Race Preview: Infineon - Indy Racing League

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor

About Infineon Raceway
History: Since opening in 1968, Infineon Raceway, formerly known as Sears Point Raceway, has been the home to motorsports action for much of Northern California, The track first hosted Indy-style racing with two USAC Indy Car races in 1969 and 1970. The first Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma took place last season.
Track Length: 2.26-mile permanent road course
Race Distance: 80 Laps/180.8 miles
Number of Turns: 12
Poster Awards: More than $1 Million
Number of IRL Races Hosted: 1
Fastest Lap: 108.248 mph set by Ryan Briscoe in 2005
2005 Polesitter: Ryan Briscoe
2005 Podium: Tony Kanaan (winner), Buddy Rice (2nd), Alex Barron (3rd)
Championship Standings: Click here

What happened in 2005?
While misfortune struck many of his rivals, Tony Kanaan returned to championship form Sunday, driving to victory in the first IRL IndyCar Series event on a true road course, the inaugural Argent Mortgage Indy Grand Prix at Infineon Raceway.

For complete results, click here
For a complete recap of last year’s event, click here

The Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma will be the last of three events in 2006 contested on street or road courses: Helio Castroneves (St. Petersburg) and Scott Dixon (Watkins Glen International) won the previous events.

Championship Decider?
As the IndyCar Series championship point standings currently sit, four of the six contenders – Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan and Dan Wheldon – have been victorious on road courses in their IndyCar Series careers. Sam Hornish, Jr. and Vitor Meria have yet to win on a road course since their addition to the IndyCar Series schedule in 2005.

Drivers Prepare for Euro-Style Quali
In 2005, the IndyCar Series introduced a unique road/street course qualifying procedure in which the race for the pole began when the cars hit the track. All cars participate 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
"Infineon is one of the most fun tracks we run on all year because of the elevation changes and different types of corners. The circuit also demands the most of the drivers physically, so it’s a big challenge. We were quick in qualifying last year, so hopefully this season we’ll be able to match that effort with a quality race result as well. Obviously, I want to win this race very badly, but I need to take a more realistic approach to it. We just need to bring the Marlboro Team Penske car home in the top five so we’re set up well for a run at the championship in Chicago."
--Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the No. 6 Dallara-Honda for Marlboro Team Penske

"Right now, we’re really enjoying the championship battle, and it’s great to have five cars in the hunt. Marlboro Team Penske has been incredible all season, and I’ll definitely be looking to retake the lead in Sonoma heading into the last race at Chicago. Nothing would make this season more special than to earn my first-ever national championship."
--Helio Castroneves, driver of the No. 3 Dallara-Honda for Marlboro Team Penske

"This is definitely a race we can close that gap. I think this is going to be the race that's going to mix it up. I can see some strange things happening with strategy and stuff like that. You might have the fastest car in the race here, but I've got the feeling that this race is going to be very influential in turning things around and doing things people don't expect. If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be. If it’s not, I can say I think I’ve driven probably the best I’ve ever driven. I think even I’ve been better than last year. I’ve led a lot of laps. It just hasn’t gone for me, and sometimes you have years like that."
--Dan Wheldon, driver of the No. 10 Dallara-Honda for Target Chip Ganassi Racing

"I love Infineon. I really love that place. I was on pole there last year and I can’t wait to head back there with the Dreyer & Reinbold team. We’ve had success together—I mean we got third at Watkins Glen and that was a great result and I think another top-five won’t be out of the question. The track has a lot of blind corners. It can get dirty at times up the line so you gotta’ really make sure you have the car above the racing line; though the big thing is elevation changes. There are lots of variations of corners so you aren’t going to have a perfect car—no one is. You just have to make sure the car is good in all the right places"
-- Ryan Briscoe, driver of the No. 5 Escort Radar & Laser Detectors Dallara-Honda for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing

"Infineon is certainly my home track. I have many thousands of miles here and have had many successes, and a few disappointments. It is one of the most complex, challenging and technical tracks in North America. An IndyCar is a particular challenge at Infineon as there are no straights to take a breath or relax, even for an instant. Our races here are about two hours of non-stop action, making it tough both physically and mentally."
-- Jeff Bucknum, driver of the No. 14 ABC Supply Dallara-Honda for Foyt Racing

"This track is certainly one of my favorite road courses. The variety that it throws at you as a driver with the elevation changes and mix of tight, fast, slow corners is both challenging and thrilling. And the setting in the rolling hills of Sonoma is hard to beat. It is a great spectator track. Some of the characteristics which make this track so endearing can also give you headaches on the engineering side. There is a lot to get right to have a good handling car here in all areas of the circuit. That is something the team is really focused on, and I feel good about this weekend."
-- Scott Sharp, driver of the No. 8 Delphi Dallara-Honda for Delphi Fernandez Racing

"It's nail-biting time again as we head into the last two races of the season with a heated points race. And while most know that the top four drivers are separated by 33 points, it's important to note that seventh through 13th place is separated by only 34 points. So you can be certain all the drivers will be pushing their cars to the limit this weekend on this demanding and technical road course; a circuit where they must have absolute confidence in their race tires to deliver certain grip and consistency on every lap "
-- Al Speyer, Executive Director for Firestone Racing

Schedule of Events
Friday, August 25
Practice 1: 1:00 - 3:05 p.m. (ET)
Practice 2: 5:15 - 6:20 p.m. (ET)

Saturday, August 26
Practice 3: 12:30 - 1:35 p.m. (ET)
Qualifying: 3:05 - 4:20 p.m. (ET)

Sunday, August 27
Race: 3:30 p.m. (ET)