Meijer Indy 200 News and Notes

Meijer Indy 200 News and Notes

Driver to win the Meijer Indy 200

801     Dario Franchitti +375     
802     Sam Hornish Jr +425     
803     Tony Kanaan +515     
804     Helio Castroneves +515     
805     Scott Dixon +600     
806     Dan Wheldon +625     
807     Marco Andretti +1250     
808     Danica Patrick +1800     
809     Vitor Meira +2000     
810     Scott Sharp +2250     
811     Thomas Sheckter +2250     
812     Buddy Rice  +3000     
813     Kosuke Matsuura +6000     
814     Ryan Hunter Reay +6000     
815     Darren Manning +10000     
816     Ed Carpenter +10000     
817     AJ Foyt IV +10000     
818     Sarah Fisher +15000     


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Race Preview: Kentucky

About the Kentucky Speedway

History: Kentucky Speedway was the only superspeedway in the United States to open in the year 2000. The $152 million dollar state-of-the-art facility, developed and co-owned by Jerry Carroll, began hosting the IRL IndyCar Series in 2000.
Track Length: 1.5-mile tri-oval
Race Distance: 200 Laps/300 Miles
Banking of Turns: 14 degrees
Poster Awards: More than $1 million
Number of IRL Races Hosted: Seven
Fastest Lap: 221.390 mph set by Sarah Fisher in 2002
2006 Polesitter: Helio Castroneves
2006 Podium: Sam Hornish Jr. (winner), Scott Dixon (2nd), Helio Castroneves (3rd)

What happened in 2006?

Sam Hornish Jr. passed Scott Dixon on a restart with four laps remaining Sunday and went on to win the Meijer Indy 300 presented by Coca-Cola and Secret at Kentucky Speedway. It was the fourth victory of the season for the Marlboro Team Penske driver, and allowed him to regain the IRL IndyCar Series championship lead with only two races remaining


In 2000, the Kentucky Speedway opened in Sparta, Ky., and welcomed the IndyCar Series for the first time. Buddy Lazier won the inaugural event, the Belterra Casino 300, in 2000 en route to his IndyCar Series championship that season.

The Meijer Indy 300 presented by Coca-Cola and Edy’s will be the fifth of six events in 2007 contested on a 1.5-mile track. Winners in 2007 on 1.5-mile tracks: Dan Wheldon (Homestead-Miami Speedway and Kansas Speedway), Tony Kanaan (Twin Ring Motegi) and Sam Hornish Jr. (Texas Motor Speedway). The final 1.5-mile track on the schedule is Chicagoland Speedway (Sept. 9).

The Meijer Indy 300 presented by Coca-Cola and Edy’s is the eighth IndyCar Series event at Kentucky Speedway, but it will be the first twilight event at the 1.5-mile oval

Championship Note

Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti has led the IndyCar Series point standings for eight straight weeks, but with 2003 IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon 24 points behind, the championship is far from over. Andretti Green Racing's Tony Kanaan trails by 81 points while Dixon's Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Dan Wheldon is 119 points back. Team Penske's Sam Hornish Jr. (127 points back) remains in the mix. In all, eight drivers remain mathematically eligible to win the IndyCar Series title.

What they are Saying

"I think Kentucky is another good opportunity for us to run well in the Motorola car. I feel like I've got a good sense for what my car needs to feel like there to be fast. I know TK (Tony Kanaan) tested there last week, so that'll give all of us some information to work with to start the weekend and then we'll go from there."
--Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 7 Motorola Dallara-Honda for Andretti Green Racing

"Going to Kentucky will be a tough race for us. It's not a track that has favored us a lot, but we did test there last week and things were much better than I expected. We did exactly what we needed to do at Michigan and we need to keep the momentum going at Kentucky. We know that if we want to get back in the championship race, Team 7-Eleven has to keep winning races and that's what we intend to do."
--Tony Kanaan, driver of the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara-Honda for Andretti Green Racing

"I am looking forward to heading into Kentucky Speedway this weekend with the Patron RLR Team! Kentucky has always been a great track for me and become one of my favorites. I won there two years ago and finished second prior to that. I'm hopeful we can take everything we have been learning about our Patron Dallara this season and put it together to challenge for a win!""
--Scott Sharp, driver of the No. 8 Patron Tequila Dallara-Honda for Rahal-Letterman Racing

"I think it will be different at Kentucky because we struggle to run side-by-side there so I don’t think you’ll see the big pack racing like there was at Michigan. I think our chances there are pretty good. We’ve made some gains in learning what’s needed on the 1.5 mile tracks so I believe our starting point will be closer to what we need for the race. There’s so little time on the race weekends to get the car right and learn what’s going on. On the road courses, you can make 10 changes and I can tell in a lap whether or not it feels better, and if it feels better it’s usually faster. On the ovals, you can’t seem to feel the benefits as easily, sometimes it may feel better but it’s slower. So we’re still learning, but we’re gaining."
--Darren Manning, driver of the No. 14 ABC Supply Dallara/Honda for A.J. Foyt Racing

"We're excited to return to Kentucky Speedway, where the racing is usually riveting for the fans. An added treat this year will be racing in the evening. All of us at Firestone Racing are eager to put the new spec of Firehawk tires to race use this weekend as well. Our intermediate oval tires have worked quite well at the 1.5-mile tracks earlier in the season, but the Firestone race tire development staff is constantly looking for ways to make them better. Following a successful two-day test at Chicagoland Speedway, they believe they've hit on a subtle but vital construction change to the right-side tires that will give drivers more of that all-important grip. As usual, we'll monitor tire performance throughout the weekend, but we're confident the teams and drivers will be pleased with this latest generation of Firehawk racing radials."
--Al Speyer, Executive Director for Firestone Racing

Schedule of Events

Friday, August 10
Practice 1: 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. (ET)

Practice 2: 2:45 – 4:45 p.m. (ET)

Qualifying: 6:15 p.m. (ET)

Saturday, August 11
Race: 6:30 p.m. (ET)

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Fisher returns to Kentucky still trying to revive open-wheel career
August 10, 2007

SPARTA, Ky. (AP) -Sarah Fisher envisioned a better comeback than this.

When she returned to the IndyCar Series circuit at the Kentucky 300 last summer, she viewed it as a job interview, and her 12th-place finish for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing earned her a full-time gig with the team this season.

After spending the better part of two years away from open-wheel racing, Fisher looked at 2007 as an opportunity to resurrect her career, and the series buzzed about a potential rivalry with Danica Patrick.

A year later, neither has happened.

Though Patrick has yet to win, she's been competitive and entered Saturday's race seventh in the season points race with nine Top 10 finishes. Only a flat tire late in last week's Michigan 400 seemed to get in the way of her first trip to victory lane. Winning for Patrick seems to be a question of if, not when.

For Fisher, the questions are much harder to answer. Her team has struggled to find a package that can put her near the front. She returned to Kentucky Speedway - where she set the track record of 221.39 mph while winning the pole in 2002 - 17th in points.

``We're not getting the most of what we can out of a two-car team at the end of the day and I wish we could,'' she said. ``I don't know what to change to fix that and I wouldn't even say if I did know. It's just not working as healthfully as I thought it would and that disappoints me.''

While teammate Buddy Rice has rallied recently - posting five top 10s in his last six starts - Fisher has continued a season-long slide. She has just two top 10s and has finished either 15th or 16th in the last five races.

Her struggles have her again auditioning for a job. Fisher said team owner Dennis Reinbold will return to a one-car team next year, leaving her future as murky now as it was a year ago.

``We've got to have something exciting because otherwise you can't sell what we did this year,'' she said. ``I'm working on creating that and working towards that. We'll just have to see what happens.''

Fisher is polite when talking about her team's problems, though she allows there's just so much she can do if the car isn't set up properly.

``I can only help (the engineers) to a certain extent to what the car is doing and what I would rather it do and then they've got to take it from there,'' she said.

Whatever they've tried, it hasn't worked. She's qualified higher than 15th just once and was one of the slowest cars in the field during practice on Friday. She has, however, managed to avoid trouble. She's failed to finish just one race all year, a testament to her maturity as a driver.

Fisher claims she isn't frustrated even as the weeks pass and she continues to run in the back half of the field. But she's no longer the wide-eyed 19-year-old who made a splash after qualifying for the 2000 Indy 500 and has learned some hard lessons while bouncing between circuits the last few years.

``It's tough to show your capabilities when you're not in good equipment,'' she said. ``It just depends on having different opportunities and weighing them.''

If given a choice, she'd prefer to stay in IndyCar, but knows it goes beyond simply being able to drive fast. She spent time in the Busch Grand National Series in 2005 and hasn't ruled out running go karts just for the fun of it.

``I've got six Indy 500 rings and they can't take them from me but I want to grow on that,'' she said. ``I never thought there'd be a halt in it. I never thought there would be a change in direction.''

There's little doubt the series could benefit from Fisher sticking around. She remains one of IndyCar's most popular drivers, and her girl-next-door demeanor makes her the natural yin to Patrick's more glamorous yang.

``She's got a lot of attention, a lot of fans,'' said Helio Castroneves. ``She is a talent, she's fast. Right now I just feel her car is not very competitive and that's why she is having a hard time.''

The strain of the season, however, hasn't hurt her relationship with crew chief Andy O'Gara. The two are getting married in Indianapolis next month, something she called ``the bright light at the end of the tunnel'' in an otherwise disappointing season. She came to Kentucky Speedway armed with invitations and laughs about a guest list that is nearing 600.

There's no telling, however, if Fisher and O'Gara will get a chance to work together again next season.

``I love open-wheel racing and I want to see the series grow itself and if I can stay here and help that then I would love to do that,'' she said. ``But I love racing in general and I'll go where the best chance to win is.''

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Kanaan on Pole at Kentucky

Tony Kanaan has a message to those who thought the 2007 IndyCar Series championship was a two horse race: Don’t forget him.

Just five days after winning the Firestone Indy 400 at Michigan International Speedway, Kanaan withstood late challenges from Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon to take the AAMCO Transmissions Pole Award for Saturday night’s Meijer Indy 300 at Kentucky Speedway with a fast lap of 218.086 mph.

It is the eighth career pole for the Brazilian driver of the No. 11 7-Eleven Dallara-Honda for Andretti Green Racing, who also led the final practice earlier today. He will be looking to record his first career victory on the 1.5-mile tri-oval this weekend, as he has a career best finish of fifth (twice) in four visits to Kentucky.

Franchitti, the championship leader coming into the weekend, will start alongside his teammate Kanaan after running a top lap of 216.810 mph.

"The car was really good straight off the truck," Franchitti said. "As Tony (Kanaan) said, we worked together. He may have taken a bit of my car, but this weekend I took a bit of his as well. It definitely helped us. We've got good balance with the car on our own, in traffic. I think the car is quite quick. Maybe not as quick as his, but it's very, very strong. I'm just happy with that."

A surging Scott Sharp, Dixon and Dan Wheldon round out the top five starting positions.

Defending race winner Sam Hornish Jr. will start seventh while his Penske Racing teammate, and last year’s polesitter, Helio Castroneves will start the 200 lap event from 13th.

For Castroneves, today’s result snaps a 29-race streak of top-10 starting positions.

"Obviously, we didn't qualify where we wanted to this afternoon," Castroneves said. "Team Penske has tried everything we can, and just can't seem to find the speed. Hopefully number thirteen will be lucky for us tomorrow.

"It's a new day, and we just have to come back out and see if we can get it done during the race."

Although the front of the grid is top heavy with Andretti Green machines, the team also has two disappointments on Friday as Danica Patrick and Marco Andretti qualified 11th and 15th respectively.

Saturday’s Meijer Indy 300 at Kentucky Speedway, race 14 of 17 this season, is scheduled to take the green flag shortly after 6:30 p.m. (ET). Coverage of the 400-mile event will be available on ESPN2 (TV), the IMS Radio network and XM Satellite Radio.

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IRL-Meijer Indy 300 Lineup
August 11, 2007

1. (11) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Honda, 218.086 mph.

2. (27) Dario Franchitti, Dallara-Honda, 216.810.

3. (8) Scott Sharp, Dallara-Honda, 216.658.

4. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 216.481.

5. (10) Dan Wheldon, Dallara-Honda, 216.353.

6. (2) Tomas Scheckter, Dallara-Honda, 216.315.

7. (6) Sam Hornish Jr., Dallara-Honda, 216.022.

8. (17) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 215.776.

9. (20) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Honda, 215.754.

10. (22) A.J. Foyt IV, Dallara-Honda, 215.521.

11. (7) Danica Patrick, Dallara-Honda, 215.275.

12. (4) Vitor Meira, Dallara-Honda, 215.202.

13. (3) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Honda, 214.880.

14. (5) Sarah Fisher, Dallara-Honda, 214.677.

15. (26) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 214.276.

16. (15) Buddy Rice, Dallara-Honda, 213.685.

17. (55) Kosuke Matsuura, Dallara-Honda, 213.518.

18. (14) Darren Manning, Dallara-Honda, 213.079.

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Kanaan makes late race pass for IndyCar win
August 11th, 2007

Sparta, KY (Sports Network) - Tony Kanaan was strong all day, but still needed to make a late race pass of A.J. Foyt IV to capture Saturday night's Meijer Indy 300 IndyCar race at the Kentucky Speedway. The No.11 Andretti Green Racing driver crossed the finish line 1.7457 seconds ahead of Scott Dixon.

The victory was Kanaan's fourth of the season and 11th of his IndyCar career.

" I didn't tell anybody, but it was my Dad's birthday on Friday, so this was for you Dad," said Kanaan.

Kanaan brought the field to the green flag with series points leader Dario Franchitti right beside him. The two front-row qualifiers immediately put some distance between themselves and third place. The gap to Dixon was half-a- second after just five laps.

But the fastest cars on the track were Sam Hornish Jr. and Dan Wheldon who moved into fourth and fifth, respectively. They caught Dixon on lap 25 and passed him on the following lap.

Then on lap 36, Hornish Jr. and Wheldon got together down the back straight and both drivers were out of the race. What had happened was Hornish Jr. had been trying to pass Franchitti for second, got loose spinning up the track and collected Wheldon who was just an innocent bystander and had no place to go.

Everyone took the opportunity to pit and Franchitti's AGR crew was just a bit quicker than Kanaan's AGR crew to grab the race lead. On the drop of the green flag the top four cars, which included Franchitti, Kanaan, Tomas Scheckter and Dixon, put two seconds between themselves and fifth-place Scott Sharp. By lap 80 the gap for the front runners was more than four and-a-half seconds.

A second round of pit stops began on lap 90 and after they cycled through it was Kanaan leading Dixon and Franchitti. They were still that way at the mid- point of the 200-lap event. The trio was three seconds ahead of Scheckter, in fourth.

On lap 108 Franchitti got around the outside of Dixon for second place and tucked in behind Kanaan. The three were putting up fast laps and pulled away by more than four seconds.

A debris caution flag on lap 125 in turn three slowed the field and closed the gap between the leaders and the pack. The yellow flag also set up a round of pit stops and Dixon beat out both Kanaan and Franchitti.

The restart with 70 laps to go meant there would be one more pit stop before the checkered flag.

Dixon didn't hold the lead for long as Kanaan caught him on the first green- flag lap. But Franchitti was having a much harder time getting around the Target Chip Ganassi racer. He could get side-by-side, even edging a little ahead, but not enough to make the pass.

Kanaan built his lead to almost three seconds with 40 laps remaining as Dixon and Franchitti continued to battle side-by-side for second place. The fight allowed Scheckter to join them, though there was no place for him to try and get around them.

On lap 164 Franchitti slid all the way to the top of the track, had to get off the gas pedal and by the time he could get going again found himself in eighth place.

Final pit stops began under green flag conditions. Scheckter was the first of the leaders to pit. Then Kanaan as they waited as long as they could for a caution flag. Franchitti, Danica Patrick and Dixon came in together and Franchitti came in a little hot. He slammed the outside pit road marker and his crew was forced to replace the front nose wing slowing his stop.

When the race restarted, A.J. Foyt IV was leading with Kanaan and Dixon just behind.

Then Patrick spun, while still under caution, and it ended here day. Something exploded on her car and she just missed hitting a safety vehicle.

On the restart, Kanaan made quick work of Foyt IV and so did Dixon. Kanaan had more than one second on Dixon and unless the No.11 AGR driver made an error the race was his. Kanaan was perfect and he won his fourth race of the season.

After Franchitti crossed the finish line, he ran into the back of Kosuke Matsuura who was already slowing down and once again went airborne hitting the outside wall. Fortunately, no one was injured as Franchitti got another ride in an ambulance.

"That was a scary moment after the race but thank God he's ok," said Kanaan of the post-race incident.

With his second place finish, Dixon moves to just eight points behind Franchitti. Kanaan, after two consecutive wins, is 52 points behind the leader.

The next IndyCar race is scheduled for Sunday, August 26th at the Infineon Raceway.

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