After a long off season it is so good to finally have the 2016 Verizon IndyCar season begin. As always I’m especially thankful for Curt Cavin and Kevin Lee for keeping me up to date on Silly Season through Trackside. I also appreciate George Phillips and his dedication to his blog Oilpressure.com. They definitely help make the off season better.
Now it is finally the start of the season and cars have already been on track at St. Pete. As a matter of fact, Will Power has already won the pole. This is not a surprise. But before we get into the first race lets take a look at what happened during the off season.
Honestly until recently not too much happened. Pieces fell in place pretty much as we expected. But as the season neared we got a few surprises. The biggest surprise was Brian Herta merging with Andretti Autosport. While this might have been a good move for Herta it left Gabby Chaves without a ride. We later found out that Alexander Rossi would be filling that seat. Rossi has been quite vocal about IndyCar not being his preferred ride for the season which just rubs salt into the wounds of losing Chaves. Perhaps Rossi will change his tune but right now I’m not a fan.
Mikhail Aleshin joins Schmidt Peterson Motorsports as James Hinchcliffe’s teammate.
Conor Daly is driving for Dale Coyne’s team. I love that he has a full time ride.
Sarah Fisher stepped down as an owner. Josef Newgarden will be the full-time driver for Ed Carpenter Racing and Ed will continue to race on the ovals. Good news for fans of Sarah- she will be driving the pace car for most of the races during the 2016 season.
So what are some of my predictions for 2016? Or perhaps hopes is a better word.
Penske will continue to dominate. Will Power has won the first pole of the season and Penske is always the team to beat. Okay no surprises here. While I admire Roger Penske I almost always root against him and his drivers (with the exception of Helio) I really prefer to see the underdog win.
Josef Newgarden and Graham Rahal will continue the momentum they started last year. I expect them to both continue winning races.
Everyone seems to think that Max Chilton will have a good season. Chilton will be driving for Ganassi’s and is being mentored by Dario Franchitti but I think it is going to be Conor Daly that impresses us this year. The Ganassi team is really the A team and the B team. Chilton will be on the B team and have a learning curve to deal with. Coyne’s team has continued to improve and Daly has shown great potential. I’m excited to watch Daly’s season and expect more from him than Chilton. I don’t expect Alexander Rossi to do much better. His heart is not into it and he will have the greatest learning curve. My money is on Conor Daly for Rookie of the Year!
James Hinchcliffe will have a great season. Hopefully that will include winning races but I think he is going to appreciate everything so much more and that will show in his racing. I’m so glad to have him back.
Indy 500- The 100th running will be amazing no matter the outcome. I’m not even going to try to predict the winner but will tell you some outcomes I would love to see-
1- Marco Andretti wins! He is great on ovals and I would love to see him win. An Andretti winning on the 100th running would be great for IndyCar.
2- Graham Rahal wins! The Rahal name might not be as big as Andretti but would still be great.
3- Helio Castroneves wins his 4th Indy 500. Enough said.
4-James Hinchcliffe wins. Awesome for Hinch and what a great story after last years accident.
5- My list could keep going. I am usually pretty happy with the winner. I would love to see A.J. Foyt’s team win, Tony Kanaan win again, a new winner. Honestly with the exception of about three drivers I would be happy no matter who wins. I can’t wait!
The IndyCar series has been improving every year. Numbers are up and I believe things are moving in a positive way. I am very hopeful that television ratings and race attendance will continue to improve. I am thrilled the season is beginning and can’t wait to see what it holds.