IndyCar 2015 Season Grades: Bryan Herta Autosport

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The odd little one car team piloted by Gabby “Pat” Chavez had an indeterminate year considering the many challenges they face, including a dearth of funding, resources and experience – but boy, have they got spunk! The unisex twenty two year old Colombian earned Rookie of the Year awards for both the Indy 500 and season, a feat not accomplished since 2006 when Marco accomplished it. With a less than famous name, we certainly hope Pat’s career results are better than Marco’s after a decade in the sport.

Wins: 0

Podiums: 0

Poles: 0

In some ways Herta’s Honda regressed slightly this year compared to last, when rookie Englishman Jack Hawksworth at least scored a podium finish at the forgettable Houston “track,” coming in third behind  Pags and Aleshin in the totally unnecessary second race. While other sports joke about playing in a parking lot, IndyCar disgustingly does it – sometimes twice in the same weekend. [Audible groan.]

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But back to the guy er, um driver in question, Gabby. In addition to other accolades, we’re pleased to announce Chavez is the winner of our 2015 Bruce Jenner/Caitlyn Jenner Gender Bender Award, or the BJCJGBA. Continue reading

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IndyCar 2015 Season Grades: Andretti Autosport

Jul 18, 2015; Newton, IA, USA; IndyCar Series driver Ryan Hunter-Reay (28) reacts after winning the Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: USATSI-230374 ORIG FILE ID: 20150718_lbm_ad1_319.JPG

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The Andretti bunch had a wild year that began poorly, turned around in the last portion yet ended in tragedy. It strongly resembled a Sam Peckinpah movie, come to think of it. Legal issues notwithstanding, 2015 was so turbulent it may well make AA want to start drinking again. For all Michael and Hunter-Reay’s talk of being “lost” with Honda early on, the “autosport” actually bounced back for a decent year on track equaling last year’s win total.

Wins: 3

Podiums: 6

Poles: 0

The team’s top driver and 2014 Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay scored oval wins at Iowa and Pocono along with four top five finishes including second at the Sonoma finale. He came back strong to finish sixth in points, helped by the fact that he was running at the end of thirteen out of sixteen races.

Marco Andretti (27) heads into a turn during IndyCar testing at Barber Motorsports Park, Monday, March 16, 2015, in Birmingham, Ala. Drivers are testing the new aerodynamic packages on their cars. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

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Marco’s years’ long difficulties continued, Continue reading

IndyCar 2015 Season Grades: AJ Foyt Racing

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The newly expanded group has gone from bad to worse and the ailing AJ can’t be happy about it, despite his public pronouncements. Here are the numbers for what the Texas based team itself recently called a “tough season.”

Wins: 0

Podiums: 1

Poles: 0

The Team’s eponymous and ornery octogenarian owner’s health remains a major concern, but their troubles go well beyond AJ’s age. All the Honda teams struggled early in the season with those hideously overdone aero kits and lack of power; however, Rahal nearly won the championship and Ryan Hunter-Reay rebounded for a decent year – both in Hondas – so some success certainly was attainable. For AJ Foyt Racing though, it wasn’t. Their nadir unfortunately came during the series’ biggest event – our Indy 500 race review was tellingly entitled “Foyt’s Foul Ups Edition.”

Stefano Coletti, of Monaco, (4) hits the car driven by Sebastian Saavedra, of Colombia, as Jack Hawksworth, right, of England, hits the wall in the closing laps of the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Sunday, May 24, 2015. (AP Photo/Kirk Stierwalt) ORG XMIT: NAA147

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AJ’s two drivers Continue reading

An Interview With Indy Sun’s Carl Cavern

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The Indianapolis Sun’s Carl Cavern is the star IndyCar reporter for the new-ish news site courageously challenging Circle City’s monotonous media monopoly. Ever the scamp, Carl’s Twitter profile reads “IndyCar, culture and everything else reporter and Curt Cavin’s existential nightmare.” Sounds fascinating, doesn’t he? We thought so, too.

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So in response to the tremendous demand from our readers to find out more about the mystery scribe that is Carl Cavern, we managed despite a great deal of difficulty to wangle an interview with the elusive writer and Tweeter extraordinaire. It was an intriguing experience, to say the least.

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IRR: Tell our readers about yourself. They probably only know you through your colorful Tweets about racing, if at all.

Carl Cavern: I’m a Hoosier, born and bred. Love IndyCar, God, country, Indiana and my family – in that order. I’ve seen too many races to count, going back to when I was a kid growing up in Terre Haute. Continue reading

Sonoma Finale Race Review: ‘Damn It, Man!’ Championship Edition

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In a result few outside of Chip Ganassi‘s Star Wars bar scene inner circle saw coming, Kiwi Scott Dixon won both the Sonoma GoPro Grand Prix and the IndyCar championship Sunday, his third win of the year and fourth title of Dixie’s storied career. It was thanks in large part to Team Penske and Juan Montoya‘s monumental collapse. Leading since St. Pete it was Montoya’s title to lose, and he did so in spectacular fashion. Banging into and spinning team mate Will Power who was leading the race on the first restart, Montoya damaged the nose of his own car and threw the championship away in a single turn. JPM had enjoyed a substantial points lead going into the finale – thirty four over Rahal and forty seven over Dixon – but thanks to this epic brain fade finished second in a tie breaker on wins.

Aug 30, 2015; Sonoma, CA, USA; Pit crew for IndyCar Series driver Juan Pablo Montoya bring the car to the grid before the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

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The first half of the contest was fairly humdrum and typical of a Sonoma race as Leigh Diffey himself admitted in the latter stages. From pole Power sped away from the field and dominated the race until Montoya foolishly punted him. It being a Penske affair, of course no penalty was forthcoming. The first caution was a questionable flag for Filippi who hit  nothing but was supposedly slow on course. This was the beginning of race control rearing its ugly heads though, and unfortunately it would have an effect on the outcome. For the first time in months they penalized drivers during the contest with drive through penalties including one for Sebastien Bourdais who hit Graham Rahal from behind, spinning him out and costing him any chance at the title. Rahal angrily confronted Bourdais afterwards on pit lane, saying “Good job . . . you knew exactly where I was going and you drove like a f___ing d__k! ”

Graham Rahal, right, and Charlie Kimball (83) compete during the IndyCar Grand Prix of Sonoma auto race Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015, in Sonoma, Calif. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg) ORG XMIT: CAER108

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Josef Newgarden ran well in second but Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud parked it on pit road obstructing the young American’s exit from his pit box. Continue reading

Sonoma Finale Predictions and Prognostications: Rock ‘n Roll Edition

It’s been a trying week so let’s get right to the good stuff – our rip roarin’ Jimmy Page inspired crystal balling, of course. This week’s special prediction for IndyCar’s final race of the season and Championship decider is that there’ll be no driver-rattling, frightened-it’s-the-big-one, Fred Sanford-type earthquake hit Sonoma this year, at least not hours prior to the green flag like last visit.

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To quote Juan Pablo Montoya on 2014’s rockin’ act of God who come to think of it sounded a bit like Redd Foxx, “Awful, like awful. My shit . . . was shaking.” And since there’ll be no rockin’ and rollin’ pre-race – or probably during the race at all in “So Mind Numbing Sonoma,” thank you Indycar schedulers – we’ve supplied an excellent musical selection of our own choosing. Thought it’d be appropriate to have England’s greatest rock band provide it this week.

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Like a hot poker up the pee hole, picking Power for pole pains us plenty. Prognosticating “Mad” Will to prevail in anything just seems crazy and wrong. Moving right along first out of the race will be rookie Stefano “reckless-er than Andretti” Coletti, who seems to have trouble keeping his KV machine in one piece, whether it’s in practice or a race, on an oval or a crappy road course. In other words, Coletti doesn’t rock.

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The biggest surprise of the race and arguably the season Continue reading

Sonoma IndyCar Finale Preview: Determined Joy Edition

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The show must go on as the old saying goes and in this case the race must take place. IndyCar’s season finale will occur on Sunday and as we move on from the tragic loss of Justin Wilson we do so saddened and humbled, yet also grateful and appreciative for the decade of racing we all had rooting for him. JWil was a true gentleman and talented racer who made the world a better place; it’ll be a poorer, less joyous world without him.

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We hate to say it but the trajectory IndyCar’s been on lately we wouldn’t be surprised if either massive wildfires engulf the entire track this weekend or – and also God forbid – the big one finally hits California and breaks the whole kit and caboodle off into the sea, or possibly both. One seriously wonders what the formerly Golden state did to deserve such luck, until remembering Hollywood, Simi Valley, Charlie Manson, Watts, Willie Brown, Napa Valley, Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown, The Gover-nator, Riverside, and on and on and on.

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But barring such calamities or the intervention of political villains, there’ll be a champion crowned at the end of it all – funnily the race winner almost always gets overshadowed by the champ at the conclusion of the finale –  and like him or not we’re starkly faced with the fact it’ll be the last IndyCar race until at least next spring. So by God we are resolutely determined to enjoy it. Justin would have wanted us to and as we were all rudely reminded this week, one never knows when it’ll be your last race.

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The Go Pro Grand Prix of Sonoma Continue reading

Pocono Race Review: Tragedy in Pennsylvania

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Ryan Hunter-Reay crossed the finish line first for Andretti Autosport at Pocono Sunday evening, but there were no celebrations and no confetti in a subdued victory lane. His team mate Justin Wilson had already been airlifted to the hospital and as yet no one at the track knew his status. It was the strangest scene after a race in memory as a pall hung heavily over the gathered crowd.

Wilson was hit in the head by debris from Sage Karam’s car, which disintegrated when he spun and hit the wall while leading the last portion of the race. Karam injured his right foot in the wreck, but he got off lightly compared to Justin. Slumped forward in the cockpit, Wilson was clearly already knocked unconscious as the car hit the inside wall and came to a stop. Today Wilson remains in a coma in critical condition. Sadly Justin passed away Monday night. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Englishman’s family.

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The incident isn’t dissimilar to the case of F-1 driver Jules Bianchi, Continue reading

Pocono Qualifications: Instant Reaction

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Helio Castro Neves wrested the forty fifth pole of his decades long IndyCar career away from his team mate Simon Pagenaud Saturday at Pocono Raceway. He did so at over 220 miles per hour and then proceeded to hoot and giggle girlishly in the post qualifications interview. Team Penske swept the top three spots with “Mad” Will Power on the inside of row two in tomorrow’s five hundred mile race, while CFH Racing’s Josef Newgarden and championship contender Graham Rahal –  the quickest Honda – round out the top five.

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Fourth Penske entry and points leader Juan Pablo Montoya encountered a problem on his first lap, drifted up the track and lifted off the throttle. He qualified poorly as a result, starting nineteenth. When asked about his bobble in an interview Montoya replied, “It’s racing.” A big thanks to Paul Tracy, who guaranteed Montoya would be a contender tomorrow thereby jinxing him utterly. This along with Juan’s screw up in quals makes our prediction look better and better. Curiously, JPM declined interviews all day before qualifications, though not with IRR. We didn’t request one.

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Charlie Kimball who’d been quickest in practice spun and crashed during his qualifying run  Continue reading