Last season your humble host set forth to try to break down the chances of each driver at every race. A noble effort, but with all of these refugees homey just don’t have the time or the knowledge to replicate this in 2008. So this year we’re going shorter, because if this is a “Cheat Sheet” it’s supposed to be short, right? Exactly.
And so with a new season and truly historic season upon us let’s all say our piece, hug it out, and get down to the business of watching some racing, the likes of which the league hasn’t offered for over six looooooong months. After having so much fun doing a LiveBlog for the season finale in Chicagoland I’ll be back for again for another on Saturday night, this time with more cars, more buzz, and even a new IndyCar Race Control thingy that I’m hoping let’s us hear drivers dropping high-speed F-bombs on each other for only $39.95. Oh yeah, bring it!
Otherwise here are the vitals for the Gainsco Auto Insurance Indy 300 to share with friends, family or even random drunkards.
Favorite: Dan Wheldon. Three straight victories on this track, and mighty convincing ones I might add. Yes, even nosing out Helio here two years ago seemed effortless, so unless those new teeth are an aerodynamic liability there’s no reason to think this won’t result in four-straight wins. At some point they rename it Wheldon Motor Speedway.
Contender: Scott Dixon. Wheldon’s teammate finished second last year, fifth the year before, and even won this race back in 2003. He came within a quarter of a lap of winning the series title last year, so don’t expect a lot of patience. He and Wheldon aren’t above banging wheels with each other, so look for a few cutaways to a visibly pained Chip Ganassi.
Longshot: Vitor Meira. The Mirror Man was fourth in ’05 and ’07, and now Panther Racing is back to the single-car formula that has always proven to be more successful for them. And considering he’s still never won in 76 IndyCar series races he’s probably the longest shot of all. He does however have 7 second-place finishes, so it’s not like the poor guy is untalented.
Driver to Watch: Marco Andretti. Andretti 3.0 pulled off the track last year with a bad case of “evil car”, which unfortunately plagued him more than once on super speedways in his sophomore season. Once again he’s a media favorite as an outside series championship contender, but if that’s going to happen he needs to build on his Top 5 finishes at Michigan and Kentucky late last year.
Danica Threat Level: DanCon 3. While a superspeedway in Miami seems to be just the kind of place for a Princess Party to break out, it needs to be noted that in three tries she has yet to complete this race (although in fairness one of those was due to her entry being withdrawn after the death of her teammate Paul Dana). WARNING: The slippery pit entry here makes a prime location for the “Danica Shuffle”.
Stat of the Day: Helio Castroneves now has 1 Celebrity Dancing title, 0 IndyCar series championships.
Drinking term: “Champ Car”. We expect this angle to be played up a lot by the broadcast team, especially while Dan Wheldon is lapping the field. Can’t wait to see which term (“unified”? “merged?” “absorbed?”) the ESPN broadcast team chooses to describe the festivities.
presssdog says: “Mergification, assimilation, anybody got a spare Dallara? When the yap-yap-yapping is over, look for Danny Wheldon to unleash the new pearly whites in the winner's circle. Focus the rage, Dan! Bonus prediction: The goofy 02/2 NHL/Vision situation will confuse the booth guys more than once. Big question: WHAT props will Jack The Root pull out for the race? Can't wait to see. Let's light this candle.”
Indeed. Our long national nightmare is over. Enjoy the show!
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