IRL: Notebook 2002-06-05

Indy Racing League Notebook Castroneves, Scheckter want to bring on the night; Firestone tests at Indy INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, June 5, 2002 -- The first of three night races on the 2002 Indy Racing League schedule will take place June 8 with...

Indy Racing League Notebook

Castroneves, Scheckter want to bring on the night; Firestone tests at Indy

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, June 5, 2002 -- The first of three night races on the 2002 Indy Racing League schedule will take place June 8 with the Boomtown 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.

This is the sixth consecutive year in which a night race at Texas has been on the IRL schedule, as the first Indy Racing event under the lights took place in June 1997 at Texas. But it's the first night race ever for two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves and Indianapolis 500 Bank One Co-Rookie of the Year Tomas Scheckter.

Castroneves and Marlboro Team Penske teammate Gil de Ferran moved from CART, which stages no night events, to the IRL full time this season. And Castroneves never competed under the lights in any junior series in which he competed.

"We did run a test there (Texas) at night, which was incredible," Castroneves said. "You can see the lights go by and you realize how fast you are going. tried to run different lines and were able to get some good data for the race. The Marlboro Team Penske car handled well during the test, so I hope we're in pretty good shape when we unload this weekend."

Castroneves leads the IRL standings with 195 points in the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone.

Scheckter has raced at night -- but only in the virtual world.

"No, I've never raced -- I've played PlayStation at night but never raced at night," Scheckter said. "I can't wait. I think it's going to be great. It'll be a totally new experience for me. I just think it'll be good from a spectator's view, as well."

Scheckter admitted that the night race will force another change in his daily routine besides jumping into his No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone during twilight and after dark.

"You have to swap your training around," he said. "Instead of training in the morning, you train a little bit in the evening. You like to train when you're going to race."

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Firestone stays busy with testing: After logging 54,522.5 trouble-free miles in practice, qualifying and racing during this year's Indianapolis 500, Firestone engineers wasted no time to prepare tires for the 2003 version of the "Greatest Spectacle In Racing."

The Firestone race tire development team was back at the world-famous racetrack May 29-30, experimenting with compounds and constructions for the 87th Indianapolis 500.

"We are extremely proud of the performance of the Firestone Firehawks in this year's Indianapolis 500, but there's no time to rest on our laurels," said Firestone Racing Executive Director Al Speyer. "The tires used in this year's event contributed to record race speeds, providing incredible durability and consistency from the May 5 Opening Day session right through the May 26 race.

"When we accepted the role of exclusive tire supplier for the Indy Racing League last fall, we pledged to continue our tire development efforts, giving IRL teams and drivers superior tires every year. Our testing work at Indianapolis, just three days after this year's race, is evidence of our commitment to that pledge."

Firestone engineers experimented with different compounds and constructions at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Pennzoil Panther Racing driver Sam Hornish Jr. and Kelley Racing driver Scott Sharp logged 940 miles on Firestone Firehawk test tires.

"The test went very well, and our engineers were able to gather a wealth of data," Speyer said. "Sam and Scott, along with their respective teams, were also able to provide invaluable feedback about the differences among compounds and constructions being evaluated. We will immediately start to work analyzing the information, then begin the work of refining and tuning until we're satisfied we have the right tire for next year's Indianapolis 500. It's a laborious process, but the reward is great racing action at another Indy 500."

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What a prize: One lucky fan may become a Texas Motor Speedway "Fan 4-Ever" after the Boomtown 500 on June 8 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Four fans will be selected randomly June 8 to participate in the special contest that pairs each fan with one of the top four qualifiers for the race. If one of the top four starters wins, that fan will win Texas Motor Speedway Season Tickets for life, a lifetime membership to The Speedway Club and a $1,000 shopping spree at the Speedway World gift shop.

In addition, all four fans and up to three guests will watch the race from special "living rooms" set up adjacent to Victory Lane in the speedway infield. Four four-foot-high platforms will be furnished with a comfortable living room setting -- complete with television -- for the four fans and friends to watch their drivers compete in complete comfort. Rent Way, the second largest rental/purchase company in America, will provide the furniture. The company has more than 1,100 stores in 41 states and rents brand-name furniture, appliances and electronics.

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Big Tex hitches on with Treadway: Big Tex Trailers, a Texas-based trailer manufacturer and related parts supplier, will join the Treadway-Hubbard Racing team for the Boomtown 500 on June 8 at Texas Motor Speedway as a sponsor of the No. 55 G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone driven by Rick Treadway.

The company served as a sponsor of Treadway's car last October in the Chevy 500 at Texas, where Treadway finished a career-best fifth Big Tex Trailer Manufacturing, Inc. is the leading utility trailer manufacturing company in the United States and has produced trailers since 1976. For more information, log on to www.bigtextrailers.com .

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Hot laps: Fox Sports Southwest television network is following Texan Greg Ray during the Boomtown 500 this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. 1999 IRL champion Ray will drive the No. 11 A.J. Foyt Racing/Harrah's Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone in the race -- Indy Racing standout Robbie Buhl visited young patients at the Children's Medical Center of Dallas on June 5 as part of his work as national spokesperson for Racing For Kids. Buhl will drive in the Boomtown 500 on June 8 at Texas Motor Speedway in nearby Fort Worth -- Pikes Peak International Raceway, site of the Radisson Indy 225 on June 16, has entered into multiyear sponsorship and marketing partnerships with Clear Channel, Coca-Cola, Chipotle, Denver Newspaper Agency, KKFN-AM in Denver, KUSA-TV in Denver, KOAA-TV in Colorado Springs, Colo., Kubota Tractor Corp. and Waste Management Inc. Each of the sponsorship and marketing agreements calls for facility signage, inclusion in PPIR marketing programs, statewide marketing partnerships and unique, behind-the-scenes fan interaction programs -- Denise Pennington, a member of the Indianapolis 500 News Bureau staff, recently was awarded the David Overpeck Memorial Scholarship. The $1,000 scholarship is presented annually by the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association in memory of former Indianapolis Star sportswriter David Overpeck, a past president and organizer of AARWBA who died in 1988. Pennington is a senior at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Greg Ray , Scott Sharp , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Rick Treadway , A.J. Foyt , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Team Penske