Indy Car Kansas Preview
Scott L. Keller | FastMachines.com | 4/22/09
The Indy Car Series shifts gears this week, leaving the narrow street course of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach to tackle the first oval of the 2009 season at the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 at Kansas Speedway. The event outside of Kansas City is a 1.5 mile tri-oval that lends itself to side-by-side racing which will be quite a contrast from the opening races at St. Pete and Long Beach.
Sarah Fisher Racing will be joining the Indy Car action this week with Fisher at the wheel. Fisher racing is a part time Indy Car team that will run at Kansas and the Indianapolis 500, with hopes of running a couple more oval events later in the season. Dollar General has stepped up for Fisher this year, which will give her a lot of confidence going into Indy that she can put together a good effort.
In a recent Sarah Fisher Racing release Sarah said, "We've worked so hard in the off season that I really think we are going to surprise some people. Last year, our season started at Indy and we didn't have the funding up front we needed to put a thorough car together. This year is very different, as the Dollar General car will roll off the truck and will be ready to go. We can build a rhythm leading into the Indy 500 this time. We won't have to shoulder all the troubles we had last year. All my guys, myself and my engineer will get to shake everything down at Kansas and head into Indy after, hopefully, putting a solid run on the books."
Fisher will make her 71st career Indy Car start and her fifth start at Kansas where her best finish was 11th in 2003.
One major player that will be missing from the action this week is Will Power of Penske racing. Power has been competing in the Team Penske #3 Dallara as a substitute for Helio Castroneves who was recently acquitted of federal tax evasion charges. Due to the acquittal of Castroneves, Power will not be in the #3 car for the remainder of the year. Team Penske was able to field a third car for Power at Long Beach, but does not have the resources to put him in the #12 car for Kansas.
The situation for Team Penske and for Power is difficult. The Australian has been very fast early in the season and is second in the Indy Car points standings going into Kansas. Power will return with Penske in May for the Indy 500.
The Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 will feature only two prior winners this year: Dan Wheldon and Tony Kanaan. Dan Wheldon has won this race two years in a row, but both wins came while driving for the Target/Chip Ganassi Racing Team. Wheldon has moved over to Panther Racing, which means he will have to beat both of the Target cars which are driven by Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon.
Tony Kanaan won at Kansas in 2005 for the Andretti-Green team, and returns with the same squad again this year. Andretti-Green Racing got off to a bumpy start in 2009 with a number of crashes at St. Pete, and poor qualifying results at Long Beach. However, the team rebounded in Sunday's race, where Tony Kanaan finished third, and Danica Patrick and Marco Andreetti finished fourth and seventh after qualifying near the back of the field.
Team Penske had success at Kansas in 2006 when Sam Hornish won. Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe both have had plenty of success on ovals, and will be a threat this weekend.
The race will be aired live on Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. ET on the VERSUS television network with flag to flag coverge. VERSUS also will air a Saturday evening qualifying show on April 25th at 6 p.m. ET.