IZOD IndyCar Series to Seek Repeat Sparks in September
Kentucky Speedway race fans benefitted from aerodynamic and technology innovations introduced to IZOD IndyCar Series racecars on Aug. 1, 2009 when Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe nipped Vision Racing's Ed Carpenter by .0162 of a second in the closest series race in speedway history.
The ultra-tight margin of victory also ranks as the 12th-closest in series history and eclipsed the previous series track record set on Aug. 15, 2001 when Adrian Fernandez snuck by Buddy Rice by .0581 of a second.
Last season's 300-mile outcome was the fourth series event to be decided by a one hundreths of a second margin of victory at Kentucky Speedway and the sixth to produce a margin of victory of less than one second on the 1.5-mile tri-oval. The series has generated an average 0.77633 of a second margin of victory through its 10 appearances in the Bluegrass State.
The 2009 thriller was attributed in part to a change in the position of the IZOD IndyCar Series racecar wing that produced significant downforce and the first-time use of the now standard "push-to-pass" feature known to competitors as overtake assist. Push to pass gives drivers the option of gaining a 10-second horsepower boost in their cars at the touch of a button. The system resets in eight seconds and drivers are limited to a certain number of uses depending on the type of racetrack.
Drivers used both performance advances early and often last season. The 300-mile Kentucky clash saw seven competitors shuffle the race lead 20 times. The lead driver total ranks third all-time among series events staged in Kentucky and the lead change total ranks second in series track annals.
After Briscoe and Chip Ganassi Racing driver Scott Dixon exchanged the lead five times through the first 150 miles, Carpenter, who started 14th, flexed his car's muscle during second half of the race by taking his first of five race leads on Lap 137. He would exchange the lead with Will Power four times in the next 39-lap segment before diving to pit road for tires and fuel with 26 laps to go. Following the green-flag pit stop cycle, Carpenter claimed the lead for last time on Lap 180.
While Carpenter held the point, Briscoe made his way back through the pack and edged his car past Carpenter's for the first time on Lap 192. The tandem battled side by side through the closing stretch of the race before Briscoe earned his first Kentucky Speedway victory and became the eighth different series driver to visit Victory Lane at the track.
"Those last couple laps were tough. I don't know if I was imagining, but Ed Carpenter's line was getting wider and wider every lap. I knew that every lap I would get the edge on him across the start/finish line. Roger (Penske) was in my ear, too, saying, 'just keep doing what you're doing, you're getting better off of Turn 4 and that's where we need to be good.' I don't know if I've ever been more happy to cross a finish line. It was hard fought out there, a big win for me," Briscoe said after the fray.
Carpenter took home his career-best series finish and his third straight top-10 series finish at Kentucky Speedway.
"I was trying, I was giving it all I had for my team. They did a great job in the pits keeping us up there. I was trying to hold up my end of the bargain. This was really close and I'm really happy to get second, but it hurts to be that close and not win," Carpenter said.
Andretti Autosport driver Tony Kanaan took third, Briscoe's teammate Helio Castroneves claimed fourth and Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing driver Graham Rahal rounded out the race top five.
This season's "Kentucky Indy 300" takes to the track Saturday, Sept. 4 to close a Labor Day weekend speed celebration. The race day includes a concert with country music supergroup Diamond Rio and the Firestone Indy Lights "Drive Smart. Buckle-Up! Kentucky 100." The event weekend will open with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series "Built Ford Tough 225 presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers" on Sept. 3.
Race tickets, Big Deals specials and camping can be reserved through the "Tickets" page of this site, by phone at 888-652-7223 (RACE) or by visiting the Kentucky Speedway ticket offices in either Ft. Mitchell, Ky., at 400 Buttermilk Pike, Suite 100 near the Montgomery Inn restaurant or the track Fan Center located off of Interstate 71 Exit 57 and Ky. Hwy. 35 N in Sparta, Ky. Tickets additionally are available through Meijer stores and tickets.com outlets.
Story by Mike Schmaltz
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