- Rusty Wallace, NASCAR
- 0 Shares
Dan Wheldon is frustrated.
Wheldon himself has done a real good job this season, but he's had a couple of problems that have been out of his control.
He won the opening race at Homestead and really dominated at Indianapolis only to have a tire start going flat. That pushed him back in the field, and he ran out of time before he could get back to the front.
Saturday at Texas, Wheldon was flying and everything went well until a late scheduled pit stop. If he had a normal stop he probably would have won the race, but Wheldon came in and had a mishap on the right rear tire change and he got behind. He lost about three seconds on that pit stop and it cost him, as Helio Castroneves drove to victory and Wheldon finished third.
It's nothing that Wheldon has been doing, because he has had a dominant car throughout the season; it's just been bad luck with the flat tire at Indy and the problem in the pits at Texas.
Wheldon needs to keep doing what he's doing and stay the course, because Ganassi has fast race cars that are every bit as fast -- if not a little faster -- than Team Penske.
While it's been the Penske and Ganassi cars dominating this season -- Penske has won four races, Ganassi two -- Andretti Green could break that streak. That team could start running fast, particularly Tony Kanaan. Marco Andretti has shown real fast speeds at times but can't seem to sustain it because he keeps making rookie mistakes. The other driver I have my eye on is Buddy Rice of Rahal Letterman Racing. He has a brand new Dallara chassis that team owner Bobby Rahal wanted real bad. Rice is going to be the strongest driver in that camp who can challenge Penske and Ganassi.
Over at Rahal Letterman, Jeff Simmons and Danica Patrick don't have as much talent as Rice. Don't get me wrong, they are both very good drivers, but Rice is definitely the lead driver of the bunch. He's won before and knows what he wants in his car.
At Richmond, on a short half-mile oval, it's going to be all about handling.
It's a tight racetrack, so there's going to be a lot of downforce on these cars. The drivers will use the same maximum allowable wing package at Richmond that they use for a road course. It's going to be all about handling and track position because there is going to be a lot of passing.
At Richmond, it's not so much about who has their aerodynamics figured out, like Penske and Ganassi, it's about downforce. Therefore, a lot more drivers will have a chance against the dominant Penske and Ganassi cars. Of the rest of the field, Kanaan and Rice are the two drivers who should be able to run strong at Richmond.
The driver who is flying under the radar right now, with a chance to break out, is definitely Scott Dixon.
He won two weeks ago at Watkins Glen and was second in Texas. He's a real quiet personality. Wheldon, his Ganassi teammate, is outgoing, and Penske's Castroneves is over-the-top and exciting to watch with his celebrations in victory lane.
Patrick generates a lot of excitement and Andretti is starting to do the same. So while Dixon is one of the most talented drivers, he just doesn't have the need for attention.
Former Cup champion Rusty Wallace will provide coverage for ESPN and ABC during this year's IndyCar Series and selected Nextel Cup races. You can check out all things Rusty at his constantly updated and upgraded Web site at www.rustywallace.com.