IRL INDYCARÂ® SERIES PARTICIPANTS READY FOR RETURN OF CLOSE RACING AT KANSAS SPEEDWAY INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, June 27, 2005 -- The IRL IndyCarÂ® Series continues its 10th season of competition with the Argent Mortgage Indy^Ã™ 300 on Sunday, July 3...
IRL INDYCAR® SERIES PARTICIPANTS READY FOR RETURN OF CLOSE RACING AT KANSAS SPEEDWAY
INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, June 27, 2005 -- The IRL IndyCar® Series continues its 10th season of competition with the Argent Mortgage Indy^Ù 300 on Sunday, July 3 at Kansas Speedway.
This will be the IndyCar Series' fifth visit to Kansas City, which has played host to the IndyCar Series since 2001. The 1.5-mile oval has produced some of the closest racing in series history with three races finishing with a margin of victory of less than 0.2 of a second. It's that close racing that makes Kansas Speedway a challenge as described in the following first-person narratives:
Vitor Meira came within inches of winning his first IndyCar Series race last year at Kansas Speedway and enters the Argent Mortgage Indy 300 hoping to continue his good fortune. Meira, who is currently tied for seventh in the series point standings, finished second in last season's photo-finish with his teammate Buddy Rice.
"It was really a cool race. To repeat it would be OK, but I would rather be in his position this time. In the last 20 laps, the first thing that came to mind was who was beside me. It's always much more comfortable with your teammate. Buddy has always been a fair player with me, and he's been with everybody. You start to analyze who's around so you know what to do to get that little advantage.
"I didn't lift once from the restart (Lap 185) to the end; not even a centimeter. All you can do is play with lines, play with drafting and play with your car a little to free it up. I did that and he did that. It makes you antsy because you're full throttle for 20 laps. He was defending the line pretty good. I was a little faster, but I was on the outside. You race different in that situation. The first guy you have to respect is your teammate. If it wasn't my teammate, I was going to squeeze more, be more aggressive. I was careful about not crashing. I was leaving Buddy space, and he did the same for me. I was not really worried about Tony (Kanaan) getting past. With me on the outside and Buddy on the inside, there's really no place to go. I was just checking the mirrors to see if everything was OK. Because I was trying lines and different things on the car, I asked the spotter to tell me who crossed the line in front so I could tell what I did on the lap was good or not. When you're that close, it's hard to see who crossed the line in front.
"After the race, I was happy. Of course, being the winner would have been better, but I was happy because the team won as a whole. It can't get better for the team on an Argent event weekend. If that was today, I would be a little more frustrated than I was at the time."
As Rahal Letterman Racing's technical director, Tim Reiter oversees the engineering and technical efforts for all three of the team's IndyCar Series efforts. Reiter, who served as the race engineer for team co-owner Bobby Rahal in the latter stages of his driving career, returned after a two-year absence as the race engineer for the No. 15 Rahal Letterman Racing Argent Pioneer Honda-powered Panoz driven by Buddy Rice
"Kansas is not entirely different from a lot of the places we go. You have to make sure the car is consistent, and you have to get as much drag out of the car as you can. You like to run the car as low on the track as possible to get good lap times.
"You also have to be able to run in the heavy traffic, too. Fortunately, you don't have to do too much to these cars to make them run well in traffic. There are a couple of tracks, where that is more of a problem, but Kansas really isn't too bad. Usually because Kansas is so tight, and the field is very close, you don't have to miss by much to get behind.
"The challenge is minimizing the potential errors that can occur. You have to have a car that's balanced as possible, as neutral as possible. You can't scrub any speed, and you have to stay with the cars running up front. It's a very delicate balance."
WHERE THE RUBBER MEETS THE ROAD:
Firestone's race tire development team considers the configuration of each track as it chooses the tire compound to be used at each track. According to Firestone engineers, Kansas Speedway requires a Firehawk tire designed for the highest heat-resistant compounds combined with the most durable construction because of the track's banking.
The tire used at Kansas is similar to the compounds used at other 1.5-mile ovals such as Texas Motor Speedway, Homestead-Miami Speedway, Chicagoland Speedway and Kentucky Speedway.
Argent Mortgage Indy 300, eighth race in 17-race 2005 season
Kansas Speedway, 1.5-mile oval
1 p.m. (EDT), Sunday, July 3
200 laps/300 miles
ESPN (live), 1 p.m. (EDT), July 3
Qualifying webcast: 1:30 p.m. (EDT), July 2, www.indycar.com. Wrapup show: 5:30 p.m. (EDT), IMS Radio Network. Race: IMS Radio Network, 1 p.m. (EDT), July 3.
The 10th season of IRL IndyCar competition continues with the Argent Mortgage Indy 300 at 1 p.m. (EDT) July 3 at Kansas Speedway. The race will be broadcast live on ESPN and the IMS Radio Network. The race also will be available on XM Satellite Radio channel 152 "XM Extreme." The next Menards Infiniti Pro Series race is the Cleanevent 100 on July 16 at Nashville Superspeedway. It will be telecast at 3 p.m. (EDT) July 21 by ESPN2.