Race Preview: Motegi

About Twin Ring Motegi
History: Twin Ring Motegi is a "Fusion of Human, Nature and Mobility." An amusement park surrounded by mountains, Twin Ring Motegi combines motor racing, driving experiences, nature exploration and other activities. In addition to hosting the sole IndyCar Series outside of the United States, other motorsports events at the facility include MotoGP World Championship Series and the Japanese Formula Nippon Series. The track is located about 60 miles northeast of Tokyo
Track Length: 300 miles
Race Distance: 200 Laps
Banking of Turns: 10 degrees
Poster Awards: More than $1 million
Number of IRL Races Hosted: 4
Seating: 100,000
Fastest Lap: 205.762 mph set by Dan Wheldon in 2004
2006 Polesitter: Helio Castroneves
2006 Podium: Helio Castroneves (winner), Dan Wheldon (2nd), Tony Kanaan (3rd)
Championship Standings: Click here

What happened in 2006?
After "driving like he stole it" to win the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on April 2, Helio Castroneves proved just how dominant he has been by winning the Indy Japan 300 from the pole position with well over a six second margin – the widest margin for a winner of this event.
  • For complete results, click here
  • For a complete recap of last year’s event, click here

For the fourth consecutive season, the IndyCar Series will race outside the United States at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan. The 1.5-mile oval presents one of the toughest tests for IndyCar Series drivers and teams both on-track, due to the Twin Ring Motegi's unique egg-shaped oval, and off the track, due to the logistics.

Castroneves’ Chief Mechanic to Miss First Race In 23 Years
This weekend, the crew for the No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda will be missing one key ingredient: its chief mechanic. Rick Rinaman, chief mechanic for Helio Castroneves’ car, will not be making the trip to Japan, as he is recovering from recent surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon.

Rinaman, who injured his leg over two months ago, was told he had a tear in his calf muscle. However, when his injury did not heal he got a second opinion and as it turns out, had a tear in his Achilles tendon. The injury compounded as Rinaman walked on it for seven weeks after being misdiagnosed. On Thursday, April 5th, Rinaman underwent surgery to put a permanent suture in the tendon. The procedure was successful and he is currently in a soft cast, but will move to a hard cast later this week in the final stages of his recovery.

"It certainly won’t be the same without Rick in Motegi. He has been the “go-to” guy for this Team for so many years, but I’m confident that everyone will step up in his absence. We are fortunate to have someone with Sean’s experience to help fill the void." said Tim Cindric, President Penske Performance, Inc.

Sean Hanrahan, will be filling in for Rinaman as he makes his recovery at home in Mooresville, NC.

What they are Saying
"Japan is one of the most unique tracks that we run on all year because the turns are all so different from each other. Last year, I couldn’t have asked for any more from the Team Penske crew. They gave me a fantastic car that allowed me to start on the pole, lead a majority of the laps and bring home my first victory in Japan. It was one of my favorite memories of last season."
--Helio Castroneves, defending race winner and driver of the No. 3 Penske Racing Dallara/Honda

"I’m excited. There are a lot of my friends from Delphi that attend this race and I know it’s very special for my teammate Kosuke Matsuura. More than anything, I want to get back on the right track after our problem in St. Pete. We had an amazing setup in Motegi last season, but we had a shock break that didn’t help us. I think this is going to be a good weekend for all of us."
--Vitor Meira, driver of the No. 4 Delphi Dallara/Honda for Panther Racing

"The Japan race event is one of the very best we'll have all season. It's always an exciting race and the fans really come out to support the race. Team 7-Eleven has been fortunate to have some good results the last few years and to have qualified well also. We always seem to be in the mix at Motegi and this year should be no different."
--Tony Kanaan, driver of the No. 11 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda for Andretti Green Racing

"I really enjoy the trip to Japan and am looking forward to going again. The entire week is well organized and we are treated so well there. Motegi is a very tricky track, with two distinct ends, but I feel like we learned a lot last year in the NYSE car. We’re still working on finding some speed but we’ve made some great strides and I expect us to run up front at Motegi."
--Marco Andretti, driver of the No. 26 NYSE Dallara/Honda for Andretti Green Racing

"Firestone Racing is always pleased to make the trip to Japan for the IndyCar Series event each year. Our company's worldwide headquarters are located in Tokyo, so it is great to come back here every year and see friends and colleagues. We are bringing a new tire to the Bridgestone Japan Indy 300 this year, one that should give drivers a bit more grip than in past events at this track. And this race will serve as a great preview of the Indianapolis 500 since this same tire compound and construction will be used during the month of May."
--Al Speyer, Executive Director for Firestone Racing

Schedule of Events
Wednesday, April 18
  • Practice 1: 9:30 - 10:30 p.m. (ET) (Group 1); 10:30 - 11:30 p.m. (ET) (Group 2)

    Thursday, April 19
    • Practice 2: 9:30 - 10:15 p.m. (ET) (Group 1); 10:20 - 11:05 p.m. (Group 2)

      Friday, April 20
    • Qualifying: 12:30 a.m. (ET)
    • Race: 12 midnight (ET)*
      *ESPN will show tape delay coverage of the race at noon (ET) on Saturday, 4/21

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