IRL: Many standouts on the rebound in Texas

FORT WORTH, Texas, Tuesday, May 30, 2000 - The Casino Magic 500 on June 10 at Texas Motor Speedway is the first night race on the 2000 Indy Racing Northern Light Series schedule. It's also the first race of the year on a ...

FORT WORTH, Texas, Tuesday, May 30, 2000 - The Casino Magic 500 on June 10 at Texas Motor Speedway is the first night race on the 2000 Indy Racing Northern Light Series schedule. It's also the first race of the year on a high-banked, 1.5-mile oval. It's also the first race in a crucial summer stretch of four races that could go a long way toward deciding which driver will hoist the Northern Light Cup as series champion in October at the season finale at Texas Motor Speedway. But for a handful of Indy Racing standouts, the Casino Magic 500 will be a race for redemption. Pure and simple. The Casino Magic 500 starts at 7 p.m. (CDT) June 10 and will be broadcast live on ESPN and the Indy Racing Radio Network. The race is 208 laps. Defending Northern Light Series champion Greg Ray is on a quest for redemption at Texas probably more than any other driver. For starters, Ray is 17th in the season standings with 55 points after four races in his Conseco/Quaker State/Menards Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone, 83 behind leader Buddy Lazier. Ray will need to make a summer run similar to last season, when he won three of four races between late June and late August, to make a strong challenge for his second straight series title. Ray also is coming off a disappointing 33rd-place finish in the Indianapolis 500. He crashed twice in separate incidents in Turn 2 after leading the first 26 laps. Ray won the PPG Pole for the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing," making his last-place finish even tougher to accept. But Texas Motor Speedway is a perfect place for Ray to rebound. It's his home track, as he lives in the Dallas suburb of Plano. He also pulled off the crowning achievement of his career to date at Texas when he clinched the Northern Light Cup with a pole position and a third-place finish in the 500 last October. Ray has never won on a 1.5-mile oval in Northern Light Series competition, but he has fared well at Texas. He finished second to Scott Goodyear in this event last season by .888 of a second and was third in the 500. And Ray paired with Billy Boat to create one of the most memorable moments in series history in June 1998 at Texas, putting his left wheels in the inside grass in a late duel with Boat for the victory, falling just .928 of a second short. Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. is another driver looking to bounce back at Texas. It will be his first race on the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway. Unser finished 29th on May 28 in his first Indianapolis 500 since 1994. He completed just 89 laps in his Galles ECR Racing Starz Encore Superpak G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone due to engine overheating. But he earned his first victory since 1995 by capturing the Vegas Indy 300 on April 22 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, a 1.5-mile oval with 12-degree banking in the turns, half as steep as the daunting 24-degree turns at Texas. A pair of rookies - Sarah Fisher and Airton Dare - also looks to rebound at Texas. Fisher finished 31st at Indianapolis after both she and Lyn St. James crashed after dicing for position on Lap 74. Like Unser, she has shown her skill already this year on a 1.5-mile oval, running as high as second in the Vegas Indy 300 before an accident dropped her to 17th in the final results in her Walker Racing Cummins Special entry. Dare also was stung by disappointment at Indianapolis. He ran as high as third before the engine malfunctioned in his TeamXtreme/ Force G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone on Lap 127. Like Fisher, Dare had a fine showing on the 1.5-mile oval at Las Vegas before problems arose. Dare led with just 37 laps to go when his gearbox malfunctioned while exiting the pits after his final stop. He ended up 14th. Texas Motor Speedway would be a great place for Dare and TeamXtreme to earn a victory, as the team is based in the Dallas suburb of Rockwall. Goodyear also is looking to earn his first victory in the Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone since this event last year. While Ray, Unser, Fisher and Dare are on the rebound, Lazier looks to continue the momentum generated by three top-two finishes in four races this year in the Delta Faucet/Coors Light/Tae-Bo/Hemelgarn Racing entry, including a victory in the MCI WorldCom Indy 200 in March at Phoenix and a runner-up finish at Indianapolis. That consistency has built a 138-112 lead over Goodyear and Robbie Buhl - tied for second - in the race for the Northern Light Cup.

Schedule: The Casino Magic 500 starts at 7 p.m. (CDT) June 10. MBNA Pole Qualifying starts at 8:30 p.m. June 8. Practice sessions start at 3 p.m. and 5:45 p.m. June 8, and 1:45 p.m. and 4:45 p.m. June 9.

On the air: The Casino Magic 500 will be televised live on ESPN at 8 p.m. (EDT) June 10. "Indy Racing 2Day" will be televised live at 3:30 p.m. June 10 on ESPN2. ESPN2 will televise MBNA Pole qualifying at 9:30 p.m. (EDT) June 8. The Indy Racing Radio Network will broadcast a 30-minute prerace show at 7:30 p.m. (EDT) June 10, followed by the live race broadcast at 8 p.m. The IRRN race broadcast also will be available live on the Internet at as part of a partnership between Indy Racing Online and Yahoo!/, the world's leading Web broadcast site.

Tickets: Tickets for the Casino Magic 500 are available by calling (817) 215-8500, through Ticketmaster outlets in Texas by calling (214) 373-8000 or (972) 647-5700. Tickets also are available online at .


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Series IndyCar
Drivers Sarah Fisher , Greg Ray , Al Unser Jr. , Robbie Buhl , Buddy Lazier , Billy Boat , Airton Daré , Scott Goodyear , Lyn St. James