IRL: Atlanta Midas 500 Classic Fast Facts

<pre> WHAT: Midas 500 Classic; seventh of nine races in 2000 Indy Racing Northern Light Series season WHERE: Atlanta Motor Speedway, 1.54-mile paved quad-oval WHEN: 8 p.m. (EDT) Saturday, July 15 DISTANCE: 500 kilometers (320...

<pre> WHAT:

Midas 500 Classic; seventh of nine races in 2000 Indy Racing Northern Light Series season

WHERE:

Atlanta Motor Speedway, 1.54-mile paved quad-oval

WHEN:

8 p.m. (EDT) Saturday, July 15

DISTANCE:

500 kilometers (320 miles)/208 laps

POSTED AWARDS:

More than $1 million

CARS:

Dallara, G Force and Riley & Scott chassis; Oldsmobile V8 and Infiniti Indy V8 engines; Firestone tires

1999 RACE WINNER:

Scott Sharp

CURRENT SERIES POINTS LEADER:

Eddie Cheever Jr.

TV:

(Pre-Race) "Indy Racing 2Day" ESPN2 (live), 7:30 p.m. (EDT), July 15

(Race) ESPN (live), 8 p.m. (EDT), July 15 Announcers: Bob Jenkins, Tom Sneva Pit reporters: Vince Welch, Jack Arute

(Qualifying) ESPN2 (tape delayed), 8 p.m. (EDT) July 14 Announcers: Bob Jenkins, Tom Sneva Pit reporters: Vince Welch, Jack Arute

RADIO:

(Race) Indy Racing Radio Network (live), 8 p.m. (EDT) July 15 Pre-race show starts at 7:30 p.m. Area affiliate: WYAY-FM 106.7, Atlanta Host: Mike King Pit reporter: Mark Jaynes Backstretch reporter: Jerry Baker

SCHEDULE (all times local):

(Thursday, July 13)

Noon: Northern Light Series garage opens 6-7:30 p.m.: Northern Light Series practice (two groups) 8:15-9:45 p.m.: Northern Light Series practice (two groups)

(Friday, July 14)

Noon: Northern Light Series garage opens 4:45-6:15 p.m.: Northern Light Series practice (two groups) 7-8 p.m.: MBNA Pole qualifying 8:30-9:30 p.m.: Autograph session, Champions Concourse 10:15-10:45 p.m.: Northern Light Series final practice

(Saturday, July 15)

Noon: Northern Light Series garage opens 7 p.m.: Cars to grid 8 p.m.: Midas 500 Classic (500 kilometers/320 miles/208 laps)

TRACK RECORDS:

(Qualifying)

Billy Boat, Dallara/Oldsmobile/Goodyear, 24.734 sec., 224.145 mph, Aug. 28, 1998

(Race)

Scott Sharp, Dallara/Oldsmobile/Goodyear, 208 laps/320 miles, 2 hours, 12 minutes, 15.235 seconds, July 17, 1999

THE TRACK:

Atlanta Motor Speedway: 1.54-mile paved quad-oval Front straightaway (including dogleg): 2,332 feet Back straightaway: 1,800 feet Turns: 1 & 2: 2,000 feet 3 & 4: 2,000 feet Width: Frontstraight: 60 feet; Backstraight: 100 feet Turns 1 & 2: 60 feet; Turns 3 & 4: 55 feet Banking: Straightaways, 5 degrees; Turns, 24 degrees

Atlanta Motor Speedway is owned and operated by Speedway Motorsports, Inc. It is the largest sports facility in the state of Georgia with more than 124,000 permanent seats, 138 luxury suites, and features the nine-story Tara Place office and condominium complex that houses the AMS corporate offices and 46 condominiums. The track is available 365 days a year and was rented for more than 280 days in 1999. In addition to the Indy Racing Northern Light Series, AMS plays host to events sanctioned by NASCAR, ARCA and INEX Corp.

THE RACE:

(The Midas 500 Classic marks the third consecutive year the Indy Racing Northern Light Series has visited Atlanta Motor Speedway and the 13th year overall that an Indy-style event has taken place at the track. Indy Racing Northern Light Series Pace Car driver Johnny Rutherford won the first Indy-style event at Atlanta in 1965 as well as two races run at AMS in 1979.

RACE NOTES:

* The Midas 500 Classic will be the first Northern Light Series race of 2000 season to take place at night under the lights. The first scheduled night race was to have taken place June 10 at Texas Motor Speedway but was postponed until the afternoon of June 11 due to rain. Both tracks use an innovative Musco Lighting system that incorporates mirrors to simulate daylight and reduce glare.

* Three former Indianapolis 500 champions are entered in this event: Eddie Cheever Jr. (1998 champion), Buddy Lazier (1996) and Al Unser Jr. (1992 and 1994).

* Seven of the top-10 finishers from the 84th Indianapolis 500 are entered in the Midas 500 Classic, including: Buddy Lazier (second place), Eliseo Salazar (third), Jeff Ward (fourth), Eddie Cheever Jr. (fifth), Stephan Gregoire (eighth), Scott Goodyear (ninth) and Scott Sharp (10th).

* Eddie Cheever Jr. is the Indy Racing Northern Light Series points leader with a 176-168 margin over Buddy Lazier. Cheever gave the Nissan Infiniti engine its first Indy Racing Northern Light Series win on June 18 at Pikes Peak. Lazier was the points leader entering Pikes Peak but finished 26th due to an engine problem.

* Al Unser Jr., is returning to Atlanta for the first time since 1983, driving the Galles ECR Racing Tickets.com Starz Encore Superpak G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone for Galles ECR Racing. Unser started 21st and finished sixth for Galles Racing in the 1983 CART season opener that was held at AMS. Unser earned his first Northern Light Series victory at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on April 22. Unser competed in the Indianapolis 500 this year for the first time since 1994, finishing 29th due to overheating of his engine.

* 19-year-old rookie Sarah Fisher is entered in the Midas 500 Classic. Fisher, who is driving for Walker Racing this season, became only the third woman to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 in May, starting 19th and finishing 31st after an accident. This will be her Atlanta Motor Speedway debut.

* Georgia resident Jimmy Kite is entered in the Midas 500 Classic driving the Big Daddy's BBQ/Blueprint Racing Special G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone. Kite, from Stockbridge, started 11th and finished ninth in 1999 at Atlanta.

* Defending Midas 500 Classic champion Scott Sharp is attempting to become the first repeat winner at Atlanta in an Indy-style event since Rick Mears won four races in a row ('79, two in '81, & one in '82). Sharp is on a hot streak, as he won the Casino Magic 500 on June 11 at Texas Motor Speedway and finished third in the Radisson Indy 200 on June 18 at Pikes Peak International Raceway to climb from 12th to third in the series point standings.

* Eddie Cheever Jr. is looking to become the first repeat winner in the Indy Racing Northern Light Series since Greg Ray won at Dover and Pikes Peak back-to-back in August 1999.

* Billy Boat, driving the Team Pelfrey Dallara/Oldsmobile/ Firestone, will attempt to win the MBNA Pole for the third consecutive year at Atlanta. Boat, who set the track record of 224.145 mph in 1998, finished 12th that year and 11th in 1999. Rick Mears claimed three consecutive poles in a row in Atlanta, from 1981-1983.

* In the 13 Indy-style events at AMS, the winner has started from the pole six times. The last driver to win from the pole was Rick Mears in 1982.

* Atlanta Motor Speedway is one of only three tracks (Indianapolis and Phoenix) on the Indy Racing Northern Light Series circuit to have had winners in both front and rear engine cars. Jim McElreath won the 1965 consolation race in a front-engine dirt car.

* Defending Indy Racing Northern Light Series champion Greg Ray has started from the top starting spot four times in 2000.

SERIES NOTES:

* Airton Daré finished second in the Radisson Indy 200 on June 18 at Pikes Peak International Raceway, the best finish by an Indy Racing Northern Light Series rookie this season. Juan Montoya won the Indianapolis 500, but he was considered an event rookie, not a series rookie, due to his experience in CART.

STATISTICS: 2000 Indy Racing Northern Light Series point standings 1. Eddie Cheever Jr. 176 2. Buddy Lazier 168 3. Scott Sharp 159 4. Scott Goodyear 156 5. Mark Dismore 155 6. Eliseo Salazar 151 7. Al Unser Jr. 135 8. Robbie Buhl 133 9. Donnie Beechler 123 10. Robby McGehee 120

2000 Indy Racing Northern Light Series money leaders 1. Juan Montoya $1,235,690 2. Buddy Lazier $887,750 3. Eddie Cheever Jr. $695,250 4. Eliseo Salazar. $694,200 5. Scott Sharp $659,750 6. Scott Goodyear $605,750 7. Mark Dismore $599,350 8. Greg Ray $589,400 9. Robbie Buhl $560,800 10. Al Unser Jr. $559,450

2000 Indy Racing Northern Light Series wins 1. Robbie Buhl 1 Eddie Cheever Jr. 1 Buddy Lazier 1 Juan Montoya 1 Scott Sharp 1 Al Unser Jr. 1

2000 Indy Racing Northern Light Series rookie points 1. Jeret Schroeder 112 2. Airton Daré 108 3. Sam Hornish Jr. 85 4. Sarah Fisher 54 5. Doug Didero 43

2000 Net Race Live lap leaders 1. Scott Sharp 174 2. Juan Montoya 167 3. Buddy Lazier 154 4. Mark Dismore 138 5. Al Unser Jr. 121

2000 MBNA Poles* 1. Greg Ray 3 Mark Dismore 1

2000 wins by chassis 1. G Force 3 2. Dallara 2 3. Riley & Scott 1

2000 wins by engine 1. Oldsmobile 5 2. Nissan 1

*Walt Disney World Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway qualifying canceled due to rain.

-IRNLS/IMS-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Robby McGehee , Sarah Fisher , Greg Ray , Eddie Cheever , Al Unser Jr. , Robbie Buhl , Eliseo Salazar , Buddy Lazier , Jeff Ward , Scott Sharp , Billy Boat , Airton Daré , Mark Dismore , Scott Goodyear , Jeret Schroeder , Jimmy Kite , Donnie Beechler , Rick Mears , Tom Sneva , Jim McElreath , Sam Hornish Jr. , Johnny Rutherford