Honda On Course to Clinch IRL Manufacturers' Title

8/10/2004 5:43:05 PM

With nine consecutive victories this season, Honda is rapidly closing on the Indy Racing League Manufacturers' Championship, and could clinch its first IRL Manufacturers' title this weekend at Kentucky Speedway's Belterra Casino Indy 300.

Under the IRL's points scoring system, the winning manufacturer at each IndyCar Series event receives 10 points, with the next-placed manufacturer (regardless of overall finishing position)awarded seven points, and five points for the third company.

Honda currently holds a 26-point lead over second place Toyota (97-71 points), with Chevrolet third at 52 points. With six races remaining in the 2004 season, and a maximum five-point difference between manufacturers, Honda can clinch its first IRL title if any of its nine drivers cross the finish line at Kentucky ahead of the best-place Toyota entry.

Honda teams and drivers have dominated the victory column, and most other race weekend statistics, this season. Starting with the second round at Phoenix International Raceway, Honda drivers have won nine consecutive races, most recently a 1-2-3 finish August 1 at Michigan International Speedway. Seven of those victories have been 1-2 (or better) results, highlighted by a first-through-seventh domination of the Indianapolis 500 led by race winner Buddy Rice.

Four Honda-powered drivers have won this season, including Rice and IRL drivers' championship leader Tony Kanaan with three victories each; Dan Wheldon with a pair of wins; and Dario Franchitti.

In addition to the nine race wins, five Honda drivers also have posted nine pole qualifying runs, led by Rice with four pole awards. Wheldon was qualified on the pole twice this season, while Franchitti, Kanaan and Vitor Meira each have one pole.

In the drivers' championship, Honda drivers hold down the top three positions, and six of the top eight rankings. Kanaan leads the standings, with a 57-point margin (400-343) over Rice, with Wheldon third at 311 points. Franchitti is sixth with 238 points, followed by Meira at 230 and Bryan Herta eighth with 227 points.

Yet another Honda driver, Kosuke Matsuura, has a 37-point lead in the rookie standings, highlighted by an eighth-place finish at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan