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Just as IndyCar’s speed is wantonly wasted on road courses – and Marco – the series seriously under utilizes rivalries. IRR aims to change that with some actionable ideas for a brand new set of Indy rivals.
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Sure, a few rivalries may still exist, but they’re neither good nor old fashioned. Today they generally start – and end – on social media, often failing to last long enough even to make the television coverage. Compounding this crisis of (a lack of) contention is the fact that Sage Karam remains in IndyCar exile. Sage and half the field last year aside, nowadays rivalries pale in comparison to A.J. and Mario – or even A.J. and Arie. Hell, A.J. and anybody. This mirrors the state of the sport as a whole and that’s just not good enough. It’s something the drivers and owners under their own initiative can do to better the show. Above all, improving IndyCar is what we’re all about.
For the good of IndyCar, here are some Indy rivals we’d like to see:
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Josef and Ed – The ECR teammates should turn nemesis and there are plenty of reasons why. Owner Ed “prince” Carpenter crashed Josef out at Fontana last year and Sunday at St. Pete didn’t even bother to run a teammate for him, while he of course only drives on the ovals. Unfortunately, this limits the sparring opportunities, though thankfully a few do still exist. Josef’s car experienced electrical issues last week – good thing it wasn’t a plane – leading to an embarrassing last place finish. Entirely Ed’s fault. See where we’re going with this? It’d be an electrifying bit of entertainment, like Billy Martin calling out George Steinbrenner for the Yankees’ lack of talent. Josef’s in the last year of his contract with the newly shrunken team anyway, so we say he should go all Scheckter versus Cheever on Ed’s ass.
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Carlos and Juan – The headliners from the season opener would make a smashing good rivalry for the series. It could be billed as “The Clash of Colombians” or even “Best Rivalry – and Coffee – in the World.” What’s wrong with Juan? we recently inquired. Turns out not much, at least when compared to Carlos‘ driving. Too bad Gabby Chaves is gone, else we could have had a real life “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” Colombian standoff.
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Rossi and Daly – Both are rookies, although Conor’s really not, and both have F1 roots, although Conor really doesn’t. Those anomalies notwithstanding, it is true that both haven’t raced a lap at the Indianapolis 500, as Conor’s impression of a torch last year doesn’t count. Pitting the urbane f-ing F1 invader versus the home spun Hoosier nice guy would be combat of James Bond proportions. It’s just too bad Coyne‘s cars haven’t been competitive, other than for a few laps last Sunday. Speaking of noncompetitive, Rossi had a debut, finishing just ahead of Daly for AA in twelfth. In other words, they avoided Carlos’s parking lot. This is a rivalry just waiting to be born, though probably at the rear end of the field. Just remember to keep it off of Twitter, boys.
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Vasser and Andretti – The current owners raced against one another decades ago and have competed on the head sets ever since. Plus, there aren’t many owners under the age of 70 to humanely pit against one another, unless you’re into the whole nursing home fight club scene. Michael “mother hen” Andretti isn’t overly popular among fans, especially after the Milwaukee debacle, while surprisingly Vasser‘s been generally inoffensive as an owner, occasionally offering the odd entertaining quip. Besides, his Merlot intake alone is a major factor in keeping the series a wine and cheese one.
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Cheever and Tracy – Why shouldn’t the current “commentators” and former drivers get in on the scrum? It’s true they rarely if ever raced against each other and they are talking heads on competing networks that don’t actually compete, but hey. If done well, it could be a regular Don Rickles routine on Sundays during those tedious mid race lulls. Tracy’s a funny guy – “How am I funny to you?!” – and everyone knows Cheever deserves a regular roasting. The material for jokes about his F1 days alone is a veritable gold mine, not to mention his “ownership” period. Hell, PT could even get out his old wrestling garb to keep things interesting. Wonder if it still fits?
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Hawksworth and Chilton – “Limey Rivals” and “Battle Royal”