Friday, August 10, 2007
IRL Kentucky Next - Championship Battle Intensifies
I didn't think I was going to be at Kentucky Speedway this weekend, but things changed quickly once Don Hamilton of American Motor Journal called me on Tuesday. This will be my second visit to the great Bluegrass State venue this year, as I was there Memorial Day weekend for the Frank Kimmel Street Stock Enduro event on assignment for Stock Car Racing magazine. The issue with my pix and Don's story should be on the newsstands this week. Now I get to go back and see the Indycars after a wild weekend at Michigan, my first race at Kentucky since 2000 when the Indy Racing League first went there.
That was also the race where I first discovered Sam Hornish Jr, as he was racing for the tiny PDM team and had one of the fastest cars all day. He had a great wheel-to-wheel duel with Jacques Lazier for about 30 or 40 laps and I was immediately a Hornish fan. Not many guys could do what he did in that PDM ride, and he was clearly the star of the day. I shot video that day as a spectator and thoroughly enjoyed the race.
This time I get to go back with full media credentials to shoot digital 35mm for Don, hopefully from some of the photo holes on the outside wall, so that should be fun. It's a great racetrack with a very spectator- and competitor-friendly layout. Nice garage area, lots of room to work, the entire track visible from every seat, and an escalator system to the tunnel connecting the infield with the grandstands area.
Hopefully everyone will have settled down after last week's mayhem, but I kind of doubt it. Kentucky is another track where there's lots of room to race side by side, so it should be exciting. Dario needs to stay at the front to manage his points lead, and the other contenders will need to keep the wheels on their cars to keep pace for the driver's championship. I expect Helio to come out with fire in his belly after last week's contact with Vitor and the MIS frontstretch wall, so keep en eye on him. It will be the usual contenders - AGR (except for Marco), Ganassi and Penske, so shut up, go fast and turn left.