IRL: Series notebook 2001-06-21

Texas getting new surface; Infiniti confident ranks will grow INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, June 21, 2001 - The repaving of the 1.5-mile oval at Texas Motor Speedway, annual site of two Indy Racing Northern Light Series events, will be done before the...

Texas getting new surface; Infiniti confident ranks will grow

INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, June 21, 2001 - The repaving of the 1.5-mile oval at Texas Motor Speedway, annual site of two Indy Racing Northern Light Series events, will be done before the season-ending Chevy 500 on Sept. 16.

The speedway will be repaved with a granite-based asphalt compound that dries much more quickly than the current limestone-based asphalt. The granite-based compound was used to pave the speedway's infield road course last year.

"Our director of development, Jim Stufflebeam, has hit upon just the right compound for our racing surface," said Eddie Gossage, TMS general manager. "It took some research to find just the right mixture, but this seems to really work."

The repaving also will make the fast, 1.5-mile oval even smoother. "The ground tends to settle over time which can lead to dips in the racing surface, something you see at many speedways," said Gossage. "We consider this to be routine maintenance and fully expect to be doing this type of work from time to time to ensure the smoothest possible racing surface."

The racing surface has already been removed between Turns 3 and 4 and preliminary work has now started on Turns 1 and 2. Crews will then move to the backstretch and then finally, to the frontstretch of the speedway.

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Infiniti confident that ranks will grow: With Infiniti-powered Eddie Cheever Jr. contending for victory until a late accident on June 9 at Texas and Robbie Buhl finishing third on June 17 at Pikes Peak, Infiniti is confident that success will attract more Indy Racing Northern Light Series teams to use its new 35A engine.

Cheever and Buhl are the only drivers using the Infiniti in Indy Racing this season. "We are really knocking on the door," said Steve Kight, director of marketing and motorsports, Infiniti Division. "We are going to keep attacking in every race. We still have a long way to go with the engine, but we are real excited about the program.

"We are going to continue our program with both Eddie and Robbie, but we have been getting a lot of calls. What we are going to do is continue with our objective, to win races. With that in mind, I think you are going to see more Infiniti engines in the very near future."

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Garage passes on sale: Fans attending the Indy Racing Northern Light Series event weekend on June 28-30 at Richmond International Raceway will have the unique opportunity to gain access to the garage area as the drivers and teams prepare for the inaugural SunTrust Indy Challenge.

A garage pass can be purchased for only $30 and will be good for all three days. The pass must be purchased with a race ticket.

"We are thrilled that the Indy Racing League is allowing us to offer garage access to our fans," said Doug Fritz, president of Richmond International Raceway. "Walking through the garage at a race is like being in the locker room before a football game or in the dugout for a baseball game. Fans can see the Indy cars up close and watch how the drivers and teams prepare for a race. It is a fun and unique experience that I know our fans will greatly enjoy."

Richmond International Raceway also has opened up more reserved seats for the race. "The response we have received from race fans for the SunTrust Indy Challenge has been terrific," Fritz said. "We are opening up more reserved-seat sections to accommodate fans who have inquired about having their own reserved seat."

Reserved tickets for the SunTrust Indy Challenge on June 30 are $35, and general admission tickets are $30. All June 29 tickets are $20 for general admission, and the public is invited for free to Indy Racing Northern Light Series practice June 28.

Children 12 and under are free in the general admission sections June 29-30 when accompanied by a paying adult.

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Hot laps: 1996 Indy Racing co-champion Buzz Calkins was given an honorary membership into the Boy Scouts of America during the Radisson Indy 200 on June 16 at Pikes Peak International Raceway. Calkins was inducted into Colorado Boy Scout Troop 484 following MBNA Pole Qualifying. Calkins asked the group of scouts, "So, when is our first meeting?" ... Indy Racing driver Robbie Buhl will visit the Richmond Children's Hospital at 1:30 p.m. (EDT) June 27 as part of his role as national spokesperson for "Racing For Kids."

-IRNLS/IMS-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Buzz Calkins , Eddie Cheever , Robbie Buhl