Indy Japan 300 Fast Facts

Saturday, April 19 Track  - Twin Ring Motegi Distance  - 200 laps / 300 miles TV ESPN2 (Live); ESPN (Taped; 3 p.m. (EDT), Saturday, April 19) Radio IMS Radio Network / XM Satellite Radio (Live)

Twin Ring Motegi  - 1.5-mile oval

Can rising star take checkered in land of the rising sun? Rookie Hideki Mutoh will attempt to become the first Japanese IndyCar Series driver to win in Motegi. The Tokyo native, who will be making his first start at Motegi, has two top-10 finishes in three IndyCar Series starts, including an eighth on the oval at Chicagoland last season. The best finish by a Japanese driver at Motegi has been Kosuke Matsuura’s seventh in 2006. Wheldon eyes return to Victory Lane After second-place finishes at Twin Ring Motegi in each of the last two seasons, Dan Wheldon will attempt to return to Victory Lane – the place he called home in both 2004 and 2005. In five starts at Motegi, Wheldon has led 354 of 1,000 laps (35.4%). Can he become the series first three-time winner at the track? Is Vision’s time coming? Vision Racing has made big gains, especially on the ovals. Ed Carpenter and A.J. Foyt IV both drove from the rear of the field to top-10 finishes at Homestead-Miami. Neither driver has finished in the top 10 at Motegi in four previous starts. Will this be the race where Vision Racing earns its first victory? Dixon winless at Motegi 2003 IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon has 11 IndyCar Series victories, including the season opener at Homestead-Miami, but he’s never finished better than fourth at Motegi. Can he win the season’s second oval race? RLR looks to build on ’07 success Rahal Letterman Racing placed two drivers in the top 10 at Motegi last year (Scott Sharp sixth and Jeff Simmons eighth). Can Ryan Hunter-Reay, who finished seventh at Homestead-Miami, take the team higher up the grid in his first start at Motegi? Race Notes: The Indy Japan 300 will be the sixth IndyCar Series event conducted at Twin Ring Motegi. Past winners Tony Kanaan (2007), Helio Castroneves (2006) and Dan Wheldon (2004-05) are entered in this year’s race. Twelve drivers entered in the Indy Japan 300 have raced in previous IndyCar Series events at the track. Seven of those drivers have led laps (Dan Wheldon 354, Helio Castroneves 231, Tony Kanaan 101, Scott Dixon 52, Danica Patrick 32, Darren Manning 2, and Vitor Meira 2). Andretti Green racing has three victories at Twin Ring Motegi. Dan Wheldon won for the team in 2004 and 2005 while Tony Kanaan took the checkered flag last year. Team Penske drivers have started from the pole in the last three races at Motegi. Helio Castroneves won the pole last year, and he awarded the pole based on points in 2006. Sam Hornish Jr. won the pole for the team in 2005. Three Indianapolis 500 champions are expected to participate in the Indy Japan 300: Helio Castroneves (2001, 2002), Buddy Rice (2004) and Dan Wheldon (2005). Three IndyCar Series champions are scheduled to participate in the Indy Japan 300: Scott Dixon (2003), Tony Kanaan (2004) and Dan Wheldon (2005). Drivers entered in the Indy Japan 300 as of April 8 have combined for 52 IndyCar Series victories, 57 pole positions and 821 starts. Season-to-Date: ·         Helio Castroneves is the only driver to finish in the top five in both races this season. Tony Kanaan and Danica Patrick are the only other drivers to finish in the top 10 in both races. ·         Tony Kanaan is the only driver to lead laps in both races in 2008. ·         Andretti Green Racing has placed three of its four drivers in the top 10 in both races in 2008. Milestones & Records: Helio Castroneves will attempt to make his 100th career IndyCar Series start. It would also be his 97th consecutive start. Helio Castroneves can establish an IndyCar Series record for most consecutive seasons with at least one win should he win the Indy Japan 300. Castroneves is tied with Scott Sharp with victories in seven consecutive seasons. Helio Castroneves can extend his IndyCar Series record for consecutive seasons with a pole to seven if he can win the PEAK Motor Oil Pole Award. Tony Kanaan will attempt to qualify in the top 10 for the 20th consecutive race. Vitor Meira has gone 77 starts without a victory in the IndyCar Series, the longest drought of any IndyCar Series driver. Weekend Schedule (local time): Thursday, April 17 8 a.m. – Garages open 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m. – IndyCar Series practice 1:45-3:15 p.m. – IndyCar Series practice (two groups) 3:30 p.m. – Press conference (fastest two of the day) Friday, April 18 8 a.m. – Garages open 10:30 a.m.- 12 p.m. – IndyCar Series practice 1:30 p.m. - PEAK Motor Oil Pole Qualifying 12:45 p.m. – Press Conference (Front row) Saturday, April 19 8 a.m. – Garages open 1 p.m. – Indy Japan 300 (200 laps, 300 miles) 3:15 p.m. – Press conference (1st, 2nd, story of the day)