Why I’m so excited for St Pete

Of course the St Pete race is always exciting because it signifies the start of the Indycar season. We don’t need another reason to be excited for this race. But the good news is we have lots of reasons.

Rookie drivers- you never know what to expect with the new guys. It’s fun to get to know who they are and if they will become the new stars of Indycar.

Juan Pablo Montoya- I’m not a big fan of his, but he will shake things up. I have a feeling twitter and blogs will be filled with news about him.

Ed Carpenter/ Mike Conway- I’ve been saying that these two should join forces since the day Conway announced he would not drive ovals. I love Ed but he struggles on the road and street courses. Conway excels on them. This should be a great year for ECR. Hopefully Ed enjoys his new role at the twisties and I can’t wait to see him do his thing on the ovals.

Tony Kanaan- He is a fan favorite and also my favorite driver. Can’t wait to see him in the number 10. I’m sure I will mistake him for Franchitti a couple times though. It will take some getting used to.

Paul Page- I will be watching this race but I’m still pretty excited that Paul will be doing the radio broadcast. Before I used Twitter it didn’t matter if I couldn’t watch a race live. I just got to it when I had time and all was good. Now that my twitter ( and Facebook) feed have all the information on the races I hate it when I can’t watch a race live. Last year I listened to at least three races on the radio. I loved Mike King. I was terribly disappointed when I learned he would no longer be doing the radio broadcast. I think Paul Page is a great replacement. I’m looking forward to listening to him.

Then there is all the things about Indycar that we’ve grown used to over the years and we’ve been missing all winter. I can’t wait to see my favorite drivers which include TK, Justin Wilson, Helio and Takuma Sato (I am always a fan of the driver on AJ’s team). I think this will be another amazing year with fantastic racing. I hoping to see Graham, Marco and Josef Newgarten win this year along with the favorites I mentioned before.

I do have two disappointments with this first race. I will miss having a female driver. I am bummed Simona won’t be in the series this year and so wish that Pippa could have found a full time ride. I also really wish this first race (well really all of them) was going to be on NBCSN. I want a qualifying show and a start of the season show. I greatly prefer the NBCSN talent over ABC. NBCSN cares more about Indycar and it shows in the quality of the work they do. I am hopeful that ABC will do a better job than they have in the past but will still be glad when the races are on NBCSN.

Oh I guess I’m also bummed because I won’t be watching live due to a birthday party we must attend. I will sneak out as soon as possibly and watch as soon as I can but I’ll miss the twitter communications. That has become a fun addition to the race experience.

So who is my prediction to win? I know Hinch and Sato have been fast and of course Power is always good so you can’t count them out but I’d love to see TK or Wilson start this year off right. Then there is Conway and Pagenaud–how do you choose?

I’ll pick the podium-TK, Conway, Hinchcliffe. Not sure the order but I’m choosing them as my top three. Honesty, I’ll be happy whoever it is. I love this sport and can’t wait for the green flag.

My thoughts on Qualifying for the 500 and a change in my tradition

My tradition for the last seven years has been to spend Pole Day at the track with my boys, currently ages 11 and 9. We don’t live in Indy so we travel home on Sunday. The new qualifying rules really make it hard for me to continue that tradition. My boys enjoy the trip and we have a good time but lets be honest they much rather spend the day at the hotel pool than the speedway. I try to make it as fun as possible but a full day at the track is exhausting even for me. How would I convince them to spend two days? So I think our tradition is about to change. This year we plan to attend the GP of Indy the weekend before qualifying and we will not attend qualifying this year. That breaks my heart. It will be my boys first race and we are all excited for that but it will also be a break in tradition and Indy is all about tradition.

That is how the changes affect me personally. How will they change the month of May?

I couldn’t believe it the year Tony Kanaan crashed on Pole Day. He crashed again on Bump Day and barely made the field. Thank goodness he had multiple opportunities to put the car in the show. I can think of a handful of drivers that must be in the 500 this year if we want to grow our sport. Helio must be in- he will be going for win number 4. TK was last years winner and a fan favorite (and my fav) he must be in. Juan Pablo Montoya, Jacques Villeneueve and Kurt Busch need to be in the field. These last three will not be the ones I’m cheering for but they will draw tons of media attention. The event needs them. Marco and Graham need to be in the race for name recognition. A crash, an engine problem, a bad day, any number of things could keep them from qualifying. We’ve seen it happen. Now I suppose if we only have 33 cars attempting to make the field then we wont need to concern ourselves with the what ifs but I imagine we will have at least one or two extra cars. If one of these “extras” makes the race I don’t want to see them dropped but neither do I want Helio, TK or Graham sitting on the sidelines.

I can accept the change in my Indy traditions and I am excited for some of the new tradtions that will be started. I am also ok with a driver missing the race if after two (or four) days of qualifying he couldn’t get it to work. But one day, one chance to make the Greatest Spectacle in racing is not enough to ensure that the drivers who are meant to be are the ones in the race.

All that said if Bruno Junqueira gets pulled from the field again I will scream. That is not the answer.