Astor Challenge Cup

Both Will Power and Ryan Hunter-Reay envision hoisting the Astor Cup following the MAV TV 500 INDYCAR World Championships at Auto Club Speedway on Sept. 15.

The driver championship will be determined in the 250-lap race on the 2-mile oval. Power, of Team Penske, seeks to secure his first series title and deliver the first to the team since 2006 (Sam Hornish Jr.). He leads Hunter-Reay, in his third season with Andretti Autosport, by 17 points. The team last won the driver championship in 2007 with Dario Franchitti behind the wheel.

Formal presentation of the Astor Cup -- the IZOD IndyCar Series championship trophy -- will take place at the INDYCAR Championship Celebration on Dec. 6 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The trophy originally was commissioned by Vincent Astor, son of industrialist John Jacob Astor, to be awarded to the winner of the Astor Cup Challenge -- a 350-mile race on a 2-mile board track at Sheepshead Bay, N.Y.

The inaugural Astor Challenge Cup race in 1915 featured a purse of $50,000, which duplicated that of the Indianapolis 500. The Stutz team outlasted a field of 20 to finish first in 3 hours, 24 minutes, 42 seconds. Driver Gil Andersen earned the $20,000 winner’s share by averaging 102.6 mph.

The second and final Astor Cup race in 1916 was shortened to 250 miles. Johnny Aitken, driving a Peugeot owned by the Indianapolis Speedway Team Company of Carl Fisher and Jim Allison, won with an average speed of 104.83 mph.

Aitken, of Indianapolis, has the distinction of starting (41) and winning (15) more races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway than any driver. A.J. Foyt is second in starts with 36 from 1958-94 and Ray Harroun is second with eight wins from 1909-1911. Aitken also led the first lap of the inaugural Indianapolis 500 in 1911, which was won by Harroun.

All Indy car champions from 1909 (George Robertson; American Automobile Association) to 2011 (Franchitti) are laser-etched into the two black granite bases of the sterling silver trophy.

“It is a trophy that not only reminds us of our past but links our future,” INDYCAR CEO Randy Bernard said.

The IZOD IndyCar Series championship driver and team owner both will receive a replica, while the IZOD IndyCar Series World Championship Trophy will be on display at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum.