At the conclusion of the annual pilgrimage to Motor City, ABC’s long and strained relationship with IndyCar comes to a merciful close, as does the weak early part of the series’ schedule. We’re fans of seeing both go and look forward to a brighter, more productive portion of the season ahead. Starting with, like, our ever popular predictions!
We’ve several prognostications for this weekend, full of open wheel racing as it is and coming off what was frankly a rough 500 in this department. But come on, who did have sour grapes Power winning it? Besides his few hard-cores, we mean?
So without further adieu, we confidently predict a widespread outbreak of spontaneous celebrations marking the conclusion of ABC’s coverage of IndyCar, arriving after this weekend’s dual Disney displeasure. There’s nothing not to like about the new network partner NBC – at least for the foreseeable future, that is.
Not only does the slipshod coverage conclude after Sunday, but also – finally! – the schedule starts to pick up. There have been four redundant road and street courses compared to merely two ovals thus far (and Mark Miles calls that “balance”), but after the double dose of Detroit dullness half the races are on exquisite oval tracks. Almost as good, they’re all on NBCSN, meaning better treatment, Katie Hargitt AND televised qualifications – all of which are, like, totally irresistible.
Photo from sundownpictures.com
Our picks for pole winners, of which they’ll likely be two as with everything this weekend – unless ragin’ Graham Rahal pulls off another twin win, which we doubt – come from a highly select group of street specialists. By which we mean in this case Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais and Scott Dixon, both former winners.
Bourdais already had some early success this season, while Dixie – one of the best drivers in the modern era – has struggled for years now but did recently show some bounce back with third place and almost $600k at Indy (a paltry sum next to Fast Eddy’s over $900k runner up check, though there were Danica bills). Look for both to start P1 and what’s not to like about that?
Photo from sports.usatoday.com
Likely first out of the races will be Sato and, unfortunately for his overwrought fans, Hinch. Talk about rotten luck of late. While Taku’s premature exit needs no explanation, the DNQ Canuck‘s does. Feeling the pressure after Indy, Hinch has endured numerous difficulties at Detroit during his career while enjoying little success.
It’s true he finished third last year in his best ever performance (after again brushing the wall), but he’s also been in the tire barrier on multiple occasions, including twice in 2016 and an unlikely and embarrassing event six years ago when the racetrack fell apart beneath him mid-race.
Photo from detroitautoblog.com
The biggest surprise of the twin bill will be how little passing, action or anything else about the races there is to like, outside the odd accident and accompanying restart. Hell, last year’s most memorable headline for the first race involved a squirrel. This forecast won’t come as a surprise to regular readers of ours through the years, as they well know how much of a premium passing poses on such an absolutely abominable street course. Oh well, at least Chevy and the Cap’n are happy – though we predict they won’t like all the results.
Why? Because your race winners will be your pole sitters, Dixon and Honda powered Bourdais, thankfully neither of whom drive for Penske. After Indy, his team’s due for a let down, and Honda does enjoy beating Chevy on their home track. Similarly, Ganassi’s ace is long overdue for a result while SeBass is simply too good on the concrete canyon courses. Unlike the 500 winner, both are likable enough – in their own ways.
Photo from concordmonitor.com
So there’s truly much to like as IndyCar speeds into its second half, especially when this weekend’s abysmal ABC broadcasts are over and done with and the best portion of the season is finally upon us. With electrifying oval tracks like Texas. And Iowa. And Pocono. And . . .