Locks, Drops, & Sleepers: Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
Once again, INDYCAR Fantasy Racing is in full swing, with both public and private leagues available. For fantasy owners, it means another season of trying to pick the top-performing IZOD IndyCar Series drivers each race weekend. Of course, with each driver only available to be chosen 6 times over the course of the season, making the right picks and stretching your roster becomes an even bigger deal.
Whether you're playing or not, I'm sure you have your own picks in mind. Who's going to hit the podium in St Pete and who will fall flat.
Zachary Houghton, IndyCarAdvocate.com:
Lock: Tony Kanaan
Nothing’s ever 100% certain, especially when you’re talking about new engines, but Kanaan has never qualified out of the Top 10 here, has only finished out of the Top 5 once (a P10 in 2010), and has won the event as well. He seems to truly have the measure of St. Pete, and there’s no reason those gaudy numbers can’t continue this weekend.
Drop: Simona de Silvestro
I absolutely hate putting the Iron Maiden on here, especially after her great P4 finish here last year, but I’m afraid that result will lure in the unsuspecting. Simona will be using the Lotus engine, and my early-season recommendation would be keeping away from choosing too many Lotus entries until we get an idea of what they can accomplish. Really, this is more of a cautionary step than anything until we see how that competition sorts itself out in the early going.
Sleeper: Mike Conway
Conway has never had good luck at St. Pete, though he at least has always qualified decently. However, with the new emphasis on engineering at Foyt Racing and Conway’s natural ability on street courses, this could be the sort of race we look back on as a turning of the tide for that team and driver.
Chris Estrada, INDYCAR Nation Contributor:
Lock: Tony Kanaan
Kanaan began one of the best driving jobs of his career at St. Petersburg one year ago, when he finished third with a team that had been thrown together just a couple of weeks before. 2012 is shaping up to be a big year for the former series champion and his KV Racing Technology group, and I think they can both start on a positive note by the Tampa Bay.
Drop: Scott Dixon
Out of all the potential championship contenders in this year's field, Dixon may be the one that has the most pressure to do well in the opening rounds. In each of the last three seasons, St. Pete's 1.8-mile street circuit has been unkind to the New Zealander in particular. There's no doubt he can be a winner here -- he's a Ganassi driver, after all -- but trouble has been getting the better of him at this place.
Sleeper: Simon Pagenaud
Pagenaud may be making his first open-wheel start in five seasons this weekend, but with a new car and engine for everybody, he's picking a good time to come back. What's more, I don't think his solid speed in the Sebring test sessions was a fluke. Qualifying in the top half will be crucial, but don't be surprised if the Frenchman puts on a nice performance.