Series news and notes 2009-10-16

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Today's IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines * IndyCar Series 2009 by the numbers * Pair earns Schmidt's Champions Test reward: * Carpenter, Wheldon join field for "Ironman": * ESPN program puts spotlight on Patrick 1. IndyCar...

Today's IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines
* IndyCar Series 2009 by the numbers
* Pair earns Schmidt's Champions Test reward:
* Carpenter, Wheldon join field for "Ironman":
* ESPN program puts spotlight on Patrick

1. IndyCar Series 2009 by the numbers: Some numbers to note about the 14th season of IndyCar series competition

* Of the 40 drivers who started at least one race, 27 earned a top-10 finish, 18 a top five and 15 wound up on the podium.

* Nine teams (if you count Will Power in a Penske Racing car as part of Team Penske) finished on the podium.

* Tony Kanaan made his 115th consecutive start at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the active leader among IndyCar Series drivers.

* Scott Dixon has 32 consecutive top-10 starts, tying the series record by Sam Hornish Jr.

* Helio Castroneves has 98 top-10 and 73 top-five finishes, the most in series history. Castroneves has at least one race victory in each of the last nine seasons.

* With 110 race finishes, Castroneves ranks second to Scott Sharp (111) in running at the finish.

* Castroneves ranks second with 3,229 laps led. Hornish is the record-holder with 2,428.

* Dixon is four laps shy of 3,000 laps led. He topped the season laps led category with 815, his second straight season with at least 800 laps led (He led 899 in 2008).

* Dario Franchitti became the third driver to win multiple IndyCar Series championships. Hornish leads with three (2001, 2002, 2006), and Dixon has two (2003, 2008).

* Franchitti and Ryan Briscoe each had 13 top-five finishes, the most in the series. Franchitti led the way with 15 top 10s -- one more than Dixon.

* Briscoe tied Castroneves' single-season series record with eight runner-up finishes. He also led a series-high 13 races -- one more than Dixon.

* Briscoe, Franchitti, Dixon, Ed Carpenter and Danica Patrick paced the series with 16 races (of 17) in which they were running at the finish.

* Franchitti is the fifth different series champion in the past six years. He's also the first series title-holder not to win the Indianapolis 500 in the same year since 2004 (Kanaan).

* This is the third IndyCar Series championship and second in a row for Target Chip Ganassi Racing. Dixon won the title for the team in 2003 and 2008.

* It's the third time in series history that teammates have finished 1-2 in the standings. Kanaan finished first and Dan Wheldon second for Andretti Green Racing in 2004, and Wheldon won with Kanaan second for AGR in 2005.

* Franchitti beat Dixon for the title by 11 points -- the third-closest margin in series history. Buzz Calkins and Scott Sharp tied for the championship in 1996, and Hornish tied Wheldon for the title in 2006, winning by tiebreaker with the most victories during that season. Tony Stewart beat Davey Hamilton for the 1996-97 title by six points.

* Franchitti topped all competitors with five PEAK Performance Pole Awards -- one more than Briscoe.

* Twelve points separated the top three finishers - Franchitti (616), Dixon (605) and Briscoe (604) -- the third-closest margin between the top three in series history. In 2006, two points separated champion Hornish (475), Wheldon (475) and third place Castroneves (473). In 1996, six points separated co-champions Calkins and Sharp (246) and third place Robbie Buhl (240).

* The Firestone Indy 300 was a career-best fifth victory for Franchitti, who won four races en route to the 2007 IndyCar Series season title with Andretti Green Racing.

* It was the 34th IndyCar Series victory for Target Chip Ganassi Racing, tying Andretti Green Racing for No. 2 on the all-time series victory list. Team Penske/Penske Racing leads with 35.

* It was the 10th victory of the season for Target Chip Ganassi Racing (Franchitti and Dixon each with five).

* The average speed of the Firestone Indy 300 (201.420 mph) was the second-fastest in IndyCar Series history. Hornish won the race in September 2003 at California Speedway with an average speed of 207.151.

* The Firestone Indy 300 was the first caution-free race in IndyCar Series history. The previous record was one, set four times: Two laps in August 2008 at the Infineon road course, six laps in September 2003 at the California oval and one for 10 laps in August 2005 at the Pikes Peak oval and in August 2003 at the Kentucky oval.

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2. Pair earns Schmidt's Champions Test reward: The two up-and-coming racing stars will get a chance to sample a Firestone Indy Lights car as they decide their plans for 2010.

Star Mazda champion Adam Christodoulou and International Formula Masters Rookie of the Year Alexander Rossi will test a car prepared by Sam Schmidt Motorsports' Firestone Indy Lights team as part of the "Champions Test" program at Putnum Park on Oct 20. The test day is awarded in recognition of the drivers' successful season in their respective series.

Christodoulou, who claimed the Star Mazda title with his win at Laguna Seca on Oct. 10, will drive a Firestone Indy Lights car for the second time in a month. The 20-year-old driver from Litchfield, England tested a car for Bryan Herta Autosport last month and is scheduled to test with Sam Schmidt Motorsports on the oval at Kentucky Speedway on Oct. 22.

Rossi, who won the Formula BMW Americas title and the BMW World Final in 2008, will drive a Firestone Indy Lights car for the first time after finishing as the top rookie in Europe's International Formula Master series. The 18-year-old American claimed three wins and five podium finishes this season.

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3. Carpenter, Wheldon join field for "Ironman": Vision Racing's Ed Carpenter and Panther Racing driver Dan Wheldon are entered in the Ironman 150 TaG endurance karting event Oct. 18 at New Castle (Ind.) Motorsports Park.

Carpenter last month won the Mazda Robo-Pong 200 endurance event on the serpentine track with co-driven Nathan O'Rouke, an engineer at Vision Racing. He's also entered in the Ironman 150, which starts at 1 p.m. (EDT). The event is free and open to the public.

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4. ESPN program puts spotlight on Patrick: Danica Patrick last week completed her fifth IndyCar Series season with a fifth place in the final standings.

Fans can learn more about the Roscoe, Ill., native in the Fast World of Danica Patrick, a 30-minute special program airing at 3:30 p.m. (ET) Oct. 18 on ESPN.

The program is an in-depth look at Patrick during the recently-completed IndyCar Series season, as told by her, and examines her life away from the racetrack.

-credit: irl

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Series INDYCAR , INDYLIGHTS