Five Things for 2016

The 2016 Indycar Season has arrived, and I am all sorts of hyped about it! Here are five things I am really looking forward to watching in 2016.

5) Penske vs. Ganassi
It is shaping up to be another epic year beteween Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing. Only one driver change has occurred between the two-teams from last year (Max Chilton over the sacked Sage Karam), so we will once again see Juan Pablo Montoya, Will Power, Helio Castroneves, and Simon Pagenaud vs. defending champion Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Charlie Kimball, and Max Chilton. Between the eight drivers, they've combined for 128 wins, 7 Indianapolis 500s, and 7 Indycar Championships. I don't think the battle these two teams will have in 2016 will disappoint. 

Verizon IndyCar Series Firestone 600
Should be another epic season between Penske and Ganassi. Picture here is (front to back)
Montoya, Helio, Kanaan, and Dixon at Texas in 2015 (Photo: Sean Garden / North America)

4) New Venues
While we lost NOLA (who cares), Fontana, and Milwaukee, Indycar and its officials have done a great job replacing them with Phoenix, Road America, and the Streets of Boston. In an ideal world, we could have kept Milwaukee and Fontana, but that's the way the world works sometimes. Of the three, clearly Road America is the best get for Indycar. It has long stayed off the Indycar calendar to the dismay of just about everyone, but finally, the race returns and all is well in the world. 

3) The Rookie of the Year Battle
The Rookie of the Year battle is shaping up to be just like the one in 2014. In 2014, we saw Carlos Munoz, Jack Hawksworth, and Mikhail Aleshin, all three of whom are still in Indycar in 2016. Now, we got Max Chilton, Alexander Rossi, and Conor Daly full-time, with current Indy Lights Champion Spencer Pigot running part-time. These four drivers are vastly talented and add a lot of depth to the series. Hopefully, we get treated to an epic ROY performance. 

2) Conor Daly
Speaking of rookies, Conor Daly got a full-time deal with Dale Coyne Racing for 2016. Conor and I first interacted sometime in mid-2013 where he had tweeted that he hates when people ask famous people to follow them, so then I decided to be a smart ass and I jokingly asked him to follow me. He then followed me, which blew my mind. From then on, we interact a couple times a month, and the amount of respect I have for Conor, who has gone out of his way to make me feel like a friend (he even got me a Christmas present this year) has made him easily my favorite driver in Indycar. He is also in my Fantasy Indycar league, and he actually loves playing (at least I think he does)! He's pretty good at that too, and he loves picking himself. Now, don't get me wrong, if Conor puts himself in the position to get the Cone of Shame, I will give it to him with no hard feelings (I hope he understands that), but ever since they announced his deal with Dale Coyne Racing, I have been so happy and have been looking to seeing him in action. Go Conor!

Conor testing at Phoenix (Photo: Indycar Media)

1) The 100th Indianapolis 500
I mean, the Indianapolis 500 is always the highlight of every season. But the 100th Indianapolis 500? Forget it, I'm dead. This race is going to be unreal. The hype started last May and has carried all the way through the rest of the season, the offseason, and now we are only two and a half months from seeing the race. Epic epic epic.

Let me know what you think!

-Matthew Hickey