When at top speed, Tony Kanaan can drive 100 meters in less than one second.
Usain Bolt, understandably, is impressed.
The Olympic sprint champion from Jamaica _ the world's fastest man _ sent a pair of spikes to Kanaan as a good-luck token a few weeks ago, and could be in the driver's circle of invited guests at Saturday's IndyCar finale, the Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
"We have a common friend and he's from Jamaica, he knows Usain and one day I was talking about how fast that guy was and actually making a joke that I need some of his speed this year," said Kanaan, who hasn't won since Richmond last year and hasn't placed higher than third this season. "Next thing I know, couple days later, he sends me a pair of shoes signed by him."
On the shoes, Bolt scrawled, "TK, just get some speed."
Kanaan keeps the shoes in his office _ they're way too big for him to wear _ and says he counts Bolt in the small group of athletes like Lance Armstrong who were unquestionably the dominant person in their sport.
"He's a step above anybody," Kanaan said.
POINTS SHAKEUP: Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti and Ryan Briscoe, in some order, will finish 1-2-3 in the seasonlong IRL standings.
Everything else is a crazy tossup.
It's been a wild year points-wise on the IndyCar circuit as it is, with 13 changes atop the standings, not including the season-opener. The jostling hasn't been limited to the top spot, either.
Helio Castroneves is currently fourth; he could wind up as low as eighth. Danica Patrick, currently fifth, will finish somewhere between fourth and 10th. Tony Kanaan is eighth entering Saturday's Indy 300; he could climb as high as fourth if things go right in the finale.
No, it's not the race for the IRL title and $1 million bonus. But there's significant money at stake for finishing fourth and fifth in the yearlong chase as well: $125,000 in bonus money for fourth, $75,000 for fifth and $0 after that.
HEAT WOES: It's beyond balmy these days in South Florida, where the mercury is climbing to record high levels for mid-October.
Good for beachgoers, not so good for race car drivers.
"We'll need to be very smart," Helio Castroneves said. "It's very hot and our cars are very sensitive to that. So it'll be interesting."
By 10 a.m. Friday, when the IRL cars were practicing, the combination of 89-degree temperatures and 68 percent humidity made the air feel like it was 102 degrees. And that doesn't even factor in the way heat radiates off the asphalt track or the extra degrees drivers had to be feeling inside the cockpit of their race cars.
"It is hooottttt here," driver Tony Kanaan posted on his Twitter feed after the morning session.
When points leader and reigning IRL champion Scott Dixon pitted during the morning practice for a chat with his crew, they held a large umbrella over his seat, shading him from the blazing sun. One crew member, dressed entirely in black, dumped the contents of an entire water bottle into his cap when practice ended, then slapped the dripping hat atop his head.
"Much cooler inside today," said actor Patrick Dempsey of the ABC hit "Grey's Anatomy," who also drives in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series.
Castroneves felt more heat in the afternoon; he spun out and crashed into a wall, saying afterward he's feeling soreness in his neck and one of his knees. The left rear suspension collapsed, causing the crash.
"When you have three wheels, normally it doesn't go well," said Castroneves, who returned to the track three hours after the crash and qualified 11th.
DR. McDRIVER: He's "Dr. McDreamy" on TV, but around the track, Patrick Dempsey is starting to feel like just another race car driver.
"Within the paddock, I think I'm getting a lot more respect," Dempsey said. "I'm hopefully earning that."
Dempsey will race in the Rolex season finale Saturday on Homestead's road course. Acting remains his full-time gig, but Dempsey said he's being acknowledged around the track more for his driving and less for his celebrity.
"Given what's going on in the world, with the economy, we're very fortunate to be able to do this," Dempsey said.
WELCOME, GRAHAM: Graham Rahal was supposed to begin his IRL career at Homestead last year. Those plans went awry when he crashed during testing a few days before the 2008 season-opener, which he watched from the spotter's stand.
To say he's excited for Saturday is an understatement.
Rahal will start seventh in the points standings, just 15 behind fifth-place Danica Patrick, and could climb all the way to fourth with a win and plenty of help Saturday.
"I think we're very close to breaking through with a win," Rahal said.
TRACKSIDE: Alex Lloyd is driving car No. 40202 this weekend, an unusual wing number. He's doing it to encourage $5 donations to Stand Up to Cancer, which can be made from mobile phones by texting the word "Stand" to his car number. "I'm just doing my part," Lloyd said. It's a big weekend for Lloyd for other reasons, too: It's his first start with Newman-Haas-Lanigan Racing. ... In another cancer-awareness move, IRL personnel will wear pink shirts Saturday, supporting Sarah Fisher's association with the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation. Fisher's car and helmet are pink this weekend, and her tires are tinged in pink as well. ... Al Unser Jr. will be Saturday's grand marshal. ... Scott Dixon needs to lead 74 laps Saturday to become the third driver in series history with 3,000 laps led. If Helio Castroneves (who enters with 3,242) leads 187 of the 200, he'll pass leader Sam Hornish Jr. (3,428).