Ray At Ease About Nashville
July 11, 2001 | 12:00 A.M. EST
But now, after leading testing at the 1.33-mile concrete oval Tuesday, Ray said he looks forward to the July 21 Harrah’s Indy 200.
“I was a little apprehensive about coming to a fast track that's concrete because concrete doesn't normally have the grip that asphalt does," Ray said. "The grip was pretty good. The upside of concrete is that it's very consistent once you get in the window of operation.
“It's a fun, fast track. It's very challenging. We're very excited to be in a new market.”
Ray’s 23.65 second lap around the track was good for a speed around 202.452 mph. IRNLS points leader Sam Hornish was second fastest, circling the track in 23.73 seconds in his No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Oldsmobile.
The five other drivers that tested at Nashville were Buzz Calkins, Felipe Giaffone, Robbie Buhl, Shigeaki Hattori, and Billy Boat serving as test driver for Cheever Indy Racing.
This will be only the second all-concrete track on which the Indy Racing League will compete. Dover Downs International Speedway played host to Indy Racing events in 1998-99 on its 1-mile concrete oval.
"It's a nice track, I really like it," Hornish said of Nashville Superspeedway. "It's going to be tough to pass, but it will be a fast race. It is very line-sensitive. You are going to have to hold your line to keep your momentum up. I think it will be really exciting. It's unlike any other track I've ever raced on."
Boat is sixth in the Indy Racing points with Curb-Agajanian/Beck Motorsports but helped Cheever Indy Racing with the development of its No. 51 Cheever Indy Racing Dallara/Infiniti. Full-time driver Cheever arrived late in the afternoon at Nashville after fulfilling post-race commitments after winning Sunday at Kansas Speedway.
Cheever is expected to drive for the team today, as private testing continues.
"We won at Kansas City, and we're all trying to figure out how to win Nashville," Cheever Indy Racing manager Richard Caron said. "We're just trying to get another win. So even though everybody is tired and exhausted and worn out from the heat in Kansas City, they know how important it is to test."
The Harrah’s Indy 200 is scheduled for 8 p.m. EDT, Saturday, July 21.