With the 12 Hours of Sebring three weeks ago, Formula 1 two weeks ago, and IndyCar last weekend, we have officially seen the start of the combined racing season. We've gotten a peek at how things might go in 2012.
There are a number of interesting storylines so far, as well as questions they bring up ...
- FORMULA 1: McLaren seems to have the edge, but can Hamilton and Button retain that advantage to claim a championship? Can Hamilton pull his erratic brilliance together and triumph again? Can Sauber make the podium again? Will Kimi keep scoring points and even win? Will Shumi ever have an impact?
My vote: The rest of the teams will catch up quickly, and it'll be a free-for-all season (maybe that's just what I hope).
- INDYCAR: The Lotus engines seem to be at a disadvantage, which is especially disappointing for fans of Katherine Legge, making her return to the U.S. open-wheel ranks. How will the series do in popularity and viewership with fewer ovals on the schedule? Will the television coverage learn how to handle road/street racing better? How will Beaux Barfield do in race control?
My vote: Beaux will rock the house and receive good reviews from drivers and fans (I realize I'm biased). I don't think Lotus will catch up significantly this year, but I'm hopeful for next year. I think there will be more ovals in next year's plan.
- NASCAR: Danica hasn't been as strong as Danicamania has been, which isn't her fault. Everyone still wants Junior to win (he was up to fourth in the first 20 laps of one race and the announcer said, "could this finally be his race?!"), and he hasn't yet (but hello, he's third in the standings through five races). Stewart still looks good, Kyle Busch has been calm so far, and Edwards hasn't done much yet. All of this will change with 31 more races to go. But will Danica win? Will Junior win? Will Smoke repeat? Will either Busch brother self-implode?
My vote: Smoke winning multiple races this year is a certainty (he's already won one), and I'd say so is Busch-brother-bad-behavior. I hope the Wonder Twins win (Danica and Junior), but I don't know that I'd put money down.
- ALMS: What will the regular season races look like, now that all of the European teams have gone home?
My vote: One thing's for certain, we'll still have the best racing, hands down, in the ALMS GT class. Take that to the bank.
What are your predictions? Who will have the most impact this year in your favorite racing series?