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IndyCar Race Recap: Sao Paulo Indy 300

*In a nutshell:* Will Power spanked the field for a third straight year in the Sao Paulo Indy 300, delivering yet another dominant performance at the 2.536 mile Brazilian street course. Power started on pole and he never looked back, pacing the field for 63 out of the scheduled 75 laps. Five cautions interrupted the action on the day, including a yellow for an eight car accident late in the event. Power cruised home on the restart and finished the day with a 0.9 second win over Ryan Hunter-Reay. Takuma Sato finished third and earned his first ever IndyCar podium, while Helio Castroneves and Dario Franchitti rounded out the top 5. Rain threatened throughout the day, but ultimately the weather held off and allowed the race to be completed in dry conditions.

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IndyCar Preview: Sao Paolo Indy 300

*What's News?* The IZOD IndyCar Series rolls into the Streets of Sao Paolo, Brazil this Sunday for the Sao Paolo Indy 300. There are a couple of major storylines as we head into the last race weekend before the Indianapolis 500, chief among them coming out of the Lotus camp. The struggling engine supplier announced this week that it has officially released Bryan Herta Autosport and Dreyer and Reinbold Racing from its stable of teams as a means of freeing up resources for the other two organizations that Lotus still has under contract (HVM Racing and Dragon Racing).

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NASCAR: A Tough Decision For Danica Patrick

Despite speculation that IndyCar Series darling Danica Patrick would reveal her plans for next season this week, it seems any such announcement is now on hold until October. Patrick, who is in the final year of her contract with Andretti Green Racing (AGR), has been rumored to be looking in three different directions in deciding which career path is in her best interest moving forward. Most believe a jump to Formula 1 or even signing with a top-notch IndyCar team is the most likely scenario. However, she has made herself visible around NASCAR garages and has signed a management firm with close ties to the organization -- a sure sign a transition to stock cars is still very much a possibility. Of course, it's not the first time that the rumor mill has worked overtime on whether Patrick really would consider leaving the open-wheel ranks for the radically different world of NASCAR racing. In 2006, as the 27-year-old Patrick neared the end of her contract with Rahal Letterman Racing, similar assumptions regarding her future surfaced as free agency loomed. And while Patrick didn't fuel the rumors of a switch, she was at least willing to fan the flames before her ultimate decision to sign with AGR.

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2009 Indy 500 Breakdown: From Zero to Hero for Helio Castroneves

*In a Nutshell:* Helio Castroneves, just recently returned to the track after acquittal on tax evasion charges, probably gave the IRL the feel good story of the year at Indianapolis. Taking the lead away from Scott Dixon with just under 60 laps to go, he never gave it up in coasting to his third Indy 500 win. An emotional Castroneves, who started from the pole, also scored a record 15th victory in the big race for team owner Roger Penske. Dan Wheldon finished second, followed by Danica Patrick in third, Townsend Bell fourth, and Will Power rounding out the top 5. *Who Should Have Won:* Anyone who was driving for Penske or Chip Ganassi, the two reigning super teams in the IndyCar Series. Just look at the leaderboard for proof. Four guys led this race: two of them drove for Roger Penske, and two of them for Chip Ganassi. There were some great runs from other teams, and the big four didn’t sweep the top 5 after some problems on pit road for several of them; but when it comes right down to it, they still have a firm hold on things in this series while everyone else is just playing catch up.

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Full Throttle – The Greatest to Never Win Indy Has Gone to a Higher Victory Lane

There have been many hard luck stories from the Indianapolis 500 over the years, but the face of those hard luck stories was very frequently Lloyd Ruby back in the day. Michael Andretti and his father Mario were notorious for hard luck at Indy, although Mario did take the checkered …

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Frontstretch Breakdown: 2008 Indianapolis 500

*In A Nutshell:* Scott Dixon took the pole for this race, his latest assertion that he is the driver to beat this year; and heading into the Indy 500, he gave no one any reason to think differently. Several drivers took turns at the front of the biggest event in open-wheel racing -- including teammate Dan Wheldon, Tony Kanaan, and Marco Andretti -- but Dixon always lurked right behind them. His No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing crew did their job and put him out in front on the final stop of the day; and while second place Vitor Meira tried to mount a challenge, ultimately the speed Dixon showed all month carried him to the win. Meira held onto second, followed by Marco Andretti, Helio Castroneves, and Ed Carpenter to round out the Top 5. *Who Should Have Won: Scott Dixon.* Did you get the sense that this was Dixon’s game and he just let the others play for awhile?

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Giving Danica Patrick Her Due… and Nothing More

Congratulations to Danica Patrick for winning her first IRL race! After three years, fifty starts, and three podium finishes prior to Saturday's Twin Ring Motegi 300, her arrival in Victory Lane has long been awaited. Altogether now: three cheers for Danica! There. Are we done patting the little lady on the back? No, don't go getting your knickers all knotted up. Believe me, this accomplishment cannot be dismissed as unimportant. But I don't believe it is truly the hallmark in auto racing that much of the planet wants it to be; and to be honest, I could care less that Danica is one of the fairer sex. She has competed with some of the best drivers in the world and won... Period.

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Open Wheel Reunification: A Lesson For NASCAR, Too!

One of the biggest U.S. motorsports stories of the last two decades occurred late last month, with the announcement that the Indy Racing League (IRL) and the Champ Car Word Series (CCWS) had agreed to merge. The news, however, garnered little more than a cursory nod from the stock car community which seems reluctant to even acknowledge that there is another form of racing in this country, let alone one that outshined NASCAR for many years back in the day. But if the newly invigorated IRL plays its cards right, auto racing enthusiasts will begin, en masse, to pay attention once again towards an open wheel series based in the United States. Of course, the key for the IRL in rebuilding the series to prominence in large part will be to pattern themselves after their brethren in American auto racing … NASCAR. There are also lessons that can be learned as a result of the nasty split in 1995 between the IRL and CART; ones that not only the IRL should never forget, but also that NASCAR should make note of moving forward.

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Leilani Munter Makes Short Work of Steep Learning Curve

When racecar driver Leilani Munter made the move from stock cars to Indy cars a few months ago, she expected to face her share of challenges. Attacking the new opportunity with characteristic enthusiasm and intelligence, Munter has proven herself a quick study with great racing instincts. Leilani had an impressive debut last month in the Indy Pro Car series at Kentucky Speedway, driving for Sam Schmidt Motorsports in the #57 SMART Papers/Lucas Oil car. After turning in a 192.399 MPH qualifying lap, Munter demonstrated her ability to quickly pass cars and make her way toward the front. "I had a bad restart and dropped all the way back to 13th, but I raced my way back up to the front and was setting up to pass for fourth place, when the two guys in front of me touched wheels and I was collected in the mess."

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