INDYCAR SERIES DRIVERS, TEAMS PREPARE FOR CHICAGOLAND INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2005 -- The IRL IndyCarÂ® Series continues its 10th season of competition with the PEAK Antifreeze Indy 300 Presented by Mr. Clean at Chicagoland Speedway in...
INDYCAR SERIES DRIVERS, TEAMS PREPARE FOR CHICAGOLAND
INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2005 -- The IRL IndyCar® Series continues its 10th season of competition with the PEAK Antifreeze Indy 300 Presented by Mr. Clean at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., on Sept. 11.
The 1.5-mile oval is ideally suited for IndyCar Series machines and often produces the close, wheel-to-wheel racing that has become a signature of the series. It's that close racing will challenge IndyCar Series drivers and their cars. In the following first-person narratives, A.J. Foyt Racing driver A.J. Foyt and Rahal Letterman Racing race engineer Jeff Britton discuss what's needed for a successful race at the facility.
A.J. Foyt IV, driver of the No. 14 ABC Supply Co. Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, will be making his third appearance at Chicagoland Speedway. Last year, Foyt, the grandson of four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt, qualified a career-best sixth and ran among the leaders until he was eliminated in an accident late in the event. Foyt also won the pole for the inaugural Menards Infiniti Pro Series event at Chicagoland Speedway in 2002.
"Chicagoland Speedway is a really fun track, and I like going to the facility. Joliet, Ill., is a cool place. We usually stay in and around the casinos, so it's fun weekend on and off the track. The track is one of those places that you are always in a big pack. I think it's one of those tracks where you find the draft and hang in there. Last year, our car was working really good. I could go anywhere I wanted to. Hopefully, we can go back there this year with the same game plan.
"To be able to win there, you have to be patient and not drive too hard, so that you are there in the last 30 laps. It's really easy to go from the front of the pack to the rear if you push too hard, but you can get back to the front from the rear just as easy.
"Still, you want to be near the front of the pack because late in the race, it's hard to pass. You really have to position yourself in front because it's just really hard to pass guys when they are running two-by-two."
"This weekend, I'd like to qualify good at Chicago, but because of the big pack and the drafting, it's not too important. For the race, you have to get your car working good in the draft then you'll have a good fun day. If it's not handling right, it can be a miserable day."
Jeff Britton is in his first season at Rahal Letterman Racing as race engineer for Vitor Meira after spending the last nine seasons as an engineer with several IndyCar Series teams.
Britton, who began his career as a data acquisition engineer with Team Menard, has worked with Treadway Racing, Kelley Racing, Access Morosports and Mo Nunn Racing as a race engineer.
"Even though we tested at Chicago last week, setting the car up for this weekend's race is a bigger challenge than in the past. That is because of the change in the aero package rules for this season. Last year, Chicagoland was run with the same aero package as Kansas and Kentucky. This year the Michigan and Fontana package is being used. Thankfully, we had the Honda test last week, which certainly helped us work through some of the big picture items, but we just don't have the same grasp for the setup going into the race this year as what we did in 2004. The biggest challenge for any team heading into Chicago is to stabilize the car in traffic. It has been no secret that the Panoz chassis has had its issues when running in traffic, so it is a major concern for us in setting the car up for Vitor, especially with this particular aero package. You have to have a car that is stable with three- or four-wide racing and in a large group to be successful at Chicagoland. Everyone always talks about the pack racing at Texas, but this track is actually one of the raciest tracks in the series."
WHERE THE RUBBER MEETS THE ROAD:
Firestone's race tire development team considers the configuration of each track as it chooses the tire compound to be used at each track.
According to Firestone engineers, Chicagoland Speedway's high-banks requires the highest heat-resistant compounds and most durable construction. The tires used this weekend are similar in characteristics to the tires used at the other 1.5-mile tracks on the schedule.
PEAK Antifreeze Indy 300 Presented by Mr. Clean, 15th race in 17-race 2005 season
Chicagoland Speedway, 1.5-mile D-shaped tri-oval
1:30 p.m. (EDT), Sunday, Sept. 11
200 laps/300 miles
PAST RACE WINNERS:
2004 -- Adrian Fernandez; 2003 -- Sam Hornish Jr.; 2002 -- Sam Hornish Jr.; 2001: Jaques Lazier.
ABC (live), 1:30 p.m. (EDT), Sept. 11.
Qualifying webcast: 5:15 p.m. (EDT) Sept. 10, www.indycar.com. Wrap-up show: 6:30 p.m. (EDT), Sept. 10, IMS Radio Network.
Race: IMS Radio Network, 1 p.m. (EDT), Sept. 11.
*** The 10th season of IndyCar Series competition continues with the PEAK Antifreeze Indy 300 Presented by Mr. Clean at 1:30 p.m. (EDT) on Sept. 11 at Chicagoland Speedway. The race will be broadcast by ABC Sports and the IMS Radio Network. The race broadcast also will be carried on XM Satellite Radio channel 152 (XM Extreme). The next Menards Infiniti Pro Series race is the Chicagoland 100 on Sept. 11 at Chicagoland Speedway. It will be telecast at 3 p.m. (EDT) on Sept. 15 by ESPN2.