Kentucky test sets stage for final two IndyCar races

The driver who has won the race at Kentucky Speedway has gone on to win the IZOD IndyCar Series championship three times (Buddy Lazier, 2000; Sam Hornish Jr., 2006; Scott Dixon, 2008) in the past decade.

By all accounts then, Will Power and Dario Franchitti should make the most of a scheduled eight-hour test Sept. 23 at the 1.5-mile oval. Neither has won at the track.

The title contenders, who are separated by 11 points heading into the Oct. 2 race, are among the 11 drivers who will participate in the testing, which will welcome spectators at the Administration building above Turn 3. Of course, tickets to the race weekend will be available for purchase.

"Ovals, that's what I enjoy the most racing, mile-and-a-half racing," Power said after claiming second place and the Mario Andretti Road Trophy in the Indy Japan on Sept. 18. "Chicagoland last year, Texas this year, even Kentucky last year we were really strong, we just didn't end up with the result. I'm pretty focused on that this year."

Power earned his first oval victory at the 1.5-mile, high-banked Texas Motor Speedway in June. Last September at Kentucky Speedway, Power started from the front row in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car and finished eighth. Franchitti advanced six positions relative to his starting positions in the No. 10 Dixie entry for Target Chip Ganassi Racing and secured fifth place to slice Power's advantage in the championship from 23 to 17 points with two oval races remaining.

This year, the order is the same and the gap is 11 points.

"It was a good day for us points-wise in the championship but I'm really not worried about points right now," Power said before being sprayed with champagne in Victory Circle at Twin Ring Motegi. "I just need to keep finishing in front of the 10 car the rest of the way and we'll be fine. We'll keep chipping away like we have been."

Following the Mid-Ohio road course race six weeks ago, Power trailed by 62 points.

There have been nine different winners in the 11 IZOD IndyCar Series races at Kentucky Speedway, with Power's Team Penske teammates, Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe, winning the past two years. In 2010, there were 11 lead changes among seven drivers.

Others scheduled to test on the oval include Indy Japan winner and '08 Kentucky race winner Scott Dixon with Target Chip Ganassi Racing, Briscoe, Japan third-place finisher Marco Andretti with Andretti Autosport, Graham Rahal with Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing, Ana Beatriz with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, Pippa Mann with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, 2010 Kentucky pole sitter and race runner-up Ed Carpenter, and Wade Cunningham with Sam Schmidt Motorsports.

Dillon Battistini, who has four Firestone Indy Lights victories in 19 starts over three seasons, will take his IZOD IndyCar Series oval rookie test in the No. 34 Conquest Racing car.

Mann, who has been medically cleared to drive following a practice crash at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in August, will seek to make her second series start. Cunningham, the '05 Firestone Indy Lights champion, last competed in the Firestone Twin 275s in June at Texas Motor Speedway.

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