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34 cars set to race at Vegas

A record field of 34 cars is set to take the green flag at the IZOD IndyCar World Championship season finale at Las Vegas next weekend.
The final race of the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series season will see 34 cars take to the track at Las Vegas - a record number of entries.

All eyes will be on the championship showdown between Dario Franchitti and Will Power. Power went into the last race at Kentucky in the lead in the points, but a pit lane accident saw his race compromised and he will now have to overcome an 18pt deficit to the Scot at Vegas if he is to claim his first championship.

Meanwhile, Indianapolis 500 champion Dan Wheldon will be starting from the back of the grid and aiming to work his way up to the front by the end of the race. If he can achieve that and win the race, he will clinch a $5m prize that will be shared with a fan selected at random from a sweepstake.

One other battle to be decided is that of the Rookie of the Year. James Hinchcliffe inched ahead of Indy 500 runner-up JR Hildebrand by 6pts after Kentucky.

Vegas will be the final outing for the Dallara chassis that been in use in IRL and IndyCar for the last eight years, before the new 2012 IndyCar Safety Cell is rolled out for the start of next year - which explains why so many teams and drivers are entered for one last hurrah on the track, as there is no longer any concern about protecting cars from crashes for future usage.

The race will also be the last in IndyCar for Andretti Autosport's Danica Patrick in the series before her full-time switch to NASCAR Nationwide Series racing in 2012.

Paul Tracy will return to the Dragon Racing car in his seventh appearance of the season, six for Dragon as well as the Indianapolis 500 for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. DRR are adding Davey Hamilton to their line-up for the Vegas weekend, with Townsend Bell continuing to run in the #22 that would normally be driven by the currently-injured Justin Wilson.

Tomas Scheckter is also back for another appearance, joining the Sarah Fisher Racing team who are on a high after claiming their first IndyCar Series victory in Kentucky with Ed Carpenter. Even before the breakthrough win, Scheckter had commented that "If you see the ways these cars have been running on the ovals ... I think we have a very good chance at Vegas."

Indy 500 polesitter Alex Tagliani returns after sitting out Kentucky to allow Dan Wheldon to have a warm-up outing in his #77 car; Wheldon gets to keep that car for Vegas, with Alex Tagliani switched to the #98 William Rast/Bowers & Wilkins car for Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb Agajanian/Sam Schmidt Motorsports - the car number that Wheldon took to the win at Indianapolis.




Related Pictures

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Ryan Briscoe, Will Power, Marco Andretti and Ryan Hunter-Reay pose with an IndyCar in front of the famous welcome sign at the city limits of Las Vegas. [Picture Credit: IndyCar Media]
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, and his team perform the traditional kissing of the bricks after racing to victory Sunday, May 24, 2015, winning the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Montoya went from near-last to first, winning the Indy 500 for the second time in his career. Chevrolet powered the top four cars in the race. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, drinks the traditional bottle of milk while celebrating his victory Sunday, May 24, 2015, winning the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Montoya went from near-last to first, winning the Indy 500 for the second time in his career. Chevrolet powered the top four cars in the race. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, celebrates his victory Sunday, May 24, 2015, winning the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Montoya went from near-last to first, winning the Indy 500 for the second time in his career. Chevrolet powered the top four cars in the race. (Photo by Scott R. LePage/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, crosses the finish line as he races to victory Sunday, May 24, 2015, winning the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Montoya went from near-last to first, winning the Indy 500 for the second time in his career. Will Power (left), driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, finishes second. Chevrolet powered the top four cars in the race. (Photo by Andy Frame/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power on pit road during the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday May 24 2015. (Photo by: Dana Garrett for IndyCar Media)
Penske team mates Juan Pablo Montoya and Will Power race side-by-wide during the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday May 24 2015. (Photo by: Jim Haines for IndyCar Media)
Sebastian Saavedra`s wrecked car is craned away during the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday May 24 2015. (Photo by: Jim Haines for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya crosses the line ahead of Penske team mate Will Power to win the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday May 24 2015. (Photo by: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media)
James Davison on track on Carb Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Friday May 22 2015. (Photo by: Jim Haines for IndyCar Media)
Will Power, Mark Miles and Derrick Walker announce the addition of Boston to the 2016 IndyCar Series itinerary. (Photo by: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Briscoe steps into the #5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsport Honda in place of the injured James Hinchcliffe. Indianapolis Motor Speedway, May 21 2015. (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Briscoe steps into the #5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsport Honda in place of the injured James Hinchcliffe. Indianapolis Motor Speedway, May 21 2015. (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Briscoe steps into the #5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsport Honda in place of the injured James Hinchcliffe. Indianapolis Motor Speedway, May 21 2015. (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Briscoe steps into the #5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsport Honda in place of the injured James Hinchcliffe. Indianapolis Motor Speedway, May 21 2015. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
James Hinchcliffe at IMS (Photo by: Walter Kuhn)
James Hinchcliffe during practice prior to Qualifying for the 99th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race (Photo by: Leigh Spargur)
James Hinchcliffe at IMS (Photo by: Mike Harding)

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