IRL: Motegi: Chip Ganassi Racing preview

TARGET TEAM TAKES ON TWIN RING IN JAPAN THIS WEEKEND: Target Team drivers Scott Dixon (No.9 Target Honda-powered Dallara) and Dan Wheldon (No.10 Target Honda-powered Dallara) return to the "Land of the Rising Sun" for the IndyCar series' fifth...


THIS WEEKEND: Target Team drivers Scott Dixon (No.9 Target Honda-powered Dallara) and Dan Wheldon (No.10 Target Honda-powered Dallara) return to the "Land of the Rising Sun" for the IndyCar series' fifth visit to the Twin Ring Motegi facility which sits inside of a mountain top in Tochigi Prefecture, about 60 miles northeast of Tokyo, Japan.

VENUE: The Motegi Twin Ring track is a 1.5 mile high banked, uniquely egg-shaped superspeedway. The race will be contested over 300 miles or 200 laps. It is the third race of the 17-race 2007 IndyCar Series season.

The Twin Ring Motegi facility got its name from the fact that it contains two major racing facilities, a 1.5-mile oval and a 3-mile, 14-turn road course that winds underneath and east of the oval. The IndyCar series will run, as it always has, on the superspeedway oval this weekend. In addition to the IndyCar Series, other motorsports events at the facility include MotoGP World Championship Series and the Japanese Formula Nippon Series.

POINTS RACE: After two races, Scott Dixon leads the Championship driver's points standings with 80 points. Dan Wheldon is tied for second place with Helio Castroneves, as both drivers have 75 points and a win to their credit.

JAPAN REVISITED: Dan Wheldon finished as runner up last year for the Target team after posting back-to-back wins at the TRM in 2004-2005. Scott Dixon finished in ninth place after qualifying second.

In 2005, the three Target entries scored 8th (10 car with Darren Manning), 12th (33 car with Ryan Briscoe) place finishes while Scott Dixon saw more of the race from the pits than his cockpit when he was knocked out of the race on the very first lap after his #9 Target Toyota was an unfortunate bystander of a spin in front of him.

In 2004 both Target Chip Ganassi Racing cars crossed the finish line in the top five. From his tenth place starting position, Darren Manning took the checkered flag in fourth place while Dixon finished just behind his teammate in fifth spot, after starting the race from sixth spot on the grid and sporting a sore left ankle following an accident in the first practice of the race weekend.

In 2003 Scott Dixon won the pole and the two Target cars fought for the lead.

A LOOK IN THE REAR VIEW MIRROR- Dan Wheldon started the 2007 season-opening weekend off by claiming the pole and went on to begin his second year with the Target team with a win, his third consecutive at the Homestead-Miami track. Scott Dixon's second place finish gave the team its third 1-2 finish in the IndyCar series. It was the Target team's 11th win in the series and 51st win since 1994.

In the second race of the season on the streets of St.Pete, Dixon finished second, his 12th IndyCar career second place finish. It was also his third 2nd place finish in a row dating back to the season finale in Chicago last fall.

LAST RACE: St. Petersburg Street race April 1. Dixon finished second to take over the lead in the driver championship points. Dan Wheldon finished ninth and is second in the points.

NEXT RACE: Kansas Speedway on Sunday, April 29


Scott Dixon-No.9 Target Honda Dallara Firestone : "It's great to have two second place finishes after only two races this year. It's been great to have consistency and lead the points but I am disappointed I haven't won a race yet. It's good to be frustrated and still be finishing second. Japan last year, qualifying was washed out and we struggled in practice. During the race we came into pits and lost the clutch which dropped us a lap down and finished ninth. Motegi is so different and really pretty difficult. It should be even more different this year as we have 100 pounds less down force and more power. Fans may not see a lot of side by side racing but hopefully it will still be a good show. I haven't had much luck on this track but I'm hoping that'll change this year. "

"I really do love coming to Japan. Actually, I have been going there for years as my Dad used to travel to Japan for work and I would often tag along. What's been fun the last few years is this tradition of getting a Greyhound bus after the race and heading to Tokyo. Almost all the drivers take part now and we all kind of hang out together and give our thoughts on how the season is going so far and just have some fun. We've been doing it for a few years now and we always look forward to it."

Dan Wheldon-No.10 Target Honda Dallara Firestone: "Motegi was the scene of my first race victory in IndyCar in 2004. That was the first time I believe Honda had won the race at their race track in seven years of trying. So, it's a race that is clearly dear to my heart. We had a great car at Motegi last year and unfortunately came up a little short to Helio Castroneves. It's a race that is very intense...turns one and two are wide open and pretty comfortably flat. And three and four is very, very tight....very high speed considering and we're going down from 6th gear to 4th gear. So, there's a lot going on at that point and we're breaking."

"I love Japan, I love the whole experience of being out there. I love being part of the Honda family and being part of their event when they put on such a great event. It's a track owned by Honda and everybody runs Honda engines in the IndyCar Series. Everybody wants to have that bragging right of winning for Honda at Motegi and so it's always very exciting. The fans are very passionate about, not just IndyCar, but open wheel motorsports in general...and I should say any form of motorsport in Japan and so to race in a country where they are so passionate is something that I love."

-credit: cgr

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Darren Manning , Helio Castroneves , Scott Dixon , Dan Wheldon , Ryan Briscoe , Chip Ganassi
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing