OMG… Danica Patrick is back at Twin Ring Motegi! Have you seen her? Did you know she won here last year? You think she can do it again?!
Not so much. Yes, I was excited for DP to get her first IndyCar victory in Japan last year. I even teared up a little when I saw the mommy hug complete with ‘the-monkey’s-off-my-back-and-the-trophy’s-bigger-than-me’ bewilderment. But I’m pretty sure that if Danica was going to earn a 2009 victory, she’d have done it already. And no, I’m not boycotting her because of the impending transition to the dark side (aka Nascar). I like her. She’s talented. But will this be her weekend? Survey says… no.
So here we go! Twin Ring Motegi… the facility is actually built into the side of a mountain, which is useless information that I think is pretty darn cool. The ICS Technical Director, Kevin Blanch, says this is the most difficult 1.5-mile oval on the ’09 schedule because of the way it handles, forcing teams to try a variety of downforce levels. In addition, last year’s race took place in spring, so it should be interesting to see how the weather plays in to the choices in downforce options. But rest assured… Marco Andretti’s setup will continue to be the complete opposite of every other car on the grid.
I’m calling my first pick “the hypocrite pick” because I have spent most of this season complaining about the driving skills of one Mario Moraes. Yes, I’ll admit that I have tagged him as “The Pinball” and made comments like “If there’s a seven-car pileup, I can guarantee MM is involved.” But there is no better way to make the race gIRL eat her words than to perform like this guy has for the past few races. So the “180-Degree Award” goes to Mario for his fourth place finish in Sonoma followed by third place in Chicago. If he keeps this up, one can only assume he’ll finish second in Motegi and first at Homestead. Place your bets now, people.
My second pick is Tokyo-native Hideki Mutoh. I’ve picked the hometown hero in the past without much success. But since Hideki has turned his back on his home country by searching for an American girlfriend, he’s going to have to make it up to them, and this might just be the way. Or… it will simply be that AGR knows the track enough to continue the winning streak. Yea, let’s go with that.
Finally, my safe pick of the week is Ryan Briscoe. I believe that’s all I need to say. If you wonder why I’m picking Briscoe, clearly you’ve missed a few races this year. We’ll all sit and wait while you go watch them. Actually, I’m going to grab some sushi. 安全に置かれる幸運の運転者よいショーおよびリターン家。 私はIndyである。
Editors note: I always make my picks before qualifying – I just didn’t publish this one in time. If you need proof of my honesty, see Exhibit A: Hideki Mutoh pick, in conjunction with Exhibit B: the current state of Hideki’s car… and foot.