IRL: Michigan: Toyota Motorsports preview

MICHIGAN MEMORIES -- The Michigan International Speedway has provided two of Toyota's most memorable open-wheel victories. In 2000, Juan Montoya scored Toyota's first-ever 500-mile victory in a Target Toyota after dueling over the final 20 laps...

MICHIGAN MEMORIES -- The Michigan International Speedway has provided two of Toyota's most memorable open-wheel victories. In 2000, Juan Montoya scored Toyota's first-ever 500-mile victory in a Target Toyota after dueling over the final 20 laps with Michael Andretti in what many consider to be one of the greatest open-wheel races of all-time.

Three years later, Alex Barron claimed another memorable Toyota victory at MIS. While running in the top five, Barron touched wheels with Tomas Scheckter coming out of Turn 4 on Lap 165, causing Barron to spin. The Californian managed to keep the car off the wall and continued on without losing a lap. After re-starting in sixth position, he climbed up through the field and waged a classic battle with Sam Hornish Jr. over the final 10 laps -- trading the lead five times. On the final lap, Barron surged ahead coming out of Turn 4 to win by the slimmest of margins, just 0.0121 seconds.

BULLISH ON MICHIGAN -- Alex Barron isn't the only member of his team to leave Michigan victorious, as both his teammate Patrick Carpentier (Red Bull Toyota) and his Red Bull Cheever Racing team have won on the two-mile superspeedway.

Carpentier earned his first-ever Champ Car win on the MIS track in 2001. Just as Barron did, the French Canadian took the lead coming off Turn 4 on the race's final lap to edge Dario Franchitti. As of late, the first-year IRL driver has earned three top-seven finishes in the last four races including two podium finishes. With his strong run, he has moved back into the top 10 in points and is currently 14 points out of seventh-place.

Rounding out the triumvirate, Red Bull Cheever Racing was triumphant at Michigan in 2002 as Tomas Scheckter led a Red Bull one-two finish along with teammate Buddy Rice. The team enters this weekend's event on a high note as both team cars finished in the top eight at Milwaukee.

GOING UP -- With his victory this past weekend at Milwaukee, Sam Hornish, Jr. (Marlboro Team Penske Toyota) has now finished first or second in five of the 10 IndyCar Series events run this season. With the strong showing, the two-time IRL champion has climbed into second-place in points just 68 points behind series leader and fellow former Toyota Atlantic graduate Dan Wheldon. What makes Hornish's climb in the points even more amazing is that he's finished just six of the 10 races this season after a string of early season DNFs (did not finish). He was involved in unfortunate incidents at St. Petersburg, Indy and Richmond and suffered a gearbox failure at Motegi. Hornish Jr. is expected to have a large fan following this weekend as the MIS track is approximately 70 miles away from his hometown of Defiance, Ohio.

TOYOTA DRIVERS IN THE POINTS -- While Sam Hornish Jr. enters this weekend's event in second-place in the points chase, two other Toyota-powered drivers also currently sit in the top-10 overall. Marlboro Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves is fifth in points and Patrick Carpentier is 10th.

MIS NEWCOMERS -- Both former Toyota F1 test driver Ryan Briscoe (Target Toyota) and veteran Jimmy Kite (Ethanol Toyota) are scheduled to make their first appearances at MIS in an Indy car.

-toyota-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Helio Castroneves , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Kite , Patrick Carpentier , Dario Franchitti , Alex Barron , Dan Wheldon , Buddy Rice , Ryan Briscoe , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Team Penske