Indy 500: Pre Race Picks and Predictions
It’s the Month of May! The Talk of gasoline Alley and Trackside with Curt and Kevin are now going to be daily through the 500. Teams are preparing for the biggest race of the year. And yet, I’m not feeling the same level of excitement most open wheel bloggers are. Why? Simple. The Big Two, Ganassi and Penske, seem almost certain to win. I do take a little hope in some of the practice times this week, which had Kannan, Tagliani, and a few others running well, but still, Kansas qualifying made me excited for a great race, and it still became a Big Two runaway. Look at it this way. A Big Three car has won every 500 since 04, and a Big Two car has won every oval since 08. That’s almost TWO YEARS!!
On that note, let’s get started.
Winner: Target Chip Ganassi: Watching Kansas, TCGR was by far the top team. This worries me about the race turning into a parade, but it also means a TCGR driver is likely to win. Between the two drivers, Dario and Dixon are pretty evenly matched. What’s there to say? They’re part of the Big Two, and it’s an oval
Likely: Penske Racing: Penske is always strong at Indy. They are part of the Big Two, which have dominated oval racing, and should be very good, with Helio Castroneves being the defending race winner. Even though Power didn’t run well at Kansas, he was pretty good here last year. Any Penske driver could win it without it being a real surprise, but Helio is clearly the favorite. If Helio does win, he will join the exclusive 4 time Indy winners list, and start his quest to have the most wins in history. Again, they’re part of the Big Two, and it’s an oval.
Before we get to the darkhorses, I’ve got a comment. Recently, Allen Wedge posted an article at the Furious Wedge about who’s a darkhorse and not. It was a really interesting article, but I’ve got to say I disagree 100%. If you’re not Big Two, you’re a darkhorse, in my book. I guess maybe Kannan isn’t, and a case could be made for Wheldon, but when the Big Two have won every oval race since 08, and the Big Three, including AA, have won every 500 since 04. So, yeah, in my mind, every non Big Two is a darkhorse, although I will conceed Kannan is close to not being one.
Dark Horse: Andretti Autosport: All that said, Andretti Autosport may have a chance. Andretti Autosport used to be part of the Big Three, until they fell during the 08 season. Now, they’re trying to reclaim their spot as one of the only three teams to win an oval race in years. AA will run five drivers, Tony Kannan, Ryan Hunter Reay, Danica Patrick, and John Andretti. Of these five, Kannan is the favorite, but all have the potential to win.
Deep Darkhorse: KV Racing: KV racing has been fast on ovals since Unification, with Will Power finishing 5th in the 08 season finale at Chicagoland. But, what they lack is stability, and this year, in over expansion. They are fast, and capable of running up front, but with four cars, for Mario Moreas, Paul Tracy, EJ Viso, and Takumo Sato. Four fast drivers, but four drivers who are likely to wreck. Despite this, their speed, and their desire to win could provide a massive upset. Which is exactly what Indycar needs, not another Big Two win.
Fail To Qualify: Milka Duno, Conquest: Milka has always managed to, sadly, qualify for Indy. But with a stronger grid, and a weaker team, her changes appear much worse. She has consistently been the worst driver in practice. Conquest drivers Romancini and Baguette both haven’t been very good, and the team’s not fast, so there chance of making it in aren’t that good. They do have a better chance than Milka, because they’ve at least legitimately won races in their career’s, something Milka’s never done.
A Great Race, or a Parade: Even though I’m worried about a Big Two parade, practice times do show KV, FAZZAT,NH, and AA with good pace. If things go well, maybe we’ll see 4 years of Big Three and 2 years of Big Two oval domination stopped. However, after the Kansas qualifying session, I was hopeful for an exciting race, and what we got was a parade. Indy is the Indycar series biggest race, and it needs to showcase an exciting, compelling race, not a predictable parade.
Ratings Up?: Indycar has trended upward in their ratings, at least from last year. Can that trend continue with Indy? If it does, while almost every NASCAR race’s ratings have fallen, then that might be a sign of some growth. However, even if that happened, would it really mean that much? Until normal Indycar races outdraw Nationwide and Truck races, probably not. But it would be nice to see.
4 Time Club for Castroneves?: Can Helio Castroneves win his 4th Indy and join the exclusive club? If a Big Two driver has to win, then hopefully it will be Helio, because at least it’s an interesting story line. The other question is, if he can get 4, can he get 5? That said, his accomplishment will struggle to match the other 4 time winners, because the Penske dominance is too good. And, when your talking AJ Floyt, unless your Mario Andretti, you’re not going to measure up, no matter who you are. And then there’s the whole 2002 Indy 500 thing with Paul Tracy. That said, if he get’s the fourth, most of the talkshows and mainstream interviewers aren’t going to know or care about those issues, so it will be some good publicity.
Reduced Indy schedule was a Mistake: But not for why you think. Reducing the schedule was a great idea, except they NEED a race in there! Going a month between races just isn’t a good idea. Maybe, in the heyday of Indycar, a month long race break could work, and at least you’d have a full month of cars on track. But with only two compact weeks, the month between races is not a good way to build up interest.
Can Danica Improve?: Danica’s been awful this year, and her start to Indy hasn’t been much better. The best thing for Indycar would be her winning the 500, and she should have a shot, but the way she’s running now, not so much. After a fairly strong season last year, 5 races in, she’s struggling badly. We’re up on the oval stretch of the season, and if she want’s to get back to the top 5 in points, she’ll need to get going, and Indy is the place.
Rain: As always, rain is a factor, in practice, qualifying, and sadly, the race.
Can Sarah Fisher Qualify?: Sorry Pressdog. Your favorite driver is in trouble! She has struggled badly for speed so far. Luckly for her, some of the competition has almost no oval experience. And Milka Duno. Sarah Fisher is one of the more interesting story’s, and seems to be a very friendly driver, hopefully she’ll get a good run, because Sarah’s one of the more marketable Indycar drivers!
It’s May, so time for an Ed Hinton Attack!: I must say, I’m not thrilled about his recent articles on the split. It’s a four part series at ESPN, and it’s pretty interesting. My issue is firstly, like everyone else, that Ed has wrote this article in the past, multiple times! Secondly, it’s his whole tone about being an insider. I’m a Robin Miller fan, and Miller does the same thing, but he caries it off so much better. Plus, the speculation, such as on Tony Stewart’s hate for the media, is kinda over the top, although somewhat thought provoking. Actually, the comments that bother me the most by him are found in his regular ESPN articles and chats, where he regularly throws Indycar under the bus. He continues to crow about NASCAR, and how the Split helped NASCAR, which is true, to a point, although his claims of Daytona being a bigger race are, to put it politely, debatable. Plus, the whole devoting a FOUR PART, four very long parts, story about the Split while the Indy 500 preparations has begun is a little strange. Although, I must say, I dislike when people expect 100% positive out of writers. That said, there’s just something about his articles I don’t like. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it’s there.
Posted on May 21, 2010, in Indycar and tagged Andretti Autosports, Ed Hinton, Helio Castroneves, Indy 500, KV, Paul Tracy, Penske Racing, Scott Dixon, Target Chip Ganassi. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.