IRL: Nashville: Round nine preview, schedule

FAST FACTS WHAT: IndyCar® Series: Firestone Indy 200, ninth race in 14-race 2006 season; third and final night race of the season. WHERE: Nashville Superspeedway, 1.33-mile concrete oval WHEN: IndyCar Series: 9 p.m. (EDT), Saturday, July ...

FAST FACTS

WHAT:
IndyCar® Series: Firestone Indy 200, ninth race in 14-race 2006 season; third and final night race of the season.

WHERE:
Nashville Superspeedway, 1.33-mile concrete oval

WHEN:
IndyCar Series: 9 p.m. (EDT), Saturday, July 15

DISTANCE:
IndyCar Series: 200 laps/266 miles

POSTED AWARDS:
IndyCar Series: More than $1 million

CARS:
IndyCar Series: Dallara and Panoz chassis; Honda Indy V-8; Firestone tires

PREVIOUS RACE WINNERS:
IndyCar Series: Dario Franchitti (2005), Tony Kanaan (2004), Gil de Ferran (2003), Alex Barron (2002), Buddy Lazier (2001).

2005 SERIES CHAMPIONS:
IndyCar Series: Dan Wheldon

TV:
IndyCar Series: Race: ESPN (live), 9 p.m. (EDT), July 15

RADIO:
IndyCar Series: Qualifying: IMS Radio Network, live web-cast 4:45 p.m. (EDT) July 14
Pre-race: IMS Radio Network (live), 8:30 p.m. (EDT), July 15
Race: IMS Radio Network (live), 3:45 p.m. (EST), July 15
Area affiliates: WHIN-AM 1010, Gallatin, Tenn.

Live coverage of Marlboro Pole Qualifying (4:45 p.m. EDT, July 14) and the race also will be available at www.indycar.com. The race broadcast is also available on XM Satellite Radio channel 152 "Extreme XM."

SCHEDULE (all times local; subject to change):

Friday, July 14
10:15-11:45 a.m. IndyCar Series practice (two groups)
1-2:30 p.m. IndyCar Series practice (two groups)
4 p.m. IndyCar Series MBNA Pole Qualifying
6:15 p.m. Autograph session
8 p.m. Final IndyCar Series practice

Saturday, July 19
5:30 p.m. Carolina Rain pre-race concert
7:15 p.m. Grid IndyCar Series cars
8 p.m. Firestone Indy 200 (200 laps/266 miles) ESPN & IMS Radio Network (live)

THE TRACK:
1.33-mile concrete oval
Frontstretch: 2,494 feet banked at 9 degrees
Backstretch: 2,203 feet banked at 6 degrees
Turns: 1,220 feet banked at 14 degrees
Width: 55 feet (minimum)
    *Ground was broken on Nashville Superspeedway in August 1999, and the facility includes 3,000 acres of which 1,200 have been developed. The track, owned by Dover Downs Entertainment, Inc., is one of three concrete ovals in the United States, the others being Dover Downs and Bristol Motor Speedway. The facility has 50,000 seats (25,000 permanent, 25,000 temporary) and 24 luxury suites. Ken Schrader won an ARCA event on April 13, 2001, the first race at the new facility.

INDY-STYLE RACING IN NASHVILLE:

Middle Tennessee has hosted top-level auto racing since 1958, but open-wheel racing only has taken place there since July 2001.

NASCAR stock car races were held at Nashville Speedway USA from 1958-1984. The track's weekly racing series helped launch the careers of Darrell Waltrip, Sterling Marlin and Bobby Hamilton.

In 2001, racing moved 30 miles east of Nashville to Nashville Superspeedway, which played host to its first IRL IndyCar Series event that July. Since then, five drivers have claimed the hand-painted Gibson guitar given to the race winner.

The 1.33-mile tri-oval is the only concrete track on the IndyCar Series schedule. The pavement, which consists of 7,500 cubic yards of concrete, was placed full-width for the entire length of the track by a concrete paving machine that was specially constructed for the project.

INDYCAR SERIES NOTES:

* Five Indianapolis 500 champions are expected to participate in the Firestone Indy 200: Eddie Cheever Jr. (1998), Helio Castroneves (2001, 2002), Buddy Rice (2004), Dan Wheldon (2005) and Sam Hornish Jr. (2006).

* Five IRL IndyCar Series champions are scheduled to participate in the Firestone Indy 200: Scott Sharp (1996 co-champion), Sam Hornish Jr. (2001, 2002), Scott Dixon (2003), Tony Kanaan (2004) and Dan Wheldon (2005).

* Drivers entered in the Firestone Indy 200 have combined for 70 IndyCar Series victories, 66 IndyCar Series pole positions and 872 IndyCar Series starts.

* The Firestone Indy 200 is the only event in the series that takes place on a track with a concrete surface and the only track with a 1.33-mile distance. The event is the third and final night race of the season. Other events in 2006 that have taken place at night include the June 10 event at Texas Motor Speedway won by Helio Castroneves and the June 24 event at Richmond International Raceway won by Sam Hornish Jr.

* The Firestone Indy 200 will be the 129th IRL IndyCar Series event since the series' inaugural race in 1996. In the 128 previous events, 25,575 laps of competition have been completed.

* In eight races thus far in 2006, there have been four winners. Sam Hornish Jr. and Helio Castroneves are the only multiple winners, having won at Indianapolis, Richmond and Kansas and St. Petersburg, Motegi and Texas, respectively. Other winners in 2006: Dan Wheldon at Homestead-Miami and Scott Dixon at Watkins Glen. In those eight races, 14 drivers have finished in the top five in at least one event.

MILESTONES:

* Sam Hornish Jr. earned his 17th IndyCar Series victory at Kansas, extending his IndyCar Series-record for all-time victories.

* Sam Hornish Jr. won back-to-back events (Richmond and Kansas) for the third time in his IndyCar Series career. Hornish, who last won back-to-back events in 2003, will attempt to match Kenny Brack (1998) and Dan Wheldon (2005) as the only drivers to win three-straight races.

* Sam Hornish Jr. became the first IndyCar Series driver to surpass $11 million in career earnings with his victory at Indianapolis earlier this season. He needs $346,445 in earnings to surpass $12 million in his IndyCar Series career.

* Marlboro Team Penske won its 21st race in the IndyCar Series, tying Andretti Green Racing for most victories by a team.

* Marlboro Team Penske can break its tie with Team Menard for most pole positions by a team if either Sam Hornish Jr. or Helio Castroneves win the Marlboro Pole Award at Nashville. Castroneves can break a tie with Greg Ray for most poles in a career (13) if he wins the pole at Nashville.

* Scott Sharp needs one win to earn his 10th IndyCar Series victory and to tie Helio Castroneves and Dan Wheldon for second place on the IndyCar Series all-time wins list. Sharp will attempt to extend his series record for consecutive starts to 115 straight races.

* Marco Andretti would be the youngest winner of a major open-wheel event should he win at Nashville. Scott Dixon was 20 years, 9 months and 14 days when he won a Champ Car event at Nazareth in 2001. Sam Hornish Jr. (21 years, 259 days) was the youngest winner of an IndyCar Series event when he won at Phoenix in 2001. Andretti will be 19 years, 4 months and 2 days old on race day.

* Vitor Meira has gone 53 starts without a victory in the IndyCar Series, the longest drought of any IndyCar Series driver.

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Darrell Waltrip , Ken Schrader , Sterling Marlin , Greg Ray , Eddie Cheever , Buddy Lazier , Scott Sharp , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Kenny Brack , Alex Barron , Dan Wheldon , Buddy Rice , Marco Andretti , Sam Hornish Jr. , Vitor Meira
Teams Team Penske