FRANCHITTI WINS FIRESTONE INDY 300 POLE AT HOMESTEAD-MIAMI HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Friday, Oct. 9, 2009) -- Dario Franchitti won the PEAK Performance Pole Award for the Firestone Indy 300 on Oct. 9 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, leading a front-row sweep...
FRANCHITTI WINS FIRESTONE INDY 300 POLE AT HOMESTEAD-MIAMI
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Friday, Oct. 9, 2009) -- Dario Franchitti won the PEAK Performance Pole Award for the Firestone Indy 300 on Oct. 9 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, leading a front-row sweep by Target Chip Ganassi Racing. The three contenders for the IndyCar Series championship -- Franchitti, Scott Dixon and Ryan Briscoe -- and occupy the top three spots in the starting grid for the season-ending race, which starts at 5 p.m. (ET) Saturday. Dixon leads Franchitti by five points and Briscoe by eight. Franchitti earned his fifth pole of the season with a four-lap average speed of 212.696 in the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing. Dixon completed the third Ganassi sweep of an IndyCar Series front row at 212.160 in the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing entry. Briscoe was third at 212.137 in the No. 6 Team Penske car.
DAY 2 NOTES
Numerology: The number 10 could take center stage this weekend if Dario Franchitti wins this event and the IndyCar Series championship for Target Chip Ganassi Racing.
* Franchitti drives the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone.
* A victory by Franchitti would be the 10th in the IndyCar Series this season for Target Chip Ganassi Racing.
* The season-ending Firestone Indy 300 takes place on Saturday, Oct. 10 -- 10/10.
Olympic and world champion sprinter Usain Bolt's need for speed -- and victory -- is shared by Andretti Green Racing driver Tony Kanaan. Maybe 2004 IndyCar Series champion Kanaan can channel some of Bolt's energy this weekend in the Firestone Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Bolt, from Jamaica, gave Kanaan an autographed pair of his track spikes through a mutual friend in Miami. In August, a year after setting world records in the Beijing Olympics, Bolt lowered the 100- and 200-meter world records to 9.58 seconds and 19.19 seconds, respectively, at the World Championships. In the Summer Games, Bolt became the first male to win gold medals in three sprinting events (also the 4x100 relay) at a single Olympics since Carl Lewis in 1984 at Los Angeles -- and the first to set world records in all three.
TONY KANAAN: "A good friend of mine who lives (in Miami) is from Jamaica, and one day I was talking about how fast that guy was and actually making a joke that I need some of his speed (on the racetrack). And a couple of days later I get a couple of shoes signed by Usain: 'TK, need for speed' and 'Hopefully, this will bring you some luck.' It was a nice gesture. It's unbelievable what he does and how he does it as well. I put (the shoes) on and wanted to race at Homestead with them, but they're way too big for me."
Special white tire sidewall "Championship Rings" will be on the Firestone Firehawk tires of the cars of title contenders Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti and Ryan Briscoe at this event. In addition, Firestone Racing has developed pink sidewall markings for the tires used by Sarah Fisher, who is running an all-pink race car at Homestead-Miami Speedway dedicated to raising awareness and funds for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure fight against breast cancer. A new tire specification for the Firestone Indy 300 was developed based on race data obtained at other high-banked 1.5-mile ovals this season and a June tire test at Chicagoland Speedway.
AL SPEYER (Executive director, Firestone Racing): "We're very excited to bring back the Championship Rings as special visual indicators of the drivers vying for the title. We think they'll be helpful to fans."
Sgt. Sarah Hernandez of Miami is the Panther Racing National Guard "Hometown Hero" for the race weekend. At each domestic IndyCar Series race, a National Guard member from the event market is honored. Hernandez, an ammunition and explosives specialist, will join Panther Racing driver Dan Wheldon at the driver autograph session and be recognized during the driver introductions before the race. Among her military honors are three Army Achievement Medals and the National Defense Service Medal. Hernandez, currently working an as education liaison for the Florida Army National Guard, is pursuing a pre-law degree with a minor in political science at Miami Dade College.
Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner and IndyCar Series driver coach Al Unser Jr. will serve as the grand marshal for the Firestone Indy 300.
CURTIS GRAY (President, Homestead-Miami Speedway): "Al Unser Jr. knows a little something about 'starting your engines,' so we're thrilled to have him as grand marshal. And involving this open-wheel legend is yet another sign of the strength and allure of a united IndyCar Series."
Mexcor International Wine and Spirits has signed as an associate sponsor with A.J. Foyt Racing for the Firestone Indy 300. The Agavales Tequila logo will be on the No. 14 Indy car driven by Ryan Hunter-Reay. Mexcor International, based in Houston, is making its first venture into motorsports with the Houston-based team owned by four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt. The association of the two Texas-based, family operated companies is expected to grow as Mexcor increases its distribution across the country. The company produces Agavales Tequila, a premium tequila produced in the Jalisco region of Mexico. It is made from the best blue agaves from the region, creating three different Tequila flavors: Blanco (110 proof), Gold (80 proof), and Reposado (80 proof). More information on the company is available at www.mexcor.com.
LARRY FOYT (Team director, A.J. Foyt Racing): "We're excited to introduce Mexcor into IndyCar racing. We believe we can offer them the marketing platform they need to increase distribution and sales in the U.S. This weekend, they can see what IndyCar racing is all about and the excitement that it can generate for their business. The company prides itself on its long-term business relationships and so do we. I think they are going to like what they see."
EDUARDO J. MORALES (CEO, Mexcor International Wine and Spirits): "As our company grows in the United States, I look forward to this opportunity to build our brand through the Indy Car Series and especially A.J. Foyt Racing. I hope to continue this relationship into the 2010 season."
If Scott Dixon leads 74 laps at Homestead-Miami Speedway, he will become the third driver in IndyCar Series history to lead at least 3,000 laps. Sam Hornish Jr. is the leader with 3,428, and Helio Castroneves is second with 3,242. Castroneves could become the IndyCar Series' career lap leader if he leads 187 laps. If Dixon leads 155 or more laps, he would break his IndyCar series record for most laps led in a season, 899 in 2008.
IndyCar Series driver E.J. Viso joined two-time Formula One World Champion Mika Hakkinen on Oct. 1 in Caracas, Venezuela, to promote responsible drinking of alcoholic beverages, particularly in relation to driving.
Brienne Pedigo, pit reporter for ESPN on ABC's coverage of the IndyCar Series, and her husband, actor Tyler Christopher of ABC's "General Hospital," welcomed their new baby boy on Saturday, Oct. 3. Greyson James Christopher was born at 2:57 a.m. and weighed in at 7 pounds, 11 ounces.
IndyCar Series championship contenders Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti and Ryan Briscoe, along with fellow visited the Miami Dolphins' practice facility Thursday in Davie, Fla. They posed with the IndyCar Series Championship Trophy and the two Vince Lombardi Trophies the Dolphins have won as Super Bowl champions. IndyCar Series driver Ryan Hunter-Reay, an avid Dolphins' fan, visited the practice facility Tuesday on behalf of United Way.
Eight IndyCar Series drivers competing in the Firestone
Indy 300 live in South Florida:
* Marco Andretti -- South Beach
* Helio Castroneves -- Coral Gables
* Milka Duno -- Brickell
* Ryan Hunter-Reay -- Boca Raton
* Tony Kanaan -- Key Biscayne
* Raphael Matos -- Brickell
* Mario Moraes -- South Beach
* E.J. Viso -- Miami Beach
For the fourth consecutive year, it will be a last-race shootout for the IndyCar Series championship. Scott Dixon enters with 570 points while Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Dario Franchitti is second with 565, and Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe has 562. It's a winner-take-all scenario for Dixon and Franchitti - as it was in 2007, when Franchitti prevailed on the final lap at Chicagoland Speedway. The race winner earns 50 points, with a 10-point margin to second. There are a few additional criteria for Briscoe to claim his first title based on bonus points (one for earning the PEAK Performance Pole Award and two for leading the most laps in the Firestone Indy 300). Eight points between first and third is the second-closest margin in IndyCar Series history with one race remaining, and the five points between first and second is the fourth-closest.
Raphael Matos leads Robert Doornbos by 25 points, 296-271, in the Apex-Brasil Rookie of the Year competition, with $25,000 awarded to the winner. Matos and Doornbos swapping the lead six times in the race for the title. Doornbos led the standings for the first four races of the season. After Milwaukee, Matos took the top spot and held it through Richmond. The drivers swapped spots after Toronto, only to have Doornbos take the lead again after Edmonton and holding it through Kentucky. Matos has since moved ahead.
Sarah Fisher will sport a special pink color scheme on her No. 67 Dollar General/Komen For The Cure car and on her helmet and racing suit during the Firestone Indy 300 in support of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Fisher's car also will ride on Firestone Firehawk tires with pink sidewalls.
SARAH FISHER: "SFR (Sarah Fisher Racing) is committed to helping Komen for the Cure fight the battle against this terrible disease. I've lost a loved one to breast cancer, and I will do everything I can to help others in their battle."
AL SPEYER (Executive director, Firestone Racing): "Sarah's efforts to aid the Komen for the Cure are highly commendable, and we couldn't be happier about showing Firestone's support with the pink sidewalls."
In support of Sarah Fisher Racing and Dollar General's association with Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the fight against breast cancer, Indy Racing League personnel will wear pink IZOD polo shirts on Race Day for the Firestone Indy 300, Saturday, Oct. 10.
Representatives and guests from more than 20 charities will attend the Firestone Indy 300 on Saturday to cheer their favorite drivers. Through the generous contribution of Apex-Brasil, each IndyCar Series driver was presented tickets to donate to a charity of their choice.
Dustin "Cole" Collins, an 8-year-old Make-A-Wish child from Washington state, will attend the Firestone Indy 300 on Saturday with his family. His wish is "to go fast in a race car." Cole will meet his favorite driver, Mario Moraes, receive a custom race suit, ride in the IndyCar Series two-seater car and be on the grid during IndyCar Series pre-race activities.
2007 Firestone Indy Lights champion Alex Lloyd will make his debut with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing at this event in the No. 40202 HER Energy/Newman/Haas/Lanigan entry. It will be Lloyd's second IndyCar Series start of the season, as he finished 13th in the Indianapolis 500 on May 24 in a Chip Ganassi Racing/Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry.
ALEX LLOYD: "I don't think you can get any more pressure than Indy, but for sure there is pressure when you only compete on a very limited schedule and when your experience level in the IndyCar Series is very low. Having said that, I feel well prepared for the race, and I know I have a great team behind me. I think our goals are to run up front, and I believe we can do that. I think the HER Energy car is capable of qualifying very high up the grid, and if we can do that, for sure we will be in a good place for a good strong race."
Alex Lloyd is carrying car number 40202 on his HER Energy/Newman/Haas/Lanigan entry this weekend, the largest number ever issued by the Indy Racing League. The number represents the "text to donate" number for "Stand Up To Cancer," an organization that works to enable cutting-edge research aimed at find a cure for all types of cancer. Fans can donate $5 to help raise funds for cancer research by texting the word "Stand" to 40202.
IndyCar Series driver Ryan Hunter-Reay will do "double duty" at this event, driving in the Firestone Indy 300 and the Grand Prix of Miami Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series races Saturday. Hunter-Reay drives the No. 14 ABC Supply Co. AJ Foyt Racing entry in the IndyCar Series and will share the No. 55 Supercar Life Racing/Level 5 BMW/Riley Daytona Prototype with Christophe Bouchut and Scott Tucker in the Grand-Am race.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: "I saw this as a very unique challenge. I was very interested in working with Bill Riley and the Level 5 Motorsports team and driving for A.J. Foyt on the same weekend. I drove with Bill in two SunTrust 24 Hour races at Daytona, and he is going to be running the second Supercar Life Racing DP car this weekend for Scott. My first priority is the IndyCar team. IndyCar racing is number one for me, that's my goal, it's where I want to stay, and nothing comes before that. But at the same time, the opportunity was offered to do something that nobody has done at that track -- racing both the oval and the road course on the same day! I'm looking forward to having a lot of fun this weekend. Hopefully we can come out with two great finishes! I'm doing the best I can to emulate 'A.J. the Ironman.'"
Firestone Racing tire notes for IndyCar Series competitors for this event:
* Eight sets (32 tires) per car for the weekend; 892 dry-condition slicks supplied in total.
* This Firehawk tire specification sees its first race action this weekend. It features the same right-side tires run at Kansas and Texas, paired with the same left-side tires used at Kentucky. As usual with the high-banked 1.5-mile ovals, this tire was designed to withstand high temperatures and speeds while providing consistent grip.
* Tire stagger for Homestead will be approximately .45 of an inch. Stagger, which helps cars turn more smoothly on ovals, is created by producing the right rear tire with a slightly larger diameter than the left rear tire.
Indy Racing League President, Commercial Division Terry Angstadt and Homestead-Miami Speedway President Curtis Gray met with the media this afternoon to discuss a number of topics, including the debut at Homestead-Miami of the season-ending IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights events.
TERRY ANGSTADT (President, Commercial Division, Indy Racing League): "I wish we could dial this formula in every year. This is four years in a row that we've come down to the final race. That's very fortunate for our business. We're going to put on a great show for the fans. We're really excited to bring our final race here and really have the points battle come down to such an exciting finish."
(About promotion in South Florida): "Nothing of real magnitude happens in this business without strong sponsor support. We have to thank IZOD and Apex Brasil. Last weekend at the W Hotel, we put on a great party and fashion show highlighting Brazilian products with their support."
(About the South Florida market): "Someone asked me if I was going to go home next week, and I said I was staying until Christmas. So it certainly works down here for me. (Laughter) We have been able to generate a lot more buzz in the media and with fans. Hopefully we'll see all the fruits of that in the race tomorrow. We like Miami. We have been so pleased with the activation, the energy level from our sponsors, to build this thing into a bigger level. Let's make the commitment and really grow this thing for the long term."
(About the attraction of this market for sponsors): "We really have been super-pleased with the turnout (of corporate sponsors). We have a lot of guests, both current sponsors and prospective sponsors. It's getting just cool enough up north to come down (to South Florida) and see an exciting event. It's a pretty easy sell to get people down here."
(Have you thought why you didn't move the final race here earlier?): "We're very climate-dependent on where we run on ovals. This is a great market. Let's put some stakes in the ground here and build it for the long term."
CURTIS GRAY (President, Homestead-Miami Speedway): "I'll echo what Terry is saying. These sponsors do a lot in this marketplace to build this championship. I think it's going to be fantastic as we grow together. They challenge us and we challenge them, and that's what's building this championship. The town is used to hosting championships, and we saw that at the W (Hotel). They put on a great event, but you can't do that without sponsors. As we build this and move forward, it's going to take that corporate resource to make this all what we want it to become. With the competition on track has been fantastic, and we think we've got one of the most competitive racetracks in the country, if not the world, with the variable banking. I don't know who's going to be in front (Saturday evening), but it's going to be wild. That's what this track was designed for."
(About a championship event here): "Unless you're a championship event down here, people can lose interest really quickly. But motorsports is new down here as far as a championship event, and it's raised itself just by a matter of being new and different. There's something sexy about South Florida. It's got that championship ring to it. This is a championship market."
IndyCar Series driver Sarah Fisher announced today that Dollar General would return as her primary sponsor for nine IndyCar Series events in 2010 and that Sarah Fisher Racing would field a second car for 2006 Firestone Indy Lights champion Jay Howard for four IndyCar Series races in 2010, with primary sponsorship from Tire Kingdom. Fisher will compete in the No. 67 entry in all seven oval events in the United States, including the Indianapolis 500, and in the road course events at St. Petersburg and Barber Motorsports Park. She competed in six events this season. Howard will race the No. 66 entry in the Indianapolis 500, the ovals at Texas and Chicagoland and the road course at Mid-Ohio. Howard drove five IndyCar Series events in 2008 for Roth Racing, his only career IndyCar Series starts.
SARAH FISHER: "Dollar General has done things for us on track and off-track that every team and driver should be thankful for. To continue that for a third year means we're doing a pretty good job. We're going to have work even harder to do a good job. It is my brand -- Dollar General is the girl next-door. Next year is going to be pretty tough. As everyone knows, next year we're running two road courses, and my focus has been on the ovals. But we have a program to get me up to speed. Jay (Howard) brings a significant knowledge of road course racing, which is great. As an Indy Lights champion, we're very happy to support those who look forward to racing in the IndyCar Series."
(About expansion of program): "We're very lucky, very excited. It's an expansion on the hospitality side, which we're excited about, to have sponsors who want to be an integral part of that."
(About Dollar General's recent sales growth): "They've done extremely well against their competitors. We hope to provide that in the racing side, as well."
(About her splitting time between driving and the business of owning a team): "I think I'm a very rare and unique individual. Starting my own team, starting my own business, being female. Running the team with my husband Andy has been a blessing. I love going to work every day. I'm there, seriously, every day. I'm doing a lot of things on the computer and the accounting, but I also see the guys in the shop. I get to see the bits and pieces that I'm paying for put together. For me, that's very enjoyable because I know that the effort I'm doing is really paying off. We want to grow both programs. We would love to have a full-time season program for both of us. We're going to expand if the opportunity exists."
JAY HOWARD: "Happy is not the word I would use. There probably aren't any words to describe how happy I am to be a part of Sarah's team. I told Sarah I'd go streaking as soon as the deal was done. (Laughter) The guys at Sarah Fisher Racing do a great job. This is, by far, the best opportunity for me in my career."
(About his persistence to reach this point after winning Firestone Indy Lights title three years ago): "I just didn't give up. I kept trying. I'm not the kind of person that's going to lay down and go away. I believed that hard work would pay off. That's how Sarah started her team, hard work and not giving up. It's a perfect match."
IndyCar Series regular Ryan Hunter-Reay qualified fifth today in the No. 55 Supercar Life Racing/Level 5 BMW/Riley Daytona Prototype for the Grand Prix of Miami Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series race.
PEAK PERFORMANCE POLE QUALIFYING NOTES:
* This is fifth Peak Performance Pole of the season for Dario Franchitti. His other poles came on the ovals at Texas and Richmond and road courses at Toronto and Infineon.
* This is Dario Franchitti's 11 career IndyCar Series pole.
* This is the third time this season that Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon have swept the front row in qualifying. Franchitti won the pole and Dixon was second at Richmond, and Dixon won the pole with Franchitti second at Kentucky.
* This is the 28th IndyCar Series pole position for Target Chip Ganassi Racing.
* Ryan Briscoe has qualified fourth or better in nine of the 10 oval events this season. He qualified seventh at Kansas. The only other time Briscoe qualified third on an oval this season, at Kentucky, he won the race.
PEAK PERFORMANCE POLE QUALIFYING QUOTES:
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske, 11th): "Today was a great team effort. I tell you those guys on the No. 3 car really did an incredible job in getting a backup car ready for me to qualify. Because we were in such a rush to get out there, we probably went a bit conservative on the setup. But if we didn't get to qualify, we would've had to start last, so 11th isn't that bad."
MARIO MORAES (No. 5 Azul Tequila/Votorantim/KVRT, 10th): "KV Racing Technology qualified 10th, which is very disappointing for everyone on the team, especially after starting on the front row at Motegi and having such a good test here last week. But the important thing is I feel we have a good car for the race, so I am confident we can have a good result tomorrow."
RAPHAEL MATOS (No. 2 US Air Force Luczo Dragon Racing, ninth): "I'm very happy with the run. I worked with my tools and got everything I could out of the car. I have to thank the Air Force Luczo Dragon team for putting together a good car for the weekend. I feel confident that we will have a good race car tomorrow. Grip will be the issue; everyone has been dealing with it. We will make some adjustments tomorrow, and hopefully we will finish strong and win the Rookie of the Year title. A strong finish would give the team some nice momentum heading into next season."
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Menards/Vision Racing, fourth): "I'm really happy with that qualifying effort. I felt like we were definitely going to be in the top 10, but we were flirting with a top five in practice. This is a challenging place. The car has been really good, then really bad, then really good again, but we made some good changes for qualifying. The Vision team has worked really hard all year long, and it good to have such a strong qualifying effort to end the year. I'm happy to be starting fourth in the No.20 Menards car, and it's going to be an interesting race because everyone seems to be struggling in traffic on a challenging track. We thought it would be a little easier with all the aero changes than what it has been, but at the same time it is kind of fun to come to a track where you really have to nail the setup to have a good car. I think a lot of people are hoping to see the three championship contenders duking it out three-wide in the end, but I'm don't think that will be the case. The best car is going to win, and truthfully I think we have a good shot at it."
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 02 McDonald's Racing Team, sixth): "We struggled with a lot of under steer since the start, and it was really hard for me to get the car down at the exit of Turn 4. The last two laps, I crept up a little too high, and it cost us a lot of speed. We made a lot of improvements today, though, because when we showed up the McDonald's car was a real handful. This has been a challenging place for me, for sure. We're pretty happy to be where we are. Obviously, Alex had a good run, too. So for the team, it's good. We'll keep working on this obviously, and hopefully we'll get the McDonald's boys up front in the race."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team Venom Energy, eighth): "We had good speed in the Venom car for qualifying today. Considering we've been focusing on race setup, I'm pleased with where we will start for the race tomorrow. I believe a race can be won from eighth, and winning the race is the highest goal I can have. Hopefully everything will fall into place."
ALEX LLOYD (No. 40202 HER Energy/Newman/Haas/Lanigan, fifth): "Everybody at HER Energy and Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing is very excited about our starting position. I was fortunate enough to win here (in Firestone Indy Lights). Racing here in an Indy car is different than in an Indy Lights car, but at the same time it's nice to have some experience at the track and have that feeling. It's great to be back competing in the IndyCar Series. We had a good car in qualifying and a good car in traffic. We want to go out there and be able to mix it up. There are some things I need to learn, but at the same time I think we can run at the front. Having only done the race at Indianapolis, it feels like a very quick weekend."
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Boost Mobile/Motorola, seventh): "Overall, it was a productive day for the Boost Mobile/Motorola car. The changes we made in practice today made the car better, which is what you hope for on a race weekend. The last run in the afternoon session was the best the car has felt yet. To go from that and then end up faster in qualifying is a good sign, and it makes me believe we have a strong car for tomorrow's race."
SATURDAY'S SCHEDULE (all times local):
11 a.m.IndyCar Series systems check lap
4 p.m.IndyCar Series pre-race ceremonies
5 p.m.Firestone Indy 300 (200 laps)
The 2009 IndyCar Series season concludes Oct. 10 with the Firestone Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 4 p.m. (ET) by VERSUS. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 211. The radio broadcast also will be carried on www.indycar.com. A 90-minute qualifying show will air on VERSUS at 4:30 p.m. Oct. 9. The 2009 Firestone Indy Lights season concludes with the Homestead-Miami 100 on Oct. 9 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be telecast live by VERSUS at 6 p.m. (ET).