St. Pete IndyCar Race Review: A Real Stinker

The Firestone Grand Prix at times smelled like a tire fire.

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Photo from indycar.com

Frenchmen swept the top two spots at St. Pete Sunday, as Sebastien Bourdais bested defending champ Simon Pagenaud in a result no one foresaw, much less foresmelled. Charging all the way from last place, it was Bourdais’ thirty sixth major open wheel victory of his storied career, and it smelled of feet. By all accounts, SeBass was able to avoid embarrassing himself by not dropping the trophy again from atop the podium. It was his first win since Detroit 1 last June and added to other recent renaissance wins including Milwaukee.

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Photo from dailymail.co.uk

While the racing on the newly repaved circuit had its moments, particularly during the start and restart, on the whole it still stunk like week old French cheese. St. Pete’s a ramshackle temporary street course, on top of which Mark “Stink” Schlereth acted as Grand Marshall, so what’d you expect?

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Photo from twitter.com

Bestwicke, Goodyear and Cheever provided their usual Mickey Mouse coverage, Continue reading

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100th Indy 500 Qualifications Day Two: Mayor of Indy

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Photo from twitter.com

Canuck comic and IndyCar pilot James Hinchcliffe completed a comeback story for the ages Sunday evening, going in the span of a year from the edge of oblivion to pole position for the 100th Indianapolis 500 mile extravaganza. He edged Americans Josef Newgarden and Ryan Hunter-Reay, the former by thirty four thousandths of a second over four laps, or ten miles. The series wanted drama for pole day and they got it.

In an early qualifications incident, A.J. Foyt Racing‘s Alex Tagliani “got really loose!” as he said on the exit of turn 4, spun and ended up clipping the pit lane wall attenuator. He’s fine, but the car’s not and receiving a DNQ they’ll start last in 33rd. AJ should be particularly thankful for the Monday practice session.

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Earlier Scott Dixon blew a Chevy engine, which is normally a death knell on the final day of qualifications, except there are only thirty three cars there. In almost super-human fashion, Ganassi’s teams changed the engines out in less than two hours, enabling him to qualify fairly well in thirteenth. That’s one better than Marco and one helluva team effort during a difficult week. Mike Hull, Ganassi’s head honcho on Dixon’s team, gave a different version. He said Chevy “asked us to change” the engine, citing “absolutely zero concern with our race engines,” when we asked. 
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100th Indy 500 Qualifications Day One: Mayor of Indy?

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Photo from Chad Smith on twitter.com

After more a.m. rain, weepers on the track caused a delay in the first day of qualifying for the greatest spectacle in racing. IMS extended the track window by an hour setting up a helluva climax for ESPNews. Boy, was it a Duesie. The Mayor James Hinchcliffe stole the show – and the pole – in a riveting late happy hour run of 230.946 mph.

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Photo from Chad Smith on twitter.com

Prior to that, Max Chilton was involved in the first accident of the day in practice, losing the car in turn 2 and smashing Chip’s half million dollar bill board up pretty well. Calamity next struck Pippa Mann when her rear wing end fence failed during a qualifying attempt, spinning her out in turn 2. She almost saved it with an evasive maneuver before lightly brushing the wall.

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Photo from ap.org

ABC’s two hour window missed almost everything except Pippa’s spin and the final few qualifiers like 500 winner Buddy Lazier. Continue reading

What’s Wrong With Juan? An IRR IndyCar Inquiry

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To the chagrin of many IndyCar aficionados, the unpopular, immodest and crotchety Colombian repeated at St. Pete after doing so in last year’s Indy 500. So what’s wrong with this prickly Penske provocateur who spends a few weekends every year as a pilot?

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Photo from indycar.com

Juan Pablo Montoya’s a man who’s becoming legendary as of late, whether you like it or not. Or to cite his standard throwaway quote, “you know?” He missed taking the 2015 championship on style points to Dixon, with the consolation of winning the world’s greatest race, again. From the Brickyard to the beach, fans of artistry on wheels are aware of JPM, if not exactly celebrating him.

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His first Indy 500 win way back in 2000 was truly tough to watch for non-Juan fans, as he dominated the entire race, leaving little room to realistically root against him. Continue reading

St. Pete Race Review: Pete & Repeat, Sitting On A Podium

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Series devotees who secretly suspect Penske will win every single Sunday – but yet repetitively hope it isn’t the case – have seen this race before.

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Photo from sports.usatoday.com

Riveting racing made a brief appearance in the 2016 IndyCar series season opener, but vanished more surely than Dale Coyne fans’ momentary folly that the team has the remotest chance of winning a race. The combination of the cavernous street circuit, the still overly weak aero kits and highly aggressive and inexperienced jockeys made for a predictable race – and one reminiscent of other sucky street course events. Leaving us at one point wishing for rain – anything! – to liven up the show, it just seems all those beautiful horses are wasted running in a bumpy alley – not to mention the duplicate body work bills.

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Photo from indycar.com

Juan “schoolgirl giddy” Montoya forced his way around Coyne’s young Hoosier Conor Daly – the favorite of underdog lovers everywhere – just past mid race to repeat in St. Pete. It was the Cap’n’s zillionth IndyCar victory and started his fiftieth anniversary year off right. Continue reading