IRL Opener Moves Under The Lights
September 27, 2006 | 10:13 A.M. EST
“The only thing more spectacular than watching these cars race at 200 miles per hour is watching them race at night,” said Homestead-Miami Speedway president Curtis Gray. “South Florida is famous for its fast-paced nightlife, so it was only fitting for the Speedway to host this event under the lights for the first time. We encourage everyone to order their tickets early and guarantee their spot to kick off the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway.”
Open-wheel racing’s biggest stars will meet again to race side-by-side at speeds over 200 miles-per-hour on the Speedway’s state-of-the-art, 18-20-degree variable banking. In March, the Speedway was the site of the closest finish of the 2006 IndyCar Series season, when Dan Wheldon of Target Chip Ganassi Racing edged Miami-resident Helio Castroneves of Marlboro Team Penske to win by just .0147 seconds. Wheldon and Castroneves are just two of the drivers expected to compete on March 24.
“We were the first open-wheel series to race under the lights and now we are the first to open our season under the lights,” said Brian Barnhart, president and chief operating officer of the Indy Racing League. “Homestead-Miami Speedway has always produced exciting races and close finishes. Miami continues to be an important market, especially with the number of IndyCar Series drivers that consider it home.”
Other drivers expected to race in the season-opener include 2006 Bombardier Rookie of the Year and grandson of racing legend Mario Andretti, Marco Andretti of Andretti Green Racing, and 2005 Rookie of the Year and fan-favorite Danica Patrick, who will debut with her new team at Andretti Green Racing. 2006 IndyCar Series and Indy 500 champion Sam Hornish, Jr. of Marlboro Team Penske will reach a new milestone at Homestead-Miami Speedway, as he competes in his 100th IndyCar Series race.
Four of the last six IndyCar Series champions (Hornish ’01 and ’02, Dixon ’03, Wheldon ’05) have won at Homestead-Miami Speedway and gone on to clinch the championship later that season. Will the streak continue?