Finally race weekend is here and shortly we will be kicking things off with the Grand Prix of St. Pete. After such a long off season I am so excited but before we get too far into the weekend I wanted to share some thoughts on how I see this season shaping up.
Let’s start with Brasilla. What a disappointment and disaster. IndyCar did not need a hit like that. Just one more thing to alienate the fair weather fans. If Mark Miles wants to grow this sport we can’t have more cancelled races and we need some races in February and March. Sure hope that change comes sooner rather than later.
Now to our race teams–
Penske- Wow! What do you even say? I expect to regularly see this team in victory circle. They have always been the team to beat and the drivers are all top notch.
Power- He will have the most poles for the season and quite a few wins. It’s highly likely he will hold on to his champion title. We know he is also itching for the win at Indy.
Castroneves- He will also be a contender at Indy. I expect Helio to have a good year and be in the running for the championship but I fear he won’t win the title.
Montoya- Now that he has a year under his belt I expect more wins from him.
Pagenaud- While I don’t see Simon winning at Indy, he will be on the podium at most other races. If he doesn’t experience too many growing pains at Penske he is the one I see giving Power the greatest run for his money. Keep your eye on Pagenaud, his career is just getting started.
Ganassi- Chip Ganassi’s team has always been right there with Penske and I don’t expect things to be much different this year. I was disappointed that Target pulled back to only one car but hopefully their involvement level will increase. I expect Ganassi to have their fair share of wins and podiums during the 2015 season.
Dixon- We know he will continue to perform. Not much else to say there.
Kanaan- Hopefully after his win at Fontana he has found his groove and will continue to win. I’m sure hoping he doesn’t start all over again with the new aero kits.
Kimball- I expect Charlie to perform about the same. A win is possible.
Karam- So glad he has a spot at St.Pete and sure hope it translates into a full time ride like everyone is hinting at. He could be the next generation of IndyCar.
Andretti Autosport- They seem to be struggling a bit this year. I’m surprised to watch them struggle to find money and sponsors for the cars they want to run. It will also be interesting to watch what unfolds with Simona and Justin.
Hunter-Reay- He will continue to be the head at Andretti Autosport. Besides Dixon he will give Penske the greatest challenge if Andretti and Honda have put together a good package with the aero kits.
Marco Andretti- He seems to be maturing but I don’t think he will perform much better this year.
Munoz- I don’t expect much from him.
de Silvestro- Wow! So glad she is back but have no clue how she will do or how long she will be here. Hope it all works out.
Wilson- Just learned today that Justin will drive in both races at Indy. Thank goodness. I hated that he was left without a ride. Now we just need to get him in a car for the rest of the season, preferably with Andretti.
AJ Foyt- They finally were able to make the move to a two car team! I expect them to continue improving and have a few podiums and a possible win.
Sato- Larry Foyt appears to have a calming effect on Sato but he will continue to make moves that make us both cheer and cringe. Poles and wins are possible but not highly probable.
Hawksworth- I’m very excited to see him sign with Foyt. Some have predicted he will be the one driving the 14 car next year. I wouldn’t be surprised if he is the one who gets AJ his next win.
Carpenter, Fisher, Hartman- Great move combining these two teams. Hope they become a power house in upcoming years.
Carpenter- He will continue to excel on ovals and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a 500 victory in his future.
Newgarden- Hoping this is the year we see a win from Josef. He has the talent.
Fillipi- I like Luca and I expect to see some top 10s and even 5s but probably in the second half of the season.
Brian Herta Autosport- So glad they are able to continue competing. I always worry about the smaller teams.
Chaves- Hopefully he will keep his head above water but it will be a tough season and I don’t expect too much. If he is given a second season that will most likely change.
KV/KVSH- They are the dark horse team. We know they can win but they aren’t quite a power house team. They could keep things interesting.
Bourdais- Such a talented driver. I expect to see him in the mix on the road and street courses.
Coletti- I don’t know much about him but he appears to be fast and that has already made him someone to keep an eye on. I think fans will be drawn to him the way we were to Mikhail Aleshin. There is often complaints about all the foreign drivers and yet many of them are fan favorites. If he continues to show speed he will gain acceptance quickly.
Rahal, Letterman, Lanigan- Ok so this might be their year. I didn’t really think that a couple days ago but the Steak n Shake sponsorship is really a big deal and might be the momentum that Graham needs to finally get that second win and maybe even a third. Seems like such a simple thing but a sponsor that the fans can support is a big deal. We are quite excited at our house and if Steak n Shake is an active sponsor it could be huge. This is actually awesome for IndyCar.
Graham Rahal- He has the talent, hopefully with new sponsors and a positive attitude he will finally get another win. The sport is better with recognizable names so we need him and Marco to perform well.
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports- Sam Schmidt is amazing, need I say more? I expect his team to do well this season.
Hinchcliffe- Well it might seem like a step down for James but I think he will still impress. I don’t think we will see the three wins we did in his 2013 season but I hopeful he will reach that top step.
Jakes- Well I will admit I was kinda disappointed to see him with this ride. He just doesn’t excite me and I don’t think we will see much out of him. Maybe a couple top 10s but nothing to write home about.
Dale Coyne racing- This is the most disappointing team of the season and that hurts me to say because I have always liked this team in the past. I admit I don’t know if it was Justin that wanted to move on or Dale not wanting (or being able) to sign Justin back but I hate that Justin doesn’t have a full time ride when two forgettable drivers do. It sounds like a new driver will be involved after Indy so I won’t quite pass judgment yet but right now I’m pretty disappointed.
Huertas- While he had one win last year, I don’t expect another. Even with his win Carlos wan’t able to make a name for himself.
Dracone- Sorry Francesco, you are the biggest disappointment of the season. I have no clue why Dale chose you and I don’t expect to see much out of you.
So when you look over my list I appear to be pretty optimistic for most drivers and I do truly hope to see multiple teams/drivers on the podium. Another season like last year would be amazing. However, my overall opinion is that Penske will dominate and become the team to beat. I have often rooted against Penske for that very reason. I expect that to be even more true for the 2015 season.
I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds. Here’s to the 2015 season! May it be a safe and amazing season for all involved.