Toyotas Test Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. — The Toyota IRL IndyCar Series drivers enjoyed sunny skies and smooth pavement at an open test session at Richmond International Raceway Friday. Marlboro Team Penske drivers Helio Castroneves and Sam Hornish Jr.; Target Chip Ganassi drivers Scott Dixon, Darren Manning and Ryan Briscoe; Red Bull Cheever Racing drivers Patrick Carpentier and Alex Barron; Vision Racing driver Ed Carpenter and Ethanol Hemelgarn Racing driver Jimmy Kite turned laps at America's Premier Short Track in preparation for the SunTrust Indy Challenge, set for Satuday, June 25 "under the lights."

Castroneves set the Richmond International Raceway pole record at 15.7708 seconds (171.202 mph) on the freshly paved surface last year. According to Toyota engineers, drivers were turning laps at speeds better than 2004. Unofficial reports indicated laps were completed at or near 15.50 seconds (174.194 mph).

Hornish, who won at Richmond International Raceway in 2002 en route to the IRL IndyCar Series championship, was glad to be back on the .75-mile oval.

"I like Richmond International Raceway," said the two-time IndyCar Series winner. "It's very fast and very physical. There's a lot of G Force and you're turning the whole time. It's a lot of fun for us. There are usually at least two lines you can run here. You're in traffic all night long. The Richmond fans have been great to us and we're ready to give them another exciting race."

Castroneves, who has three top-tens at Richmond International Raceway, expects this year's race to again be full of excitement.

"We're going under 16 seconds, and what a place to do it at," said the two-time Indianapolis 500 winner. "When you're completing a lap in less than 16 seconds, there's not much time to look to the dash and look at the road at the same time."

Scott Dixon took the checkered flag at the 2003 SunTrust Indy Challenge. He will look to Richmond International Raceway to get back to his winning performances of two years ago.

"It's always fun to come back here," said the 2003 IndyCar Series champion. "It's so different from any other track that we come to. You always have to hustle the car, and I think the race is pretty action-packed under the lights. Richmond stands out as the best oval by far."

"It's a lot like a road course," added Castroneves. "I'm sure everyone enjoys coming here and everyone will have a great time."

All of the IndyCar Series regulars will be back at Richmond International Raceway Saturday, June 25 for the SunTrust IndyChallenge. Rookie phenom Danica Patrick, Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon, defending IndyCar Series champion Tony Kanaan and all of the other IndyCar Series stars will get together for a night of open-wheel racing "under the lights."

Don't blink or you're bound to miss some of the best drivers in the world as they turn laps in less than 16 seconds on America's Premier Short Track. Tickets are still available for the fifth annual SunTrust Indy Challenge. Reserved seats are only $35 and general admission seats are just $30.

Saturday's ticket also includes a seat for the Richmond Times-Dispatch 100 USAC Weld Racing Silver Crown Series race. The weekend kicks off Friday, June 24, with WRIC-TV8 Pole Qualifying for the SunTrust Indy Challenge and the USAC Valvoline National Sprint Car Series race. All tickets for Friday are only $15 and include an autograph session with all of the IRL IndyCar Series drivers. Children 12 and under are admitted free with a ticketed adult in general admission sections both nights.

For more information, please call the ticket office at 1-866-455-RACE (7223) or visit

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