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Last year’s race – the “Dawn of the Aero Kit Era” – proved injurious to body work, teammates and most especially fans. Let’s hope this year’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Pete is no repeat.
Juan “buzz kill” Montoya NASCAR’d his way to a victory for Team Penske, tangling with tendentious teammates and innocent competitors alike. Thankfully according to JPM the racing at St. Pete wasn’t “too stupid” like Fontana, largely we suspect because he won. We’re fervently hoping he doesn’t repeat last year’s performance – or the gratuitous ripping of the series that feeds him.
Photo from usatoday.com
About those aero kits, which are now in their second generation. They’re almost indistinguishable from one another, excepting Honda’s hokey hump back. One of the original reasons for the ridiculously expensive aero kit experiment was the different looks they were supposed to provide for viewers. We reiterate – aero kits were supposed to highlight differentiation among the cars. Fans will need to do a double take to discern the dime’s worth of differences, if they’re able to do so at all.
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On a full contact street course expect lots of banging, especially with f-ing F1 newbies filling the field. Rookies Max “limey” Chilton and Alexander “Martini &” Rossi will be feeling the pressure as they make their IndyCar debuts for Ganassi and Herta/Andretti, respectively. Frankly, IndyCar and F1 washouts go together like Bernie Ecclestone and halos. At the risk of being repetitive, experienced young American racer and no stranger to contact Sage Karam still languishes on the sidelines without a full time ride.
No newby himself, A.J. Foyt’s Takuma “take ’em out” Sato characteristically ran out of front wings last year, and not for the last time in yet another forgettable season for the legendary owner. Scratch that – legendary driver. This year A.J.’s team should be better prepared but won’t be, primarily because they did nothing to improve their driver lineup during the off season. Instead, the first four time Indy 500 winner invested heavily in an engineering upgrade with massive turnover and lots of new faces in Waller, Texas. Don’t expect much better results though, as those who don’t learn from their history are doomed to repeat it.
Image from youtube.com
Happily you can expect immediate improvement in the fan injury area, thank goodness. If the series sends any more paying customers to the hospital like last year, then it’ll make the Chipotle disaster look like highly contaminated peanuts. The series doesn’t need another replay of last season’s fiasco, or of Charlotte, or another Mark Miles scheduling disaster.
Chip Ganassi‘s returning champion Scott “Dammit Man!” Dixon will be one to watch, although the CGR team’s been notoriously slow starting the last several seasons. A decent beginning to the year would make things a lot easier for New Zealand’s version of Forrest Gump for a change. Meanwhile, Tony “frumpy over forty” Kanaan appears over the hill at this point of his career, unable to replicate earlier success while growing increasingly crotchety about his own series.
One driver who may well repeat his winning ways in 2016 is Graham Rahal, who’s coming off a stellar season and a honeymoon to die for with the gorgeous and talented Courtney Force. Let’s hope he still has some ethanol left in the tank for the season and the streets of St. Pete. With Honda power and an on-again, off-again rookie teammate, the legacy driver’s going to need it to recreate his magical performance.
Photo from examiner.com