CHAMPIONSHIP BATTLE TIGHT WITH TWO RACES REMAINING
Sunday, Aug. 31 3:30 p.m. (EDT)
Track The Raceway at Belle Isle Park
Distance 90 laps / 184.5 miles
TV ABC (Live)Radio IMS Radio Network / XM Satellite Radio (Live)
2007 Winner Tony Kanaan
2007 Polesitter Helio Castroneves
The Raceway at Belle Isle Park - 14-turn, 2.906-mile street course
With the Detroit Indy Grand Prix presented by Firestone looming as the penultimate race in the 2008 IndyCar Series championship, two competitors remain eligible for the title. Scott Dixon saw a 78-point lead over Helio Castroneves dwindle to 43 at Infineon. How will the battle play out on the tight street course at Belle Isle?
Scott Dixon has built his lead in the championship with a record-tying six victories, including the airport track at Edmonton. Dixon leads all drivers with 867 laps led and five poles. He qualified third last year at Belle Isle and was running at the front at the end of the race before spinning and stopping in the middle of the course and blocking the path of his championship rival Dario Franchitti. Dixon finished eighth. Can Dixon fare better this year?
Second-place finisher no more
Helio Castroneves has dogged Dixon all season. Castroneves is the only driver with 13 top-five finishes in the season’s first 15 races. He is coming off his first victory at Infineon, and he has a record seven second-place finishes. Castroneves won the pole at Belle Isle last year but was knocked out early. He also had a pole and two victories while racing in CART. Can Castroneves win again on owner Roger Penske’s home track?
More battles rage
Deeper in the field, other tight battles are being fought. Just six points separate Dan Wheldon and Tony Kanaan for third place in the standings. Thirty-five points separate Danica Patrick, Marco Andretti, Hideki Mutoh, Oriol Servia and Ryan Hunter-Reay for fifth through 10th. Mutoh also holds a 38-point lead over Will Power for Bombardier Learjet Rookie of the Year honors. How will these drivers behave in an intense battle for position?
Transitioning to Belle Isle
Belle Isle will be a familiar circuit to some of the teams and drivers that are new to the IndyCar Series in 2008. Drivers Bruno Junqueira and Oriol Servia have both competed at Belle Isle in the past, with Servia notching a podium finish in 2000. Dale Coyne Racing and Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing both field cars at Belle Isle in the 1990s.
Four drivers new to the IndyCar Series – E.J. Viso, Graham Rahal, Justin Wilson and Mario Moraes - finished in the top 10 at Infineon. How will they fare at Belle Isle?
Vitor Meira has climbed from 18th to 11th in points in the span of five races. Following a 22nd-place finish at Watkins Glen, Meira has strung together a fourth, two sixths and a seventh over the last five races to climb within nine points of 10th. Meira finished 15th at Belle Isle last year. Can he put together another solid finish and move into the top 10?
The Detroit Indy Grand Prix will be the second IndyCar Series event conducted at The Raceway at Belle Isle Park. Last year’s winner, Tony Kanaan, and pole sitter, Helio Castroneves, are both entered.
Thirteen drivers entered in the Detroit Indy Grand Prix competed in last year’s IndyCar Series event at the circuit. Four of those drivers led laps (Helio Castroneves 26, Tony Kanaan 20, Danica Patrick 9 and Buddy Rice 7). In addition, Bruno Junqueira and Oriol Servia started CART races there.
The Detroit Indy Grand Prix will be the sixth race on a road/street course in 2008. The first three races featured first time winners (Graham Rahal at St. Petersburg, Ryan Hunter-Reay at Watkins Glen and Ryan Briscoe at Mid-Ohio). Scott Dixon won at Edmonton, and Helio Castroneves won at Infineon. Team Penske has dominated the Firestone Fast Six qualifying, sweeping the front row at the last three road/street events. Briscoe won poles at Watkins Glen and Edmonton and Helio Castroneves won poles at Mid-Ohio and Infineon. Andretti Green Racing’s Tony Kanaan won the pole at St. Petersburg.
· Helio Castroneves is the only driver to finish in the top five in 13 of the 15 races this season.
· Helio Castroneves and Tony Kanaan are the only drivers with 13 top-10 finishes.
· Helio Castroneves is the only driver running at the finish of every race in 2008.
· Eight drivers have won races in 2008. The IndyCar Series record is nine drivers in 1996/97, 2002, 2003 and 2005. This year’s winners are: Ryan Briscoe, Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Tony Kanaan, Danica Patrick, Graham Rahal and Dan Wheldon.
· Scott Dixon has six victories this season, tying Dan Wheldon’s record set in 2005.
· Scott Dixon has established a new IndyCar Series record by winning from the pole four times this season. The past record was two, which had been done six times.
· Ryan Briscoe needs one more victory in 2008 to become the 13th driver to win three or more races in a season. That has happened 18 times in IndyCar Series history.
· A.J. Foyt Racing has its most top-10 finishes (6) since Eliseo Salazar had seven for the team in 2001.
· Teammates have started 1-2 in six races this season, tying the record set in 2005.
Milestones & Records:
Helio Castroneves will attempt to make his 113th career IndyCar Series start. It would also be his 111th consecutive start, which will move him ahead of Sam Hornish Jr. for the second-longest streak all time. Helio Castroneves established an IndyCar Series record for most consecutive seasons with at least one win with his win at Infineon. Castroneves has victories in eight consecutive seasons. Helio Castroneves extended his IndyCar Series record for consecutive seasons with a pole to seven when he won the PEAK Motor Oil Pole Award at Nashville. His pole at Infineon was the 26th of his career. Tony Kanaan and Helio Castroneves have 64 career top-five finishes, tied for first all time in IndyCar Series history. Helio Castroneves has passed Scott Sharp as the all-time leader in top-10 finishes. Castroneves has 86. Sharp has 82. Scott Dixon has led 867 laps this season. The record for most laps led in a season is 889 by Tony Kanaan in 2004. Scott Dixon has become the fifth driver to lead more than 2,000 laps in his career (2,149). The others to lead at least 2,000 laps are Sam Hornish Jr. (3,428), Helio Castroneves (2,924), Dan Wheldon (2,735) and Tony Kanaan (2,488). Helio Castroneves has led laps in 69 IndyCar Series races, passing Sam Hornish Jr. (67) for the all-time record. Vitor Meira has gone 91 starts without a victory in the IndyCar Series, the longest drought of any IndyCar Series driver. Scott Dixon won his 12th career pole at Kentucky and needs one more to tie Greg Ray for second all time with 13. Helio Castroneves has won a record seven races from the pole. Scott Dixon has moved into second place with 16 career victories. Sam Hornish Jr. holds the record with 19. Helio Castroneves holds the record for most career second-place finishes (19).
Schedule (local time):
10:50 a.m. – 12:20 p.m. – IndyCar Series practice
1:45-2:30 p.m. – SWE Pole Qualifying
2-3 p.m. – IndyCar Series practice
8:30-9:30 a.m. – IndyCar Series practice (two groups)
11:30 a.m. – PEAK Motor Oil Pole Award Qualifying
10:15-10:45 a.m. – IndyCar Series warm-up
2:45 p.m. – Detroit Indy Grand Prix pre-race
3:45 p.m. – Detroit Indy Grand Prix (90 laps/184.5 miles)