IRL: Nashville Thursday Practice Report

By David Reininger - Motorsport.com Buhl Fastest in Practice at Nashville Superspeedway Lebanon, Tenn. (July 19, 2001) - Robbie Buhl set the fastest lap of the day just before practice ended at 9:00 p.m. CDT. Buhl narrowly missed the 200 ...

By David Reininger - Motorsport.com

Buhl Fastest in Practice at Nashville Superspeedway

Lebanon, Tenn. (July 19, 2001) - Robbie Buhl set the fastest lap of the day just before practice ended at 9:00 p.m. CDT. Buhl narrowly missed the 200 mph mark, averaging 199.993 mph around the 1.3-mile concrete superspeedway.

Sam Hornish was second with a lap run under the lights at 199.832 mph. "We're actually running a little bit faster than did in testing here," said Hornish, who was second in the afternoon session too. "There's more rubber on the track, so obviously it's going to be quicker."

While drivers were apprehensive to attempt a pass in the turns, the groove, easily seen by the black rubber on the bright white concrete track, became wider as each practice session progressed. "The racing groove is starting to get wider, especially on the entry to the corner," said Billy Boat, who was third fastest of the day. "The center of the corner is still real narrow and it's still a ways from being a two-wide race track."

"You'll see two, three or even four wide down the straightaways, but it's hard to say what the corners will be like," said Buddy Lazier. Lazier was fourth fastest on the day, just three one-hundredths of a second slower than Boat. "The turns are very challenging, but I bet you'll see cars two-wide during the race once we get more rubber on the track."

If the drivers are able to go three or four wide down the front straight, the turns will act as a funnel, forcing the cars to move to one, or possibly two lanes. "This is definitely a challenging track," said Mark Dismore, who was sixth fastest, three one-thousandths of a second slower than fifth place Greg Ray. "It's the most unique track we'll run on this year."

"I love it because it has driver interaction," said Robby McGehee, making his second appearance since breaking his lower left leg at Texas in June. "I like tracks where the driver matters."

It's not easy to run this track flat out, "it's a lot like Phoenix," said McGehee. "It's not easy flat like Atlanta or Texas. You have to have a good race car to go flat, and if you do, you're fast."

Notes from the Harrah's Indy 200 at the Nashville Superspeedway:

Heritage Motorsports returns to Indy Racing Northern Light Series competition after missing the last round at Kansas City. This afternoon at Nashville Superspeedway Heritage took possession of a G Force chassis that had been used at Indianapolis by Ganassi Racing. A team member indicated the car would be used for a testing program.

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On Wednesday afternoon, over thirty members of the press attended media day. Television crews scurried through the garage area today, interviewing drivers, crew chiefs and team members. Country Music Television (CMT) is on location this weekend, filming a Top 20 video countdown with Indy Racing League drivers to be broadcast in August.

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As usual, practice sessions were divided in into two groups. Instead of splitting the groups using the qualifying draw, group one consisted of teams that had tested at Nashville Superspeedway; drivers in group two had never been on the 1.3-mile concrete speedway.

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All reserved seats for the Harrah's Indy 200 have been sold. A limited number of standing room only tickets will be made available.

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An autograph session with all Indy racing drivers will take place from 6:30-7:30 p.m. (CDT) Friday in the Fan Walk area of the infield.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Robby McGehee , Robbie Buhl , Buddy Lazier , Billy Boat , Mark Dismore , Sam Hornis
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing