IRL: Nazareth: Toyota Motorsports preview

Nazareth the site of open-wheel milestones The Nazareth Speedway holds not only fond, but historic memories for a trio of Toyota drivers. Gil de Ferran (Marlboro Toyota) earned Team Penske's 100th open-wheel victory at the one-mile Pennsylvania...

Nazareth the site of open-wheel milestones

The Nazareth Speedway holds not only fond, but historic memories for a trio of Toyota drivers. Gil de Ferran (Marlboro Toyota) earned Team Penske's 100th open-wheel victory at the one-mile Pennsylvania oval in 2000.

A year later, Scott Dixon (Target Toyota) carved out his own place in history in becoming the youngest driver ever to win a major open-wheel race by winning at Nazareth in a Toyota Champ Car. Dixon's victory came at the age of 20 years, 9 months.

Scott Sharp (Delphi Toyota) also holds down a place in the record books as he won the first-ever IndyCar Series race at Nazareth when he edged Felipe Giaffone and Gil de Ferran in April 2002.

Alex Barron (Hollywood Toyota) also registered a victory at Nazareth on Ahis way to the 1997 Toyota tlantic Championship.

TOYOTA CAN CLINCH FIRST IRL MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP THIS WEEKEND

With nine victories in the season's first 12 races, Toyota can officially clinch the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series Engine Manufacturer's Championship with a victory at Nazareth this weekend.

The manufacturer currently holds a 27-point lead over second-place Honda with four races remaining. A victory would give Toyota at least a 30-point advantage heading into the season's final three races. Toyota only needs to start the race at Nazareth to officially eliminate third-place Chevrolet from contention. At this point, Toyota has scored 111 points to 84 for Honda and 74 for Chevrolet on the IRL's 10-7-5 point scoring system. Toyota handily won last year's CART Manufacturer's Championship as well.

TOYOTA DRIVERS IN THE THICK OF HOT CHAMPIONSHIP CHASE

Heading into the season's final four races, three Toyota drivers are within 13 points of the top spot in the IndyCar Series title chase.

On the strength of a fifth-place finish at Kentucky, Helio Castroneves (Marlboro Toyota) is now the top Toyota driver in points with 378 just eight behind series leader Tony Kanaan. Scott Dixon jumped up to third in the race with his fifth top-two finish of the season and sits only 12 points back, while Gil de Ferran slipped slightly to fourth, 13 points out of the lead. Seemingly, the only sure thing about the standings is that they change as often as the weather and are almost certain to look different after this weekend's action at the Firestone Indy 225. Dixon may be the best example of the roller coaster ride the drivers have been on this year. In the last three races, the 23-year-old led the championship after Michigan, fell to fourth following St. Louis and moved into third after Kentucky. Castroneves appears to be the driver on the rise currently, moving up one spot after each of the last two races from fourth to third with his St. Louis victory and then to second with his strong showing at the Kentucky Speedway.

TOYOTA SEEKS 10th WIN OF THE SEASON AT NAZARETH

With six different drivers scoring victories to date this season, Toyota will be looking to register it's 10th win of the 2003 campaign at the Nazareth 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 with Toyota-powered drivers earning 26 of 36 top-three finishing positions available this season.

TOYOTA INDY 400/TRD TOUR

In conjunction with the Toyota Indy 400 and the California Speedway, Toyota is inviting accredited media members to attend the Toyota Indy 400 Media Luncheon and Toyota Racing Development (TRD) Tour beginning at 11:30 a.m. on September 18 in Costa Mesa, Calif. The facility produces the Indianapolis 500-winning Toyota Indy V8 in addition to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Toyota engine that will begin competition next season. All of Toyota's IRL drivers will be on hand for the luncheon. Please note that no still cameras will be allowed in, but an in-house photographer will be on hand to take photography requests. Contact Greg Thome at 310/468-5017 or greg_thome@toyota.com for more information.

Toyota IndyCar Series Driver Line-Up and Position Entering Nazareth

Car Driver Car (Chassis) Season Points Standing (Victories)


No. 3 Helio Castronves Marlboro Toyota (Dallara) 2nd (1 Gateway)
No. 9 Scott Dixon Target Toyota (Panoz/G-Force) 3rd (3 Miami, Pikes Peak, Richmond)
No. 6 Gil de Ferran Marlboro Toyota (Dallara) 4th (2 Indianapolis 500, Nashville)
No. 31 Al Unser, Jr. Corteco Toyota (Dallara) 6th (1 Texas)
No. 10 Tomas Scheckter Target Toyota (Panoz/G-Force) 8th
No. 8 Scott Sharp Delphi Toyota (Dallara) 9th (1 Motegi)
No. 12 Tora Takagi Pioneer Toyota (Dallara) 10th
No. 21 Alex Barron Hollywood Toyota (Panoz/G-Force) 20th (1 Michigan)
No. 14 A.J. Foyt IV Conseco Toyota (Dallara) 20th

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Felipe Giaffone , Al Unser Jr. , Scott Sharp , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , A.J. Foyt IV , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Alex Barron , Al Unser Sr.
Teams Toyota Racing