IRL: Kentucky: Toyota Motorsports preview

Toyota primed for first IRL Manufacturer's Championship With nine victories in the season's first 11 races, Toyota has all but clinched the first Indy Racing League IndyCar Series Manufacturer's Championship with five races remaining in the 2003...

Toyota primed for first IRL Manufacturer's Championship

With nine victories in the season's first 11 races, Toyota has all but clinched the first Indy Racing League IndyCar Series Manufacturer's Championship with five races remaining in the 2003 season. Toyota currently sports a 25-point advantage over second-place Honda (104-79) and needs only to start the remaining five races to claim the title. The IRL IndyCar Series awards Manufacturer's Championship points on a 10-7-5 basis for each race.

A SEASON OF FIRSTS

It has been a season of firsts for Toyota in its inaugural IndyCar Series campaign. Heading into Kentucky, Toyota leads the series in the following:

Wins 9 of 11 (including the last three) Manufacturer's Points 104 (vs. 79 for Honda and 59 for Chevrolet) Top-Three Finishes 25 of 33 possible Poles 8 of 11 (including the last five) Laps Led 1,715 of 2131 (80.5%) Wins by a Driver 3 (Scott Dixon) Poles by a Driver 4 (Scott Dixon) Laps Led by a Driver 625 (Scott Dixon)

TOYOTA BALANCE PAYS OFF AS MANUFACTURER LOOKS FOR 10th 2003 WIN

With six different drivers registering victories, Toyota's balance has paid big dividends as the manufacturer eyes its 10th win of the 2003 campaign at the Kentucky Speedway this weekend.

Individually, Scott Dixon (Target Toyota) has a series-high three wins (Homestead-Miami, Pikes Peak and Richmond); Gil de Ferran (Marlboro Toyota) has two victories (Indianapolis 500 and Nashville); and Scott Sharp (Delphi Toyota at Japan), Al Unser Jr. (Corteco Toyota at Texas), Alex Barron (Hollywood Toyota at Michigan) and Helio Castroneves (Marlboro Toyota at Gateway) each have one triumph in 2003. In addition, nine different Toyota drivers have placed in the top three in at least one race. (more)

MY OLD KENTUCKY HOME

While this weekend's race will be Toyota's first at the Kentucky Speedway in the IndyCar Series, the manufacturer did conduct its first official full IndyCar Series test at the 1.5-mile oval with Helio Castroneves behind the wheel last August. The Kentucky Speedway also was the site of victories by a pair of current Toyota-powered teams last season. Mo Nunn Racing earned its first-ever IndyCar Series victory with Felipe Giaffone in Kentucky, while A.J. Foyt IV (Conseco Toyota) won the inaugural Pro Series race at the Sparta track on his way to the series championship. In addition, Toyota earned its first NASCAR victory in the Goody's Dash Series at Kentucky in 2001. The win was the first by an overhead-cam, multi-valve engine in NASCAR history.

The state of Kentucky also plays home to Toyota's North American manufacturing headquarters (TMMNA) in Erlanger, and Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky's (TMMK) Georgetown plant, which accounts for approximately 40 percent of the 1.2 million North American annual production. The Georgetown-based facility produces the Toyota Camry (the nation's number one selling car), the Solara and Avalon. TMMK employs approximately 7,500 workers.

CONSISTENCY PAYING BIG DIVIDENDS FOR PENSKE TEAMMATES

Consistency has been the key to Marlboro Team Penske teammates Gil de Ferran and Helio Castroneves climb to second and third, respectively, in the IndyCar Series point standings. De Ferran has been the model of consistency this season. The 2003 Indianapolis 500 champion has registered six top-three finishes in eight races since returning from an injury suffered at Phoenix, which forced him to miss the Motegi race. For the season, de Ferran has seven top-three and nine top-10 finishes in 10 races. Overall, the No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske entry also leads the IndyCar Series entrant-points standings when adding de Ferran's points to those earned in the car at Motegi by Alex Barron.

Castroneves has matched de Ferran's total of seven top-three finishes and has eight top-10 finishes in 11 races this season. With his victory this past weekend at Gateway, Castroneves has moved into third overall, just three points behind de Ferran for second.

TOYOTA DRIVERS BATTLE FOR CHAMPIONSHIP

Three Toyota drivers are currently within 24 points of the series lead. Gil de Ferran is second, just seven behind series leader Tony Kanaan, followed closely by third-place Helio Castroneves (just 10 points out of the top spot) and Scott Dixon (24 points out of the lead).

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Felipe Giaffone , Al Unser Jr. , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Alex Barron , A.J. Foyt , Mo Nunn
Teams Team Penske