St Petersburg, The first restart -- ©2011,Walt Kuhn

The IZOD IndyCar series resumes its season this weekend on the road course at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. The first race of the season at St. Petersburg featured a wreck fest at the beginning of the race, and then a long green flag stretch leading to the end of the race. Dario Franchitti showed why he is the champion by capturing the first race of the season.

I am looking forward to Sunday to seeing how the start and restarts are going to go in this race. In round one, the start and restarts were ragtag at best by the drivers, and featured a lot of whining about how they did not like them. The back of the pack cars were not formed up in the field in the two by two order that would be expected for the restart. This allowed those cars at the back to be up to speed and time the restart to pass the cars up ahead. This is what caused some of the turmoil at the front of the pack in the first race. Hopefully there will be more room at Barber to get the restart done right this week.

The next item I looking forward to seeing in this race is going to be Simona De Silvestro. De Silvestro had an incredible race finishing fourth at St. Petersburg. Will she be able to back up her first performance of the year with another strong finish this week? I hope that she does. A strong finish will give the media something, and someone else, to talk about for the IndyCar series.

I am also interested to see if we get a little bit more passing in this race. The first race of the season is always difficult. I know that the drivers are a little bit on edge for the first race of the season, and some teams are still getting communication and teamwork up to midseason form. With the first race under their belt, car setups and adjustments should be better giving us more competition. Hopefully fewer wrecked cars will keep competitive cars on the track to battle as well.

Finally, kind of on the opposite side of what I just wrote, will it be the Will Power and Franchitti show on Sunday. Both of those drivers have become aces on the circuit, but especially when it comes down to racing on the road courses. Does anyone else in the series have anything that they can throw at Power and Franchitti to send them towards the back of the pack? Should be an interesting race as we get a better picture of who is running well as we inch closer to the running of the Indianapolis 500.

The stock car drivers of NASCAR visit the Texas Motor Speedway this weekend. The races this weekend feature the first ever scheduled night races for the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series at the track. I am actually glad to see Texas switch to the night racing at the track for this event. I was a season ticket holder at the track from 2001 through 2006 when I lived in the Dallas Fort Worth area. The track can provide some good racing, but can also provide nose to tail racing as well.

For the Sprint Cup race, I feel it is going to be a tale of two tracks. The first track is going to be at the start of the race when the sun is still shining. The second race is going to be who made the right adjustments to keep up with the track after the sun goes down. It may be a race of comers and goers as the transition occurs.

Texas can also chew up cars at a split second. The track has reputation as being one of the more difficult tracks to maneuver around. Having been to many races at Texas, I can recall seeing many cars coming back on the hook, or just logging laps with duct tape all over them. Who can forgot Michael McDowell’s tumbling through turn two after wrecking his car in a qualifying run a few years ago. Speeds will be extreme, and the competition will be fierce.

At this point with Kevin Harvick having won the last two races, how do you count him out this week? Based on the numbers, Harvick is probably not going to lead the most laps, but will be in striking position at the end of the race to capture his third race in a row. If that does occur, I will be interested to see the look on Kyle Busch’s face at the end of the race.

After his second place finish at Martinsville last weekend, we have to keep an eye on Dale Earnhardt Jr. as well. I still think this team is ready for a breakout weekend that will result in taking the checkered flag first. Texas is the site that Jr. got into victory lane in the Cup series for the first time back in 2000. Steve Letarte is the also the crew chief that was able to setup a car that allowed Jeff Gordon to get his first victory at Texas. Letarte also had Gordon in position in a couple of other races at Texas that could have been victories for Gordon. This might just be the weekend for Junior Nation to finally celebrate the Saturday night away with a cooler full of Budweiser feeling like they use to when he won races on a more consistent basis.

It is time now for my fantasy pick of the pick. If you play fantasy racing for the IndyCar series, I would recommend going with Will Power. Power is going to get back on track on the second road course of the season to get his first win of the season. On the NASCAR side of the house, you have to go with Kevin Harvick for the win this week. Two weeks in a row his team has shown that at the end of the race they have the best car on the track. They spend the race getting in position to be the first to the finish line, and I can see it happening again at Texas.

The wreck of the week this week is Martin Truex Jr. having a stuck throttle and trying to drive through the wall at Martinsville last week. Truex took a rough ride into the wall, and thank goodness for all of the safety innovations that allowed him to walk away unhurt.

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