IndyCar Watkins Glen Preview: Wit’s End Edition

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With the season’s end in sight, there’s still plenty of IRR wittiness left in the tank.

Sadly, summertime’s over and with it – even more unfortunately – the rousing oval portion of IndyCar’s schedule. Two wine region, cheesy road courses remain, Watkins Glen in upstate New York and the Sonoma finale in California. In the Glen’s case, the most memorable parts of last year’s race were the ubiquitous paid Verizon plugs. Expect neither venue to excite nearly as much as Pocono or Texas regularly do, as the season slinks toward a less than satisfactory conclusion. It all has us feeling at wit’s end.

Josef “teammate terminator” Newgarden has the championship all but wrapped up thanks to Power and Helio’s witlessness at Gateway. There’s no end to his predictable success this season, taking three of the last four races and holding a 31 point championship lead. Making it worse, Team Penske’s won the last five in row. This marks the first time in many years the IndyCar finale probably won’t hold any title significance whatsoever, even with the gimmicky double points paid in the NoCal conclusion.

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Similarly, the rookie of the year award has been settled for some time with only a single candidate and therefore no competition. The fact than Alonso was gifted the Indy 500 ROY remains a travesty, truly “The Great Hardware Robbery,” as we termed it. Ed Jones deserved the award finishing third to Fernando’s 24th, just as he deserves the season ROY. Lack of other contenders aside, Jones has been the most impressive newcomer to the series in recent memory. Thankfully a better ROY resolution’s in the offing.

Happily, the end of the awful aero kit era is also in sight. It’ll be good riddance to bad chassis soon, perhaps the most compelling reason to look forward to next season. No more ass pods, no more closed wheels on open wheel cars – hoo-ray! For too many years now IndyCars have looked boxy, lumbering and somewhat less than sexy. If we wanted that, we’d watch NASCAR.

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Photo from nascar.com

Like it or not, we also could be seeing the end of several careers at the conclusion of the season as well, including the Boys from Brazil. Tony “crash course” Kanaan’s reportedly out at Ganassi next year and Helio’s rumored to be moving to sports cars. This after already bidding adieu to Mikhail Aleshin and “What’s wrong with?” Juan Montoya. Out with the old and in with the new, as the witticism goes.

On the bright side, it’s not the end of Ed however, as Carpenter alluded to returning to the car “next year” after his crash at Gateway. Saturday’s race ended a couple of miserable seasons in a row for the Hulman scion. After some promising oval results, the budding Harding Racing and Gabby “Pat” Chaves plan to run full time next year, adding a needed additional team and car to the paddock. If it’s any consolation, Ragin’ Graham Rahal finally will have a teammate next year too, even if it means Sato’s career isn’t quite ended.

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Photo from raceweekillustrated.com

In spite of all these endings that inevitably signify another year’s drawing to a close, there’s still plenty to look forward to. A new year holds the promise of new cars, another Indy 500, a few remaining oval track gems and even some new blood in the series. It’s enough to bring us back for more – especially A NEW CAR! – even though the schedule will be far from perfect.

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Photo from indycar.com

Hopefully next year some truly compelling competition will return to IndyCar for a change – and this year’s runaway races and points non-battles will come to an end.

THE END

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