Well, time to blogger up and prognosticate…I feel distinctly different things with different parts of my body:
Heart – Alex Tagliani – So far everything has gone golden for Alex and well it should. Amidst the hubbub over the DHL ride buy this year were references to it happening before, most recently two years ago when Bruno Junquiera was pulled in favor of Alex. A year later, Alex had formed his own team, Fazzt racing and come May he had not forgotten what had transpired the year before. Alex offered Bruno a ride for the month of May and Bruno put the second Fazzt car into the show. He didn’t have to do it but he did, it was the decent thing to do. We didn’t know how much of a favor that was until later. Fazzt racing spent the final stages of last year limping from event to event, just barely finding the finances to hit the track. Heading into this year we discovered the true extent of the financial situation when Fazzt was sold to Sam Schmidt Motosports. The previous May, Alex didn’t have money to do the right thing, but he did it anyway. If Karma has a favorite it will be Tagliani.
Head – Scott Dixon - The cynic in me says that race day will be hotter than it has been all month, the teams with the DATA to mine and find a setup will make the changes before all the one off and short season teams. Lap One, Turn One Dixie has it hooked up, runs away and dishes out a heavy dose of Buzz Kill. I hope that isn’t what happens, not for Scott’s detriment, but for the betterment of the sport.
My Gut – Rows 2 and 4 rock the show, taking all three podium spots. A lot of cars that have historically been fast, drivers have been fast but as combinations they are just unknown. And I Fear Not the Unknown!
Townsend Bell – Bell has run this event well. Fourth place two years ago and a drive through penalty a year ago from flirting with another strong finish last year. The Schmidt cars are fast. The question mark? A pit crew that is well versed to running a lights car. The IndyCar…not so much. Can that group put together 7 clean spots? Time will tell.
Will Power – Never has won an oval, but in Will’s case “never” simple means “not yet”. Enough Said.
Dan Wheldon – Once a winner, twice a runner up this is Dan’s track and the ride isn’t over yet. The BHA team was an afterthought last year, but with the shared technical program with the Schmidt program this year and one of the best drivers on the course this combination is a force to be reckoned with.
Takuma Sato – Quietly solid all month, Takuma has shown improvement on the ovals in his time in IndyCar and has had a clean spring. Will flirt with the top 5 spots. His success would be a great story and source of inspiration for his countrymen. If you are at the Track Sunday, make sure you stop by the “With You Japan” tent in Pagoda Plaza and give a little to those that have suffered so much.
Vitor Meira – Hard to be objective…I am a Vitor fan. If there’s a Ballsy pass to be made late in the show, Vitor is the man. His car is now getting all the attention in the Foyt Garage and will benefit from that. The Foyt team has been much improved this year and ovals are usually a strength for them.
JR Hildebrand – Fanboy profile #2 – This car has the speed, we’ve seen it the past three years. This month has seemed comfortable for JR and the team. It just seems like there is a little something left in the tank. They have played things close to the vest in order to not push too far and make a mistake that would set them back. On Sunday, throw caution to the wind. If there is any more left, we’ll see it.
Bell – Winner
Meira – Second
Hildebrand – Third.
Biggest mover? Always look to see if there’s a fast guy in the last row and go there since that person has the most opportunity to move up. Ryan Hunter Reay…
Rookie of the Year…If Hildebrand places third…No contest.
Mrs JP’s Pick – Wheldon.JP’s beverage of the race? Diet SunDrop. I get the sense that the People at Dr Pepper got sucked into DHL’s mess. I will pack plenty of Diet SunDrop and toast that sweet looking paint scheme that has
graced us so far this year, if in more subdued tones tomorrow. DrPepper et al THANKS for Supporting our sport!