IRL: Sears Point: Series Friday notes

CASTRONEVES LEADS FIRST DAY AT INFINEON SONOMA, Calif., Friday, Aug. 24, 2007 -- Team Penske driver Helio Castroneves paced the opening day of preparations for the Motorola Indy 300 Presented by Jackson Rancheria at the Infineon ...

CASTRONEVES LEADS FIRST DAY AT INFINEON

SONOMA, Calif., Friday, Aug. 24, 2007 -- Team Penske driver Helio Castroneves paced the opening day of preparations for the Motorola Indy 300 Presented by Jackson Rancheria at the Infineon Raceway.

Castroneves, who has won the pole for the three previous road/street course events this season, turned a lap of 1 minute, 16.5298 seconds, 108.193 mph, in the Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone. IndyCar Series point leader Dario Franchitti was second fastest with a lap of 1:16.6876, 107.971 mph in the No. 27 Canadian Club car.

Franchitti's Andretti Green Racing teammates Tony Kanaan and Marco Andretti, the only drivers to win IndyCar Series races at Infineon, were third and fourth, respectively. Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver Scott Dixon was fifth.

Single-lap qualifying followed by the Firestone Fast Six session are scheduled for Saturday.

DAY 1 NOTEBOOK:

Five Indianapolis 500 champions are expected to participate in the Motorola Indy 300 presented Jackson Rancheria: Helio Castroneves (2001, 2002), Buddy Rice (2004), Dan Wheldon (2005), Sam Hornish Jr. (2006) and Dario Franchitti (2007).

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Five IndyCar Series champions are scheduled to participate in the Motorola Indy 300 presented Jackson Rancheria: Scott Sharp (1996 co-champion), Sam Hornish Jr. (2001, 2002, 2006), Scott Dixon (2003), Tony Kanaan (2004) and Dan Wheldon (2005).

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IndyCar Series drivers who have won Indy car events at Infineon Raceway include: Tony Kanaan (2005) and Marco Andretti (2006).

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The Indy 300 presented by Jackson Rancheria will be the fourth of five events in 2007 contested on street or road courses: Helio Castroneves (St. Petersburg) and Scott Dixon (Watkins Glen International and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course) won the previous events. The final event, the Detroit Indy Grand Prix presented by Firestone, is scheduled for Sept. 2

Drivers entered in the Motorola Indy 300 presented by Jackson Rancheria have combined for 86 IndyCar Series victories, 82 IndyCar Series pole positions and 1,282 IndyCar Series starts.

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IndyCar Series officials penalized Team Penske driver Helio Castroneves for an on-track for an on-track incident with Tony Kanaan during the Aug. 11 race at Kentucky Speedway. Castroneves was not allowed to participate in the first 25 minutes of today's opening practice session.

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In 2005, the IndyCar Series introduced a unique road/street course qualifying procedure in which the race for the pole began when the cars hit the track. All cars participate in the initial practice session of race weekend, with the times determining the two groups that will be used in the remaining pre-qualifying practice session. Today's combined practice times will determine Saturday's qualifying order, with the driver posting the fastest time having the option of driving first or last in single-lap qualifying. At the conclusion of single-lap qualifying the fastest six cars will participate in a 10-minute, European-style session to determine the first three rows.

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For the second consecutive weekend, the left sidepod of the No. 3 Brian Stewart Racing car driven by Brad Jaeger features the logo of the Madeira-Indian Hill Fire Department.

Eight firefighters from the department near Cincinnati were injured July 25 in a major fire at the home of Jaeger's parents. All have been released from the hospital.

BRAD JAEGER (No. 3 Brian Stewart Racing): "The fire department has been so nice to us since the fire. It's our way of saying thanks to all of the firefighters who came in and helped save our house. Every time they've come out to the house, it's been so special to be able to spend time with them and share our feelings and have them share their feelings with us. We also ran the logo at Kentucky Speedway. It's actually the sticker that they put on the chief's car, so it has the reflective material. So under the lights at Kentucky it really looked good."

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Crew for #8 Sharp reports that repairs to the left-side suspension and rear wing have kept the car off track this session.

SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Patron Sharp Rahal Letterman Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It is a shame that we had to miss the second session. That's the real problem that can occur when you have something happen in the last 10 minutes of a session like we did this morning. I was on a real quick lap, up two-tenths from my best time that I set the lap before, when the spin happened. The real shame of it was that we had just made a couple of changes that brought the car back and made it feel really good, so hopefully we can pick up at that point tomorrow."

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Selected quotes from the IndyCar Series championship contenders availability:

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fifth in point standings): "As far as our championship goes, we need the four guys (ahead of us) to run themselves off the track before the race starts. We've had a year where we've had a lot of ups and downs, mostly downs. We'll keep going and try to get as many top-five finishes as we can and gear up for next year."

DAN WHELDON (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fourth in point standings): "The main focus for everyone at Target Chip Ganassi Racing is to assist Scott (Dixon) win his second championship in a professional way . I think our cars are pretty quick, but there's obviously room to improve and at the same time help Scott improve his position in the championship."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, third in point standings): "The last couple races we've took half the points away from the 100 (we were behind). I think it's going to be very difficult. Dario (Franchitti) has the same equipment as I do, and Scott (Dixon) has been very strong. I'm being realistic and I'm just looking at winning races now. As long as we keep doing that, it will keep us in the championship hunt, but in my opinion, it's going to be very difficult to win this thing. Like Dan said, I'll do everything in a professional manner to help my teammate win. If he needs any help. Well maybe he does to stop flipping, but he doesn't need any help on the race track."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, second in point standings): "It's been very tough. The three (wins) in a row for us seemed to be a huge gain, even though Dario was finishing second, so it didn't make the advantage that significant. The last two races, we've been able to gain, at least on the points table. I think coming into this weekend, we seem pretty confident. This morning we were pretty decent and had typical problems. This afternoon we went with an aggressive setup and were pretty bad. We'll go back to what we had. We tried to put together a lap at the end but somebody put a bunch of dirt on track. We should be alright this weekend, but all the guys in the championship competition are very strong, so it will be hard ot make any gains.

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 Canadian Club Dallara/Honda/Firestone, IndyCar Series point leader): "I preferred the view from Richmond with a 65-point lead. Scott put the tremendous run together, and we were second, but he was slowly cutting into our lead. We had the problems at Michigan, Dan too, and we all got a points loss. It wasn't a real points gain or loss, but I made a mistake coming into the pits at Kentucky and that allowed Scott to get an advantage. It's really close but does that change our gameplan? Maybe. We just need to win the races and try to be up front and do the best we can."

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INDY CAR SERIES POST-PRACTICE QUOTES:

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fastest of the day): "Right now, we've seem to have hit the right spot with the setup of the Team Penske car. I know the Andretti Green guys will be surrounding me. I know they are going to give me a hard time. It's been good so far, but I know that tomorrow is going to improve and the times will improve."

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 NYSE Group Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fourth fastest of the day): "I'm not real happy with the NYSE car just yet. We definitely made progress throughout the day, and we're getting closer. The good thing is that we know what we need to have a fast car here, so we'll keep working tomorrow and hopefully challenge for pole."

DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone, eighth fastest of the day): "We weren't very happy with the way the weekend started off, but the second session helped some. We made a change and that seemed to help us out overall, so now I think we've got something to work with. We have a direction to go in with the Motorola car."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, sixth-fastest of the day): "I think we could've been a little quicker today, so we still have some work to do. We made some small changes to the Team Penske car between the two sessions, but they didn't make as big of a difference as we'd hoped. The good news is that Helio (Castroneves) was fast today, so hopefully we'll be able to learn something from him. We're going to keep working and look to make some more progress tomorrow."

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Ethanol 10th-fastest driver of the day): "Overall it was a good day for the Ethanol team in Sonoma. We started out with some electrical problems in the morning that held us back a little but like we have done every weekend since I've been here, we kept digging, kept working on the car and it keeps getting better. I think we're in a good place for tomorrow and I think we are in a prime position to contend for a strong result."

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The next IndyCar Series event is the Motorola Indy 300 presented by Jackson Rancheria Casino & Hotel at 3:30 p.m. (ET) on Aug. 26 at Infineon Raceway. The race will be televised live by ESPN and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network. The next Indy Pro Series event is the Carneros 100/Valley of the Moon 100 doubleheader on Aug. 25-26 at Infineon Raceway. The race will be telecast at 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 31 by ESPN2.

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Scott Sharp , Helio Castroneves , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Dan Wheldon , Buddy Rice , Marco Andretti , Chip Ganassi , Brad Jaeger , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , Chip Ganassi Racing