03 September 2010

My Old Kentucky Home

Actually, I've never lived in Kentucky.  And I've told my share of Kentucky jokes.  When you grow up in Indianapolis, you do those sort of things.

But I'll give Kentucky credit for building one helluva racetrack.  Kentucky was my first non-Indianapolis race, as I soaked in the excitement of 2- and 3-wide racing and the duel between
Good and Evil Ed Carpenter and Ryan Briscoe.

And while I can't make it to Kentucky this weekend (a major disappointment), I can still preview the race with words (note, this also runs on
SB Nation Indiana):

After their 86th IZOD IndyCar Series race decided by less than a second (in 199 events), the series heads to Kentucky Speedway, site of one of the most exciting races of the 2009 season.  0.0162 of a second separated Team Penske Ryan Briscoe and underdog Ed Carpenter.  For Carpenter, the win would have been the signature (and only) victory of his career.
The 1.5-mile oval is similar to Chicagoland Speedway, where pack racing dominated most of last weekend's night race; more is expected at the track just south of Cincinnati.
2009 Winner: Ryan Briscoe.  The Australian dueled with Carpenter over the final laps, each utilizing their push-to-pass button throughout and keeping fans on their feet.  
Briscoe's season has not gone as smoothly as last year's when he came within a few laps of the series championship.  He qualified on the pole at Chicagoland and ran up front throughout until his last stop put him back in the pack.
What to Watch:  Don't take your eyes off the lead pack.  Having been in attendance at Chicagoland, I can vouch for the addictive nature of watching 10-12 open-wheel cars moving at 200-plus mph within inches of each other.  Kentucky should feature more of the same - it did last year until late pit stops separated the field.
Who to Watch: Carpenter.  The 29-year old was inches from a career-defining win at Kentucky in 2009.  One wonders if he had won the race if he would have a full-time ride in the IZOD IndyCar Series this season.  
When Carpenter has run, he has been competitive.  At the Indianapolis 500, he qualified in the third row and was running near the front before a (dubious) blocking penalty brought him through the pits.  At Chicagoland, his car was once again at or near the front, only to be felled by mechanical troubles.
When to Watch: Versus has the coverage of the race, beginning at 8 p.m. ET (find Versus in your area here) on Saturday night.  Indycar.com will have streaming of practices, qualifications and the Firestone IndyLights race.  

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