IndyCar Preview: The Indy 225 at New Hampshire

No NameAnalyst IAugust 10, 2011

The IZOD IndyCar Series will head back to New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H. for the first time since 1998. While some of the drivers are looking forward to getting back on an oval track, there will be plenty of questions as none of the drivers in the field have ever raced here in an IndyCar.

Scott Sharp won here in 1996, Robbie Buhl in 1997 and Tony Stewart was the winner here in 1998. While most assume that the Ganassi and Penske drivers will be the ones to beat here, it might not be that simple.

The one-mile oval is a very tricky track, with many bumps and tighter corners than similar tracks like Milwaukee. There will be plenty of room to pass on the longer straights, so traffic shouldn’t be a big issue here.

With no one really having an advantage (even though Penske tested here earlier in the year), it is anyone’s guess as to who will be the “driver to beat” on Sunday.

I am going to predict that Tony Kanaan will win the pole for this race, as he will be relying on his veteran driving experience to find his way around the track. I also think, since the track is similar to Milwaukee, he could be very good here.

I think we will see last week’s winner, Scott Dixon, making the podium this weekend, coming home in third place. In second place, I am going to predict that Ryan Briscoe drives a clean race and stays out of trouble to bring home a solid finish.

I do believe that Dario Franchitti will win this race on Sunday. With the win, he will put an even wider separation between himself and rival Will Power. This will put more pressure on Power’s team with just five races left in the season.

Four of the final six race tracks are new to the Series this year, including the switch from the 1.5-mile oval to the road course at Twin Ring Motegi, because of the March earthquake in Japan.  Power trails Franchitti by 62 points in the series championship heading into this Sunday’s race. The change from oval to road course in Japan could be a big blessing for him.

Sunday’s Indy 225 can be seen on ABC. Coverage starts at 3:30 p.m. EST.