Photo from sfhracing.com
For hard core oval track racing fans, The Scheduling Gods this year blessedly provided three 500 mile race holiday weekends: Memorial Day at Indy, the Fourth of July at Pocono and summer’s bittersweet swansong in southern California. Therefore, we offer sacrifices of ethanol, oil, carbon fiber and rubber out of appreciation to those upon Mount Foyt-lympus. We’ve been looking forward to Fontana since July and in some ways since last fall.
Auto Club Speedway is a wonderfully wide, steeply banked two-mile oval built by The Cap’n Roger Penske as a sister track to Michigan, which by the way must return to the schedule. In the meantime, we’re fortunate to have Fontana as the finale and anxiously anticipate a season ending stem-winder of a race under the lights. All this while trying not to let the leaks about next year’s schedule harsh our ovular buzz.
Photo from ap.org
Purposely built for IndyCars atop the site of an old steel mill that helped in America’s WW II effort, Fontana usually provides for highly entertaining, edge of your seat racing. Plentiful three-wide passing should be the order of the evening Saturday in SoCal, barring the possibility of the big one striking the area between now and the race. We kid our cool Californio readers and note that the thousands upon thousands of ex-Californians we’ve met who’ve moved to the Midwest seem like nice enough folks generally. Plus, SoCal’s not only where the Dude abides, but also resides (“high on the list of laziest places world-wide“).
Photo from dailycaller.com
The main focus of the coverage this week will be on the championship battle with Power, Helio and Pags all still eligible for the one million dollars and the IndyCar tiara and scepter. Well it should be, as it’s been one hell of a season long race. We wish two-thirds of the contenders all the best.
Photo from autosport.com
As underdog aficionados and ones ourselves, we’re going full Francophile for the finale, hoping against a Pags’ championship debut debacle. “Never surrender!” shall be our adopted battle cry for the week, as fellow fans of the fast Frenchman – from Frere-Jacques to Francois – form up to fete the famous frog.
If the Frenchman retreats during the fight, then hopefully it’ll be Helio who takes the championship since all our favorites are out of it. Somebody’s going to do it for The Cap’n eventually, so it might as well be the longest tenured driver he has. We’ve come to appreciate the ever-ebullient Castro Neves realizing the old adage “if you can’t beat them, don’t root against them.” Obviously we’re not rooting for Mad Will Power (see “Ain’t Penske Ashamed, Will Power’s Insane”) while risking the ire of our own beloved mother in opting out. It’s best to avoid that booby hatch.
We simply can’t bring ourselves to pull for the crazed cream puff-eared crank, not even for dear old mum. Undeniably, the Aussie’s about as stable as a two legged chair on an ice rink. To quote him after Milwaukee, “I love winning on ovals! I love winning on ovals!” Here’s to hoping fervently that he doesn’t win on the massive D-shaped oval.
Photo from dailytelegraph.com.au
Another “fun-tastic” feature of the finale in Fontana is that it isn’t just about the points battle, but also winning the 500 mile race itself. In fact the race winner easily could come from outside the top three and often does. Hunter-Reay and Eddie Carpenter are always formidable oval racers with a shot to win on the big tracks, as are the Target cars piloted by thirty-five time winner Dixie and the always affable Tony Kanaan who nearly won Pocono. Let’s not forget Montoya who actually did win Pocono and had this to say prior to Sonoma: “Awful, like awful. Like my shit . . . was shaking. It was bad.”
Photo from usatoday.com
The racing Saturday night could well be the best of the year and sets up an epic finale. It’ll be a terrific ending to the season and hopefully leads to another highly entertaining year for 2015. Provided that neither the silly season nor the aero-craze get too far out of hand. In that event, the staff here will be forced to personally intervene on the fans’ behalf. Never fear – IRR’s here!