IRL: Ten days to Michigan race weekend

ONLY 10 DAYS REMAIN UNTIL THE FIRESTONE INDY 400 WEEKEND AT MIS BROOKLYN, Mich. - Only 10 days remain until the first car circles the two-mile oval and signifies the start to the open-wheel portion of the 2005 MIS season. As we count down the ...

ONLY 10 DAYS REMAIN UNTIL THE FIRESTONE INDY 400 WEEKEND AT MIS

BROOKLYN, Mich. - Only 10 days remain until the first car circles the two-mile oval and signifies the start to the open-wheel portion of the 2005 MIS season. As we count down the days, here are 10 fast facts, one for each day, as the IRL IndyCarâ Series weekend quickly approaches.

10 - With Buddy Rice's victory in last year's IndyCar Series race at MIS, there have now been 11 different race winners in 11 open-wheel events at MIS since 1995. Scott Goodyear was MIS' last repeat winner when he won in 1994 and 1992.

9 - Recently, it might seem if you want to win an open-wheel race at MIS you'd better start sixth. Until 2003, no driver had won an open-wheel race at MIS starting from the sixth position until Alex Barron and Buddy Rice accomplished the feat the past two years (Barron-2003, Rice-2004). On the other hand, if you want to win an open-wheel race at MIS, you may not want to start third or fourth. Only six total drivers have won from both the third and fourth starting positions, but none since 1984 (21 years ago) when Mario Andretti won from the third spot. Pancho Carter was the last driver to win an MIS open-wheel event from the fourth starting position back in 1981.

8 - Patrick Carpentier, driver of the #83 Red Bull Toyota for Cheever Racing, will be making his sixth career start at MIS, but his first since 2001 when he recorded his first career open-wheel victory at the 2-mile oval. In the 2001 event, Carpentier defeated Dario Franchitti by .243 of a second. He won the race after starting in the 21st position, which is the farthest back a driver has won an open-wheel race in MIS history. Since then, he has reached victory lane on four other occasions.

7 - Seven days from now, rookie phenom Danica Patrick, driver of the #16 Argent Pioneer Honda for Rahal Letterman Racing, will make her debut at Michigan International Speedway in the Firestone Indy 400. Patrick has taken the racing scene by storm since her fourth-place finish at the Indianapolis 500 in May, which was the highest finish for a female at the Brickyard in the 89-year history of the event.

6 - Six drivers have won the Indy 500 and gone on to win a race at MIS in the same year; Johnny Rutherford did it in 1980, Gordon Johncock in 1982, Bobby Rahal in 1986, Rick Mears in 1991, Juan Pablo Montoya in 2000, and most recently Buddy Rice in 2004. Can this year's Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon add to the list of six with a win in the Firestone Indy 400?

5 - Dan Wheldon, driver of the #26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Honda for Andretti Green Racing, will be looking for his fifth victory of the 2005 season at MIS. Wheldon, the Indy 500 Champion who currently sits atop the point standings, won four of the season's first five races.

4 - Tomas Scheckter, driver of the #4 Pennzoil Chevrolet for Panther racing, will look for his second win at MIS and his third pole. Scheckter has captured two IRL IndyCar Series poles at MIS in 2002 and 2003 and won the first IndyCar Series race at MIS in 2002. He is the last driver to win an open-wheel race at MIS from the pole.

3 - Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Marlboro Team Penske Toyota, will be making his ninth start at MIS on July 31. Castroneves, the back-to-back Indy 500 Champion in 2001 and 2002, has won seven career events for legendary owner and Detroit resident Roger Penske. Despite his success, Castroneves is still looking for his first career victory at MIS, as he has finished no higher than fifth (2000). Marlboro Team Penske teammate Sam Hornish Jr., another local favorite from Defiance, Ohio, is also looking for his first career win at MIS.

2 - Only two drivers have won back-to-back open-wheel races at MIS. Bobby Unser captured two in a row in July and September of 1979 and Mario Andretti was victorious in July and September of 1984. Can Buddy Rice join this elite group this year?

1 - In 2003, the finish of the IRL IndyCar Series race at MIS was the closest race in the history of Michigan International Speedway. After spinning on Lap 173, race-winner Alex Barron battled Sam Hornish Jr. to the line for the win with the margin of victory a mere 0.0121 seconds.

For tickets and information on the IRL IndyCar Firestone Indy 400 weekend at MIS, log on to www.MISpeedway.com, or call the MIS ticket hotline at 1-800-354-1010. Children 12 and under are free the whole weekend and all seats for Sunday's Firestone Indy 400 are just $40.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Team Penske