Friday, July 22, 2011

Edmonton Race Preview & Predictions

Edmonton Race Preview and Predictions

INDYCAR makes their second trip to Canada this weekend for airport/street race in Edmonton. The IZOD IndyCar Series has lots of drama heading into this weekend’s race and IndyCar Garage breaks down the storylines to watch and predicts who could be in victory lane on Sunday afternoon.

1.Dario vs Power part II

Dario Franchitti captured his fourth victory of the 2011 season at Toronto and increased his championship lead over Will Power to 55 points, but not without plenty of drama. Franchitti spun Power out in Toronto on lap 57, and Power eventually recorded another DNF a short time later when Alex Tagliani made contact with Power’s Verizon car. Power was visually and emotionally upset after the race and his displeasure with Franchitti has hardly faded away. Power has been a master in qualifying this year on road/street courses, capturing every pole on the non-ovals. Can Power capture his 6th pole of the season? Can Power cut into Dario’s championship lead? Keep an eye on the #12 Verizon IndyCar and the #10 Target IndyCar.

2. Edmonton Race layout changes

Edmonton has been modified to a 2.24 mile 13 turn circuit, which will feature three major passing zones and two long straights. (See virtual lap below). The new layout should benefit all drivers as none of the current IZOD IndyCar drivers have driven on this layout, nor do their teams have setup packages for it. Look for lots of passing and contact with double file restarts.

3. Helio’s one year anniversary

A year ago at Edmonton (under the old layout), Helio Castroneves made a late race block on Will Power that allowed Scott Dixon to pass Power. Helio was penalized by race control for blocking and refused to serve his drive-through penalty. Dixon won the race by not even leading a lap. What happened after Helio got out of his car was seen across the nation for several days. Helio went on a rampage that included grabbing INDYCAR’s Charles Burns, who is the head of INDYCAR security. Helio eventually calmed down after Tim Cindric stepped in. Helio was fined 50k by INDYCAR. Helio’s 2011 has been the worst season in his INDYCAR career, no wins, four top 10’s and just one top five. Helio is arguably the second most popular driver in the IZOD IndyCar Series and masterful driver at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but those factors are hardly overshadowing his struggles in 2011. Helio would love nothing more than to capture his first win of 2011 at the site of his most embarrassing moment of 2010.

4. Rumors around INDYCAR

Several rumors are circulating around the INDYCAR paddock, good and bad. First, Danica Patrick appears to be headed to full-time NASCAR in 2012. Robin Miller of SpeedTV reported last week in his weekly mailbag that Patrick will be full-time Nationwide, part-time Sprint Cup, and one-off Indy 500 participate next season. Miller’s mailbag response was followed up the last few days with NASCAR reporter David Newtown responding to a question in his chat about Danica. The question and answer is below:
Q - Have you heard anything more about Danica's decision? If she comes to NASCAR will she be with JR Motorsports?
A - Still working through details, but she'll be in NASCAR next year, JR Motorsports fulltime in Cup and seven Cup races likely . . . perhaps Stewart-Haas.

Other news and rumblings around the INDYCAR paddock circle around the Las Vegas season ending race. The five million challenge for any non-INDYCAR driver to participate against INDYCAR’s regulars is starting to come into focus. Travis Pastrana, who is a former X-Game star and current part-time Nationwide driver, has publicly said he wants to try IndyCar racing, and INDYCAR CEO Randy Bernard has stated he is optimistic that Pastrana could be at the season finale. Sports Car driver Joey Hand, one time INDYCAR winner Airton Dare, NASCAR Cup driver Kasey Kahne, and former INDYCAR Alex Zandari are also among the many names that have been rumored as possibly participates.

5. Predications for Sunday’s race on VERSUS at 2 p.m. EST.

Firestone Fast Six: Will Power, Scott Dixon, Oriol Servia, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dario Franchitti, Helio Castroneves

Indy Lights Winner: Josef Newgarden

IZOD IndyCar Series top three finishers:
1. Oriol Servia
2. Will Power
3. Helio Castroneves

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