IRL: Phoenix: Toyota preview

TOYOTA LOOKS FOR FIRST PHOENIX WIN - After finishing second in each of the past two years, Toyota will look for its first victory at the Phoenix International Raceway this Saturday at the XM Satellite Radio Indy 200 presented by Argent Mortgage. A...

TOYOTA LOOKS FOR FIRST PHOENIX WIN - After finishing second in each of the past two years, Toyota will look for its first victory at the Phoenix International Raceway this Saturday at the XM Satellite Radio Indy 200 presented by Argent Mortgage. A year ago, it was Scott Dixon (Target Toyota) who earned Toyota's runner-up finish. In 2003, Helio Castroneves (Marlboro Toyota) took second-place honors with Dixon dominating the early portion of the race before mechanical difficulties ended his day. Toyota has one Phoenix win under its belt when P.J. Jones won the IMSA GTP finale on the Phoenix road course in a Toyota AAR Eagle for Dan Gurney's All American Racers.

HELIO AND PHOENIX Despite never having raced at Phoenix before moving to Indy Racing League competition, Helio Castroneves has finished sixth or above at PIR in his three full seasons of IndyCar Series competition. The two-time Indianapolis 500 winner won in the Valley of the Sun in 2002, placed second in 2003 and sixth in 2004.

ALSO SHINING IN THE SUN - Three other Toyota-powered drivers have earned top-five IndyCar Series finishes at PIR. Sam Hornish Jr. (Marlboro Toyota) won at Phoenix in 2001 for Panther Racing and finished third to Penske Racing teammates Castroneves and Gil de Ferran in 2002. In addition, Alex Barron (Red Bull Toyota) and Cheever Racing notched one of their top performances of 2004 at PIR with a fourth-place finish. Darren Manning (Target Toyota) also scored a top-five last season when he placed fifth right behind Barron.

PHOENIX NEWCOMERS Patrick Carpentier (Red Bull Toyota) and Ryan Briscoe (Ganassi Toyota) will make their Phoenix racing debuts during the XM Satellite Radio Indy 200 this weekend. Both drivers have experience testing at PIR, but have never had the chance to race there. While a newcomer to the IRL ranks, Carpentier has shined on one-mile ovals throughout his career particularly at the Milwaukee Mile.

STARTING STRONG Both Patrick Carpentier and Paul Dana had strong starts to their IndyCar careers at the season-opening Toyota Indy 300 at Homestead. Carpentier, who placed third overall in Champ Car last season, overcame some first-race adjustments to lead four laps and earn a seventh-place finish.

Dana, last year's IRL Pro Series runner-up, registered a top-10 finish in his first IndyCar Series start as well. The 10th-place showing moved the St. Louis native into an early lead in the Rookie of the Year standings in Ethanol Hemelgarn Racing's return to the IndyCar ranks.

TOYOTA ATLANTIC GRADS TAKE THE TOP TWO SPOTS AT HOMESTEAD Toyota Atlantic Championship graduates continued to show well in IndyCar Series competition in the season-opening Toyota Indy 300 at Homestead with the race's top-two finishers both having come from the Atlantic ranks. Dan Wheldon, the 2000 TAC runner-up, gained the victory, while 1998 TAC Rookie of the Year Sam Hornish Jr. was second. In addition, 1996 series champion Patrick Carpentier was seventh, while 1997 TAC champion Alex Barron placed eighth. Three other former Toyota Atlantic grads also competed at Homestead; 2004 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice joining rookie Danica Patrick and Roger Yasukawa.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Darren Manning , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Patrick Carpentier , Scott Dixon , Alex Barron , Dan Gurney , Roger Yasukawa , Buddy Rice , P.J. Jones , Ryan Briscoe , Paul Dana , Sam Hornish Jr. , Danica Patrick
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske