Not much can be said after this week’s events. An independent panel confirmed that the rule book is a joke, as is race control, Will Power rightfully received a fine for his double bird antics, and we finally received super duper double official confirmation that Danica Patrick is headed for the tin-tops. It was truly a busy week for everything indycar, away from the track. I almost forgot that this is a racing series that runs actual events, and to finally ice these days of our lives, the paddock descends on Infineon Raceway. Although this is track will not quite provide the barn burner we need this weekend, a race in wine country is just what everyone needs to put last week behind them.
Five Things to Watch
Race Control – The boys upstairs just need to run a quiet race unfortunately, drivers will need to exercise brain-attatched driving to accomplish this. Everyone involved could use a break from the off track focus that has punctuated a oddball season thus far.
The Track – Tight and twisty, Sears Point, Sonoma, Infineon, whatever you call it, this track will not help with the above point. There is not a true straight. Anything resembling a straight seems either lacks a proper corner exit leading onto the straight, or a high speed bend that strings the field out. Track position is at a premium and dive bomb, poke and hope moves likely will be the order of the day if anyone hopes to be successful in completing a pass.
Will Power – Willy P is the newest member of the probation chain gang and sitting 47 points behind Franchitti, he cannot really risk too much with a crazy pass attempt. Capturing the pole and running away with a win is the only option for him this weekend. It is too late in the season to make runs from deep in the pack due to a bad starting spot. Power must come out swinging and take his destiny in his own hands, bury Dario in the pack and let him shoot it out with the mid pack drivers.
Oriol Servia – Man on a mission. Defined. He absolutely has the fire and will attempt to prove it this weekend. The stars could be aligned for him, Power is on probation and Franchitti is points racing. The fight at the front could feature non contenders and Oriol is the best of the rest. Nothing will stop him this weekend except for possibly…
Scott Dixon – Power is starting to get stiff competition for P2 in the championship from Dixon. Only 26 points behind and on a roll, Scott can really gain some ground and put himself between Dario and everyone else. Dixon took the lead in the oval championship following New Hampshire and looks to have some real momentum. Catching P1 would be nearly impossible without some extreme luck but its racing and anything can happen. That’s why re run ‘em!
Winner – Takuma Sato – One of my KV picks will pull it out if I keep choosing them! The team as a whole has been on quite the run lately. Even Viso has been driving… not… awful. Taku has really come to grips with the chassis and has the speed to come home P1.
Pole – Dario Franchitti – He’s the fastest guy on natural terrain road courses and Infineon will play right into his hands. He won’t come home a winner, being content to stay out of trouble and not fight drivers who are blinded by checkers or wreckers.
Epic Performer – Sebastien Bourdais – He is the highest placed part time driver. He missed the first road course. He didn’t get the extra qualifying points at Indy. All in a Dale Coyne chassis. His performances have been amazing to witness this year and I expect nothing less from this four time champion. If he was in slightly better equipment, the argument could be made for a split ride to take a shot at each championship, which never seemed like a real possibility for anyone. SeaBass in the car for the twisties, and someone like Wheldon or Carpenter for the ovals and you could have a realistic shot at each trophy.
Biggest Loser – Will Power – I hate to keep ragging on him as he is my favorite for the championship, but Franchitti is in this guy’s head. Now with Dixon sitting within striking distance, Power must shift his focus rear while still chasing Dario. As stated before, WP not at his finest when he has to give chase, add Penske’s continued woes in pit lane and Power has some work ahead of him.
It seems we are at the point in the season when every race is a turning point in the championship. There are many drivers in the field that could use a good result. Rahal, Kanaan, Castroneves, Hildebrand all have had steam at one point in the season, one way or another. The list goes on and drivers are desperate with dashed championship dreams and nothing to lose pushing for a win. We could be in for the most action filled final stages of a season we have seen in recent years. The close points championships of past years put all other drivers on egg shells, not wanting to negatively affect the outcome. This year everyone has more breathing room and I doubt one person will turn down the chance for a shot at the checkers.