Ways to Enliven IndyCar Road Racing, Or: Obdurate Ovalista Offerings

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Whether it’s some fresh ideas, new rules or simply enforcing existing ones, IndyCar road racing really needs a revival. Since an all oval schedule is unlikely to return anytime soon, here are a few suggestions to liven up the road shows.

As fans of IndyCar it’s no secret we at IRR prefer oval track racing to squiggly courses because speed, passing and excitement are kinda our thing. Having already offered our “Ways To Save Oval Racing,” it’s now time to address the ten times as many curves as straightaways tracks.

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The first thing the series could do to improve squirmies is simply enforce the rules. When called at all, penalties are often wildly inconsistent – just see Emma Dixon‘s Twitter feed – with certain teams and drivers (think Penske and Ganassi) seemingly exempt. Last year’s Long Beach non-call on Simon Pagenaud is a perfect example of this. It’s grossly unfair and invites NASCAR type lawlessness.

Race control’s laxness calling penalties leads to drivers getting Kimballed, or what’s worse, Satoed. Recently on the Texas oval nine drivers were Kanaaned, which is in case you’re wondering much worse than a caning – just ask Hinch. Continue reading

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Long Beach Predictions & Prognostications: Environmental Edition

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Prepare for a festival of fuel saving in sanctimoniously green California – but do fuel economy and racing really mix?

The word most commonly invoked in describing the Grand Prix of Long Beach is “atmosphere,” a catch-all term meant to capture the partying, sites and sounds of the decades old ocean side event. An atmospheric problem for IndyCar is that none of this translates very well to television. Still another is the typically dreadful racing there of late, which leaves fans looking a bit green around the gills.

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Now for the special prediction of the Grand Prix, which concerns that pesky Penske paradox. The PP reared its ugly head last year when Pags won a real snoozer, apart from some drama over a blown call from race control. Happily last year’s amphibian outrage won’t recur, and the winner will be somewhat less green.

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In twin victories for middle aged people everywhere, Helio won the pole the last two years running after Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay (with the hyphen here to stay) claimed it in 2014. Notwithstanding, our pick is Continue reading

Long Beach Preview: ‘We Don’t Need No Stinking Blend Lines!’

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The Miss Long Beach Grand Prix Pageant is arguably the best part of the entire event.

IndyCar’s idiotic full lunar cycle hiatus following the season’s first race comes to a close in SoCal Sunday. Problem is, the last time the series visited Long Beach a controversial and unpopular non-call handed the race to a controversial and unpopular Frenchman. Which begs this question.

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Simon Pagenaud flouted the rules for pit exit, ignored the blend line and swerved in front of Scott Dixon – who was at speed on the racing surface. Race control issued only a mere warning and Penske’s frog benefitted, going on to win the season championship. Paraphrasing a bandit in John Huston’s classic film ‘The Treasure of the Sierra Madre,’ “Blend lines?! We don’t need no stinking blend lines!”

While 2015 winner Dixon wasn’t pleased with the non-call or second place, his gorgeous wife Emma absolutely went off, Continue reading

Sonoma Finale Predictions and Prognostications: Rude As Hell Edition

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IndyCar’s season finale will take place Sunday at Sonoma Raceway in Northern California, rudely enough. In case you’ve been living in a frickin’ cave lately, NoCal’s the home of everyone’s favorite bench warming quarterback, the extremely rude and disrespectful Colin Kaepernick. He’s known primarily for his spectacular fall from grace, as well as his prima donna precociousness and pre-game protests of the national anthem. Now IndyCar with its ill-mannered front runners is crashing Kap’s bitch session.

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For our thorough thoughts on the championship battle, see “IndyCar Championship: Evil of Two Lessers.” In perfect keeping with our extremely rude theme, Frenchman Simon Pagenaud will prevail in the championship battle, beating out his ill-tempered team mate “Mad” Will Power. Pags winning the points sweepstakes is highly appropriate, for not only is Cali known for wine, but now thanks to Kap also for whining – as well as losing football teams, Hollywood hucksterism, in your face government, impolite levels of taxation and widespread flight from the state. How rude.

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Our special prediction for the finale is Continue reading

Texas Firestone 600 Predictions And Prognostications: Huge Edition

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Expect high speeds, plenty of passing action and lots of sparks flying on track in Texas Saturday night. As Napoleon said, “that which is large is beautiful,” and Texas Motor Speedway certainly qualifies. Also, there’ll be no preordained Penske parades like we saw Sunday in Detroit. In our eyes, that’s just huge.

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This week’s special prediction for the race is some good old fashioned, hugely entertaining oval track racing. Last year’s race was one of those rare Texas IndyCar contests that failed to fulfill fans. Caution free, Scott Dixon ran away with it cruising to an almost eight second margin of victory. Truly, Dixie did Dallas last year – in a huge way.

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The broadcast will also be noticeably superior to those of the last several races. NBCSN is not only covering the race and qualifications on its air, but also a bonus practice session Friday morning. Continue reading

100th Indy 500 Practice 4: Cautionary Edition

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The normally rideless Rookie of the Year Gabby “Pat” Chaves found him/herself atop the speed charts on the fourth/third day of practice. This extreme oddity – in a Dale Coyne car, to boot! – continues a Honda sweep at the top of the charts. There’s a cautionary note or two that accompany this story, though. First, the speed was tow assisted. Plus, a third Honda engine blew up in as many days of practice, never a good sign. Ryan Hunter-Reay’s AA machine belched smoke rolling to a halt on the warm up lane during the afternoon session.

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After Spencer Pigot’s wreck in his yellow car Wednesday, the series was taking no chances. Perhaps they were being overly cautious, like last year. Either that, or an inordinate amount of debris somehow found its way onto the racing surface. Seemed like an awful lot of cautions Thursday, despite the happy absence of wrecks. The speeds were slower, too. Pigot still hasn’t made it back out in his RLL backup car, which he’d described as “bare.” Probably the cautious thing to do.

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Add another yellow and blue car to the field, as f-ing F1 invader Alexander Rossi – who’s been quick this week for Andretti Autosport – makes the field practically half yellow this year. Ray Harroun’s probably spinning in his grave. We took it to the highest levels.  Continue reading

Barber IndyCar Predictions and Prognostications: Haircut Edition

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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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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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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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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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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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“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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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