IndyCar Preview – St Petersburg 2009

After the interminable wait this off-season we’ve reached the end of the long road, we’re at the first IndyCar race of the year! Much like the F1 last week it doesn’t seem quite true just yet, and I guess it only will when I see cars on track.

IRL IndyCar Series
– Honda Grand Prix of St.Petersburg (1/17)
– St Petersburg, Florida, United States
www.indycar.com

Circuit
The first race of the year is on the part street, part airport circuit by the seafront at St Pete, Florida. I’ve been to St Pete and stood on the top of the pier tower, you can see the airport from it but I had no idea there was racing on it back in 1997 when I was there – and perhaps at that time there wasn’t. It’s a good little city.

The track itself is very bumpy and quite short, and the walls of the street section are very unforgiving indeed, much more so than most US street tracks in my opinion and this may be due to the narrowness. Yet it is also a very quick track which makes threading the needle very difficult and a nice challenge to set for the first race weekend of the year – a good choice.

Form
Very hard to call this one given the lack of testing but you’d be foolish to rule out ‘the usual suspects’ of Ganassi and Penske, yet Wilson seems to be running very well in the Coyne car. AGR seems to have fallen back a way while NHL may well have leapfrogged them – be sure to watch both of their cars not just Rahal, because Doornbos will go well.

Rookies
The rookie of the year battle is going to be between Doornbos and Conway. Doornbos is far too experienced to be a rookie so he’ll win it comfortably. I know a lot of people are tipping Matos but I know very little of the guy and unlike the other two he may not have the experience of the big cars, although obviously the aforementioned two don’t have any oval experience so they may lose out there. Top rookie in St Pete? Doornbos.

Championship
I think it’ll be between Dixon, Franchitti and Briscoe. There will be a lot of different winners during the year and some of those underdog guys will shine, like Meira who SURELY must get his first win this season?? He’s good enough for a win, maybe not a title but certainly several wins over a few years. It’ll be interesting to watch Wheldon at Panther and to see if Manning and others can secure long-term deals.

Indy
I know it’s only a month until May but in terms of race it is WAAY too early to be talking about who’ll be running well at Indy!

TV Coverage

UK TV: LIVE on Sky Sports Xtra at 7.30pm BST!
In Britain the coverage remains with Sky Sports, either on SS3 or SS Xtra. I believe most if not every race will be live. A good result and ironically better than Canada – except that I don’t have Sky so I’ll probably be watching via IndyCar.com.

US TV: LIVE on VERSUS at 2pm ET!
(and don’t forget the all new qualifying show at 5pm Saturday, show your interest and help get qualifying aired live – if they see the interest they’ll be persuaded)

Don’t forget the race replay on Monday night if you either miss the live run, or want to catch it again to pick up some details. Versus also carry the Indy Lights race highlights on Monday night.


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Finally, be sure to check out their YouTube channel!
They’ve got some cool stuff on there including questions with Graham Rahal – questions posed by fellow bloggers! I’ve subscribed and you should too.

These guys at Versus seem to “get it” so let’s help them push this.

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That’s my Friday night blogging mini-marathon done, enjoy the racing and I’ll see you around the ‘net.

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