Get pumped, IndyCar fans. The 2015 season is upon us in just 7 days! Here are my predictions for the season opener in St. Petersburg, FL:
1. Chevy Dominance, At Least for Now
There’s no denying that Chevy had a more successful weekend at Barber. But, remember back in 2012 when Chevy engines were top dog? At first, it seemed as though everyone who opted for Honda chose wrong. That is, until Indianapolis, when fuel conservation became a factor for the first time in the season, and Honda took the honor of winning the Indy 500. I do expect Chevy to win at St. Pete. However, I expect that there is more to the story than what meets the eye through quick practice laps, and I believe Honda will pull through in the long run.
Now I’m no engineer, and I know that looks aren’t everything, but when I saw how different Honda aero kits were from Chevy’s, I wondered if it might take longer for Honda drivers to adapt, because they are so different. Of course, it’s all speculation at this point, but it will be interesting to see how different things are mid-season.
2. Close Speeds
Despite Chevy’s dominance last weekend in the open test at Barber, we still saw the top 21 drivers separated by less than a second. Chevy may have an edge, but no one can be counted out.
3. Hard-Charging Rookies
2014’s rookie class was certainly one of a kind, but I expect Coletti and Chaves to make names for themselves in short order, while Karam has already done so with his runs last year at Indy, and this year’s 24 Hours of Daytona. Rookies always have a little extra fearlessness in them, and I expect this year’s class to be no exception.
4. Busy Saturday Practice
Friday’s forecast looks like rain, which could mean a washout. With two scheduled practice sessions totaling 2 ½ hours, Saturday’s 45-minute session will be busy, to say the least.
5. Late-Race Carnage
With so many unknowns with the new aero kits, I expect drivers to be fairly conservative in the early stages of the race. But as the race wears on, drivers will become more comfortable with their machines and start to smell victory lane. At this point, action will pick up, and the unfamiliar will create a likelihood of more incidents than usual.
6. Driver Fatigue
I don’t expect fatigue to the extreme of Darren Manning at Watkins Glen ’07, but so much added downforce will only make a hard job even harder. Drivers will be under more pressure than ever to be physically prepared, and will certainly be sore after the race. For this reason, the doubleheader in Detroit will be of particular concern.
7. Familiar Faces in Victory Lane
At the end of the day, my prediction is that Penske or Ganassi will bring home the honors. The drivers at these teams have more experience than anyone else in the field, which I think will be the biggest factor when it comes to adapting to the new aero kits early on.
Agree or disagree with anything? Thoughts and opinions are always appreciated!