Last time for IndyCar in Japan
Motegi, Japan (Sports Network) - Series: IZOD IndyCar. Date: Sunday, September 17. Race: Indy Japan. Site: Twin Ring Motegi. Track: 2.983-mile road course. Start Time: 12:00 a.m. (et). Laps: 63. Miles: 182.7. 2010 Winner: Helio Castroneves (1.5-mile oval). Television: VERSUS. Radio: IMS Radio Network/SIRIUS XM Satellite.
The IZOD IndyCar Series will race in Japan this weekend, six months after the country was devastated by an earthquake, tsunami and a radiation fallout from a badly damaged nuclear power plant, resulting from the quake.
It's the ninth and final time the series will compete in Japan. The race had been contested on the 1.5-mile Twin Ring Motegi oval, but the oval sustained damage from the earthquake, making it unsuitable for racing. Therefore, the event will be held on Twin Ring Motegi's 2.983-mile road course.
Recent aftershocks and continued high radiation levels from the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, which is located roughly 90 miles from Twin Ring Motegi, have generated safety concerns from IndyCar drivers, particularly Danica Patrick.
"Heck yeah, I'm concerned," she said last week at Richmond International Raceway, where she competed in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race. "The radiation seems like it's okay. I'm concerned about the food, to be honest. They say don't eat beef, which probably means don't eat vegetables and fruit. There's earthquakes every week, and it seems like every week, there's a pretty big one. I think there's a general concern for the safety of being over there. I'm told IndyCar has an emergency plan if something happens and we all need to get out, which is terrible to think about."
Two Japanese drivers are scheduled to compete in this race -- Takuma Sato and Hideki Mutoh, who is making his first IndyCar start of the season, driving an entry for AFS/Sam Schmidt Motorsports.
Sato, who drives for KV Racing Technology, became the first Japanese competitor to win a pole in the series earlier this year at Iowa.
"I think racing in Japan is not only big for me, but for the whole series," he said. "You have Japanese fans as well as [Japanese owned] Honda and Firestone. It is absolutely necessary to go race there, especially after what happened on March 11 with the devastating earthquake and tsunami. Japan needs energy, and the IZOD IndyCar Series brings that energetic excitement that Japan needs."
Motegi is the tenth and final road/street course race of the season. The last two events will be held on 1.5-mile ovals -- Kentucky (October 2) and Las Vegas (October 16).
After back-to-back road/street wins at Sonoma, CA and Baltimore, Will Power trails leader Dario Franchitti by just five points. Power last held the points lead in June at Texas. Can he reclaim it in Japan?
"Anything can happen, but all we can do is control what we can control and being mistake free, be quick in every session that we need to be quick in, like qualifying and execute on race day," he said. "That's what we've done for the last two races."
Twenty-six teams are on the preliminary entry list for the Indy Japan.
09/15 14:01:19 ET