IRL: Texas: Toyota preview

Toyota looks to build on Indy 500 victory Coming off a dominant victory at the Indianapolis 500 that saw Toyota-powered drivers claim the top two and six of the top seven positions, the Toyota IRL IndyCar program now prepares for the Bombardier...

Toyota looks to build on Indy 500 victory

Coming off a dominant victory at the Indianapolis 500 that saw Toyota-powered drivers claim the top two and six of the top seven positions, the Toyota IRL IndyCar program now prepares for the Bombardier 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Toyota-powered drivers have registered three victories in four races this season. Scott Dixon (Target Toyota) won the Toyota Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami; Scott Sharp (Delphi Toyota) took the top spot in Motegi, Japan; and Gil de Ferran (Marlboro Toyota) earned Toyota's first Indy 500 victory. Overall, Toyota has won 13 of its last 23 races in IRL and CART competition combined.


Target Chip Ganassi Racing will be shooting for its second consecutive Bombardier 500 victory this Saturday. Jeff Ward claimed the team's first victory as a full-time IRL competitor in Texas a year ago, edging out Al Unser Jr. by .011 seconds in what was at the time the closest IRL IndyCar race in history. The Target Ganassi team gave Toyota its first-ever IndyCar Series win at the season-opening Toyota Indy 300, and it earned the manufacturer's first-ever CART victory at the Milwaukee Mile in 2000 with Juan Montoya.


Three different Toyota-powered teams have been to Victory Circle this season with Target Chip Ganassi Racing (Homestead-Miami), Kelley Racing (Motegi, Japan) and Marlboro Team Penske (Indy 500) each claiming a win.

Toyota's success has not been limited to the three winning drivers. Eight different Toyota-powered drivers have finished a race in the top-five this season, and 11 different Toyota drivers have placed in the top 10 at least once. Toyota drivers have also claimed nine of 12 top-three finishing positions available in the season's first four events.


Toyota drivers dominate the IRL IndyCar Series points standings heading into Texas with seven of the top nine utilizing Toyota power. Helio Castroneves currently sits second, followed by Scott Sharp (third) and Gil de Ferran (fourth despite missing the Motegi race). Al Unser Jr., Felipe Giaffone, Scott Dixon and Tomas Scheckter occupy the sixth through ninth positions respectively.


While best-known for his two consecutive Indianapolis 500 victories and his post-win "fence-climbing" celebrations, Helio Castroneves has used spectacular consistency to move into second-place overall in the IndyCar Series points standings. The 2002 series runner-up has a pair of second-place finishes (Phoenix and Indy) and a third (Miami) in the season's first four races. He will look to climb both the fences and one spot in the point standings by winning at Texas, a track where he placed fourth and second in the 2002 events.


Gil de Ferran led Helio Castroneves in a one-two Toyota finish at the Indianapolis 500, which saw the manufacturer sweep most of the month's major categories. In addition to the one- two finish, a Toyota-powered driver also won Rookie of the Year (Tora Takagi), won the pole (Castroneves), was the fastest rookie (Scott Dixon) and the fastest second-day qualifier (Alex Barron). In addition, Toyota powered both the fastest Dallara and the fastest Panoz G-Force qualifiers.

In the race, Toyota-powered cars led 170 of 200 laps, including 131 of the final 133 laps (327.5 of the last 332.5 miles) on the way to placing six cars in the first seven, and seven of the first nine finishers. In addition, the manufacturer also powered the two highest-placing rookies (fifth-place Takagi and seventh-place Tony Renna).

Three different Toyota teams each had two cars in the top 10 with Penske Racing (first and second), Mo Nunn Racing (fifth and sixth) and Kelley Racing (seventh and ninth), while Target Chip Ganassi Racing also had a top-five finish (fourth).


Jim Aust, Toyota vice president of motorsports: "Everyone at Toyota is ecstatic about winning the Indianapolis 500. It's our greatest achievement in motorsports to date. Now we're going from the `Greatest Spectacle in Racing' to what may be the most exciting race of the year under the lights at Texas Motor Speedway. We've had our celebration time, but now we need to be re-focused for Texas and the rest of the IndyCar Series season. One of the great things about racing in the IRL is that you have to prove yourself every day at the race track. You don't get points at Texas for what you did at Indy, Motegi, or Miami."

<pre> Toyota IndyCar Series Driver Line-Up and Position Entering Texas

Car# Driver             Car                                     Season Points Standing
#3   Helio Castronves   Marlboro Toyota (Dallara)               2nd
#8   Scott Sharp        Delphi Toyota (Dallara)                 3rd (Won Motegi, Japan)
#6   Gil de Ferran      Marlboro Toyota (Dallara)               4th (Won Indianapolis 500)
#31  Al Unser, Jr.      Corteco/Bryant Toyota (Dallara)         6th
#21  Felipe Giaffone    Hollywood Toyota (Panoz/G-Force)        7th
#9   Scott Dixon        Target Toyota (Panoz/G-Force            8th (Won Toyota Indy 300 in Miami)
#10  Tomas Scheckter    Target Toyota (Panoz/G-Force)           9th
#12  Tora Takagi        Pioneer Toyota (Panoz/G-Force)          11th
#14  A.J. Foyt IV       Conseco Toyota (Dallara) 17th


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Felipe Giaffone , Al Unser Jr. , Jeff Ward , Scott Sharp , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , A.J. Foyt IV , Scott Dixon , Tora Takagi , Alex Barron , Al Unser Sr. , Tony Renna , Chip Ganassi , Mo Nunn
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing