IRL: Chicagoland: Season finale pre-race notes, schedule

PEAK Antifreeze Indy 300 presented by Mr. Clean/Chicagoland 100 FAST FACTS WHAT: IndyCar® Series: PEAK Antifreeze Indy 300 presented by Mr. Clean, final race in 14-race 2006 season WHERE: Chicagoland Speedway, 1.5-mile asphalt ...

PEAK Antifreeze Indy 300 presented by Mr. Clean/Chicagoland 100
FAST FACTS

WHAT:
IndyCar® Series: PEAK Antifreeze Indy 300 presented by Mr. Clean, final race in 14-race 2006 season

WHERE:
Chicagoland Speedway, 1.5-mile asphalt oval

WHEN:
IndyCar Series: 1:30 p.m. (EDT), Sunday, Sept. 10

DISTANCE:
IndyCar Series: 200 laps/300 miles

POSTED AWARDS:
IndyCar Series: More than $1 million

CARS:
IndyCar Series: Dallara and Panoz chassis; Honda Indy V-8; Firestone tires

PREVIOUS RACE WINNERS:
IndyCar Series: Dan Wheldon (2005), Adrian Fernandez (2004), Sam Hornish Jr. (2002-2003), Jaques Lazier (2001)

2005 SERIES CHAMPIONS:
IndyCar Series: Dan Wheldon

TV:
IndyCar Series: Race: ABC Sports (live), 1:30 p.m. (EDT), Sept. 10
    Live streaming video of all practice sessions, Marlboro Pole Qualifying (6 p.m. EDT, Sept. 10) and the in-car footage of the race also will be available at www.indycar.com.

RADIO:
IndyCar Series: Qualifying: IMS Radio Network, live web-cast, 5:45 p.m. (EDT) Sept. 9
Qualifying wrapup: IMS Radio Network, 6:30 p.m. (EDT), Sept. 9
Pre-race: IMS Radio Network (live), 1 p.m. (EDT), Sept. 10
Race: IMS Radio Network (live), 1:30 p.m. (EDT), Sept. 10
    Live coverage of Marlboro Pole Qualifying (5:45 p.m. EDT, Sept. 9) and the race also will be available at www.indycar.com. The race broadcast is also available on XM Satellite Radio channel 145 "IndyCar Racing."

SCHEDULE (all times local; subject to change):

Saturday, Sept. 9
8:15 -- 9:45 a.m. IndyCar Series practice (two groups)
10:45 a.m. -- 12:15 p.m. IndyCar Series practice (two groups)
5 p.m. Indy Car Series Marlboro Pole Qualifying (65 minute session)

Sunday, Sept. 10
8:45 -- 9:15 a.m. Final IndyCar Series practice
12:45 p.m. PEAK Antifreeze Indy 300 presented by Mr. Clean (200 laps/300 miles)

THE TRACK:
1.5-mile D-shaped asphalt oval; 75 feet wide
Frontstraight: 2,400 feet banked at 11 degrees
Backstraight: 1,700 feet banked at 5 degrees
Turns: Banked at 18 degrees
Width: 55 feet
    Chicagoland Speedway opened in 2001 and is owned by Raceway Associates, LLC, made up of interests from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, International Speedway Corp. and Route 66 Raceway.

INDY-STYLE RACING IN CHICAGOLAND:

The first automobile race in Chicago occurred shortly after Thanksgiving in 1895, when eight racers, seeking a $2,000 prize offered by the Chicago Times-Herald, raced on a 52.4-mile course that began just south of what is today's Loop to Evanston.

Road racing continued between 1910 and 1915 (and again in 1919, 1920 and 1933), when the Elgin Watch Company sponsored a road-racing series through its hometown, Elgin, Ill., west of Chicago.

Oval racing came to Chicago when Illinois lumber baron Edward Hines built Chicago Speedway, a 2-mile, high-banked board track. The speedway held its first race on June 26, 1915, with future Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Resta claiming the victory.

Oval racing remained popular in Chicago as board tracks, and later dirt and paved ovals were built around the area for midget, sprint and champ car racing.

In 1999, Chip Ganassi headed a group of private investors who renovated Sportsman's Park and ran three Champ Car World Series events at the track before closing it in 2002.

The IRL IndyCar® Series made its debut at Chicagoland Speedway in 2001 with Jaques Lazier winning the first race.

INDYCAR SERIES NOTES:

* Four Indianapolis 500 champions are expected to participate in the PEAK Antifreeze Indy 300 presented by Mr. Clean: Helio Castroneves (2001, 2002), Buddy Rice (2004), Dan Wheldon (2005) and Sam Hornish Jr. (2006).

* Five IndyCar Series champions are scheduled to participate in the PEAK Antifreeze Indy 300 presented by Mr. Clean: Scott Sharp (1996 co-champion), Sam Hornish Jr. (2001, 2002), Scott Dixon (2003), Tony Kanaan (2004) and Dan Wheldon (2005).

* Drivers entered in the PEAK Antifreeze Indy 300 presented by Mr. Clean have plenty of talent and experience. The 19 drivers entered in the PEAK Antifreeze Indy 300 presented by Mr. Clean have combined for 72 IndyCar Series victories, 70 pole positions and 1,003 starts.

* The PEAK Antifreeze Indy 300 presented by Mr. Clean will be the last of six events in 2006 contested on a 1.5-mile track. Winners in 2006 on 1.5-mile tracks: Dan Wheldon (Homestead-Miami Speedway), Helio Castroneves (Twin Ring Motegi and Texas Motor Speedway) and Sam Hornish Jr. (Kansas Speedway and Kentucky Speedway).

* Sam Hornish Jr. and Dan Wheldon are the only former Chicagoland winners expected to participate in the PEAK Antifreeze Indy 300 presented by Mr. Clean. Wheldon is the defending champion of the event. Hornish won in 2002 and 2003.

* The PEAK Antifreeze Indy 300 presented by Mr. Clean will be the 134th IndyCar Series event since the series' inaugural race in 1996. In the 133 previous events, 26,680 laps of competition have been completed.

* In the 13 races thus far in 2006, there have been six winners. Sam Hornish Jr., Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves are multiple winners. Hornish won at Indianapolis, Richmond, Kansas and Kentucky, Castroneves won at St. Petersburg, Motegi, Texas and Michigan and Dixon won at Watkins Glen and Nashville. Dan Wheldon won at Homestead-Miami, Tony Kanaan won at Milwaukee and Marco Andretti won at Infineon. In those 13 races, 16 drivers have finished in the top five in at least one event.

INDYCAR SERIES PRE-RACE QUOTES:

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, point leader): "In previous years, Marlboro Team Penske has had difficulty on the 1.5-mile ovals like Chicagoland, but this year we seem to be consistently strong on them, so we're definitely looking forward to getting out there and fighting for the championship. It's going to be a very exciting race with four guys, who all seem to do well on this type of track, fighting for the title. I feel as though I need to win this race to win the championship, so we're going to give it our all. I've been chasing an Indy car championship my entire career, and have never been able to accomplish this goal, so winning it would be a dream come true. Plus, it would mean a lot to me to be able to give Roger and Marlboro Team Penske their first IndyCar Series championship."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, second place, 1 point behind): "Chicagoland Speedway is a track where I've always been strong, so I feel like we have a great opportunity to do well here. With only a one-point deficit in the Championship, a win takes all, so that's what we're shooting for next weekend. To be honest, with some of the problems we've had at a couple of the races this year, I feel that we could've been a lot farther behind; so I'm happy with where we're at heading into the final race. It should be a great show for the fans, and hopefully we'll be able to bring home Marlboro Team Penske's first IndyCar Series Championship."

DAN WHELDON (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, third place, 17 points behind): "As fast as we've been all year, as aggressive as everyone knows I can be, no one is going to want to mess with me in Chicago. I have nothing to lose now, and I'm not ready to give up and neither is the Target team. We've been really strong on mile-and-a-half ovals, and we can still win. We're still in this. We just have to win at Chicago and the rest will be in the Racing Gods' hands. We've worked very hard all year to make a championship possible and it's not over yet. "

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fourth place, 31 points behind): "Anything is possible in Chicago. I wasn't very optimistic about my championship chances following the Sonoma race because I was so disappointed with the result there, but stranger things have happened. If you look back at the 2003 finale in Texas, two of the top contenders took themselves out by hitting each other and falling back, and I won the championship with a second-place finish as a result. For the finale, all the pressure is on the Penske guys. With just one point between them, they'll be battling each other. Dan (Wheldon) and I have nothing to worry about now. We can work together since we have nothing to lose, and we will go all out for that win. Put enough pressure on people and they can make mistakes. We hope to do that to the Penske team. There are so many races this year that I really thought we had in the bag but then something completely unavoidable happened. Both Dan and I have had our fair share of rotten luck. No one is immune so who knows when it might be Penske's turn, and we get to be the benefactors. The fastest car doesn't always win the race; we've seen that first hand too many times this year at the Target team. It comes down to the fact that we are going for the win and it might just turn out to be the Target team's best finish of the season. As exciting as it may be for us, I think the real winners will be the fans in Chicago. They're going to get quite a show."

MILESTONES:

* Marco Andretti became the youngest winner of a major open-wheel event when he won at Infineon Raceway. At 19 years, 5 months old, Andretti eclipsed the mark of Scott Dixon, who was 20 years, 9 months and 14 days when he won a Champ Car event at Nazareth in 2001. Sam Hornish Jr. (21 years, 259 days) was the previous youngest winner of an IndyCar Series event when he won at Phoenix in 2001.

* Marco Andretti became the first rookie to win an IndyCar Series race since 2002, when Tomas Scheckter won at Michigan. Andretti is the 36th driver to win an IndyCar Series event, and the 11th to win in his first IndyCar Series season.

* Andretti Green Racing tied Marlboro Team Penske for most victories by a team when Marco won at Milwaukee. Each team has 23 wins in the IndyCar Series.

* Scott Dixon won the sixth pole of his IndyCar Series career when he won the pole at Infineon International Speedway. It was Dixon's first pole since his championship-winning season in 2003.

* Sam Hornish Jr. became the first IndyCar Series driver to surpass $11 million in career earnings with his victory at Indianapolis earlier this season. He needs $14,445 in earnings to surpass $12 million in his IndyCar Series career.

* Scott Sharp needs one win to earn his 10th IndyCar Series victory and to tie Dan Wheldon for third place on the IndyCar Series all-time wins list. Sharp will attempt to extend his series record for consecutive starts to 119 straight races.

* Vitor Meira has gone 58 starts without a victory in the IndyCar Series, the longest drought of any IndyCar Series driver.

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Scott Sharp , Helio Castroneves , Jaques Lazier  , Adrian Fernandez , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Dan Wheldon , Buddy Rice , Marco Andretti , Chip Ganassi , Sam Hornish Jr. , Vitor Meira
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing