VISION RACING HAS SIGHTS SET ON TOP TEN FINISHES FOR INDY JAPAN 300
TEAM TACKLES TWIN RING MOTEGI DETERMINED TO SCORE BETTER RESULTS
MOTEGI, Japan (April 18, 2007) - With 20 days and more than 6,000 miles between the checkered flag waved on the streets of St. Petersburg and the green flag waving over Twin Ring Motegi, Vision Racing drivers Tomas Scheckter, Ed Carpenter and A.J. Foyt IV are eager to get back to racing as round three of the 2007 17-race IndyCar Series schedule resumes for the Indy Japan 300.
In the first two races of the season, highlights have included a pair of sixth place finishes by Carpenter (Homestead) and Scheckter (St. Petersburg) as well as back-to-back top 10 finishes by Scheckter. The team hopes that momentum bodes well for them this weekend in Japan and on through Kansas as they prepare for the ever-anticipated Indianapolis 500 and the month of May.
Early season momentum certainly cannot hurt heading into an often unfriendly Twin Ring Motegi. The team is looking for improved results on the 1.3-mile egg-shaped oval. The 300-mile race has left the team clamoring for better outcomes. In 2005 Carpenter drove the team's lone entry to a 19th place finish after suffering an accident. The following year Scheckter managed a 13th place run, but Carpenter again fell victim to an accident and 20th position.
Amongst the Vision Racing trio of drivers, Scheckter has the best finish at Motegi. In Scheckter's four starts there, his average finish is 13th. He was 13th in 2006, 10th in 2005, 13th in 2004, and 16th in 2003. He's finished every attempt at Twin Ring Motegi except for his first start in 2003 when he finished 16th due to an accident. His best start at the track is fourth in 2003.
Currently seventh in the driver championship standings, Scheckter hopes to continue his momentum thus far in 2007 and drive the No. 2 Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone to a top five finish. He said, "I am looking forward to the race and the opportunity to bring home another good finish for the team. So far this season we've finished a little better in each race and if we do that at Motegi then we'll be looking at a top five run."
Whereas Scheckter has finished all but one of his attempts at Motegi, his teammate, Carpenter, has not been so fortunate. Carpenter's average finish in three tries at Twin Ring Motegi is 18th as he finished 20th in 2006 due to an accident, 16th in 2005 also as a result of an accident and 22nd in 2004 due to mechanical failure. He has yet to finish a race at Motegi, while his best start at the track came in 2006 when he started from the 19th spot.
Yet things still look positive for Carpenter this year in Japan. On the other oval race in 2007 at Homestead, Carpenter started from the 14th spot and drove to a sixth place finish in the No. 20 Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone. He mixed it up with the lead pack of cars for much of that race, even running as high as second.
Most recently Carpenter was knocked out of the race at St. Petersburg after contact with Foyt, thus dropping him from sixth to 12th in the driver point standings. However, he knows that he and the team are capable of having another Homestead-like performance, both at Japan and for the remaining 14 races.
"First of all we just need to finish races, and pick up the early form that we showed at Homestead," Carpenter noted. "I am confident that our race cars will be very competitive in Japan, and that we will get back on track and hopefully make up some points that we lost in St. Pete. I have yet to finish a race in Japan, so I plan on changing that this season."
Rounding out the Vision Racing stable is the newly added Foyt and the No. 22 Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone. While still looking for his first strong finish with the team, Foyt still managed to lead the team in qualifying at Homestead (ninth) and was able to get his first running finish in 2007 at St. Petersburg when he drove to the 13th spot.
"St. Pete was a tough race, but we were able to overcome our mistakes and finish," Foyt said. "I hated that we had contact with Ed (Carpenter), but I was glad that I could finish the race. Getting to run all of those laps on the street course was good experience for me."
In three previous attempts at Motegi, driving for Foyt Enterprises, Foyt has a best start of 17thin (2004) and best finish of 14th (2005). His average finish at the track is 18.6 after finishing 14th in 2003 (running), 15th in 2004 (running) and 18th in 2005 (accident). He will be making his fourth attempt and first with Vision Racing in 2007.
About Twin Ring Motegi, Foyt said, "Motegi is a tough oval. It really tests both the driver and the car. I am looking forward to going back there and getting another finish under my belt for this season. I'm determined to get my first top ten of the season at Motegi and score a personal best there as well."
Look for the Nos. 2, 20 and 22 Vision Racing machines to each make a run at the ever-precious top ten finish at Motegi this weekend. Perhaps a little early season momentum is just what they need to get that accomplished in 2007.
The 300-lap, 200-mile Indy Japan 300 gets started on the egg-shaped oval of Twin Ring Motegi on Saturday afternoon, April 21st. The race will air at noon (EDT) on ESPN, IMS Radio Network, XM Satellite Radio channel 145 and on the web at www.IndyCar.com.