IRL: Toyota season review

Toyota completes championship inaugural IRL campaign. TORRANCE, Calif. (Oct. 16, 2003) A manufacturer's championship, a driver's championship, an Indianapolis 500 victory, 11 wins and 11 pole positions highlighted Toyota's inaugural Indy Racing...

Toyota completes championship inaugural IRL campaign.

TORRANCE, Calif. (Oct. 16, 2003) A manufacturer's championship, a driver's championship, an Indianapolis 500 victory, 11 wins and 11 pole positions highlighted Toyota's inaugural Indy Racing League IndyCar Series season in 2003.

After wrapping up the IndyCar Series Engine Manufacturer's Championship in August at Nazareth Speedway, three Toyota-powered drivers went down to the wire for the driver's championship last weekend at the Texas Motor Speedway with Scott Dixon coming out as the series champion. The 23-year-old Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver was followed by Marlboro Team Penske teammates Gil de Ferran and Helio Castroneves as Toyota-powered drivers swept the top three point positions.

"To have this type of success in a series as competitive as the IndyCar Series is extremely rewarding for all those involved with the program," said Jim Aust, Toyota vice president of motorsports. "It's been a tremendous team effort combining great drivers and teams with reliable and powerful Toyota engines. We plan to take a few days and enjoy these championships, but then it's back to work on what should be an even more competitive series in 2004."

Toyota has now captured two consecutive manufacturer's and driver's championships, having won last year's CART title over Honda and Ford with Cristiano da Matta taking driver's championship honors.

Victories have become a staple of the Toyota program with 21 open-wheel wins in 35 races over the past two seasons. De Ferran registered Toyota's greatest triumph in winning the Indianapolis 500, which featured a one-two Toyota finish in the manufacturer's first-ever appearance at the famed Brickyard.

This year's Toyota dominance extends even further as the manufacturer led the IndyCar Series in virtually every statistical category. Toyota more than doubled the combined totals for its fellow manufacturers in wins, top-three finishes, poles and laps led.

"One of the keys to our success this year has been the depth of our program," Aust said. "We don't have one or two good teams running our engines, we have five. We believe that's largely due to the fact that any team that runs Toyota engines knows they're receiving equal service and quality."

In addition to finishing 1-2-3 in the final standings, Toyota-powered drivers finished sixth (Al Unser Jr.), seventh (Tomas Scheckter), eighth (Scott Sharp) and 10th (Tora Takagi) in taking seven of the top-10 points positions. Six different Toyota drivers won races this year with Dixon and de Ferran with three each, Castroneves with two, and Unser Jr., Sharp and Alex Barron each with one.

<pre> IRL IndyCar Series Engine Manufacturer's Statistics for 2003

Category                         Toyota                 Honda                 Chevrolet
Points                             145                    106                     101
Wins                               11                      2                       3
Top-three Finishes                 31                      12                      5
Poles                              11                      3                       2
Laps Led                          2,327                   495                     439

-toyota-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Al Unser Jr. , Scott Sharp , Gil de Ferran , Scott Dixon , Tora Takagi , Alex Barron , Chip Ganassi
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing