Series news and notes 2009-08-19

Today's IndyCar Series headlines 1. Infineon Raceway again will be a factor in driver championship 2. Moraes returns for Infineon race weekend 3. Forty years ago this week, it was Woodstock and Andretti 4. HPD sets overtake assist at 15 for 15 ...

Today's IndyCar Series headlines
1. Infineon Raceway again will be a factor in driver championship
2. Moraes returns for Infineon race weekend
3. Forty years ago this week, it was Woodstock and Andretti
4. HPD sets overtake assist at 15 for 15 seconds each

1. Infineon Raceway again will be a factor in driver championship: A few yards from Infineon Raceway's Victory Circle, where Marco Andretti and family were celebrating his first IndyCar Series win, Team Penske's Roger Penske and Tim Cindric were strategizing.

The 2006 championship would be decided in the season finale in two weeks, and the team had two of the four contenders in the chase.

Helio Castroneves' fifth place in the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma provided a one-point lead over teammate Sam Hornish Jr. (10th place) heading to Chicagoland Speedway. Reigning series champion Dan Wheldon, who finished sixth, was third in the standings (19 points back) and his Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate, Scott Dixon, was 21 points behind. Dixon, who started from the pole, finished fourth in the 80-lap race.

Since the IndyCar Series started competing at the Sonoma Valley facility in 2005 - the first time open-wheel racing returned to the natural-terrain course in 35 years - the race has been a factor in the driver championship. It will again this weekend with the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma - the 14th of 17 races on the schedule - on the physically and mentally challenging 2.303-mile natural-terrain circuit.

Dixon is in front by three points over Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe (the closest 1-2 gap since 2001). Franchitti is 20 points back, while Castroneves and Danica Patrick remain title wild cards in the top five.

"Mid-Ohio was pivotal and important. Sonoma will be the same," Target Chip Ganassi Racing managing director Mike Hull said. "I think every race in terms of how you stack up when the race is over is important to where you're going to be at the end of 2009."

In that 2006 championship drive, Hornish prevailed on a tiebreaker (more victories) after he and Wheldon tied in points. Castroneves finished two points back and Dixon was 15 behind.

Dixon took the IndyCar Series lead by four points with a victory in the 2007 race at Infineon Raceway, passing Franchitti with seven laps to go and holding off Castroneves in the 15th of 17 races on the season. Franchitti, after making contact with the race-leading car of teammate Andretti in Turn 2, remained on the course with a damaged front wing, hoping to salvage a top-five finish. He did, but for the first time since early June relinquished the points lead.

Again, the title went down to the final race with Franchitti overtaking Dixon on the final lap to claim his first series championship.

Last year, Dixon came into the race with a 78-point lead over Castroneves with three events remaining (a victory combined with a Castroneves finish outside of the top eight would have clinched the title). But Dixon, who started fifth in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car, finished 12th while Castroneves ended a 30-race winless streak to lower the deficit to 43 points. Castroneves continued his charge with a second place in the next race, setting up a showdown in the finale. Castroneves won that race, but Dixon claimed his second series title by 17 points.

In the inaugural IndyCar Series race at Infineon, reigning series champion Tony Kanaan won from the inside of Row 2 to slice Wheldon's advantage from 97 to 79 points. Wheldon finished 18th (fuel pump) in the 14th of 17 races. He wrapped up the title in the 16th race.

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2. Moraes returns for Infineon race weekend: Mario Moraes, who did not compete in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio presented by Westfield Insurance on Aug. 9 because of the death of his father earlier that week in Brazil, returns to the IndyCar Series and the No. 5 Votorantim KV Racing Technology car for the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma.

"First of all, I would like to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers over the past two weeks," Moraes said. "This has been a very difficult time for my family, but we are all very thankful for the support we have received. I am looking forward to getting back into the KV Racing Technology car this weekend. Racing is something my father loved and I just want to dedicate myself to being the best driver I can in his memory."

Moraes, 20, will be making his 29th start and 12th on a road/street course. Last year, in his Infineon Raceway debut, Moraes qualified 12th and finished 10th. Paul Tracy, filling in for Moraes at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, advanced three positions to finish seventh.

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3. Forty years ago, two very different festivals: Forty years ago this week, more than 400,000 people descended upon Max Yasgur's 600-acre dairy farm in Bethel, N.Y., for a music festival billed as "An Aquarium Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music." It's more commonly referred to as Woodstock (though the town of Woodstock is 43 miles southwest).

Thirty-two acts performed during the rainy weekend in what's been hailed as one of the most pivotal moments in popular music history. During the same weekend, Mario Andretti continued his march to the USAC season driver championship.

On Aug. 17, Al Unser won a 200-mile race at The Milwaukee Mile in a Lola-Ford T/C at an average speed of 106.758 mph. The next day, Andretti won the 100-mile race on the dirt at Springfield in a Kuzma-Offy with an average speed of 96.642 mph.

Andretti, who won the Indianapolis 500 and four other races before the Springfield victory, went on to post three additional victories that 24-race season.

Nine Indianapolis 500 champions have won at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield, which this weekend will play host to the Tony Bettenhausen 100 (USAC K&N Silver Crown Championship race) for the 75th year.

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4. Fifteen seconds of added power: Honda Performance Development has allotted 15 presses of the overtake assist button for 15 seconds each for the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma this weekend.

The overtake assist option, instituted for the race at Kentucky Speedway earlier this month, provides a 5-20 horsepower boost based on fuel setting and 200 RPMs (for a total of 10,500) for each time the system is engaged. A button is on each steering wheel. There is a 10-second recharge period between presses.

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The 2009 IndyCar Series season continues Aug. 23 with the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 5 p.m. (EDT) by VERSUS. A one-hour qualifying show will be telecast by VERSUS at 6 p.m. on Aug. 22. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 211. The radio broadcast also will be carried on www.indycar.com. The 2009 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with the Carneros 100 on Aug. 23 at Infineon Raceway. The race will be telecast at 4 p.m. (EDT) on Aug. 24 by VERSUS.

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Paul Tracy , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Dan Wheldon , Mario Andretti , Ryan Briscoe , Marco Andretti , Chip Ganassi , Mike Hull , Mario Moraes , Sam Hornish Jr. , Danica Patrick , Al Unser
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , KV Racing Technology , Chip Ganassi Racing