Irl Preview: suntrust Indy Challenge at Richmond

By: Cindy Ferguson

The tenth date of the IRL IndyCar Series will be held next Sunday June 22 at the Richmond International Raceway. The SunTrust Indy Challenge has become one of the most popular and successful races in the "Nascar Country" since it became part of the IndyCar Series in 2001.

Racing fans generally follow this race closely because four of the past seven drivers that have won this event have also gone to win the championship that same year and the champions of the other 3 years had also finished in the top positions in Richmond, so there is high chance to catch a glimpse of the 2008 IndyCar Series Champion next Sunday.

The winner of last year's SunTrust Indy Challenge was the Italian 2007 champion Dario Franchitti; however he will not be defending his title this year since he's now dedicated full time to the Nascar Sprint Cup Series, driving #40 Fastenal Dodge for Chip Ganassi Racing team. Therefore, Richmond will have a new winner.

This year's IndyCar Series have been dominated so far by the IRL 2003 champion from New Zealand Scott Dixon, who also races for the Chip Ganassi Racing team, and he will certainly try to add some points to his total score this time. Dixon has won this race only once before, in the same year he won his only championship since he is another of those four champions mentioned before. However, his performance in Richmond wasn't very good in the following years to the championship, including having to retire early in 2005 race, his worst year to date, and finishing in the 11th place in 2006. Nevertheless, last year was definitely better for him and he managed to finish as runner-up in both the SunTrust Indy Challenge race and in the 2007 IRL season.

Brazilian Helio Castroneves, who is currently in the second place of the IRL rankings and just 48 points away from Dixon, also have won Richmond once in 2005 and has finished in the top 10 positions other four times even though last year he ended in the 11th place.

English Dan Wheldon, who celebrated his 30th birthday last weekend winning the Iowa Corn Indy 250 race, has being competing in Richmond since 2002.?He won in 2004 and has always finished in the top 10 positions of the RIR challenge. Wheldon currently holds the third position of the IRL rankings.

However, past statistics to this race might not have such an impact this time because this year's race will represent a new challenge for the drivers since it has changed its format a bit, introducing four lap qualifying for the first time and scheduling 50 more laps than previous years to head 300 laps that will reach a 225 miles distance. Furthermore, the number of cars competing this year has also increased.

Richmond International Raceway have always being one of the smallest and more physically demanding circuits in the IndyCar Series because the speed and the track size make the turn into laps extremely fast, therefore the racing world should expect a very exciting IRL weekend.

Motorcycles
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 

» More on Motorcycles
 



Share this article :
Click to see more related articles