IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2007-08-27

Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines 1. Infineon win swings title chase in Dixon's favor 2. Championship Quick Hits -- Detroit 3. Antinucci hopes to make oval debut at Chicago 1. Infineon win swings title chase in Dixon's favor:...

Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines
1. Infineon win swings title chase in Dixon's favor
2. Championship Quick Hits -- Detroit
3. Antinucci hopes to make oval debut at Chicago

1. Infineon win swings title chase in Dixon's favor: Dario Franchitti has two weeks to regain what Scott Dixon has been working to do for the last eight.

Franchitti, who entered the Motorola Indy 300 presented by Jackson Rancheria Casino & Hotel at Infineon Raceway with an eight-point lead over Dixon, heads to the inaugural IndyCar Series race on Belle Isle trailing the Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver by four points.

The points swing was the result of Dixon's victory on the 2.26-mile Infineon Raceway circuit -- a sweep of the three road courses this season. Franchitti, driving with a damaged front wing from an incident with teammate Marco Andretti with 11 laps remaining, soldiered on to a third-place finish that stopped a free fall in points over the past two oval events.

Winning at Richmond International Raceway on June 30 gave Franchitti a 65-point lead over Dixon, the race runner-up. But the reigning Indianapolis 500 champion run was been blunted by Dixon's three-race July winning streak. Starting from the pole and leading a race-high 62 laps, Franchitti thought he had turned things around after coming off two races that produced his worst finishes of the season (13th at Michigan and eighth at Kentucky).

"We did just about right today," he said. "It's really too bad."

The odds were against Dixon, who started fifth in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car, from the start. Three AGR cars were ahead of the New Zealander. But after he overtook Franchitti's car and withstood the challenges of a late-race restart, Dixon held off Castroneves by 0.5449 of a second (the closest in three years of IndyCar Series road/street racing).

"I think with the competition in the league it's very tough to sort of give anything up," said Dixon, who tied Tony Kanaan for the series season lead with his fourth victory. "You've really got to keep the same pressure on. We've got to keep the same mind-set going into each weekend: trying to be the fastest we can, fastest of everyone, each practice session put as much pressure as we can on them.

"I think they may have let up at some points of the year because they did have quite a healthy lead. We've just got to try to go out and win. That's all we can do. I don't think we can change our strategy one bit. We've just got to try and build on it and move forward with it."

***

2. Championship Quick Hits -- Detroit: Heading into the penultimate race of the 2007 IndyCar Series season, three drivers are engaged in one of the tightest point races in IndyCar Series' history. Here's a look at the title race with two to go:

* Drivers still eligible for championship: 3

* Key Championship statistic:
*_ Scott Dixon has won three times on road/street courses this season and has five career wins on road or street courses. Dario Franchitti has yet to win on a road or street course.

*_ In 2006, eventual series champion Sam Hornish Jr. took the point lead following the 12th event in a 14-event schedule.

* Closest 1-2 point differential since: 2002 -- With two races left in the 2007 IndyCar Series season, first and second are separated by just four points. This is the closest margin since 2002 when Helio Castroneves and Gil de Ferran were separated by a single point.

* Who's hot in the championship:
Scott Dixon has finished in the top two in five of the last six IndyCar Series races, erasing Dario Franchitti 65-point lead.

* Did you know?:
In the last six years, the points leader entering the penultimate race of the IndyCar Series schedule has only failed to win the title twice (Castroneves, 2002 and 2003).

3. Antinucci hopes to make oval debut at Chicago: Richard Antinucci, the pole sitter for the Carneros 100 and winner of the Valley of the Moon 100 at Infineon Raceway, said the Cheever Racing Indy Pro Series team has organized an Indy Pro Series rookie test at Chicagoland Speedway next week.

His immediate goal is to compete in the season finale at Chicagoland on Sept. 9. The longer-term objective is to move to the IndyCar Series. Antinucci, 26, nephew of 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner Eddie Cheever Jr., has competed in eight road/street course races in his first year in the Indy Pro Series.

"I know it's not ideal and I don't expect to be extremely competitive (at Chicagoland) as I am on the road courses, but I have to learn at some point," said Antinucci, who recorded his first victory at Mid-Ohio last month. "That would be a whole different level of experience."

Before entering the Indy Pro Series, Antinucci competed in Formula 3 Euroseries in 2006. He won the Formula 3 World Cup Champion title in 2003.

"There's definitely a chance a (full season) in the Indy Pro Series, but we're really trying hard to get into the (IndyCar Series)," he said. "It's a huge budget that's needed. We need to raise interest."

***

The next IndyCar Series event is the Detroit Indy Grand Prix presented by Firestone at 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 2 at the Raceway at Belle Isle. The race will be televised live by ABC and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network. The next Indy Pro Series event is the Chicagoland 100 on Sept. 9 at Chicagoland Speedway. ESPN2's coverage of the race will be televised at 5 p.m. on Sept. 13.

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Eddie Cheever , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Marco Andretti , Richard Antinucci , Chip Ganassi , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing