It’s with a mix of excitement and bummed-out-dom that I approach the last race of the 2010 IndyCar schedule, to take place in Homestead this weekend. It’s exciting to see who’s going to be the champ, but it’s tough to realize that after this, we have a long winter of no on-track IndyCar action. And verily, that sucketh mightily.
There are a number of battles to watch, but of course the main battle is upfront, with Will Power and Dario Franchitti competing to see who will come away with the overall championship. If you’re interested the particular scenarios for who needs to do what to walk away with the championship, see the pdf here. My gut feeling? Power’s a better story, but I just don’t think he has anything for Dario on this oval. Dario will drive smart, be up front, and will be in a position to bring it home. Power could finish anywhere from 2nd to 10th, and it wouldn’t surprise me.
-Simona’s Not Done Yet: The always-dependable Pressdog reports that HVM Racing and Simona de Silvestro will be on track this weekend. There was some worry over HVM folding last week, but apparently, they’re going to compete this weekend. Had she been unable to move forward, that would have killed what was an interesting battle for Rookie of the Year between her and Alex Lloyd.
-Which Rookie Comes Out On Top? Just because Simona will race at Homestead doesn’t mean she’ll have an easy time nabbing Rookie of the Year honors. Her is tub is old and slow, and she’s not shown blazing speed on the ovals anyway this year. Alex Lloyd hasn’t been knocking them dead lately, but barring some awesome strategy or extreme twists of fate, he should back into finishing the year as the top rookie in points.
-Sarah All Done? There have been rumors this will be Sarah Fisher’s last race, that she’s retiring as a driver after Homestead. I’m not sure I buy it, but I do know she wants to start a family sometime in the future. Whether or not the future is now, I don’t know. She’d be missed, from a fan’s point of view, but I have to think she’d be highly visible in any sort of owner position, for sponsor reasons.
-Musical Chairs: This weekend will see Ana Beatriz taking over the #24 car for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, and Sebastian Saavedra will be in the #36 car. Saavedra didn’t make a lot of friends from the odd timing of his bailing out of his Indy Lights ride hours before a race, but there he is. He’s got the potential now to be a new villain, only a few months after his improbable qualification for the Indy 500 made him a good-news story (unless you were Jay Howard or Paul Tracy).
-Last Chance To Make A Statement: We can anticipate the usual dance of musical chairs for rides in the offseason, so this is one last chance for drivers who might be looking for a new seat next year to make a statement. Keep an eye on Dan Wheldon especially, who’s been driving the wheels off his car for the last month.
-Homework Question: Who qualifies better—Milka Duno, or Simona de Silvestro in her dilapidated tub?
-Dark Horse: Barring an accident, I don’t see anyone else being a huge factor in this race, but let’s not discount Panther Racing. Ed Carpenter, Dan Wheldon, and their team pretty clearly have this oval business figured out. But at this point, can they really be considered a dark horse? If not, please see Rahal, Graham. Graham qualified 6th here last year, and finished 11th. Fellow Newman-Haas driver Hideki Mutoh also had a 6th-place finish at Homestead in 2010, so the two teammates for this race should not be discounted.
-Pole Position: Dario. He won’t be denied, and I don’t think Power’s savvy enough on ovals to get it done.
-Laps Led: Dario. See above.
-Winner: Dario Franchitti.
-Bye-Bye Homestead: This might be the last event at Homestead for the IZOD IndyCar Series for a bit, depending on how things go in the future with ISC. One things' for sure, and that's that the series won't be at Homestead in 2011. I'm curious to see the crowd for this last race--I'm not expecting great things, though.
Hey! As a last, important, note, if you’re reading this and have yet to follow Ryan Hunter-Reay on Twitter, please do so. When RHR gets to 10,000 followers, a $10,000 donation will be made to Racing For Cancer. RHR’s close, and I know we can get this done. If you’re interested in donating further to Racing For Cancer, be sure to check out the special event Inside The Race is having this weekend!