INDYCAR SERIES DRIVERS REACT TO MORE CARS AND MORE LAPS AT RICHMOND INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY SunTrust Indy Challenge to Feature 300 Laps and More Drivers Than Ever Richmond, VA (June 11, 2008)--During the IndyCar Series' off-season, Richmond ...
INDYCAR SERIES DRIVERS REACT TO MORE CARS AND MORE LAPS AT RICHMOND INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY
SunTrust Indy Challenge to Feature 300 Laps and More Drivers Than Ever
Richmond, VA (June 11, 2008)--During the IndyCar Series' off-season, Richmond International Raceway announced three major enhancements to the SunTrust Indy Challenge weekend, June 27-28 at America's Premier Short Track. Additionally, the recent unification of American open-wheel racing will add even more excitement to an already action-packed IndyCar Series race at Richmond International Raceway. The unification means more drivers than ever before will compete around the ¾-mile oval.
"It is going to be crazy, absolutely crazy," said IndyCar Series driver Darren Manning. "It has been crazy and the best of time when we have had 18 or 20 cars there over the last few years, so it is going to be really exciting. It is a great track to race on; you are never bored. You are always fighting someone behind you and you can nearly never go too wide. It is going to be crazy. It is going to be nose to tail the whole way around. It will be a good run."
"I think it is going to be a mad traffic jam," said 2004 IndyCar Series champion Tony Kanaan. "Especially with more cars, I think it is going to be the most stressful race we are going to have this year."
"It will definitely make things a lot more interesting," said Helio Castroneves, who won the 2005 SunTrust Indy Challenge. "I'm not totally sure how many cars the IndyCar Series is going to let participate in the race, but depending on this decision, there's a possibility that some cars might not make it. This will definitely create a new sense of urgency in qualifying."
"We are used to between 18 and 20 cars and I think they have got 26 or 27 cars running around that place, so that will be difficult," said 2004 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice. "They have added some laps to it, so that will be just that more difficult. So Richmond is going to be exciting this year, to say the least."
"Richmond is already one of the more difficult tracks we run on because of its size," continued Castroneves. "We're turning laps in about 15 seconds, and after the first few laps of the race, it seems like you're always in traffic. With the additional cars, this is going to make the race an even bigger challenge."
One of the major enhancements to the race is an additional 50 laps to be run at the eighth annual SunTrust Indy Challenge. In previous years, the race was competed in 250 laps, but now the race will feature 300 laps "under the lights."
Second, the series has revamped its qualifying format. Prior to 2008, the starting position of drivers was determined by the best lap time over a two-lap qualifying attempt. This year, the starting field will be set based on cumulative time from a four-lap qualifying attempt, identical to the format used for the Indianapolis 500.
"It will be interesting," said Rice. "It is hard enough to try to get one big smoker out of that thing, let alone try to put four of them in there repeatedly."
Third, the race will start 30 minutes later than in previous years, adding even more excitement "under the lights" with a prime-time green flag start time of 8:00 p.m. ET.
Because of the unification, there will be a handful of drivers who have never even seen Richmond International Raceway prior to the open-wheel weekend at America's Premier Short Track. Since Richmond is the shortest track the series races on, this could make for some interesting developments.
"I mean the big thing is for the guys who have never been here, which all the Champ Car teams have never been here, and this place is so unique," explained Rice. "It is going to be an eye-opening experience."
The IndyCar Series drivers will again be joined by the USAC National Sprint Car Series and USAC Silver Crown Series. The open-wheel weekend begins on Friday, June 27 for NBC12 Day, featuring pole qualifying for the SunTrust Indy Challenge and the "Showdown at Sundown" USAC National Sprint Car Series race. Saturday, June 28 will feature two races: the James River Grounds 100 USAC Silver Crown Series race and the SunTrust Indy Challenge IndyCar Series race "under the lights."
Tickets are on sale now for the June 27-28 open-wheel weekend. Friday's tickets are $15 and include an autograph session with all of the IndyCar Series drivers. Tickets for Saturday are $35 (reserved) and $30 (general admission). Children 12 and under are admitted free with a ticketed adult in general admission sections on both nights. Tickets are also on sale now for the NASCAR doubleheader at Richmond International Raceway September 5-6. Tickets for Friday, September 5, include Fas Mart Pole Qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, as well as a seat for the Emerson Radio 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race. Advance tickets are $45 (reserved) and $35 (general admission). Tickets on race day are $50 (reserved) and $40 (general admission). The Chevy Rock & Roll 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race is scheduled for Saturday, September 6. Tickets are on sale now and start at $80. For tickets and information, please log on to www.rir.com or call the ticket office at 866-455-7223.