Ok, so maybe we haven't spent the last few weeks searching through Africa for the source of the Nile (or did we?). But after a three-week hiatus that caused far too much inner soul-searching and mental anguish for our comfort, we have found something that attempted to elude the public over the last 21 days - IndyCar racing.
Sweet Jesus, it's back (and as you can tell, the Japanese media is excited - thanks for the picture, @TonyKanaan). And live from Japan. At 10:30 ET, as long as you don't have DirecTV. Then you can watch at a bar or on your computer.
And while the IndyCar Series most certainly hasn't been out of contact that whole time, it's been without the elixir that keeps so many people coming back - actual racing.
Ah, Motegi, site of dreams realized (see: Patrick, Danica) and dreams dashed (see: Carpenter, Ed, running short on gas in the same race).
The home track for Honda has seen four different winners in its history, and surprisingly none from Target-Chip Ganassi Racing. More than likely, they will need to snap that streak in order to keep up with Team Penske (though Ryan Briscoe's best finish there in ninth, though he's made just two starts there) in the points chase. In case you've forgotten, because a points chase can't really sustain a series over a three-week break, the Australian leads the Scot by 25 points. Lurking in third is the Haast Eagle, Dixon, 33 points back.
(Why call Dixon the Haast Eagle? Click here, and make it happen.)
Motegi typically is more of a setup/handling track than a straight speed shot, which is a little different than some of the 1.5 mile tracks we've seen of late (well, like a month ago, but I digress). Dan Wheldon has run the track well, completing 1198 of a possible 1200 laps at Motegi, including a win; The aforementioned Kanaan is right behind, having finished 1176 laps and a win.
Helio Castroneves and Patrick are the other two drivers in the field with wins at Motegi, but in all honesty, it's tough to see how AGR will win a race this season, given how they've looked for most of the year. Just because the teams are 13 hours ahead of us right now (they're living in the future!) doesn't mean that the two most dominant teams of 2009 won't continue to do so.
Now, with 20 overtake assist pushes, the race should once again be an exciting one; and with the Versus Qualifications Show at 6 p.m. ET Friday (actual qualifications come at roughly 2 a.m. ET Friday morning - check Indycar.com for streaming I bet), you can sit down, have a meal and drink and be ready to go for the race at 10:30 p.m. ET.
Don't complain about the start time this time - just be grateful we've stumbled back upon IndyCar racing.