Friday, July 22, 2011

Edmonton Indy Preview

The second round of IndyCar’s Canadian tour kicks off, and it promises to be an interesting stop. A new course layout, uneasy tempers, and some drivers fighting to regain lost points should guarantee plenty of action. Here's a few of the storylines we'll be following this weekend:

A 2-For-1 Sale: Indy Lights are making it twice as nice this weekend, with a pair of races scheduled instead of the usual one. Canadian Daniel Morad steps in at Team Moore for race winner Victor Garcia, who is apparently a victim of a poor Spanish economy. Daniel Herrington is subbing again for Conor Daly in the SSM #77 car, and Peter Dempsey competes once again with Andretti Autosport in the #26. Keep on the slightly mysterious Goree Motorsports, who will be running Canadian Tyler Dueck in series debut. This will also mark the Lights debut of 18 year-old Stefan Rzadzinski, whom has a tremendous story I urge everyone to check out.

Haters Gonna Hate: For all the talk about hatred and anger after the Great Toronto Snafu of ’11, some folks might be disappointed if this is a milquetoast affair. For what it’s worth, I think we’ll see a bit more acrimony this week, and possibly talk of “payback” if certain drivers find themselves spun at some point.

Rivalry: Will Power is now the last hope for any anti-Ganassi IndyCar fans. Will he be able to outduel Dario this week, or is this the week Franchitti runs away with yet another championship. Meanwhile, Scott Dixon remains less than a fan of Ganassi teams that don’t start with “Target Chip”. Will someone get a leg up on someone else this week, and how will the rivals react?

New Course, New Hope: The Cotman redesign of Edmonton should offer some good speed, and it looks like some nice passing zones as well. It’ll be exciting to see how it pans out, with everyone racing on this configuration for the first time. It could be an equalizer among the top teams that are already pretty closely bunched together in terms of twisty course performance.

O Canada: Paul Tracy, James Hinchcliffe, and Alex Tagliani all had setbacks at Toronto. Will one of them answer the call at Edmonton to give Canada a winner in IndyCar this year? One thing’s for sure: all of them need a cleaner race than we saw at Toronto to make it happen.


Do it for the fans, Hinch.
(Courtesy IndyCar Media)
 More Tracy Fallout: The entire business in regards to Paul Tracy’s Trackforum account being hacked and the comments made on that account in regards to Randy Bernard continues. Will we hear anything further this weekend? I think it’s got to be explained or at least covered during the broadcast, which will just add another chapter in the latest incident for open wheel’s most contentious driver.

Powering Up: I usually just expect Will Power to win on the road/street courses, but obviously that’s not how Toronto played out. Will needs to maximize his victories on the twisties if he’s going to have a chance of catching Franchitti in the points battle. Let’s see if a return to dominance is in the cards.

Andretti’s Next Chance: Andretti Autosport has been perceived as being in a downturn for some time, but outside their struggles at Indy, this year really hasn’t been that awful overall. Marco Andretti and Mike Conway have each won a race already, matching the team’s win total from last year. If Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti, or Conway can grab a win or more podium results this weekend, it’ll be another sign that this team is running with the big dogs.

Enjoy the race, and we’ll meet back here Monday to discuss!

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