Castroneves, Hornish Jr., Wheldon and Dixon Post Top Practice Speeds

After two practice rounds at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday morning, Helio Castroneves, Sam Hornish Jr., Dan Wheldon and Scott Dixon topped the speed charts, as they prepared for Sunday's PEAK Antifreeze Indy 300 presented by Mr. Clean.

Only 21 points separate the four IndyCar Series title contenders entering the season finale at the 1.5-mile oval. This is the third time in five years the final race will decide the championship.

Castroneves (who currently leads all drivers in points with 441) posted practice speeds of 216.033 mph (25.3295 seconds) and 215.188 mph (25.4289 seconds). Of the four drivers in contention to win this year's points race, Castroneves is the only one who has not recorded an IndyCar Series Championship. Last September, he was runner-up to Dan Wheldon at Chicagoland Speedway and was a former pole winner (2004) at the track. In four starts at the 1.5-mile oval, he has scored two top-five finishes and has led a total of 19 laps.

Hornish Jr. (who trails Castroneves by only one point) recorded practice speeds of 215.942 mph (25.3401 seconds) and 216.037 mph (25.3290 seconds). After being the runner-up to Jaques Lazier in Chicagoland Speedway's inaugural race (2001), Hornish Jr. won the IndyCar Series Championship in 2002 and 2003. Of the five closest finishes in IndyCar Series competition, Hornish Jr. was involved in both - beating Al Unser Jr. in 2002 and edging Dixon by 0.0099 of a second in 2003 at Chicagoland Speedway. On the five 1.5-mile ovals this year, he has an average start of 2.0 (poles at Homestead and Texas) and finish of 2.6 (victories at Kansas and Kentucky).

Looking to defend his IndyCar Series Championship, Wheldon had is car running well early on, posting a speed of 216.687 mph (25.2530 seconds) in his first practice session. He followed that up by recording the fastest speed on the track - 216.499 mph (25.2750 seconds). Wheldon (who trails Castroneves by 19 points) will also attempt to record his second consecutive Peak Antifreeze Indy 300 presented by Mr. Clean win at Chicagoland Speedway this weekend. In addition to his trip to Gatorade Victory Lane at CLS last year, Wheldon has also posted three top-five finishes in four starts the track.

Dixon (who currently trails Castroneves by 21 points) had the quickest time during the first morning practice session, posting a speed of 216.752 mph (25.2454 seconds), and came back with a practice speed of 215.979 mph (25.3358 seconds). The 2003 IndyCar Series Champion has scored one top-five and two top-10s in three starts at Chicagoland Speedway.

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