Today's IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines: 1. Two contenders take championship battle to season finale 2. Franchitti claims A.J. Foyt Oval Championship Trophy 3. Moraes evaluated and released from hospital after crash 4. Vote...
Today's IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines:
1. Two contenders take championship battle to season finale
2. Franchitti claims A.J. Foyt Oval Championship Trophy
3. Moraes evaluated and released from hospital after crash
4. Vote for Firestone Tire-ific Move of the Race
1. Two contenders take championship battle to season finale: Quick mental calculations following the Indy Japan 300 on Sept. 19 made Will Power briefly grimace.
Sure he was pleased with the third-place finish -- his highest on an oval in a 38-race IZOD IndyCar Series career -- that retarded further erosion of his championship lead over Dario Franchitti heading into the season finale. But couldn't the margin for a season-long success story (five victories and eight pole starts) be just a little more comfortable?
"Of course it couldn't be 14 or it couldn't be 13, it has to be 12, which means if Dario wins the pole and leads the most laps he wins the title without winning the race," Power said. "I just have to finish ahead of Dario."
That's the simplest scenario for Power to wrap up his first IZOD IndyCar Series title, but certainly not the easiest in the Cafes do Brasil Indy 300 on Oct. 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Franchitti, who's involved in his third championship-deciding race in the series, has 13 oval victories (including 2009 at the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway).
"We had a good car (at Twin Ring Motegi), but Dario in three races has pulled to within a 12-point lead," said Power, who left a bushel of points on the Chicagoland Speedway oval with a 16th-place finish while Franchitti won for the third time this season. "Great for the championship, and it's off to Homestead for a great finish. I'll be working hard on making sure I have a very good race car."
Power was injured last year and didn't compete in the October race, and he finished 25th in his IZOD IndyCar Series debut in 2008 (when Homestead-Miami was the season opener). Both contenders and their teammates are scheduled to test on the oval Sept. 27. Though he's less experienced at Homestead-Miami than Franchitti, who has four top-10 finishes in six starts in the series, Power's important podium finish in Japan was accomplished at a track he hadn't previously raced on.
"I don't think it will matter," said Franchitti, who at Twin Ring Motegi was making his 100th IZOD IndyCar Series start. "I think (Power) will get up to speed very quickly. You just get out there and get the pace quickly. No reason why he can't do it at Homestead. "We just have to make sure we beat him." That scenario would force more quick calculations based on whether he earned any of the three bonus points (one for winning the PEAK Performance Pole Award and two for leading the most race laps) coupled with Power's finishing place. In the event of a points tie, such as was the case between Sam Hornish Jr. and Dan Wheldon in 2006, Power would earn the championship based on the first tiebreaker (five victories to three).
"It's a mountain to climb; an obstacle in front of you," said Franchitti, who has accumulated 268 of his 575 points on the seven oval venues to earn the inaugural A.J. Foyt Oval Championship. "We have to be able to climb that and be ready. We're ready for a fight."
2. Franchitti claims A.J. Foyt Oval Championship Trophy: A motorsports history aficionado, Dario Franchitti has a special interest in fellow Scot Jim Clark.
While visiting the Formula One race in Monza, Italy, earlier this month, Franchitti purchased some unpublished photographs of 1965 Indianapolis 500 winner Clark to supplement his collection. This week, he'll have a rare -- and unquestionably special -- occasion to drive the '500'-winning Lotus on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as part of a Road & Track magazine series focusing on the 100th anniversary of the race.
"I never thought I'd get to drive that car," two-time Indy 500 winner Franchitti said. "I got to stand next to it one day, and that was pretty intense, so being able to drive it will be very special, particularly at the Speedway."
He'll also hand over the keys to the orange 2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS Pace Car replica to the winner of a sweepstakes. The Camaro Pace Car that Franchitti received as part of his prize package for winning in May last week arrived at his home in Scotland.
"It will go in with one of my old Champ Cars and my first-ever race car and a bunch of old stuff," he said. "I think it's a great tradition at Indy, the winner getting the Pace Car."
Soon to join the mementos will be the inaugural A.J. Foyt Oval Championship Trophy, which Franchitti secured with a runner-up finish in the Indy Japan 300 on Sept. 19 at Twin Ring Motegi. He posted two oval victories (Indy and Chicagoland Speedway) and three other top-five finishes to outpace Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon.
Foyt, the first four-time Indy 500 champion who leads the all-time Indy car racing list with 67 victories, did not make the trip to Japan with A.J. Foyt Racing and will present the gleaming trophy to Franchitti at Homestead-Miami Speedway. "The A.J. Foyt Trophy, I'm proud of that," said Franchitti, who will attempt to close out the IZOD IndyCar Series season with a victory on the 1.5-mile oval on Oct. 2. "I'm a bit surprised. When I first came over here, I really struggled on the ovals. So that's pretty cool. It's a great accomplishment to share with my team and especially named for A.J. and for Mario Andretti, two great champions to name trophies after."
Will Power, who leads Franchitti by 12 points for the series championship, earned the Mario Andretti Road Championship Trophy with five victories and four other top-five finishes. Now the race to decide the series' overall champion comes down to the top oval and road/street course point-scorers.
"I'm privileged to win (the oval award), and now it's off to the big one," said Franchitti, who at Twin Ring Motegi was competing in his 100th IZOD IndyCar Series race.
3. Moraes evaluated and released from hospital after crash: KV Racing Technology driver Mario Moraes was released Sept. 19 from Saiseikai Hospital in Mito, Japan, after being examined for reports of back pain. Moraes' No. 32 car made contact with the Turn 2 SAFER Barrier on Lap 68 of the Indy Japan 300 a few hours earlier at Twin Ring Motegi.
He was evaluated in the infield care center by the IZOD IndyCar Series and track medical staff and flown by helicopter (standard procedure at Twin Ring Motegi) to nearby Mito as a precaution. Moraes returned Sept. 20 to the United States.
Moraes, who finished fifth in the race in 2009, was running 17th at the time of the incident. He will be re-evaluated by the IZOD IndyCar Series medical director before the season finale Homestead-Miami Speedway on Oct. 2.
4. Vote for Firestone Tire-ific Move of the Race: The $10,000 prize is awarded after each IZOD IndyCar Series race to the driver best utilizing his or her Firestone tires to make a bold, dramatic move during the event. Nominees from the Indy Japan 300 are Helio Castroneves for a dominating performance culminating in his second consecutive win; Danica Patrick for advancing from 12th to finish fifth; and Graham Rahal for moving from his 16th-place starting position to finish eighth. Fans can vote this week at www.indycar.com to determine the winner. ***
The next IZOD IndyCar Series race is the Cafes do Brasil Indy 300 on Saturday, Oct. 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 6 p.m. (ET) by VERSUS on Oct. 2. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 212. The race also will be carried on www.indycar.com. The 2010 Firestone Indy Lights season concludes with the Miami 100 on Oct. 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.