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2014 Standings
After Fontana
Final Driver Standings

Rank Driver Points
1 Will Power 671
2 Helio Castroneves 609
3 Scott Dixon 604
4 Juan Pablo Montoya 586
5 Simon Pagenaud 565
6 Ryan Hunter-Reay 563
7 Tony Kanaan 544
8 Carlos Munoz 483
9 Marco Andretti 463
10 Sebastien Bourdais 461
11 Ryan Briscoe 461
12 James Hinchcliffe 456
13 Josef Newgarden 406
14 Charlie Kimball 402
15 Justin Wilson 395
16 Mikhail Aleshin 372
17 Jack Hawksworth 366
18 Takuma Sato 350
19 Graham Rahal 345
20 Carlos Huertas 314
21 Sebastian Saavedra 291
22 Ed Carpenter 262
23 Mike Conway 252
24 Oriol Servia 88
25 Kurt Busch 80
26 J.R. Hildebrand 66
27 Sage Karam 57
28 Luca Filippi 46
29 James Davison 34
30 Jacques Villeneuve 29
31 Alex Tagliani 28
32 Townsend Bell 22
33 Pippa Mann 21
34 Martin Plowman 18
35 Buddy Lazier 11
36 Franck Montagny 8
Kanaan fastest as rain threatens in Motegi

Indy Car
Thursday, April 17, 2008

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Tony Kanaan

With a forecast of rain that could wash out final practice and qualifications for the PEAK Motor Oil Pole Award on April 18 defending race winner Tony Kanaan continued to be the man to beat at Twin Ring Motegi as the IndyCar Series returns to the Honda-owned oval track north of Tokyo, setting the pace Thursday in opening practice for Sunday's Bridgestone Indy Japan 300.

Homestead-Miami race winner Scott Dixon paced the morning practice session and ended the day second quickest overall, followed by his Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate - and two time Motegi winner - Dan Wheldon.

Tony Kanaan
Reigning champion Tony Kanaan grabbed the top spot with a quick lap of 27.2453 seconds (200.842 mph) in the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven car for Andretti Green Racing. Dixon had a quick lap of 200.390 mph (27.3067) in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car, while two-time Motegi winner Dan Wheldon (200.250; 27.3259) was third.

Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves, the pole sitter last year and points leader coming into the 200-lap race, was fourth (200.032; 27.3556) and Vision Racing’s Ed Carpenter (199.737; 27.3960) was fifth.

The teams will have another 90-minute practice session available to them tomorrow afternoon, with the green flag set to wave at 9:30 p.m. Eastern Time. The session will be the last before the four-lap qualifying procedure that will set the grid for Saturday’s race, which gets underway at 12:30 a.m Friday morning. The new qualifying format uses the average speed of four laps around the Motegi oval as the IndyCar Series adopted the Indianapolis-style procedure on all of its ovals for 2008. The format was used at Homestead for the first time earlier this year, with Rahal Letterman Racing and Ryan Hunter-Reay taking the ninth spot on the grid.

“I really like the new qualifying format,” Hunter-Reay related. “It keeps everybody honest in a way. You have be able to put up a series of good laps, not just set things up for one flying lap where a guy holds his breath for the whole thing and takes a chance. This gives a much better representation of what kind of car a team will have for race day.”

The Indy Japan 300 will take place Saturday afternoon in Japan, which is Midnight Saturday morning Eastern Time in the United States. The third race of the 2008 IndyCar Series season will be contested over 200 laps. Fans can watch all of the action live on ESPN2, or via tape-delay broadcast later Saturday afternoon on ESPN with the broadcast beginning at 3 p.m. Eastern Time.

POST-PRACTICE NOTES:
 
Buddy Rice and his wife Michelle welcomed their first child, a daughter named Mina, on April 9.

BUDDY RICE: (No. 15 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I was only home for two or three days (of fatherhood), then it was time to get to Japan and the racetrack. It's been good. It's exciting and fun, but there's a big learning curve (to being a dad). We'll see how it is after I get back. I'm home for a few days before Kansas, but then I'll be gone for most of May to do Indy."

***
Ryan Hunter-Reay is racing at Twin Ring Motegi, while his girlfriend Beccy Gordon is competing in the Celebrity Race at the Long Beach Grand Prix in the U.S. Gordon, a off-road racing veteran, is making her first pavement start in the event.

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "Yeah it's pretty neat that we're both racing on the same weekend. I just wish we were racing at the same track."

***
Jimmy Vasser won the pole position for Target Chip Ganassi Racing when CART debuted at Twin Ring Motegi in 1998. Now co-owner of KV Racing Technology in the IndyCar Series, Vasser will again be behind the wheel in the Champ Car finale at Long Beach, Calif., this weekend.

***
Emu Australia has signed on as a sponsor of the No. 23 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing car driven by Townsend Bell.

The partial-season entry will see Emu Australia as the primary sponsor for potentially two races -- Milwaukee, and pending a final schedule from the IndyCar Series, Australia. William Rast is the primary sponsor for the other events.

"This is all great news," Bell said of the footwear company. "I can't be any more pleased with the enthusiasm I've received from friends and colleagues wanting to be a part of my IndyCar Series return. Emu Australia is another company that sees the value that the new, unified IndyCar Series brings to the table.”

Bell, who competed at Twin Ring Motegi in 2002 in CART, will make his first start at the track in the IndyCar Series. Bell made his debut with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing at St. Petersburg.

“The amount of racing I've done the last few years has been pretty limited; it's been limited to just the occasional one-off,” he said. “So I feel like I've had more seat time than I can remember, even though it's been pretty limited. So to have a chance to go and run Japan and then hit the month of May with that experience and two races under my belt, to me that's a huge advantage given where I was the last time I raced at Indy in 2006.

“I'm really thankful for the team, Dreyer & Reinbold, to give me the chance. I know they're committed to giving me the best opportunity to succeed, not only at Indy but the races I'll do the rest of the season. Frankly, it's just about finding the starting point and looking to what we can build for the future.”

***
A magnitude 5.7 earthquake struck northern Japan early Thursday morning and it was felt near Twin Ring Motegi.

Several drivers said they slept through the quake, but it did awake several drivers and Indy Racing League officials, including Danica Patrick and IRL founder and CEO Tony George.

DARREN MANNING (No. 14 ABC Supply Co/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It felt like a washing machine went off in my room. It was like I was on a gentle spin cycle. "

FASTEST SPEEDS OF DAY:

Pos Driver Diff Gap Best Time Best Speed
1 Tony Kanaan (11) ... ... 27.2453 200.842
2 Scott Dixon (9) 0.0614 0.0614 27.3067 200.390
3 Dan Wheldon (10) 0.0806 0.0192 27.3259 200.250
4 Helio Castroneves (3) 0.1103 0.0297 27.3556 200.032
5 Ed Carpenter (20) 0.1507 0.0404 27.3960 199.737
6 Marco Andretti (26) 0.1593 0.0086 27.4046 199.675
7 Ryan Briscoe (6) 0.2185 0.0592 27.4638 199.244
8 Danica Patrick (7) 0.2702 0.0517 27.5155 198.870
9 Townsend Bell (23) 0.3903 0.1201 27.6356 198.005
10 A.J. Foyt IV (2) 0.4279 0.0376 27.6732 197.736
11 Darren Manning (14) 0.4391 0.0112 27.6844 197.656
12 Hideki Mutoh (27) 0.4674 0.0283 27.7127 197.455
13 Ryan Hunter-Reay (17) 0.5132 0.0458 27.7585 197.129
14 Buddy Rice (15) 0.5369 0.0237 27.7822 196.961
15 Vitor Meira (4) 0.6027 0.0658 27.8480 196.495
16 Marty Roth (25) 0.6631 0.0604 27.9084 196.070
17 Jay Howard (24) 1.1305 0.4674 28.3758 192.840
18 Roger Yasukawa (77) 1.6235 0.4930 28.8688 189.547

POST-PRACTICE QUOTES:
 
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fastest of the day): “Overall, it was OK. We ran a full day and hopefully tomorrow will be better. I’m not quite happy with the balance of the car, but we still have two days to go and a lot of work to do. It’s Turn 4 where I’m having the problem, so we’re trying to make the car better there. Turns 3 and 4 are the key to have a balanced car for the race; that’s where you’re going to make the pass.”


SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, second-fastest of the day): "We basically tried to make changes between the sessions to try and make the car better. We came up with a few things because to start off, the car was difficult to drive. We actually ran out of tires with about 10 minutes to go. We had to do another sticker run at the end, which we really didn't want to do, and then we caught some rain, so I don't think we got the optimum speed out of the car. I think we could have easily got into the 201's without the weather. That was the only frustrating part of the last session.


DAN WHELDON (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, third-fastest of the day): "It was a relatively good day. Unfortunately, we didn't quite get our second set of tires on in that second session. I think what you can see is we've let the car (be) on edge a little more. With that, it's probably good that we did save that set."


HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fourth-fastest): “Today was an interesting day. The Team Penske car started off good, but then we faced a little problem. That’s why we weren’t able to do as many laps, and obviously, the rain made it a little harder on everyone. But right now, we have a good car for the race and we’ll see what happens with the weather.”

ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Menards/Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fifth-fastest): "We had a pretty good couple of practice sessions today and the car ran well. Obviously we are happy to put in times that are good enough for the top-five, but we also want to keep working to go faster. So far this year our oval package has been good for us so the goal now is to keep building off of that and keep improving it. I hope the rain holds off tomorrow so we can try to qualify and see how we stack up with everybody else in qualifying."

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, seventh-fastest):  “I think we still have a bit of work to do, but it’s been good for me just learning the track again. It’s a pretty difficult circuit. Team Penske spent the day working on the setup, making gains and moving up in the field a little bit as we go. I’m really happy at how we finished after day one.” 

***
FRIDAY'S SCHEDULE (all times local):
8 a.m.
IndyCar Series garage open 
10:30 a.m. – Noon
IndyCar Series practice (two groups)

1:30 p.m.
PEAK Motor Oil Pole Qualifying (single car/time of four consecutive laps)

3:30 p.m.
Autograph Session

NOTE: Schedule subject to change due to weather.

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