Barber Race Review: Friends Edition

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So much for a friends reunion at IndyCar’s annual parade ’round a motorcycle track in Alabama. None were made and, what’s worse, auld acquaintances fractured under the pressure Sunday afternoon.

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Photo from indycar.com

The Cap’n’s Frenchman Simon Pagenaud – who has few friends – dominated the road course race winning from pole. It’s his second straight triumph and sixth overall, a trend that won’t win him many new friends in the IndyCar paddock. The fuel saving and “coasting” exhibited yet again during the affair won’t win the series many new fans, either.

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Photo from indycar.com

It was a fugly start, with AA‘s Carlos “unfriendly” Munoz smashing into Mad Russian Mikhail Aleshin. Continue reading

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Barber IndyCar Predictions and Prognostications: Haircut Edition

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Image from youtube.com

The annual series trip to Alabama always feels like it did when you were a kid going to get a haircut. It’s discomfiting. There’s a million things you’d rather do. Such a waste of time and energy. Something unpleasant that one must endure every so often. Aww, MO-M!

But go to Barber Motorsports Park IndyCar does, therefore like those hairs stuck to your collar after a shearing, our rug like coverage follows.

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Photo from examiner.com

Let’s get NBCSN‘s “beautiful” and “gorgeous” description of Barber prediction out of the way first, and it has nothing to do with hairdos. Repeating this ad nauseam is the last refuge of broadcasting politeness, something they say when the track’s nice looking but the racing sucks. Which, if the race is like every other one held there except Josef Newgarden’s first win last year, it’ll make a trip to get a haircut look downright fun.

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Photo from caranddriver.com

Our special prediction this week is both troubling and general in nature. Continue reading

Rejigger Race Control, IndyCar

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The series’ ever rotating fortune wheel of race stewards desperately needs spun again following Sunday’s debacle. For IndyCar, race control’s rapidly becoming an oxymoron. Apparently it resides in Pope Penske’s plush pocket.

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The very definition of a steward is someone “appointed to supervise the arrangements or keep order at a race . . . ,” emphasis added.

IRR’s been hot on the steward story since February when this shadowy new lineup was announced. Rest assured, IRR’s harbored a healthy skepticism toward the latest reconfiguration of race control – like all things IndyCar – from the start. The series constantly jiggers with the stewards, and Jon “not for long” Beekhuis is but one example in a paddock full of former controllers.

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Photo from indycar.com

Reporting on race control’s latest iteration since February – and before – we boldly went where no other IndyCar outlet dared. IRR published photographic evidence of a clear cut case of cronyism during pre-season testing. Remember, this fraternizing photo was published months ago, long before the latest steward story broke.  Continue reading

Grand Prix of Long Beach Race Review: Half Right Edition

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Photo from indycar.com

IndyCar got it half right at the Beach Sunday. That is to say, they almost put on an entertaining show. Well, at least they held a race – sort of.

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Photo from criticsden.com

“Am I right or am I right or am I right?!”

Before the race, Scott Dixon predicted “an exciting first few laps.” As someone uttered during the broadcast and like almost everyone on Sunday, he too was half right. There were of course a first few laps, followed by the uneventful rest. After a train wreck of a qualification session, in some ways it’s a wonder they managed to pull off a race at all. Even the race winner was left wanting, as the Ned Ryerson of the series Simon Pagenaud had to actively seek out people in victory lane who’d let him spray ’em with champagne.

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Photo from sports.usatoday.com

The half left, half right race left much to be desired. What else can we write? It was boring. It was predictable. It was a “fuel mileage” race. It was won by a Frenchman. It was still another win for Penske. It was Long Beach.

Incredibly, there were no wrecks, no cautions, no hairpin pileups, no retirements and no mechanicals. Due to precious little passing there also was virtually no entertainment. That’s not to say the grand prix was controversy free, though.

The “carpet pissers” in race control were at it again, failing to make a crucial call against Pagenaud, instead merely issuing a “warning” in a critical race determining situation. Continue reading

GPLB Qualifications Instant Reaction: Carpet Pissers Did This

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Photo from indycar.com

As Marty Snider summed it up, “What a bizarre qualifying session!” And as SoCal’s own “The Dude” once appropriately alleged, “carpet pissers did this.”

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Photo from thefix.com

Other than a timing and scoring blackout, Frenchman Bourdais slyly staying out after seeing the checkered, the timing line inexplicably being moved mid session and an additional lap being added at the end, yesterday’s qualifications at the Grand Prix of Long Beach went off without a hitch. At least all the crashes occurred in practice again.

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Photo from autoracing1.com

NBCSN’s crew was as in the dark as were the viewers – and teams – for much of the broadcast. A few things were clear, however. Continue reading

GPLB Predictions and Prognostications: The Bright Side of Long Beach

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Photo from indycar.com

To paraphrase Monty Python’s Eric Idle, the Grand Prix of Long Beach often tends to be “a piece of sh*t, when you look at it. The racing’s a laugh and passing’s a joke – it’s true.”

 

First up, we predict lots of celebrities, beautiful people and an out of this world atmosphere this weekend at Long Beach. Everything and more will be on display, except for entertaining IndyCar racing. At Long Beach and certain other left-right-left courses, it’s predictably poor racing. On the bright side, with a schedule chock full of lengthy layoffs almost any race is better than no race at all – unless it’s maudlin Mid-Ohio, that is.

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Photo from foxnews.com

“When you’re chewing on life’s gristle, don’t grumble – give a whistle. And this’ll help things turn out for the best.”

Expect to see plenty of carbon fiber debris to be generated on the narrow, concrete walled circuit and concomitant lengthy caution periods. There’s also a high likelihood of another infamous hairpin pileup-cum-parking lot this year, especially with so many rookies, f-ing F1 invaders and Marco in the field. On the bright side, Continue reading

IndyCar Grand Prix of Long Beach Preview: Cheap Trick Edition

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Photo from latfusa.com

First F1, then CART/Champ Car, and finally IndyCar all have played a cheap trick upon the hospitable “I Want You To Want Me” Southern California destination. Fact is, fairly few edge of your seat races have unfolded at Long Beach during its long history, though you’d never know it. Almost inconceivably, this trickery’s been going on for four decades now.

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Photo from motorsport.com

Appropriately for SoCal, the Grand Prix of Long Beach always has been upside down, like a wave riding a surfer. The ancient – at least by IndyCar standards – event is known more for its pre-race festivities and “atmosphere” than the race itself. This year’s hoopla will be highlighted by Rockford, Illinois’ own Cheap Trick in concert, a rock band from the ’70s and recent Rock ‘N Roll HOF inductee among whose best songs is, fittingly enough, “California Man.”

 

Included in the fanfare too will be an “ePrix,” a drift race and, perhaps most cryptic of all, a “Lifestyle Expo,” whatever the hell any of those are. One thing IRR‘s sure of, however. Prior to the race a must see Miss GPLB pageant will be held – not to be confused with an LGBT pageant, of course. Strictly for illustrative purposes, here’s a look at last year’s gorgeous finalists. Wonder how many “Southern Girls” are among them? Or cheap tricks?

 

Adding a crescendo to the bawdy buildup is Continue reading

Insights Into IndyCar Testing For The 100th Indy 500

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Photo from twitter.com

The two day test, which fully involved nearly every team with the exception of Dale Coyne Racing and KVSH Racing, was truly uneventful. For IndyCar, its teams and drivers, that’s a positive development.

Teams methodically tried out new aero kit parts and other pieces on track at IMS this week, but certainly didn’t aim for any new track records – Marco Andretti of all people was quickest at just over 223 mph. Both the April weather and the introduction of different winglets and assorted other pieces from Chevy and Honda saw to that. Of particular interest was the debut of controversial new domed skids beneath the cars, an effort to avoid last year’s airborne follies. Or as we referred to it, “Mark Miles’ Flying Circus.” In the unending search for the fountain of safety, it looks like the skids are here to stay.

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Photo from ap.org

By all reports the test was clean and green with some knowledge gleaned from the first outing prior to the most important race in history. Continue reading

Ed Carpenter Needs To Finish A Race

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Photo from sports.usatoday.com

IndyCar’s only owner/driver, Hulman-George family member Ed Carpenter needs to finish a race – much less win one – along with accomplishing a number of other important items.

As fans of Ed – he’s an underdog, American, and actually defends IndyCar instead of rudely ripping or apologizing for the racing – it pains us to write this. However, IndyCar fans do just love to bitch. One for one so far this year with his crash at Phoenix – after a whopping four DNFs in only six oval starts in 2015 – Eddie needs to refocus on his driving before climbing back into the car. As you may have guessed, he managed precisely no top fives on the season either, coming off an impressive three in 2014. Also troubling, Carpenter’s crashed out of the last two Indy 500s.

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Photo from foxsports.com

Obviously he’s the outfit’s owner, but come on. He hasn’t won a race since Texas in 2014, which was only the third victory of his career. That’s in a hundred and sixty career starts, spread out over fourteen seasons. Put another way, if he keeps it up Ed’s record will approach Marco bad.  And that’d be a shame.

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Photo from fontanaheraldnews.com

Carpenter committed a cardinal sin Continue reading

Phoenix Race Review: IndyCar Drivers Just Love To Apologize

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The pilots really shouldn’t be so hard on themselves after races. Phoenix wasn’t that bad, although the series’ handling of it was.

From Fontana last year to Phoenix last night, IndyCar drivers have apologized enough. It isn’t their fault. The fact that they feel the need to constantly make amends is quite telling, though. It’s high time to take a good, hard look at those running the series, as we’ve advocated for some time now.

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Photo from sports.usatoday.com

In a near weekly ritual, PIR was billed as “the most physically demanding” track on the schedule. A mildly entertaining race had Scott Dixon cruising to a whopping thirty ninth career win, fourth on the all time list. Like others, our expectations for IndyCar oval track racing are sky high; unfortunately, the return to Phoenix didn’t exactly soar. Dixie took the checkers ahead of Pags and Power under caution. He then promptly began to apologize for it.

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Photo from sports.usatoday.com

In his article, cringe worthy Curt Cavin resorted to hyperbole Continue reading