IRL: Chicago braces for IndyCar showdown

The pressure is on in Chicago for two Indy Racing League teams charging headlong into the IndyCar season's three-way, 700 horse-powered, showdown. Andretti Green's Dario Franchitti and Tony Kanaan battle Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon for all...

The pressure is on in Chicago for two Indy Racing League teams charging headlong into the IndyCar season's three-way, 700 horse-powered, showdown.

Andretti Green's Dario Franchitti and Tony Kanaan battle Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon for all the marbles when they clash at Chicagoland Speedway's 1.5 mile oval on Sunday (September 9th).

The results will determine the 2007 Indy Racing League championship.

Speaking on Wednesday's (September 6th) IndyCar teleconference, team owner Chip Ganassi said, "This is what you race all year for. We work hard to get to this point: to put ourselves into position to win a championship."

Dixon trails Franchitti by three points, a deficit equal to the points awarded the driver who leads the race's most laps.

The tight points race underscores the competition on the track that's been both fast and, at times, furious.

Only a week ago, the pair's positions were reversed with a four-point advantage going to Dixon.

Dixon owns one prior IndyCar championship, won for Ganassi in 2003. Franchitti tied for the championship in 1999, losing to Juan Pablo Montoya on a 'races won' tie-breaker.

Franchitti achieved one of his lifetime goals in May by winning the Indianapolis 500. He then set his sights on another: the IndyCar championship.

Andretti Green general manager Kyle Moyer points to the Kansas IndyCar race as the season's turning point.

"(Kansas) was really the first time we finally had our act together on superspeedways," he said. "We felt comfortable we were finally running up front and could compete."

"If you look at the performance of the car on those 1.5 and 2 mile tracks this year, it's been really good," added Franchitti. "I'm hoping we'll be in a good position and get the job done this weekend."

Indeed Franchitti's performance was stellar through the season's midpoint, as he won at Iowa and Richmond, then finished second at Milwaukee, Mid-Ohio and Nashville.

The drama grew when Franchitti built a substantial lead, then lost it at summer's end in California.

"It will be even more intense this weekend because it's the seventh game of the World Series," said Moyer.

Some of that intensity has found voice in accusations of foul play. Ganassi and AGR team co-owner Michael Andretti reportedly faced-off in an acrimonious post-race confrontation at last weekend's Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix.

Dixon's spin on the last lap led to a collision with the pursuing Franchitti, a move that stoked the fires of emotion even hotter.

Today, Tony Kanaan recanted his Detroit Grand Prix post-race statements about the incident.

He originally claimed the TCGR driver's move across the track to obstruct and collect Dario Franchitti was intentional.

"In (regards to) Detroit I have to say I've got to apologize to Scott. I made a comment without seeing it," said Kanaan.

"I looked at it again," he added. "I would say Scott is not that type of a guy."

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya