IPS: IRL: Kentucky: Pre-race notes, schedule

WHAT: IndyCar Series: Belterra Casino Indy 300, 12th race in 16-race 2003 season Infiniti Pro Series: Kentucky 100, ninth race in 12-race 2003 season WHERE: Kentucky Speedway, 1.5-mile asphalt oval WHEN: IndyCar Series: 2 p.m. (EDT), Sunday,...

WHAT:
IndyCar Series: Belterra Casino Indy 300, 12th race in 16-race 2003 season
Infiniti Pro Series: Kentucky 100, ninth race in 12-race 2003 season

WHERE:
Kentucky Speedway, 1.5-mile asphalt oval

WHEN:
IndyCar Series: 2 p.m. (EDT), Sunday, Aug. 17
Infiniti Pro Series: 12:45 p.m. (EDT), Saturday, Aug. 16

DISTANCE:
IndyCar Series: 200 laps/300 miles
Infiniti Pro Series: 67 laps/100 miles

TV:

IndyCar Series:
Pre-race: ESPN2 (live), "Indy Racing 2Day,"noon (EDT), Aug. 17
Race: ABC (live), 2 p.m. (EDT), Aug. 17

Infiniti Pro Series:
Highlights: ESPN2, 4 p.m. (EDT), Aug. 18

RADIO:

IndyCar Series:
Qualifying wrap-up show: IMS Radio Network, 6:30 p.m. (EDT) Aug. 16
Pre-race: IMS Radio Network (live), 1:30 p.m. (EDT), Aug. 17
Race: IMS Radio Network (live), 2 p.m. (EDT), Aug. 17
Area affiliates: WCKY-AM 1360, Cincinnati

Live coverage of MBNA Pole Qualifying (4:30 p.m. EDT, Aug. 16) and the race broadcast also will be available at www.indyracing.com

SCHEDULE (all times local; subject to change):

Friday, Aug. 15
4-4:30 p.m. Infiniti Pro Series practice
5:15-5:45 p.m. Infiniti Pro Series practice
6:30 p.m. Infiniti Pro Series qualifying

Saturday, Aug. 16
9:30-9:50 p.m. Infiniti Pro Series final practice
10 a.m. -- noon IndyCar Series practice (two groups)
12:45 p.m. Kentucky 100 (67 laps/100 miles) ESPN2 (4 p.m., 8/18)
2-3:30 p.m. IndyCar Series practice (two groups)
4:30 p.m. IndyCar Series MBNA Pole Qualifying

Sunday, Aug. 17
9:30 a.m. Final IndyCar Series practice
2 p.m. Belterra Casino Indy 300 (200 laps/300 miles) ABC & IMS Radio Network (live)

THE TRACK:
1.5-mile asphalt oval; 70 feet wide
Frontstraight: 1,662 feet
Backstraight: 1,600 feet banked at 4 degrees
Turns: 703.92-foot radius banked at 14 degrees

*Ground was broken on Kentucky Speedway on July 18, 1998.The speedway has 70,000 permanent seats and 50 luxury suites. Buddy Lazier won the inaugural IndyCar Series event at the track on Aug. 27, 2000.

INDYCAR SERIES NOTES:

*Five Indianapolis 500 champions are expected to participate in the Belterra Casino Indy 300: Al Unser Jr. (1992, 1994), Buddy Lazier (1996), Kenny Brack (1999), Helio Castroneves (2001, 2002) and Gil de Ferran (2003).

*Five IRL IndyCar Series champions are scheduled to participate in the Belterra Casino Indy 300: Scott Sharp (1996 co-champion), Kenny Brack (1998), Greg Ray (1999), Buddy Lazier (2000) and Sam Hornish Jr. (2001, 2002). A.J. Foyt IV, the 2002 Infiniti Pro Series champion and grandson of four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt, also will participate in the Belterra Casino Indy 300.

*Drivers entered in the Belterra Casino Indy 300 have plenty of talent and experience. The 21 drivers entered in the Belterra Casino Indy 300 have combined for 108 IRL or CART victories, 92 pole positions and 1,581 starts.

*The Belterra Casino Indy 300 will be the fifth of seven events in 2003 contested on a 1.5-mile track. Winners in 2003 on 1.5-mile tracks: Scott Dixon (Homestead-Miami Speedway), Scott Sharp (Twin Ring Motegi), Al Unser Jr. (Texas Motor Speedway), Bryan Herta (Kansas Speedway). The upcoming 1.5-mile tracks on the schedule are Chicagoland Speedway (Sept. 7) and Texas Motor Speedway (Oct. 12).

*Buddy Lazier is the only former Kentucky winner expected to participate in the Belterra Casino Indy 300. Lazier won the first two IndyCar Series events at Kentucky Speedway in 2000 and 2001. Felipe Giaffone, who won the 2002 event at Kentucky, was injured in an accident July 6 at Kansas Speedway and will not participate in the Belterra Casino Indy 300.

*Six of the seven events in the 2003 IRL IndyCar Series season that have finished under green have featured a margin of victory of less than one second, including the Firestone Indy 400 on July 27 at Michigan International Speedway. Alex Barron defeated Sam Hornish Jr. at Michigan by .0121 of a second, the fourth-closest finish in IRL IndyCar Series history. A total of 33 IndyCar Series events have had a margin of victory of less than a second.

*In 11 races thus far in 2003, there have been eight different winners. Scott Dixon and Gil de Ferran are the only multiple winners. Dixon won at Homestead-Miami, Pikes Peak and Richmond, and de Ferran won at Indianapolis and Nashville. Other winners in 2003: Tony Kanaan (Phoenix), Scott Sharp (Motegi), Al Unser Jr. (Texas), Bryan Herta (Kansas), Alex Barron (Michigan) and Helio Castroneves (Gateway). In those 11 races, 16 different drivers have finished in the top five in at least one event.

*Scott Dixon became the first driver in IRL IndyCar Series history to lead consecutive laps throughout three consecutive races. He led the last 84 laps June 15 en route to a victory at Pikes Peak and led all 206 laps of the rain-shortened SunTrust Indy Challenge on June 28 at Richmond. He then led the first 53 laps on July 7 at Kansas for a total of 343 consecutive laps led.

*Scott Dixon earned his third career IRL IndyCar Series victory June 28 at Richmond in only his seventh series start, tying the record set by Helio Castroneves at the 2002 Indianapolis 500.

*Target Chip Ganassi Racing drivers have won six MBNA Poles this season. Tomas Scheckter won the MBNA Pole at Michigan and Texas. Scott Dixon won the MBNA Pole at Richmond, Kansas and Nashville and started on the pole at Motegi after qualifying was rained out and the field was determined by practice speeds.

*The average speed for the Firestone Indy 400 July 27 at Michigan was 180.917 mph, the fastest average speed in the history of the IRL IndyCar Series. The previous record was 179.345 mph when Sam Hornish Jr. won in 2002 at California Speedway.

*Scott Sharp will attempt to start his 70th consecutive IndyCar Series race at Kentucky. Sharp shares the record for most consecutive starts with Eddie Cheever Jr. and Buddy Lazier, whose streaks both ended when they did not compete at the season-opener at Homestead. Sharp has started every IRL IndyCar Series event since Walt Disney World in 1998.

INFINITI PRO SERIES NOTES:

*The is the second Infiniti Pro Series race at Kentucky Speedway. A.J. Foyt IV, who now competes in the IndyCar Series, won the inaugural event in 2002.

*Drivers with Infiniti Pro Series victories expected to participate at Gateway include: Mark Taylor (Homestead-Miami, Phoenix, Kansas, Nashville, Michigan 2003), Aaron Fike (Chicagoland 2002, Pikes Peak 2003), Cory Witherill (Nashville 2002), Ed Carpenter (Indianapolis 2003), Jeff Simmons (Gateway 2003). Arie Luyendyk Jr., who finished second in the 2002 championship, also is expected to race.

*Kentucky Speedway is the third of five 1.5-mile ovals that the Infiniti Pro Series will compete on in 2003. Mark Taylor won at the 1.5-mile ovals at Homestead-Miami and Kansas. The upcoming 1.5-mile tracks on the schedule are Chicagoland Speedway (Sept. 6) and Texas Motor Speedway (Oct. 11).

*The second season of Infiniti Pro Series competition consists of 12 races that take place in conjunction with IRL IndyCar Series events.

*Ed Carpenter won the historic Freedom 100 on May 18 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway driving for A.J. Foyt Racing. The race marked the first time that an automobile race in addition to the Indianapolis 500 had been conducted on the 2.5-mile oval during the month of May.

*Rookie Mark Taylor has won five events in 2003, setting the record for most victories in a season and most career victories. He drives for Panther Racing, the team that won the IndyCar Series championship in 2001 and 2002 with Sam Hornish Jr.

*Mark Taylor led all 77 laps in the Cleanevent 100 July 18 en route to a victory at Nashville Superspeedway. It marked the third time that a driver has led every lap in an Infiniti Pro Series event. Ryan Hampton led all 80 laps en route to victory in 2002 at Gateway, and Taylor led all 100 laps en route to victory at Phoenix in 2003.

INDY RACING LEAGUE STORY IDEAS:

*New teams, drivers. The thrilling, close competition, cost-effective growth and increasing popularity of the IRL IndyCar Series have attracted new teams to the series in 2003. Andretti Green Racing, co-owned by Indianapolis 500 veteran Michael Andretti, joined the series this year with Tony Kanaan, Dan Wheldon and Bryan Herta (substituting for the injured Dario Franchitti) behind the wheel. 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal fields an IndyCar Series team for 1999 Indianapolis 500 winner Kenny Brack, who also won the 1998 IRL IndyCar Series title. Target Chip Ganassi Racing, the winning team at the 2000 Indianapolis 500, is concentrating its open-wheel efforts in 2003 in the IRL IndyCar Series with young drivers Scott Dixon and Tomas Scheckter. Existing IndyCar Series team Mo Nunn Racing has added a second car for Formula One veteran and 2003 Indianapolis 500 Bank One Rookie of the Year Tora Takagi. American rookie Roger Yasukawa drives for Super Aguri Fernandez Racing, a new team fielded by CART standout Adrian Fernandez and former Formula One driver Aguri Suzuki.

*Toyota vs. Honda vs. Chevy. The growth and momentum of the IRL IndyCar Series have been accelerated in 2003 with the arrival of Honda and Toyota as new engine suppliers. Both Honda and Toyota have posted victories thus far in 2003, while Chevrolet boasted 14 victories in 15 starts en route to the 2002 Manufacturers' Championship. The Belterra Casino Indy 300 will mark the first race that all Chevrolet teams will use the new Gen IV Chevy Indy V-8 engine. The Indy Racing League rules package continues to ensure controlled costs and fair competition for all drivers and teams, regardless of the equipment they use.

*Tough stretch: The Belterra Casino Indy 300 is the second of three consecutive IndyCar Series races, late in the season, which take place within 15 days of each other. The three races, crucial to the championship chase, take place on drastically different racetracks. The Emerson Indy 250 on Aug. 10, won by Helio Castroneves, took place on the narrow, 1.25-mile, egg-shaped Gateway International Raceway. The Belterra Casino Indy 300 takes place at Kentucky Speedway, a high-speed, wide, 1.5-mile oval. After Kentucky, the series heads to Nazareth Speedway for the Firestone Indy 225 on Aug. 24. Nazareth Speedway is a flat, narrow 1-mile oval that officially features four turns, but many drivers say the kinks and doglegs throughout the circuit actually provide more than that. Also, there is an elevation change of 34 feet.

*Rick Mears: Infiniti Pro Series drivers can draw upon the knowledge and experience of four-time Indianapolis 500 champion Rick Mears, who serves as a driver coach and consultant for the Indy Racing League development series. Mears mentors and coaches promising drivers as they hone their skills in the Infiniti Pro Series in hopes of competing in the IRL IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500. In addition to his record-tying four "500" wins, Mears captured a record six poles at Indianapolis and won from that position three times, an unmatched feat.

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Mark Taylor , Greg Ray , Felipe Giaffone , Eddie Cheever , Al Unser Jr. , Buddy Lazier , Scott Sharp , Cory Witherill , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , A.J. Foyt IV , Adrian Fernandez , Bobby Rahal , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Tora Takagi , Bryan Herta , Kenny Brack , Alex Barron , Dan Wheldon , Rick Mears , Roger Yasukawa , Aaron Fike , Ryan Hampton , Jeff Simmons , Chip Ganassi , Aguri Suzuki , A.J. Foyt , Sam Hornish Jr. , Ed Carpenter , Mo Nunn , Arie Luyendyk Jr.
Teams Panther Racing , Chip Ganassi Racing