IRR won’t be mourning the loss of a perennial IndyCar series back marker, an embarrassing vestige of the sport’s acrimonious split.
KV Racing’s long been considered a dinosaur of racing, among the last of Champ Car dead enders to begrudgingly join IndyCar in 2008 after CCWS’s merciful euthanasia. Campaigning recently with unpopular Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais – that is, until even he flew the coop to Coyne – the team was known for bringing the likes of Roberto Gonzalez (who?), Takuma “take ’em out” Sato, and Stefano “worse than Andretti” Coletti to the series. Gee, thanks for nothing.
Prodigal pilot J.R. Hildebrand – who’d been out of a full time ride for years – shot to the top of the speed charts Saturday during IndyCar’s open test at Phoenix International Raceway. Reaching speeds of over 193 miles per hour on the 1.02 mile oval in the afternoon session, J.R.’s nineteen second lap held up as the quickest of the weekend. Hildebrand then reverted to form and crashed during the evening session after contacting Mad Will Power.
Photo from indycar.com
Hildebrand’s ECR teammate and owner Ed Carpenter posted the second highest speed of the test at over 192 mph as Chevy swept the top five speeds overall. He was followed by the Penske trio of Josef Newgarden, Helio and Power. Recently featured Russian driver Mikhail Aleshin impressed as top Honda in sixth place with a lap of just over 191 mph. Clearly he wasn’t horsing around and no fake news was reported or influenced the results.
IndyCar’s first Russian driver in nearly a century features menacingly in our latest driver test.
In an age when seemingly everything’s tied to Vladmir Putin – either rightly or wrongly – it’s surprising Aleshin hasn’t been similarly smeared yet. To the contrary, he enjoys warm relations with Americans as allegations of undue influence are unfounded. The upcoming 2017 season will be his third in IndyCar, all of them for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.
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Baron de Rachewsky was the only other driver from Mother Russia ever to race an Indy car. Putin shirtless on horseback obviously doesn’t count. Rachewsky’s lone U.S. effort came in Atlantic City in 1926 on a wooden track. Harry Hartz won the three hundred mile race as the baron’s Bugatti boisterously blew up.
Photo from usatoday.com
Getting poured through the sieve of international sanctions (it’s not what you strain, it’s who you strain), Aleshin missed out on all but one race of the 2015 season due to funding issues related to Russia’s rough behavior. The Muscovite’s had some limited success in his two seasons, winning the pole Continue reading →
Ragin’ Graham Rahal recently said “there’s no fake news” in IndyCar.
Photo from twitter.com
Russian Reruns, Again: SPM confirmed what most expected in the return of Russkie Mikhail Aleshin to the number 7 car for the 2017 campaign. He’ll be paired with comedic Canuck James “happy to be alive” Hinchcliffe for the second consecutive season. Reigning champ and Frenchman Simon Pagenaud called the series “better and way more fun” with the cruisin’ Cossack back in the car. For once, we agree with the fickle frog.
Media Day Matters?: Apparently another IndyCar media day came and went, with the usual lack of real news. Same schedule, largely the same roster of drivers, etc. Here’s a tip for the series: choose another time besides Super Bowl week – any other time – if you truly want to stand out. Also, try generating some real news. Otherwise, it’s worse than fake news – it’s no news at all.
In what’s fast becoming another IRR tradition, the number of predictions about the upcoming campaign corresponds precisely to the last two digits of the year in question.
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All seventeen scheduled races for 2017 will actually occur for a change, although honestly Detroit‘s races count as one between them and Mid-Ohio really doesn’t count at all.
A Chevrolet will win the 101st Indianapolis 500, continuing the every other year approach between the manufacturers since 2012. Get used to it, as any new engine involvement is still several years away.
Chip “crowd surfer” Ganassi‘s team will struggle again, except for their four time champion and ace Scott Dixon. Of course Dixie’s the lucky husband of Emma “Twitter toughie” Dixon, pictured below on a recent relaxing vacation. Harrumph!
New Year, New Look . . . Next Year: So-called “uniform body kits,” spec chassis set to replace the aborted IndyCar aero kits, will be previewed in a test on February 10th at PIR. Unfortunately, they’re not set to debut in action until 2018. Brant James recently agreed with us on the egregious aero kits, writing of the “unpopular and expensive assemblies” going away after this season – and none too soon.
He also quoted IndyCar president of competition ol’ Jay Frye on the mysterious appearance of the forthcoming chassis, who cited “cool” looking “bits and pieces” from “the past twenty years,” with “a lot of retro.” Encouragingly, Frye claimed the new design would be “lower, sleeker, what an IndyCar has historically looked like.” Perhaps over-promising, the competition president predicted the experience would be “aesthetically exciting for the fans.” Depends upon the quality of the grid girls, obviously. Chassis that aren’t aesthetically appalling would be an improvement, and we hope he’s not speaking of NASCAR fans.
Optimism Abounds, Apparently: Between Frye’s gushing about the next generation of chassis and Mark Miles‘ ebullience about Continue reading →
The more persuadable of our betters are finally beginning to fully realize the fickle mood of folks at present, and not just those in positions of political power. Feeling the heat, it seems as though elites everywhere are actually taking note and doing what a majority of people (e.g. those who pay for it) want done. It’s none too soon either, lest the torch bearing mobs come out.
IndyCar CEO Mark Miles is only the most recent example of a muckety muck for once not mucking things up, a trend stretching from Brexit-ing Brits battling Brussels bureaucrats all the way to Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. And happily now even Indianapolis. Actual accountability to those paying the bills is a damned welcome change, even in racing.
According to a recent article by Brant James, Miles had many positive items to report, including recommendations Continue reading →
Are Foyt’s Fixes Finally Functional? With two new pilots, brand new Chevy engines and in the midst of an exhilarating era in which it seems almost anything’s possible, A.J.’s team just might stand a chance at success in 2017. Finally. The ornery octogenarian‘s outfit will be one to watch, with the caveat of consistently disappointing performances since at least the IRL days.
Can Ganassi Going Geisha Garner Gains? The change back to Honda comes after a Hillary level disappointing season, with neither a 500 win nor a championship to the Chipster’s credit, not to mention Target’s departure after a quarter century of sponsorship. Dixon’s still an ace, especially on the roadies, and Charlie “fearless” Kimball’s improving. But TK, the aged one? And TBD, meaning perhaps the return of Englishman Max “Paris” Chilton? Seems Ganassi could have developed a deeper bench. Meanwhile, Sage Karam‘s coaching wrestling.
Danica Just Wants To Have Fun: Like ’80s flash in the pan Cyndi Lauper, racing’s lone girl-power representative is struggling mightily to remain relevant. After another “average” season of not coming anywhere close to a win in taxicab land, the former over rated IndyCar diva said recently she’s seeking “more fun” in the future. For a real good time, give us a call, Danica!
Photo from indystar.com
Angie’s List Will Be Missed: According to an Indy Star story, the Indiana based company’s experiencing a downturn in business – thanks, Obama! – necessitating a round of layoffs. Although they “thoroughly enjoyed” sponsoring the Indy GP, now they’ve “opted to invest elsewhere.” Sounds like Angie desperately needs some Trump treatment, ala Carrier – Making IndyCar Great Again. As a result, the so called race will be deemed simply the IndyCar Grand Prix, barring another sponsor stepping in. How many IC GPs are there now?! Let’s see, Road America, Watkins Glen, Indianapolis, . . .
Image from cbs.com
Carol Brady’s Passing. Longtime Indy 500 fixture Florence Henderson passed away on Thanksgiving night to the dismay of many an IndyCar fan. Continue reading →
IndyCar’s loosest lipped loose cannon – and that’s saying something – makes more dubious decisions.
You know those tortured guys with the prolonged, seemingly perpetual mid life crises? The ones who share their problems liberally with the rest of us? That’s our Michael. Without erratic owners like Mario’s eldest son, there’d be precious little to write about in the off season. Speaking of precious little . . .
Photo from sports.usatoday.com
Takuma Sato – the all time leader in most crashes per win – will replace Carlos “Speedy” Munoz at Andretti Autosport. Considering Sato’s dismal record of a single win in seven IndyCar seasons coupled with nearly a decade of F1 futility, one has to again wonder what Michael’s thinking. After all, a late career renaissance for the soon to be forty year old Japanese jockey’s highly unlikely. It’s not as though his record at Indy‘s any better, with a best finish of thirteenth and several high profile crashes.