IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2007-09-04

Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines 1. Road to Chicagoland -- Scott Dixon 2. Another close race for IndyCar Series crown 3. Title contenders have been here before 4. Several point races up for grabs at Chicagoland 100 1. Road to...

Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines
1. Road to Chicagoland -- Scott Dixon
2. Another close race for IndyCar Series crown
3. Title contenders have been here before
4. Several point races up for grabs at Chicagoland 100

1. Road to Chicagoland -- Scott Dixon: (This week, we'll examine the season of each of the contenders for the IndyCar Series championship and how they became a title contender. Today, second-place Scott Dixon.)

For much of the early part of the 2007 season, Scott Dixon was in the shadow of his teammate Dan Wheldon, who was off to a hot start.

But it was Dixon's hot July, when Dixon swept the three scheduled IndyCar Series events, that propelled him into title contention.

Dixon scored his third straight win at Watkins Glen, his second-straight at Nashville and won the inaugural event at Mid-Ohio to cut into what some thought was an insurmountable lead held by Dario Franchitti.

"The three in a row for us was definitely a huge gain, even though Dario (Franchitti) seemed to be finishing right behind us, which didn't make that advantage too significant," he said.

But his gains became apparent thanks to two mistakes by Franchitti at Kentucky. Once the door was opened, Dixon took advantage and the points lead from his rival.

"We made a good gain at Kentucky and got the point lead from Dario after Infineon," he said.

Dixon was on track to keep his point lead at The Raceway at Belle Isle, running third behind Tony Kanaan and Buddy Rice. But Rice ran out of fuel, triggering a three car accident that eliminated Dixon and allowed Franchitti to regain the points lead by three points.

Still, Dixon controls his own destiny heading into the season-ending PEAK Antifreeze Indy 300 at Chicagoland. The 2003 champion knows all he has to do is beat Franchitti and he has his second IndyCar Series title.

"Heading to Chicago the points situation is a lot tighter than I wish it was," he said. "(Detroit) was a good battle for the Target team and Chicago should be a better one especially for the fans."

2. Another close race for IndyCar Series crown: For the second-straight season, the battle for the IndyCar Series title is one of the closest in series history. With one race to go, Dario Franchitti leads Scott Dixon by three points, with Tony Kanaan 39 points back. It's the third-closest 1-2 spread with one race to go in series history and has seen the point lead swap twice in as many weeks. Here's how it compares to other series' points battles heading into final race:

IndyCar Series

2003 -- Helio Castroneves and Scott Dixon were tied for the series point lead heading into the final event at Texas Motor Speedway with Gil de Ferran, Tony Kanaan and Sam Hornish Jr. within 30 points of the lead. De Ferran won the race, but Dixon's second-place gave him the title by 18 points.

2006 -- Helio Castroneves lead Sam Hornish Jr. by one point heading into the final event at Chicagoland Speedway with Dan Wheldon 19 points behind and Scott Dixon 21 points back. Wheldon led the most laps and won the race, to tie Hornish, who finished third. (Hornish was awarded the IndyCar Series title via the first tiebreaker, four wins to two wins)

NASCAR Nextel Cup

1992 -- Six drivers entered the final race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in contention for the title. Alan Kulwicki won the title over race winner Bill Elliott by 10 points, with Kulwicki earning the title by staying out an extra lap to earn the bonus for most laps led.

Formula One

1994 -- Michael Schumacher led Damon Hill by one point going into the final race in Australia. Hill and Schumacher crashed into each other during the race giving the title to Schumacher.

Champ Car (CART)

2000 -- Gil de Ferran had a five-point lead over Adrian Fernandez heading into the final race at California Speedway. De Ferran won the title by finishing third in the final race with Fernandez finishing fifth.

3. Title contenders have been here before: All three drivers in contention for the IndyCar Series title have experience in close title races. But one has been more successful than others.

Dario Franchitti (Record in title races 0-1)

* In 1999, Franchitti had a nine-point lead over Juan Pablo Montoya heading into the CART season-finale at California Speedway. Franchitti finished 10th, while Montoya finished fourth to tie Franchitti atop the point standings. Montoya won the title based on a tiebreaker (7 wins to 3 wins).

Scott Dixon (Record in title races 1-1)

* In 2003, Dixon and Helio Castroneves were tied for the series points lead heading into the final event at Texas Motor Speedway with Gil de Ferran, Tony Kanaan and Sam Hornish Jr. within 30 points of the lead. De Ferran won the race, but Dixon's second-place gave him the title by 18 points.

* In 2006, Dixon was fourth in points 21 points behind points leader Castroneves entering the final race at Chicagoland. He finished second in the race and ended up 15 points behind eventual champion Hornish Jr.

Tony Kanaan (Record in title races 0-1)

* Tony Kanaan was also involved in the 2003 title race but contact with Castroneves dropped him from contention.

* Kanaan rebounded to win the 2004 IndyCar Series title in convincing fashion, recording 15 consecutive top-five finishes and completing every lap of competition.

4. Several point races up for grabs at Chicagoland 100: One year ago, the Indy Pro Series headed to Chicagoland Speedway with the closest championship battle in series history. Four drivers were in contention for the Firestone Firehawk Cup -- separated by just 27 points. A mere eight points separated points leader Jay Howard and Jonathan Klein.

The championship battle isn't as close in 2007 - Alex Lloyd wrapped up the title at Infineon Raceway on Aug. 25 -- but there are still positions to be won.

The closest race is the battle for fourth. Jaime Camara, a three-year veteran who holds the Indy Pro Series record with 41 consecutive starts, holds a two-point advantage over Bobby Wilson, who finished in fourth position last year.

Stephen Simpson, Logan Gomez, Robbie Pecorari, Chris Festa, Andrew Prendeville and Klein will stake their claim for seventh place in the final standings. Simpson, a rookie from South Africa driving for Kenn Hardley Racing, holds the position with 322 points, but the other five are all within 33 points.

Fittingly, the close point battles will be resolved on the racetrack that has featured the closest racing in Indy Pro Series history. Three of the five races on the 1.5-mile oval have featured a margin of victory of less than one-tenth of a second. In 2003, Mark Taylor edged Ed Carpenter by 0.0170 of a second at Chicagoland in the closest finish in series history.

***

The next IndyCar Series event is the PEAK Antifreeze Indy 300 presented by Mr. Clean at 4 p.m. (ET) on Sept. 9 at Chicagoland Speedway. 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

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya