Friday, April 15, 2011

What to watch for at Long Beach

What to watch for at Long Beach INDYCAR heads into their third round of the 2011 season by traveling to the west coast on the streets of Long Beach, California. A popular open wheel spot, the Long Beach Grand Prix will be in its 37th year of open wheel competition. Six current IZOD IndyCar drivers have won at Long Beach, including last years race winner, Ryan Hunter-Reay. Dario Franchitti, Will Power, Paul Tracy, Helio Castroneves, and Sebastien Bourdais round out the former winners group. IndyCar Garage tells you what to watch for heading into Long Beach.

1. Will Power & Dario Franchitti
Can anyone knock off the best drivers from top teams Penske and Ganassi? Probably not, but Franchitti and Power both will have their hands full if they don’t qualify well. Franchitti won at St. Pete, Power at Barber. Power leads Franchitti by seven points in the early championship fight.

2. Paul Tracy back in the saddle
INDYCAR Veteran and current active win leader Paul Tracy returns for one of his five scheduled races with reformed Dragon Racing. Tracy will compete with Dragon racing at Long Beach, Texas, Sonoma, and both Canada races. Tracy has won four times at Long Beach, if he has a good car this weekend, look out!

3. Simona De Silvestro and Tony Kanaan’s fast starts
Easily the best two stories of the year are Tony Kanaan and Simona De Silverstro quick start to the 2011 season. Kanaan has finished 3rd at St. Pete and 6th at Barber, while De Silverstro finished a career best 4th at St. Pete and 9th at Barber, despite contact with E.J. Viso. De Silverstro arguably is the most talented female driver in the IZOD IndyCar series this year and Kanaan (TK) is a fan favorite. Both drivers are separated by only 9 points in the championship, TK 3rd and Simona 5th, and while TK remains more the complete driver that has won a championship, races, and captured poles, Simona easily could be the next big thing within the IZOD IndyCar Series.

4. Justin Wilson, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Ryan Briscoe, Graham Rahal, Helio Castroneves, and Danica Patrick. What do all of these drivers have in common? None of them sit within the top ten in the championship standings. All of these drivers need strong finishes to recapture any sort of hope they have for the championship or finishing in the top 10. The IZOD IndyCar Series has its deepest field, talent wise, in years and the championship represents that perfectly two races in.

5. Rivalries :
As Robin Miller said on pit-lane of the Barber race, this series needs some “HATE” I couldn’t agree more, rivalries spark interest and conflicts create drama. Below are some of the drivers that will be fun to watch as they race each other around the Long Beach street course this weekend

Old Rivalry reunited
: Paul Tracy vs. Sebastian Bourdais
Penske vs. Ganassi rivalry
: Will Power vs. Dario Franchitti
Budding rivalry
: Hunter-Reay vs. Briscoe
I hate this guy rivalry
: E.J. Viso vs. EVERYONE

6. Predications:
Firestone Fast Six: Ryan Hunter-Reay , Will Power, Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti, Ryan Briscoe, Justin Wilson
Race Winner:
Scott Dixon
Sleeper: Paul Tracy & Sebastian Bourdais

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