IRL: Michigan: Toyota Motorsports preview

Toyota eyes eighth IRL win in 10 races Fresh off a one-two-three finish at Nashville, Toyota heads to the Firestone Indy 400 looking for its eighth win in 10 IndyCar Series events this season. So far this season, three different Toyota teams...

Toyota eyes eighth IRL win in 10 races

Fresh off a one-two-three finish at Nashville, Toyota heads to the Firestone Indy 400 looking for its eighth win in 10 IndyCar Series events this season. So far this season, three different Toyota teams have all registered multiple victories with Target Chip Ganassi Racing earning three, while Marlboro Team Penske and Mo Nunn Racing have earned two apiece. 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 (the Indianapolis 500 and the most recent event at Nashville), Scott Sharp (Delphi Toyota at Japan) and Al Unser Jr. (Corteco Toyota at Texas) both have one.

`500' WINNER DE FERRAN ON ROLL

With his victory this past weekend at Nashville, Gil de Ferran continues a dominant run that has seen him earn more championship points than any other driver since returning from an injury suffered at Phoenix that forced him to sit out the Motegi race.

De Ferran returned from that injury to win the Indianapolis 500, and he's set a blistering pace ever since. In the six races beginning with Indy, he's earned two victories among five top-three finishes to go with an eighth at Texas. All told, de Ferran has scored a series-high 231 points in the last six events compared to the next-highest total of 213 set by fellow Toyota pilot Scott Dixon. The torrid pace has moved the two-time CART champion into second-place overall in the IndyCar Series points standings, just 14 behind Tony Kanaan, despite de Ferran having missed a race. When adding on a second-place finish in the season-opening Toyota Indy 300, de Ferran has six top-three finishes in eight 2003 races.

ONE FOR THE RECORD BOOKS

Scott Dixon will be looking to put his name in the IndyCar Series record books once again this weekend by winning a fourth consecutive pole position. This week's birthday boy (he turns 23 on Tuesday) arrives at Michigan having won poles at Richmond, Kansas and Nashville. He can match Billy Boat's IRL record with a fourth straight at MIS. Of course, entering the record book has been a fairly common occurrence for the Target Toyota driver. By winning the season-opener, he became just the third driver in series history to win his debut race. Later on his way to victory at Richmond, he became the first driver ever to lead every lap of an IndyCar Series event. He followed that up by setting a new series standard for consecutive laps led with a stretch of 343 laps at the top of the charts set over a span of three races Pikes Peak, Richmond and Kansas.

RUNNING UP FRONT

Toyota-powered cars have led the most laps in eight of nine races this season with a dominant stretch since Indianapolis. Toyota-powered cars have now led 1,072 of the last 1164 (92.2 percent) laps run in IndyCar Series competition.

The six-race stretch includes leading 136 of 200 laps at Nashville, 177 of 200 laps at Kansas, all 206 laps at Richmond, 223 of 225 laps at Pikes Peak, 199 of 200 laps at Texas and 131 of the final 133 laps at the Indianapolis 500. During six six races, Toyota-powered drivers have earned 16 of the 18 available top-three finishes, winning five races, placing second four times and third all six times.

Overall this season, Toyota drivers have secured 21 of 27 top-three finishes available in the nine races with seven wins, six second-place finishes and eight thirds. Toyota drivers have swept the top three on three different occasions (Homestead, Richmond and Nashville last weekend).

For the year, Toyota-powered Indy Cars have led 1,468 of 1,831 (80.1 percent) laps run in the IndyCar Series. Individually, Scott Dixon's 544 laps led is an IndyCar Series best, and it is 218 more than the combined total (326) of all of the non-Toyota-powered cars in the series.

CHAMPIONSHIP RUNS

With the most recent victory at Nashville, Toyota extended its IndyCar Series Manufacturer's Championship lead to 17 points over second-place Honda, 84-67.

A trio of Toyota drivers also are in the thick of the championship hunt heading into MIS this weekend. Gil de Ferran, Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves currently stand second, third and fourth in the points race. De Ferran is just 14 points out of the lead, with Dixon one point behind de Ferran and Castroneves just six points out of third and 21 out of the lead.

Four more Toyota drivers currently rank in the top 10 in points. Kelly Racing teammates Al Unser Jr. and Scott Sharp are in sixth and seventh, respectively, while Tomas Scheckter (Target Toyota) and Tora Takagi (Pioneer Toyota) are ninth and 10th.

Toyota IndyCar Series Driver Line-Up and Position Entering Michigan Car Driver Car Season Points Standing No. 6 Gil de Ferran Marlboro Toyota (Dallara) 2nd (Won Indianapolis 500, Nashville) No. 9 Scott Dixon Target Toyota (Panoz/G-Force) 3rd (Won Miami, Pikes Peak, Richmond) No. 3 Helio Castronves Marlboro Toyota (Dallara) 4th No. 31 Al Unser, Jr. Corteco/Bryant Toyota (Dallara) 6th (Won Texas) No. 8 Scott Sharp Delphi Toyota (Dallara) 7th (Won Motegi) No. 10 Tomas Scheckter Target Toyota (Panoz/G-Force) 9th No. 12 Tora Takagi Pioneer Toyota (Panoz/G-Force) 10th No. 14 A.J. Foyt IV Conseco Toyota (Dallara) 21st No. 21 TBA Hollywood Toyota (Panoz/G-Force)

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Al Unser Jr. , Scott Sharp , Billy Boat , Gil de Ferran , A.J. Foyt IV , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Tora Takagi , Al Unser Sr. , Chip Ganassi , Mo Nunn
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing