Based on the results of last year's IndyCar series debut of (the latest iteration of) the Belle Isle track, the word that best describes the forecast for this weekend's event in Detroit is "rage".
2007 pole-sitter Helio Castroneves took himself and Tomas Scheckter out when Scheckter went so boldly out of protocol as to not let Helio pass him. Tempers flared between the two afterwards, leading to Scheckter's no immortal zinger of "Maybe he should focus more on driving and less on dancing".
Two women angered two former series champions as Danica Patrick and Sarah Fisher contributed to incidents with Scott Sharp and Sam Hornish Jr respectively. To her credit, Danicker went on to finish a then-career high second place in the race.
Of course the big to-do was all about Dixon losing control while trying to pass Buddy Rice for second and then reversing course and blocking the path of fellow championship contender Dario Franchitti. The race ended with members of the Andretti Green team accusing Scott Dixon of intentionally trying to take out Mr Judd, although as we all know it proved rather inconsequential in the end.
One man who wasn't filled with acrimony was Buddy Rice, who reportedly apologized to Chip Ganassi immediately after the race for running out of fuel and inadvertently starting events leading to the Dixon/Franchitti controversy. Personally, I'd like to thank Buddy for spicing things up.
Otherwise ... anyone else missing Sharp, Hornish, and Franchitti just a little bit right now, or is that just me?
Favorite: Scott Dixon. Helio won twice here in his CART days and led 26 laps before he took himself out of last year's IndyCar race, so Dixon goes in this slot solely in the hopes he might be jinxed. Nothing personal, Ganassi fans - just trying to do my part to make the Chicagoland race that much more interesting.
Contender: Helio Castroneves. See above.
Longshot: EJ Viso. The success of the Little Venezuelan Who Could continues. He finished a solid 6th last week, he's starting in the Top 10 this week, and the over under on fellow drivers he takes out on this circuit is 2.
Driver to Watch: Justin Wilson. Perhaps feeling the angst of completing the season he was supposed to win the Champ Car title, the normally mild mannered Wilson was punting drivers left and right last week at Infineon. He's starting in the Top 4 for the fourth time this year, but the other three times all ended in finishes no better than 9th.
Danica Threat Level: DanCon Five. The monitor has been turned on if only because of the nuttiness that went on last year. She'll need similar nuttiness to compete for a win here this year.
Drinking term: "Alex Tagliani". Tags is replacing Enrique Bernoldi this week since the latter was having difficulty driving with his injured thumb. Of course, Tagliani will be driving for Conquest, and Conquest cars seem to only get air when they are stalled on the course.
Stat of the race: Only nine cars were still running when Tony Kanaan took the checkered flag at Belle Isle in 2007. Dallara parts representatives are standing by.
pressdog says: "Chippy didn't seem very jovial after Snorenoma. Dixon also had rage coming off his head like giant cartoon exclamation points after the race. AND he's probably flashing back to Chicagoland 2007 about now. Combine those factors and Dixon wins Belle Isle. Helio P3. Dark Horse -- Will Power."
Dixon and Helio are 1-2 in the standings and 1-2 for the start of the race on Sunday. There's nothing more to add to that drama, so enjoy the show!
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