This weekend, IZOD IndyCar Series heads to the Southern Hemisphere, where once again, drivers will contest the Sao Paulo Indy 300. Here are five big questions that we’ll get answers to this weekend, in what should be an excellent kickoff to a busy month of on-track INDYCAR action:
Can Will Power Four-peat?
The Sao Paulo race has been held three times. Will Power has won it every time. In fact, last year’s Sao Paulo race was the last time Power has won a race, despite his dominance on street courses. Will is currently P8 in points, but another win here could throw him right back in contention. Power has usually been at his best early in the season, and this is his last shot before the primarily oval midsection of the schedule to rack up a maximum points weekend. Needless to say, all eyes will be on Will, to see if he can avoid bad luck and run-ins and grab his fourth Brazil win.
Will Marco Maintain His Great Start?
Marco Andretti has looked sharper than he has in years, and has been rewarded by finding himself P4 in points. The talk has been all about how Marco is calmer and in a much better place mentally this year, and he’s an intriguing possibility to throw into the title fight at this point in the young season. However, Sao Paulo looms as a strong challenge to the Andretti scion. He’s finished a middling P14 here the last two years, and this has never been one of his stronger courses. We’ll have to see if Marco can reverse that trend, or, if he can’t, how his current mindset deals with a setback.
Can Taku Make It Two In A Row?
The INDYCAR world lost its collective mind last week when AJ Foyt driver Takuma Sato drove a masterful race to win at Long Beach. It was a beautiful, error-free effort, the sort of result Taku fans have been hoping for all this long while. Sato is currently just behind points leader Helio Castroneves in the standings, and his last two races in Brazil have been absolute gems. Especially of note is last year, where he started at the back, fought back from a pit speed violation, and grabbed his first IICS podium. If he and the Foyt crew can come close to their Long Beach performance, there’s no reason to think he won’t be in contention once more this weekend.
What Effect Will The Course Adjustments Have?
With Tony Cotman’s crew expanding the Turn 1 and 2 areas to promote more passing, fans can expect the starts and restarts to hopefully be a bit less snug and a lot cleaner. With the track being smoothed as well, it all adds up to probably another weekend of lap records falling. Last year yielded five full-course cautions, so with any hope the carnage will be reduced this year. Either way, between the DW12’s raciness and this year’s adjustments, this should be anything but follow-the-leader.
Who Will Be Sitting Pretty Going Into Indy?
Of course, we all know that a street course is not the same as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but that doesn’t mean a time can’t ride momentum and confidence here into the rest of May. We could see a major points shakeup, and several of usual championship contenders—Dario Franchitti, for one--really can’t afford another poor result if they want to remain in serious title consideration. One thing’s for sure—thanks to Sao Paulo, some teams are going to go to IMS next week brimming with confidence, while others are going to be increasingly desperate to turn things around. The drama that starts this weekend could carry through all of May. We’ll have to tune in to see who makes the best of an international INDYCAR weekend.
Zachary Houghton runs www.indycaradvocate.com, which features regularly-updated INDYCAR, IZOD IndyCar Series, and Mazda Road to Indy interviews, commentary, and more. You can find him on Twitter at @indycaradvocate, or drop him a line at mail.rpgblog(at)gmail.com.