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SunTrust Indy Challenge News and Notes

SunTrust Indy Challenge News and Notes

Race Preview: Richmond

About Richmond International Speedway
History: One of the most historic tracks in racing, Richmond is also one of the most popular among drivers and fans as it hosts two NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races, two NASCAR Busch Series races, a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race, an IndyCar Series event, a USAC Silver Crown Series event and a USAC National Sprint Car Series race.

Track Length: .75-mile D-shaped oval
Race Distance: 250 Laps/187.5 Miles
Banking of Turns: 14 degrees
Poster Awards: More than $1 million
Number of IRL Races Hosted: 6
Fastest Lap: 176.244 mph set by Sam Hornish Jr. in 2005
2006 Polesitter: Helio Castroneves
2006 Podium: Sam Hornish Jr. (winner), Vitor Meira (2nd), Dario Franchitti (3rd)
Championship Standings: Click here

What happened in 2006?
Sam Hornish Jr. took the lead from Marlboro Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves and never looked back, cruising to his second IRL IndyCar Series victory of 2006 in the SunTrust Indy Challenge at Richmond International Raceway.

SunTrust Indy Challenge presented by XM is the last of three short-oval races this season. Andretti Green Racing has won the previous two short-oval events. Tony Kanaan won on the 1-mile oval at The Milwaukee Mile and Dario Franchitti won on the .875-mile Iowa Speedway earlier this month.

Helio Looking to Tie Record
Helio Castroneves has qualified in the top-10 in 24 consecutive races. Sam Hornish Jr. holds the record with 25 consecutive top-10 starts from 2001-2003.

What they are Saying
"I really enjoy racing at Richmond. It can be a difficult track because getting through traffic can be really tough. We've had a couple of really good runs there the past two years, so hopefully we can keep the Canadian Club car up front with the leaders and challenge for another win."
--Championship leader Dario Franchitti, driver of the No. 27 Canadian Club Dallara-Honda for Andretti Green Racing

"Richmond is a very demanding racetrack and, in the past, I haven't had the best cars to drive there. But, I know this is another place where AGR has had good cars, so I'm looking forward to being able to take advantage of that this weekend."
--Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 7 Motorola Dallara-Honda for Andretti Green Racing

"There's a lot more steering effort at a track like Richmond--it's like driving on a road course with the steering effort and the g-forces that work on you constantly. The good thing is having these races back-to-back so your race muscles get conditioned. I maintain my cardio-vascular workout which is important in overall conditioning but the only thing to develop race muscles is racing really."
--Darren Manning, driver of the No. 14 ABC Supply Dallara-Honda for A.J. Foyt Racing

"Racing Indy cars under the lights at Richmond doesn't get any more exciting! To think that our cars can be driven close to flat out all of the way around a tight 3/4 of a mile track is unbelievable. There is always a lot of action and consistent handling is what is needed! We've built some strong momentum with the Patron Rahal-Letterman Team and I'm fired up to take that into Richmond."
--Scott Sharp, driver of the No. 8 Patron Tequila Dallara-Honda for Rahal-Letterman Racing

"Last year we were very competitive in the race at Richmond and the team has shown some speed at short tracks this season for sure, but we've got to run a clean race at tracks like this if we want to finish, as we saw at Iowa."
--Tomas Scheckter, driver of the No. 2 Dallara-Honda for Vision Racing

"While the ovals last weekend at Iowa and this weekend at Richmond are close in length, they are miles apart in terms of tire preparation. The banking and high speeds at Iowa necessitated use of Firestone tires most often used in superspeedway situations. With speeds a bit slower and the Indy cars not generating quite the loading and g-forces at Richmond, we can opt for a more typical short oval Firehawk specification - one that will only be used at Richmond this year. We have again listened to the teams and drivers, and returned to Richmond with a tire spec that should deliver more grip and enhance the already-tight racing around this bullring oval. We expect another exciting and unpredictable IndyCar Series race."
--Al Speyer, Executive Director for Firestone Racing

Schedule of Events
Friday, June 29

* Practice 1: 11:45 a.m. - 1:45 p.m. (ET)
* Practice 2: 3:15 - 5:15 p.m. (ET)
* Qualifying: 7:30 p.m. (ET)

Saturday, June 30

* Race: 7:30 p.m. (ET)

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Re: SunTrust Indy Challenge News and Notes

Driver to win the Sun Trust Indy Challenge

Sam Hornish Jr +400     
Dan Wheldon +450     
Tony Kanaan +500     
Helio Castroneves +500     
Scott Dixon +500     
Dario Franchitti +600     
Vitor Meira +1200     
Marco Andretti +1200     
Danica Patrick +2000     
Scott Sharp +3000     
Thomas Sheckter +3000     
Buddy Rice +5000     
Field +1500     


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IndyCar-SunTrust Indy Challenge Lineup
June 29, 2007

1. (27) Dario Franchitti, Dallara-Honda.
2. (11) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Honda.

3. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda.

4. (10) Dan Wheldon, Dallara-Honda.

5. (6) Sam Hornish Jr., Dallara-Honda.

6. (3) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Honda.

7. (8) Scott Sharp, Dallara-Honda.

8. (7) Danica Patrick, Dallara-Honda.

9. (4) Vitor Meira, Dallara-Honda.

10. (2) Tomas Scheckter, Dallara-Honda.

11. (17) Jeff Simmons, Dallara-Honda.

12. (15) Buddy Rice, Dallara-Honda.

13. (14) Darren Manning, Dallara-Honda.

14. (26) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda.

15. (20) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Honda.

16. (5) Sarah Fisher, Dallara-Honda.

17. (22) A.J. Foyt IV, Dallara-Honda.

18. (55) Kosuke Matsuura, Dallara-Honda.

19. (23) Milka Duno, Dallara-Honda.

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Rain washes out qualifying
June 29, 2007

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -Season points leader Dario Franchitti was a happy recipient of the top starting spot for the IndyCar Series' seventh visit to Richmond International Raceway after rain washed out qualifying on Friday night.

``I'm pretty happy that it rained,'' Franchitti said. ``Today we were focusing on the car and balance issues, so we were trying to get those figured out.''

He and Andretti Green Racing teammate Tony Kanaan will start on the front row Saturday for the SunTrust Indy Challenge, but the news was not as good for teammate Marco Andretti.

His car is 14th in owner points, and that's where he'll start, even though he had a good day of practice on Friday, finishing as the third-fastest of 19 cars.

Franchitti's sympathy was limited.

With rain forecast and dark skies overhead, ``He said, `If it rains, I'm going to start 14th,' and I said, `If it doesn't rain, I'm going to start 14th,''' he said.

The rest of the field will have Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Scott Dixon and Dan Wheldon in the second row, followed by defending race and series champion Sam Hornish Jr. and his Team Penske teammate, Helio Castroneves, in the third row.

Danica Patrick, the fourth Andretti Green driver in the race, will start eighth.

The rain also washed out a United States Auto Club sprint car race, which was moved to 11 a.m. Saturday. The grandstands will be cleared after that race is completed.

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Franchitti puts on dominant performance at RIR
June 30th, 2007

Richmond, VA (Sports Network) - Dario Franchitti led 241 of 250 laps on his way to Victory Lane during Saturday night's SunTrust Indy Challenge at the Richmond International Raceway. The No.27 Andretti Green Racing driver crossed the finish line 0.4194 seconds ahead of Scott Dixon.

The victory was Franchitti's second in a row, third of his season and seventh of his IndyCar career.

Since qualifying was washed out by rain yesterday the starting grid was based on entrant points. Therefore, Franchitti led the 19-car field around the 0.75- mile oval for 250 laps of exciting short track racing.

The first caution flag of the night came out just seconds after the green flag dropped. As the drivers entered the first turn Sam Hornish Jr. spun his car out onto the grass. The No.6 Team Penske driver now found himself in the last place.

When the race got back underway on lap four, Franchitti quickly pulled away from the field. He eventually created a margin of four seconds. Tony Kanaan, Dixon, Dan Wheldon and Helio Castroneves followed behind the leader.

The lead for Franchitti was 2.5 seconds when the next caution flag flew on lap 60 for debris on the track. During the caution period the No.27 Andretti Green Racing driver led the leaders down pit road for their first stops.

The battle off pit road was won by Kanaan followed by teammate Franchitti. Dixon, Wheldon and Castroneves.

On lap 71 Kanaan led the field to the restart. But Franchitti used a great restart to retake the first position. The No.27 AGR driver took the outside lane as they entered turn one to pass his teammate.

The gap between Franchitti and Kanaan continued to increase. The margin quickly reached two seconds.

The 34-year-old veteran was dominant, to say the least. He was putting on a clinic for the other drivers. After 125 laps of racing, the halfway point, the top-five read: Franchitti, Kanaan, Dixon, Wheldon and Castroneves.

Franchitti was still showing the way when the next caution flag came out on lap 155 for Jeff Simmons. This allowed the leaders to make their last pit stops of the night and for some drama to develop.

As the drivers made their way off pit road Castroneves tried to pass Franchitti. The RIR officials penalized Castroneves for violating the "blending rule." Officials decided that he would go to the end of the lead lap and then serve a drive through penalty.

Once everything was sorted out the top-five read: Franchitti, Dixon, Kanaan, Wheldon and Buddy Rice. The race went back to green on lap 171.

The No.27 AGR driver started to build a comfortable lead again. On lap 173 Castroneves served his penalty. He reentered the track in the 11th spot and one lap down to the leader. The No.3 Team Penske driver would finish the race in the same position.

Meanwhile, the battle heated up behind the leader as Wheldon moved past Kanaan to take over the third spot.

It was obvious that it was going to take a miracle for someone to pass Franchitti. The No.9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver was able to stay within a second of the leader, but no better.

On lap 203 the "miracle" almost occurred. Hornish Jr., who was two laps down, tried to pass Franchitti on the inside and in the process touched tires with the leader. But fortunately for Franchitti it didn't create a crash.

With 20 laps remaining the margin was 0.4326 seconds. That gap was erased by a caution flag that flew with 12 laps to go for debris.

When the race went back to green Franchitti led Dixon, Wheldon, Kanaan and Rice. The No.27 AGR driver got a great restart again. His lead reached half a second.

As the laps dwindled down Dixon could never put a run together. Franchitti was too fast as he crossed the finish line without challenge.

Wheldon, Kanaan and Rice completed the top-five.

The next race in the series is set for Sunday, July 8th at Watkins Glen International.

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