Expect the racing to be outstanding on Saturday night at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. It almost always is as the track’s perfectly designed for IndyCars. Fontana’s an Italian place name with a gritty steel town history. It’s changed drastically over the last several decades and come Saturday night it’ll be known for two types of speed. The 220 mph speeds of IndyCars are perfectly legal though, and much better for you as long as you’re only spectating and not too close.
Photo from ap.org
The season title is on the line and kudos to the series for another down to the wire year with the championship. In addition to being exciting to watch, it’s further evidence of the parity the league enjoys and the new Dallaras have brought to racing over the last three years. Of course without race control’s reticence to penalize Team Penske again this year, we’d probably have another contender or two for the championship. The engine manufacturers also have performed well with Chevrolet taking the title again and Honda taking another Indianapolis 500 in May.
Realistically, it’s a battle between the two Penske veterans, Mad Will Power and the ever-ebullient Helio Castro Neves for the million dollar championship prize. IRR predicts it will be Helio who takes home the crown for the Cap’n’s first ICS title in nearly a decade, amazingly. This occurring after Power blows his lead, his race and his stack all in one glorious meltdown. Think New Hampshire times ten.
Photo from indysportscrew.com
Here’s IRR’s exclusive scoop. For the unstable member of the Penske stable, Sunday’s earthquake sent Will kicking and screaming across the proverbial edge. As we’ve documented here extensively, he was already teetering on it and Sunday’s 6.0 rumbler finished off his last remaining nerve. In addition to looking forward to Power’s meltdown, Helio’s experience and magnetism will shine through to make the difference Saturday night and beyond. That’s a positive for IndyCar. After all, you don’t want a mad man as your spokesman.
Photos from dailytelegraph.com.au and usatoday.com
As for the 500 mile race itself that’s another matter entirely. Somewhat unique to motor racing the result of the grand finale may be completely independent of the championship. Therefore multiple winners may well emerge Saturday night, a race winner and a points winner. Many factors go into the final race of the year for the teams. Drivers are auditioning for other opportunities, attempting to pad their career stats and even looking to keep their rides. Teams evaluate their crews and drivers’ performance in the finale closely, all with an eye toward improving next year.
Like previous season finales in IndyCar, all bets are off. It’ll be a wild and entertaining ride, guaranteed. Both Hunter-Reay and Ed Carpenter are oval aces and Montoya’s been hot lately so any of them could win. Same can be said for Dixie and TK who’s been close most of the summer.
But for the season finale in SoCal, that’s all too safe and tame for us at IRR. We’re going with a nostalgic surprise winner – one last win for the King of IndyCar – and some other astounding calls. They certainly can’t hurt our season averages and besides it’s the last opportunity of the year.
Photo from toledoblade.com
% correct in previous 5 races
Pole Winner – Helio Castro Neves or Tony Kanaan 20%
Race Winner – Juan Pablo Montoya or Takuma Sato 20%
First Out of Race – Will Power or Sebastian Saavedra 20%
Biggest Surprise of Race – Carlos Munoz or Mikhail Aleshin 0%