Ryan Hunter-Reay, Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda Chevrolet, No. 28
Hunter-Reay is currently ranked second in the IZOD IndyCar Series points championship going into this weekend's finale race. He enters the weekend with a series-leading four victories this season and is the only American to visit victory lane in 2012. His nine career wins come from eight different racetracks: three flat ovals, 1 banked oval, four street courses and one permanent road course. This will be Hunter-Reay's first time racing in Fontana since 2003. Hunter-Reay is also tied with Tony Kanaan for the lead in the race for the AJ Foyt Trophy, given to the driver who scores the most points in the season's oval races.
"I think it is so neat that we are finishing the season in California - I grew up just down the street (from the track) and this is a great place for the finale. Auto Club Speedway is a great facility. I haven't driven around the track since 2003 in a Reynard, and I can tell you the track has picked up some 'character' since then. But the race will be the same for all of us and I fully expect that the fans will see a fantastic race under the lights."
On the championship being decided by this weekend's race: "After Sonoma we thought our chance was gone - but I'll tell you what - this team, the guys at Andretti Autosport, with the support of DHL and Sun Drop never, ever give up. We'll be there in the end. We are going to put on a great show. We're using the momentum we have on our side from winning four of the last seven races, and we hope to use that to our advantage. We've won the last two oval races as well. It's going to be a tough one to get the job done over 500 miles but this team has shown to be resilient toward the end of races, so I think we just have to approach it like we have been very other race this year. We're going out to win it. There's not a lot of time and energy wasted on counting points - we're going out to win the thing."
Did You Know: Hunter-Reay enters the 500-mile weekend only 17 points behind series leader Will Power of Team Penske. There are 29 different scenarios that would crown Hunter-Reay the new IZOD IndyCar Series Champion at race's end. If those scenarios play out, this would be the first IndyCar title for the 31-year old and the fourth for Andretti Autosport.
Marco Andretti, Team RC Cola Chevrolet, No. 26
Like his teammates, Marco Andretti will race an IndyCar for the first time this weekend at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.
"The RC Cola team is really focused on going out on a high note. I've had a great car on the ovals this year, and with a full day of testing, I think we're prepared to run at the front. It would be great to see Ryan (Hunter-Reay) win the championship, and we expect to be in the mix for a victory. It would be great way to end the season. We're going for it."
Did You Know: At the season's only other 500-mile race, Andretti was fast for the entire month of May at Indianapolis. He qualified fourth and led more laps than any other driver, 59, before a late-race crash. He also finished second on the high-banked oval at Iowa Speedway, crossing the line behind his teammate Hunter-Reay.
James Hinchcliffe, Team GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, No. 27
Hinchcliffe was scored with a 15th-place finish in the last round of IndyCar racing on the streets of Baltimore, and is currently ranked seventh in the points standings. He has recorded five top-five and eight top-10 finishes so far in his sophomore year of IndyCar racing.
"There are a lot of mixed emotions, I think, coming into this race. Definitely sad it's the last race of the season, it's been such a fun year and it's a bummer to see it come to an end. On top of that the anticipation of another 500-mile race - it's going to be a really long race around (Auto Club Speedway). The test for us was interesting. I think from what we saw there fans are going to see a really exciting race, kind of like what we saw at Texas (Motor Speedway). At this point we are still finalizing what the package is going to be, but I think with the experiences the drivers and team has - from TX especially - we're gong to make the right decisions and put on a hell of a show. So, overall sad the season is over but hopefully we can end on a high note for the team and for Go Daddy."
Did You Know: This weekend's MAVTV 500 will be Hinch's first appearance at the Auto Club Speedway, but is not his first 500-mile race on a large oval. He started from the front row in this years Indianapolis 500 on the famed 2.5-mile oval and led five laps before finishing in the sixth position. Hinchcliffe is ranked third in the standings for the A.J. Foyt Oval Championship.
Sebastian Saavedra, Team AFS Racing / Andretti Autosport, No. 17
This will be Saavedra's first time racing at Auto Club Speedway and his third outing in the No. 17 Team AFS Chevrolet. He competed in two IndyCar events earlier this season with AFS Racing/Andretti Autosport, finishing 15th at the IndyCar race in Sonoma and 26th at the 2012 Indianapolis 500. Saavedra is competing full season in Firestone Indy Lights where he is ranked fourth in the points standings.
"It is incredible how quick this season went by. One race to go and there's not a better place to have it than Auto Club Speedway. It's going to be a busy weekend with the AFS Racing team doing both Firestone Indy Lights & IndyCar for a total of 600 miles. We are prepared for this and looking forward to a good show in both series. I had the opportunity to watch my Andretti teammate's test last Thursday, which gives me some inside knowledge of what to expect for my first contact with the track. I will have the chance to test on Wednesday, which is a big extra for us to get a bit more familiar with the car and the track itself. Every mile counts."
Did You Know: Saavedra, the official test and reserve driver for Andretti Autosport, will be racing a total of 600 miles this weekend, while running in both the IZOD IndyCar Series MAVTV 500 as well as Firestone Indy Lights race. He is no stranger to double duty as he also ran both the Firestone Freedom 100 and the Indianapolis 500 in the same weekend this past May.
Source: Andretti Autosport