2009 IRL Team Reports: Dale Coyne Racing

IRL Team reports for the 2009 IRL season

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Postby mlittle » Mon Aug 10, 2009 2:37 am

Justin will start on the front row for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Centre after the Dale Coyne Racing machine narrowly missed out on Pole position. Ryan Briscoe (Team Penske) pipped Justin's time of 1:06.7007s by a mere 2/100ths of a second.

Having successfully progressed through the second qualifying session on used "reds", the softer compound tyre, Justin kept a new set of reds for the Firestone Fast Six shoot-out. With four of the other competitors, all except Briscoe, having to run on used tyres it was always going to be a two-man race for the top spot.

Tyre selection was down to Bill Pappas (Justin's engineer) and Dale Coyne. Explained Justin: "In that second qualifying run, they had more confidence in me than I had in myself, but we ran on the used set and we made it through to the Fast Six!"

Justin continued: "I am disappointed to come that close to Pole and then miss out. In that last run, my tyres came up to pressure a bit quicker than we were expecting and that's probably what cost me the Pole." Looking forward to the race, Justin said: " I really like this track and the car is great, it feels like it did at Watkins Glen. We're going to keep working on it, and tomorrow I aim to get the #18 Z-Line Designs car on the podium, top step if I can."

The race starts at 1:45pm EDT, with live coverage in the US on Versus from 1pm EDT. Viewers in the UK can follow the race on Sky Sports Xtra from 10:30pm BST on Sunday.


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Postby mlittle » Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:46 pm

Fuel misjudgement costs Justin a probable podium at Mid-Ohio

An apparent misjudgement on strategy took the #18 Z-Line Designs car out of contention for a win at Mid-Ohio, and an almost certain podium finish.

Starting from the front row, Justin went past pole-sitter Ryan Briscoe (Team Penske) on lap six at Turn 11, and built a commanding lead. At that point it was looking good for a repeat of the hard-fought victory at Watkins Glen. At the first pit stop, Justin's 7s lead was reduced to 4s as Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi) made up some time, leapfrogged Briscoe, and moved into second place.

Justin had started on the softer alternate tyres and clearly the car was not as quick on the primary tyres taken at the stop. Dixon quickly closed the gap and as he chased Justin on Lap 37, the lapped car of Milka Duno (Dreyer and Reinbold) acted like a roadblock in Turn 5, and Dixon went past as Justin found himself boxed in behind the slower car.

Justin kept up the pressure and was looking good for a podium if not a race win when the window opened for the final round of pit stops. Incredibly, the team left Justin out a lap too long. When the car spluttered down pit lane at 25 mph on Lap 62 with an empty tank, the fuel-starved engine inevitably died along with Justin's hopes of victory. With the mess sorted out, Justin rejoined in 15th place and could only gain two places in the remaining laps, finishing 13th.

The record books will show that the Honda Indy 200 was won by Dixon, with Briscoe second and Dario Franchitti (Target Chip Ganassi) in third. Justin led 28 of the 85 laps and scored 17 championship points. It should have been so different.

Drivers and teams now take a break until the next event, the Infineon Indy Grand Prix at Somona, California, on 23 August.


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Postby mlittle » Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:47 pm

Justin Wilson Has Heartbreaking Day but Stays in Top Ten

Lexington, Ohio (August 9, 2009) - Justin Wilson, driving the Z-Line Designs Indy Car, had another great start from the front row in today's Honda Indy 200 at the historic Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. From his second place starting position Justin would take little time to overtake the series Championship contender and pole winner Ryan Briscoe on Lap 6.

The Englishman made the best of his lead position pulling away at nearly a second per lap building a strong lead over second place and the rest of the field. It would turn out to be Scott Dixon, who was running in third but was conserving fuel, who would get the upper hand on the first round of pit stops.

Justin pitted on Lap 28 while Dixon was able to go an additional three laps. That strategy gave Dixon the track position advantage he needed to be right behind Justin after they had pitted. Dixon also had a strong running car and would pass Justin to take the lead on Lap 37. Dixon would dominate the rest of the race to eventually come home the winner.

Justin was running second behind Dixon coming to his second and final pit stop. Justin suffered heartbreak when the engine sputtered for fuel as he entered the pit for his final stop. The car made it to the pits but was weak on power. The seasoned Dale Coyne Racing team fueled the car quickly, but the engine was still not at full rich when Justin launched from the pit only to have the engine stall and cost precious time and devastating track position.

Justin would fall from second to 15th on that pit stop, but still worked his way up to finish 13th at the end. The finish keeps Justin in 10th place for the Championship just 18 points behind Dan Wheldon.

"We were having a great weekend. The car was running quick. Obviously, we are disappointed with the results as we wanted to do much better," commented Justin.

"It's a real shame," reported team owner Dale Coyne. "We were in position one or two all weekend and the computers said we had half a gallon when he was in, but obviously we had a malfunction in something."

The team is looking forward to the next race in Sonoma, California the home track for California-based Z-Line Designs. The team will travel to California for a test this week at the twisty road course in preparation for the Infineon Grand Prix of Sonoma at the Infineon Raceway on August 23, 2009.
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Postby mlittle » Sun Aug 23, 2009 3:10 am

Justin targets podium return at Infineon Raceway

Justin and Dale Coyne Racing are eager to get back on track as they prepare for Sunday's Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway, California. An unlucky break dashed their hopes of a podium while running in a strong second place at Mid Ohio. But after a productive test at Infineon Raceway last week they are aiming to be out at the front again in what will be the home race for California-based primary sponsor Z-Line Designs.

"I'm looking forward to this weekend," said Justin. "Infineon is a tough track to overtake on, so a strong performance in qualifying is our first objective. Last week's test went pretty well and we learned some useful things that I'm hoping will give us a head start on Saturday. We were very unlucky at Mid Ohio and the aim is to put the Z-Line Designs car back on the podium again on Sunday."

Justin provides a detailed turn-by-turn commentary of the 2.22 mile permanent road course in the Track Guides section of www.justinwilson.co.uk.

Practice and qualifying both take place on Saturday August 22. For fans in the US, VERSUS has a one-hour qualifying show at 6 p.m. EDT on Saturday as well as live race coverage of Sunday's race, in High Definition, from 5 p.m. EDT. The race will also air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 211. Fans in the UK will find race coverage on Sky Sports Xtra from 10.30 p.m. BST on Sunday. A detailed on-track schedule, live timing and scoring, video streaming and radio coverage are available from www.indycar.com.
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Postby mlittle » Thu Aug 27, 2009 11:56 pm

Justin Wilson Starts 19th for Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma

Sonoma, California (August 22, 2009) - It was not the day the team and driver had hoped for at the twisty up and downs at Infineon Raceway.

After running 4th in the morning amongst the set one tire group of 24 cars, a bent rear wishbone would dash the hopes of this promising Dale Coyne Racing squad in the afternoon qualifying.

After posting a time in the top six in early laps of qualifying, Justin Wilson brought his #18 Z-Line Designs machinew in for the much faster red tires, only for the team to see that the right rear upper wishbone was severely bent. In this short 20 minute session, there would not be enough time to make the repair and get back out on the faster red compound Firestones and advance into the top six, transferring to the second round of qualifying.

In the end Justin's time 78.33 seconds would relegate him back to 19th starting position for tomorrow's Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma. "Obviously we are disappointed," commented Wilson. "We had some good improvements between sessions and knew where we needed to go to challenge for the front row again, but the wishbone was an unexpected halt to our progress."

"Justin is a good starter and perhaps we need some unique strategy for tomorrow's race," reported team owner Dale Coyne. "This is a difficult place to pass, but we have lots of variables for tomorrow."
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Postby mlittle » Thu Aug 27, 2009 11:57 pm

Justin Wilson Runs Incredible Race

Sonoma, California (August 23, 2009) - Justin Wilson and the entire Dale Coyne Racing team worked together to execute a unique strategy that allowed Wilson to start in 22nd position and rocket forward to finish seventh in the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma.

Justin had his worst road course qualifying of the year on Saturday when a rear suspension folded under heavy braking. The #18 Z-Line Designs car was slated for a 19th starting position for today's race. After some successful changes in the morning warm-up, the team decided to try a different strategy for today's race. After failing to advance in Saturday's qualifying, Justin still had three new sets of the softer red compound tires for today's race. A gamble was made to go for a three pit stop race strategy. The team changed its tire declaration from starting on alternates to starting on primaries, thus opening the door for a forward thinking race strategy. By IndyCar Series rules if you change designation you go to the back of the grid. The team thought it was worth the three position loss as a possible game changer.

"We knew that everyone would do this race on two stops," commented experienced team owner Dale Coyne. "It was certainly a gamble to do this and commit to three stops so early in the race, but we knew Justin had the speed so we pitted on lap 6 to get the primary Firestones out of the way and then let Justin run on a clean track to make up the difference."

Justin would go on to have a magnificent run. Sonoma is a track where passing is very difficult, yet Justin was able to close the gap and then carve his way through the field as he knew he had to make the difference of an extra stop.

"The race today was long and tough but the unique strategy we used allowed me to move up 15 positions," said Justin. "The Z-Line Designs car was very fast today, the pit stops were quick and everyone worked hard to get the most of our starting position."

Justin improved steadily as the race wore on. His Z-Line Designs in-car camera would be the highlight of the race as Justin passed cars all the way up to the end. The #18 car would finally come home in 7th position. Justin Wilson, along with two other drivers, is nominated for the Firestone "Tire-ific" Move of the Race for relying on three sets of new alternate tires to move from 22nd to 7th position. Fans can vote through Wednesday at www.indycar.com to determine the winner.
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Postby mlittle » Thu Aug 27, 2009 11:58 pm

Justin scythes through field to 7th in Sonoma

Justin Wilson and Dale Coyne Racing team were rewarded with 7th place in the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma after starting from the back in 22nd. A last-minute switch to a unique alternate strategy allowed the #18 Z-Line Designs car to run on the faster, red-sidewalled Firestone tyres for most of the race. Dario Franchitti led all 75 laps to take victory for Chip Ganassi Racing, the Scot having been chased hard for most of it by runner-up Ryan Briscoe (Team Penske). Mike Conway (Dreyer & Reinbold) was third, scoring his maiden IndyCar Series podium.

Justin’s #18 Z-Line Designs car was slated for a 19th starting position after a rear suspension part folded under heavy braking in the first round of Saturday’s qualifying session. The only silver lining was that he still had three new sets of the softer Firestone “reds” available for the race and, after some successful changes in Sunday’s warm-up, the team made a late decision to gamble on a three stop race strategy. The plan was to start briefly on the harder primary tyres, before allowing Justin to run the early phase of the race in clear air on reds. Changing the starting tyre designation forced Justin to start from the back of the grid, but he and the team hoped that the faster compound would allow him to make progress.

The race got off to a messy start when several cars tangled in Turn 1 on the opening lap, but Justin was able to steer around the carnage and moved up to 13th as several cars pitted for repairs. He made up two more spots at the restart on Lap 5 before pitting on Lap 6 to get the primary Firestones out of the way and switch to faster rubber. Although he lost initial track position, for much of the next 25 laps Justin was able to lap in the 79s bracket, enjoying a clear track and relentlessly closing down the drivers in front of him.

Although a hoped-for full course yellow, which would have vaulted Justin to the front, never came, the off-sequence strategy meant that when the field pitted again Justin had caught a number of the backmarkers and was able to run several laps longer than them before pitting. It was this ability to run longer into each stop, coupled with decisive overtaking when the opportunities arose, that allowed him to move up to 15th after his second stop (Lap 29) and then 9th place after his third and final stop on Lap 53.

The closing stages offered nail-biting entertainment, with Justin passing Dan Wheldon (Panther Racing) on Lap 58 to move up to 8th. Not long after he was hard on the heels of Oriol Servia (Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing). Ahead of the duelling pair, the Team Penske of Helio Castroneves speared off the track at Turn 1 on Lap 66, bunching the field up under a second full course caution before the track went green for a four lap blast to the chequered flag.

On the restart Justin was once again all over the back of Oriol. He made a move on the Spaniard into the hairpin with two laps to go, but lost the rear of the #18 car under braking and drifted into the corner. In an amazing demonstration of quick reflexes, Justin managed to keep the engine lit and regained momentum with the loss of only one place which he regained a lap later to take the chequered flag in 7th.

"The race today was long and tough, but the unique strategy we used allowed me to move up 15 positions," said Justin. "The Z-Line Designs car was very fast today, the pit stops were quick and everyone worked hard to get the most of our starting position."

Justin’s exploits have been acknowledged in his nomination for the Firestone "Tire-ific" Move of the Race. Fans can vote until Wednesday at www.indycar.com to determine the winner.

Justin lies 11th in the driver standings with three races remaining in the 2009 IndyCar Series schedule, all of them on 1.5 mile ovals. The first is under the lights at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois on Saturday night.

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Postby mlittle » Sun Aug 30, 2009 5:58 am

Justin looks forward to Chicagoland

With just three events remaining on the 2009 IndyCar Series schedule, Justin and Dale Coyne Racing return to oval racing in Saturday night's Peak Antifreeze and Motor Oil Indy 300 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois. A year ago Justin came through the field from 21st to finish 11th and, as 1.5 mile ovals go, it's one of his clear favourites. He and the team are hopeful that the data gathered at other oval events this year will stand them in good stead at Chicagoland.

"I'm really looking forward to this weekend at Chicagoland," said Justin. "It's a great track for the drivers and the fans, because the banking's very progressive through the turns and that gives you a lot of confidence to race side-by-side. We've worked really hard to improve our oval set-up this year, so I'm hoping we can bring everything together this weekend and move the Z-Line Designs car closer to the front."

Practice and qualifying take place on Friday August 28. Qualifying begins at 2.30 p.m. EDT and VERSUS has a one-hour qualifying show at 6 p.m. (EDT). Live coverage of Saturday night's event begins at 9 p.m. EDT in High Definition on VERSUS.


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Postby mlittle » Sun Aug 30, 2009 10:54 am

Justin qualifies 15th at Chicago Speedway

Justin and Dale Coyne Racing qualified 15th for Saturday night's Peak Antifreeze and Motor Oil Indy 300 at Chicagoland Speedway. The #18 Z-Line Designs - Office Max car was 4th in line to qualify around the 1.5 mile tri-oval and Justin recorded a four-lap average speed of 213.011 mph. Team Penske locked out the front row, with Ryan Briscoe on pole (215.364 mph) alongside Helio Castroneves. Justin's qualifying performance came after a productive morning practice session where he set the 11th fastest time and he's confident of a strong performance in tomorrow's race.

"This is the best I've felt on the 1.5 mile ovals this year," said Justin. "The #18 Z-Line Designs - Office Max car is working well and feels good out on the track. We're not making too many changes to the car for tomorrow's race and I'm looking forward to a good run."
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Postby mlittle » Thu Sep 03, 2009 4:09 am

Top ten finish for Justin at Chicagoland Speedway

Justin and Dale Coyne Racing enjoyed their strongest oval performance of the year at Chicagoland Speedway as the #18 Z-Line Designs - Office Max car finished 10th in Saturday night's PEAK Antifreeze and Motor Oil Indy 300. A thrilling 10-lap conclusion to the race saw the first ten places covered by less than half a second as polesitter Ryan Briscoe (Team Penske) took victory by 0.0077s from Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon.

Starting from 15th, Justin made good early progress to move up to 11th by the time of his first pit-stop on Lap 46. He made two further pit-stops under yellow on Laps 95 and 113 and made further progress as the second half of the race unfolded, running a comfortable 9th by the time of his third and final stop on Lap 160.

After a final yellow on Lap 184, to remove the stricken Penske of Helio Castroneves, the race went green on Lap 191, bringing the fans to their feet for a thrilling 10 lap blast to the finish. Lying 8th at the restart, Justin moved forward into 7th place with five laps to go, and was still in 8th on Lap 199. But with a swarm of 10 cars spanning less than half a second and jockeying for position, it was pot luck who would cross the line in what order at the finish. For Justin and the entire Z-Line Designs - Office Max team, their 10th place result, ahead of the veteran oval specialists such as Andretti Green Racing, was hugely satisfying.

The result moves Justin back up to 10th in the driver standings as the series heads into its final two events at Japan's Twin Ring Motegi (19 September) and Homestead-Miami Speedway (10 October).


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Postby mlittle » Sat Sep 19, 2009 12:31 am

Justin looks forward to Twin Ring Motegi debut

Justin and Dale Coyne Racing are aiming for a strong finish to their 2009 IndyCar Series campaign as they head into this weekend’s penultimate race at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan. The former Champ Car contingent missed last year’s event while racing at Long Beach, so it will be their first taste of the unusually configured one and a half mile oval. Although the long-established IndyCar Series teams start with a clear advantage, Justin is hopeful of another good performance for the #18 Z-Line Designs team.

"I'm looking forward to this weekend," said Justin. "I've raced in Japan before and the fans are amazing, so I'm sure there will be a great atmosphere. Turns 1 and 2 are wider than Turns 3 and 4 so it's not going to be an easy track to master, but hopefully we can get the car dialled in quickly. As a team we've made a lot of progress with our oval set-up. Chicagoland gave us a real confidence boost and our aim this weekend is to finish in the top 8."

Practice and qualifying for the Indy Japan 300 take place on Friday Sept. 18 and the race starts at noon local time on Saturday Sept. 19. (Local time is ET+13 hours and BST+8 hours, so the green flag will drop at 11 p.m. ET on Friday night for fans in the US and 4 a.m. BST Saturday for those in the UK).


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Postby mlittle » Thu Sep 24, 2009 11:08 pm

Justin qualifies 9th at Twin Ring Motegi

Justin and Dale Coyne Racing had a successful first day's running at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan, qualifying the #18 Z-Line Designs car in 9th position with a four-lap average speed of 199.489 mph. Scott Dixon took pole position for Chip Ganassi Racing (202.031 mph) with KV Racing's Mario Moraes alongside him on the front row.

The Indy Japan 300 starts at noon local time tomorrow (Saturday Sept. 19). Adjusting for time zones, this is 11 p.m. ET on Friday night for fans in the US and 4 a.m. BST Saturday for those in the UK.

-credit: justinwilson.co.uk
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Postby mlittle » Thu Sep 24, 2009 11:08 pm

Justin content with 12th in Twin Ring Motegi debut

Justin and Dale Coyne Racing put in a solid performance to take 12th place in Saturday's Indy Japan 300, their first race at Twin Ring Motegi. Starting from 9th, they weren't quite able to match their qualifying pace, but fought a determined race in or around the top 10 for all 200 laps. Scott Dixon led home a Chip Ganassi Racing 1-2 from team-mate Dario Franchitti, while Graham Rahal took third for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing.

After the inevitable first lap frenzy, the #18 Z-Line Designs car settled into a comfortable 12th position and retained that through the first pit-stops under green flag conditions on Lap 48. Justin moved up to P10 during his second stint when two cars in front of him pitted early due to fuelling or mechanical issues.

Although he wasn't under threat from cars behind, Justin was unable to make headway, and by Lap 80 he had fallen into the clutches of then race leader Dario Franchitti to go a lap down. That effectively put a glass ceiling on the #18 car's progress, irrespective of the two full course yellows that emerged later in the race.

Justin was still 10th by the time of the third and final pit-stops on Lap 153, but shortly after the #18 car pitted a full course caution on Lap 161 interrupted the flow of other pit-stops and Justin dropped a place to 11th as these cycled through. The last 29 green flag laps saw Justin battling it out with Helio Castroneves (Team Penske) and Tony Kanaan (Andretti Green Racing), who were also a lap down, for positions 10 to 12. In the end, the #18 car didn't have the pace to hang on and Justin was forced to settle for 12th.

"Overall the race went well," said Justin. "The Z-Line Designs team did a great job in the pit-stops and the car was pretty well balanced. But I was struggling to keep up on the straights and I think we had a little too much downforce. I had some good battles and some close calls, especially in the last 25 laps. I thought I'd crashed on the exit of Turn 2 near the end of the race, but fortunately it came back straight. All in all it's not a bad result for our first time out on this track. We've learned a lot and it will be valuable experience for next year."

The IndyCar Series now heads back to the US for the 2009 season finale at Florida's Homestead-Miami Speedway on Oct. 10. Justin goes into the final race aiming to hold on to 10th in the championship standings. Scott Dixon now leads the standings with 570 points, followed by Dario Franchitti, who has 565. Ryan Briscoe (562 points), who went into the Motegi race with a 25-point lead over Franchitti and a 32-point lead over Dixon, finished 18th after a self-inflicted accident while exiting pit-lane.
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Postby mlittle » Sun Oct 11, 2009 12:34 am

Justin excited about Homestead finale

Justin and Dale Coyne Racing are aiming for a successful conclusion to their 2009 IndyCar Series campaign this weekend. Saturday's Firestone Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida marks the end of a 17 race season in which Justin and the team have shone on road and street courses and made big strides in their oval performance with the #18 Z-Line Designs car. The team had a productive test at Homestead last week, setting competitive times around the 1.5 mile oval.

"Last week's test was great," said Justin. "We learned a few more things with the car and improved its speed and drivability so I'm very happy with progress. I'm really looking forward to the final race and I hope we can use everything we've learned to realise our potential and run close to the front. It's great to see how far we've come this year and we're aiming to show everyone what we can do this weekend."

Practice and qualifying for the Firestone Indy 300 take place on Friday Oct. 9. For fans in the US, Versus has a 90-minute qualifying show at 4.30pm EDT on Friday and coverage of the race from 4pm EDT on Saturday Oct. 10. The race will also air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 211. Fans in the UK will find TV coverage on Sky Sports 2 at 10.15pm BST on Saturday Oct. 10. A detailed on-track schedule, live timing and scoring, radio and video streaming are all available through www.indycar.com.

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Postby mlittle » Sun Oct 11, 2009 12:35 am

Justin qualifies 13th at Homestead-Miami Speedway

Justin and Dale Coyne Racing qualified a solid 13th for Saturday's IndyCar Series finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. After a successful pre-race test the team had hoped for more, but soaring temperatures in South Florida meant the 1.5 mile oval offered much less grip than a week ago. Justin recorded a four-lap average speed of 210.420mph to line up on the 7th row.

"I'm fairly happy with our performance in qualifying," said Justin. "Up until then it had been a difficult day. The Z-Line Designs car was good in the test so we came here expecting to be on the pace. Whether it was hotter or something else the car was a real handful today, but we worked through it and made some good progress towards the end of practice. The car was running pretty free in qualifying, so it was a tense four laps out there, but I was able to make it stick. We're hoping for a good race tomorrow."

Dario Franchitti took pole position for Chip Ganassi Racing (212.696 mph) to move one point closer to Championship leader and team-mate Scott Dixon who starts alongside him on the front row. Ryan Briscoe (Team Penske), the third title combatant, qualified just behind them, setting the scene for a thrilling conclusion to the 2009 season.
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