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1.      Streaking Hunter-Reay carries American flag in IZOD IndyCar Series

2.      Saavedra to compete at Sonoma1. Streaking Hunter-Reay carries American flag in IZOD IndyCar Series: No pressure, Ryan, but of the 21 drivers to win three races in a row prior to 2012, only Paul Tracy 1997, A.J. Allmendinger 2006 and Scott Dixon 2007 failed to win an Indy car title in the same year.Ryan Hunter-Reay enters the Edmonton Indy on July 22 with a three-race winning streak on a variety pack of racetracks (the flat Milwaukee Mile, the .875-mile Iowa Speedway with compound banking and the 1.75-mile, 11-turn canyon of a Toronto street course). He's the 23rd to accomplish the feat since 1979.The 154 points accumulated in the three events the past month has vaulted the 31-year-old Floridian into the IZOD IndyCar Series championship lead. Will Power, driver of the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car who won three road/street course events early in the season, is 34 points back in second. Team Penske's Helio Castroneves is third (46 points behind)."I don't know if I would say I expected to be the points leader," said Hunter-Reay, who drives the No. 28 Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda car for Andretti Autosport. "I certainly expected to be contending for the championship. It's just nice to see that this team is reaching its potential because the potential has been there. It's a great group, and we have even better performances in us in the future."So it's been a lot of fun, but we're not getting ahead of ourselves. It's lap by lap, and just concentrate on being solid."Hunter-Reay has been that over the course of the 10 races. Deduct mechanical issues at Indianapolis (27th place) and Texas (21st place) and he's finished in the top 10 in six of the other seven races (was 12th at Barber after starting 11th). Qualifying in the top five in five events has certainly contributed to the results, too.Sebastien Bourdais was the last driver to win four in a row at the outset of the 2006 Champ Car season, and he'll join Hunter-Reay and 23 other competitors on the 2.224-mile, 13-turn City Centre Airport course on July 20-22. Of Hunter-Reay's eight Indy car victories, four have been on ovals and the others on road/street courses."That's what IndyCar has always been for me even when I was a fan of the series before I even started racing go karts," said Hunter-Reay, who's finished seventh and fifth the past two years at Edmonton with Andretti Autosport. "I just loved the fact that every weekend you see the cars on a different type of track, and it's constantly changed up."To do well in the series and in this championship, you've got to kind of master it all. We have some great racetracks coming up with two road courses, two street circuits and an oval. I love them all. When you have a good car on an oval, that is some of the most fun you can have in a race car. I've found some success on road and street circuits as well. I don't know what my stronger suit is, really."The last American to win four consecutive races was Al Unser Jr. in 1990, whose streak started at Toronto, and the last American IZOD IndyCar Series champion was Sam Hornish Jr. in 2006."I'm definitely honored to be carrying the American flag at the front right now, and every time I get on the podium I raise it because I'm proud of it," Hunter-Reay said. "I think what hits home for me is when I was a kid, before I started racing go karts, my dad took me to a couple of Indy car races in Miami and I watched the series as a fan of the series. I was really focused on the American drivers."I liked to watch Michael (Andretti), Bobby Rahal, Rick Mears, Al Unser Jr., the big names. I feel like now that I'm in IndyCar and doing well, hopefully there is some kid sitting there doing the same thing, so that's kind of cool."Of note: This is the third time since 1979 that two different drivers have won three consecutive races. The others were: 2006 Bourdais won first four races, Allmendinger won the next three. In 1997, Tracy and Alex Zanardi each won three races.25 three-race streaks since 19791979 (USAC): A.J. Foyt (Milwaukee, Pocono, Texas World Speedway)1981 (CART): Rick Mears (Michigan, Watkins Glen, Mexico City)1986 (CART): Bobby Rahal (Mid-Ohio, Sanair, Michigan)1989 (CART): Emerson Fittipaldi (Detroit, Portland, Cleveland)1990 (CART): Al Unser Jr. (Toronto, Michigan, Denver, Vancouver)1991 (CART): Michael Andretti (Vancouver, Mid-Ohio, Road America)1994 (CART): Al Unser Jr. (Long Beach, Indianapolis, Milwaukee)Al Unser Jr. (Mid-Ohio, New Hampshire, Vancouver)1997 (CART): Paul Tracy (Nazareth, Rio, Gateway)Alex Zanardi (Michigan, Mid-Ohio, Road America)1998 (CART): Alex Zanardi (Detroit, Portland, Cleveland, Toronto)1998 (IRL)      Kenny Brack (Charlotte, Pikes Peak, Atlanta)1999 (CART): Juan Pablo Montoya (Long Beach, Nazareth, Rio)Juan Pablo Montoya (Mid-Ohio, Chicago, Vancouver)2002 (CART): Cristiano da Matta (Laguna Seca, Portland, Chicago, Toronto)2003 (CART): Paul Tracy (St. Petersburg, Monterrey, Long Beach)2004 (Champ Car):     Sebastien Bourdais (Portland, Cleveland, Toronto)2005 (IRL):     Dan Wheldon (St. Petersburg, Motegi, Indianapolis)2005 (Champ Car):     Sebastien Bourdais (Edmonton, San Jose, Denver)2006 (Champ Car):     Sebastien Bourdais (Long Beach, Houston, Monterrey, Milwaukee)            A.J. Allmendinger (Portland, Cleveland, Toronto)2007 (IRL)      Scott Dixon (Watkins Glen, Nashville, Mid-Ohio)2007 (Champ Car):     Sebastien Bourdais (Long Beach, Houston, Portland)2012 (INDYCAR):     Will Power (Barber, Long Beach, Sao Paulo)                        Ryan Hunter-Reay (Milwaukee, Iowa, Toronto)2. Saavedra to compete at Sonoma: AFS Racing and Andretti Autosport announced that they will be co-entrants of the No. 17 IZOD IndyCar Series car to be driven by Sebastian Saavedra at the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma on Aug. 24-26.Saavedra, 22, will join teammates Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe and Ryan Hunter-Reay for testing at Sonoma Raceway on Aug. 17."I'm extremely thankful to AFS and (team owner) Gary Peterson for this, as well as Andretti Autosport," said Saavedra, who is third in the Firestone Indy Lights championship standings entering this weekend's race in Edmonton, Alberta. "Not having an Indy Lights race that weekend will enable us to focus a lot better and search for a good finish."Saavedra advanced nine positions to finish 14th in the 2011 Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma in a Conquest Racing car. He competed in the Indianapolis 500 in May in a car co-entered by AFS Racing and Andretti Autosport in addition to driving in the Firestone Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway."I'm looking forward to driving on a road course and working with the Andretti Autosport guys for the second time," said Saavedra, of Colombia. "We go into Sonoma with expectations to continue the great job the team has done so far this season."Saavedra has five podium finishes, including a victory from the pole at Barber Motorsports Park in April, in eight Firestone Indy Lights races this season. In the most recent outing, he was runner-up to Gustavo Yacaman on the streets of Toronto."I'm very proud of Sebastian. Clearly, deciding to run the full season of Firestone Indy Lights was the right one," said Peterson, a former Firestone Indy Lights driver. "He's been able to gauge the up-and-coming drivers while having an opportunity to run with the IndyCar drivers at the Andretti Autosport team. He's gotten more oval and road course experience, test driven the IndyCars, and run the Indy 500."Now he's getting another IndyCar opportunity at Sonoma. Everything we're doing is putting Seb in an excellent position to build upon his future and help set the stage for a great AFS Racing/Andretti Autosport 2013 program."Saavedra was awarded Firestone Indy Lights Rookie of the Year honors during the 2009 season, in which he placed third in the championship to teammate JR Hildebrand. Saavedra made his IZOD IndyCar Series debut with Bryan Herta Autosport in the 2010 Indianapolis 500."I've been impressed this year with Sebastian and the way AFS Racing is managing his racing career," Andretti Autosport principal Michael Andretti said. "We all agree that running this season in Firestone Indy Lights provides great testing opportunities and is the best decision for Sebastian as he works to advance in the sport."Having the opportunity to run both the Indy 500 and at Sonoma lets him ease into the new car and back into the series. We also really want him involved with our three full-time IndyCar drivers and his hard work with us as our test driver is beneficial for all parties. This arrangement puts us in a good place to strengthen our 2012 program and also to build upon our future."***The 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series race continues with the Edmonton on July 22 at Edmonton City Centre Airport. The race will be televised by NBC Sports Network at 2:00 p.m. (ET) and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network on SiriusXM (XM 94 and Sirius 212). The next Firestone Indy Lights race is the Edmonton 100 on July 21 at Edmonton City Centre Airport. The race will be televised by NBC Sports Network on July 22 at 12:30 p.m. (ET) before coverage of the Edmonton Indy.


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