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Locks, drops & sleepers: The Vegas Finale

by
| Oct 12, 2011

Lock: Dario Franchitti/Oriol Servia
I’ve got to go back to the Ganassi well for this one. Simply put, Dario performs when it’s all on the line. He was thousandths of a second from winning at Kentucky, and he should at least challenge here. He’s also got that pure luck that his rival Will Power seems to lack at times. Obviously, if you have him left in your driver pool, you’ll want him in there.

For those of you all out of Ganassi/Penske drivers, grab Oriol Servia. He’s got P4 locked up in the championship standings, and you’ll want a veteran presence on a busy track. It’d be great to see the Newman/Haas lads bring home a win, but Servia should at least be in the running for a Top 10, if not a podium.

Drop: Pippa Mann
A successful race here for Pippa will be keeping it clean and continuing to improve throughout stints in the race. As much as we all dig her, there are likely more productive options at play here this week. It’s a big field; even though this is Las Vegas, there’s no real reason to gamble if you don’t have to.

Sleeper: Danica Patrick
This is a tough field in which to narrow down a sleeper, simply because there are so many drivers who could finish so well, and with the crowded field, there’s always a chance someone’s day ends prematurely. When you come to that, I think you need to look at the driver with 50+ consecutive races without a DNF. It might be Danica’s last full-time race in the Series, and it’s possible we could see a good finish for her along the lines of last year’s Homestead finale.

---Zachary Houghton

(Let's stay away from the obvious Penske/Ganassi clan this week).

Lock: Ed Carpenter/J.R. Hildebrand
Okay, I know I put two drivers here, but I'm not sure you could go wrong with either. Sarah Fisher Racing has put all of their resources behind its oval program and their speed is unquestionable. And Hildebrand could have challenged for the win as well if not for his accident on pit road. At this point, it's pretty easy to reckon many of the big names have been used up so, if you're looking elsewhere, either of these drivers will do you some good.

Drop: Mike Conway
I hate pick on Conway for a second straight race, but I fear I have no choice. The Long Beach winner has been dreadful on the ovals this year just can't a grasp on them, even if his teammates are running well (see Kentucky). He'll be happy to know the oval races are being reduced next year because, quite frankly, they just don't seem to mesh with him. It was fun to see him win in Long Beach, but outside of that, it hasn't been a good year for Conway.

Sleeper: James Hinchcliffe
I'm not sure anyone could have run as well as "Hinch" did in Kentucky and barely get noticed. A top five runner for most of the day, he outlasted Ryan Hunter-Reay for fourth on the final lap, giving him the lead of the Rookie of the Year standings. Given how strong Hildebrand looked, Hinchcliffe may need to emulate that effort once more. And, it won't surprise me at all if he does. Newman/Haas' resurgence has been a great story all year and Hinchcliffe has been a big part of it.

---Kyle Lavigne

Lock: Dario Franchitti
Franchitti is set to add another jewel to his crown on Sunday. There’s nobody you want more on your side when everything’s on the line and he can handle these championship battles in his sleep after going through so many over his career. One mistake against Franchitti is one too many and I feel that Will Power and Team Penske made theirs in Kentucky two weeks ago.
 
Drop: Davey Hamilton
Hamilton’s a fan favorite, but with a 34-car field on tap for Vegas, it’s just not wise to put too much faith in a part-time program like the one he has with Dreyer and Reinbold Racing. A clean, mid-pack finish may be as good as it gets for him on Sunday.

Sleeper: Ryan Hunter-Reay
The American put up a strong fifth-place effort at Kentucky that saw him as part of the pack stalking Ed Carpenter and Franchitti all the way to the checkered flag. Vegas is a different 1.5-miler than Kentucky, but I think he can put up the same results and head into 2012 on a high.

---Chris Estrada

Lock: Dan Wheldon
Let’s face it, Vegas is a big race. Big money. Big coverage. Big glory. Sound like any other race on the schedule…? Dan already came out of nowhere to win the Indy 500 this year, who’s to say he won’t do it again? He’s got a fresh pair of legs under him, a lifetime of experience, a well-equipped team and a $5 million pay check waiting for him at the finish line. If that’s not recipe for success, I don’t know what is!

Drop: Helio Castroneves
I’m not sure why I’m picking on Helio this week other than he’s been the biggest drop all season. He hasn’t won a race and he hasn’t even put up a respectable fight most weeks. Everyone deserves an “off” season, especially a driver as great as Helio, but it has been disappointing to watch. Hopefully next year we’ll see Spiderman climb the fence a few more times.

Sleeper: Tony Kanaan
Again, I realize that my TK picks are always a long shot, but I equate his fame in IndyCar with that of Dan Wheldon. Regardless of who your favorite was for Indy, you were happy that Dan took it because he’s a great driver and a fan favorite. Similiarly, in a race with such huge stakes and hype surrounding it, the fans would love to see TK do well. It would be a great victory and a great end to the season.

---Kristin Slevin

15 Comments

  1. 1 technical marketing 28 May
    I am a big follower of this event and specially it is been hosted by Indycar.
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  5. 5 Brandywine 24 Oct
    Very true! Makes a cnahge to see someone spell it out like that. :)
  6. 6 Terrell D Lewis 15 Oct
    Can anyone catch Will Powers HA HA Ha very funny he's just man.Catching him and driving around him would not be a problem.
  7. 7 Todd in Iowa 14 Oct

    Lock: Iowa as a venue (fast, fast bullring) and oval racing. What would Indy be without ovals...Formula 1.

    Love to see them abreast, turning left and screaming along!

    Drop: Danica Patrick, too bad- my young daughter has really liked her forever - but Danica has stopped being an asset to IRL.

    Keepers: The new female drivers- Ramonna de Silvestro, Pippa Mann- they are so much classier than Danica! Can't wait to see Ramona in the new 2012 car.

    Sleeper: KV Racing- Kanaan, Sato and Viso-Need better pit stops and to shew away the gremlins.

    See Dan go. Go, Dan, go. Dan goes fast. See Dan win!    

  8. 8 M.G. Rome 14 Oct

    LOCK : Franchitti -the best on the track on  any given day.

    DROP: Andretti - Let's just hope he doesn't take out someone else with whatever stupid move he makes this time.

    SLEEPER: TK - Always !!

  9. 9 Zachary 14 Oct

    Nice picks, all! Let's see how it pans out.

    Hi kk:

    So far, Vegas is looking promising indeed. It sounds as if all the suites are sold out, and hopefully it's providing a great foundation for some sponsor networking. It's looking like quite the event!

    I'm not sure about your oval attendance numbers. Milwaukee was indeed around 15k, but New Hampshire attendance was about 30k. Kentucky was likely about 25k. It certainly wasn't less than 10,000 or 15,000!

    If self-promotion can work at tracks like Chicagoland and Kentucky, I think the series might have a bit more of  a play at those tracks. Here's hoping the series continues to grow, develops healthy events, and yes, makes ovals that struggle work a bit better.



  10. 10 gskiddy 13 Oct
    Glad to see Vegas end out the season and on ABC...not all have pay tv nor Versus.
    LOCK: Andretti...hungry after KY and great on the ovals and is 100th race...
    DROP: never underestimate anyone in INDYCARS! And...it is LAS VEGAS!
    KEEPERS: I can definatley see Danica on podium in last race
    I can just see Wheldon pulling it off in Vegas
    SLEEPER: Servia....Hildebrand....Dixon???
  11. 11 k.k. 13 Oct
    You can't argue with stats. Other then Texas and Indy, oval courses are a flop. Milwaukee, less then 15000. Kentucky, less then 15000, New Hampshire less then 10000!! Need I go on??! Every road course has had more butts in the seats then empty ones. And where you have butts in the seats you have REVENUE!!! Nascar has the ovals locked up, can't go head to head with that action. You can still have ovals you just cant have them where the promoter takes a bath. Miami was where the season ended last year and theres a reason its not back there again. I HOPE beyond hope that Vegas is a success. WIth free tickets given away at every event this year and a 34 car field there's no reason why the seats shouldn't be filled. As I said, here's hoping..
  12. 12 Roberta 13 Oct

    Lock: Helio Castroneves

    If all wasn't taken from Helio and Briscoe including car parts strategist and crew members to make Will a star and Helio wasn't told not to win the one race he could have in order to give William a win and more points, we would have seen spiderman climb the fence and Briscoe with a win.  

    Drop: will power off Penske team

    Sleeper Danica Patrick

  13. 13 ROD 13 Oct

    Lock:  Las Vegas as a venue

    Drop: The number of road courses added to the schedule

    Keep: The oval tracks that have been dropped from the schedule.

    I know this doesn't reflect driver picks, but does reflect on the direction this org is taking.  Regarding the comment above about the reduction of oval venues, that is where the closed most exciting racting has been.  I for one, and many of my co-fans, are disappointed that our oval venues are disappearing from the schedule.  I'm not knocking the roady scene, but from this, and many, fan's perspective, it's the speed and 3 and 4 wide close racing that is the attraction.  Not follow the leader with a pass here and there.   I've had it explained to me, by a noteable commentator at Indy this year, that it's a matter of economics.  Well, my response to that is that it's a matter of not understanding the fan base.  Good luck next year.  This fan may be a drop for most of the season.  I am just thankful at this point that Vegas is finally back as a venue.  Can't wait to get there!

     

  14. 14 ROD 13 Oct

    Lock:  Las Vegas as a venue

    Drop: The number of road courses added to the schedule

    Keep: The oval tracks that have been dropped from the schedule.

    I know this doesn't reflect driver picks, but does reflect on the direction this org is taking.  Regarding the comment above about the reduction of oval venues, that is where the closed most exciting racting has been.  I for one, and many of my co-fans, are disappointed that our oval venues are disappearing from the schedule.  I'm not knocking the roady scene, but from this, and many, fan's perspective, it's the speed and 3 and 4 wide close racing that is the attraction.  Not follow the leader with a pass here and there.   I've had it explained to me, by a noteable commentator at Indy this year, that it's a matter of economics.  Well, my response to that is that it's a matter of not understanding the fan base.  Good luck next year.  This fan may be a drop for most of the season.  I am just thankful at this point that Vegas is finally back as a venue.  Can't wait to get there!

     

  15. 15 Julie 12 Oct

    Lock: Dario Franchitti

    He know how to close out a championship and will want to leave nothing to chance.

    Drop: Ryan Briscoe/Helio Castroneves

    Because they are both fighting for their job, they will not want to get in the way of a Will Power win. I unfortunately see them finishing somewhere mid-pack...although I hope I am wrong and one of them can win it.

    Sleeper: Oriel Servia

    He wants his second win...or at least one that can not be taken away from him.

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