IndyCar News Week in Review: Burgers, Cars & Money

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Money, Money: IndyCar announced an increase to Leader’s Circle monies to be paid out by about a quarter million dollars plus other larger “bonuses.” The hike brings the total paid per entrant to $1.25 million, reflecting both higher costs and revenues. These funds are paid by IndyCar to full time teams in lieu of decent race purses aside from the ever present Indy 500 exception.

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The 2015 Leader’s Circle includes twenty one entrants, but Simona de Silvestro in Andretti Autosport’s fourth car, Simon Pagenaud in Penske’s fourth car and Jack Hawksworth in AJ Foyt’s second car aren’t covered. These drivers in particular need to perform well for their sponsors and owners, who’ve risked something to provide their rides.

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Questioning the Kits: Will the new aero kits be quicker than the old Dallaras and will track records begin to fall? The aero kits were promised and sold to fans as faster than recent IndyCars as well as distinguishable from one another. They’re certainly the latter. The buzz is overwhelmingly that records will be broken, so of course we buck the conventional wisdom and doubt it at least early in the season. They’re still too new to the teams.

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Counting Cars: The car count’s another question this year with twenty four entrants for St. Pete, although the numbers begin to trail off soon thereafter. It’s quite possible some races will have only 21 or 22 cars, with Sim’s and Dracone’s deals for example being limited to a few races. Of course the ever present Indy 500 exception is again in effect, but early tallies just barely reach the traditional 33 starters. It’s yet another unintended consequence of expensive, new fangled aero kits.

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IMS Gets Safer: IMS will be adding SAFER barriers to exposed infield walls in time for the 500 in May, track President Doug Boles announced. He said the previously planned upgrade was already taking place, adding over 1,500 feet of the Steel And Foam Energy Reduction barrier to infield walls on the back stretch and the short chute between turns three and four. Townsend Bell among others will be pleased.

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Steakburgers For Some: Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing announced a new sponsor for Graham Rahal’s car – Steak ‘N Shake. As Donnie said of In N’ Out Burger in The Big Lebowski, “Those are good burgers, Walter.” The snazzy red livery will be featured for five races early this season including the Indy 500. That’s assuming Graham and the team don’t screw things up so badly the burger chain backs out before May.

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Ornery News: Legendary four time Indy 500 winner AJ Foyt will miss the IndyCar season kickoff recovering from bypass surgery in Houston. In fact, the ornery octogenarian won’t be attending the first several races of 2015. A statement on his team’s website says Super Tex is aiming to make it to the 99th running of the Indy 500 in May and we’re hopeful he does as the Brickyard’s not the same without him. On the up side, this is AJ Foyt Racing’s 50th anniversary season. It arrives with an expanded two car effort and Texas sized expectations. Happy anniversary, AJ!

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