IRL: Nazareth: Fast facts

Firestone Indy 225 Fast Fatcs WHAT: Firestone Indy 225; fourth race in 15-race 2002 Indy Racing League season WHERE: Nazareth Speedway, 1-mile paved oval WHEN: 1 p.m. (EDT) Sunday, April 21 DISTANCE: 225 miles/225 laps POSTED AWARDS:...

Firestone Indy 225 Fast Fatcs

WHAT: Firestone Indy 225; fourth race in 15-race 2002 Indy Racing League season

WHERE: Nazareth Speedway, 1-mile paved oval

WHEN: 1 p.m. (EDT) Sunday, April 21

DISTANCE: 225 miles/225 laps

POSTED AWARDS: More than $1 million

CARS: Dallara and G Force chassis; Chevy Indy V8 and Infiniti Indy V8 3.5-liter engines; Firestone tires

2001 RACE WINNER: This is the inaugural Indy Racing event at Nazareth Speedway

2001 INDY RACING LEAGUE CHAMPION: Sam Hornish Jr.

2002 POINTS LEADER: Sam Hornish Jr.

TV:
(Pre-Race)
"Indy Racing 2Day"
ESPN2 (live), noon (EDT), April 21

(Race)
ABC (live), 1 p.m. (EDT), April 21
Host: Bob Jenkins
Announcers: Paul Page, Scott Goodyear
Pit reporters: Jack Arute, Gary Gerould

RADIO:
(MBNA Pole Qualifying)
IMS Radio Network, 4:30 p.m. (EDT), April 20

(Race)
IMS Radio Network (live), 1 p.m. (EDT), April 21
Pre-race show starts at 12:30 p.m. (EDT)
Host: Mike King; Analyst: Johnny Parsons Jr.
Turn reporter: Mark Jaynes; Pit reporters: Kim Morris, Jim Murphy
Area affiliate: WEEX-AM 1230, Easton, Pa.

SCHEDULE (all times local):

(Friday, April 19)
8 a.m.: Indy Racing League garage opens
11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: Practice (Two groups)
2:30 p.m.-4 p.m.: Practice (Two groups)

(Saturday, April 20)
7 a.m.: Indy Racing League garage opens
9-10 a.m.: Practice (Two groups)
11:30 a.m.: MBNA Pole Qualifying
4:30-5 p.m.: Final practice (All cars)
5:30 p.m. Autograph session (Garage area)

(Sunday, April 21)
7 a.m.: Indy Racing League garage opens
Noon: Cars to grid
1 p.m.: Firestone Indy 225 (225 miles/225 laps)

THE TRACK:

1-mile paved oval
Front straightaway: 800 feet
Back straightaway: 1,200 feet
Width: 50-60 feet
Banking: Frontstraight: 3 degrees; Backstraight: 2.7 degrees; Turns: 3-6 degrees
Elevation change: 34 feet

Nazareth Speedway opened in 1966 as a 1 1/8th-mile, D-shaped oval. The facility was rebuilt into a 1-mile asphalt oval in 1986 when Roger Penske bought the facility, and Michael Andretti won the first Indy-style event at "Pennsylvania International Raceway" in 1987. In 1993, the name was changed to Nazareth Speedway, and in 1997 the track underwent more major changes. State-of-the-art high-rise grandstands, creating 10,000 additional prime seats and a new "skyline" for Nazareth, replaced the grandstands on the frontstretch. The bleachers were removed, the retaining wall of the frontstretch was replaced, and in 1998 the remaining wall along the backstretch was replaced. During winter 1998 and spring 1999, the media center and infield medical center were doubled in size. In 1999, Nazareth Speedway and Penske Motorsports merged with International Speedway Corporation, making the track part of the world's largest motorsports entertainment company.

THE RACE:

The Firestone Indy 225 marks the first time that the Indy Racing League has visited Nazareth Speedway. It also marks the first Indy Racing League event in the state of Pennsylvania.

Several Indianapolis 500 winners are Pennsylvania natives. 1911 winner Ray Harroun hailed from Spartanburg, while 1929 winner Ray Keech was born in Coatesville. Philadelphia, located southeast of Nazareth, has produced three "500" winners: Peter DePaolo (1925), Kelly Petillo (1935) and Bill Holland (1949). 1969 winner Mario Andretti now resides in Nazareth.

RACE NOTES:

Four Indianapolis 500 champions are entered for this event: Al Unser Jr. (1992, 1994), Buddy Lazier (1996), Eddie Cheever Jr. (1998) and Helio Castroneves (2001).

Marlboro Team Penske will make its first appearance at Nazareth Speedway as full-time competitors in the Indy Racing League. The team competed at Nazareth from 1987-2001 in the CART series. The team won races in 1988, '90, '94, '95, '97 and 2000. The 2000 victory was the 100th victory for the team.

Indy Racing rookie Anthony Lazzaro is no stranger to Nazareth Speedway having won a Toyota Atlantics event there in 1999. Alex Barron won in Atlantics at Nazareth in 1997.

Four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser is the grand marshal of the Firestone Indy 225. Unser, now a driving coach and consultant for the Indy Racing League, earned his first Indy-style victory Sept. 29, 1968, at the track.

SERIES NOTES:

The Indy Racing League consists of a record 15 races this year between early-March and mid-September. In addition to Nazareth Speedway, two new speedways are playing host to Indy Racing events in 2002: California Speedway on March 24 (won by Sam Hornish Jr.) and Michigan International Speedway on July 28.

Through three races this season, Sam Hornish Jr. and Pennzoil Panther Racing have continued one of the most incredible streaks of consistency in motorsports history. From a personal standpoint, Hornish has now completed all but seven of the 3,250 laps he has driven in his 16-race tenure with Panther Racing, and he has won five of those races and finished all of them. From a team standpoint, Pennzoil Panther Racing, with Hornish and former driver Scott Goodyear, have been running at the finish in 22 consecutive races and have failed to finish only once since the start of the 2000 season, in April 2000 at Las Vegas. Since the start of the 2000 season, Panther Racing has completed 99.3 percent of laps run, or 5,040 laps of a possible 5,074.

Sam Hornish Jr.'s victory March 24 at California was the fifth of his Indy Racing League career. Hornish reached five career Indy Racing victories faster than any driver in league history. It took Hornish 24 starts to achieve the feat. Scott Sharp previously was the fastest to five wins, doing so in 34 starts.

The last time a defending series champion opened the season with a win before Hornish triumphed March 2 at Homestead-Miami was January 1998, when 1996-97 champion Tony Stewart won from the pole at Walt Disney World Speedway.

Sam Hornish Jr.'s margin of victory of .0281 of a second over Jaques Lazier on March 24 at California Speedway was the second-closest finish in Indy Racing history. The closest finish in league history was Hornish over Scott Sharp by .0188 of a second in October 2001 at Texas Motor Speedway.

The average speed of the race at California was 179.345 mph, an Indy Racing League record. The previous fastest average speed was 175.276 in October 2000 at Texas Motor Speedway, ironically in the No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara by Scott Goodyear. Sam Hornish Jr. now drives the No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara.

Helio Castroneves earned his second career Indy Racing League win on March 17 at Phoenix International Raceway. His first came at the 2001 Indianapolis 500. Castroneves earned two victories in his first four IRL starts, a league record. Arie Luyendyk earned his second victory in his eighth start.

Sam Hornish Jr. has now has led 1,109 laps during his Indy Racing League career, moving past Buddy Lazier into third place on the all-time IRL list. Tony Stewart is first with 1,515, and Greg Ray is second with 1,149.

At California, Jeff Ward led the first lap from the sixth starting spot, the deepest in the field that any driver has come to lead the first lap of an Indy Racing League event. Buddy Lazier came from fourth to lead the first lap at Richmond International Raceway in June 2001, the previous record.

There were 10 cars on the lead lap at the finish in California, tying a league record set in 2000 at Walt Disney World Speedway and in 2001 at Kansas Speedway.

Sam Hornish Jr. has led nine consecutive Indy Racing events, one away from Tony Stewart's record of 10.

The 39 lead changes that took place at California Speedway are a league record. The previous record for lead changes in a race was 32 in October 2001 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Sam Hornish Jr. extended his Indy Racing League record of consecutive races running at the finish with his victory at California. He has been running at the finish in 16 consecutive races.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Stewart , Greg Ray , Eddie Cheever , Al Unser Jr. , Buddy Lazier , Jeff Ward , Scott Sharp , Arie Luyendyk , Scott Goodyear , Helio Castroneves , Michael Andretti , Alex Barron , Anthony Lazzaro , Mario Andretti , Johnny Parsons , Roger Penske , Sam Hornish Jr. , Al Unser
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske