Sonoma: Chip Ganassi Racing preview

Target House Trip: Dixon and Franchitti took a trip to Target House at St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. last week with their Target teammate, Juan Pablo Montoya of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Target House provides...

Target House Trip: Dixon and Franchitti took a trip to Target House at St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. last week with their Target teammate, Juan Pablo Montoya of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Target House provides nearly 100 free, fully equipped apartments for families and patients receiving long-term treatment at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, but it's so much more than a place to stay. Target House is a home away from home for families facing the challenge of their lives. It's also a place where Target team members, corporate partners and celebrities join to help build awareness of the good things happening at Target House and St. Jude.

Team members regularly volunteer at Target House. Besides the drivers, other luminaries such as Shaun White, Tiger Woods, Scott Hamilton and the Jonas Brothers have made appearances at Target House and St. Jude over the years.

Thoughts on Sonoma with TCGR Managing Director Mike Hull: "Mid Ohio was pivotal and important. Sonoma will be the same. I think every race in terms of how you stack up when the race is over is important to where you're going to be at the end of 2009. Sonoma is a tough racetrack. It's a technical place. It's a drivers' track. Besides what the viewers would see on television or if they're lucky enough to be there in person in terms of elevation change and the type of racetrack that it actually is, there's very little opportunity for passing. So you have to work really, really hard to have your car right, so when you have that opportunity you can take advantage of it. You have to work to make your car extremely good for a long run, because the pit sequence strategy there really doesn't want you or allow you in the pits every time the track goes full course yellow. You have to choose those moments. So your car has to be good for a long run so the driver and the engineer and the guys have a lot to do with getting the car right for the race. That's the key. Not that the other races aren't like that, but Sonoma lends itself to that philosophy very much from the very beginning of the weekend."

Scott Dixon and the No. 9 Target Team

Sonoma Rewind: Last year, Dixon started fifth and finished in 12th place. Dixon made the first of his three pit stops under the race's only full course caution period on lap 16, but was shuffled back out of the top-10 on his final two stops. The slower traffic and inability to overtake ultimately proved costly for the No.9 Target team, which had to settle for its lowest finish since St. Petersburg (22nd) last year. Dixon's best finish at the track came in 2007, where he started in the fifth spot, led 15 of the 80 laps, and finished first. He has also posted a pole starting position in 2006, and has yet to start outside of the top-10 at Sonoma.

Dixon on MOH Race: "I think the Target car was fantastic from the get-go. We had a fairly decent start. I think we could have had Justin (Wilson) there but didn't want to push the envelope too much. We were sitting behind (Ryan) Briscoe to save tons of gas and that allowed us to go a lap or two longer. I don't really think the pass on Justin (Wilson) had much to do with Milka (Duno). We pretty much made the pass going into the corner, and she made it kind of interesting in the next couple corners."

On the Record: Dixon's win in Mid-Ohio gave him a 20th career win and sole position of the IRL record over Sam Hornish Jr. for the most wins in IndyCar Series history. His victories have come from a multitude of tracks, with 13 wins on ovals (Homestead, Pikes Peak, Richmond, Nashville, Indianapolis, Texas, Kentucky, Kansas, and Milwaukee) and seven wins on a road/street course (Watkins Glen, Mid-Ohio, Infineon, and Edmonton).

Keep Up, If You Can: Dixon's 29.7803-second margin of victory at Mid-Ohio was the largest in an IndyCar Series race since 1999. To put it into perspective, this margin of victory is roughly how long it takes Indy drivers to make one lap around Motegi (1.5-mile, oval track) in Japan.

Points: 1st with 460, +3 over second-place Ryan Briscoe.

Dario Franchitti and the No. 10 Target Team

Laps a lot: Dario Franchitti has led the most laps in IndyCar competition at Infineon Raceway with 62 (2005-present).

On Dixon's Sonoma Test Last Week: "Scott tested Sonoma last Thursday after I did a lot of the early season testing," Franchitti said. "This time it was Scott's turn to test Sonoma. I went over and watched and tried to get him to try some things that might benefit me a little bit if I twist his arm. But we know what we have to fix on the 10 car. We just have to put our finger on exactly what it is and how we go about it and that will be it."

Last Time at Sonoma: Dario missed the 2008 race in Sonoma while competing in NASCAR. In 2007, Franchitti started the 80-lap race from the pole position, led 62 of the 80 laps, and finished third. Another notable race was the 2006 event where he started fifth and went on to finish in the second spot. Franchitti has made a total of three starts at the 1.990-mile road course and has yet to finish outside of the top-10.

Monterey Historics Recap: Franchitti joined racing legends on Thursday, August 13, for the Rolex Monterey Historics at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. He stayed through Sunday for the multi-day event which showcases over 400 of the finest vintage racing cars in the world.

-credit: cgr

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing