Will Power and Chevrolet power should see Penske visit Victory Lane on a regular basis, but if Honda’s new unit is the engine of choice, Scott Dixon (RIGHT) is oh-so-ready to grab his third IndyCar Series championship.
ANGLES OF ATTACK
DAVID MALSHER’S PICKS
Bad luck, team errors in pit lane and inferior car setups on
ovals (relative to the Ganassi cars) take the majority of the
blame for Will Power failing to capture the last two IndyCar
championships. The runner-up in both 2010 and ’ 11 makes
shockingly few significant errors for someone who spends a lot
of time outpacing his rivals, but Power will be the first to
confess that even last year, he was still learning about
short-oval setups. Studying the behavior of Dario Franchitti’s
and Tony Kanaan’s cars told him what he was missing.
Now the guy who took 16 pole positions over the past two
seasons has a new car to play with, and although he’s not
happy about its inherent understeer in medium-speed corners
– he prefers an on-the-nose setup, like Michael Schumacher –
“On his best days, Dixon,
like Power, has the
ability to run and hide
from the opposition”
chances are that Power and engineer
Dave Faustino will have at least alleviated
the issue by the start of the season. Their
overtly industrious attitude always reaps
dividends. With excellent feedback being
pooled with that of a revitalized Ryan
Briscoe and the e;ervescent Helio
Castroneves, and a strong Chevrolet
motor, expect Penske No. 12 to be one of
the title contenders once more.
and perennial champ Franchitti, Dixon
hardly ever looks inferior; the past two
seasons, they have been nip and tuck.
But the consistency that serves the No. 10
car so well is sometimes lacking next
door at No. 9, and while this is rarely
down to errors – “Dixie” simply has more
bad luck than half the grid put together
– there are times when his knife-edge
driving style provokes more incidents
than Franchitti’s fluid in-cockpit moves.
But for all the hardened steel to his
race craft, which ensures he’s never the
first to back down in a fight, there’s also
a sponge-like quality to Dixon’s approach
to a season, a race weekend and a
session. He learns from what’s gone
On his best days, the 2003 and ’08
champion, like Power, has the ability to
run and hide from the opposition. Even
under the harsh glare of direct
comparisons with perennial teammate
DON’T BET AGAINST...
JR HILDEBRAND finishing the
job he so nearly completed at Indy
last year, nor should you bet
against him putting the Chevrolet-powered PANTHER RACING car
into unfamiliarly lofty positions on
road and street courses.
HELIO CASTRONEVES joining
Al Unser, A.J. Foyt
and Rick Mears in
the four-time Indy
500 winners’ club,
and thus taking
TEAM PENSKE to
IMS Victory Lane for an astonishing
16th time. Castroneves is adapting
1, 2, 3 and 4 at the Speedway…
to left-foot braking and thus may
struggle to match his teammates
on street courses initially, but
Power informs us that the Brazilian
veteran has lost none of his pace
on high-speed corners – like Turns
MILWAUKEE getting far stronger
attendance figures than last year.
Michael Andretti, a five-time winner
at the Mile, has got his Andretti
Sports Marketing team on the case
simply because “it’s an ideal track
for Indy cars and always produces
exciting racing for the fans.” We
agree 100 percent.
The partnership between
JUSTIN WILSON and Bill Pappas at
DALE COYNE RACING producing
TONY KANAAN winning the Indy
another win. The Briton remains
the most unfulfilled talent in the
paddock, and we’d expect to see
him frequently heading the Honda
runners – which could well mean
leading the whole field.
500. His terrible luck at the
Brickyard is legendary and has
made him more of a star than
winning the 2004 IndyCar title did!
But a KV RACING car with a
Chevrolet engine could offer him
his best chance of victory since ’07.
Oh, and he’s one of the favorites to
scoop Milwaukee and Iowa, too.
ORIOL SERVIA, who finished
fourth in the championship last
year with Newman/Haas Racing,
building on this
getting the win he so
LOTUS DRR, with
only one car to run
(except perhaps at Indy) could be
real dark horses this year.
Servia’s former teammate
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE giving Go
Daddy its first trip to an IndyCar
Victory Lane. He’s confessed he
has to radically alter his driving
style to get the best from the new
DW12, but in the second half of the
year, he should be up with his
teammates on all tracks.