(WINDSOR, ON) – The 11th race of this IndyCar season is set to take place tomorrow afternoon in Fontana, CA, at the Auto Club Speedway. The 2-mile D-shaped oval will play host the the IndyCar teams with NBCSN broadcast the race beginning at 4:00 pm local, 1:00 pm eastern time.
This is the third of six oval races on the 2015 IndyCar Series schedule. Juan Pablo Montoya won the Indianapolis 500 on May 24, while Scott Dixon won the Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway on June 6.
Practices are now underway and will continue until 2:00 pm this afternoon. Qualifying will commence at 4:45 pm today.
Helio Castroneves was last year’s pole sitter, clocking in at 218.540 mph, and has winning the race this year at the top of his to-do list.
“We’ve been able to win several Verizon P1 Pole Awards here since I have been with Team Penske, but we haven’t been able to finish them off with a win,” Castroneves said. “This is probably the one track where I haven’t won that I would like to win more than any other. This would be a great weekend for that. We are right there in the championship hunt and a win would go a long way towards making sure we are there for the last six races of the year.”
Tony Kanaan, last year’s winner, has finished on the podium in five of his last six races at Auto Club Speedway.
“I’ve had some solid finishes at Auto Club Speedway, especially last year with finally getting a win on the oval, and I’m just a big fan of this track,” said Kanaan. “It’ll definitely be an adjustment for us as drivers as well as the team and engineers to race here in the middle of the afternoon and without the added pressure of it being the season finale.”
The 500-mile race has a sub-plot to make things even more interesting. One of three races this year to go for 500 miles, Montoya will be trying to add the second leg of the Triple Crown to his stat sheet, this weekend. The Triple Crown hasn’t been accomplished since Al Unser completed the circuit in 1978. If successful this weekend, Montoya would need the third jewel at Pocono Raceway on August 23.
“I’m definitely excited to get to Auto Club Speedway this weekend for another 500-mile race,” enthused Montoya. “The Triple Crown is not something that I really focus on, but it’s something cool that the Verizon IndyCar Series brought back a few years ago and we are proud to be competing for it. We’ve been able to mix in a lot of consistency with our two wins, but we need to get at least one more before the end of the year. Fontana and Pocono would be great tracks to do that for the Triple Crown.”
Ryan Briscoe will again get the start in the No. 5 Honda for Schmidt Peterson, at Fontana. The lead driver, Oakville’s James Hinchcliffe, was severely injured when he made contact with the wall at Indianapolis during practice for the Indy 500. The good news is that he’s been cleared for light workouts and was shown on Facebook riding the stationary bike.
Fellow Canadian Paul Tracy will be in the booth with Steve Matchett as Leigh Diffey calls the race tomorrow for NBCSN.