Thursday, September 13, 2012

Back. Again.

Yeah, well... That didn't go so well. You may have noticed that this blog hasn't been updated since before Indianapolis (on a 500-centered calendar, that means "half a season ago"). Rather than make excuses and belabor the point any further, I'll just ask you to stay tuned in. Please. This time I mean it. I hope to make this an interesting place to visit over the off-season, too.
No one is safe from making a championship prediction, so I'll go ahead and get that bit out of the way. The choices are:
Will Power-aka, "The Safe Choice". Straight up, head-to-head, speed-wise on a road course, he's untouchable. Three consecutive wins in the spring had this race fan worried that Indianapolis would be a dull Will Power runaway. If speed were all that mattered, he'd be a two-time champ right now. Mistakes by his crew, however, cost him precious finishing positions at several races in 2010 and 2011, leading to narrow point deficits at the ends of those seasons. He has a better 500-mile race record, though his lack of top-5s in that category are probably due to crashes and problems on pit road.
Ryan Hunter-Reay - aka, "The Feel-Good, All-American Underdog Choice". The guy who's been through the American Open-Wheel Driver Wringer, he's showed up and WON everything he's ever driven, yet couldn't get anyone to hire him for more than a year at a time until Michael Andretti took the chance on him in 2010. His highest-profile setback this year came at Sonoma, where a good run was spoiled by an overeager competitor. Mechanical problems at Indianapolis (where he qualified on the front row) and Mid-Ohio can also be blamed for his 2nd place standing going into Fontana. His 500-mile race record isn't as good, but luck has been harder on him. He failed to qualify his sub-par Andretti entry in 2011 and instead raced the Foyt entry Bruno Junquiera got in the field, only to spend the day mired mid-pack after limited practice. In 2010, the Izod poster boy was running well until he ran out of fuel and made the highlight reels as Mike Conway's ramp.
My gut is telling me that Will Power will take the championship. There. He's my pick, no qualifiers or conditions.
While I'm making predictions, Helio Castroneves is the first name that comes to mind for picking a race winner. One great thing about a 500-mile race, however, is that it's long enough for differing strategies to play out and to get some unusual faces up front (See: Indy 500 podiums in 2011, 2010, and 2009). I'd like to see a guy who's run well all season without a win get a turn in victory lane-someone like Simon Pagenaud or Oriol Servia.
More news is rolling in and I hope to have more comments coming. Thanks for reading!

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