IRL: Indy 500: Pit Stop Challenge preview

Indy Crews To Show Skills in Checkers/Rally's Pit Stop Challenge INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, May 26, 2004 -- Twelve of the fastest pit crews in motorsports will challenge May 27 for bragging right, the first-place trophy and $30,000 winner's check...

Indy Crews To Show Skills in Checkers/Rally's Pit Stop Challenge

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, May 26, 2004 -- Twelve of the fastest pit crews in motorsports will challenge May 27 for bragging right, the first-place trophy and $30,000 winner's check during the 28th annual Checkers/Rally's Pit Stop Challenge at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Since 1977, the Checkers/Rally's Pit Stop Challenge has paired the finest pit crews and drivers -- including 11 Indianapolis 500 winners -- in exciting head-to-head competition to determine the fastest pit crew at Indy for the year.

The 2003 Checkers/Rally's Pit Stop Challenge begins at 1:30 p.m. (EST, Indy time). It will be televised on a tape-delayed basis as part of a Miller Lite Carb Day recap from 3:30-6 p.m. (EDT) on ESPN2.

The pit stop competition is part of a full and exciting day of activities during Miller Lite Carb Day. Final practice for the 33 Indianapolis 500-Mile Race competitors takes place from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. (EST), the Checker's/Rally's Pit Stop Challenge gets underway at 1:30 p.m., and the Miller Lite Carb Day Concert, featuring the band Live, starts at 3:30 p.m. 1999 Indy winner Kenny Brack and his band, Kenny Brack and the Subwoofers, are the opening act.

Admission is $10, with children 5 and under free. All Miller Lite Carb Day activities are included in the ticket price.

The 2004 Checkers/Rally's Pit Stop Challenge grid will showcase many of the finest teams and most popular drivers in the Indy Racing League® IndyCar® Series as they compete for an $80,000 purse. Eight of the 12 drivers taking part have won an IndyCar Series race. But the four winless drivers have winning pedigrees in other forms of racing and are among the fastest drivers on the IndyCar circuit: Dario Franchitti, Darren Manning, Kosuke Matsuura and Buddy Rice.

The 2004 Checkers/Rally's Pit Stop Challenge lineup: <pre> Car Driver Team Method of Qualification 1 Scott Dixon Target Chip Ganassi Racing Fastest in pits (four races) 3 Helio Castroneves Marlboro Team Penske Fastest in pits (two races) 6 Sam Hornish Jr. Marlboro Team Penske Fastest in pits (one race) 7 Bryan Herta Andretti Green Racing Pit stop time trials 8 Scott Sharp Kelley Racing Fastest in pits (two races) 10 Darren Manning Target Chip Ganassi Racing Fastest in pits (two races) 11 Tony Kanaan Andretti Green Racing Points 15 Buddy Rice Rahal-Letterman Racing Points 26 Dan Wheldon Andretti Green Racing Fastest in pits (one race) 27 Dario Franchitti Andretti Green Racing Pit stop time trials *51 Alex Barron Red Bull Cheever Racing Points 55 Kosuke Matsuura Super Aguri Fernandez Racing Pit stop time trials

*First-alternate among pit stop time-trial participants; replaces No. 12 Tora Takagi/Mo Nunn Racing

</pre> Eight drivers and teams were selected due to their pit performance, by recording the least amount of time in the pits during various 2003 IndyCar Series races. Three drivers, Kanaan, Rice and Barron, were selected based on the current 2004 entrant points, and the teams of Herta and Matsuura qualified by recording the fastest times in pit stop time trials May 16.

Dario Franchitti and his Andretti Green Racing team were added to the lineup after the No. 12 Mo Nunn Racing team and Tora Takagi withdrew after the team qualified its backup car, driven by Jeff Simmons, in the Indianapolis 500 field.

The first-round pairings:

No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske (Helio Castroneves)
    vs. No. 55 Super Aguri Fernandez Racing (Kosuke Matsuura).

No. 8 Kelley Racing (Scott Sharp)
    vs. No. 11 Andretti Green Racing (Tony Kanaan).

No. 1 Target Chip Ganassi Racing (Scott Dixon)
    vs. No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske (Sam Hornish Jr.).

No. 7 Andretti Green Racing (Bryan Herta)
    vs. No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing (Alex Barron).

Teams that received a first-round bye and will compete in Round Two are: No. 7 Andretti Green Racing (Dario Franchitti); No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing (Darren Manning); No. 15 Rahal-Letterman Racing (Buddy Rice) and No. 26 Andretti Green Racing (Dan Wheldon).

The Checkers/Rally's Pit Stop Challenge involves a four-round format. Eight teams go head to head, two at a time, in Round One. Four teams get a bye in the first round and take on the Round One winners in the second round.

In each round, the team must change all four tires and make a simulated fuel hose connection to the car's fuel tank for a minimum of three seconds. The winner in each round is determined by the fastest time, and the pressure is on crews to complete the stop without a rules infraction as time penalties can make the difference between victory and elimination.

In 2003, the No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing crew and driver Rice won the competition, delivering the team its first Checkers/Rally's Pit Stop Challenge victory.

-ims-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Darren Manning , Scott Sharp , Helio Castroneves , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Tora Takagi , Bryan Herta , Kenny Brack , Alex Barron , Dan Wheldon , Buddy Rice , Kosuke Matsuura , Jeff Simmons , Chip Ganassi , Sam Hornish Jr. , Mo Nunn
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing