Dixon closes on 2008 title
Dixon has held the points lead after 10 of 13 races this season, and has held it consecutively since winning the 92nd Indianapolis 500 in May. The 2003 IndyCar Series champion has recorded five victories, and along with Castroneves, is the only driver with 11 top-five finishes.
However while the two may currently claim the top spots, mathematically six drivers are still eligible to win with Dan Wheldon, Tony Kanaan, Australia’s Ryan Briscoe and Danica Patrick all remaining alive for title contention.
Wheldon, the 2005 IndyCar Series champion, started the season with a third-place finish on the 1.5-mile oval at Homestead-Miami and followed with a victory on the 1.5-mile oval at Kansas. He also won at Iowa and has eight top-five finishes in 2008. He trails Dixon, his Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate, by 115 points.
Kanaan, the 2004 IndyCar Series champion, is just three points behind Wheldon for third. Kanaan has two poles and a victory in 2008, and along with Dixon and Castroneves is the only driver with 11 top-10 finishes this season. He is also the reigning Kentucky champion.
Sydney’s Briscoe, in his first season driving for Team Penske, has wasted no time throwing himself into championship contention, recording two victories to be 181 points behind fellow Trans-Tasman driver Dixon.
Next along is Patrick, 209 points behind Dixon, who will be joined by fellow fast femmes Milka Duno and Sarah Fischer this weekend in Kentucky – only the second time this season three females have been entered in the one event. The Andretti Green Racing driver has not been lower than seventh in the point standings all season and was as high as third following her first career victory at Motegi in April.
Australian fans should also be keeping a look out for Queensland driver Will Power, who will have something to prove after a mechanical failure robbed him of the chance to use the speed that saw him qualify fifth in Edmonton after he finished an IndyCar series career-best of fourth in the previous round at Mid-Ohio.
Australian fans can catch the Meijer Indy 300 action live by tuning in to ESPN at 8.30am on Sunday the 8th of August, with a replay scheduled for 7.00pm that same day.
Following the Meijer Indy 300 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 Nikon 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.
WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY…
Scott Dixon - #9 Target Chip Ganassi Honda/Dallara/Firestone:
“Kentucky is a tough track,” said Dixon.
“We just tested there, so that might help a little bit since it’s only a two-day event. It still comes down to the race, and (Helio’s) always there at the end. You have to make sure you have everything right.
“We’ve got four races to go and a 65-point lead, but that’s very catchable, for Helio especially. For the next four races, the people we’re competing against are all really good at those four races. Helio, I think is the real threat. He’s been very quick the past few races. They’ve stepped up their game a lot.”
Helio Castroneves - #3 Team Penske Racing Honda/Dallara/Firestone:
“Kentucky is a tough track to master, because it’s very bumpy and very fast. There is hardly any banking, so it’s always a challenge to make sure we get the right set-up on the Team Penske car,” said Castroneves.
“The racing is extremely tight with a lot of side-by-side action, which makes for an exciting show for the fans.
“It seems that the race always comes down to the final laps, and I’m not expecting anything different this year. Historically, this hasn’t been one of my stronger tracks, but it’s my goal to turn that around this year.”
Dan Wheldon - #10 Target Chip Ganassi Honda/Dallara/Firestone:
“You’re not always going to have perfect seasons, but I really feel in these last four races, the tracks that we’re going to, I feel confident I can make it a strong ending,” said Wheldon.
“The thing now is to try to take as many points off Helio as I can. To some degree, I’ll always support Scott to make sure the team can win the championship, but at the same time it would be nice to finish the season with a couple more wins.
“These last four races, I want to win, but if the team feels it’s a benefit for me to do something to help Scott, then I absolutely will. I like to think I’m a real team player, but at the same time I really want to finish second in the championship. Hopefully, if we can get Scott locked up pretty quick, he can help me do that, too.”
Tony Kanaan - #11 Team 7 Eleven/Andretti Green Racing Honda/Dallara/Firestone:
“I had a great time at the Meijer Indy 300 last year and I fully expect the Team 7-Eleven car to
challenge for the pole and the win again,” said Kanaan.
“We know that we have our work cut out for us, though. Several of the transition teams have gained considerable speed during the season and those of us in the top four are still fighting for every point. I think the Meijer Indy 300 will be a competitive race and great for the fans.”
Ryan Briscoe - #6 Team Penske Racing Honda/Dallara/Firestone:
“This will be my second visit to Kentucky Speedway, but it will be my first time racing at night there,” said Briscoe.
“The track is a lot like the other one and a half mile ovals we’ve run on this year, and we’ve been able to run consistently with the leaders, so I’m optimistic that we’ll be able to do the same again.
“Team Penske has been working very hard on the car set-up on these tracks, and we seem to be making gains each race, so hopefully we’ll be able to reach the next level and find ourselves in Victory Lane in Kentucky.”
Danica Patrick - #7 Motorola/Andretti Green Racing Honda/Dallara/Firestone:
“I always look forward to going back to Kentucky. It is a track that I enjoy driving on,” said Patrick.
“I held the pole there back in 2005, which is always memorable. I am the most confident and strong on the mile-and-a-half tracks, so I think the Motorola car will have a good result this year.”
Will Power - #8 Aussie Vineyards – Team Australia Honda/Dallara/Firestone:
“It was really nice to get a test day at Kentucky Speedway,” said Power.
“It was an opportunity to try new things with the KVRT Aussie Vineyards car. I think it was a good test, so I am confident we can run in the top-10 this weekend and hopefully move into the top-10 in the standings.”
ENTRY LIST: Meijer Indy 300 at Kentucky Speedway
Car No. - Driver - Entrant
2 - A.J. Foyt - Vision Racing
3 - Helio Castroneves - Team Penske
4 - Vitor Meira - Panther Racing
5 - Oriol Servia - KV Racing Technology
6 - Ryan Briscoe - Team Penske Team Penske
7 - Danica Patrick - Andretti Green Racing
8 - Will Power - KV Racing Technology
9 - Scott Dixon - Target Chip Ganassi Racing
10 - Dan Wheldon - Target Chip Ganassi Racing
11 - Tony Kanaan - Andretti Green Racing
14 - Darren Manning - A.J. Foyt Enterprises
15 - Buddy Rice - Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
17 - Ryan Hunter-Reay - Rahal Letterman Racing
18 - Bruno Junqueira - Dale Coyne Racing
19 - Mario Moraes - Dale Coyne Racing
20 - Ed Carpenter - Vision Racing
23 - Milka Duno - Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
25 - Marty Roth - Roth Racing
26 - Marco Andretti - Andretti Green Racing
27 - Hideki Mutoh - Andretti Green Racing
33 - E.J. Viso - HVM Racing HVM Racing
34 - Jaime Camara - Conquest Racing
36 - Enrique Bernoldi - Conquest Racing
67 - Sarah Fisher - Sarah Fisher Racing
02 - Justin Wilson - Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing
06 - Graham Rahal - Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing
All cars use Dallara chassis, Honda engines and Firestone tires.
MEIJER INDY 300 RACE NOTES:
- The Meijer Indy 300 will be the ninth IndyCar Series event conducted at Kentucky Speedway. Buddy Lazier is the only repeat winner (2000-01). Last year’s winner, Tony Kanaan, is the only past winner entered in this year’s race.
- Fourteen drivers entered in the Meijer Indy 300 have raced in previous IndyCar Series events at the track. Nine of those drivers have led laps (Tony Kanaan 285, Dan Wheldon 176, Helio Castroneves 35, Sarah Fisher 35, Scott Dixon 26, Vitor Meira 16, A.J. Foyt IV 13, Buddy Rice 8 and Marco Andretti 2).
- The Meijer Indy 300 will be the fifth event on a 1.5-mile oval this season. Target Chip Ganassi Racing has three victories (Scott Dixon 2, Dan Wheldon 1) and three poles (Dixon 3) in the previous four races. The only 1.5-mile oval where Ganassi drivers did not win the race or the pole was at Twin Ring Motegi in April. The pole was awarded to Helio Castroneves based on points, and Danica Patrick won the race.
- Helio Castroneves and Scott Dixon are the only drivers to finish in the top five in 11 of the 13 races this season.
- Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan are the only drivers with 11 top-10 finishes.
- Helio Castroneves is the only driver running at the finish of every race in 2008.
- Seven drivers have won races in 2008. The IndyCar Series record is nine drivers in 1996/97, 2002, 2003 and 2005.
- Team Penske has won four consecutive poles, the fifth time in IndyCar Series history that a team has won four consecutive poles. In 2006, Team Penske drivers started from the pole in five consecutive races, however, one of those was awarded on points.
- Scott Dixon has five victories this season. He needs one more to tie Dan Wheldon’s record of six in 2005.
- Ryan Briscoe needs one more victory in 2008 to become the 13th driver to win three or more races in a season. That has happened 18 times in IndyCar Series history.
- A.J. Foyt Racing has its most top-10 finishes (6) since Eliseo Salazar had seven for the team in 2001.
- Teammates have started 1-2 in five races this season, the fifth time that has occurred in IndyCar Series history. The record is six in 2005.
- Helio Castroneves has finished second in consecutive races. Another second at Kentucky would tie Scott Dixon’s and Sam Hornish Jr.’s record of three consecutive second-place finishes.
MILESTONES AND RECORDS:
- Helio Castroneves will attempt to make his 111th career IndyCar Series start. It would also be his 109th consecutive start. If Castroneves starts at Kentucky and Infineon, he will tie Sam Hornish Jr. for second all time with 110 consecutive starts.
- Helio Castroneves can establish an IndyCar Series record for most consecutive seasons with at least one win should he win the Meijer Indy 300. Castroneves is tied with Scott Sharp with victories in seven consecutive seasons.
- Helio Castroneves extended his IndyCar Series record for consecutive seasons with a pole to seven when he won the PEAK Motor Oil Pole Award at Nashville. His pole at Mid-Ohio was the 25th of his career.
- Tony Kanaan finished fourth at Nashville, giving him the 63rd top-five finish of his career, an IndyCar Series record. Helio Castroneves is tied for second with Sam Hornish Jr. with 62.
- Helio Castroneves has passed Scott Sharp as the all-time leader in top-10 finishes. Castroneves has 84. Sharp has 82.
- Scott Dixon needs to lead two laps to become the fifth driver to lead 2,000 laps in his career. The others to lead at least 2,000 laps are Sam Hornish Jr. (3,428), Helio Castroneves (2,868), Dan Wheldon (2,735) and Tony Kanaan (2,487).
- Scott Dixon has led 716 laps this season. The record for most laps led in a season is 889 by Tony Kanaan in 2004.
- Helio Castroneves has led laps in 67 IndyCar Series races, tied with Sam Hornish Jr. for the all-time record.
- Vitor Meira has gone 89 starts without a victory in the IndyCar Series, the longest drought of any IndyCar Series driver.
- Helio Castroneves has gone 28 starts without a victory, the longest drought of his IndyCar Series career.
- Marco Andretti’s next top-10 finish will be the 20th of his career.
- Scott Dixon needs to win one more pole to tie Greg Ray for second all time with 13.
INDYCAR SERIES POINTS STANDINGS – POST RACE 13 – TOP TEN
1. Scott Dixon - 505 points
2. Helio Castroneves - 440
3. Dan Wheldon - 390
4. Tony Kanaan - 387
5. Ryan Briscoe - 324
6. Danica Patrick - 296
7. Hideki Mutoh - 286
8. Oriol Servia - 280
9. Ryan Hunter-Reay - 276
10. Marco Andretti - 276
11. Will Power - 257
BOMBARDIER ROOKIE OF THE YEAR POINTS STANDINGS – POST RACE 13
1. Hideki Mutoh - 286 points
2. Will Power - 257
3. Justin Wilson - 237
4. Graham Rahal - 225
5. E.J. Viso - 217
6. Enrique Bernoldi - 196
7. Mario Moraes - 184
8. Jaime Camara - 126
9. Mario Dominguez – 98
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