Preview: IndyCar heads to Kentucky
After finishing second in last week's race at Motegi, Japan, Will Power reclaimed the top spot in the point standings. Dario Franchitti's eighth-place run there put the two-time defending series champion 11 points out of the lead.
Power also earned the Mario Andretti Trophy for winning this year's road/street course title. It's the second straight year the Team Penske driver has won the honors.
"It's an honor to win the Mario Andretti road course award again," Power said. "Now we need to keep going and finish the season strong on the ovals."
Luckily for Franchitti, the last two races of the year are contested on 1.5- mile ovals. The season concludes October 16 at Las Vegas.
Franchitti held a comfortable 62-point lead over Power after last month's race at Mid-Ohio, but Power has progressively gained on Franchitti since then, doing so on the road/street courses (Sonoma, Baltimore and Motegi).
"If you win or if you lose, you always look at the championship as a whole," Franchitti said. "[Motegi], Loudon, Texas, Indy and on and on, you always look at these things, but Will can do the same with his races."
Last year, Franchitti trailed power by 59 points late in the season, but he bounced back in the final four races -- all of them on ovals -- to steal the title from Power by just five points.
Franchitti has yet to win an IndyCar race at Kentucky but has finished no worse than ninth in his last four races here, including a fifth-place run in 2010.
Power's best finish in three races at Kentucky is eighth, which came last year. He led 83 of 200 laps in that event.
Dan Wheldon will race in the series for the first time since his surprising victory in the May 29 Indianapolis 500. Wheldon is scheduled to drive the No.77 Sam Schmidt Motorsports car in place of Alex Tagliani.
Kentucky will be an opportunity for Wheldon to prepare for Las Vegas -- a race in which he would collect a $5 million bonus if he takes the checkered flag.
"I can't thank Alex enough for letting me drive his car in Kentucky and to work with the team in preparation for Las Vegas," Wheldon said. "I'm really excited about this opportunity and look forward to working with everyone at Sam's team. They were a large part of our winning effort in May, and I'll do my best to get back to victory lane."
Wheldon has posted five top-five finishes in eight starts at Kentucky. He started and finished third in last year's race here.
Twenty-nine teams are on the preliminary entry list for the Kentucky Indy 300. Miami Herald