Thursday, September 17, 2009

Indy Japan 300 Race Preview

The IndyCar Series travels overseas for their next to last race of the 2009 season, as Motegi, Japan will be the site for Friday Night’s race (Saturday in Japan). The last action we saw from the IndyCar Series was at Chicagoland Speedway in a very late start time, almost 10 p.m. eastern. The Chicagoland race provided some of the most exciting racing of the year as Ryan Briscoe edged Scott Dixon in a photo finish. In 2008 Danica Patrick made history at Motegi, as the first woman to win a major open wheel event. IndyCar Garage breaks down five things to watch for in the upcoming race.

1. The points championship is Ryan Briscoe’s to lose

Ryan Briscoe currently sits in first place by 25 points over second place Dario Franchitti. Briscoe has proven to be a threat on the 1.5 mile ovals this year by winning Kentucky and Chicago. Briscoe doesn’t need to race for the win, but a top five would be nice to give him a comfortable lead into Homestead. Briscoe will be the first driver since Tony Kanaan in 2004 to win the points championship but not win the Indy 500 if he can hold on for the last two races of the season.

2. Danica Patrick News

Danica Patrick has made major news in the last few weeks as reports of her NASCAR depute have circulated around the paddock and the news rooms. Tony Stewart was quoted throughout the last few weeks as saying he won’t be surprised when she is in NASCAR. Whatever the circumstances behind Danica and her possible move to NASCAR, it certainly could take a backseat if she could break through for her second career win. Danica’s first win came 18 months ago at this very track, as fuel strategy played out to her favor. Danica will continue to be in the news because she is the most marketable IndyCar driver and the most popular, the series needs her to win and stay around for as long as possible.

3. Diverse Entry List

Stanton Barrett, Kosuke Matsuura, and Roger Yasukawa all return to the IndyCar Series for one-off races at Motegi. Barrett had a full-time ride in the IndyCar Series until about race six, Barrett then went back to the NASCAR ranks. Thoughtfully it would be great to see other NASCAR drivers try to run IndyCars and see how they match up, it would maybe even out the discussion of how open wheel drivers can’t hang in NASCAR. Anyways, Matsuura and Yasukawa give the series some Japanese flavor and will help attendance figures. The bottom line is that none of these drivers are threats to win, but provide good story lines.

4. News around the IndyCar Series is making negative headway

News around the IndyCar Series since Chicago has been for the most part, negative. The Versus/Direct TV standoff, the late start time for Chicago, Danica departure rumors, no confirmation on Brazil, a NASCAR merger (which has no truth behind it) , and of course the common negative mailbag posted on from Robin Miller. All in all, the series needs something positive that will spark talk away from the thoughts listed above. Maybe we could start with Graham Rahal winning this weekend, a series sponsor, an announcement on the news cars in 2012, or maybe Tony George announcing that he has enough sponsorship for a five car team next year(YEAH RIGHT).

Take your pick, give us something positive to talk about in the IndyCar Series.

5. Speedway Students travel to Motegi

The Town of Speedway School Corporation has 16 students from 8th and 9th grade currently visiting the town of Motegi as part of a sister town program that allows students to travel across seas and be a part of daily life in Japan. The Speedway School Corporation is located within the Town of Speedway, which is surrounded by the City of Indianapolis. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is located within the Town of Speedway. The students will live, eat, visit, shop and observe Japanese style. Part of the trip will be attendance at the race on Saturday. Versus is scheduled to touch on this field trip in their pre-race coverage. Look for the students in bright green shirts and IRL hats.

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