Thursday, July 4, 2013

Storylines: Pocono INDYCAR 400 Presented By Sunoco

IndyCar is back at Pocono.

Feels good to say, or even read, doesn't it? And while the budgetary disruption that moving presented will keep me on the couch this weekend, it will be great to see IndyCar back at the Tricky Triangle once more. After all, this track was made for open wheel racing!

Many of us are still celebrating the Independence Day weekend with friends and family, but here are just a few of the bigger storylines to follow heading into this weekend's Pocono INDYCAR 400 Presented By Sunoco:

Three Wide: Yep, just as they used to at Pocono, the field will take the green in three-wide formation. It's going to add some spectacle to what should already be one of the most memorable IndyCar events of the year.

A Clean Slate: One of the coolest things about Pocono is that there's no other track to which it may be easily compared. That means that while we can hazard some pretty good educated guesses, have no idea who will be a top Pocono performer. For all we know, this could be the perfect track for Justin Wilson, James Jakes, or Alex Tagliani. Everyone is starting out with a clean slate  at Pocono, and that just adds to the anything-can-happen feeling.

Triple Crown: Of course, we've all heard how Tony Kanaan has a shot at this year's Triple Crown after winning Indianapolis, and Pocono is the next step on that journey. Is it feasible? Early returns say yes, but also that he's going to have some mighty stiff competition from other Chevy teams at the least.

Last Row Panther: Panther Racing went with Ryan Briscoe for this weekend's race, and as already discussed previously, he'll miss qualifying due to ALMS obligations. As a result, the #4 will start from the back at Pocono. Panther, a team that not so long ago was deeply respected on ovals, has their work cut off for them on Sunday, to put it bluntly.

Pippa2Pocono: It was another relatively late call by Dale Coyne, but Pippa Mann is once again in the #18 car. Her last race was at Texas, where engine issues ended her day almost immediately. A good, completed race would be a nice accomplishment for the 2nd Coyne machine, which has struggled in that department this year.

Livery Watch: Dario Franchiti will sport the black Energizer livery at Pocono, and we already mentioned Pippa Mann is in the #18, meaning the red-and-white "Cyclops Cyclone" is back, too. Helio Castroneves is in his Hitachi colors once again, and don't forget TK is in the Sunoco/Turbo machine again.

Lights Update: Pennsylvania native Sage Karam returns to his home soil with a 9-point lead in the Firestone Indy Lights standings. Meanwhile, Carlos Munoz lurks just behind him, and seems destined to be a huge part of this Lights fight through the rest of the season.

Meanwhile, Gaby Chaves is looking quite sharp in P3, while Peter Dempsey will look to grab another win to stay in the title fight. Jack Hawksworth needs to duplicate or surpass his Iowa excellence in order to have a championship say. This should be a challenging track for the Lights boys. 

Fact of the Week: You might have known that Danny Sullivan was the last INDYCAR driver to win at Pocono in 1989, but did you know AJ Foyt won there 4 times? Best wishes to Super Tex as he recovers from that hip replacement, by the way. They'd better make it of pure adamantium if they want it to be anywhere as tough as the original.

Pole Prediction: I think Marco, if Helio doesn't edge him out.

Winner Prediction: TK is going to be a blast to watch, but I am really looking forward to seeing what Helio Castroneves can do on this track.

Dark Horse Prediction: I would normally say Justin Wilson, but I think Honda has their work cut out for them. He's an Andretti driver, but no one is talking up EJ Viso. I think he might have something here.

Don't forget to get your fantasy picks in. Have a great weekend, and enjoy the Tricky Triangle!

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