Category Archives: Weekly Picks 2009

Firestone Indy 300 (Homestead)

Pack your suntan lotion, race fans, and put an umbrella in your fruity drink. We’re headed to sun-drenched Miami this weekend for the final race of the 2009 IRL season. I’ve been putting off this week’s picks too long, mostly because it pains me to see it come to an end. Maybe it’s the thought of 2010 without the Milwaukee Mile. Maybe it’s the inability to fathom a six-month eternity before the next flag drops. Or maybe it’s just severe denial that Milka hasn’t been banned from the league yet. Whatever it is, raise your hand if you’ll join the race gIRL on the verge of an open-wheel-induced depression.

It doesn’t matter whether you think BFD stands for Briscoe, Franchiti, Dixon or Big F-ing Deal, it’s hard to deny that this has been one hell of a season. From Helio’s tax evasion scandal to Vitor Meira’s season-ending wall drive at Indy. From TK’s flaming cockpit escape to Carpenter’s stunning head-to-head battle with Briscoe at Kentucky. From the new overtake assistance and downforce options to Danica’s will-she-or-won’t-she Nascar tease. I’d like to say we’ve seen it all this season, but here’s to 2010 being even more exciting. Book your tickets now, my friends, because at the rate we’re going, the only network willing to air the races might be Lifetime. But hey, maybe your wife would watch it with you, right?

I digress. Where’s my Mai Tai? On to the final picks of the season…

I’m going with Briscoe. He doesn’t have a strong history at Miami, but his eyes told it all in Japan. As he sat in the pits waiting for his crew to fix the car following the cone-toting wall debacle, you know how bad he wants it.

My second pick is Castroneves. Since 2002, he’s been in top five every year except 2007.  Since he’s not a contender, this could be his way of going out with a bang following his Indy three-peat.

My final pick is Scheckter. He was the pole-sitter in 2005, he’s got a decent record at Miami, he knows the track. And after some disappointing mechanical issues at Kentucky and Japan, I feel like this might be his chance to prove that he deserves a full-time ride in 2010.

At this point, I find it impossible to care about anything beyond this Saturday evening. Words can’t express how excited I am to be in the pits at Homestead. Possibly even more thrilling is the thought of meeting a bunch of my fellow race fans at the Tweetup… or the bars… whatever. The point is it’s a gathering of the masses to celebrate the excitement that is Indy. I’m thankful for everyone I’ve met this season who shares my passion and I look forward to many more years of screaming “Did you see that?!” with all of you.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a plane to catch. You might see me on the beach this weekend, or in the pits, or desperately chasing down the league’s finest in my quest to show them why they should hire me. Wherever I am, you can be sure of one thing: I’m in Miami, bitch. And this weekend, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.


Indy Japan 300

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.

Peak Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy 300

Ummm, can we get a different name for this race, please?

This weekly picks update is cuttin’ it a little close to race time, but I’ve been so busy doing my thank-God-we’re-finally-back-to-ovals happy dance that I almost forgot to post. Three more races to go – all on ovals – excitement meter is on max. Downforce adjustments and overtake assistance are in full force. Should be one hell of a race at the Chicagoland Speedway.

This won’t come as a shock to anyone, but I like Ed Carpenter as my first pick. I’d like to see the #20 car qualify P1 with Briscoe at P2 so we can continue where we left off at Kentucky. I should be so lucky.

Second, I’ll take Dan Wheldon. Of all the cars on the grid, Wheldon has lead the most laps at this track, and one would hope he’s still out to prove that ’09 won’t be a total bust. I heard a rumor this week that he’s headed to F1 for next year. Say it ain’t so, Dan. I don’t care if you stay at Panther or head to AGR. Hey, even if you make Sarah Fisher a two-car squad, just don’t forsake us.

Finally, I’m going with a dark horse pick of Tomas Scheckter. He’s been training like a maniac and he’s back in the series for the last three races on the schedule. The 2009 season hasn’t been spectacular for T-Scheck but I’d love to see him leave it all on the track in Joliet… and Tokyo… and Miami.

History shows that Chicagoland has been home to some barn-burners. And with this week’s as-vague-as-possible confirmation about the replacement of The Mile, the Chicagoland Speedway will have to be my new “home track.” Feel free to send sympathy cards. I’m coping. Don’t let me down, Chi-town.

Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma

Ahhhh, Sonoma. Let me put down my honorary glass of wine and try to focus.

Maybe it’s the merlot, but I’m feeling a lack of thrill going into this one. My tweeps and friends all seem to be sharing the same emotion, and I even heard this race referred to as “Infini-Yawn.” For a die-hard, it’s tough to watch the points race bounce back and fourth between the same, win-every-time drivers. And although I’m frustrated that next year’s schedule has gone to more road courses and less ovals, I’m hoping it will showcase the variety of talent and lead to an exhilarating finish in 2010. Oops, I’m babbling. Where’s my wine?

As a result of the aforementioned babble, I will be making my picks this week without including any of the big four. You’re welcome.

My first pick is Justin Wilson. I like him on the road courses and although he only has one victory under his belt, that’s more than I can say for much of the rest of the field. Justin’s been a top contender nearly every time the course turns right.

While the wine’s still flowing, let me have my day in the sun with this next pick. I’ve wanted an AGR win so bad this season! And this week I have an extra chance (albeit not a great one) of that happening with the addition of Franck Montagny. So my second pick is the entire AGR team. Can you do that, race gIRL? Yes, I can. And here’s why: The Torch is a contender every time he gets in his car, DP is the only team member in the points’ top five, Hideki has been fairly solid as of late, Marco is… well, let’s just say he wants it (I think), and Montagny has a proven record in the world of motorsports, which just may translate to an Indy podium.

By the way, I also really want to see Mike Conway take the Rookie of the Year award. Yep, I said it. Go Conweezy.

So let’s all raise our wine glasses… cheers to a safe race and the thought of being back on an oval next week at Chicagoland. Get there faster, please.

Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio

Editor’s note to IndyCar drivers: I triple-dog-dare you to put on a show at Mid-Ohio like you did at Kentucky. I realize this will be difficult with Milka Duno on the track, but you like a challenge, don’t you?

Speaking of a challenge, the weather seems to be the unpredictable factor for this weekend. It will be interesting to see how the rain and heat affect both the slickness of the track and the choice of tires. I’m excited to see the continuation of the “overtake assistance” button, as well as the various optional downforce adjustments. We shall see…

My first pick is Castroneves. I like Helio for this race because he’s been the pole-sitter for the past two years, and on a track where there’s not a lot of opportunities to pass, it’s critical to be at the front. Castroneves is itching for a win, and even if he doesn’t get it, he’ll be so happy in his post-race interview that you’ll believe that he did.

I like Justin Wilson for a podium finish this week as well. Wilson proved his road-course skills at The Glen this season, and has continued to race strong since. His practice times have shown him to be a contender and I think he’s got a good shot at giving Dale Coyne his “second-best moment of the past 25 years.”

Finally, because of the home-court advantage, I like Graham Rahal. This course is in the Graham-burglar’s backyard (so close, in fact, that Graham’s family hosted a team cookout at their home this week. Awww, Rahals, how yuppie of you). But in addition to Graham’s backyard barbeque skills, he’s been turning in some good finishes so far this season, and I think Mid-Ohio might just be his first ’09 victory.

No matter what, I want you to remember that this is the course where Milka launched her gloves at Danica last year. And even though Tomas Scheckter is not racing at Mid-Ohio this weekend, he will be attending to cheer on his friends and teammates. So riddle me this, Batman: What are the odds that when Milka throws in the towel after being 15 laps down, she and T-Scheck could have their own glove-throwing competition in the paddock? Discuss.

Meijer Indy 300 (Kentucky)

As the IndyCar Series heads to Kentucky this weekend, I’m doing all I can to resist the urge to make any references to banjos, blue grass and country music. Fight it. Fight it.

I won’t deny it – I love the ovals. And the push-to-pass option (along with a number of other newly-permitted adjustments) should make this racin’ like racin’ should be.

So here we go. My comfort pick of the week goes to Scott Dixon. As last year’s pole-sitter and race winner, he’s got the track familiarity. He describes Kentucky as “grippy, but bumpy.” Grippy, you say? Grippy indeed. And of course, when you’re leading in the points race, you’re a pretty safe bet for a podium finish.

If wishes can come true, I wish, I wish, I WISH that Tony Kanaan would take the checkered flag. TK has had more than bad luck this year, which one would assume has to end eventually. With his newly adorned “TK: The Torch” ride, I’m hoping to see his tremendous skill outperform the spell of bad luck that he’s dealt with for most of the season. Kanaan has lead 285 laps at this track. Fingers crossed for a repeat of his 2007 pole and victory.

My final pick for a podium finish this week is Dan Wheldon. Despite a fairly inconsistent record this season, he’s solid on ovals and has achieved nine victories on 1.5-mile ovals during the course of his career. He’s lead 176 laps at Kentucky and Panther Racing has an excellent record here as well. Following the disappointing outcomes in the land of maple leaves, I expect an “out to prove something” performance this week.

Rexall Edmonton Indy

As we look towards this weekend’s race in Edmonton folks, let’s pause to review the top four from Toronto: TGCR, Penske, Penske, TCGR. And now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

I want this week’s picks to include someone from the big four about as much as I want to see Moraes (“The Pinball”) go to AGR. But stats are stats. So I will hang my head low, blame the books and make my first pick. And holy masculine lubricant, do I want it to be Dario! I’m tempted to pick him based solely on his man lotion machine. But that would be wrong.

Pick numero uno this week is Ryan Briscoe. He was last year’s pole sitter, and if you haven’t noticed, he occupied the second place podium spot in Toronto, The Glen, Iowa, Texas and The Mile. That’s better than consistent. That’s “gimme that trophy” solid.

Secondly, I’ll take Justin Wilson. So far this season, he’s been in the fast six in every road course qualifying. He proved his talent at The Glen and I don’t think we have a one-hit wonder on our hands. Enough said.

As my token Canadian pick, I’m taking Tagliani this week. I gave PT a shot last time, but Tags has competed at Edmonton several times with Champ Car, and if I’m not mistaken, he also won there last year at a non-ICS event. He knows the course, he knows the country. The maple leaf is counting on you Tags, and so am I.

Everything I’ve heard and seen from the track today is that Edmonton is bumpy and slick. Nothing that a little man lotion won’t take care of. Looking forward to Sunday…