It’s no wonder Coyne and chaos have become synonymous in the series, as the casualty rate among his crewman approached Chickamauga levels. Dale Coyne had quite possibly his worst year ever and that’s saying something. One incident of hitting a crewman on pit road is too many, two is a real problem. But four wounded team mates is a travesty and deserves serious sanction. The series’ most dubious owner is ultimately responsible for this rank amateurism and must be held to account.
Three races were marred by three Coyne drivers hitting four Coyne crew members in the pits. At least they were all friendlies who were bashed. Italian Francesco Dracone started it at NOLA, sliding hotly into a wet pit box and violently upending his crewman. During the Indy 500 the crew sent Aussie driver James Davison out of his pit and into fellow Coyne jockey Pippa Mann’s path. This caused Davison to crash into two of his team’s primary pilot Tristan Vautier’s tire changers, sending one to the hospital with a leg injury. The ugliness repeated itself yet again in the classic at Fontana, where Frenchman Vautier nailed his left front tire changer while coming wildly into the pit box.
Photo from dailymail.co.uk
Obviously both the drivers and the crew shared in the calamitousness, but it’s ultimately on the owner whose name is on the transporter. Here’s the problem: the team’s a mishmash of rotating drivers with no continuity or consistency. At Coyne there’s more coming and going than at a Thai whorehouse – and that’s neither the drivers’ nor the crew’s fault. With Coyne’s team it’s simply an issue of mismanagement. A shoe string budget, constant turnover, insufficient practice and little experience clearly is a recipe for disaster.
Photo from ap.org
Unsurprisingly, Vautier wasn’t finished after Fontana. He went on to crash Rahal out of the race – and title hunt – in the penultimate race at Pocono. Amidst all this recklessness the Frenchman made eleven starts, with one top five and two top tens while managing to run at the finish in eight races. As for the others, as Sebastien Bourdais said of Franceso Dracone after Long Beach, “He’s just slow. He doesn’t even know how to get out of the way.”
Photo from gettyimages.com
At least Venezuelan Rudolfo “Unspeedy” Gonzalez – who’s certainly of questionable driving talent – didn’t run over anybody in his limited starts this season. Carlos Huertas even won one of last year’s regrettable Houston races and generally doesn’t injure his crew, either. Nor does British lass Pippa Mann, although finishing is sometimes an issue.
Photo from motorsport.com
If IndyCar values the safety of its employees – which Dale apparently doesn’t – then substantive, real changes need be made at DCR. Else even more casualties are certain to occur.
2015 Grade: F
2015 Midseason Grade: Incomplete
2014 Grade: C-