IRL: Richmond: Pre-race notes

SunTrust Indy Challenge THE RACE: -- The Sun Trust Indy Challenge is the second of three night races on the 15-race Indy Racing League schedule. -- Richmond International Raceway is the shortest track on which the Indy Racing League competes...

SunTrust Indy Challenge

THE RACE:

-- The Sun Trust Indy Challenge is the second of three night races on the 15-race Indy Racing League schedule.

-- Richmond International Raceway is the shortest track on which the Indy Racing League competes and the only track in the series less than 1 mile.

RACE NOTES:

-- Four Indianapolis 500 champions are entered for this event: Al Unser Jr. (1992, 1994), Buddy Lazier (1996), Eddie Cheever Jr. (1998) and Helio Castroneves (2001, 2002).

-- Marlboro Team Penske will make its first appearance at Richmond International Raceway as full-time competitors in the Indy Racing League. Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves and Gil de Ferran drive for the team, owned by the legendary Roger Penske.

-- Buddy Lazier set three Indy Racing League records en route to winning the 2001 SunTrust Indy Challenge. He led 224 laps in the event, the most in one race and the most by a race winner. He also led a record 187 consecutive laps.

-- At the start of last year's SunTrust Indy Challenge, Buddy Lazier climbed from fourth starting position to lead the first lap.

SERIES NOTES:

-- The Indy Racing League consists of a record 15 races this year between early-March and mid-September, including three new venues. California Speedway (won by Sam Hornish Jr.) and Nazareth Speedway (won by Scott Sharp) already have played host to Indy Racing for the first time, while Michigan International Speedway will showcase the series for the first time July 28.

-- Sam Hornish Jr.'s victory March 24 at California was the fifth of his Indy Racing League career. Hornish reached five career Indy Racing victories faster than any driver in league history. It took Hornish 24 starts to achieve the feat. Scott Sharp previously was the fastest to five wins, doing so in 34 starts.

-- Jeff Ward's margin of victory of .0111 of a second over Al Unser Jr. on June 8 at Texas Motor Speedway is the closest finish in Indy Racing history. Sam Hornish Jr.'s margin of victory of .0281 of a second over Jaques Lazier on March 24 at California Speedway is the third-closest finish in league history. Twenty-two Indy Racing events have been decided by less than a second.

-- Sam Hornish Jr. has led 1,112 laps during his Indy Racing League career, moving past Buddy Lazier into third place on the all-time IRL list. Tony Stewart is first with 1,515, and Greg Ray is second with 1,149.

-- There were a record 11 cars on the lead lap at the finish of both the Firestone Indy 225 at Nazareth and the 86th Indianapolis 500.

-- The average speed of the Yamaha Indy 400 in March at California was 179.345 mph, an Indy Racing League record. The previous fastest average speed was 175.276 in October 2000 at Texas Motor Speedway, ironically in the No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara by Scott Goodyear. Sam Hornish Jr. now drives the No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara.

-- Helio Castroneves earned his third career Indy Racing League victory May 26 at the 86th Indianapolis 500. His first came at the 2001 Indianapolis 500, with his second coming March 17 at Phoenix International Raceway. Castroneves earned three victories in his first seven IRL starts, a league record. Arie Luyendyk earned his third victory in his ninth start.

-- At California, Jeff Ward led the first lap from the sixth starting spot, the deepest in the field that any driver has come to lead the first lap of an Indy Racing League event. Buddy Lazier came from fourth to lead the first lap in June 2001 at Richmond International Raceway, the previous record.

-- The 39 lead changes that took place at California Speedway are a league record. The previous record for lead changes in a race was 32 in October 2001 at Texas Motor Speedway.

-- Scott Sharp's victory in the Firestone Indy 225 on April 21 at Nazareth Speedway was the seventh of his career, moving him into second place on the all-time IRL win list behind Buddy Lazier, who has eight.

-- Scott Sharp has won at least one race in six consecutive Indy Racing seasons, a league record.

-- Helio Castroneves is the only driver to have led in the first seven Indy Racing League events this season. He is also the only driver to have finished in the top five in every Indy Racing League event 2002.

-- Jeff Ward led one lap en route to winning the June 8 event at Texas Motor Speedway. That is the least amount of laps led by a race winner in Indy Racing League history.

-- Marlboro Team Penske teammates Gil de Ferran and Helio Castroneves finished first and second twice this season. In March at Phoenix, Castroneves won, and de Ferran finished second, while at Pikes Peak, de Ferran won, and Castroneves finished second. It is the first time in Indy Racing League history that teammates have finished 1-2 twice in the same season.

-- Teammates have swept the front row three times this year. Gil de Ferran won the MBNA Pole, and teammate Helio Castroneves started second at Nazareth and Pikes Peak, while Red Bull Cheever Racing drivers Tomas Scheckter and Eddie Cheever Jr. qualified 1-2, respectively, for the Boomtown 500 earlier this month at Texas Motor Speedway.

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Series IndyCar
Teams Team Penske