This is SPARTA!!!!! Kentucky, that is.
When we last left our beloved IndyCar series, Scott Dixon had notched his 5th win of the year up in Canada, Paul Tracy had driven the wheels of his “crapwagon”, and Andretti Green Racing had quarantined themselves for an in-house Celebrity Deathmatch. Good times for all!
Since then we’ve had an eventful couple of weeks, including announcements of a, uh, “balanced” 2009 race schedule, and a, um, “interesting” new TV package, along with an “intriguing” Robin Miller story that turned out to be wrong. And this is consider “downtime”.
(I have now nearly exhausted my quotation mark quotient.)
Seriously though, who could forget the weekend at Kentucky last year? Not AGR. Tony Kanaan won the race from the pole, keeping his slim hopes of a championship alive. Marco scored a rare Top 5 on an oval. Danica Patrick spun on pit out, flat spotted the tires, zoomed back up to speed, suffered a blowout, spun into the wall and nearly struck the safety truck. Topping it off, Dario Franchitti had the mother of all brain fades by not realizing the race was over and driving up over the back of Kosuke Matsuura’s rear wheel for an epic somersault into the post-race festivities.
And just to add a twist, Hideki Mutoh - who now resides in the AGR stable of drivers - that night in the Indy Lights race won in his Panther Racing entry. Godzilla vs Sparta! Ah, the memories.
Favorite: Tony Kanaan. Last year Nariz won the pole and the race, and other than 2005 he’s never finished worse than 6th here. In 5 years he has led 285 laps at Kentucky Speedway. Can you say “Kan-To-Ky”?
Contender: Dan Wheldon. Despite leading 176 laps in Kentucky, Well Done has never finishing better than 3rd.We still don’t know if the signatures have been applied to his 2009 contract yet, but a win this weekend would go a long way towards completing a deal.
Longshot: AJ Foyt IV. Quattro shocked the world with a third place finish last year, presuming the world is still capable of being shocked after so many “shocked the world” moments in sports over the last couple of decades. If his crew can keep from lighting him on fire – literally – he should be up front again.
Driver to Watch: Sarah Fisher. New and improved, now with real sponsorship added! Sarah returns to Kentucky, a track where she finished 3rd in 2000 and started from the pole in 2002. A lot of time has passed since then, but at the risk of jinxing her let’s note that Sarah has completed well over 1100 laps here without crashing. Of course, she’s never raced here against EJ Viso before.
Danica Threat Level: DanCon Four. Since claiming the pole position for her first start here in 2005 Danicker has had, well, sucked. Two 16th place finishes and an 8th make Kentucky the one super speedway she’s never had any luck at. That is, if you don’t count her incredible near-miss of the Delphi Safety Truck last year.
Drinking Term: “Sarah Fisher”, of course.
Stat of the race: Scott Dixon has never won at Kentucky, finishing 2nd in 2003, 2006, and 2007. Longtime My Name Is IRL reader and noted Dixon antagonista “American Mutt” regularly attends this race. Coincidence?
pressdog says: “Dan Wheldon crawls out from underneath the bus where Chippy tossed him and wins. Dixon does what all fans pay money to see -- plays it safe. Helio challenges but fades at the end. Sarah Fisher gets into a pit brawl with Danica during which I drop my water and pass out.”
Alrighty then. Ready your best "300" references for the comments section, and by all means enjoy the show!
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