Series news and notes 2009-09-29

Today's IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines 1. The Contenders: Franchitti seeking second title 2. Fisher's party to benefit Komen for the Cure 3. Charities win again at Phil Casey Golf Tournament 1. The Contenders:...

Today's IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines
1. The Contenders: Franchitti seeking second title
2. Fisher's party to benefit Komen for the Cure
3. Charities win again at Phil Casey Golf Tournament

1. The Contenders: Franchitti seeking second title: It was drifting toward 10 p.m. and Dario Franchitti - after a long day in which he subjected the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car and himself to the 11 tight turns of the Long Beach street circuit multiple times in practice and three rounds of qualifications - was walking the 1.968-mile layout.

"I take notes. Not about the setup of the car but things I have to do," he said. "Where the bumps are. What techniques to use on certain corners."

Attention to detail has been Franchitti's calling card since well before he earned the McLaren/Autosport Young Driver of the Year award in 1992. In part, such studiousness has led Franchitti to the brink of a second IndyCar Series championship after a year's absence to compete in stock cars.

Franchitti trails teammate Scott Dixon by five points entering the season finale -- the Firestone Indy 300 on Oct. 10 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe is the third man in on this title fight, sitting eight points back. Franchitti's goal is simple: finish ahead of Dixon - as he did by a whisker in the 2007 finale to win the title - and Briscoe to earn a $1 million bonus among other prizes.

It's already been a successful and memory-laden return to the series' diverse set of ovals and road/street courses at age 36 -- four victories, four pole starts, 12 top-five finishes, 470 laps led and the opportunity to become the third multi-time champion in series history.

"The end of '07, the reason I went away is because I was looking for some motivation," said Franchitti, who also recorded four victories and 13 top-five finishes in 17 races that year. "With going away, I realized how I much I missed actually what I love to do - driving in the IndyCar Series. So when I got the chance to come back with the Target team it was really a no-brainer.

"From the first lap I've really enjoyed driving the car, and ultimately for me that's what it's all about -- when you get in the car and how much I enjoy that or not. I thought at one point I would have retired maybe by the time I was 35. But I still love it. The fact I can still be competitive, I'm still out there winning races and challenging for championships, it's just fun.

"Then there are the other things like being back in the paddock being with the people I grew up with - not only driver but team members - being back with the fans and going to the places we get to go to with the unified series. It all just adds up."

Just like his major North American open-wheel racing experience that will reach 200 events at St. Petersburg (Fla.) in March 2010. A decade ago, Franchitti was involved in a down-to-the-wire race for the CART title, which he lost to Juan Montoya based on a tiebreaker (seven wins to three). In '07, he swapped the spot atop the standings with Dixon - ahead by three points -- entering the finale at Chicagoland Speedway. After running second for the final 6½ laps, he overtook Dixon's car to claim the victory and championship.

"It definitely helps you to know what to expect and deal with it better," he said. "You improve as a driver and you improve your race craft and you maybe become a bit smarter.

"I think the difference is in '04 I was able to back (then-Andretti Green Racing teammate and eventual series champion) Tony (Kanaan) up to the point of sacrificing race results. In '05, we all did the same for Dan (Wheldon). In '07, Danica (Patrick), Marco (Andretti) and especially TK did that for me. The problem right now is that Scott and I are in a championship fight, so although we want to help each other out we can't sacrifice our own race results for it. We're both in our own fight."

Franchitti projects the battle to play out to the conclusion of the 200 laps on the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway oval, where he has three top-10 finishes (high of fourth in 2006) in five races.

"It's going to be a very close race," he said. "It's not a typical one-and-a-half mile because the corners are so tight. It's a one and a half that drives more like an Iowa. It's going to be a hell of a show at Homestead."

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2. Fisher's party to benefit Komen for the Cure: IndyCar Series driver Sarah Fisher and singer/songwriter Danny Woods of New Kids On the Block will co-host a party at the Miami Beach nightclub, LIV, to raise money for Susan G. Komen for the Cure on Oct. 8.

Fans are invited to attend join celebrities, including some of the IndyCar Series drivers that will compete alongside Fisher in the Oct. 10 Firestone Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway at the event, which will feature premier entertainment by Ross One. All proceeds from ticket sales to the even at LIV -- located in the newly renovated Fontainebleau Resort on Miami Beach -- will benefit Komen for the Cure to fund breast cancer research and community outreach programs.

"We're so excited to be partnering with Komen to help fight the war on breast cancer," said Fisher. "This is a disease that touches everyone, and we can't do enough to help. The party is a fun way to bring attention to our efforts, while raising money for Komen's programs. Hosting it with Danny Woods is going to be so much fun."

The event is part of Fisher's "On the Track for a Cause" a multi-faceted initiative to raise money and awareness for breast cancer research. Fisher will turn all of her branding pink for the race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Fisher will race in a pink car, wearing a pink firesuit and matching pink helmet designed by her fans. Fisher's primary sponsor Dollar General will present a donation to Susan G. Komen for the Cure at LIV on the pink carpet.

A big supporter of Komen, Woods has been involved in multiple fundraising events with the world's largest breast cancer organization. In between touring with his band, running his record label, Damage Records, and producing and writing songs, the singer and choreographer has been doing all he can to help the cause.

"Hopefully this will create awareness and motivate people to join in the fight against this dreadful disease," said Danny Wood, whose work with Komen for the Cure honors his mother who died from breast cancer 10 years ago. "Women need to be aware of early detection.That was the problem for my mother. By the time she found out, it was too late — and I don't want that to happen to anyone else when it could be prevented."

Tickets are available online for $30 at www.wantickets.com/EventDetail.aspx?e_id=75500 and for $35 at the door. For table reservations, please call 305.674.4680.

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3. Charities win again at Phil Casey Golf Tournament: A team representing Indy Health and Fitness topped the field to win the 19th Annual Phil Casey Indy Racing Golf Tournament, in which the racing community has raised money for charities for nearly two decades.

The Indy Health and Fitness team, Dr. Rob Schroeder, Scott Kelly, Dennis Grassio and Gary Sobczak, shot a 15-under-par 57 at the Brickyard Crossing Golf Course in Indianapolis to win the tournament by four shots. Three teams - One America, Indy Racing League and Winstar Farms - tied for second.

Proceeds from the tournament benefit the Pediatric Diabetes Center at Valley Children's Hospital in Fresno, Calif., and Target House at St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital in Memphis.

"I really want to thank the everybody from the players to our sponsors from the racing community and volunteers for supporting this event," said Casey, consultant to the Indy Racing League. "I say that every year, but we couldn't do what we do without any of you."

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The 2009 IndyCar Series season concludes Oct. 10 with the Firestone Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 4 p.m. (ET) Oct. 10 by VERSUS. 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. A 90-minute qualifying show will air on VERSUS at 4:30 p.m. Oct. 9. The 2009 Firestone Indy Lights season concludes with the Homestead-Miami 100 on Oct. 9 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be telecast live by VERSUS at 6 p.m. (ET).

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Sarah Fisher , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Ryan Briscoe , Chip Ganassi
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing