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34 cars set to race at Vegas

6 October 2011

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.

In all there are seven British drivers confirmed for the race: Franchitti, Jay Howard, James Jakes, Alex Lloyd, Mike Conway, Pippa Mann and Dan Wheldon.

Update: It was also confirmed that Sebastian Saavedra will return to Conquest Racing in the seat of the #34 car for Vegas. "It's good to be back," he said. "I don't like to watch the races from a couch and now I'm ready to make my second finale with Conquest Racing ... I've learned more in a season in IndyCar than what I've learned in my whole racing career."

Britain's Dillon Battistini took charge of the car at last week's Kentucky Indy 300, but he retired two-thirds of the way through the race with the team citing driver fatigue as the reason.

Full Vegas entry list

#2 Oriol Servia Newman/Haas Racing
#3 Helio Castroneves Team Penske
#4 JR Hildebrand Panther Racing
#5 Takuma Sato KV Racing Technology–Lotus
#6 Ryan Briscoe TeamPenske
#7 Danica Patrick Andretti Autosport
#8 Paul Tracy Dragon Racing
#9 Scott Dixon Target Chip Ganassi Racing
#10 Dario Franchitti Target Chip Ganassi Racing
#11 Davey Hamilton Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
#12 Will Power Team Penske
#14 Vitor Meira AJ Foyt Enterprises
#15 Jay Howard Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
#17 Wade Cunningham AFS/Sam Schmidt Motorsports
#18 James Jakes Dale Coyne Racing
#19 Alex Lloyd Dale Coyne Racing
#22 Townsend Bell Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
#24 Ana Beatriz Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
#26 Marco Andretti Andretti Autosport
#27 Mike Conway Andretti Autosport
#28 Ryan Hunter -Reay Andretti Autosport
#30 Pippa Mann Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
#34 Sebastian Saavedra Conquest Racing
#38 Graham Rahal Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing
#44 Buddy Rice Panther Racing
#57 Tomas Scheckter Sarah Fisher Racing
#59 EJ Viso KV Racing Technology–Lotus
#67 Ed Carpenter Sarah Fisher Racing
#77 Dan Wheldon Sam Schmidt/BHA with Curb Agajanian
#78 Simona De Silvestro HVM Racing
#82 Tony Kanaan KV Racing Technology-Lotus
#83 Charlie Kimball Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing
#98 Alex Tagliani BHA with Curb Agajanian/Sam Schmidt
#06 James Hinchcliffe Newman/Haas Racing


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