INDYCAR SERIES NEWS AND NOTES -- Sept. 5, 2006

Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines
1. Teammates battling for title not unusual
2. Foyt to fill in for Franchitti at Chicagoland
3. Road to Chicagoland -- Jay Howard
4. Crews joins Chicagoland 100 field
5. iZon lenses to back Fisher at Chicagoland

1. Teammates battling for title not unusual: Marlboro Team Penske teammates Helio Castroneves and Sam Hornish Jr. enter the Peak Antifreeze Indy 300 on Sept. 10 at Chicagoland Speedway separated by one point in the IndyCar Series point standings.

This is the first time that both teammates sitting 1-2 in the point standings are eligible to win the title entering the final race of the season.

In 2004 and 2005, Andretti Green Racing teammates Tony Kanaan and Dan Wheldon were 1-2 in points going into the final race of the IndyCar Series season. However, each had already clinched the title before entering the final race. Kanaan won the 2004 title over Wheldon and Wheldon won the 2005 title over Kanaan.

In 2002, Marlboro Team Penske drivers Helio Castroneves and Gil de Ferran were 1-2 in the points separated by one point with two races to go in the championship but de Ferran was eliminated him due to an injury sustained in an accident at Chicagoland, the next-to-last event.

Here's a look at the last time teammate were 1-2 heading into final races:

IndyCar Series
2005 -- Andretti Green Racing (Dan Wheldon & Tony Kanaan) -- Wheldon had clinched the title going into final race. Champ Car (CART)

2005 -- Newman-Haas Racing (Sebastien Bourdais, Oriol Servia) -- Bourdais had clinched title going into final race. Formula One

1996 -- Williams (Damon Hill, Jacques Villeneuve) -- Hill won final race and title after entering race with nine-point lead. NASCAR Nextel Cup

1996 -- Hendrick Motorsports (Terry Labonte, Jeff Gordon) Labonte won the title by 37 points after leading by 47 points heading into their final event.

2. Foyt to fill in for Franchitti at Chicagoland: Andretti Green Racing announced A.J. Foyt IV will drive the No. 27 Klein Tools/Canadian Club Dallara/Honda/Firestone in the Peak Antifreeze Indy 300 at Chicagoland Speedway on Sept. 10.

Foyt will substitute for Dario Franchitti, who sustained a concussion in an accident during the Goodwood Revival at the Goodwood Motor Circuit in Goodwood, England. The race will be Foyt's first IndyCar Series start since October 2005 at California Speedway and his first for a team other than Foyt Racing.

"I'm very excited to have an opportunity like this to drive the Klein Tools/Canadian Club car for Andretti Green," said Foyt, grandson of four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt. "It's obviously a great race team and should be a very competitive car on Sunday. We're going to be able to do this at a place where I've got a lot of laps and I expect to have a good, strong weekend."

Foyt will participate in a refresher test behind the wheel of the Klein Tools/Canadian Club car on Sept. 7 at Chicagoland Speedway under the supervision of IndyCar Series officials.

"We're looking forward to having Anthony in the Klein Tools/Canadian Club car this weekend," said team co-owner Michael Andretti. "It's unfortunate that Dario won't be able to drive, but we're confident that Anthony will do a great job for us. He's got a lot of natural talent and we're hoping to give him a fast car this weekend."

3. Road to Chicagoland -- Jay Howard: (Note: We'll examine the season of each of the contenders for the Indy Pro Series championship and how they became a title contender. Today, point leader Jay Howard)

Jay Howard entered the 2006 Indy Pro Series with a resume filled with wins and championships. With one race to go, the Englishman finds himself in line to add the Firestone Firehawk Cup to his list of accomplishments.

Howard, who had won debut races in series across the globe, nearly pulled off the feat in his Indy Pro Series debut, leading 60 laps from pole at Homestead-Miami Speedway and finishing third.

The 25-year-old native of Basildon, England assumed the point lead following a runner-up finish in the Freedom 100 on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval and has held the lead ever since. However, a few poor races and a costly penalty incurred while battling for a race win at Kentucky have dropped Howard's lead to eight points.

"This season has been up and down like no other season I've ever been through," Howard said. "We've had to work really hard this year, and I wish we had more than an eight point lead, but that certainly hasn't been from lack of effort from the team. I don't want to take the fact that we have the championship lead for granted, but it's always nice to have a large lead."

Howard has excelled on 1.5-mile ovals despite this being his first season racing in an oval-based series. In addition to his pole at Homestead-Miami, Howard won the series' last stop on a 1.5-mile oval at Kentucky and also won at the 1.33-mile Nashville Superspeedway.

"Going into Chicago we just need to do the things that we have done all season to get us into the lead," he said. "I plan on going out there and winning the race and the championship. Depending on who the contenders are for the race (win) will determine how I run my race. I think all of the championship contenders are a big threat to win, but we just have to go out there and take it as it comes."

4. Crews joins Chicagoland 100 field: Experience really is the best teacher, and CR Crews will get more of it this weekend.

The 18-year-old Dallas resident will drive for Dave McMillan Racing in the Indy Pro Series' season finale at Chicagoland Speedway on Sept 9.

It will be Crews' fourth career start in the series and his second on an oval. He's been in the top 10 in two of his previous three starts, and finished 11th in the other.

Crews was just five days past his 18th birthday when he made his Indy Pro Series debut in the Corning 100 at Watkins Glen, N.Y. At the time, he was the youngest starter in series history.

The Chicagoland event will be Crews' first appearance with Dave McMillan Racing. McMillan was the team manager and engineer for Keith Duesenberg Racing in 2003 and 2004, and he ran the car driven by Marco Andretti for Andretti Green Racing in 2005.

"We're looking forward to going to Chicagoland with CR," said McMillan, a New Zealander who won the 1982 Toyota Atlantic driver championship. "He's new at the ovals, and we're hoping that he can learn from us and we can have a good finish."

"I'm looking forward to racing at Chicagoland very much," Crews said. "The races there are always close, and I hope I can stay out of trouble and be there at the finish."

Crews' Dallara will carry signage for Racersites.com, Magnus Energy Marketing, Zoom, Sign-a-Rama North Dallas and the CR Crews Capital Investment Group, among other companies.

Crews will fly to Indianapolis on Sept. 6 to be fitted for his seat in the car.

5. iZon lenses to back Fisher at Chicagoland: Dreyer & Reinbold Racing announced a primary sponsorship agreement with iZon Wavefront Guided Lenses.

The iZon logo will be featured prominently on the No. 5 Honda-powered Dallara driven by Sarah Fisher in the Peak Antifreeze Indy 300 at Chicagoland Speedway on Sept 10.

"iZon is just the latest edition to our growing team as we continue to look towards the future," said team co-owner Dennis Reinbold. "We can't be happier to partner with a company that has such a strong emphasis on responsible driving with corrected vision. Our partnership with iZon will serve as a benchmark for a healthy relationship that we will continue to develop. Seeing clearly with higher definition is a competitive advantage when you have to make split second decisions on the race track or on the road."

iZon's sponsorship of Sarah Fisher's No. 5 machine will be the company's introduction to the motorsports and to the IndyCar Series. iZon eyeglasses provide consumers with high definition vision.

"This is a very visible platform for our brand" said Andreas Dreher, Ph.D., president and CEO of Ophthonix, a San Diego, Calif.-based vision care company which markets iZon lenses. "Indy has a huge base of loyal fans and we are thrilled to be part of the tradition, commitment and exhilaration of racing. Motorsports fans are the most loyal of any sport. We are targeting these fans as part of a national launch. We believe they can help iZon become the standard in vision correction."

***

The final IndyCar Series event of the 2006 season is the Peak Antifreeze Indy 300 presented by Mr. Clean at 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 10 at Chicagoland Speedway. The race will be telecast live by ABC and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network. A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPN Deportes. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio channel 145 "IndyCar Racing" and www.indycar.com. The fifth season of Indy Pro Series competition concludes with the Chicagoland 100 on Sept. 9 at Chicagoland Speedway. ESPN2's coverage of the Chicagoland 100 will be televised at 2 p.m. (EDT) on Sept. 14.

-credit: irl