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Champions pose with sand-sculptured trophy
Dixon, Franchitti, Kanaan and Wheldon
IndyCar Series champions Scott Dixon (2008), Dario Franchitti (2007), Dan Wheldon (2005) and Tony Kanaan (2004) posed with a large sand sculpture of the IndyCar Series championship trophy as the series prepares for the start of the 2009 season, which will begin and end with races in Florida.

The season opens April 5 on the streets of St. Petersburg, and the 2009 champion will be crowned Oct. 10 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The four drivers will begin their preparations with the season’s first Open Test Feb. 24-25 at Homestead-Miami.

Quotes from today’s event:

Scott Dixon: (About starting the season at St. Petersburg) “I think it’s a great way to start the season. First we go to St. Pete and then Long Beach and Kansas before the season gets into the grit of it. I think for road course or street course lovers like us it’s a great way to start it off. I’m definitely looking forward to St. Pete. It’s a fantastic race. I haven’t had the best luck there the last few years, but I’m definitely looking forward to going back.”

Dario Franchitti: (About returning to the IndyCar Series) “A big part of my decision was the fact that it is one unified series. I’ve never been part of one unified series. When I went to NASCAR it got back together. Becoming one unified series was the first step. We all knew it needed to be made for open-wheel racing. We needed one series to get going again, so it’s pretty cool that we’ve done it.”

Dan Wheldon: “I always look forward to going to Homestead-Miami Speedway. I’ve always been incredibly successful there. St. Pete is always a great event, too. It’s one of the biggest on the IndyCar Series calendar. I think it’s a good way to start and lead into the Indy 500. If you want to open up a season leading up to Indy, I think St. Pete is great. There’s a lot of great on-track activity, and there’s a lot of great off-track activity for all age ranges. It’s more of a festival atmosphere which will fortunately suit the first race of the season.”

Tony Kanaan: “I think we’re as strong as last year. We have a great series. We have sponsors supporting us. If we can bring some joy to the people having financial problems, that’s what we’re going to do. The series is as strong as it was before, and we have loyal fans who stick with us.”

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