Indy Pro Series readies for first night race
When the Indy Pro Series opened the 2007 season with qualifying under the lights at Homestead-Miami Speedway, it was the precursor for the series' first race under the lights. That will occur Aug. 11 at Kentucky Speedway when the 67-lap race is scheduled to begin at 9:10 p.m. (EDT).
Drivers are looking forward to showcasing the series in prime time at a track that has featured multiple laps of side-by-side racing. Last year's Kentucky 100 was the second-closest in series history with a margin of victory of 0.0190 of a second.
"I think the night race will be great fun," said series points leader Alex Lloyd, who will be vying for his record eighth victory of the season in the No. 7 Lucas Oil/Isilon Systems entry for Sam Schmidt Motorsports. "I have never raced a night race before. The biggest thing for us will be the fact that we run after the IndyCar Series. The track will have a lot of marbles on it and therefore the second and third grooves will be slippery. This puts more of an emphasis on qualifying, but even if the high line is harder to use effectively I am sure our race will be as exciting as always."
"I think the concept to race at night is good because it is just another way in which this series tries to emulate the IndyCar Series," added 2005 series champion Wade Cunningham, who has two top-three finishes in as many starts at Kentucky. "If anything, the cooler temperature should mean more efficient downforce and better racing."
Most of the drivers in the 21-car field entered in the Kentucky 100 have some experience driving at night.
"I have raced more times at night than in the day," said Sean Guthrie, who finished fifth in last year's race on the 1.5-mile oval. "I used to race on a dirt oval in Albuquerque in go-karts and have won more races at night than I have raced in the day. I believe I have won over 50 main events at night. I really enjoy racing at night as it just adds another element to driving.
"When we qualified at night at Homestead, I truly enjoyed it. The track looks a lot different, and ensuring you drive the same line as during the day is critical. While the track is going to change substantially from day to night, I don't believe it will affect the cars that greatly as the cars are very aero-dependent on the large tracks. The engines will be making more power due to the substantially better air, and the added power should even the field up."
The Kentucky 100 also marks the first time the Indy Pro Series race has been scheduled for after the IndyCar Series event - although rain forced just that scenario at California in 2005.
"I like the idea of racing after the IndyCar Series," Guthrie said. "I think that it will allow for one of our largest turnouts, and I feel like we can put on as good of if not better show than the IndyCar Series."
The Kentucky 100 is the 13th of 16 races on the 2007 schedule. Practice and qualifying are scheduled for Aug. 10.