IRL: Test in the West: fast facts

WHAT: Test in the West; first Indy Racing Northern Light Series Open Test in 2001 WHERE: Phoenix International Raceway, 1-mile paved oval WHEN: Friday, Feb. 9 and Saturday, Feb. 10 CARS: Dallara and G Force chassis; Oldsmobile V8 and...

WHAT:

Test in the West; first Indy Racing Northern Light Series Open Test in 2001

WHERE:

Phoenix International Raceway, 1-mile paved oval

WHEN:

Friday, Feb. 9 and Saturday, Feb. 10

CARS:

Dallara and G Force chassis; Oldsmobile V8 and Infiniti Indy V8 3.5-liter engines; Firestone tires

2000 NORTHERN LIGHT CUP CHAMPION:

Buddy Lazier

SCHEDULE (all times local):

(Friday, Feb. 9)

9 a.m.-5 p.m.: Northern Light Series open testing

(Saturday, Feb. 10)

9 a.m.-5 p.m.: Northern Light Series open testing (open to public)

THE TRACK:

Phoenix International Raceway 1 mile paved oval
Front straightaway: 1,179 feet
Back straightaway: 1,551 feet
Width: 56-71 feet
Banking: Turns 1-2, 11 degrees, Turns 3-4, 9 degrees

Phoenix International Raceway, opened in 1964, is owned and operated by International Speedway Corp. The facility features a unique "dogleg" bend on the backstraight. 78,480 permanent seats plus the hillside surround the oval that has been the site of 56 Indy-style races. In addition to the Indy Racing Northern Light Series, PIR plays host to events sanctioned by NASCAR, USAC, and Grand American Road Racing Association.

THE TEST:

The Test in the West marks the first Open Test of the 2001 Indy Racing Northern Light Series season.

Phoenix International Raceway has played host to Indy Racing Northern Light Series events since the series' inaugural year in 1996. Arie Luyendyk (1996), Jim Guthrie (1997), Scott Sharp (1998), Scott Goodyear (1999) and Buddy Lazier (2000) have won in Northern Light Series competition at PIR.

TRACK MILESTONES:

All-time fastest lap: Arie Luyendyk, Reynard/Ford Cosworth/Firestone, 19.608 seconds, 183.599 mph - 3/23/96

TEST NOTES:

Three former Indianapolis 500 champions are scheduled to participate in this test: Eddie Cheever Jr. (1998), Buddy Lazier (1996) and Al Unser Jr. (1992, 1994).

Three Indy Racing Northern Light Series champions are scheduled to participate in this test: Buzz Calkins (1996 co-champion), Greg Ray (1999) and Buddy Lazier (2000).

Galles Racing will test with its three-car team comprised of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr., rookie Casey Mears, nephew of four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Rick Mears, and rookie Didier Andre. Galles expanded to a three-car team when it signed Mears and Andre in January.

2000 Indy Racing Northern Light Series champion Buddy Lazier will test with new teammate Stan Wattles for Hemelgarn Racing. Hemelgarn expanded to a two-car operation when it signed Wattles after the 2000 season.

Airton Dare, Sarah Fisher and Sam Hornish Jr., three Northern Light Series sophomore standouts, will participate in the two-day test. Dare, the 2000 Northern Light Series Rookie of the Year, will drive for Team Xtreme for the second consecutive year, while Fisher will drive for Walker Racing for the second straight year. Hornish begins his first season with Panther Racing after driving for PDM Racing in 2000.

Three rookies are scheduled to participate in the test: Didier Andre and Casey Mears of Galles Racing, and Felipe Giaffone of Treadway-Hubbard Racing.

Team Penske, which has won 10 Indianapolis 500s, will test Helio Castroneves and 2000 CART champion Gil de Ferran in preparation for the Pennzoil Copper World Indy 200 at Phoenix and the 85th Indianapolis 500.

Eddie Cheever Jr. and Robbie Buhl will use cars powered by the Nissan Infiniti engine during the test. Oldsmobile engines will power all other test participants.

The main grandstand at Phoenix International Raceway will be open all day Feb. 10 for spectators. Admission is free. Spectators should enter the track through Gate 7.

An open autograph session featuring Indy Racing Northern Light Series drivers will start at noon Feb. 10 on the front straightaway at Phoenix International Raceway.

A Test in the West Media Day is scheduled for Feb. 8 at Phoenix International Raceway. Drivers, team personnel and Indy Racing League officials will be available for press conferences and interviews. Lunch starts at 12:30 p.m. at the track, with a full schedule of media opportunities at the track throughout the afternoon.

SERIES NOTES:

The Indy Racing Northern Light Series will consist of 13 races beginning March 18 with the Pennzoil Copper World Indy 200 at Phoenix International Raceway and ending Sept. 16 with the Excite 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. The 85th Indianapolis 500 will take place May 27.

Six new markets for the Indy Racing Northern Light Series will play host to events in 2001: Chicago, Miami, St. Louis, Kansas City, Mo., Nashville, Tenn., and Richmond, Va.

All 13 races on the Indy Racing Northern Light Series schedule will be shown live on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2 as the series enters the second year of a five-year contact with ABC/ESPN. All races will also be broadcast live on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network.

Buddy Lazier looks to become the first driver in Indy Racing Northern Light Series history to repeat as series champion. Lazier also has set the goal of becoming the first driver to win the Northern Light Cup and Indianapolis 500 in the same season.

-IRNLS/IMS-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Buzz Calkins , Sarah Fisher , Greg Ray , Felipe Giaffone , Eddie Cheever , Al Unser Jr. , Casey Mears , Robbie Buhl , Buddy Lazier , Didier André , Scott Sharp , Arie Luyendyk , Airton Daré , Jim Guthrie , Scott Goodyear , Gil de Ferran , Al Unser Sr. , Rick Mears , Stan Wattles , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske