IRL: Richmond ready for two days of open wheelers

Richmond International Raceway hosts the Sun Trust Indy Challenge with three of the nation's top open wheel divisions competing in an action packed two days of racing. The main event is Saturday night's 225-lap race which will pit the drivers of...

Richmond International Raceway hosts the Sun Trust Indy Challenge with three of the nation's top open wheel divisions competing in an action packed two days of racing. The main event is Saturday night's 225-lap race which will pit the drivers of the IndyCar Series against each other and the tight confines of Richmond's high banked .75-mile speedway.

Veteran and rookie drivers alike will face the challenge of preparing for intense competition at an event where practice time is limited. "I watched the race last year," said veteran driver Dario Franchitti. "As for my experience at Richmond, I've never been there, never driven on a track as small as that. I expect a hectic weekend. There's so many things going on, so many first time things, it's going to keep me busy."

Series rookie Mark Taylor also expects to have a hectic weekend, "It's going to be tough. I haven't been there, so I'm going to try to learn as much as possible, as quick as possible. I'm sure we'll have a great car there. Panther always works on the car quite well and (teammate) Tomas (Scheckter) has been there before and knows what to expect. Just trying to gain time, and I think we'll do quite well."

Richmond's two day format could benefit multi-car teams as teammates cooperate to develop different setups for qualifying and the race. Taylor's teammate Tomas Scheckter enjoys racing at Richmond. "I'm really looking forward to racing under the lights at Richmond International Raceway this Saturday night," said Scheckter. "It's the shortest track we race on, just three-quarters of a mile, so the action is tight, fast and exciting. I think it's one of the best, most exciting races of the year for our fans as well. They've made some changes to the track including repaving it since we raced there last year, and I hear it's even faster with our cars than it was. We had a very good test in Milwaukee, which is only a mile long, and we made some good gains on chassis set-up there so we're looking forward to a great race in Richmond."

While Taylor will look to Scheckter to gain insight on a track where he has not competed, Dario Franchitti will have three teammates to obtain advice on a new track, including Dan Wheldon, Bryan Herta and series points leader Tony Kanaan.

Despite having teammates to rely on for information, a new track surface may throw everyone a curve ball as speeds are expected to increase this year.

"It's all new pavement," said Herta. "It's a lot faster, from what I've heard, so it's going to be interesting. And it's a two-day weekend, which is always difficult because you don't have a lot of time to set the car up. On top of that, my sponsor, XM Satellite Radio, is based not too far from there so we'll have a lot of people there. We definitely want to have a good weekend for them."

The SunTrust Indy Challenge, the sixth race in the 16-race IndyCar Series, takes the green flag on Saturday night at 7:55 p.m.

Support events include the USAC Silver Crown Series and USAC Sprint cars. The Dominic's of New York 100 for the USAC Silver Crown Series competes on Saturday prior to the start of the IndyCar Series event. The green flag is scheduled to drop at 5:45 p.m.

Friday's activities include IndyCar Series qualifying at 7:15 p.m. and a pair of USAC Sprint car races at 8:30 and 9:00 p.m.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Mark Taylor , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Dan Wheldon