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

WHAT: IndyCarTM Series: Firestone Indy 400, 10th race in 16-race 2003 season Infiniti Pro Series: Michigan 100, seventh race in 12-race 2003 season WHERE: Michigan International Speedway, 2-mile D-shaped asphalt oval WHEN: IndyCar Series: 3...

WHAT:
IndyCarTM Series: Firestone Indy 400, 10th race in 16-race 2003 season
Infiniti Pro Series: Michigan 100, seventh race in 12-race 2003 season

WHERE:
Michigan International Speedway, 2-mile D-shaped asphalt oval

WHEN:
IndyCar Series: 3 p.m. (EDT), Sunday, July 27
Infiniti Pro Series: 12:30 p.m. (EDT), Sunday, July 27

DISTANCE:
IndyCar Series: 200 laps/400 miles
Infiniti Pro Series: 50 laps/100 miles

CARS:
IndyCar Series: Dallara and Panoz G Force chassis; Chevrolet Indy V8, Honda Indy V8 and Toyota Indy V8 engines; Firestone tires
Infiniti Pro Series: Dallara chassis; Infiniti Q45 engines; Firestone tires

TV:
IndyCar Series:
Pre-race: ESPN2 (live), "Indy Racing 2Day,"noon (EDT), July 27
Race: ABC (live), 3 p.m. (EDT), July 27

Infiniti Pro Series:
Highlights: ESPN2, 3:30 p.m. (EDT), July 31

SCHEDULE (all times local; subject to change):

Friday, July 25
9-10:30 a.m. IndyCar Series practice (two groups)
12:45-1:15 p.m. Infiniti Pro Series practice
1:30-3 p.m. IndyCar Series practice (two groups)
4:30-5 p.m. Infiniti Pro Series practice
6-8 p.m. Autograph session (Jackson Raceweek Festival)

Saturday, July 26
9-10 a.m. IndyCar Series practice (two groups)
10:15-10:45 p.m. Infiniti Pro Series practice
11 a.m. IndyCar Series MBNA Pole Qualifying
3:15 p.m. Infiniti Pro Series qualifying
4:30 p.m. IndyCar Series final practice
5:15-5:45 p.m. Infiniti Pro Series final practice

Sunday, July 27
12:30 p.m. Michigan 100 (50 laps/100 miles) ESPN2 (3:30 p.m., 7/21)
3 p.m. Firestone Indy 400 (200 laps/400 miles) ABC-TV & IMS Radio Network (Live)

THE TRACK:
2-mile D-shaped asphalt oval; 45 feet wide (straightaways), 73 feet wide (turns)
Frontstraight: 3,600 feet banked at 12 degrees
Backstraight: 2,242 feet banked at 5 degrees
Turns: Banked at 18 degrees

Michigan International Speedway opened in 1968 in the Irish Hills of Brooklyn, Mich. Lawrence H. LoPatin and American Raceways Inc. owned the facility from 1968-1972 before current IRL IndyCar Series owner Roger Penske purchased the track out of receivership in June 1973. For more than 25 years, Penske rebuilt and maintained MIS, turning it into one of the finest race facilities in the world. In July 1999, Penske Motorsports Inc. merged with International Speedway Corp., and MIS is now one of 13 ISC motorsports venues. For 2003, the track is celebrating its 35th year of racing.

INDYCAR SERIES NOTES:

Five Indianapolis 500 champions are expected to participate in the Firestone Indy 400: 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 Firestone Indy 400: 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 Firestone Indy 400.

Drivers entered in the Firestone Indy 400 have plenty of talent and experience. The 21 drivers entered in the Firestone Indy 400 have combined for 106 IRL or CART victories and 90 pole positions and 1,539 starts.

The Firestone Indy 400 is one of only two events in the 2003 season that takes place on track with a distance of 2 miles. The other track is California Speedway, which will play host to the Toyota Indy 400 on Sept. 21. Both tracks will play host to the only 400-mile events on the 16-race schedule, the second longest events of the year. Only the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race is longer.

Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. has completed 8,128 miles in 22 Indy-style starts at MIS, more than any other open-wheel driver. He captured the 1990 Michigan 500 CART event and has scored four IROC victories at MIS.

Gil de Ferran is looking to becoming the sixth driver to win the Indianapolis 500 and an Indy-style race at Michigan in the same year. Drivers who have accomplished the feat include: Johnny Rutherford (1980), Gordon Johncock (1982), Bobby Rahal (1986), Rick Mears (1991) and Juan Pablo Montoya (2000).

IRL IndyCar Series drivers who have won Indy-style events at MIS include: Al Unser Jr. (1990), Tony Kanaan (1999), Tomas Scheckter (2002 (Penske Racing has nine Indy-style wins at MIS. Penske drivers who won at MIS include: Rick Mears (1981, 1983, 1991), Bobby Unser (1979, twice), Mark Donahue (1971), Tom Sneva (1975), Mario Andretti (1980) and Danny Sullivan (1988).

Four of the five 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 Bombardier 500 on June 7 at Texas Motor Speedway where Al Unser Jr. defeated Tony Kanaan by .0810 of a second, the eighth-closest finish in IRL IndyCar Series history. The Texas race was the 31st time that an IndyCar Series event had a margin of victory of less than a second.

In nine races thus far in 2003, there have been six different winners. Scott Dixon and Gil de Ferran are the only multiple winners, Dixon having won at Homestead-Miami, Pikes Peak and Richmond and de Ferran winning at Indianapolis and Nashville.

Other winners in 2003: Tony Kanaan at Phoenix, Scott Sharp at Motegi, Al Unser Jr. at Texas and Bryan Herta at Kansas. In those nine 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 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. Castroneves earned his third victory in his seventh start.

Scott Dixon has won the MBNA Pole for the last three races, at Richmond, Kansas and Nashville. The only other driver to win three consecutive MBNA Poles was Billy Boat, who won four consecutive in 1998. He won the poles at Pikes Peak, Atlanta, Texas (second race) and Las Vegas.

INFINITI PRO SERIES NOTES:

The Michigan 100 is the second Infiniti Pro Series race at Michigan International Speedway. A.J. Foyt won the rain-shortened event in 2002.

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

The Michigan 100 is one of only two events in the 2003 season that takes place on track with a distance of 2 miles. The other track is California Speedway, which will play host to the California 100 on Sept. 20.

The second season of Infiniti Pro Series competition consists of 12 races that take place at the same tracks as 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 another automobile race other than the Indianapolis 500 had been conducted on the 2.5-mile oval during the month of May.

Rookie Mark Taylor has won four events in 2003, tying A.J. Foyt IV for the 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 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.

Paul Dana drives for Kenn Hardley Racing, which employs 1983 Michigan 500 winner John Paul Jr. as team manager. To win the race at Michigan, Paul passed current Infiniti Pro Series driver coach Rick Mears on the last lap between Turns 3 and 4.

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske