There’s no rest for the weary, as the teams and drivers of the IZOD IndyCar Series barrel into Iowa for the Iowa Corn Indy 250. Long one of the most competitive tracks on the schedule, this year’s race promises to offer more of the same. To help out with INDYCAR Nation Fantasy Racing picks this week, our intrepid panelists are back for another round of Locks, Drops, and Sleepers:
Paul Dalbey, MoreFrontWing.com
Lock: Tony Kanaan
This guy has proven to be very quick on the ovals and has a great record at Iowa Speedway. TK really seems to be gelling well with both his KVRT team and the DW12. Coming off a solid run on the short oval at Milwaukee last week and a nice run at Texas before suffering damage in the incident with Will Power shows that TK is really in his oval groove now. His decisive victory at Iowa in 2010, backed up with a runner-up finish last year, shows that he can be tough to beat here when he gets going.
Drop: Takuma Sato
After capturing the world's attention at Indianapolis, it's been a tough last three events as Sato has failed to finish any of them. Sato will get some attention again this week as he has shown well here in both of his appearances. In 2010, he was running in the top 3 before finding the turn 4 wall late in the race. Last year, Sato grabbed his first career pole position but again failed roll off four wheels back on the transporter. Sato is quick but Iowa can bite in a hurry. Until he shows the patience to finish the race, hedge your bets elsewhere.
Sleeper: Oriol Servia
For a guy that has three top-5 finishes in the last four races since acquiring his Chevrolet engine, Servia shouldn't be on anyone's "sleeper" list. However, since he somehow seems to still be flying under the radar, take advantage and put Servia in your picks for this week. As fast-paced as everything is on the 7/8-mile bullring, concentrating and focus are paramount to securing a good finish. Servia rarely, if ever, puts a wheel wrong, so if he can avoid being in the wrong place at the wrong time, expect for good results from the Spaniard.
Chris Estrada, IndyRacingRevolution.com
Lock: Scott Dixon
Dixon’s been up and down this season but when he’s been up, he’s made it count with one win at Belle Isle and four podium finishes overall. That’s why he can still think about pushing for a third IZOD IndyCar Series title and Iowa would be a good place to start on that. The 7/8-mile oval has been relatively good to him in his career. He’s finished no worse than 10th in his five previous Iowa runs and comes off a third-place finish there in 2011 after jumping 20 spots in the race. With what happened to him in Milwaukee last weekend, there’s no doubt he’ll be looking to show some muscle on the bullring.
Drop: Alex Tagliani
Tagliani hasn’t been a factor in his previous two starts at Iowa with finishes of 12th in 2010 and 16th in 2011. He’s been more competitive recently after his Team Barracuda-BHA squad switched to Honda power, but I’m not sure if he can work his way through the field on Saturday night if something goes wrong in the Friday night heat races that will set the grid. He seems wary of those heat races himself, stating in a team release that he and the team “can’t put themselves in a bad spot.” Then again, he’s likely not the only driver with those feelings…
Sleeper: Ryan Briscoe
Briscoe’s been on a good-finish, bad-finish rhythm this season, so after finishing 14th at Milwaukee, he’s due for a good run this weekend, right? Luckily for him, the Aussie’s done well at Iowa with finishes of 7th, 2nd, 4th and 6th to his credit there. Keep this in mind as well: Despite its smaller size, Iowa races very much like a 1.5-mile superspeedway and for this race, the cars will have an aero package with less downforce. Doesn’t that sound familiar? Two weeks ago at Texas, Briscoe and his peers faced those circumstances on the 1.5-mile oval in Fort Worth; Briscoe came home third.
Zachary Houghton, IndyCarAdvocate.com
Lock: Tony Kanaan
This is one of TK’s best tracks, and since Indy, there’s been a building expectation that he’s about due for win #15 of his career. There’s no better track for that happen then Iowa. TK famously dueled here with Marco en route to finishing P2 a year ago, and had a strong win here in 2010. That year, he charged from a starting position of P15 to win the race, so don’t let his 10-spot engine change penalty this week through you off. He can contend, and he can win.
Drop: Takuma Sato
In his two starts here, Taku has finished P19 both times with contact. Interestingly enough, however, he generally qualifies well here, taking the pole last year and starting P5 in 2010. You might grab points for qualifying, but Sato needs to finish more races before this pick is less of a gamble. More aggressive IndyCar fantasy owners might go for this pick this week, but more conservative minds will likely shy away in consideration of the downside potential here.
Sleeper: Justin Wilson
While the Texas race winner shouldn’t be a sleeper, there will probably be those looking at his performance at Texas as some manner of fluke. Yet Wilson was also slicing his way through the field at Milwaukee before his engine blew, and Iowa will be a tough downforce package that sounds like it will make the drivers really drive. For a guy that’s as good at making that work as anyone in the Series, Iowa could be another great night for Wilson and Dale Coyne Racing.