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INDYCAR SERIES DRIVERS, TEAMS PREPARE FOR INFINEON INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2005 -- The IRL IndyCar® Series continues 10th season of competition with the inaugural Argent Mortgage Indy Grand Prix at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., on...

INDYCAR SERIES DRIVERS, TEAMS PREPARE FOR INFINEON

INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2005 -- The IRL IndyCar® Series continues 10th season of competition with the inaugural Argent Mortgage Indy Grand Prix at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., on Aug. 28.

The 2.26-mile, 12-turn natural terrain road course, with its elevation changes, blind corners and high-speed turns, will challenge IndyCar Series drivers and their cars. In the following first-person narratives, Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver Ryan Briscoe provides a virtual lap and Marlboro Team Penske race engineer Tom German discusses what's needed for a successful race at the scenic facility.

THE DRIVER:

Ryan Briscoe, driver of the No. 33 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz/Toyota/Firestone, joined other IndyCar Series drivers who tested at the facility in April.

"Infineon Raceway is a great track. It reminds me of Mugello, which is near Florence in Italy. Both tracks go through the hills, everything is green and it's very scenic. They both have some very high-speed turns.

"A lap starts on the flat on the start-finish straight. You get right up to fifth gear, and then you start turning left as the track goes straight up. You start braking for the blind first corner in second gear. It's really spectacular because you are braking up the hill. I don't think we'll see much passing there.

"After that corner, it's a series of S-bends that really take you up and down before you come into a blind corner at sort of a medium speed. That gets you to Turn 5, which is a heavy braking corner. You are turning right, down the hill and up to a straightaway in the middle of the circuit that leads to what they call 'The Carousel.'

"The Carousel corner is really unbelievable. It's very fast and the corner falls away the whole time. You're on the edge the whole way. It's really an amazing corner, probably the best one on the track. It may be one of the better places to pass on the circuit, because a little mistake at the exit of The Carousel and you open yourself to getting passed at Turn 7, which comes at the end of the long, flat-out straightaway at the end of The Carousel that gets you up to sixth gear.

"Turn 7 is a double right-hander at the top of the hill that puts you on a straight that's downhill and leads to another high-speed turn. You're running sixth gear, flat out and on the edge. That's spectacular and very fast. You then go down an S-bend to the chicane, which is a heavy braking zone and a place where you use the curb. It's a very quick change of direction, and I think it will be a good passing zone, too. That gets you to the final hairpin, which is the slowest turn before getting back to the start-finish straight.

"I think there are places to pass at Infineon, but it all depends on how people will set up their cars aerodynamically. Some people may choose to run different downforce levels to help them get through different parts of the circuit. There should be some variation there, and it will be interesting to see."

THE ENGINEER:

Tom German is in his eighth season with Marlboro Team Penske, and his second as the race engineer for the No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone driven by two-time IndyCar Series champion Sam Hornish Jr. Like Hornish, German, is a native of Ohio.

German has worked Gil de Ferran, Andre Ribeiro with Marlboro Team Penske and with Scott Pruett at Patrick Racing. Before becoming a race engineer, German worked with Bridgestone/Firestone as a race tire development engineer.

"It's a completely different car set-up than an oval, because you're turning left and right. The downforce becomes much more important because you don't have banking to help you through the corners.

"The things like the aero balance, the differential change dramatically. All your alignment settings -- cambers, toes -- change quite a bit. Because most of the corners are considerably slower than a Pikes Peak or Michigan, you run a lot softer springs to try to enhance the grip to improve your low-speed performance. There are a lot of blind corners and pulling uphill at reasonably high speeds, so you need good power and good gearing. You have to choose the right gear to accelerate out of the corner and up the hill before you go into the next corner.

"The testing (in April) helps tremendously because it gives the team and driver the opportunity to learn the track -- where to accelerate, where the bumps are and those things. We're anxious to race there. In practice, we're constantly working on the set-up, trying to improve the balance and grip of the car and getting the driver focused on what's important."

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, the permanent road course at Infineon Raceway requires the softest Firehawk tires designed for road course racing. The tire used this weekend is similar to the tire used on the temporary street circuit in St. Petersburg, Fla.

RACE FACTS:

WHAT:
Argent Mortgage Indy Grand Prix, 14th race in 17-race 2005 season

WHERE:
Infineon Raceway, 2.26-mile road course

WHEN:
3:30 p.m. (EDT), Sunday, Aug. 28

DISTANCE:
80 laps/181 miles

PAST RACE WINNERS:
Inaugural event

TV:
ESPN (live), 3:30 p.m. (EDT), Aug. 28.

RADIO:
Qualifying webcast: 3:15 p.m. (EDT) Aug. 27, www.indycar.com. Wrap-up show: 6:30 p.m. (EDT), Aug. 27, IMS Radio Network.

Race: IMS Radio Network, 3 p.m. (EDT), Aug. 21.

Area Affiliate: KHTK-AM 1140, Sacramento, KRSO-AM 1350, Santa Rosa or XM Satellite Radio Channel 152 (XM Extreme).

***

The 10th season of IndyCar Series competition continues with the Argent Mortgage Indy Grand Prix at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) on Aug. 28 at Infineon Raceway. The race will be broadcast by ESPN and the IMS Radio Network. The race broadcast will also be carried on XM Satellite Radio channel 152 (XM Extreme). ESPN2's telecast of the Pikes Peak 100 will be shown at 3 p.m. (EDT) on Aug. 25. The next Menards Infiniti Pro Series race is the Sonoma 100 on Aug. 28 at Infineon Raceway. It will be telecast at 3 p.m. (EDT) on Sept 1 by ESPN2.

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Gil de Ferran , Scott Pruett , Ryan Briscoe , Chip Ganassi , Andre Ribeiro , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing