TOYOTA NO STRANGER TO THE GLEN -- While the IRL IndyCar Series is scheduled to make its first trip to Watkins Glen, Toyota's ties with the historic track go back almost 30 years. The manufacturer is certainly no stranger to on-track success at...
TOYOTA NO STRANGER TO THE GLEN -- While the IRL IndyCar Series is scheduled to make its first trip to Watkins Glen, Toyota's ties with the historic track go back almost 30 years.
The manufacturer is certainly no stranger to on-track success at Watkins Glen, winning six times over an eight-year span in IMSA competition from 1986 to 1993. Juan Manuel Fangio II won three consecutive GTP races from 1991 through 1993. In addition, Toyota Celica GTO cars won three straight at The Glen from 1986 through 1988. Dennis Aase and Chris Cord drove a Toyota Celica to victory in the 1988 GTO race, Willy T. Ribbs led Cord in a Toyota one-two GTO finish in 1987 and Dennis Aase was triumphant in 1986.
Toyota also served as the title sponsor of the U.S. Grand Prix Formula One race from 1978 to 1980. Included in the activities was an east coast version of today's popular Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race. This year, Toyota marked its return to Watkins Glen as a sponsor and currently serves as the Official Vehicle of the world famous track.
UNFINISHED BUSINESS -- Toyota-powered cars have been in position to reach victory circle each of the first two road course events run in IndyCar Series competition, yet, the manufacturer has gone away win-less after on-track incidents forced the top-running Toyotas out of each event.
At St. Petersburg, Ryan Briscoe (Target Toyota) led in the final 10 laps before a late-race incident with Tony Kanaan. Briscoe then won the pole at Sonoma and led fellow Toyota pilot Helio Castroneves (Marlboro Team Penske Toyota) as the two fastest cars on the track. Unfortunately, both were involved in a three-car incident that ended the day for each.
Castroneves has been the victim of bad luck in the two road course events, qualifying second at each event only to be involved in accidents at both races. In addition to getting caught up in the crash in Sonoma, he was running second at St. Petersburg before being involved in an incident while attempting to lap A.J. Foyt IV early in the race.
QUIETLY SPECTACULAR -- While Sam Hornish Jr. won't be taking away a third IndyCar Series title this year, he has quietly put together another spectacular season. The Defiance, Ohio-native has earned seven top-three finishes with six of those coming in the top-two. Amazingly, Hornish currently sits in third-place overall, despite finishing only 10 of the 15 races to date.
DOWN TO SEVEN -- With Ryan Briscoe's injury at Chicagoland, Target Chip Ganassi Racing will field only two cars for the final two races of the 2005 season. Toyota will power only seven cars at Watkins Glen. As it has for each of the season's first two road course events, the first-year Ethanol Hemelgarn Racing team will skip this weekend's event.
EXPERIENCED FIELD - Six of the seven Toyota-powered drivers in this weekend's field have road racing on their resumes. Only Vision Racing's Ed Carpenter came up without extensive road course experience as he honed his talents on the short tracks in the Midwest.
PANTANO RETURNS TO TCGR -- Former Formula 1 driver turned Giorgio Pantano will make his second start with Target Chip Ganassi Racing this weekend. The 26-year-old Italian was impressive in his IRL debut at Sonoma - registering the fastest time in one of Friday's practice sessions. Pantano struggled somewhat in qualifying, resulting in a 13th starting position, but recovered to run in the top-10 through much of the race before being knocked off track by another car in the waning laps.. While currently campaigning the GP2 series with the Super Nova team, Pantano competed in 14 Formula One races for the Jordan team in 2004.
POINTS CHASE - Three Toyota-powered drivers continue to rank in the top-10 in the IRL IndyCar Series point standings. Sam Hornish Jr. moved to within 12 points of second after a third-place finish at Chicago. Fellow Marlboro Team Penske driver Helio Castroneves, buoyed by a second place finish at Chicagoland, moved up to fifth. Red Bull driver Patrick Carpentier, who finished fourth on the last road course at Sonoma, is currently 10th; only 12 points out of eighth-place.