WHAT: Firestone Indy 225, 13th race in 16-race 2004 IRL IndyCarÂ® Series season WHERE: Nazareth Speedway, Nazareth, Pa., 1-mile oval WHEN: Broadcast: 2 p.m. (EDT), Sunday, Aug. 29, ABC. Green flag: 2:25 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 29 DISTANCE: 225 ...
WHAT: Firestone Indy 225, 13th race in 16-race 2004 IRL IndyCar® Series season
WHERE: Nazareth Speedway, Nazareth, Pa., 1-mile oval
WHEN: Broadcast: 2 p.m. (EDT), Sunday, Aug. 29, ABC.
Green flag: 2:25 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 29
DISTANCE: 225 laps/225 miles
POSTED AWARDS: More than $1 million
CARS: Dallara and Panoz G Force chassis; Chevy Indy V8, Honda H14R Indy V-8 and Toyota Indy V8 engines; Firestone tires
TV: Race: ABC (live), 2 p.m. (EDT), Aug. 29
RADIO: Race: IMS Radio Network, 1:30 p.m. (EDT), Aug. 29
Area affiliate: WEAB-AM 790, Allentown
SCHEDULE: (all times local; subject to change)
FRIDAY, AUG. 27
11 a.m. -- Firestone Indy 225 practice (two groups/45 minutes each)
2:30 p.m. -- Firestone Indy 225 practice (two groups/45 minutes each)
SATURDAY, AUG. 28
9 a.m. -- Firestone Indy 225 practice (two groups/30 minutes each)
11:30 a.m. -- Firestone Indy 225 MBNA Pole Qualifying
SUNDAY, AUG. 29
2:25 p.m. -- Firestone Indy 225 (225 laps/225 miles)
PRE-RACE QUOTES: (Drivers listed in alphabetical order)
ALEX BARRON (No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "(Nazareth Speedway) is one of my favorite places to race because it is such a one-of-a-kind track. With it being a 1-mile oval with different turns, it allows for some very exciting racing. It's a shame to see that this will be the last time that we visit, and hopefully, we can leave with a good memory."
ED CARPENTER (No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "(Nazareth Speedway) is the trickiest oval we run on because each corner is different. It is a very unique track compared to all of the others we race on. This will be my first time racing there in a rear-engine car, so I'm excited to see how it works out. Pit stops are going to play a big part in deciding who wins the race, and I'm sure the team will be up to the challenge."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "Nazareth is a very challenging track for both the drivers and the engineers because it has three very different corners. Turn 1 we can take flat out, Turn 2 is off banking and Turn 3 is like two corners. It can be a very long day if the car isn't good, but it's a lot of fun when the car is handling well. The team's been working so hard all season. I hope we can bring home a strong finish this weekend. It would be great to repeat last year's performance at Nazareth, and win the last race at the track. It is Marlboro Team Penske's home track and the team has so much history there, like Gil (de Ferran) getting Penske Racing's 100th win in 2000. I remember watching races at Nazareth while growing up in Brazil and am glad to have had the opportunity to race there."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 1 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "Nazareth is a track I always look forward to going to because it is so unique. It has very unique corners with an elevation change that is really unusual for an oval track and that I think drivers really appreciate. It's a shame that this is the final time we'll be running here. The Target team had a good car last year that we won the pole with. This has been a very difficult year for this team, but as we wrap up the season we'd really like to do it on a more positive note, and Nazareth is one of the tracks we should be able to do well on."
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (No. 5 Quaker State Telmex Tecate Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): "I have raced many times at Nazareth Speedway. It is a track that I know very well, and I enjoy racing there. It is a tough oval, and you need a good car to perform well. I think we will be strong there. We have a lot of momentum right now from the past two races, and I am very proud of the team and the job that they are doing. I think we are looking good for a strong finish to our first season and, if we can keep up our pace, a good result in the championship standings."
A.J. FOYT IV (No. 14 Conseco/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "Last year when I came to Nazareth for the race, it was the first time I ever saw the track, so it took us some time to get everything figured out. We ran decent in the race, so we can go back with a similar setup for the Conseco car. We'll just try to be consistent, run all day and get a good finish."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 ArcaEx Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "The ArcaEx team has been successful on the last two 1-mile ovals we've raced, but Nazareth is a completely different type of race track as the three turns have nothing in common with each other. It's a much narrower track, and it requires a different approach from both the car and the driver. Everything seems to come at you a bit quicker at Nazareth. It's a quick lap. When you come barreling down to Turn 3, you just have a small lift to get through there. It opens your eyes, let's put it that way."
BRYAN HERTA (No. 7 XM Satellite Radio Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I've always liked Nazareth. It's a place I've been racing at since the early 1990s, so I've got more than a decade there. To me it's one of the most fun ovals to qualify on because you've got three very distinct corners. The problem has always been that it's difficult to pass during a race. I enjoy Nazareth, and I'm looking forward to going back one last time in the XM Satellite Radio car, especially because I know it's important to (team co-owner) Michael (Andretti). It's his hometown. We've had a great season, but I'm not sure that the season will be complete if we don't bring him a win in his hometown."
SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "I enjoy racing at Nazareth Speedway, and I always have fun competing there. It's almost like a road course; the only difference is that we're only making left turns. The track is very challenging for the drivers because we have to deal with elevation changes and three totally different corners, plus it's very difficult to pass. Nazareth is a handling track and that's where Marlboro Team Penske has felt the most comfortable this season, so I think we should be competitive there. This weekend is also the100th race for the IndyCar Series, which will add a new level of excitement as the Series competes here for the final time. It's always been a track where everyone has really enjoyed competing, and it's too bad that we won't be coming back."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I am looking forward to racing at Nazareth this weekend. With this being the final race at what is the 'home' track for the Andretti family, it would be a great honor to be able to win this weekend and dedicate the race to them. Team 7-Eleven has been very strong this season and I'm confident we'll have another strong run. When it comes to the championship, I am taking things race by race and my focus is on this weekend's event."
JAQUES LAZIER (No. 20 Patrick Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We're getting stronger and stronger. We've got the chassis now where it's working well and we're able to utilize all of the Chevy power. We're going to keep moving forward. I'm definitely looking forward to going to Nazareth. We had a good car (at Pike Peak), and that tells us that we had a good mechanical setup. Nazareth is all about mechanical grip so we'll try to continue this momentum."
DARREN MANNING (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/ Firestone): "I got a chance to get to know the Nazareth track a bit better at the Toyota engine test we had there a little while back. It's an interesting track that is so very different from any other in the series. It has three very different corners that are each a challenge. I really enjoy the elevation change and the highspeed corner. The Target team has been much more competitive on the shorter tracks that require more emphasis on handling. I've finished fourth on three occasions this year, but I'd really like to break into the top three and Nazareth is probably our best chance to do that as we head to the final stretch of this racing season."
KOSUKE MATSUURA (No. 55 Panasonic/ARTA Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): "Our last 1-mile oval race was at Pikes Peak, and that was not a good weekend for me after I crashed in practice. I was very happy to finish that race, and I think I learned a lot about the smaller ovals. I have never been to the Nazareth track, but I will do my best for a good result this weekend. It is important to finish the season strong and have good results in the last four races."
VITOR MEIRA (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Centrix Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): "I wasn't real happy with our performance at Pikes Peak, but now we are going to Nazareth, and I know (teammate) Buddy (Rice) had a very good test there a couple of weeks ago. I feel good about that track. (Team co-owner) Bobby (Rahal) and Kenny (Brack) were always good at Nazareth, and they can help a little with some of the setups. Overall, we have a good starting point for that track. It is tight and passing is very hard. You have to drive carefully at times because that track can get you."
BUDDY RICE (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Racing Pioneer/Argent Mortgage Panoz G Force/Honda/ Firestone): "Pikes Peak was pretty disappointing. I'm still at a loss a little how (the spin) happened. I guess the air came off the rear wing because the car just snapped around so quickly. (Teammate) Vitor (Meira) said he could see how that could happen in the middle of the pack. It didn't help our situation in the championship, but the championship isn't over yet. I know we'll be ready for Nazareth. I won my first (Toyota) Atlantic race at Nazareth in 1998, and I enjoy that track. It is tight, and you have to be ready to make a move at any time. It's a one-groove track, and you have to be ready to take advantage of another driver's mistakes. We had a very good test at Nazareth a few weeks ago, and I feel confident about the race. We need to put together a strong weekend after the past one in Colorado. I know this Rahal Letterman team can get us right in the fight for the lead."
SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "Nazareth has been the classic bullring of IndyCar (Series racing), especially before Richmond came on board. For us to win the race there a couple of years ago was a highlight for us. Being from Connecticut, it's my home track. I always have a lot of friends and family that come out. I'll have to find a new one now that Nazareth is closing. It's a little bit of a bummer from that perspective, but we're looking forward to giving it a great race. As a team we've been struggling on the short ovals this year, so we're really hoping we can turn that around."
MARK TAYLOR (No. 13 Access Motorsports Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): "Nazareth is going to be tough. We haven't tested there yet. It's going to be important to get the setup right, but it is a longer weekend, so we have a bit more time. It will be a challenge. I've never raced there, so I'm going to have to learn the place during practice. Hopefully, we can get enough laps in, so that I can learn and gradually work our way up to speed through the weekend."
DAN WHELDON (No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "In all honesty, I think (Nazareth) is going to be the most difficult track for me. I do enjoy the Nazareth track, but it's obviously very challenging. I'd certainly like to run well there this year, and I do believe we can do that with the Klein Tools/Jim Beam car. The racing is different. There is very little overtaking, so I think it's about qualifying well, having a consistent race car and having very good pit strategy, which I have no doubt about with the guys in the pits doing the pit stops and Tony Cotman calling the race."