Will KV Racing's drivers turn potential into concrete results?
Takuma Sato and EJ Viso are quick drivers who too often let aggression bloom into overambition. Sato's accidents tend to be while running alone, while Viso's are made in the heat of battle. Late arrival, 2004 IndyCar champ Tony Kanaan, could be a major help here; it will be interesting to see how his setup knowledge contributes to KV's progress. Certainly he should know exactly what he wants from an oval car, so Sato and Viso would do well to listen up! If new team manager Tom Wurtz and general manager Mark Johnson can persuade all three to rein in their wilder sides, KV as a whole can flourish.
What are the prospects for A.J. Foyt Racing?
It's a team that rarely rises above midfield these days, yet A.J. Foyt's boys always answer the bell. However, the increasing depth in quality of the IndyCar field is making it ever harder for this team to reach the top 10 on road and street courses. Barring freak circumstances (as seen at Sao Paulo last year, when Vitor Meira snagged third place), the new colors on car No. 14 will only likely become prominent on ovals, where Meira is brave and stands his ground.
Will Bourdais take Dale Coyne Racing back to Victory Lane?
Not impossible but doubtful. The game has moved on since Justin Wilson's giant-killing performance for DCR in Watkins Glen two years ago, and there are too many very quick driver/team combos around now. However, Coyne's signing of Don Halliday to engineer and Phil LePan as team manager is a sign of serious intent and if SeaBass is the same driver who left Champ Car at the end of 2007, then there should be a several top-five finishes. However, Seb is only down to do the road/street course races, so who gets the No.18 for oval races hasn't been revealed.
Rookie teammate James Jakes is unlikely to be disgraced and will get better as the season goes on, but his résumé doesn't compare with that of the sadly absent Alex Lloyd.
Do Conquest Racing have a fighting chance?
If Sebastian Saavedra's money has secured his ride for the whole season, then Eric Bachelart's team can make progress with him. As he showed in Firestone Indy Lights, Saavedra has talent, but the jury's out on how big a talent that might be. Hopefully Conquest can provide him with a secure platform on which to show his worth, but the biggest favor Bachelart can do is pair him up with an experienced teammate, especially for road/street races.
That may not be the case for ovals, because there is the strong possibility another rookie, Pippa Mann, will drive the second Conquest car for the left-turn only tracks. She learned a lot at Sam Schmidt Motorsports last year and she could cause some surprises, but it's going to be daunting for her to make her race debut at the Indy 500 (as did Saavedra last year).
Can AFS Racing shine in its debut season?
Gary Peterson's intentions for his team only became concrete last week, so it will be interesting to see who and what team manager Neil Micklewright has pulled together over the course of the opening months of the year. However, with Matos – now in his third year in the series – in the cockpit and Tom Brown engineering, there is definitely cause for optimism.
• For the full version of this feature article, plus much more, check out the April 2011 issue of RACER magazine. CLICK HERE to subscribe.