IRL: Texas Motor Speeway pre-race "speed reads"

SPEED READS Indy Racing League Ready to Shine Under Lights at Texas Jimmy Kite Prepared To Double Dip This Weekend FORT WORTH, Texas (June 7, 2005) - Ringling Brothers Circus coined the phrase, The Greatest Show on ...


Indy Racing League Ready to Shine Under Lights at Texas
Jimmy Kite Prepared To Double Dip This Weekend

FORT WORTH, Texas (June 7, 2005) - Ringling Brothers Circus coined the phrase, The Greatest Show on Earth. But motorsports fans may argue that Texas Motor Speedway has earned that title with some of the greatest finishes in Indy Racing League history. Six of the top-20 closest margins of victory in IndyCar Series history have come at The Great American Speedway. Bat an eye at Texas Motor Speedway this Saturday night and you may miss the finish of the Bombardier Learjet 500k.

The Bombardier Learjet 500k set the benchmark for exhilarating heart- pounding finishes for the Indy Racing League from the very outset at Texas Motor Speedway. After the 1997 June race finished under caution, every summer race following that at Texas Motor Speedway has produced a finish with a margin of victory less than the blink of an eye.


IndyCar Series rookie Danica Patrick's first-ever start at Texas Motor Speedway will be just her sixth race of her career in the series. She is currently ninth in the championship and has become the focus of an international media blitz, which has included all the major U.S. television networks, front-page stories in most major U.S. daily newspapers and the cover of Sports Illustrated. Patrick's cover of SI marks the first time an IndyCar driver has been the feature on the cover since Danny Sullivan was on the June 1985 cover. Patrick was three-years-old at the time.

"I try not to get too overwhelmed by the media attention," Patrick said. "However, for someone like Sports Illustrated to notice how good our Rahal Letterman team did last month and to recognize IndyCar racing like this is great. We have mad an impact. The biggest challenge before us is to balance the demands outside the car with what we need to do to be ready to race. If we aren't successful on track then nobody is going to want to talk to us anyway."

Patrick also will be featured larger-than-life this week at Texas Motor Speedway as renowned sports artist David Arrigo is producing a live, week-long mural of her on a 20 foot-by-40 foot canvas on the speedway's marquee.


IndyCar Series veteran Jimmy Kite will drive the No. 91 Ethanol Hemelgarn Racing Dallara/Toyota in the Bombardier Learjet 500k on Saturday night. Kite, who was in the cockpit for the Indianapolis 500, is substituting again this weekend for the injured Paul Dana in the car. Kite will be pulling double duty this weekend as he attempts to run in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Chex 400k at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday night in the No. 06 MRD Motorsports Chevrolet.


Scott Sharp is the only driver in the field for Saturday's Bombardier Learjet 500k who has competed in every IRL IndyCar Series race at Texas Motor Speedway. He has finished in the top five on five different occasions and the top 10 eight times, including his two victories, the only June repeat winner at Texas.

"The track at Texas Motor Speedway was literally built for the Indy Racing League cars. With our downforce levels and the banking at Texas, we are able to put on an unbelievable show of three-wide and sometimes three and for rows deep. You don't have to have the fastest car out there. You don't have to qualify at the front of the field. Obviously, you are in a big pack and the draft is everything at Texas, so it is very important to have a car that is somewhat maneuverable in the big pack. Texas is different than any of our other tracks because the third groove is a legitimate groove. This year's race with the level of competitiveness in the IRL will probably be the most action-packed with the biggest pack of cars together than any race we have seen at Texas."


Dan Wheldon already has four wins in the first five races of the season. If he wins Saturday in the Bombardier Learjet 500k, he will tie the IndyCar Series record for most wins in a season (Sam Hornish Jr. - 5, in 2002). It would also give Wheldon the series record for most consecutive wins (4)...a win by Hornish Jr. or Scott Sharp on Saturday ties Hornish's IRL record of most career wins at a track (3, Hornish Jr. at Homestead-Miami).


Three IndyCar Series rookies will start Saturday's Bomardier 500k - Danica Patrick, Ryan Briscoe and Tomas Enge. Most of the attention will be on Patrick after her sensational ride at the Indy 500. Here's a look at how the IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year has fared at Texas Motor Speedway on their way to being named the top rookie in the series:


Sam Schmidt, who is a quadriplegic since he was paralyzed in an accident during Indy-car practice in 2000, will host Texans with spinal cord injuries and other debilitating injuries to a "Day At The Races" on Friday at Texas Motor Speedway. The Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation, Texas Motor Speedway, and Andretti Green Racing are giving the local patients and their guests the opportunity to experience open-wheel racing behind the scenes - and to be encouraged by Schmidt, who works daily to overcome the adversities of his own spinal cord injuries. For more information, contact Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation (317) 236-9999.

LAST LAP.This year's Indy 500 was one of the most-watched IndyCar Series races at the Brickyard in years. Viewers in the Fort Worth-Dallas market contributed to a huge jump in network television ratings on ABC, drawing a 6.6 rating in this market, compared to 4.6 in 2004.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Enge , Scott Sharp , Jimmy Kite , Dan Wheldon , Sam Schmidt , Danny Sullivan , Ryan Briscoe , Paul Dana , Sam Hornish Jr. , Danica Patrick