SunTrust Indy Challenge Preview

It's always a decent crowd at Richmond

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?

Helio’s turn?
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.

Race Notes:
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).


  • Helio Castroneves and Scott Dixon are the only drivers to finish in the top five in seven of the eight races this season.
  • Dan Wheldon is the only drivers to complete all 1,586 laps in 2008.
  • Helio Castroneves and Dan Wheldon are the only drivers running at the finish of every race in 2008.

Milestones & Records:

  • Helio Castroneves will attempt to make his 106th career IndyCar Series start. It would also be his 104th consecutive start.
  • Helio Castroneves can establish an IndyCar Series record for most consecutive seasons with at least one win should he win the SunTrust Indy Challenge. Castroneves is tied with Scott Sharp with victories in seven consecutive seasons.
  • Helio Castroneves can extend his IndyCar Series record for consecutive seasons with a pole to seven if he can win the PEAK Motor Oil Pole Award presented by Advance Auto Parts.
  • Scott Dixon needs to lead 85 more 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 (2,774), Dan Wheldon (2,735) and Tony Kanaan (2,253).
  • Scott Dixon has led 633 laps this season. The record for most laps led in a season is 899 by Tony Kanaan in 2004.
  • Vitor Meira has gone 84 starts without a victory in the IndyCar Series, the longest drought of any IndyCar Series driver.

Schedule (local time):
June 26
4-7 p.m. – IndyCar Series practice (rookies and transitioning drivers)

June 27
12-1:45 p.m. – IndyCar Series practice
3:15-5:15 p.m. – IndyCar Series practice (two groups)
7:30 p.m. – PEAK Motor Oil Pole Qualifying presented by Advance Auto Parts

June 28
7 p.m. – SunTrust Indy Challenge pre-race
8 p.m. – SunTrust Indy Challenge (300 laps/225 miles)

Entry List

Car Driver Hometown Entrant Race Strategist
2 A.J. Foyt IV Hockley, Texas Vision Racing Tony George
3 Helio Castroneves Sao Paulo, Brazil Team Penske Tim Cindric
4 Vitor Meira Brasilia, Brazil Panther Racing John Barnes
5 Oriol Servia Pals, Spain KV Racing Technology Jimmy Vasser
6 Ryan Briscoe Sydney, Australia Team Penske Roger Penske
7 Danica Patrick Roscoe, Ill. Andretti Green Racing Kyle Moyer
8 Will Power (R) Toowoomba, Australia KV Racing Technology Mark Johnson
9 Scott Dixon Auckland, New Zealand Target Chip Ganassi Racing Mike Hull
10 Dan Wheldon Emberton, England Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chip Ganassi
11 Tony Kanaan Salvador, Brazil Andretti Green Racing George Klotz
14 Darren Manning North Yorkshire, England A.J. Foyt Enterprises A.J. Foyt
15 Buddy Rice Phoenix Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dennis Reinbold
17 Ryan Hunter-Reay Boca Raton, Fla. Rahal Letterman Racing Scott Roembke
18 Bruno Junqueira Belo Horizonte, Brazil Dale Coyne Racing Dale Coyne
19 Mario Moraes (R) Sao Paulo, Brazil Dale Coyne Racing Adam Schaechter
20 Ed Carpenter Indianapolis Vision Racing Jeff Britton
23 Townsend Bell San Luis Obispo, Calif. Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Robbie Buhl
24 John Andretti Indianapolis Roth Racing Larry Curry
25 Marty Roth Toronto Roth Racing Larry Curry
26 Marco Andretti Nazareth, Pa. Andretti Green Racing Paul Harcus
27 Hideki Mutoh (R) Tokyo Andretti Green Racing Kim Green
33 E.J. Viso (R) Caracas, Venezuela HVM Racing Michael Cannon
34 Jaime Camara (R) Goiania, Brazil Conquest Racing Eric Zeto
36 Enrique Bernoldi (R) Curitiva, Brazil Conquest Racing Brandon Fry
02 Justin Wilson (R) Sheffield, England Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing Mike Talbott
06 Graham Rahal (R) New Albany, Ohio Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing Todd Malloy

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