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LOCKS, DROPS AND SLEEPERS FOR BRAZIL…
BEFORE EACH WEEK RACE WEEKEND, INDYCAR NATION WRITERS WILL SHARE THEIR BRILLIANT ADVICE ON WHO TO PICK AND WHO TO DITCH...
Lock: Helio Castroneves
OK, OK, I know, I know: Helio's seen more punts this year than the Colts' Pat McAfee. But he's not going to be doomed to repeat the same performance every week all season. He'll get his, and on his native soil, I like him to net a strong finish here.
Drop: Sebastian Saavedra
Really, a lot of the rookie class is further behind than we'd like to see so far. Saavedra's fast, but he's also been prone to errors. He's going to have some DNFs this year, and on a track he's never raced before, I'd be a little concerned going in.
Sleeper: Vitor Meira
Foyt Racing has been pretty consistent so far this year, and Meira finished 3rd at Sao Paulo last year. On his home turf, he'll have a shot to do the same again. Barring mischief on the starts or restarts, Vitor should net you some points this week.
ZACH HOUGHTON- IndyCarAdvocate.com Blogger/suburb dweller/underdog supporter/@indycaradvocate
Lock: Ryan Hunter-Reay
Even though the Brazilian drivers will have the motivation to do well in Sao Paolo, I'm somewhat wary of picking one of them as a lock. Helio Castroneves is under the microscope, which may impede the aggressive driving needed to run up front. Also, Tony Kanaan seems hit or miss as they go through the weekends (though, to his credit, he and the KV squad do seem to get the results on Sundays), but I'm not sure if they can keep that up this time around.
Even though Hunter-Reay hasn't had luck on his side, the speed has been there this year; easily, he could have finished in the top five in each of the first three rounds (if not secured a win) if the circumstances played out better for him. Nearly the winner of this race last year, expect Hunter-Reay to run up front again.
Drop: Ana Beatriz
Struggling through her rookie season, Beatriz has yet to set the world on fire. Still recovering from a broken wrist won't help her cause on a very bumpy circuit in Brazil's capital. Even though she has seen this track once before, the speed hasn't quite been there this year and a spin before the race even started in Long Beach shows how much she is struggling to come to grips with the car right now.
Sleeper: Alex Tagliani
In this race last year, Tagliani served notice that the newly formed FAZZT Race Team would be a force to be reckoned with, sitting on the front and running in the top five until contact with Dan Wheldon and Tony Kanaan dropped him out of the race. Now Sam Schmidt Motorsports, this group has quietly climbed to sixth in the early-season standings. If Tagliani can stay out of trouble this year, he should be up there again.
KYLE LAVIGNE- East Coast Contributor/Motorsports Guru/Writer Extraordinaire
Lock: Ryan Briscoe
Want to get the best out of this much-maligned Aussie? Make sure he's in a corner -- like now. At Long Beach, he scored a potentially season-saving podium after two bad results to start the year. Now he returns to the track where one ill-timed trip to the tire barriers cost him the win in 2010. The pressure is still on him to perform. But he can certainly pass the test again. We've seen him do this repeatedly over the years.
Drop: E.J. Viso
While Tony Kanaan has charged to third in the points and Takuma Sato has shown early improvement in his second IndyCar campaign, E.J. Viso has been the bad egg at KV/Lotus in 2011. It's a bit sad to say this, but it's no longer becoming a matter of if he crashes out of a race, it's when. And I'm not too high on his chances this week against a treacherous street course like Sao Paulo. Can the Venezuelan pull off a shock result and get the critics (like me) off his back?
Sleeper: Raphael Matos
If Vitor Meira could surprise everybody -- including his countrymen -- by being the Brazilian on the podium last season in Sao Paulo, why can't Rafa do the same this year? Matos has done relatively well on a team that was put together rather quickly and he's got a solid road/street course background. Being in his homeland will give Matos, a native of Belo Horizonte, plenty of motivation as well.
CHRIS ESTRADA- FoxSports.com Guy/IndyRacingRevolution.com Blogger/employee of baseball/@estradawrites
One more race until the Month of May!!! :)
Lock: Will Power
I’d like to be able to pick a Brazilian to be in victory lane this weekend, but I think the Aussie is going to take it. It’s not quite May yet, but we all know what race is on every driver’s mind already. I don’t think anyone wants to drink the milk more than Power and Sao Paulo could give him the momentum he needs going into Indy.
Drop: Helio Castroneves
I hate to say it but I think his contact with Justin Wilson and Will Power in Long Beach is going to come back to haunt him this weekend. IndyCar Series officials have already said they will be keeping an eye on him and will not hesitate to penalize him if his car is involved in any more incidents. I think Helio will be on his best behavior in front of his home crowd and unfortunately that might translate into him being too cautious to be very competitive in Sao Paulo.
Sleeper: Vitor Meira
Vitor showed how comfortable he was at his home track last year with his strong 3rd place finish. He’s had two top 10 finishes in the first 3 races and is one of the most consistent drivers in the series. And to top it all off, his fan base grew by one this week when he welcomed baby girl, Juliana Schettini. Congrats, Vitor!
KRISTIN SLEVIN- BSU Student/USAC Insider/INDYCAR Nation Juggernaut of Joy/@kristinmarie935