IRL: Pikes Peak: Pre-race notes

THE RACE: -- The Radisson Indy 225 marks the seventh time the Indy Racing League has visited Pikes Peak International Raceway. Past winners are Tony Stewart (1997), Kenny Brack (1998), Greg Ray (1999, June and August), Eddie Cheever Jr. (2000)...

THE RACE:

-- The Radisson Indy 225 marks the seventh time the Indy Racing League has visited Pikes Peak International Raceway. Past winners are Tony Stewart (1997), Kenny Brack (1998), Greg Ray (1999, June and August), Eddie Cheever Jr. (2000) and Buddy Lazier (2001).

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, 2002).

-- Marlboro Team Penske will make its first appearance at Pikes Peak International Raceway as full-time competitors in the Indy Racing League. Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves and Gil de Ferran drive for the team, owned by the legendary Roger Penske.

-- In 1997, 1998 and 1999, the winner at Pikes Peak went on to win the Indy Racing League championship that season.

-- Colorado connections: Buddy Lazier, 2001 Indy Racing League champion, 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner and defending race winner, hails from Vail. Buzz Calkins, from Denver, owns Bradley Motorsports, which fields a car for Shigeaki Hattori. 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner and 2000 event champion Eddie Cheever Jr. formerly lived in Aspen.

-- Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. and his family are no strangers to Pikes Peak. Unser won the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in 1983 while his uncle, Bobby Unser, a three-time Indianapolis 500 winner, 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, Al Unser, a four-time Indianapolis 500 winner, has two victories at Pikes Peak. Twelve members of the Unser family have raced in the hill climb with seven family members scoring a total of 37 victories.

-- This year's event has been extended 25 laps to 225 laps/225 miles.

SERIES NOTES:

-- The Indy Racing League consists of a record 15 races this year between early-March and mid-September, including three new venues. California Speedway (won by Sam Hornish Jr.) and Nazareth Speedway (won by Scott Sharp) already have played host to Indy Racing for the first time, while Michigan International Speedway will showcase the series for the first time July 28.

-- 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.

-- 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.

-- Sam Hornish Jr. 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.

-- The average speed of the Yamaha Indy 400 in March 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 third career Indy Racing League win May 26 at the 86th Indianapolis 500. His first came at the 2001 Indianapolis 500, with his second coming March 17 at Phoenix International Raceway. Castroneves earned three victories in his first seven IRL starts, a league record. Arie Luyendyk earned his third victory in his ninth start.

-- 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 a record 11 cars on the lead lap at the finish of both the Firestone Indy 225 at Nazareth and the 86th Indianapolis 500.

-- Sam Hornish Jr. did not lead a lap in the 86th Indianapolis 500, the first time he has not led a lap in Indy Racing League competition since the SunTrust Indy Challenge in June 2001 at Richmond International Raceway. He and Tony Stewart are tied for the most consecutive Indy Racing League events led, at 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 to 18 at the 86th Indianapolis 500 on May 26. He completed only 179 of the 225 laps at the Firestone Indy 225 at Nazareth Speedway in April due to a mid-race accident with Buddy Lazier that put him 46 laps down. But Hornish did finish the race. He also only completed 186 of 200 laps at Indianapolis but was running at the finish.

-- Scott Sharp's victory in the Firestone Indy 225 on April 21 at Nazareth Speedway was the seventh of his career, moving him into second place on the all-time IRL win list behind Buddy Lazier, who has eight.

-- Scott Sharp has won at least one race in six consecutive Indy Racing seasons, a league record.

-- Marlboro Team Penske drivers Helio Castroneves and Gil de Ferran are the only drivers to have led in all five Indy Racing League events this season.

-- Helio Castroneves is the only driver to have finished in the top five in every Indy Racing League event so far this season.

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Series IndyCar
Teams Team Penske