IRL: St. Pete: Chip Ganassi Racing preview

Target Team Hits the Streets of St.Petes This Weekend * Coming Up this Weekend--Target Chip Ganassi Racing hits the road this weekend, literally, as the Indy Racing League gets set to hold the very first non-oval IndyCar race in their ten year...

Target Team Hits the Streets of St.Petes This Weekend

* Coming Up this Weekend--Target Chip Ganassi Racing hits the road this weekend, literally, as the Indy Racing League gets set to hold the very first non-oval IndyCar race in their ten year history. The Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be contested on a 1.81 mile, 14-turn circuit on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida (100 laps/181 miles). It is the third race of the 17- race 2005 IRL IndyCar series season.

The track features more than 20 million pounds of concrete blocks, almost four miles of fencing and close to 12 miles of cable have been installed. The course also incorporates more than 17,000 tires in the barriers and 12,000 U-Bolts to secure the fencing and three steel gates.

* A Left, Then A Right--After completing 85,724 consecutive left hand turns the next official turn at an IndyCar Series event will see the cars turning right for the first time. Target Chip Ganassi Racing has had a storied history of success, especially in road racing, winning 26 races (of 45 total victories) on road or street tracks since 1994.

Target drivers Scott Dixon, Darren Manning and Ryan Briscoe, all come from road racing backgrounds and the team expects that kind of combination to be a key advantage at the three road courses races on the IndyCar Series 2005 calendar, starting this weekend on the temporary street course at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

* Road Course Qualifying- -Under the road course qualifying procedures, all cars will participate in the opening two-hour session of practice (10:20 a.m. Friday). The performance based at the end of that session will determine the groups for split practice sessions Friday afternoon (2 p.m. Friday). The combined Friday practice times will determine the event qualifying order, with the driver posting the fastest combined time from the first day of practice having the option of driving first or last in single-lap qualifying (2 p.m. Saturday).

At the conclusion of single-lap qualifying there will a 10-minute break for adjustments, then the fastest six cars will participate in a 10-minute, European-style session designed to give each car the opportunity to better its qualifying time. Cars will be spaced in 10 to 15-second gaps on the 1.8-mile temporary street circuit.

* Where the Rubber Meets the Road-- Each car receives eight sets of slicks (32 total tires) for the race weekend, to use as its team determines in the practice, qualifying and race sessions. Those cars that make the "Firestone Fast Six" for the final segment of qualifying receive an additional set for that session only. With previous open-wheel experience on this same street circuit, Firestone Racing engineers opted to bring their highest-grip ("softest") street-course compound/ construction tires. Also, for the first time in league history, the IRL is permitting teams to use tire-warming blankets during the qualifying sessions only. Firestone supplies each car up to four sets of grooved-tread rain tires (16 total tires) per race weekend on road and street courses, as needed. Teams can provide two additional sets of the same-spec rain tire that may have been distributed at an earlier test. The softer street-course rain tire specification was selected for this weekend.

* And the leader is.... To commemorate Firestone's status as the only tire supplier to participate in every IndyCar Series event in IRL history, a $10,000 bonus is awarded to the driver leading the lap corresponding to the cumulative number of races conducted to that point -- 106 this weekend. But since there are just 100 laps in Sunday's main event, Firestone will offer its Performance Award to the driver leading when the 106th mile is turned -- lap 59.

* A Look Back-- Darren Manning is only one of two drivers (Patrick Carpentier being the second driver) that has raced on the streets of St. Pete's where he started 11th and finished 13th for Walker Racing in the Champ Car World Series in 2003.

"You're at top speed coming down the front stretch, which is really a bumpy airport runway, going into the right-hander at Turn 1. The turn is slow, but really wide open, so there are lots of chances for overtaking. Turns 2 and 3 also are a nice little passing section where you're really going to have to try to get absolutely flat out because they're pretty fast corners.

"Between Turns 3 and 4, the back straight is a little bumpy because this is where you're back onto the real street circuit, so you have a crest in the road and things. Turns 4-6 are all through a car park (parking lot). The area has been widened but is all a twisty complex. You're braking on a diagonal through (Turns) 6 and 7 for the double-right at (Turns) 8 and 9. There is a short chute between 8 and 9, where you can overtake, before the second right angle in a row. (Turn) 9 is really tricky on the exit. It's off-camber because you're still on the road, and you're crossing over the main road that is really off-camber because of the drainage and things.

"At turns 9-10, you're flat out down the kink in the back straight, which will be easy flat in these cars, and into a tightened-up Turn 10 to make it easier to overtake and safer. That takes you to turns 11-12, where you try to get absolutely flat going through here -- they're the fastest corners on the track -- before getting to a big loop at turns 13-14. That section is long, tight, and slippy and gets you back on to the front straightaway."

* Testing... Testing...1... 2... 33... -- Prior to this weekend's race in St.Petersburg, Ryan Briscoe took to the road track at Sebring for an engine manufacturer test day for Toyota in the #33 Target Toyota. The rookie turned in the fastest laps of the day (unofficially of course).

* Taking a Closer Look--Fans will get a closer look at the inside workings of a Target IndyCar this season. Target Chip Ganassi Racing has built a "Cutaway Car" for the IndyCar Series television broadcasters ABC and ESPN. The car, which will be the first such tool used during season-long telecasts of Indy-style racing, is a full-sized IndyCar Series machine featuring cutouts along its vertical axis. It will give viewers a closer look at the inner workings of an IndyCar Series race car, showing everything from the cockpit and footbox, to the aerodynamic and mechanical characteristics unique to IndyCar Series racing. The car will also be on display in the "Fan Experience" area on race weekends.

* Catch it LIVE-- Target fans can tune in to watch the Honda Grand Prix of St.Petersburg, the first non-oval event in IndyCar Series history, on ESPN at 3:30 pm (EDT) Sunday, April 3rd with Todd Harris (play-by-play), Gil de Ferran (analyst), Scott Goodyear (analyst), Jamie Little, Dr. Jerry Punch and Jack Arute (pit reporters).

* Listen in LIVE- Target fans can listen in to the IndyCar Qualifying webcast at 2:15 p.m. (EST) April 2nd, www.indycar.com and then tune into the race coverage on IMS Radio network at 3:30 p.m. (EST), April 3rd, (as well as XM Extreme, Channel 152) with host Mike King, Pancho Carter (driver analyst), Dave Wilson (color commentary), Mark Jaynes (backstraight play-by-play), Kevin Lee and Nicole Manske (pit reporters).

-cgr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Darren Manning , Scott Goodyear , Gil de Ferran , Scott Dixon , Ryan Briscoe , Chip Ganassi , Pancho Carter , Dave Wilson , Jamie Little , Todd Harris
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing