Drivers bid bittersweet goodbye to Homestead Print
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Friday, 01 October 2010 14:52
NASCAR Headline News

 HOMESTEAD, Fla. (AP) - Tony Kanaan has spent years doing his best to promote the IndyCar event at Homestead Miami Speedway.
The Brazilian turned South Florida resident has worked tirelessly to get fans to come out for what he considers his ``home'' race. He makes TV and radio appearances. He jogs through South Beach. He poses for so many pictures his cheeks hurt.
None of it, however, was enough to generate enough buzz for the event and encourage IndyCar officials to keep the track on the schedule.
IndyCar won't run at Homestead next year, and it's unlikely the series will return anytime soon. Kanaan is saddened over the decision, but neither he nor the other half-dozen drivers who live in the area are planning to take their reservations to IndyCar officials.
``We have the series to run,'' said Kanaan, who will start eighth on Saturday. ``The series and the promoters (have) to agree with the track and that's way beyond our (reach). We talk about it ourselves, but it's not up to us.''
The prospect of IndyCar's departure has finally done what Kanaan hoped it would do: produce some interest. Kanaan says he usually gets around 100 ticket requests for the race. This year that number has jumped to 150.
``A lot of my friends can't travel and they can't go and watch the races,'' he said. ``This is the only opportunity they get so they all decided to come this year.''
It's the kind of enthusiasm Kanaan wishes he'd seen sooner. He remains as mystified as anyone why the race hasn't captured the imagination of the locals.
``As much as we work hard for it, it is disappointing,'' Kanaan said. ``I don't know what else we need to do. Between me, Helio (Castroneves), we have some very, very popular guys in the series that live here. I wish I know what we needed to do.''
Las Vegas is likely to replace Homestead on the schedule next year, in part because of Speedway Motorsports owner Bruton Smith's promise to promote the event.
IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard has called Las Vegas his ``first choice'' to hold next year's finale.
DANICA'S DONE: Danica Patrick isn't exactly lamenting the end of her IndyCar season.
The series' most popular driver has been stuck 11th in the points all season while splitting her time between her Andretti Autosports car and a foray into the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
Though Patrick pointed to a solid second-place finish at Texas and a sixth-place finish at Toronto as proof that her season hasn't been a total loss, standing on the outside looking in at the top 10 isn't the 2010 she envisioned.
``I'm kind of almost looking forward to getting this year done and starting again next year because it's not been a great year for me,'' she said. ``I'd like to start over next year.''
She'll have to wait. While Patrick will wrap up her IndyCar season Saturday night, she will spend the next six weeks running in the Nationwide Series, where she's struggled, finishing no better than 24th in seven starts for JG Motorsports.
``I'm looking for steady improvement and hopefully we'll get it,'' she said.
Though the schedule has left her busy, she has no plans to alter it in 2011. She'll drive full time in IndyCar and moonlight in NASCAR when there's time, saying she expects to drive ``a dozen or so'' NASCAR races.
PINK OUT: Wearing a pink ribbon to support the fight against breast cancer wasn't quite enough for Sarah Fisher.
Instead, the owner/driver will have her No. 67 Dollar General Honda wrapped in pink for Saturday's race to raise money for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation.
That goes for the crew too. The boys wore pink shirts during qualifying on Friday and will be in all-pink during the race on Saturday.
``They're all very supportive of it,'' Fisher said. ``It's the six-degree rule, right? There's someone that you're tied to that has dealt with this.''
Fisher, who lost an aunt to breast cancer, qualified 17th in the 27-car field. She's hoping her car can get into the top 10 and get a little TV time in the process to help spread the word.
``Cancer stinks,'' she said. ``We've got to help solve it.''


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Sprint Cup - Odds to Win the Oral-B USA 500 @ Atlanta Motor Speedway
Jeff Gordon #24 +650
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Brad Keselowski #2 +650
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