SunTrust Indy Challenge Preview
More cars, more laps, more qualifying
The IndyCar Series makes its eighth visit to Richmond International Raceway but several changes are in place. Twenty-six cars are entered, more than any previous IndyCar Series race. Twenty-two cars competed at Richmond from 2002-05. Two other changes include the addition of 50 laps to the race and the introduction of four-lap qualifying. How will the drivers and teams adapt to these changes?
Short track dominance up for grabs
In the span of four weeks, the IndyCar Series will have competed on three short tracks – The Milwaukee Mile (June 1), Iowa Speedway (June 22) and Richmond International Raceway (June 28). Team Penske’s Ryan Briscoe won at Milwaukee, while Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s Dan Wheldon won at Iowa. Can one of those teams earn a second short-track victory or will another team drive to Victory Lane?
Dixon maintains points lead, aims to continue success of “500” winners
Scott Dixon holds a 48-point lead in the standings over Helio Castroneves and a 49-point lead over Dan Wheldon. Dixon finished second at Richmond last year and won there in 2003. He also hopes to continue the recent success of Indianapolis 500 winners at Richmond. The last two Indianapolis 500 champions, Dario Franchitti and Sam Hornish Jr., also won at Richmond. Can Dixon maintain his dominance?
Championship road goes through Richmond
Of the seven SunTrust Indy Challenge winners, four of them have gone on to win the series championship (Sam Hornish Jr. – 2002, Scott Dixon – 2003, Hornish – 2006, Dario Franchitti – 2007). The other three series champions had strong finishes at the track. In 2001, Hornish finished second at Richmond; 2004 series champion Tony Kanaan finished fifth and 2005 series champion Dan Wheldon finished fifth. Will a win at Richmond offer a look at the 2008 IndyCar Series champion?
Richmond has been a good track for Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves. He won the race in 2005 and the pole in 2004 and 2006. Overall, Castroneves has four top-10 finishes and has led 187 laps in six starts at the track. Can Castroneves return to Victory Lane at Richmond?
First-time winner at Richmond?
With nine rookies in the IndyCar Series field and several other drivers competing in the IndyCar Series for the first time, will a driver win his or her first race at Richmond International Raceway? Already this season, Graham Rahal, Danica Patrick and Ryan Briscoe have won their first career races.
The SunTrust Indy Challenge will be the eighth IndyCar Series event conducted at Richmond International Raceway. The top three drivers in points are all past winners at Richmond. Scott Dixon won in 2003, Helio Castroneves won in 2005 and Dan Wheldon won in 2004.
Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves are also past winners of the PEAK Motor Oil Pole Award at Richmond. Dixon won in 2003, while Castroneves won in 2004 and 2006.
Thirteen drivers entered in the SunTrust Indy Challenge have competed in previous IndyCar Series events at the track. Five of those drivers led laps (Scott Dixon 206, Helio Castroneves 187, Dan Wheldon 58, Vitor Meira 40 and Tony Kanaan 8).
Four Indianapolis 500 champions are expected to participate in the SunTrust Indy Challenge: Helio Castroneves (2001, 2002), Buddy Rice (2004), Dan Wheldon (2005) and Scott Dixon (2008).
Three IndyCar Series champions are scheduled to participate in the SunTrust Indy Challenge: Scott Dixon (2003), Tony Kanaan (2004) and Dan Wheldon (2005).
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