Series news and notes 2009-08-24

Today's IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines 1. Three championship contenders square off on three ovals 2. Sarah Fisher "goes pink" for season finale 3. Medical updates for Power, Philippe 4. Fans can vote for Firestone Tire-ific...

Today's IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines
1. Three championship contenders square off on three ovals
2. Sarah Fisher "goes pink" for season finale
3. Medical updates for Power, Philippe
4. Fans can vote for Firestone Tire-ific Move of the Race

1. Three championship contenders square off on three ovals: Scott Dixon kicked off defense of his IndyCar Series title with 16th- and 15th-place finishes, but righted the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car for a string of 11 top 10s - including four victories that boosted him to the IndyCar Series career record - and into championship contention again.

In fact, he entered the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway on Aug. 23 atop the standings. He exited the 2.303-mile, 12-turn course in third - 20 points behind Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe and 16 shy of teammate Dario Franchitti. While his 13th-place result isn't going to be a title-breaker, opportunities to get a leg up on the strong competition are dwindling.

Three contenders, three oval races. On the docket are Chicagoland Speedway, Twin Ring Motegi and Homestead-Miami Speedway - whose only common characteristic lies in that they're measured at 1.5 miles.

"I'm happy to not lead now as long as we can lead at (the Oct. 10 season finale at) Homestead," said Dixon, who's been the runner-up the past two years at Chicagoland Speedway - where he's fallen short and clinched the driver championship. "We have a great run coming up with the three tracks at the finish. We won (at Homestead-Miami Speedway) last year and finished second at the others. If we can run like that we should be looking good. But it's a tough day when you have such a bad one and your competitors have such a good one.

"Hopefully, we'll take this as our bad weekend and just move on and get a good result on our next three."

It's the third time since 2001 that the differential between first and third is 20 points or less with three races remaining. Franchitti's wire-to-wire victory at Infineon Raceway (only the second in IndyCar Series history) and Briscoe's seventh runner-up finish of the season (one off Helio Castroneves' year-old series record) provided the 13th different points leader in the 14 races.

"I've never heard of anything like it before. Hopefully, I can change that now," said Briscoe, who's the only driver to lead after consecutive races.

Briscoe's top-five consistency though needs a Victory Circle visit to put some distance between his challengers. He attempted to overtake Franchitti multiple times after a restart with four laps left in the 75-lap race to do just that, but was blunted.

"If we're going to win the championship, I'm going to have to win one of these last three," Briscoe said. "We just have to keep getting these points. Coming in second gets a little old after awhile, but we'll win one of these someday."

Franchitti, who tied Castroneves, Tony Bettenhausen and Emerson Fittipaldi for 16th on the all-time Indy car racing victory list with 22 (12 in the IndyCar Series), held off Dixon on the final lap at Chicagoland in '07 to clinch the series title. He expects another race that will go down to the finish - under the lights at Chicagoland and right through to the late-afternoon speedfest at Homestead-Miami.

"It's just so competitive that you can't afford mistakes," Franchitti said. "We've all made them this year. Actually, we've all had bad luck as well. When you get the chance, you got to score the points."

***

2. Sarah Fisher "goes pink" for season finale: IndyCar Series team owner/driver Sarah Fisher will be "going pink" for the season finale Oct. 10 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Sarah Fisher Racing will join with Susan G. Komen for the Cure to help kick off National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Fisher's No. 67 Dollar General-sponsored race car will be pink for the Firestone Indy 300.

"We really wanted to partner with Komen to raise funds for breast cancer research and community outreach programs," Fisher said. "We're so lucky to have a sponsor like Dollar General that supports our community outreach efforts. Together, we can broaden our support of Komen for the Cure and further the fight against breast cancer."

Fisher, 28, the only female owner/driver in the IndyCar Series, is hoping to attract attention to this disease that affects about 1 in 8 women in the United States alone.

"Breast cancer is a growing global problem that, without a cure, will kill more than 10 million women in the next 25 years," Fisher said. "SFR is committed to helping Komen decrease those numbers. I've lost a loved one to breast cancer, and I will do everything I can to help others in their battle."

Fisher also will roll out the new Dallara chassis, which she took ownership of last week thanks to sponsor Hartman Oil. The Firestone Indy 300 will be Fisher's sixth race of the season. Her highest IndyCar Series finish of second came at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2001.

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3. Medical updates for Power, Philippe: Penske Racing driver Will Power, who suffered compression fractures to two lumbar vertebrae and a concussion in a crash during practice Aug. 22 for the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway, remained at Santa Rosa (Calif.) Memorial Hospital on Aug. 24. A discharge date had not been finalized. Nelson Philippe, who suffered an open fracture of the left foot, a hairline fracture of his right fibula and a concussion in the on-track incident, was to be released from Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital either late in the day Aug. 24 or Aug. 25. The final decision is based on the travel plans of his immediate family.

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4. Fans can vote for Firestone Tire-ific Move of the Race:The $10,000 prize is awarded after each IndyCar Series race to the driver who best utilizes his or her Firestone tires to make a bold, dramatic move during the event. This week's nominees are Dario Franchitti for his flag-to-flag victory at Infineon Raceway, Mike Conway for his pass for third place on Lap 73, and Justin Wilson for relying on three sets of new alternate tires to move from 22nd to seventh. Fans can vote at www.indycar.com.

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The 2009 IndyCar Series season continues Aug. 29 with the PEAK Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy 300 at Chicagoland Speedway. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 9 p.m. (EDT) by VERSUS. A one-hour qualifying show will be telecast by VERSUS at 6 p.m. (EDT) Aug. 28. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 211. The radio broadcast also will be carried on www.indycar.com. The 2009 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with the Chicagoland 100 on Aug. 29 at Chicagoland Speedway. The race will be telecast at 4 p.m. (EDT) on Aug. 31 by VERSUS.

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Justin Wilson , Sarah Fisher , Helio Castroneves , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Ryan Briscoe , Chip Ganassi , Mike Conway , Will Power , Tony Bettenhausen
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , Team Penske