IRL: Indy Racing Series notebook 2000-07-21

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, July 21, 2000 - Points leader Buddy Lazier is in the proverbial driver’s seat to capture his first Indy Racing Northern Light Series championship, if recent history is any indication. Lazier, from Vail, Colo., regained...

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, July 21, 2000 - Points leader Buddy Lazier is in the proverbial driver’s seat to capture his first Indy Racing Northern Light Series championship, if recent history is any indication.

Lazier, from Vail, Colo., regained the lead in the Northern Light Cup standings with 208 points after his runner-up finish July 15 in the Midas 500 Classic at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Eddie Cheever Jr., who entered the Atlanta race with the lead, fell to second, 23 points behind at 185, after finishing 21st due to mechanical problems in his #51 Excite@Home Indy Race Car Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone.

Recent history shows that Lazier will be tough to catch in his Delta Faucet/Coors Light/Tae-Bo/Hemelgarn Racing Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone. The points leader with two races remaining each of the last two seasons has held on to win the series championship.

Greg Ray led Scott Goodyear by 44 points with two races to go last year before winning the title by 37 points over Kenny Brack. In 1998, Brack led Davey Hamilton by 23 points with two to go before eventually beating him to the crown by 40 points.

But there is one catch for Lazier. The pack of drivers chasing him is closer than in each of the last two years.

Just 56 points separate leader Lazier and 10th-place Robby McGehee entering The Belterra Resort Indy 300 on Aug. 27 at Kentucky Speedway, the penultimate race of the season. The top 10 were separated by 70 points with two races to go last year. In 1998, 102 points separated first through 10th with two races remaining.

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Fisher takes to two wheels: Indy Racing Northern Light Series rookie standout Sarah Fisher will lead more than 500 cyclists around the historic 2½-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval in the 26th annual Smoothest Bike Ride to Fight Diabetes on July 22.

The parade lap starts at 8:30 a.m. (EST), and Fisher will ride her bicycle at the head of the pack to start the ride.

“This is a great opportunity to support a valuable cause like diabetes research,” Fisher said. “This event also gives me the chance to ride my bicycle around the Speedway -- something I have wanted to do since I first came here in April.”

To register for the event, call (317) 352-9226. There is a minimum pledge of $35 to participate. Also included in the day’s festivities are free massages, snacks and beverages at the “pit stops” and drawings for door prizes.

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Kentucky gearing up for inaugural: The excitement and media interest surrounding the Indy Racing Northern Light Series debut at Kentucky Speedway on Aug. 27 continues to grow.

A private test featuring Indy Racing Northern Light Series teams Kelley Racing, Pennzoil Panther Racing, Treadway Racing and Team Menard attracted on-site coverage by media from three Kentucky cities, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Bloomington, Ind.

Covering the event were four Cincinnati television stations, the Cincinnati Enquirer, a Louisville, Ky., television station, an Indianapolis TV station, and newspapers from Bloomington, Ind., Lexington, Ky., and Carrollton, Ky.

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Kite breaks track record: Indy Racing veteran Jimmy Kite recently edged fellow Indianapolis 500 starter Richie Hearn and former AMA motorcycle road racer Mike Hale to turn the fastest lap ever by a NASCAR Featherlite Modified car at Lanier Speedway in Braselton, Ga.

Kite turned a top lap of 12.96 seconds on the 3/8-mile paved oval in the modified, an open-wheel car powered by a stock-block engine. Hearn was second quickest at 13.02. Hale, driving in a modified for the first time, was third at 13.40.

The previous best by a Featherlite Modified was 13.64 seconds. A winged sprint car turned the fastest lap ever at Lanier, 11.80 seconds. Mike Loescher of the FinishLine Racing School directed the record attempt by Kite, Hearn and Hale, each a FinishLine Racing School graduate.

“I’m glad that Mike (Loescher) called me to do this,” Kite said. “It is always fun to go out and get to go fast. You just put together the fastest lap you can but without the pressure of qualifying our Big Daddy’s/ Blueprint G Force.

“Richie has so much experience and is always fast, so I knew he’d be tough to beat. Mike is such a legend in motorcycles, I knew he’d be fast too. To beat these two guys in the same car, in the same conditions, is really pretty cool.”

Kite, from Stockbridge, Ga., previously raced at Lanier in a USAC Midget and a winged sprint car. He now drives the Big Daddy’s BBQ/Blueprint Racing G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone in the Northern Light Series.

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Hot laps: Rick Treadway, son of Treadway Racing owner Fred Treadway, won the Indianapolis Speedrome USAC Midget Car Series feature July 19 … An Indy Racing Northern Light Series show car will be on display during the Dayton (Ohio) Air Show from July 21-23, one of the largest air shows in the United States. The car appearance is part of the regional promotion for The Belterra Resort Indy 300 on Aug. 27 at Kentucky Speedway.

-IRNLS/IMS-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Robby McGehee , Sarah Fisher , Greg Ray , Eddie Cheever , Buddy Lazier , Davey Hamilton , Scott Goodyear , Jimmy Kite , Kenny Brack , Richie Hearn , Rick Treadway
Teams Panther Racing