What’s Michael Andretti Thinking This Time? Or: Michael’s Motor Mix Up Madness

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Photo from twitter.com

The mercurial motorsports owner’s the subject of still more baffling rumors – yet again.

Victorious team principle in the last two Indianapolis 500s and three of the last four – all with Honda – Michael Andretti is supposedly considering an engine manufacturer change. Bizarre, but that’s just like our Michael. The scion of the famous Andretti clan – and apparently the last real IndyCar driver the family will produce – has had a lot on his plate, starting with Marco’s flailing, failed decade in the sport.

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Photo from flickr.com

Publicly, the colorful owner comes off as a real hoot and this latest flirtation’s in keeping with his unpredictable nature. Continue reading

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101st Indy 500 Predictions and Prognostications: An American Tradition

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The Indianapolis 500 is an American tradition like no other. Now into its second century, the 500 remains one of America’s great contributions to the world, as millions of Spaniards are about to discover thanks to Fernando Alonso.

Our special prediction for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing concerns the show itself, the racing. Expect highly exhilarating, edge of your seat, 230 mph ecstasy on the ancient oval Sunday – the way all racing should be. Of course that’s assuming the weather cooperates. Pay particular attention to the truly unique start, with eleven glittering, growling rows of three cars. It’s among the very best moments in all of sport.

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Photo from indycar.com

First lap leader will come from the outside of row 1 and he’s led before, even recently. It’s 100th Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi. The American prevailed on strategy and fumes last year, was impressive in qualifications last weekend and is still young and inexperienced enough to go for it early. Prepare for a vocal crowd reaction when he shoots into the lead.

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Photo from sports.usatoday.com

The mid-race leader prediction sees the introduction of a villain into the story, a real heavy Continue reading

101st Indy 500 Preview: Second Thoughts Edition

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Photo from indycar.com

As race day approaches a number of issues become secondary, while others rise to primary importance.

The two days of qualifying were, as f-ing F1’s Alonso says, intense. Sebastien Bourdais was putting up the month’s fastest laps on Saturday when he crashed horribly in turn 2, ending his day and season with a broken pelvis and hip. Post surgery, Dale Coyne‘s pilot Tweeted thanks for the support and that he’ll “be back at some point.” Meantime, James Davison will drive the 18 car in the 500 and start last.

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Photo from twitter.com

Sunday’s round was less eventful as everyone managed to avoid Bourdais’ fate, if not the turn 2 wall entirely. Pushing their cars to the limit, several drivers slapped the safer barrier on the backstretch, including Takuma Sato and Charlie Kimball.

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Photo from sports.usatoday.com

It was Scott Dixon‘s day, as his four lap average of 232.1 mph was the fastest qualifying speed since 1996 – when Arie Luyendyk set the record – and good enough for pole. Continue reading

101st Indy 500 Practice Four: One Off Edition

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Indy 500 one off and Englishman with two first names Jay Howard topped the speed charts at 226.7 mph Thursday. The SPM pilot was followed by Ryan-Hunter Reay, the reappearing Marco, one off Fernando, Newkid – more on those two later – and yet another one off Sage “wild man” Karam. That’s three one offs in the top six!

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Photo from usatoday.com

The non tow leaders included some equally surprising names like Sato, who ran 224.7 mph, and Charlie “pinball” Kimball at 224.6 mph. Rahal, Hunter-Reay, Carpenter and Dixon rounded out the top six as sanity returned further down the list. It seems Hondas had a decent day at the Brickyard.

Josef Newgarden suffered the second wall related incident of the month, getting loose and losing it in the exit of turn one while running in traffic. Continue reading

101st Indy 500 Practice Three: Scaredy Penske Edition

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Photo from twitter.com

Windy conditions kept the Cap’n’s crew – quickest the previous practice, at least in the tow – largely off of Indy’s oval Wednesday. Only Newkid made an appearance, for eleven whole laps. Luckily other teams weren’t deterred by some mere gusts – not entirely.

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Photo from twitter.com

Early on Ed Carpenter Racing held the top two spots no matter the tow, with Ed and J.R. 1-2 in their respective Chevys, tops in both categories. Recall that Ed led the way with the highest non-tow speed Tuesday, with J.R. not far behind. By the end of the session, the series’ only owner/driver again owned the quickest lap at over 222.8 mph.

Dixon was second quick for Ganassi, his Honda doing nearly 222.6 mph, while J.R. was third. Fernando Alonso  turned in the fourth best speed – more on him later – and our man Conor Daly completed the top five, Tweeting he was “really happy with the changes overnight.” Way to go, Conor!

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Photo from twitter.com

A few questions occurred to us after three days of practice for the greatest spectacle in racing. Continue reading

100th Indy 500 Race Review: Out of Gas Edition

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Photo from sports.usatoday.com

American IndyCar driver Alexander Rossi stunned IRR and the rest of the racing world Sunday. The Californian – who we predicted would do well – won the most significant race in history after running out of gas, coasting for nearly the entire final lap. When asked on television, the twenty four year old rookie classily mentioned it being “a huge honor and privilege” to have won the 100th.

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Photo from indycar.com

Juan Montoya‘s crash on his own in turn 2 was within IRR’s view at the track and a real highlight of the day. Sage Karam‘s wreck occurred right in front of us, while former 500 winner Buddy Lazier‘s problems went completely around the track. Continue reading

IndyCar Grand Prix of Long Beach Preview: Cheap Trick Edition

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Photo from latfusa.com

First F1, then CART/Champ Car, and finally IndyCar all have played a cheap trick upon the hospitable “I Want You To Want Me” Southern California destination. Fact is, fairly few edge of your seat races have unfolded at Long Beach during its long history, though you’d never know it. Almost inconceivably, this trickery’s been going on for four decades now.

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Photo from motorsport.com

Appropriately for SoCal, the Grand Prix of Long Beach always has been upside down, like a wave riding a surfer. The ancient – at least by IndyCar standards – event is known more for its pre-race festivities and “atmosphere” than the race itself. This year’s hoopla will be highlighted by Rockford, Illinois’ own Cheap Trick in concert, a rock band from the ’70s and recent Rock ‘N Roll HOF inductee among whose best songs is, fittingly enough, “California Man.”

 

Included in the fanfare too will be an “ePrix,” a drift race and, perhaps most cryptic of all, a “Lifestyle Expo,” whatever the hell any of those are. One thing IRR‘s sure of, however. Prior to the race a must see Miss GPLB pageant will be held – not to be confused with an LGBT pageant, of course. Strictly for illustrative purposes, here’s a look at last year’s gorgeous finalists. Wonder how many “Southern Girls” are among them? Or cheap tricks?

 

Adding a crescendo to the bawdy buildup is Continue reading

So Sim’s In – Can She Win?

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In the latest installment of “what’s Michael Andretti thinking?” Switzerland’s own Simona de Silvestro has been named driver of Andretti Autosport’s fourth humpback Honda, at least for the season opener at St. Pete. The Swiss Miss has been desirous of a comeback for months, publicly saying leaving IndyCar and testing in F1 last year was a mistake. Her wish now granted, she’ll test the tri-plane inspired, cheese grater appearing Honda aero kits for the first time on March 16-17 at Barber.

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Photo from Honda Performance Development

The talented twenty six year old from Thune has no IndyCar wins through four seasons, though she was on a bit of a hot streak in her last several races. Continue reading

IndyCar Aero Kits Look Ugly, Silly and New Fangled

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Images from media.gm.com and trackforum.com

It’s no secret that we’ve never been fans of the DW-12, choosing instead to rather obstinately cling to the old fashioned belief that open wheel race cars should actually be open wheeled. As noted previously on this site, the current trend in IndyCar chassis design is neither visually pleasing nor true to the nature of the sport. Looking like something caught from the Marianas trench, IndyCar’s latest iteration is most decidedly not helpful to this eyeful end. We say nuts to that.

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Image from media.gm.com

After great secrecy and build up to Chevy’s introduction of their aero kits, the reaction has been predictably underwhelming and justifiably so. Drawings, for goodness sake? Largely holding our pens on this point of the rather ungainly appearance of Chevy’s effort, that’s about to change. The road and short oval kits will supposedly provide a bit more speed, but judging by the artist depictions they look ugly, silly and needlessly new fangled.

“Winglets on stalks” is how one author described those things sticking out from the front wing of the car. They aren’t exactly what most fans of artistry on wheels had in mind as an upgrade over the dated, boxy and cumbersome Dallaras. Safety concerns notwithstanding, more mass on the rear wing/bumper isn’t what’s needed, either. Quite frankly the whole package looks somewhat ridiculous. Our acceptance of these changes can only improve over time, as our initial reaction couldn’t be any worse.

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Image from Indy Race Reviewer

We have several important concerns. Continue reading

IndyCar News Week in Review: Keep the Change Edition

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In With The New: Eight drivers tested at Sebring this week, including the Penske Powerhouse tetrarchy of Power, Helio, Montoya and newcomer Pagenaud. The other veteran was SeBass, but new faces drew our attention. 2014 IndyCar winner Carlos Huertas and Venezuelan Rodolfo “Speedy” Gonzalez – who’s twenty eight and an unknown quantity –  tested Dale Coyne’s cars. Huertas drove for Dollar Dale in his rookie campaign while Gonzalez hasn’t driven an IndyCar for anyone, coming from the failed F1 team Marussia’s test program.

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Photo from hoyvenezuela.info

Gonzo almost certainly brings some petro cash to the table from his basket case socialist paradise of a homeland where toilet paper is eternally in short supply. Ryan Phinny from LA tested KV’s second car and seems a perfect fit for fellow Californian Vasser while Swiss Miss Simona de Silvestro is rumored to be close to Andretti’s fourth seat. Sorry Conor, Zach and JWil – the few remaining seats in the series could be taken.

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Photo from usatoday.com

Changing Numbers:  Continue reading