Watkins Glen Preview: Kinda Like Mid-Ohio

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Try not to become discombobulated, disturbed or disoriented Sunday when the contest at the Glen seems eerily similar to certain other races on the schedule.

As the name implies, the “IndyCar GP” wasn’t originally scheduled to take place at all, thrown together in two weeks’ time immediately after Boston followed Brazil‘s suit and jilted the series. When’s the last time a NASCAR race was cancelled? Hurriedly announced in mid May, it was just as hurriedly forgotten coming in the middle of all the 100th Running hoopla.

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It may be better than no race at all as some say, but unfortunately it also strongly resembles Mid-Ohio. Strongly as in stench, or disagreement. Enough of these risible road courses already – Penske’s frog Pagenaud and chief whiner Power have swept every single pole and race on ’em this season. Like at Mid-Ohio.

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It’s been six years since IndyCar last roared into upstate New York and now the race’s closer to its old, traditional fall date. Continue reading

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Texas (Part Two) Race Review: Ragin’ Rahal Edition

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IndyCar put on its second consecutive extraordinarily exhilarating oval track race in less than a week.

Enduring a year long winless drought, Graham Rahal won the closest race in Texas Motor Speedway history Saturday night charging all the way from lucky thirteenth. The race, started in June and rained out after the first seventy three laps and a horrific collision between Conor Daly and Josef Newgarden, proved an instant classic.

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The restarts were exquisite, the action and passing superb. It was like the good ol’ days of racing at Texas back in the ’90s and early ’00s, with a photo finish and the margin of victory a mere eight thousandths of a second. The race was breathtaking.

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Canuck James Hinchcliffe led the field to the restart, enjoyed as Paul Tracy said “the car to beat” and dominated almost the entire race. Crucially though, Continue reading

Pocono Race Review: Delayed Gratification

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NBCSN’s Brian Till described the racing at Pocono as “spectacular,” and on Monday it certainly was. Will “awesome” Power won thanks to a Penske perfect late race charge to the front, but Ryan Hunter-Reay ran the race of the day. He drove his burnt yellow DHL machine through the field – twice! – to a podium finish, racing a brand new, unfamiliar car after crashing his Indy 500 winner in practice. Failing even to attempt qualifying, he started dead last and still very nearly won.

After a washout on Sunday even the command to start engines was delayed, leading to an awkward pause during the beginning of the broadcast. Then a bomb was dropped on the audience as they revealed that Robin Miller was joining Till and Townsend Bell in the booth. A surreal quality instantly infused the broadcast as the news rippled across the land. Apparently Paul Tracy had important buffets to attend in Vegas.

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The start was waived off after first time pole sitter Mikhail Aleshin jumped the gun, forcing another attempt. Aleshin again shot out to a lead coming to the flag stand, but Josef Newgarden quickly took the lead just before Takuma Sato snap spun into the wall in turn three, coming to a wrecked rest in front of the “what turn 4?” sign. Continue reading

Pocono Predictions and Prognostications: Jersey Edition

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A special prediction deals with Pocono Raceway‘s proximity to New Jersey, which failed to land an F1 race but did give the world Governor Chris Christie. Sporting a rough reputation as perhaps America’s rudest state, Jersey’s also high in the running for funniest accent, most mobbed up state and much more. Just like the Jersey turnpike, IndyCar fans can expect lots of traffic jams to go with miles of pavement and full service fill ups this weekend.

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The biggest surprise of the race fittingly enough will be Charlie Kimball. Ganassi – an honorary Jersey guy, obviously – won three years ago with Scott Dixon and Kimball’s definitely developed an east coast approach to racing this year. As Juan Montoya said after one recent on track tiff, “That’s Charlie! Ask anybody!” Charlie’s unacceptably rude behavior currently has him tenth in the standings, two spots ahead of Juan. Continue reading

Pocono Preview: Not Like NASCAR

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IndyCar roars back to life after an outrageous three week momentum killing hiatus, something NASCAR wouldn’t dream of doing with its schedule. Pocono Speedway’s irritatingly known as “NASCAR’s tricky triangle,” although in fact the track was purposely built for IndyCar and modeled on other classic IndyCar ovals Trenton, Milwaukee and IMS. Unfortunately only one of them is still in use, that is unless you count the recent race rioting in Milwaukee.

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Race fans are hoping for an absence of rain for IndyCar’s intriguing return to Pocono Speedway Sunday, unlike that recent wreck of a NASCAR race. At least that’s what we gathered – we certainly didn’t watch it. Texas reminded fans what a bummer rain outs are, making it a months’ long race set to finally finish in a few weeks.

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Also unlike NASCAR, speeds will be in excess of two hundred miles an hour. Continue reading

Bryan Clauson, Racer, R.I.P.

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Racer and four time USAC Champion Bryan Clauson has died from injuries suffered at a midget race in Belleville, Kansas Saturday night. He was only twenty seven years old.

The Noblesville, Indiana resident was in pursuit of starting a record two hundred races in 2016, including the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 in which he finished twenty third for Dale Coyne Racing. The Belleville Nationals race that became his last was number one hundred and sixteen out of two hundred. Characteristically, he was leading when the accident occurred.

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Clauson was widely respected and admired Continue reading

IndyCar News Week in Review: Outrageous Hiatus Edition

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Usually reserved for the off season, an idiotic three week involuntary layoff from IndyCar action qualifies. See what we mean about this silly schedule? Purposely not on a break, here’s our latest version of IndyCar News Week in Review.

Flipping Nasty: Hoosier USAC iron man Bryan Clauson was critically injured during a midget race in Belleville, Kansas Saturday night. While leading the twenty seven year old was forced into the wall by a lapped car sending him cart-wheeling down the track. Before even coming to a stop, the three time Indy 500 starter was violently struck in the cockpit by a trailing car. It took them nearly a half hour to remove the cage and extract Clauson from the mangled wreck. He was airlifted to a Lincoln, Nebraska hospital.

Little has been reported on the extent of his injuries, though according to Robin Miller he’s in stable condition and breathing on his own. It appears an unwanted racing hiatus is in Bryan’s future and we wish him a full recovery. His Dale Coyne Racing teammate Pippa Mann, fellow Indy 500 competitor Graham Rahal and many others have expressed their thoughts and wishes. Forebodingly, Mann joined journalist Jenna Fryer in urging against speculation “until his family has something official to say.”

Ironically, Clauson’s last Tweet was sent out Saturday following a previous wreck. “Thanks to and for keeping me safe!”

Bryan’s family issued a statement on Facebook at just after 2:30 pm central time. They confirmed he remains in critical condition and asked for fans “to respect our privacy as we focus on Bryan.”

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Continue reading

Ways to Save Oval Racing: An Open Letter to IndyCar

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Some easily accomplished changes can save the fastest and in our opinion highest form of IndyCar competition, oval track racing. Neither difficult nor expensive to implement, these improvements should be made immediately for the sake of the sport. May God save open wheel oval racing, the closest thing to spectator heaven that exists upon this earth.

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Long time fans of IndyCar racing on ovals, we’ve consistently raised alarms at their steady erosion from the schedule. At first blush the very thought of bettering side by side racing at over 200 mph seems ludicrous, but it can be done and fairly easily so. There are a number of things IndyCar needs more of to attract fans to its oval events – and one less. Among those additions are more comfort and fun. The subtraction involves putting someone in charge who appreciates IndyCar’s heritage.

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First – and this is very important – is give fans in the stands more Continue reading

Mid-Ohio Race Review: Precious Little Edition

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IndyCar’s least entertaining track lived up to its reputation with precious little passing and even less excitement.

The start especially as well as restarts provided brief glimpses of racing. Cars were three wide on the first lap, the air thick with tire smoke rising from the contact. The field quickly spread out into a procession however, or what we call situation normal at Mid-Ohio. Precious little Penske Frenchman Simon Pagenaud won from pole, padding his points lead. It was a predictably smallish sort of weekend in central Ohio.

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Two caution periods for ten laps seemed too few, as contact and damage were rife during portions of the race. Four penalties seemed insufficient also, considering three were for pit lane violations and two of those were on one driver. Mikhail Aleshin led thirty laps prior to his last stop troubles. Doing his best Francesco Dracone impersonation, the racy Russian hit equipment, crew and Josef Newgarden after prematurely being sent out of his SPM pit.

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Scott Dixon’s awful weekend included a “miscommunication” leading to an eleventh place qualifying effort, breaking his front wing soon after the start and an early retirement due to contact. Continue reading