CHAMPCAR/CART: Lexmark Indy 300 Saturday summary

Nearly 90 000 people (89 948) were on hand today as Australia's Champ Car wizard Will Power created Lexmark Indy 300 history in claiming back-to-back pole positions leading into tomorrow's big race. Holden's Toll HSV driver Garth Tander shared...

Nearly 90 000 people (89 948) were on hand today as Australia's Champ Car wizard Will Power created Lexmark Indy 300 history in claiming back-to-back pole positions leading into tomorrow's big race.

Holden's Toll HSV driver Garth Tander shared in the emotion by taking the chequered flag in Race One of the V8 Supercar Challenge that produced a thrilling two-lap sprint to the finish.

The feature racing program is already delivering the results on track and for event organisers tomorrow is shaping as the perfect finale to a memorable four-day weekend.

"Our three day crowd figure of 211 819 is indicative of the popularity of this event and we are certainly tracking well to exceed 300 000 plus people for 2007," said Lexmark Indy 300 General Manager Greg Hooton.

"I trust that everyone will get behind Will Power tomorrow and cheer him on to what would be a popular victory.

"Two big 27-lap feature races are still to come in the V8 Supercar Challenge and of course the Lexmark Indy 300 will have an International field lining up so it doesn't get any better."

It was a determined Power who produced a new qualifying lap record of 1:30.054 around the 4.47 kilometre circuit leading in to the main event.

Oriol Servia's (PKV Racing) best run today was marginally slower than Paul Tracy but the Spaniard will line up alongside the Team Australia campaigner on account of his provision pole qualifying effort yesterday.

Championship leader Sebastien Bourdais (Newman/Haas/Lannigan Racing) joins Tracy on the second row of the start grid on a day that was plastered green and gold in front of a patriotic third day crowd at Australia's number one motorsports event.

"We pushed super hard at the end to get the result, but qualifying is only a very small part and we've just got to get the race right this time and win," said Power.

"The key will be a good start and I'm just looking to deliver the result that all of Australia wants. There is that expectation at my home race but I find I always perform so much better under pressure."

Garth Tander was elevated into pole position in the opening race of the V8 Supercar Challenge today after Ford Performance Racing's Mark Winterbottom was excluded due to a post qualifying penalty for a technical infringement.

The Toll HSV hard charger was beaten off the line by the Jeld-wen Falcon of James Courtney and he dominated the opening exchanges.

But after the compulsory pit stop Tander found himself out in front and was able to hold off the late challenge of Jamie Whincup with his own points tally anough to leapfrog his team mate Rick Kelly into third overall in the Championship.

"We're out there trying to win as many races as we can to try and take the Championship, particularly after what happened at Bathurst," said Tander.

"The easiest way to finish up the front is to start up the front. We've had good qualifying and general speed all year and we go in to tomorrow's two races confident after a solid result."

In support categories it was a Gold Coast quinella in Race Two of Aunger Carrera Cup with Marcus Marshall and New Zealand expatriate Craig Baird filling the top spots just as they did in Race One.

Baird in particular added vital points to his Championship total to give himself a mathematical chance of claiming back-to-back Championships in the Porsche series leading into tomorrow's third and final race.

The current points score has Baird trailing overall leader David Reynolds by 27 points, however Reynolds only needs to maintain the consistency that has seen him secure a third and fourth placing on the Gold Coast to snare a first ever Carrera Cup title.

In Coates Aussie Racing Cars Ben McCashney scored an impressive victory in Race Three, while Brad Ward was crowned Series champion after chaos reigned on at the front of the pack.

A nail-biting end to the year for Ward saw his main rivals, brother James and Paul Kemal, slip out of contention in the final race of 2007, giving Brad his first Aussie Racing Car title.

Another drama charged installment of Haymans Electrical V8 Utes provided the perfect start to today's racing action as Fords and Holdens diced for the lead on the opening lap of Race three which resulted in numerous early race casualties.

Western Australia's Grant Johnson recorded an emotional victory to secure overall honours from the weekend, while Jack Elsegood also remained consistent to capture the runner's up trophy. George Miedecke was beaten home by Gary Baxter in the final race but accrued enough points to take third for the round.

Tomorrow's racing action kicks off with the final race in Aunger Carrera Cup at 8.25am followed by Champ Car warm-up at 9am. Race two of the V8 Supercar Challenge takes place at 11.05am.

Credit: www.indy.com.au

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Series V8SUPERCARS , CAMS , INDYCAR