Surprise pole-sitter Ed Carpenter leads the field at last year's Kentucky Indy 300 2010 Kentucky Indy 300 Helio Castroneves won last year's race at Kentucky

Two races to go, and the anticipation surrounding the chase for the championship is at fever-pitch as the IZOD IndyCar Series turns its focus back to the 1.5-mile ovals following its Far East excursion. Our IndyCar correspondent Matt Lennon sent us his preview of this weekend’s race while on assignment in the United States…

Dario Franchitti did not have a pleasant race on the Motegi road course two weeks ago, which appeared to have rattled the normally cool and calm Scotsman. While many observers still believe the defending series champion to have the edge on his white-hot Aussie rival Will Power on ovals, those same observers know that Power is no walkover and has carefully honed his short-course craft, winning his first oval race earlier this year in Texas and now knowing what it takes to do so.

The 2011 year has been a wildly successful year for Aussies in terms of sports that we are not traditionally known for. From Cadel Evans’ victory in the Tour De France, and Samantha Stosur recently winning the US Open Tennis Championships, Australians have received a boosted profile in the United States, and Power is doing everything he can to further cement this with a series championship win.

Two weeks is a long time in motorsport though, and Dario Franchitti would not have had the career and the success he has if he could not handle pressure. Each race is a new opportunity to turn things around, and with one of the fastest cars on the grid, Franchitti knows he is capable of doing just that.

No doubt though, in the corner of his mind, Dario knows that if he doesn’t finish in Kentucky, and Power wins, the championship will be lost.

All of these mindsets add to the pressure the multiple-time series champion is no doubt experiencing as the hype builds. Two-hundred laps around Kentucky Speedway at 200mph will certainly give us a good indication of who is here to fight, and who is here to win.

[Images via LAT]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.