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IRL : Camping World Grand Prix News and Notes

IRL : Camping World Grand Prix News and Notes

Driver to win the IRL Camping W GP of Watkins Glen

Helio Castroneves +300     
Scott Dixon +350     
Dario Franchitti +400     
Tony Kanaan +500     
Dan Wheldon +600     
Sam Hornish Jr +750     
Vitor Meira +1400     
Marco Andretti +1600     
Thomas Sheckter +2000     
Scott Sharp +3000     
Danica Patrick +4000     
Buddy Rice +4000     
Field +1800     


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Check out future NASCAR stars at Glen this weekend
Ron Levanduski

If you're an area NASCAR fan and want to check out some future Nextel Cup drivers in action, there is no better place to look than in your own backyard this weekend.

The IndyCar Series swings into town with the Camping World Watkins Glen Grand Prix at Watkins Glen International Friday through Sunday.

Some of its star drivers have been looking with more than a passing glance in a career change in NASCAR over the past year, including Sam Hornish, Dan Wheldon, Helio Castroneves and Danica Patrick.

Perhaps what fueled their interest was Juan Pablo Montoya's surprising defection from one of Formula One's top teams, Team McLaren Mercedes, last year to join Chip Ganassi Racing's Nextel Cup team this year. The Columbian star won his first Nextel Cup event two weeks ago on the road course at Infineon Raceway. With Montoya scoring a win in his rookie season, that may raise the curiosity of other IndyCar drivers, whose primary upbringing was in road racing and not on oval tracks, to look more seriously at NASCAR.

Hornish has already been grooming his way into stock car racing, running in a few NASCAR Busch Series events with his Penske Racing Team. He most recently won the pole and finished second in an ARCA/REMAX race at Michigan International Speedway on June 15. His best Busch Series finish was 15th at Atlanta in March.

Hornish, who'll drive the No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske car at Watkins Glen this weekend, is almost a certainty to jump to Nextel Cup next year, possibly joining Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch as teammates. Talk of a third Penske Racing Nextel Cup team surfaced last weekend when reported team owner Roger Penske was considering it.

"We're looking at it," Penske told on Sunday at the Nextel Cup race at New Hampshire International Speedway. "We definitely are very interested in doing that, but we have to look and see where we are with Hornish."

Penske said Hornish would compete in some Nextel Cup races this fall, most likely after the IndyCar season ends in September.

Hornish, a two time IndyCar series champion and winner of the 2006 Indianapolis 500, isn't the first high-profile driver to leave the IndyCar ranks for NASCAR.

Tony Stewart, who won the 1997 IndyCar title, was poised to be the series' poster boy but jumped to NASCAR two years later where he's achieved a lot of fame and success with two Nextel Cup championships.

Dan Wheldon, the 2005 IndyCar Series champion, has also expressed a desire to try NASCAR.

On Monday, car owner Chip Ganassi told he doesn't expect Wheldon to join NASCAR just yet. "I personally don't see it on his radar screen (for) next year," Ganassi said. Ganassi did say he's discussed the possibility of Wheldon trying his hand in stock cars previously and could resume talks later this summer.

Castroneves told the Tampa Tribune in January that he would like to try stock cars some day, and now that Penske Racing has moved its IndyCar shop closer to its NASCAR operations, perhaps the Brazilian will get an opportunity.

Patrick raised speculation that she may go to NASCAR last summer, contacting some teams while negotiating her 2007 plans, which eventually saw her switch from Rahal Letterman's IndyCar team to Andretti Green Racing.

Why the fascination with NASCAR?

Firstly, NASCAR is where the money is at. It's by far the most successful racing series in North America, and attracts most of the high-dollar sponsors and a legion of loyal fans that exceeds any other form of racing on this continent.

Open-wheel racing in North America has taken a back seat to NASCAR ever since the well-known split in 1996 of open-wheel ranks when the IndyCar Series was formed to rival the then CART Champ Car series, which is now known as Champ Car. The split angered loyal open-wheel fans and diluted its base.

The division among fans continues today. As an example one of my best friends, who lives in North Carolina, chose to attend this weekends Champ Car race which competes just up the road in Toronto, over a possible visit to his native Ithaca area and stop at the Watkins Glen IndyCar event.

So, while open-wheel fans remain divided in which series to watch, perhaps its time for those stock car fans to come out to the Glen this weekend and give IndyCar a look.

The IndyCar drivers, many of whom are among the best road racers in the world, will put on a great show at the Glen, rain or shine. The speed factor is impressive to watch, as the IndyCars are much faster than a stock car, especially in the corners. And, with their open wheels, you come to appreciate that extra sense of bravado from the drivers when they make a close passing maneuver.

After all, it's an opportunity for stock car fans to get familiar with the drivers that in the future may be competing in Nextel Cup. With a $40 garage pass, fans can get great access to see the IndyCar drivers all weekend long, unlike at NASCAR events where you're left peering through the fence.

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Race Preview: Watkins Glen

What happened in 2006?

Scott Dixon remained clear of trouble to win the Watkins Glen Indy Grand Prix for the second consecutive year at Watkins Glen International. The 2003 IndyCar Series champion became the first repeat winner in five IndyCar Series road/street races over the past 14 months.


The Watkins Glen Grand Prix is the eighth non-oval event in IndyCar Series history. Previous road and street course winners in the IndyCar Series are: Dan Wheldon (St. Petersburg, 2005), Tony Kanaan (Infineon, 2005), Scott Dixon (Watkins Glen, 2005, 2006), Helio Castroneves (St. Petersburg, 2006, 2007) and Marco Andretti (Infineon, 2006).

Franchitti Looking to Tie Record

Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti leads the IndyCar Series point standings for the first time in his career and comes into Watkins Glen chasing the record that Dan Wheldon and Kenny Brack share for consecutive victories. Brack won three-straight races in his championship-winning season in 1999, while Wheldon repeated the feat in 2005. Franchitti is regarded as one of the top road course racers in the series, though he has yet to win an IndyCar Series event on a road or street course.

Unique Qualifying Format in Use

In 2005, the Indy Racing League introduced a unique road/street course qualifying procedure in which the race for the pole began when the cars hit the track. All cars participated in the initial practice session of race weekend, with the times determining the two groups that will be used in the remaining pre-qualifying practice session. Friday's combined practice times determine the qualifying order, with the driver posting the fastest time having the option of driving first or last in single-lap qualifying. At the conclusion of single-lap qualifying the fastest six cars will participate in a 10-minute, European-style session to determine the first three rows.

What they are Saying

"I like going to Watkins Glen. It's a very unique road course with some very distinct sections and a lot of elevation change, so it's a challenge to drive, which I like. It's our first true road course event of the year, so I'm looking forward to seeing what we can do with the Motorola car."
--Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 7 Motorola Dallara-Honda for Andretti Green Racing

"It’s great to get back to a road course. Hopefully we can improve on what we did at St. Petersburg and the Mid-Ohio test. We have a good baseline set-up so that will speed up the fine-tuning we have to do for the Glen…I’m looking forward to racing there. I did the suitability test with Helio Castroneves to see what was needed for the Indy cars to run there and then I did the two-day open test but I never raced there. It’s a fast course. It’s rare to find a modern day road course with such fast corners. It gives us a fresh challenge. We’re going back to the old days. With the increase in speed of the race cars, now most tracks make the corners slower to make the tracks safer for the drivers. But the Glen kept the fast corners and improved the safety of the track."
--Darren Manning, driver of the No. 14 ABC Supply Dallara-Honda for AJ Foyt Racing

"I’m looking forward to going to Watkins Glen for my second road course ever! I’m sure there will be a lot to learn but I’m looking forward to the challenges that will be presented. I’ve never even been to Watkins Glen so it should be interesting. Testing or not, this is the first go around for me. All-in-all, I’m looking forward to the challenges The Glen will present with the course and the weather we are expecting."
--Sarah Fisher, driver of the No. 5 AAMCO Transmissions Dallara-Honda for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing

"I’m excited to get back on a road course and especially Watkins Glen because we were so good here last year. This was the race that really got our season going in the right direction and hopefully that can be the case this year too. We’ve had a little bad luck the last few races but we’ve still managed Top Ten results, so that is good for us. But we’re all in this to win races and that is our goal this weekend."
--Vitor Meira, driver of the No. 4 Delphi Dallara-Honda for Panther Racing

"We're over halfway through the 2007 IndyCar Series season, and we've made it to the first of two natural terrain road courses this year. As a tire supplier, Firestone Racing loves the diversity of tracks that the IndyCar Series offers, so it will be nice to stretch our legs on this three-plus mile track. Last year's race was marked by cool temperatures and intermittent rain, so drivers' choice between slick and wet-condition tires played a big role in the outcome of the race. With weather expected to be pleasant this weekend, the Firehawks' role will likely be a bit different. But regardless of the circumstances, Firestone Racing will be prepared to provide drivers with the right tires for the challenge ahead."
--Al Speyer, Executive Director for Firestone Racing

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Castroneves out to break string of bad luck at The Glen
July 5, 2007

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (AP) -Helio Castroneves started on the pole in each of the IRL's first two races at Watkins Glen International and has little to show for it. He's ready to put an end to his bad luck on the high-speed road course.

``Every race we seem to have trouble,'' said Castroneves, who is sixth in points, 114 behind series leader Dario Franchitti's 359. ``The first year we got into a little trouble with the tires, and that cost us the race. The second race, it was about the weather. Now, hopefully the third race - three times is the charm, as they say. We want to make that happen.''

In the inaugural Watkins Glen Indy Grand Prix two years ago, Castroneves won the pole, covering the 3.4-mile, 11-turn road course at a record 133.806 mph. He then dominated the first third of the race but began to fade as the laps went by and a crash with Tomas Enge with one lap remaining relegated him to 12th.

A year ago, the Brazilian star was awarded the pole when rain washed out qualifying, but he finished seventh when intermittent rain made the race a guessing game with what tires to use. Scott Dixon's crew figured it out, and he won for the second straight time at The Glen.

``He's the guy to beat,'' said Castroneves, who leads the series with four poles and guided his Team Penske Dallara to victory over Dixon on the street course in St. Petersburg, Fla., in April. ``He knows what it takes to win at this place.''

Last week at Richmond, Franchitti led all but eight of 250 laps to set a record for dominance in the IndyCar Series by posting his second straight victory and eighth consecutive top-five finish. He was followed across the finish line by Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Dixon and Dan Wheldon.

Dixon, second in points, comes here brimming with confidence for Sunday's race in his pursuit of Franchitti.

``It's a good thing for my side. We're very committed to the road courses,'' said Dixon, who won the IRL title four years ago. ``And if you look at the championship, the last half of the season we've got four road courses, and that's starting off with Watkins Glen. If we can get a good start here, it's definitely going to help us.''

The 2005 race was staged in late September, and Wheldon clinched the IRL championship during the event. Last year, the race was moved to early June - after the Indy 500 - but the rain proved decisive.

``We were good in all sorts of situations last year and sort of made it through,'' said Dixon, who held off Vitor Meira and Ryan Briscoe in a race shortened by five laps. ``It was a bit of an attrition race and probably the strangest race I've ever been in. I think, for everybody it was difficult. This year, with the changing dates, hopefully the weather is pretty nice.''

Danica Patrick, the only woman to compete here the previous two years, will be joined this time by Sarah Fisher, whose road-course experience has come mostly in karting. Milka Duno, the third woman in the series this season, announced Thursday that she would not race here because she had not been able to test.

Fisher, back racing after a year off, has never run a true road course in an IRL car. She finished 15th at St. Petersburg, three laps behind Castroneves, but was looking forward to a new challenge.

``Every race on a road course is only teaching me more about it,'' said Fisher, who has struggled in her first year with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. ``I have a lot to learn, but it's really fun. It's the most fun I've had in an Indy car.''

Driving for Rahal Letterman, Patrick finished eighth here a year ago and was 16th in 2005, needing a bump start midway through the race after experiencing an ignition problem. This year, she is eighth in points driving for Andretti Green Racing and still searching for that elusive first IRL victory.

Despite the physical challenges Watkins Glen presents, Patrick said the key to success is pretty basic.

``It's like any other road course, you have to get a car that you've got a lot of faith in, that you have confidence in, so that you can really, really push,'' Patrick said. ``That's the situation for almost any track you go to, but even more so on a road course because you're constantly put into high-speed corners, slow-speed corners, uphill, downhill. You really have to know the limits of the car.''

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Fisher struggles in Watkins Glen debut
July 6, 2007

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (AP) -Sarah Fisher had never run the high-speed road course at Watkins Glen International in an Indy Car until Friday, and it showed.

After the final practice session of the day in preparation for Sunday's Grand Prix, Fisher was slowest among the 18 drivers at 125.447 mph.

That was more than 2 mph behind the next slowest driver, Ed Carpenter, and well behind Dreyer & Reinbold teammate Buddy Rice, who was fastest in the morning session and third overall. Helio Castroneves was fastest at 134.622 mph.

Fisher wasn't complaining.

``It's pretty wild, pretty fast. It's only my fourth time in an Indy car on a road course, so I'm very much a rookie at this,'' said Fisher, back racing a complete schedule for the first time since 2003. ``But we're trying to learn a lot and have Buddy to look up to and compare to and learn from.

``It's a big challenge to take on,'' Fisher said. ``My background is World of Outlaws sprint cars, not road courses like all these other guys, so I'm at a bit of a disadvantage there.''

HEISTAND'S SCARY SLIDE: Indy Pro Series rookie Richard Heistand got into a scary crash in practice Friday at Watkins Glen International.

Heistand, less than a week shy of his 24th birthday, appeared to lock his front brakes at the end of the long straightaway entering the heel section of the famed ``Boot'' on the 3.4-mile road course. Heistand's No. 6 Michael Crawford Motorsports Honda skimmed across the top of the gravel pit at high speed and slammed head-on into a tire barrier.

After several minutes, Heistand was removed from the car, placed on a stretcher and taken from the scene while track workers covered the front of his car with a yellow tarp to shield the damage before it was towed back to the garage.

Heistand was taken by helicopter to Arnot-Ogden Medical Center in nearby Elmira. Dr. Michael Olinger, IRL's director of medical services, reported that Heistand had a mild concussion and bruised chest and was expected to be released later Friday. Olinger said Heistand would not be cleared to drive for at least seven days.

On-track activity was halted for about an hour by the crash.

DANICA'S SOJORN: Danica Patrick knows Watkins Glen International like the back of her hand - and not just the 11 turns of the historic road course.

When she arrived for her first race here two years ago, Patrick was smitten by the reception the series received from fans starved for open-wheel racing.

Watkins Glen hadn't hosted an open-wheel event in nearly a quarter century, and on the night before the race Patrick rode around the infield and drove by all the campsites, motor homes, bonfires and campers.

``We wanted to check out the party scene,'' Patrick said Friday after practice for Sunday's IRL Indy Grand Prix. ``We got out of the car and decided we had to notify the group that had the best party. A group of guys and girls had a pizza bar and Christmas lights up. It looked like you could walk up and order a drink. It was pretty professional.''

And it put a big smile on Patrick's face.

``The scene here definitely makes you upbeat,'' Patrick said. ``You're just happy to be here because they want you here. There's nothing worse than going somewhere and not feeling excitement.''

SPARK PLUGS: Marco Andretti, last year's IRL rookie of the year, was a disappointing 10th in practice. Andretti posted the fastest lap in last year's race and appeared poised for his first career victory when Eddie Cheever drove into the left side of his car, slamming him into a guard rail and tire barrier and out of the race. ... ``Grey's Anatomy'' star Patrick Dempsey will not race Saturday at Watkins Glen International. He was scheduled to compete in the Supercuts 200 in the KONI Challenge Series, but a movie commitment forced him to pull out.

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Franchitti poised for success at Watkins Glen and beyond
July 6, 2007

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (AP) -Dario Franchitti sits atop the IRL series, and after the first day of practice on the high-speed road course at Watkins Glen International, he was still beaming.

Franchitti leads Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon by 65 points in the season standings heading into Sunday's Watkins Glen Grand Prix. He was fourth-fastest on the speed charts after Friday's two practice sessions and is riding a wave of success with two straight wins and eight consecutive top-five finishes.

``When it comes to road or street courses, if anybody thinks they can make up points, good luck to them,'' said Franchitti, who won nine races in his Champ Car career on natural terrain road courses or temporary street circuits and was third here two years ago.

``It's my job to go out there and win it. We've had quick cars this year, which definitely makes my job easier, and we're getting a little bit of luck. Things are going our way. In 2005, we were in position to win many races and things went wrong one after the other. It's nice to be in this position.''

With eight races remaining, and four of them on either road or street courses, Franchitti, one of the best road racers in the IndyCar Series, is in good position to win his first IRL title. If anybody has a chance to gain some ground here, though, it's Dixon, who has won two straight at Watkins Glen.

``If we can get a good start here, it's definitely going to help us,'' said Dixon, who has won both IRL races at Watkins Glen from the fourth spot on the starting grid.

Dixon slid off course in the morning practice and was still adjusting to his third new chassis in three races here.

``We've just got to figure it out. We've only run it once, at St. Petersburg. We've still got a ways to go,'' Dixon said. ``With no testing in this series, it's very difficult. We've got a lot of work to do on the car to make it good for the race.''

It didn't take long to adjust. Dixon was second-fastest overall in practice at 134.563 mph, behind only Penske Racing's Helio Castroneves (134.622 mph) as the top six drivers shattered Castroneves' track record of 133.806 mph, set two years ago in qualifying.

Much of the newfound speed can be attributed to track improvements made in the fall. Three of the 11 turns on the 3.4-mile road course were repaved with asphalt and some curbing was lowered.

``Turn 1, Turn 5 and Turn 6 and the entry to the Boot are unbelievably fast,'' Castroneves said. ``There's a lot of grip. You can throw a lot of speed into the corner and the car is still accepting it.''

Danica Patrick, still chasing her first series victory, was a disappointing 12th-fastest, while Sarah Fisher was last of the 18 cars here, nearly 10 mph behind Castroneves.

``Coming back here for the third year, I've had a handful of road course races now in an Indy car under my belt,'' Patrick said. ``I'm getting a really good feel for what I need in the car to go fast, but I thought that my road-course driving would be better. It's disappointing, for sure. Frustrating.

``I'm not one for not being at or near the front,'' said Patrick, who has finished 16th and eighth in her two IRL starts at Watkins Glen. ``What I attribute it to is not having more time in these big cars. You get in the car for a weekend and you get comfortable by the end of the weekend, and then you're not back at a road course for a month. In some cases, six to eight months, depending on what time of year it is.''

Franchitti wasn't peering too far down the list of drivers as he assessed who would present the stiffest challenge for Sunday's race, which this year is sponsored by Camping World.

``There's probably four or five guys I see as the main opposition here,'' said Franchitti, referring to Dixon, Dan Wheldon, Tony Kanaan, Sam Hornish Jr. and Castroneves, the drivers just below him in the season standings and on Friday's speed charts. ``And I think Marco (Andretti) could win the race as well. It's going to be tough.''

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Castroneves edges Dixon for pole at the Glen
July 7th, 2007

Watkins Glen, NY (Sports Network) - Helio Castroneves won the Firestone Fast Six shootout to claim the pole for Sunday's Camping World Watkins Glen Grand Prix, surviving a challenge from Scott Dixon. Driving the No.3 Penske Racing Honda, Castroneves circled the 3.4-mile road course in one minute, 29.1919 seconds (136.021 m.p.h.).

The pole victory was Castroneves' fifth of the season and 22nd of his IndyCar career.

"Everything was perfect," said Castroneves. "I'm happy with what we've got. A fast car and I'm feeling good. This team is fantastic."

Dixon will start on the front row with Castroneves after a best lap of 1:29.5686.

Series points leader Dario Franchitti (1:29.6764), winner of three of the last five events and Tony Kanaan (1:29.7843) will make up row two. Franchitti enters this week's race with a 65-point lead over Dixon and 72 points over both Dan Wheldon and Kanaan.

The race is scheduled to start on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. (et).

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Re: IRL : Camping World Grand Prix News and Notes

IRL-Watkins Glen Grand Prix Lineup
July 7, 2007

1. (3) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Honda, 136.021.

2. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 135.449.

3. (27) Dario Franchitti, Dallara-Honda, 135.286.

4. (11) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Honda, 135.124.

5. (6) Sam Hornish Jr., Dallara-Honda, 134.849.

6. (26) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 134.594.

7. (15) Buddy Rice, Dallara-Honda, 133.211.

8. (4) Vitor Meira, Dallara-Honda, 133.077.

9. (14) Darren Manning, Dallara-Honda, 132.222.

10. (10) Dan Wheldon, Dallara-Honda, 132.195.

11. (55) Kosuke Matsuura, Dallara-Honda, 131.921.

12. (17) Jeff Simmons, Dallara-Honda, 131.869.

13. (2) Tomas Scheckter, Dallara-Honda, 131.797.

14. (8) Scott Sharp, Dallara-Honda, 131.668.

15. (7) Danica Patrick, Dallara-Honda, 130.809.

16. (22) A.J. Foyt IV, Dallara-Honda, 130.518.

17. (20) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Honda, 129.033.

18. (5) Sarah Fisher, Dallara-Honda, no speed.

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Dixon wins again at Watkins Glen
July 8, 2007

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (AP) -Just call Scott Dixon the new king of Watkins Glen International.

Dixon held off Sam Hornish Jr., series leader Dario Franchitti, Tony Kanaan and Marco Andretti over the final 14 laps and won the Watkins Glen Grand Prix on Sunday, pulling away at the end by 6.2 seconds for his third straight victory at the 3.4-mile, 11-turn natural road course in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York.

It was the first win of the season for Dixon, who has four runner-up finishes for Target Chip Ganassi Racing, and seventh of his career. He took advantage of a mistake by pole sitter Helio Castroneves, who led the first 19 laps and seemed to be the man to beat before crashing.

Buddy Rice was sixth and Dan Wheldon seventh. The two women in the race didn't fare well. Danica Patrick finished 11th and Sarah Fisher 16th, two laps off the pace.

Dixon cut into some of Franchitti's big lead in the standings. Dixon led the most laps and picked up 18 points on the Scotsman and now trails him by 47 points with seven races remaining.

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Rear View Mirror: Watkins Glen

Overshadowing the finish of Sunday’s Camping World Grand Prix at Watkins Glen International was a pit road altercation among a group of onlookers triggered by a heated discussion between Sam Hornish Jr. and Tony Kanaan. The pair had bumped when Hornish attempted a pass midway through the race, and then Kanaan moved in on Hornish on pit road.

"He ran into me and tried to put me in the inside wall," Hornish said "That’s something I am not going to take, especially coming into pit lane where you’ve got all the guys that are going over the wall … People that aren’t expecting two cars to come down there, having problems. When you get out, you can talk about it. Or you can not talk about it."

Hornish’s father got into the middle of the heated discussion and was thrown to the ground by an onlooker.

"I was not going to fight with Sam," Kanaan said. "I was not going to punch him. We were obviously both hot and were talking about what happened and his dad came in and bumped me. I think that’s totally wrong."

The altercation is currently under review by the IndyCar Series.

Hornish said he learned from the experience. "Maybe I’ll just walk away next time instead of asking the question, ‘Why did you do that?’"

Along with taking the limelight away from race winner Scott Dixon, the altercation also diverted the attention from Hornish’s road course performance.

In addition to scoring his best career finish on a road course, Hornish had his second-best finish of the season this weekend at Watkins Glen. After his victory at Texas Motor Speedway in June, Hornish had back-to-back finishes of 14th and 15th that all but eliminated him from championship contention.

The NASCAR Question
Both Roger Penske and Sam Hornish Jr. denied published rumors that the 2006 IndyCar Series champion will be moving to the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series in 2008.

However, Penske did confirm that Hornish will compete in several NASCAR races following the September 9 conclusion of the 2007 IndyCar series campaign.

"Nothing is set in stone," Penske said.

Hornish dodged several opportunities to comment on his decision.

"What decision is that? What’s for dinner? I have no idea," Hornish said. "Nobody’s made any decisions yet."

Dixon Continues Glen Dominance
Scott Dixon became the second open-wheel driver to win three consecutive races at Watkins Glen International, joining Formula One driver Graham Hill. The only other IndyCar Series driver to win three consecutive races at one venue was Dan Wheldon, who extended his streak at Homestead-Miami Speedway earlier this season.

Dixon won three races in 2003, when he won the IndyCar Series title. He’s won four races since then — three at the Glen and at Nashville Superspeedway last July.

Matsuura Bounces Back
Panasonic Panther Racing’s Kosuke Matsuura rebounded from a practice crash to score his best finish of the season, eighth. "It feels like today was my first decent race and the first race I was able to enjoy since the start of the season." Matsuura hopes to silence pit side rumors that the team’s Indy Pro Series driver, will be taking over the team’s IndyCar Series ride.

Watkins Glen Proves Demanding

All three of the top finishers remarked on the physical demands of racing at The Glen. "This was a very, very tough race – maybe one of the toughest," Dario Franchitti said.

The race took its toll on Darren Manning, who finished ninth in the No. 14 ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt Racing Honda. "I need to get in the gym and get a bit more like A.J.," Manning said.

Foyt Goes NASCAR Racing
Larry Foyt, team manager for ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt Racing, attempted to make both races at Daytona International Speedway this weekend. He qualified for the Busch Series race, but rain halted his attempt to make the field for the Pepsi 400 NEXTEL Cup Series event with BAM.

"I tested with Evernham Enterprises with their restrictor plate stuff a lot over the winter," Foyt said. "There’s a good chance I’ll be back with BAM at Talladega in October, trying to make the first race with the Car of Tomorrow there. But I’m so busy over here with the IndyCar Series team."

Foyt’s Busch Series race was hampered by a broken exhaust. That forced carbon monoxide into the cockpit, ending his race early. He finished the 100-lap event in 38th place.

Back to Brazil for Kanaan
The WGI event was the final race of the season for Dani Kanaan, wife of 2004 IndyCar Series champion Tony Kanaan. She is now headed back to their home in Brazil, where she is expecting a child in September.

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