Is it just me, or have the last two weeks just dragged by? For some reason it seems like Long Beach was about a month ago, but at least we are back to it this weekend in Sao Paulo. After that we bring the cars back, put them in long-awaited oval trim and celebrate the greatest month of the year.
Speaking of May, just for planning purposes my birthday is May 25. I intend to stretch the celebration through the entire weekend, and you all are more than welcome to join me, if not in person at least in spirit.
Anyway, back to the lecture at hand. (If you know where that came from major props to you) I covered a few topics this week but left out the protest about the Honda turbocharger. I did that on purpose because I hadn't read a lot about it and as an apprentice gearhead (like Cole Trickle, I just drive the car, I don't fix it) I wasn't sure it all meant.
But now that Honda has gotten its way -- and was there any doubt they wouldn't -- I will say this. I don't like the decision. One, because Honda designed the motor to be better on long ovals so they shouldn't be crying about being slow on twisties and two, that's just how competition goes. This was a very NASCAR-ish process and I didn't like it. You want to go faster? Figure out over the winter how to do it, don't go crying because you missed on your design.
That said, since Honda got its way I could see it being more of a player this weekend than they have been so far in 2012. With the 2.6-mile course having a long, one-mile back straight, the extra push from that turbo will help.
Assuming the weather cooperates, which it hasn't the past two years and doesn't look like it will again this weekend. Right now there is a 50 percent chance of rain Saturday, and that goes up to 90 percent on Sunday for the race. The rain could be quite the equalizer and could give us a wild-looking grid just like we had a Long Beach.
When all is said and done, here is how I think it might shake out:
Pole winner -- I'm going to throw a flyer out there and give it to James Hinchcliffe. Hinch is the only driver to make every Fast Six session this season and he has been quick everywhere.
Race winner -- Tony Kanaan. TK is one of those guys who races hard and seems to pour a lot of emotion into his driving, and I think he will be extremely vitalized by his hometown crowd. Yes, I picked that with my heart, and if I have to make a pick with my head I am going with Simon Pagenaud (if the Hondas are indeed improved). Will Power aside, Pagenaud has done some of the most brilliant driving of the season and has been fun to watch. He goes into every race as the underdog because he is a one-car team, but he doesn't back down and that will pay off for him somewhere this year.
Podium -- TK, Pagenaud, Power. Come on, you don't think I would totally shut out Will, do you?
Other fearless thoughts and predictions -- Rubens Barrichello will be a big mover as well and should improve on his season-best finish of eighth place...Dario Franchitti will be one to watch (again) this weekend. Can he figure out what is going on in advance of Indy? I think he should, a top 5 would not surprise me...It will be interesting to watch how Graham Rahal drives in his first race of his probation. He should do fine, but I wonder how much room he and Marco Andretti will give each other on the course.