By D. Brian Smith
Photography: Ben Moment
Everyone likes a happy ending. Most of the racers at the Kentucky IndyCar 300 wouldn't consider their finish as being awesome, with one exception. Ed Carpenter won his first IndyCar race by a nose. In the closest finish ever for the Kentucky 300, Ed's 113th IZOD IndyCar race was his first win. He barely beat Dario Franchitti by the closest of margins, his racecar's nose, to beat Dario at a contest that Mr. Franchitti is extremely good at playing - formula car racing.
Though Dario Franchitti is now in the lead for the 2011 IndyCar Series championship, with 573 points to his credit and two races to go, race day Sunday belonged to team owner Sarah Fisher and her veteran driver Ed Carpenter in the #67 Dollar General Sarah Fisher Racing entry. Ed finally got the monkey off his back, that monkey being no IZOD IndyCar wins. Ironically, Sarah Fisher is remembered for being the first woman racer to lead from the pole of the 2002 Kentucky 300 IndyCar race.
Before the beginning of the Kentucky 300, Will Power had set the pace with the top speed of 219.28 mph. He led the first 48 laps of the contest and was also holding on to an 11-point lead over Franchitti in points for the 2011 IZOD IndyCar series championship. Regrettably, Ana Beatriz in the #24 Team Ipiranga Dreyer & Reinbold Racing entry, crashed with Power in the pits and put a two-foot gash in the sidepod of his #12 Team Penske Verizon/Peak Performance racecar. With this mishap, Power had to pit two more times and get his sidepod repaired with black duct tape, proving even the pros have to use duct tape on occassion. Will Power wound up being the last racer on the lead lap, in 23rd position and eventually finished the Kentucky 300 in 19th.
Dario Franchitti gets a helping hand in the pits.
To give you an idea just how close the finish was at the 2011 Kentucky 300, Ed Carpenter had one Honda push to pass feature left, which he used on the backstretch of the last lap of the 300-mile race. Dario Franchitti had used up all of his Honda push to pass features on his car already. Since Franchitti and Carpenter were battling neck and neck for 21 laps, it's reasonable to assume that the one Honda push to pass feature left for Carpenter and a measure of good Karma are what made the difference for the #67 Dollar General Sarah Fisher Racing car and its now IZOD IndyCar Series victor, Ed Carpenter.
There are just two races to go before a champion is crowned for the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series season. Who will it be? Franchitti? Power? Dixon? Servia? Or Kanaan? These five racers are in the first five positions. Things are just starting to get interesting. We can't wait to find out and bet you can't either.
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