Naked and Unashamed Race Predictions Morning practice lays the cards on the table. Here's how to read them. By Bob Judd The morning warmup lays the cards on the table, folks. No jokers, no fooling, this is race setup and this is how ...
Naked and Unashamed Race Predictions Morning practice lays the cards on the table. Here's how to read them. By Bob Judd
The morning warmup lays the cards on the table, folks. No jokers, no fooling, this is race setup and this is how they'll run. First, wow, oh, momma, this is the most wide-open race of the season. The course is wide with passing on both sides and hard braking for Turn 1 and 4. The first nine drivers on the grid are all under the track record. And looking at the numbers from this morning's session, the big cats are up among the pigeons. It's going to be crazy out there, wild and, you never know, maybe wonderful. So here, naked and unashamed, are the predictions.
Greg Moore -- the spooky master of the oval who ventures up into the gray unknown and won this race last year with a Zanardi-like do-or-die pass on Alex Zanardi -- is back on form, fastest in the warmup this morning and serving notice that, yes, he will be running right up front.
Juan Montoya, who won from the pole at Nazareth, is still learning the track. Watching him battle Moore for the lead will be one of the great sights of the season.
Paul Tracy, who needs the redemption of a win, is third. And while the world prays that he (who through little fault of his own bashed into Robby Gordon yesterday) stays off the walls and the machines of his fellow drivers, Tracy will be in the only mode he knows: flat-out, brain condition red mist.
And, yes, Robby Gordon is back, in the mid-pack because he missed almost all of the practice and all of the qualifying session. His setup is full of guesses. If you have a chance and if TV allows, keep your eyes on Gordon on the opening lap as he likes to pass a dozen or so cars (11 at Fontana last year in the first two laps) while the other guys are still half asleep.
And Mauricio Gugelmin, who is as fast as anybody on the oval, will be there in the top 10. His pop-off valve blew and blew off his qualifying run yesterday, so he'll start from the back.
Hey, and P.J. Jones is running fourth to show that he and Toyota's great run at Nazareth is no fluke. This is real, this is the great Patrick team in with a shot for the checkered flag.
And OK, Christian Fittipaldi is only ninth, but you have to realize the stands are thronged with Fittipaldis, including dad Wilson, who drove in F1, and former CART, F1 and Indy 500 champion Uncle Emmo and a zillion others who have come to watch Fittipaldi start from the pole. To say that he is stoked is a serious understatement.
Then there's Jimmy Vasser, Cristiano da Matta, Dario Speedwagon, Tony Kanaan, and Mad Max Papis. And don't count out Al Junior who always comes back on race day. This is going to be wild and wonderful. Stay tuned.