IRL: Atlanta 500 fast facts

<pre> WHAT: Atlanta 500 Classic; Third of 13 races in 2001; Indy Racing Northern Light Series season WHERE: Atlanta Motor Speedway, 1.54-mile paved oval WHEN: 7 p.m. (EDT) Saturday, April 28 DISTANCE: 300 miles/200 laps POSTED...

<pre> WHAT: Atlanta 500 Classic; Third of 13 races in 2001; Indy Racing Northern Light Series season

WHERE: Atlanta Motor Speedway, 1.54-mile paved oval

WHEN: 7 p.m. (EDT) Saturday, April 28

DISTANCE: 300 miles/200 laps

POSTED AWARDS: More than $1 million

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

2000 RACE WINNER: Greg Ray

CURRENT SERIES POINTS LEADER: Sam Hornish Jr.

TV: Pre-Race Indy Racing 2Day ESPN2 (live), 6:30 - 7 p.m. (EDT), April 28

Race ESPN2 (live), 7 p.m. (EDT), April 28 Announcers: Bob Jenkins, Larry Rice, Jason Priestley Pit reporters: Vince Welch, Jack Arute Replay: ESPN, 1 p.m. (EDT), April 30

Qualifying ESPN2 (tape delay), 4-5 a.m. (EDT) April 28 Announcers: Bob Jenkins, Larry Rice, Jason Priestley Pit reporters: Vince Welch, Jack Arute

RADIO: Race IMS Radio Network (live), 7 p.m. (EDT) April 28 Pre-race show starts at 6:30 p.m. Host: Mike King; Analyst: Johnny Parsons Jr. Announcer: Jerry Baker Sr. Pit Reporter: Mark Jaynes; Pit reporter: Kim Morris Area affiliates: WBTR-AM/FM, Carrollton, Ga.; WYAY-FM 106.7, Atlanta; WTRP-AM, LaGrange, Ga.; WEKS-FM 92.5, Griffin, Ga.

SCHEDULE (all times local): Friday, April 27 Noon: Indy Racing League garage opens 2:30 - 4 p.m.: Practice (two groups) 5:15-6:45 p.m.: Practice (two groups) 8 p.m.: MBNA Pole Qualifying 9:15 p.m.: Autograph Session (garage area)

Saturday, April 7 Noon: Indy Racing League garage opens 3:30-4 p.m.: Final practice 6 p.m.: Cars to grid 7 p.m.: Atlanta 500 Classic (300 miles/200 laps)

THE TRACK: 1.54-mile quad-oval Frontstraight (including dogleg): 2,332 feet Backstraight: 1,800 feet Turns: 2,000 feet Width: 55-100 feet Banking: Turns: 24 degrees; Straightaways: 5 degrees </pre> Atlanta Motor Speedway is owned and operated by Speedway Motorsports Inc., which also owns Bristol, Las Vegas, Lowe's and Texas Motor Speedways and Sears Point Raceway. The Atlanta facility features 124,000 permanent seats and 138 luxury suites. The nine-story Tara Place office and condominium complex house AMS corporate offices and 46 condominiums. It is the largest sports facility in the state of Georgia. In addition to the Indy Racing Northern Light Series, AMS plays host to several events, including the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division and ARCA.

THE RACE:
The Atlanta 500 Classic marks the fourth time the Indy Racing Northern Light Series has visited Atlanta Motor Speedway. Past winners are Greg Ray (2000), Scott Sharp (1999) and Kenny Brack (1998).

RACE NOTES:
Three Indianapolis 500 winners are entered in this event: 1998 champion Eddie Cheever Jr., 1996 champion Buddy Lazier and 1992 and 1994 champion Al Unser Jr.

The Atlanta 500 Classic marks the first night-race of the season for the Northern Light Series. A state-of-the-art Musco Lighting system illuminates the 1.54-mile banked quad-oval.

The Atlanta 500 Classic is the first two-day event in Indy Racing Northern Light Series history. Most events take place over a three-day time frame. Practice and qualifying for this event are scheduled for Friday, April 27, with the race the following day.

Indy Racing Northern Light Series champion Buddy Lazier finished second in last year's Atlanta 500 Classic just 3.054 seconds behind Ray.

Cory Witherill, of Santa Monica, Calif., will make his debut in the Indy Racing Northern Light Series. Witherill is the first Native American to compete in the series. He will pilot the No. 16 WSA Motors/Indy Regency Racing G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone entry.

Greg Ray earned the pole for last year's Atlanta 500 Classic with a lap of 25.160 seconds, 214.626 mph. Ray's 10 career MBNA Poles is an Indy Racing record. His last pole came in March 2001 at Phoenix.

Six Indy Racing rookies are confirmed to participate in the Atlanta 500 Classic: Felipe Giaffone (Treadway Racing); Brandon Erwin (McCormack Motorsports); Casey Mears (Galles Racing); Didier André (Galles Racing); Jon Herb (Tri Star Motorsports) and Cory Witherill (Indy Regency Racing).

SERIES NOTES:
At 21, Sam Hornish Jr. became the youngest driver to win an Indy Racing League event with his victory at the season opener March 18 in Phoenix. He followed that with a win at Miami on April 8 and became the fourth driver in Indy Racing history to win consecutive races. Greg Ray was the last driver to win consecutive races (Dover, Pikes Peak - 1999).

After Miami, Panther Racing became the second team in Indy Racing history to win three consecutive events (Texas in 2000 with Scott Goodyear, Phoenix and Miami in 2001 with Hornish). A.J. Foyt Enterprises won three consecutive events with Kenny Brack in 1998.

The Indy Racing Northern Light Series will consist of a record 13 races this year between mid-March and late September. The 85th Indianapolis 500 will take place May 27.

Six new markets for the Indy Racing Northern Light Series will play host to events in 2001: Chicago, Miami, St. Louis, Kansas City, Mo., Nashville, Tenn., and Richmond, Va.

Sarah Fisher's second-place finish at Miami was her career best and the career best for a woman in the history of Indy-style racing.

The Indy Racing League will not award qualifying points this year in an effort to discourage teams from building fragile but fast qualifying engines that provide an advantage over those teams lacking the budget to build the costly extra engines.

Rookie Felipe Giaffone started the season with a sixth-place finish at Phoenix and a fourth-place finish at Miami, earning him the lead in the Rookie of the Year race and third in the overall points race. He has 60 points while Brandon Erwin and Casey Mears follow with 29 points.

1999 Indy Racing champion Greg Ray has won 10 career MBNA poles, a series record. His most recent pole came March 18 at Phoenix International Raceway.

Davey Hamilton holds the record for most consecutive Indy Racing Northern Light Series starts at 45. He is the only driver to start every series race since its inception.

-IRNLS/IMS-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Sarah Fisher , Greg Ray , Felipe Giaffone , Eddie Cheever , Casey Mears , Buddy Lazier , Davey Hamilton , Didier André , Scott Sharp , Scott Goodyear , Cory Witherill , Brandon Erwin , Kenny Brack , Jason Priestley , Johnny Parsons , A.J. Foyt , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams A.J. Foyt Enterprises , Panther Racing