2007 IndyCar Series season around the corner

It seems like only last week when Sam Hornish Jr. was posing with the Borg-Warner Trophy at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Next week his likeness will be unveiled on the iconic slice of sports memorabilia.

The 2007 IndyCar Series season is quickly approaching. The 17-event schedule kicks off with a prime-time race, a first in Indy-style racing on March 24 at the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway (8 p.m. ET on ESPN2). Open Tests on Jan. 31-Feb. 1 at Daytona International Speedway and Feb. 21-22 at Homestead-Miami Speedway will give fans a preview of the upcoming season.

Anticipation for another close duel already is growing. Last year, 2005 series champion Dan Wheldon held off the hard-charging Helio Castroneves by 0.0147 of a second, the ninth-closest finish in series history.

"It's a great racetrack, and I've had a lot of success there," said Hornish of Homestead-Miami Speedway, where he has posted three victories in six races. "I look at that track as someplace that I love starting the year out because it seems I usually get a good start in the points. I like the night races and I think it will be a great show there."

Here's a quick recap of the schedule by the numbers:

Diversity in the schedule smacks you in the face with six speedway ovals (1.5 miles), five road/street courses, four short ovals (less than 1.5 miles), and two superspeedways (2 miles or more).

Races competed over 10 years at Texas Motor Speedway, the most in the series. Castroneves won in 2006 for the second time at the 1.5-mile oval. For 2007, 50 kilometers has been added to the race distance.

Percentage of the venues from the 2006 schedule which return on the '07 schedule.

New venues added to the schedule: road courses at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and Belle Isle in Detroit and the 0.875-mile oval at the new Iowa Speedway.

Different race winners and pole sitters in as many years at Kansas Speedway, which hosts the series on a new date, April 29. Nashville Superspeedway also has seen six different race winners in as many years, while Michigan International Speedway checks in with five different winners in its five events.

Consecutive victories by Scott Dixon at Watkins Glen International, which hosts the series July 8 for the third year. Castroneves has started from the pole both years. Andretti Green Racing drivers Tony Kanaan and Marco Andretti have won the two races at Infineon Raceway, which hosts the series Aug. 26.

Races at Kentucky Speedway, which moves to a twilight green flag on Aug. 11. Reigning series title-holder Sam Hornish Jr. used a victory at the 1.5-mile oval to pile up the points in the championship race. He's the only two-time winner at the track.

Indianapolis 500-Mile Races under the sanctioning Indy Racing League. Castroneves (2001, '02) is the only two-time winner in that span. There have been 11 different pole winners.

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Castroneves started from the pole and Team Penske teammate Hornish won the race at Richmond International Speedway in June — reversed order from the 2005 event. The 0.75-mile track hosts the series June 30.

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