HORNISH LOOKS FOR THREE-PEAT - 2003 CHICAGO REVISITED - Sam Hornish Jr. (Marlboro Toyota) returns to the Chicagoland Speedway looking for his third consecutive Delphi Indy 300 victory. Regardless of the finish this Sunday, it will be extremely difficult to top last year's spectacular conclusion. In a three-way photo finish, Hornish Jr. took the lead on Lap 199 of 200 and then held off a fast-closing Scott Dixon (Target Toyota) by just .0099 seconds.
SWEET HOME CHICAGO - The greater Chicago area has been kind to Toyota and a number of its current teams and drivers over the years. Target Chip Ganassi Racing was victorious with Juan Montoya in the now-defunct Chicago Motor Speedway (CMS) in that facility's first race in 1999. A year later, the team established the track qualifying record as Montoya set a new standard in his Target Toyota. Yet, another Toyota-powered driver won the 2000 race with Cristiano da Matta earning his first Champ Car victory.
Although it was a different facility last year, the Ganassi team was still in high gear as eventual series champion Scott Dixon fell just short on his way to a second-place finish. While the Kiwi missed out on the top rung of the victory podium, he did earn a pair of Indy Lights victory at CMS in 1999 (his first Indy Lights win) and 2000 on the way to the series title. In total, Dixon has two victories and a second in three trips to greater Chicago.
Yet, nobody has had more Chicago success than Sam Hornish Jr. The two-time IndyCar Series champion not only won each of the last two IRL races at Chicagoland, but also placed second in the series first trip to the facility in 2001. In addition, he earned his first Toyota Atlantic Championship victory at CMS in 1999 giving him three wins and a second in four trips to Chicago.
RUNNING UP FRONT - Sam Hornish Jr. has led substantial portions of each of the last two races. The Penske Racing driver led 67 circuits at Pikes Peak and 44 more at Nazareth for a total of 111 in the past two events. Unfortunately, an on-track incident at Pikes Peak and another in the pits at Nazareth kept him out of the winner's circle. In addition to Hornish's exploits, teammate Helio Castroneves also led 100 laps at Nazareth giving the team 211 laps led out of the 450 run in the past two contests.
THREE TOYOTAS IN TOP-10 IN POINTS RACE - Heading into Chicago, three Toyota-powered drivers continue to rank in the top 10 in points. Helio Castroneves (Marlboro Toyota) remains in fourth-place, while his Marlboro Team Penske teammate Sam Hornish Jr. is currently in sixth. Darren Manning (Target Toyota) moved up to ninth with a fifth at Nazareth.
LEXUS GRAND-AM CARS TAKE LEAD INTO HOMESTEAD - Lexus takes a slim two-point lead in the Grand-American Daytona Prototype Manufacturer's standings into this weekend's Rolex Series event at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Lexus-powered prototypes have won four of the last five events with the CompUSA Ganassi Racing duo of Scott Pruett and Max Papis holding a 19-point advantage in the driver's standings with four races remaining.
FOGARTY, DALZIEL TO DECIDE TOYOTA ATLANTIC TITLE - After one of the closest battles in series history, the Toyota Atlantic Championship will crown either Jon Fogarty or Ryan Dalziel as the 2004 champion this weekend at Laguna Seca. Heading into the most recent race at Montreal, Fogarty held a one-point lead, which he gave up after Dalziel's provisional pole run in the first qualifying session. Fogarty then regained the point by taking the top spot in the final qualifying session (with Dalziel second) and went on to lead his closest competitor to the checkered flag to take a five-point lead into this weekend's series finale. Both drivers still hold their destiny in their own hands with 22 points available.