Dan Wheldon can split $5 million with a fan if he goes from the 34th starting position to winning Sunday's IZOD IndyCar World Championship race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Danica Patrick, the poster girl for promoting the season finale, will compete in her last race as a full-time driver in the series before moving to NASCAR next year.
And, oh yeah, Dario Franchitti and Will Power will battle for the series championship and $1 million bonus.
Almost lost in the hype of the return of the IndyCar Series to the 1.5-mile Las Vegas oval for the first time since 2000 -- and the allure of Patrick and a $5 million race bonus -- is that Franchitti and Power will race at 12:45 p.m. Sunday for one of motor sports' most prestigious championships.
Power, of Penske Racing, and Franchitti, of Target Chip Ganassi, have exchanged the points lead six times throughout the year.
"I'm sure, if we weren't competing against each other, that we would be friends, good friends," Power said. "I just can't be friends with someone that you so fiercely compete with. It's impossible. It is for me, anyway."
Maybe that's because Franchitti edged Power for the title in last year's finale. A seat separated them during Wednesday's news conference at Capital Grille at Fashion Show Mall.
Franchitti, who leads Power by 18 points after 17 races, is trying to win his third consecutive title and fourth in five years. He took the lead from Power on Oct. 2 at Kentucky Speedway by placing second after another car crashed into Power on pit road early in the race, relegating him to a 19th-place finish.
Franchitti can clinch the championship Sunday by finishing second in the 200-lap race.
Power can borrow Franchitti's evaluation of the points race after Kentucky, when Power lost 29 points and the lead to Franchitti.
"It just shows how quickly things change," Franchitti said. "You never give up. Until it's mathematically impossible, you haven't lost it or you haven't won it."
Franchitti has won four times this year, and consistency has enabled him to lead Power, who has a series-record six wins.
Only five of the 34 drivers entered have raced open-wheel cars at the speedway. Franchitti and Patrick have raced there since the track was reconfigured five years ago, but it was in much heavier NASCAR stock cars.
The drivers will get a chance to practice on the track today in sessions closed to the public.
■ NOTES -- Wheldon, the two-time and reigning Indianapolis 500 winner, has a more daunting task than the points leaders. To split $5 million with fan Ann Babenco of High Bridge, N.J., he has 300 miles to overtake 33 cars. "We're going to have to focus a lot more in practice," he said of his team, owned by Henderson's Sam Schmidt. "There will be a strong field of cars in front of me." ...
The speed limit on Las Vegas Boulevard South will be lifted for about 10 minutes tonight when the 34 drivers in their race cars take a lap on the Strip, between the Monte Carlo and Flamingo hotels beginning around 7, at what race officials say will be at about 60 mph. ...
The IndyCar race will come one day after the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races at the speedway. The trucks take the green flag at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
Jeff Wolf is a freelance reporter. He can be reached at (702) 406-8165 or email@example.com.