Coming into Edmonton Indy, the points battle for the IZOD IndyCar Series Championship couldn’t be much closer. Over a half-dozen drivers still have a legitimate shot to win it all, and the fate of more than one entrant’s season could hinge on this weekend’s results (or lack thereof). Much the same could be said for many of the INDYCAR Fantasy Racing leagues out there. That’s why our pundits are back with another round of Locks, Drops, and Sleepers:
Zachary Houghton, IndyCarAdvocate.com
Lock: Will Power
Edmonton has been a great course for Power; he’s won pole position and the race itself twice apiece. With the championship fight heating up big-time, this is one of the best races remaining on the schedule for Power to pick up some points. Don’t let the last few races deceive you into thinking Will Power is going to be anything other than a prime contender on the street courses.
Drop: Marco Andretti
Edmonton hasn’t held much luck for Andretti, with only a single Albertan Top 10 to his name in four outings. He might not finish at the tail end of the pack, but there’s every reason to think this might be another mid-pack street course result for him. With his average street course result on the year being P16, there’s probably not a lot of incentive to choose him this week.
Sleeper: Takuma Sato
Sato won last year’s pole at Edmonton, and his attacking style should be well-suited to this course’s passing potential. He should be able to grab some points this week, and could be considered an intriguing, if somewhat risky, pick for drivers trying to conserve top picks for the stretch. Of course, the worry of a DNF is always present with Sato, so if you take this pick, be aware of the potential downside, but also be aware that he should be really fun to watch.
Paul Dalbey, MoreFrontWing.com
Lock: Tony Kanaan
In perhaps one of his quietest seasons ever, TK has amassed a solid record of good finishes this year and is knocking on the door of his first win since Iowa 2010. Another strong showing at Toronto indicates the first INDYCAR KV Racing Technology win may be just around the corner and I look for Tony to get that victory sooner rather than later. With a little luck on his side, Kanaan could sneak a victory away from the front-running title contenders this weekend.
Drop: Dario Franchitti
The Target twins have just had awful luck this entire season (sans Indianapolis and Detroit, of course), but the bug rarely bites one driver in back-to-back weekends. Although Dario suffered from a poor pit stop in Toronto, teammate Scott Dixon was the unfortunate victim of an engine expiration. If the trend of the season continues, I expect Franchitti to endure an unfortunate occurrence this weekend that renders him out of competition well before the race is completed. It's been a strange season for TCGR without much indication of change at this point.
Sleeper: Takuma Sato
If it wasn't for bad luck, poor Taku would hardly have any luck this year. He seems to have snake bitten for a good portion of 2012, though he had also brought about his own share of misfortune. Sato looked great at Edmonton, scoring his first career twisty pole and running strongly in the race. The rejuvenated RLL Racing team is poised for a great finish, and if Sato's Honda engine gets him all the way to the checkered flag, look for a solid result for affable Japanese driver.
Chris Estrada, IndyRacingRevolution.com
Lock: Will Power
It’s time for Will Power to show why he was considered the favorite to win the championship early on in the season. Power’s slipped to second in the standings and hasn’t had a top-5 finish since Belle Isle, but in his last three tries at Edmonton, he has come away with two wins and three podium finishes overall. Look for him to make a big statement this weekend.
Drop: James Jakes
Jakes came through with a career-best eighth place finish at Toronto, but for the most part, he’s had an unremarkable sophomore campaign (no top-5s, two top-10s, currently 22nd in points). Last year at Edmonton, he finished 18th, and while he has some wind in his sails coming off his efforts two weekends ago, I’m not sure if he can keep up with the lead pack this time around.
Sleeper: Josef Newgarden
Toronto may not have ended the way it should have for Josef Newgarden, but the American rookie still had an impressive run charging from 20th position to run inside the top five until his late incident with Simon Pagenaud. Sunday will mark his first crack at the Edmonton City Center Airport, but I think his aggressiveness can pair well with Edmonton’s multiple passing zones. Of course, a good qualifying effort would be a big help, too.