Series news and notes 2009-10-02

Today's IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines 1. Special events give green flag to Championship Week in Miami 2. Rearview Mirror: Classic IndyCar Series Championship races 3. New look for Alliance's car 1. Special ...

Today's IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines
1. Special events give green flag to Championship Week in Miami
2. Rearview Mirror: Classic IndyCar Series Championship races
3. New look for Alliance's car

1. Special events give green flag to Championship Week in Miami: It's a taste of Indy, the beach, fashion, food and fun as IZOD and Apex-Brasil, in partnership with the Indy Racing League, kick off IndyCar Series Championship Week with special events Oct. 2-3 in Miami that are free and open to the public.

The IndyCar Series championship and a whole lot more will be decided in the Firestone Indy 300 on Oct. 10 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

On Oct. 2, fans can mingle with IndyCar Series drivers Ryan Hunter-Reay, Tony Kanaan, Raphael Matos, Vitor Meira and Mario Moraes from 6-7 p.m. at Macy's at The Falls, located at 8888 SW 136th St. at U.S. 1 in Miami. Or get an autograph from Al Unser Jr. and Arie Luyendyk, who represent four Indianapolis 500 victories, and take a ride in the IndyCar Series street-legal two-seater (5-8 p.m.).

And check out these bonuses: The first 150 customers to make an IZOD apparel purchase of $50 or more will receive a complimentary IZOD/INDY baseball cap and autographed driver hero card. Also, the first 25 customers to purchase $20 of IZOD/INDY merchandise will receive two complimentary tickets to race day at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The hot-selling IZOD brand this year introduced a line of sportswear commemorating and drawing upon 100 years of racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The scene shifts Oct. 3 to scenic Miami Beach and the recently-opened luxury W Hotel for a full day/night of activity, including what should be a YouTube-worthy 3 p.m. beach volleyball competition between IndyCar Series drivers and lifeguards.

"Playing volleyball is great, especially when it is on the beach. That is my favorite place to be," said HVM Racing driver and Miami resident E.J. Viso. "I'm really excited and I'm sure I will have a blast."

Drivers will reconvene at the hotel at 6:30 p.m. for a remote water car competition - Mattel Hot Wheels cars that run on water. At 8 and 8:45 p.m. will be poolside fashion shows featuring IZOD attire and Brazilian swimwear and lingerie collections. In between, drivers will swap stories about the '09 IndyCar Series season with Michael Young moderating.

The event will be capped with performances by Vince Mira, N.E.R.D. and Pharrell Williams. The W Hotel is located at 2201 Collins Ave. in Miami Beach.

***

2. Rearview Mirror: Classic IndyCar Series Championship races: Just eight points separate IndyCar Series championship leaders Scott Dixon (570 points), Dario Franchitti (565) and Ryan Briscoe (562) entering the season-ending Firestone Indy 300 on Oct. 10 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. It will be the 10th time in 14 IndyCar Series seasons that the title will be decided at the final race. This is the final part of a six-part series looking at some of the classic championship races in IndyCar Series history. Today: 2008: Dixon Edges Helio In Dream Year

When: 2008
Who: Scott Dixon, Helio Castroneves
Where: Chicagoland Speedway (Sept. 7, 2008)

The story:

With three races remaining in the 2008 season, Scott Dixon appeared to already have his name on the 2008 series championship trophy in a dream year of his life. He was married in February. He had earned his long-awaited first Indianapolis 500 victory in May. And he had a 78-point lead over Helio Castroneves, 558-480, in the standings after winning the Meijer Indy 300 on Aug. 9 at Kentucky Speedway. It was his third consecutive victory and record-tying sixth win of the season.

But Castroneves and Team Penske never quit. Castroneves won the next race, the PEAK Antifreeze and Motor Oil Grand Prix of Sonoma County on Aug. 24 at Infineon Raceway, while Dixon finished 12th. That 78-point lead suddenly was sliced to 43.

Castroneves then finished a controversial second a week later in the Detroit Indy Grand Prix. Race officials ordered him to surrender the lead to Justin Wilson late in the race for a blocking violation, a charge Castroneves emotionally denied. Still, Castroneves whittled Dixon's lead to 30 points, 606-576, after Dixon finished fifth.

Next and last up was the season-ending PEAK Antifreeze and Motor Oil 300 on Sept. 7 at Chicagoland Speedway, the third consecutive year the season championship was coming down to 200 laps on the fast, 1.5-mile oval.

Dixon entered the finale needing to finish eighth or better to clinch the title. Castroneves didn't help himself during qualifying when his four-lap run of 215.372 - good for fourth on the starting grid - was disqualified because he drove under the white line inside the track multiple times, a rules violation.

Castroneves was forced to start last in the 28-car field, while Dixon started second in his Target Chip Ganassi Racing entry. The title looked almost academic for Dixon, even though nothing is certain in the wild IndyCar Series competition that is normal on the 1.5-mile oval at Chicagoland.

And holding to form, there was nothing ordinary about this day in suburban Chicago. Castroneves charged to the lead by Lap 78 of the 200-lap race. Dixon had dropped to 10th in the middle section of the race, and the impossible started looking possible for Castroneves.

But Dixon charged forward and regained the lead on Lap 186. Dixon and Castroneves were running 1-2, respectively, on the final restart of the race on Lap 194. Castroneves hung on Dixon's rear wing at the white flag, as just .0102 of a second separated them entering the final lap.

The two cars were wheel-to-wheel, screaming down the frontstretch to the finish, with the checkered flag in the air. Castroneves won the race by 12 1/8 inches - a time margin of .0033 of a second - in a finish that needed a five-minute study of timing photographs to determine a winner.

It was the second-closest finish in IndyCar Series history, and it capped a zero-to-hero 24 hours for Castroneves. But it wasn't enough to wrest the title from Dixon, who earned his second championship by 17 points, 646-629.

Dixon's dream year was complete: Marriage, Indianapolis 500 victory, IndyCar Series championship.

What They Say Now:

•Scott Dixon: "It was pretty crazy. We qualified maybe third or fourth, and Helio had gone under the white line and had to start from the back. It made it pretty exciting, but I think before the first pit stop he was already racing up there with us. At one part of the race near the mid-point, I had slipped back to 12th or 13th. It was definitely one we were fighting for to the end. We thought we had won the race and we were in Victory Lane, and then they take the hats off you and Helio's won. We still won the championship, and that's the one we wanted."

•Helio Castroneves: "We had a little incident during qualifying. We ended up touching the white line, and that wouldn't have happened if I had paid better attention during the drivers' meeting. We had a very fast car, and we proved that starting from the back and passing everybody and having an incredible finish with Scott Dixon. I had a lot of fun that day, winning by only a few (thousandths) of a second. They took awhile to decide who was the winner, and that bummed me out a little bit. I wanted to climb the fence, and the fans were asking for it. But it took about five minutes to decide. At the end of a day, it was a happy one. We did everything we could. Team Penske tried everything. It was a great year."

***

3. New look for Alliance's car: Alliance Motorsports' Firestone Indy Lights car will be sporting a new look for the season-ending Miami 100.

The No. 24 efusjon energy club car will carry a unique split livery promoting the two new efusjon products - efusjon DAWN and efusjon BREEZE - during the Oct. 9 event.

"We wanted to do something special for the great people associated with the eFusjon energy club for the last race of the season," said Ted Bitting, team manager of Alliance Motorsports. "They have been tremendous supporters of ours since May, and this is just a small token of appreciation for all that they have done for our team. "

efusjon DAWN is a citrus flavored, non-carbonated beverage, utilizing quercetin as its most active ingredient. It will be represented on the left side of Mike Potekhen's car with an orange paint scheme, while efusjon BREEZE is a tropical flavored, carbonated beverage, and has mangosteen and passion fruit as its spotlight ingredients. It will be represented on the right side of Potekhen's car with a blue paint scheme.

"The new paint scheme will certainly turn some heads and will hopefully be seen towards the front of the pack on race day," Bitting said.

***

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) 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 Justin Wilson , Al Unser Jr. , Arie Luyendyk , Helio Castroneves , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Ryan Briscoe , Chip Ganassi , Mario Moraes , Mike Potekhen , Vitor Meira
Teams Williams , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , HVM Racing