WHAT: MCI WorldCom Indy 200; Second of 10 races in 2000 Northern Light Indy Racing Series season WHERE: Phoenix International Raceway, 1-mile paved oval WHEN: 2 p.m. (MST) Sunday, March 19 DISTANCE: 200 miles/200 laps POSTED ...
MCI WorldCom Indy 200; Second of 10 races in 2000 Northern Light Indy Racing Series season
Phoenix International Raceway, 1-mile paved oval
2 p.m. (MST) Sunday, March 19
200 miles/200 laps
More than $1 million
Dallara, G Force and Riley & Scott chassis; Oldsmobile V8 and Infiniti Indy V8 engines; Firestone tires
1999 RACE WINNER:
1999 INDY RACING LEAGUE CHAMPION:
(Pre-Race) Indy Racing 2Day ESPN2 (live), 11 a.m. (EST), March 19
(Race) ABC (live), 4 p.m. (EST), March 19 Announcers: Bob Jenkins, Tom Sneva Pit reporters: Vince Welch, Jack Arute
(Qualifying) ESPN2 (tape delay), 5:30 p.m. (EST) March 18 Announcers: Bob Jenkins, Tom Sneva Pit reporter: Vince Welch, Jack Arute
(Race) Indy Racing Radio Network (live), 4 p.m. (EST) March 19 Pre-race show starts at 3:30 p.m. Host: Mike King; Analyst: Larry Rice Pit reporters: Mark Jaynes, Doug Rice Backstretch reporter: Jerry Baker
(Qualifying) Indy Racing Radio Network, 4 p.m. (EST) March 18 Host: Mike King; Analyst: Larry Rice Pit reporters: Mark Jaynes, Doug Rice Backstretch reporter: Jerry Baker
SCHEDULE (all times local):
(Thursday, March 16) 5 p.m.: Driver autograph session and street party at the Arizona Center, located in downtown Phoenix
(Friday, March 17) 7 a.m.: Indy Racing League garage opens 10:45 a.m.-12:25 p.m.: Practice (two groups) 2:40-3:50 p.m.: Practice (two groups)
(Saturday, March 18) 7 a.m.: Indy Racing League garage opens 8:15-9:35 a.m.: Practice (two groups) 10:45 a.m.-noon: MBNA Pole qualifying
(Sunday, March 19) 7 a.m.: Indy Racing League garage opens 9:15-9:45 a.m.: Final practice 1:15 p.m.: Cars to grid 2 p.m.: MCI WorldCom Indy 200 (200 miles/200 laps)
(Qualifying) Arie Luyendyk, Reynard/Ford Cosworth/Firestone, 19.608 sec., 183.599 mph, March 23, 1996 (IRL, turbocharged)
(Race) Roberto Guerrero, March/Cosworth/Goodyear, 200 laps/200 miles, 1:26:56.620, April 12, 1987 (CART, turbocharged)
1-mile paved oval Front straightaway: 1,179 feet Back straightaway: 1,551 feet Width: 56-71 feet Banking: Turns 1-2, 11 degrees; Turn 3-4, 9 degrees
Phoenix International Raceway, located in the Arizona desert in the western Phoenix suburb of Avondale, opened in 1964. The facility is owned and operated by International Speedway Corp. The oval features a unique "dogleg" bend on the back straightaway. PIR has played host to 55 Indy-style races and also conducts NASCAR and United States Auto Club-sanctioned events. Grand American Road Racing Association events also are conducted on an 11-turn, 1.51-mile road course within the facility.
The MCI WorldCom Indy 200 marks the fifth consecutive year that the Northern Light Indy Racing Series has visited Phoenix International Raceway. There has not been a repeat winner at Phoenix in the history of the series. Winners of previous Indy Racing events at PIR: Arie Luyendyk (1996), Jim Guthrie (1997), Scott Sharp (1998) and Scott Goodyear (1999).
Northern Light Indy Racing Series points leader Robbie Buhl is entered in the event. After winning the season-opening Delphi Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway on Jan. 29, Buhl will try for his second consecutive win in the Team Purex Dreyer & Reinbold Racing G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone. Buhl leads the series standings by 12 points over Buddy Lazier.
Defending Northern Light Indy Racing Series champion Greg Ray started the season with a disappointing 17th-place finish at the Delphi Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway Jan. 29 after starting on the pole. But Ray proved strong at the "Test in the West," by recording the third-fastest lap in Phoenix testing at 172.712 mph. Ray was even stronger at the Las Vegas portion of the test, by topping the speed chart with a 205.558-mph lap.
Al Unser Jr. is making his first competitive appearance at the PIR oval since 1995, driving the Tickets.com G Force/Aurora/Firestone for Galles ECR Racing. Unser has never won at Phoenix, but earned second place finishes three times, in 1985, 1989 and 1994.
Sarah Fisher, a 19-year-old open-wheel standout from Commercial Point, Ohio, will make her Walker Racing debut at the MCI WorldCom Indy 200. Fisher, driving the #15 Walker Racing-Cummins Special Riley & Scott/Oldsmobile/Firestone, has made one prior Northern Light Indy Racing Series start, for Team Pelfrey at the Mall.com 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in October 1999. She started 17th and finished 25th in that race, sidelined by mechanical problems.
The MCI WorldCom Indy 200 also marks the first time Walker Racing is competing in the Northern Light Indy Racing Series on a full-time basis. Walker entered driver Mike Groff in the 1996 Indianapolis 500 but has otherwise competed full-time in CART. Walker Racing and driver Sarah Fisher are scheduled to compete during the remainder of the 2000 Indy Racing season.
Three Indianapolis 500 winners are entered in this event: 1998 champion Eddie Cheever Jr., 1996 champion Buddy Lazier, and 1992 and 1994 champion Al Unser Jr.
Indy Racing veteran Mark Dismore is a favorite to capture the MCI WorldCom Indy 200 after posting the fastest speed in the Feb. 25-26 "Test in the West" at PIR, with a lap of 174.436 mph in the Kelley Racing On Star Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone.
Stephan Gregoire, chasing his elusive first win in Indy Racing competition, was second fastest at the Phoenix test with a lap of 174.359 mph. Gregoire drives the Mexmil G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone for Dana Point, Calif.-based Dick Simon Racing.
Jimmy Kite is entered for the MCI WorldCom Indy 200, his first Indy Racing event since the Colorado Indy 200 at Pikes Peak International Raceway in August 1999. Kite, of Stockbridge, Ga., is under contract to drive the #27 Blueprint Racing-ZMAX G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone for the remainder of the 2000 season.
Bobby Regester will substitute for the injured Jaques Lazier at this event. Regester will drive the Miles of Hope G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone for Truscelli Team Racing. Regester, of Florissant, Colo., is considered an Indy Racing rookie because he has competed at one event, the Colorado Indy 200 at Pikes Peak International Raceway in August 1999. Regester started 23rd and finished 18th at that race. Lazier sustained a compression fracture in his lower back when his car hit the outside retaining wall on Lap 111 of the Delphi Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway in Orlando, Fla.
Seven Indy Racing League rookies are confirmed to participate in the MCI WorldCom Indy 200: Airton Dare (TeamXtreme); Doug Didero (Mid America Motorsports); Sarah Fisher (Walker Racing), Sam Hornish Jr. (PDM Racing); Niclas Jonsson (Nienhouse Motorsports); Bobby Regester (Truscelli Team Racing); and Jeret Schroeder (Tri Star Motorsports).
Buzz Calkins will try to extend his league record of 13 consecutive races running at the finish.. At the most recent event, the Jan. 29 Delphi Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway, Calkins drove the Bradley Motorsports Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone to an eighth place finish, finishing on the lead lap.
Scott Sharp will become the all-time victory leader in the Indy Racing League if he wins the MCI WorldCom Indy 200. Sharp is tied with the retired Arie Luyendyk and Kenny Brack with four career victories. Sharp's most recent win was the Kobalt Mechanics Tools 500 presented by MCI WorldCom in Atlanta on July 17, 1999. Brack now competes for team owner Bobby Rahal in the CART series.
Davey Hamilton, the only driver to compete in every Northern Light Indy Racing Series event to date, has signed a contract to drive for TeamXtreme for the remainder of the season. Hamilton, of Las Vegas, will drive #16 Lycos G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone beginning at Phoenix. Hamilton placed second in the series championship standings in 1997 and 1998, and has 22 career top-10 and 13 top-five finishes.
STATISTICS: 2000 Northern Light Indy Racing Series point standings 1. Robbie Buhl 52 2. Buddy Lazier 40 3. Eddie Cheever Jr. 35 4. Scott Goodyear 32 5. Eliseo Salazar 30 6. Donnie Beechler 28 7. Jeff Ward 26 8. Buzz Calkins 24 9. Billy Boat 22 10. Robby McGehee 20
2000 Northern Light Indy Racing Series money leaders 1. Robbie Buhl $139,000 2. Buddy Lazier $81,250 3. Eddie Cheever Jr. $68,250 4. Donnie Beechler $50, 600 5. Scott Goodyear $50,200 6. Eliseo Salazar $45,900 7. Jeff Ward $39,500 8. Billy Boat $38,400 9. Buzz Calkins $38,400 10. Robby McGehee $37,400
2000 Northern Light Indy Racing Series rookie points 1. Airton Dare 19 2. Niclas Jonsson 18 3. Doug Didero 16 4. Jeret Schroeder 11 5. Sam Hornish, Jr. 10 6. Jon Herb 8
2000 Net Race Live Lap Leaders 1. Robbie Buhl 49 2. Buddy Lazier 47 3. Greg Ray 46 4. Mark Dismore 30 5. Donnie Beechler 9
2000 Northern Light Indy Racing Series wins 1. Robbie Buhl 1
2000 MBNA Poles 1. Greg Ray 1
2000 wins by chassis 1. G Force 1
2000 wins by engine 1. Oldsmobile 1