Letâ€™s start off with the Honda Indy 200 for the IZOD IndyCar Series at Mid-Ohio. I am really not sure where to go with this one. There were a bunch of fireworks at the end of the Edmonton race when Helio Castroneves was penalized and had a victory stripped from him. Helio went Lady Gaga over the penalty and even grabbed race officials by the collar. Helio was later placed on probation and fined for his actions at the end of the race. Will we see a repeat by Helio, doubt it highly. Everyone put on probation by sanctioning bodies seems to mind their Pâ€™s and Qâ€™s until the probation is over.
Her Danicaship (A.K.A. Danica Patrick) will more than likely run at the back of the field for most of the day. I did not get to see the Edmonton race, so I am not even sure where she finished in the race. Letâ€™s face fact; her finishing position does not matter. I see Her Danicaship hanging out in the back of the pack following along hoping that some cars fall out so she can get a higher finishing position.
So who is going to win at Mid-Ohio this week? I think Will Power makes a surge back to the front this week. Power has shown he can handle the road courses, and the ovals as well. That probably explains the reason why he is leading the overall points championship in the series. Keep in mind that there are three championships this year for the IZOD IndyCar Series (Oval, Road Course, and Overall).
Should be an interesting in Ohio; check it out if you have a moment. I am not sure I will watch a lot of the race, because my attention will be on what is happening at the Glen.
One more thing, Milka Dunoâ€™s over under on laps run this weekend is 4.5.
Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at the Glen
Before I get to the racing that will occur this weekend at Watkins Glen, safety is an issue that needs to be addressed. We learned this week that Elliot Sadlerâ€™s wreck last week at Pocono was the hardest hit recorded by the black box that each car carries in a NASCAR race. My question is when NASCAR is going to force the race tracks to improve safety for the drivers? Think back to Watkins Glen last year. Jeff Gordon and some other drivers were involved in a nasty wreck in an area of the track that the retaining walls closed in on the track. Watkins Glen has made improvements to the track for this season, so we hopefully will not see cars get destroyed as they did last year.
In case you have not seen it, here is the wreck from last year:
For the race at The Glen this year, I kind of expect a race like we saw at Infineon Raceway. I expect a lot of bumping and banging going through the bus stop, bumping from behind, and a close finish. Pit strategy is what you also have to look at when going road racing in NASCAR. Teams will truly run this race backwards. This means that pit stops will occur as soon as they are in the window to make it all the way. Tire wear will not be much of a concern for these pit stops. When the window opens, expect to see cars coming to pit road even though there might be plenty of fuel left on board.
So who is going to win this race? Marcos Ambrose is going to break through this weekend. Marcos is not going to make the same mistake he made in California when the car would not start and he dropped seven positions during a late caution period. This is the Ambroseâ€™s opportunity to right a wrong he did to himself to let a win slip by the wayside. I also look for a good run from Kevin Harvick. All season Harvick has just not gone away. The ESPN broadcasters nailed it last week when they spoke about Harvick as just showing up towards the front at the end of the race. He is like Mark Martin of last year. You never saw him the first two thirds of the race, but the last third he was charging to the front. Keep in mind that Jeff Gordon, Robby Gordon, Tony Stewart, The Evil Empire (A.K.A. Jimmie Johnson), and Denny Hamlin will also be towards the front by the time the checkered flag is about to fly.
We should expect to see the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule to be released around the end of August. How much different will the schedule be next year when compared to this yearâ€™s schedule is yet to be seen. We do know two pieces that have fallen in place though. It has been reported that Kentucky Speedway will indeed host its first Sprint Cup race next season. Further reports are that this race will fall on the schedule in early July. It was announced today that Atlanta Motor Speedway will lose its spring race next season. I do not think this is much of a surprise to any observer to NASCAR.
So how many other changes to the schedule will we see? I am personally hoping that we see a lot of changes to the schedule. Although we will probably see about two or three more races shift from tracks that currently have two races, I think a major shakeup is needed in the tracks that host Chase Races. In my opinion the chase tracks should rotate yearly. I do not mind some of the same tracks each year, but a better product for producing the champion can be enhanced by rotating the tracks each season that are included in The Chase.
With the all the speculation of Indy for next year, the Brickyard 400 is safe. Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced on August 3rd pricing for the 2011 race. This also made me think of the attendance decline. When the track was packed, our group made sure to renew our tickets each year to ensure we had seats. For the first five years we had tickets, the price of the tickets never went up. The speedway then decided to raise the price of all the tickets. They did this, and attendance went down. The tire debacle happened, and attendance has declined even more. The announcement is that ticket prices have been lowered. This will help bring back some fans, but I still do not see the 300K at the speedway next July or early August. A start in the right direction, but a lot more for IMS to do to bring the crowds back to the what we knew as the glory days just a few short years ago.
Finally, on the schedule, NASCAR should either eliminate or reduce Pocono to one race on the schedule. Enough said about that.
Have a great weekend and enjoy the racing!