RESULT-HUNTING – Takuma Sato's near-miss both in this race last year and last race at Long Beach, when he was spun on the final lap while running third, means he's the only driver in the field not to have seen a checkered flag this year. While he's due a result just for having the worst luck in the first three races, some others who could desperately use a big result emerging from Brazil include…
• Justin Wilson. A strategic mishap demoted him from a potential podium, if not win possibility, at Long Beach. That's in the past. If the Dale Coyne Racing team has the car near the leading pace, Wilson can do the rest, and it appears their street course setup is ahead of their permanent road course setup. Forgetting the Chevrolet penalties at Long Beach, Wilson still qualified behind only Dario Franchitti and Josef Newgarden of the Hondas, and ahead of eventual runner-up Simon Pagenaud, who's been off to a torrid start so far in 2012.
• Dario Franchitti. We're this low in a preview and just now getting to the champion? Franchitti benefited from the Chevrolet grid penalties at Long Beach to start on pole, but persistent mechanical issues blighted his restarts and contact with Briscoe required a front wing change that cost him even more time. It seems crazy to say a mere top-10 would be a victory for him, but he and the Target Chip Ganassi Racing team can't afford to lose even more ground than they already have.
• Marco Andretti. Would you believe that through three races, Andretti is one of only four Honda and Chevrolet drivers (James Jakes, Josef Newgarden, Ed Carpenter) without a top-10 finish this season?
After dropping back at St. Pete, his impressive charge at Barber went for naught as his tires fell off in his final stint. Of course, he could count himself thankful for even still being able to race in Brazil, after his accident with Graham Rahal in Long Beach. Andretti's best finish this year (11th) matches Jakes and Newgarden, and with no disrespect to those two, Andretti should be finishing comfortably ahead of them, especially compared to his full-season Andretti Autosport teammates James Hinchcliffe and Ryan Hunter-Reay.
• Josef Newgarden. His “needing a result” isn't necessarily as crucial as the others mentioned above. Still, a quiet, consistent race where he gathers laps and stays out of trouble would be a welcome tonic after his first-lap departure at Long Beach. While I wrote last week that I loved his passing attempt at Turn 1, his getting home in one piece and clean will keep the Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing team on task for Indianapolis, where they will have more time to continue the learning and maturation process. A steady top-15, if not borderline top-10, would be a good result for him on a track he's never seen before.
BIA'S SECOND CHANCE – Given her best opportunity in an IndyCar after a relatively anonymous year and a half sojourn with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, Ana Beatriz enters Brazil in the first of two starts with Andretti Autosport with some of the spotlight on her, naturally, as one of the locals.
While she'll get some attention, she'll still probably trail her three countrymen in media scrutiny. Also, expectations should be lower given she's only had one day's testing in the DW12, so she has a great opportunity to punch above her weight and prove herself worthy of further starts either with Andretti or another team going forward.
Essentially there's nothing to lose for “Bia,” and with the right mindset in place, she could surprise. She has shown sporadic moments of brilliance in IndyCar – qualifying 10th at Sonoma last year for example – and more frequently in her two-year Firestone Indy Lights career.
THE TOUGHEST PIT ASSIGNMENT OF THE YEAR – Spare a thought for NBC Sports Network's Kevin Lee, who has the unenviable task of trying to follow all 26 drivers, teams and associated storylines as the sole on-site pit reporter for Brazil. It's something the broadcast network employed the last two years and will do for a third time this year.
Lee handled it with aplomb last year on his debut after Jack Arute did so in 2010, and the task was made especially difficult given the rain delays and the constant quest to make sure all on-air time was filled without dead air. Booth commentators Bob Jenkins, Wally Dallenbach Jr., Jon Beekhuis and Robin Miller have the comfortable confines of a cozy Indianapolis studio to broadcast from.
• The IZOD IndyCar Series Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300 presented by Nestle airs on NBC Sports Network live Sunday at 11 a.m. Eastern.