Friday, May 23, 2008

The clarity of rain

I was hoping to be watching LIVE Carb Day festivities shown on ESPN2 at this point of the day (2:10 EDT), but as usual this month (and typical for the sport) RAIN once again blew up the entire day. This is the first time I can remember Carb Day being shown live and, of course, we only see rain (oh, and 15 minutes of meaningless practice). C'est la vie.

Still, assuming IMS doesn't reschedule for tomorrow (doubtful, in my view), it added even more clarity to Sunday's race. Given the rain that plagued race teams all month, ANY chance the Champ Car "transition" teams had to contend literally got washed away. While they had to be careful not to wreck (given no backups), they also needed time to learn the IRL Dallara chassis as much as possible. That did not happen, so (through no fault of their own- they're FIVE yrs. behind with these cars) they cannot possibly contend on Sunday. A top 8 or top 10 would be quite good, if not great, for these teams.

Beyond that ESPN's John Oreovicz pretty much sums the whole thing up. This is Ganassi's and Dixon's to lose. They've been great all yr., minus St. Pete, and dominated May. Dixon wants this, and he's clearly the class of the field.

That said, I'm not sure how Oreo justifies putting Kanaan in Group 2, but not AGR teammates Marco Andretti and Danica Patrick. Forget starting spots (they're all top 10, and its 500 miles), but the pace they've shown all month has been solid. In fact, ever since Pole Day, TK's been frustrated by race setup, while Danica and Marco have been happy with their machines.

Furthermore, while I understand his dismissiveness towards Briscoe, I think it's a mistake. For one, when you drive a Penske-prepared machine, you're ALWAYS a threat. Two, yes he wrecked the T-car over the weekend, but Sam Hornish Jr. did the same in '06. How'd that turn out, again?

In short, 7 cars strike me as top contenders (Dixon, Wheldon, Briscoe, Helio, Danica, TK, and Marco), with perhaps three more (Meira, Scheckter and... someone else who might emerge Sunday) plausible shots. That's it, really.

Could it be boring? Well, if its a Ganassi bitchslap, yes. But, remember, a lot can happen in 500 miles.

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