCar Series practice sessions start at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. June 14 and 9:30 a.m. June 15.

The Pikes Peak 100 Infiniti Pro Series race starts at 2:30 p.m. (MDT) Saturday, June 14. Pole qualifying starts at 4 p.m. Friday, June 13. Infiniti Pro Series practice session begin at 12:15 p.m. and 1:45 p.m. June 13 and 10 a.m. June 14.

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On the air: The Honda Indy 225 will be broadcast live on ABC at 4 p.m. (EDT) June 15.

The IMS Radio Network will broadcast a pre-race show at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) June 15 and follow with the live race broadcast at 4 p.m. The local radio affiliates are KWYD-AM 1060, Fountain, Colo. and KKFN-AM 950, Denver. Live coverage of MBNA Pole Qualifying (5:45 p.m. EDT, June 14) and the live race broadcast also will be available at www.indyracing.com.

The Pikes Peak 100 will be broadcast at 12:30 p.m. (EDT) June 28 on ESPN2.

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Tickets: Tickets for the Honda Indy 225 and Pikes Peak 100 are available by calling (888) 306-7223 or logging on to www.ppir.com.

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Mark Taylor , Sarah Fisher , Greg Ray , Felipe Giaffone , Al Unser Jr. , Robbie Buhl , Buddy Lazier , Scott Sharp , Arie Luyendyk , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , A.J. Foyt IV , Brandon Erwin , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Tora Takagi , Bryan Herta , Kenny Brack , Dan Wheldon , Sam Schmidt , Bobby Unser , Roger Yasukawa , Buddy Rice , Matt Beardsley , Jonathan Urlin , Chip Ganassi , A.J. Foyt , Jim Beam , Sam Hornish Jr. , Ed Carpenter , Al Unser , Mo Nunn , Thiago Medeiros , Vitor Meira , Arie Luyendyk Jr.
Teams Panther Racing , Chip Ganassi Racing , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing