The 2009 Indianapolis Grand Prix will be a big weekend for Nicky Hayden, who is seeking a strong result to help secure his Ducati MotoGP future at a track just three hours from his home.
Last season's inaugural storm-shortened event saw the then Repsol Honda rider claim his first podium of the season with second behind Valentino Rossi, and the #69 returns with a Ducati best of fifth (at Laguna Seca) from the eleven rounds so far this year.
With Jorge Lorenzo staying at Yamaha, Hayden's chances of retaining his Desmosedici seat for 2010 have increased significantly, but the 2006 world champion will want to help 'lubricate' a new deal by challenging at the front this weekend.
“Indianapolis is probably the race I look forward to most - it's just three hours from my house and MotoGP now is becoming very popular,” said Nicky, who sits just 14th in the championship, but within one race win (25 points) of seventh.
“Last year it was a great weekend for me, the crowd was great and Indy did a great job in organising their first race and made us proud of it. I would love to have another good weekend like that one.
“So far we have had a tough season and I would like to go there in a more confident mood but it is what it is and for sure we'll go there and just do the absolute maximum.
“I like the track itself even though it's quite flat. The most challenging thing is that it has different kinds of asphalt on different parts of the track so it will be a challenge to find out where there is grip, where not, and to find the best set-up. Hopefully we won't have another hurricane, the weather should be fine, so we will see how it goes.
“Last but not least, at Indy I will wear a special helmet, but this time it really is "special ". It will carry the “Make a Wish” logo and other special designs, and after the race we will action it off. All the money will go toward the Foundation which helps kids' dreams come true. There will be pictures up on my website to see it at nickyhayden.com.
“I have worked with this charity for five years now and it always feels good to help out such a solid cause, and yes, I have already made my wish for the weekend,” he concluded.