By: Tony Donohue
Twin Ring Motegi is where you can find the Indy Car Series this weekend. The 1.5 mile oval lies in the middle of the road course on the grounds that are owned by Honda. Moto GP runs the road course that connects into the oval. Motegi is a town in the Haga District, Tochigi, Japan. Its population of 16,500 live in a small area of 107.3 square miles.
The Indy Car Series has been taking this annual trip across the pond to Japan since 2003. That year, Scott Sharp took the win. Up until this year, the race was ran in April, gearing up for the Indy 500. This year, Motegi gears us for the championship finale in Miami. Some of the series top stars have taken the checkered flag at Motegi. Dan Wheldon, Danica Patrick and Tony Kanaan have all won there. Danica last year stole the show, winning her first Indy Car race by rolling the dice on fuel strategy. The 300 mile event will play huge in the championship implications.
With two races left, Ryan Briscoe leads the points over Dario Franchitti by 25 points. Scott Dixon sits third in the standings, thirty three points back. Ryan Briscoe is the hottest driver in the series right now. He won last time out at Chicagoland, over the past seven races, Ryans lowest finish is 4th. This includes victories at Kentucky and Chicagoland, and second place finishes at Watkins Glen, Toronto, Infineon and Mid-Ohio. The fourth place finished came at Edmonton. He has finished every race and 12 out of the 15 finishes where in the Top 5.
The Target boys look to mount a charge in the points this weekend to set up a shootout at Homestead next month. Out of the four red cars, well, three red cars and Dario’s yellow Life Lock livery, I will take Dario Franchitti to take the checkers, which will set up a one race shootout for the title. My darkhorse’s are Hideki Mutoh and Mario Moraes. Moraes has been rolling of late, finishing third at Chicagoland and looks to make it three straight top fives. Additions to the grid this weekend are Roger Yasukawa for Dreyer and Reinbold Racing, Kosuke Matsuura with Conquest Racing, and Stanton Barrett will pilot the 98 for Team 3G this weekend. You can catch a recorded version of qualifying at 6:00 and the race live Friday at 10:30 est. on VERSUS.