IRL: Nashville: Chip Ganassi Racing preview

(As a tribute to Nashville's country music history) "The Race is On" in Music City, USA -- As sung by country music legend George Jones, "The Race is On" this Saturday night for the three Target Chip Ganassi Racing drivers Scott Dixon, Darren ...

(As a tribute to Nashville's country music history)

"The Race is On" in Music City, USA -- As sung by country music legend George Jones, "The Race is On" this Saturday night for the three Target Chip Ganassi Racing drivers Scott Dixon, Darren Manning and Ryan Briscoe as they take the helm of their Toyota / Panoz machines for the Firestone Indy 200 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Along with the glory, prize money and valuable championship points, a beautiful custom "Nashville" designed Gibson guitar painted artist by Sam Bass will be presented to the driver who crosses the finish line first after 200 laps / 266 miles.

Nashville's reputation as "Music City, USA" began in the 1920s, when WSM radio launched the WSM Barn Dance later known as the Grand Ole Opry. The Grand Ole Opry in Nashville is the longest continuously running live radio program in the world. It has broadcast every weekend since 1925. Nashville is also home to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

"The Race is On"- George Jones

"Well, the race is on
And here comes pride up the backstretch
Heartaches a-going to the inside
My tears are holding back
And tryin' not to fall
My heart's out of the running
True love's scratched for another's sake
The race is on and it looks like heartaches
And the winner loses all."

"Ring of Fire"--Nashville SuperSpeedway, a 1.33-mile tri-oval that opened in 2001, is the only track on the schedule to have a concrete surface, putting more emphasis on handling. There's always plenty of drama during races at Nashville and as Johnny Cash warns, drivers can really get burned by the abrasive nature of the track surface. Tire wear often plays a huge part in how the race plays out. The by-product of tire wear produces a residue of rubber deposits, otherwise known as marbles, making any attempt to "Move it on Over" (Hank Williams) and make a pass can be even more of a "concrete" challenge.

"Ring of Fire"- Johnny Cash

"And It Burns, Burns, Burns
The Ring Of Fire, The Ring Of Fire"

"On the Road Again"-- Country music hall of famer, Willie Nelson isn't the only one who likes being on the road. Following a rare summer weekend off the Target team is "Back in the Saddle Again" (Gene Autry) and ready to be "On the Road Again", for the third of eight IndyCar series races in 10 weeks.

"On the Road Again"- Willie Nelson

"On the road again
Like a band of gypsies we go down the highway
We're the best of friends
Insisting that the world be turnin' our way
And our way is on the road again."

"When the Sun Goes Down"-- As new country music star Kenny Chesney explains in verse, things will definitely get more interesting as the Firestone Indy 200 gets under way at twilight and ends under the lights. Due to the nature of the concrete track surface, as the ambient temperature drops "when the sun goes down", it does not lose temperature as quickly as asphalt. That adds another challenge for the Target team as the usual estimates on grip may not apply, making it more difficult to make adjustments to the car as the track conditions change in varying increments throughout the race. This will be the third and final night race of the 2005 IndyCar season.

"When the Sun Goes Down" -- Kenny Chesney

When the sun goes down, we'll be groovin
When the sun goes down I'm feelin alright
When the sun sinks down, over the water
Everything gets hotter when the sun goes down

"Always on my Mind"-- While both Elvis and Willie Nelson might have been referring to something else, Scott Dixon still fondly remembers being the pole sitter at Nashville in 2003. Last year at Nashville, Darren Manning tied his best career finish with a fourth place in an action packed race, riddled with contact and drama. Manning's opportunity came with just 23 laps to go as he charged past seven cars on the outside line, moving from eleventh place to fourth in one quick move. Scott Dixon started and finished in 8th place after battling the entire race without a clutch.

"The Gambler"-- The Target drivers and engineers will be considering the advice given to Kenny Rogers in "The Gambler" and put on their best poker face, play with the cards that are dealt but try to keep a few aces up their sleeves. Bill Pappas, chief engineer for Darren Manning's no.10 Target Toyota / Panoz, is expecting to run more downforce this race given that the car will have less grip due to the concrete surface. Staying up with the front runners is the plan in order to make it to the final sprint for the finish line with 50 laps to go. Quick pit stops will also be key for passing competitors in the pits as it may be more difficult to have those opportunities on track.

"Howdeeee!"-- You don't need to be a country music fan to recognize the trademark greeting made by Minnie Pearl, the country comedienne who appeared frequently on the Grand Ole Opry and the television show Hee Haw. She was also known for wearing a big hat with a $1.98 price tag hanging off the side. Target drivers may not be quite as loud (Darren Manning's personality and wardrobe may be the exception) but they too are easily identified by their personal helmet designs.

Scott Dixon's helmet features the red, white and blue colours, as well as the four red stars with white borders, featured on the flag of his native New Zealand (Rival Australia has a similar looking flag but with six stars without a red border). A silver fern, symbol of the island nation, is displayed at the front. The background is predominantly blue and looks a lot like a Maori (natives of NZ) sign or carving.

Great Britain's Darren Manning has a few helmets that vary slightly in design but all bear the flag of St. George, the patron saint of England, which is white with a red cross on it, and ever present on the helmet is the colour "British racing green".

Target rookie Ryan Briscoe hails from "down under" and his helmet incorporates the Australian flag, a kangaroo, and the use of green and gold which are Australia's signature sporting colours representing green for the land and gold for sun and surf. Unofficially, the story is that it's originally based on the colours worn by Irish Convicts (from the Irish flag) playing Gaelic Football in the early 1800s, many of whom had been arrested and transported for various political offences. The top of Briscoe's helmet is bright red with a white band.

"King of the Road"--Roger Miller isn't the only "King of the Road" in Nashville as Firestone, tire supplier for the IndyCar Series and title sponsor of the Nashville race, has their headquarters located near the downtown core and consider this their home race. According to Firestone engineers, Nashville SuperSpeedway requires a Firehawk tire designed for the durability because the abrasive, grooved concrete surface creates high tire wear.

"The Race is On" LIVE TV -- Target fans can tune in to watch the Firestone Indy 200 on ESPN Live at 7:00 pm (EDT) on Saturday, July 16th.

Listen Up -- Target fans can also listen in to the IndyCar broadcast live by IMS radio Network at 6:30pm (EDT). The IMS Radio broadcast will also be available on XM satellite Radio Channel 152 "Extreme" and web cast on

"Milwaukee Here I Come from Nashville, Tennessee" -- As the lyrics to the song made famous by George Jones and Tammy Wynette say, following the Nashville Saturday night race, the Target team will head on down the turnpike and move on to Milwaukee, Wisconsin for the next race on the IndyCar series schedule. The ABC Supply Company -A.J. Foyt 225 will be presented on Sunday, July 24th at 12:30 pm EDT

"Milwaukee Here I Come" --George Jones & Tammy Wynette

"Well, I'm a gonna get on that ol' turnpike and I'm gonna ride
I'm a gonna leave this town till you decide
Which one you want the most them Opry stars or me
Milwaukee here I come from Nashville, Tennessee."


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Darren Manning , Scott Dixon , Ryan Briscoe , Chip Ganassi , A.J. Foyt , Roger Miller
Teams Williams , Chip Ganassi Racing