Exclusive INDYCAR Nation News

Locks, drops & sleepers for Baltimore

by
Zach, Kyle, Chris and Kristin
| Sep 04, 2012

Lock: James Hinchcliffe
It seems odd taking a rookie as a lock, but I think Hinch has earned it. Besides, I know many fantasy owners are getting low on those Will Power, Scott Dixon, and Dario Franchitti picks—the last few races of the season are a time to think outside the pit box, as it were. Hinch and Newman/Haas have proven they can find speed quickly even when they don’t test, which should put them in a good position on a new road course such as Baltimore.

Drop: Danica Patrick
I hate picking Patrick for this two weeks in a row, but she didn’t show much of anything at Sonoma, and there’s no reason to believe Baltimore will be any different. Her farewell IZOD IndyCar Series tour has not exactly been an inspired one. The most you can say here is that she will likely at least finish the race.

Sleeper: Ana Beatriz
This is the first time this year I’ve felt reasonably confident selecting Bia going into a weekend, and I’m happy to be able to do so. She’s looked much better the last couple races, though there’s the concern she might qualify well but fade during the actual race. With any luck, Bia can continue her late-season improvement and find the mark at Baltimore.

---Zach Houghton

Lock: Ryan Hunter-Reay
I'll stick with the American for a second week in a row. If not for a poor starting spot, Hunter-Reay might have contended for a podium. Even still, he was one of the stars of the day, climbing from 19th to 10th on a track in which passing is all but impossible. Heading to Baltimore, which appears to be more friendly for overtaking, Hunter-Reay should excel again.

Drop: James Jakes
Apologies for stating the obvious, Jakes has struggled to impress in his rookie campaign. With a best finish of 15th (St. Pete), the Briton can't seem to get his feet under him, hardly a good thing as the season nears its conclusion. DOn't expect much to change this weekend.

Sleeper: Sebastien Bourdais
In contrast to his inexperienced teammate, Bourdais has been a star for Dale Coyne's outfit. In his last four races, he has finished sixth three times and ninth once. A top five is within reach in the right circumstances. But, more importantly, he doesn't make mistakes and keeps himself out of trouble. Watch out for "Seabass" this weekend.

---Kyle Lavigne

Lock: Dario Franchitti
With his points lead over Will Power down to 26 markers, Franchitti's going to need a good run here in the streets of Baltimore to try and stop the bleeding. Both title contenders basically cancel each other out with their street course capabilities, but I'm thinking that Franchitti will come through in the clutch.

Drop: Ed Carpenter
Yes, I know, everybody's pulling for Carpenter and Sarah Fisher Racing to do well. But road/street courses are simply not their thing right now. A positive surprise isn't out of the question, however -- after all, everybody else is learning this course, too.

Sleeper: Giorgio Pantano
After his solid run last week at Sonoma -- a track he hadn't seen in six years -- I've got to have a bit more faith in him this weekend. This will be Pantano's first IndyCar race on a street circuit, but the Italian has shown that he can get the job done.

 

---Chris Estrada

Lock: Tony Kanaan
Well you guys, it has come to that point in the season that I abandon all logic and reasoning and just hope like heck that my personal favorites can pull out a win. To suggest that anyone not named Will Power or Dario Franchitti will win this race is just downright foolish. But it wouldn’t be IndyCar racing if there wasn’t some shock and awe. So from now until Sunday I will be crossing my fingers and making many hopeful 11:11 wishes that TK can be the one to roll into victory lane at Baltimore.

Drop: Ed Carpenter
I hate to call him out so late in the season, but I have not been too impressed by Ed’s performances this year. As an Indy-native, I’m very partial to Ed and Sarah Fisher Racing. I’d really love to see him knock out a couple Top 5 or Top 10 finishes in these last couple of races. Everyone knows he has the talent; hopefully he and his team can pull together and make it happen.

Sleeper: Sebastien Bourdais
Being the random knowledge connoisseur that I am, I was perusing IndyCar.com last night and discovered a shocking fact. Bourdais has finished sixth in three of the last four races. I am impressed! I think it’s very easy for low profile drivers to fall off the map at the end of the season when it’s all about the championship points race. Huge kudos to Bourdais for hanging in there and bringing his A game week in and week out.

---Kristin Slevin

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