Izod IndyCar: California Dreamin' and NASCAR Style Racin'

Sandra MacWattersCorrespondent IApril 15, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS - MAY 25:  15-time Indianapolis 500-winning owner Roger Penske poses with Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Team Penske Dallara Honda, following his victory in the 93rd Indianapolis 500 on May 25, 2009 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The Izod IndyCar series heads cross-continent to California for the Toyota Grand Prix of California this weekend in Long Beach.

Penske power has dominated with Will Power winning the first two races and teammate Helio Castroneves winning the third event.

Team Penske is expected to be tough once again as other teams are dreaming of ways to overtake the potent crew Penske has assembled.

Perhaps the fourth race of the season will be won by Ryan Briscoe, the remaining Penske driver who has yet to win this year.

Qualifying will be very important since passing proves to be difficult on the Long Beach street course.

Dario Franchitti, the 2009 IndyCar Champion won this race last year in his Target-Ganassi car.

Danica Patrick dislikes racing the open-wheel cars on circuitous routes like that of the Toyota Grand Prix of California.

There could be a surprise winner of this race because Danica, who finds the quick turns problematic finished fourth last year.

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On another note, the Izod IndyCar series has added a NASCAR style event to qualifying for the Indianapolis 500.

Prior to running the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, NASCAR runs the Sprint All Star Race.

The non-points race is divided into four segments consisting of a 50-lap race, two 20-lap segments and a final 10-lap sprint. The prize money at stake is $1,000,000.

Much like NASCAR, the IndyCars will now have the top nine qualifiers run a 90-minute "shootout" with the winner taking the pole and $100,000.

The top 24 spots are filled on Pole Day and the remaining nine spots are filled on Bump Day.

It is interesting to see the Izod IndyCar series institute a special event to enhance interest in open-wheel racing.

Perhaps a bit more of the NASCAR touch would add fans in the stands and up television viewership.