29 April 2011

Carnival! IndyCar Hits Sao Paulo

Last year, the IZOD IndyCar Series opened its season on the streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil.  The race was a hit - both literally and physically, as the opening corner saw Marco Andretti with an Indycar atop his head.  With five Brazilians in the field, Sao Paulo promises to be an entertaining conclusion to the four straight road/street courses that began the IndyCar Season.
Sao Paulo marked the return of Will Power in 2010; after a devastating wreck late in 2009, Power took advantage of Ryan Briscoe forgetting to turn to set up a pass of Ryan Hunter-Reay four laps later, coasting to the first of his five wins in the year.  
In just one year, the event has proven to be a massive success, with a Carnival-like atmosphere enveloping the track in the largest city in the southern hemisphere.  Having five Brazilians in the field surely helps, as does Sao Paulo's history and infatuation with racing.
Versus (in one of its final races under that name) has the coverage of qualifications and the race, with quals airing at 6 p.m. ET on Saturday.  The Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300 presented by Nestle airs at 12 p.m. ET on Sunday.
Why to Watch: Last year, the first chicane on the course was chaotic.
You think with double-file restarts, the opening chicane does not possess the same chance of carnage this year?  Not that I would advocate watching a race for wrecks, but let's face it: people do.
Along with the first chicane, NZR Consulting's layout gives fans a delightful street circuit with plenty of passing zones - something that is all too rare on the 'twisties.'   
What to Watch: Well, if you were in Brazil for the race, I'm sure there would be plenty of items outside of the race to keep an eye on.  But since most of us are relegated to watching on TV, keep an eye on the double-file restarts, once again.
Two weeks ago, these were non-existent, as drivers did not bunch up in the proper formation, nor did race control enforce the double-file restarts.  After fan feedback over the last two weeks, keep an eye on how the race goes back to green flag racing.
Who to Watch: Helio Castroneves.  Castroneves has come under scrutiny for driving like a battering ram of late, failing to brake in time at Long Beach and punting his teammate Power late in the race.  Earlier, it looked like the three-time Indianapolis 500 champ used his nose to turn Justin Wilson - a similar move to a penalized action by Paul Tracy.
It will be very difficult to penalize the Brazilian in his home land, but race control may have no choice if Castroneves continues to struggle with late corner braking, as he has in these first three races.
Who Will Surprise: Frankly, I've been terrible in this category.  Called Bourdais at Barber.  Picked Justin Wilson last week.  If I were a driver and saw this, I would be begging not to be selected.  Since I have to pick someone, it will be Vitor Meira this week.  
Last year, in his first race since breaking his back at Indianapolis, Meira finished on the podium, taking third.  This year, Meira is healthy, but maybe a little sleep deprived after he and his wife welcomed a baby into their lives on Easter Sunday.  I think he drives well in his native land once again, taking a top five.
Taking the Checkered: Will Power. I refuse to bet against him.  Until the series hits the ovals, anyways (and that gap is closing rapidly). 

No comments:

Post a Comment