IRL: Texas: Round six preview

IRL INDYCAR® SERIES PARTICIPANTS TAKE ON HIGH-BANKS OF TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, June 6, 2005 -- The IRL IndyCar® Series continues its 10th season of competition with the Bombardier Learjet 500k on Saturday, June 11 at Texas...

IRL INDYCAR® SERIES PARTICIPANTS TAKE ON HIGH-BANKS OF TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY

INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, June 6, 2005 -- The IRL IndyCar® Series continues its 10th season of competition with the Bombardier Learjet 500k on Saturday, June 11 at Texas Motor Speedway.

This will be the IndyCar Series' 16th visit to Texas, but for the first time since 1997 it will be the only stop the IndyCar Series will make at the 1.5-mile oval this season.

The track's unique 1 24-degree banked turns has produced some of the tight racing that has been the hallmark of the IndyCar Series over the last 10 seasons. It's that close racing that presents a challenge to the 22 drivers, team engineers and Firestone engineers as described in the following first-person narratives:

THE DRIVER:

Scott Sharp enters the Bombardier Learjet 500k as one of three multiple winners at Texas Motor Speedway. Sharp is one of the most successful drivers at Texas, recording wins in the June event in 2000 and 2001.

Sharp, who has finished in the top five five times and the top 10 eight times at Texas, is the only entered driver to compete in each of the previous 15 races.

"Texas is really our Talladega. 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 four rows deep. It is a different track for us. A real premium is placed on the raceability of the car. You don't have to have the fastest car out there. You don't have to qualify at the front of the field. I have shown that the last few years when we have qualified way in the back but were able to race ourselves into the top five. 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. It is easy to get boxed in and sometimes an opening appears in the blink of an eye and you have to be able to put your car there. Sometimes you only have that same amount of time to miss a potential situation so maneuverability is very important.

"Texas is different than any of our other tracks because the third groove is a legitimate groove. You can run three cars wide open all the way around Texas. 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.

"I have always had a natural 'comfortability' about Texas. I like the track. I like the drafting. I love to run high. If we can get the car to work the way we want, that means a pretty fast race car and a race car that can pass others, we will be in good shape. I am excited. I think there is a lot of momentum around the Delphi Fernandez entry right now.

"We had a really positive month of May and showed a lot of speed. I am excited to take that team and go to Texas to try to get my third win there."

THE ENGINEER:

Eric Bretzman spent three years on the engineering staff at Target Chip Ganassi Racing before becoming chief engineer for 2003 IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon earlier this year. Bretzman, who has worked with Dixon for the last three seasons, has worked with ISM Racing, Truscelli Racing, Kelley Racing and Team Menard in the IndyCar Series.

"Low drag. That's the name of the game at Texas. The low drag aerodynamics has to be real free in the corners so that the driver does not have to have a lot of steering input.

"You have to have a good balance because the banking in the corners is a challenge. It's the biggest banking we see all year. It makes for higher speeds in the corners. You're not looking for as much grip as say Homestead, where the corners are tighter. The added banking at Texas makes more grip in the corner and brings the speeds up.

"Getting the car to run in a pack is also important. You'll work on getting the car to handle real well in the pack. Starting position is not critical if you can work through the field. If you're good in heavy traffic, there's not much downforce in the pack cutting the wind. You want to keep the car from having too much understeer in the pack. We'll work on that the first day and whole second day working the draft looking for different combinations of setups because we're basically trying to turn the car without relying on the front wing.

"A good car will handle good in both grooves. If the car is off, it may be easier to run the car on one groove or the other, but a good car that can win the race will be good in both grooves."

WHERE THE RUBBER MEETS THE ROAD:

Firestone's race tire development team considers the configuration of each track as it chooses the tire compound to be used at each track. According to Firestone engineers, Texas Motor Speedway has the highest-banking angle (24 degrees in the corners), requiring the most durable construction and highest heat-resistant compounds.

The tire used at Texas is similar to the compounds used at other 1.5-mile tracks this season.

RACE FACTS:

WHAT:
Bombardier Learjet 500k, sixth race in 17-race 2005 season

WHERE:
Texas Motor Speedway, 1.5-mile oval

WHEN:
8:30 p.m. (EDT), Saturday, June 11

DISTANCE:
200 laps/300 miles

TV:
ESPN (live), 8:30 p.m. (EDT), June 11

RADIO:
Qualifying webcast: 8:15 p.m. (EDT), June 9, www.indycar.com
Race: IMS Radio Network, 8 p.m. (EDT), June 11

***

The 10th season of IndyCar Series competition continues with the Bombardier LearJet 500k on June 11 at the Texas Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast by ESPN at 8:30 p.m. (EDT) and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network. The race also will be available on XM Satellite Radio channel 152 "XM Extreme." The next Menards Infiniti Pro Series race is the Firestone 100 on June 11 at the Texas Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast by ESPN2 at 3 p.m. (EDT) on June 16.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Scott Sharp , Scott Dixon , Chip Ganassi
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , CIP