Indy Car championship road goes through Richmond
This weekend’s SunTrust Indy Challenge at Richmond International Raceway, race nine of the IndyCar Series of which Australia’s Gold Coast Indy 300 is a part, just might offer a glimpse of the 2008 IndyCar Series champion.
Of the past seven SunTrust Indy Challenge winners, four have gone on to claim the championship that same year (Sam Hornish Jr 2002, Scott Dixon 2003, Hornish Jr 2006, Dario Franchitti 2007).
Another three champions enjoyed strong finishes in Richmond before taking the title, with Hornish Jr finishing second in 2001, 2004 champion Tony Kanaan finishing fifth and Dan Wheldon also taking fifth in 2005.
Second in Richmond last year before becoming the title runner-up was Brisbane-born Kiwi Dixon, who as the 2008 Indianapolis 500 winner has additional history on his side towards Richmond, with the last two ‘500’ winners – Franchitti and Hornish Jr – also winning there in the same year.
While Dixon will be looking to continue his dominance of the season so far, he will need to be wary of Helio Castroneves who is second in the standings and has enjoyed his previous trips to Richmond with a win in 2005, the 2004 and 2006 pole positions, four top 10 finishes and 187 laps led in six starts.
Castroneves’ teammate Ryan Briscoe and his ‘down under’ comrade Will Power of Team Australia will also be ones to watch, with Power enjoying his best-ever oval finish of ninth last weekend in Iowa and Briscoe running off strong form and the fastest lap in Iowa despite struggling with grip issues.
Whatever happens, the 26 cars set to hit the oval this weekend will have more laps to do it in, with 50 additional laps added to make a 300 lap header. Combined with increased traffic and the introduction of four lap qualifying at Richmond for the first time, the teams will certainly have plenty to think about.
Following the SunTrust Indy Challenge the unified series will continue on a schedule that is the most diverse in world motorsports.
The 2008 schedule will take the teams and drivers to short ovals, superspeedways, and road and street courses including the Gold Coast Indy 300 which is regarded as a ‘crown jewel’ in international motorsport.
With 96 hours of non-stop excitement over October 23-26 as the Gold Coast comes alive to the sound of the IndyCars burning up the track and Australia’s own V8 Supercars scorching around one of the most famous beach-side cities in the world, the event is the hottest ticket in town.
Tickets are now on sale for the Gold Coast Indy 300 with ticket options to suit everyone's needs. Four day Grandstand passes are available for those who prefer to watch the racing from the comfort of their own reserved seat or for those who prefer to wander around and soak up the atmosphere then a four day, weekend or single day General Admission pass might be more their style. For more information on ticket options go to indy.com.au. For information on Corporate Hospitality packages please call our Sales Team on (07) 5588 6800.
WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY…
Scott Dixon - #9 Target Chip Ganassi Honda/Dallara/Firestone
“I’m fortunate enough to have a great teammate in Dan Wheldon and an owner in Chip (Ganassi) that values your opinion and puts you in the best possible position to contend for race wins.
"To be honest, I don’t really look at the numbers. We as a team are focused on taking one race at a time and that’s all we can do each weekend.”
Helio Castroneves - #3 Team Penske Racing Honda/Dallara/Firestone
"It’s one of the smallest circuits we run at, which means we’re able to turn laps in about 15 seconds. Because of the speeds and the track size, it feels like you’re constantly turning. As a result, Richmond is very physically demanding.
"When you add in the increased car count this season, I think we will see some really exciting action on the track. With more cars in the field, it’ll be tougher to move through traffic, which adds another challenge to this circuit.
"We weren’t quite as fast as we would have liked to have been there last year, but Team Penske has been historically strong on short ovals, so hopefully we’ll be able to turn it around this year and compete for the win.”
Ryan Briscoe - #6 Team Penske Racing Honda/Dallara/Firestone
"Not only did running at the track give me a sense of what the race will be like there later this month, but it also helped provide a bit of a baseline for all of the short tracks on the IndyCar Series circuit. The Milwaukee race is a prime example, as I earned my first career IndyCar Series victory at this very challenging short track a couple of weeks ago.
"Now I can certainly say that I’m looking forward to competing on more short ovals this season, including Richmond. The increased car count this season really adds a lot of excitement to these short oval races. If last weekend’s event at Iowa is any indication; we should certainly see an amazing race on Saturday night.
"With so many cars on the track, drivers really have to stay focused and make sure they know where everyone else is at all times.”
Will Power - #8 Aussie Vineyards - Team Australia Honda/Dallara/Firestone
“I have also learned a lot about how to drive and compete on ovals. We are not where we want to be yet, but it is nice to see that the hard work is starting to payoff. We just have to continue working and making progress and I look forward to doing that this weekend in Richmond."
ENTRY LIST: IndyCar® Series – SunTrust Indy Challenge at Richmond International Raceway
MILESTONES AND RECORDS
INDYCAR SERIES POINTS STANDINGS – POST RACE 8 – TOP TEN
BOMBARDIER ROOKIE OF THE YEAR POINTS STANDINGS – POST RACE 8
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