Toronto Race Review: Penske’s Pulled A Fast One

pagsringtwittercom

Photo from twitter.com

The Penske’s pulled a fast one on the paying public Sunday.

With leader Frenchman Simon Pagenaud running low on fuel and fellow Penske pilot Josef Newgarden – the championship points leader – nursing home a damaged car in fourth after hitting the same stretch of wall for a second consecutive year, an uninteresting sleeping pill of a race looked like it might finally become eventful on the last lap. When suddenly third Penske teammate Will Power uncharacteristically – and all by himself – ran straight into a tire barrier, ending the race under caution and guaranteeing both a win for Pags and a continued grip on the points lead for Newkid. Coincidence? We think not. We believe the Penske’s pulled a fast one.

What sometimes saves the racing in Toronto – and in deed, its only redeeming quality – are multiple caution flags. Sunday’s affair had two and therefore technically qualified, but they were too few and far between to liven up the show. NBCSN’s pre-race coverage included the gobsmackingly dreadful condition of the supposed track in Toronto and, on a happier note, Robert Wickens’ return to IndyCar driving the specially configured pace car in his home country less than a year after his tragic accident at Pocono. During his pacing duties, which necessarily carried them close to the walls, his fiancee rode anxiously along screetching at one point, “Don’t be stupid!”

The green flag flew and fans were at least treated to a clean first turn as pole sitter Simon Pagenaud led Scott Dixon and Alexander Rossi. But problems quickly began with hometown boy James Hinchcliffe bumping into Marco and getting by him. Continue reading

Advertisements

Road America Race Review: Caution Needed Edition

Photo from twitter.com

In the most lop-sided IndyCar contest in a decade, Alexander Rossi won going away for Andretti Autosport in a typical Road America laugher. In the annals of racing, perhaps never was a caution, a rain storm, or a Sato desperation banzai move more needed to liven up the show.

Sunday’s pre-race coverage was lengthy, featuring Rossi, Jean Girard lookalike Indy 500 winner Simon Pagenaud and the legendary Scott Dixon, whose dreadful luck of late was chronicled – and would continue. The start of the race saw polesitter Colton Herta lead Rossi toward turn 1, although it wouldn’t last. Rossi skillfully passed him on the outside of the corner for P1 and never looked back. Whinin’ Will Power immediately was all over the 19 year old rookie for second, a spot he’d eventually take. Herta would finish eighth.

Then Dixon spun ’round after going wide into a turn and being rudely hit from behind by Ryan Hunter-Reay (with the hyphen here to stay), dropping to last. In typical Gumpian fashion, he’d fight his way all the way back to fifth by the checkered flag. Continue reading

Texas Race Review: Brain Fade Edition

Josef Newgarden and Alexander Rossi on track Texas

Photo from indycar.com

On a night chock full of miscues and head scratchers, the driver and team who made the least mistakes in Texas won.

Widely known for brain fades, Takuma Sato sat on pole alongside Scott Dixon as they led the field to the green flag with Ryan Hunter-Reay and Frenchmen Sebastien Bourdais and Simon Pagenaud making up the top five. Josef Newgarden battled with Spencer Pigot for eighth, the two black cars menacingly swapping positions. In other nearly identical looking cars, rookie Colton Herta and Alexander Rossi began a battle that’d last nearly all night. Still another Andretti Autosporter, Zach Veach, charged forward, going high around Graham Rahal for eleventh. Son of Dracula ran decently, but a late race screw up sent his car into the wall and spinning, relegating him to a twentieth place showing.

Pitting from a comfortable lead, Taku’s brain fade fully engulfed the proceedings. He slid hot into his pit box, recklessly slamming into a crewman and sending him flying through the air. Continue reading

Texas Predictions and Prognostications: Greener Pastures

GreenerPastureIRR

It’s one of our favorite nights of the year – IndyCar Saturday in Texas! The green flag waving over cars with the sun beginning to set over this spectacular race is highly anticipated annual awesomeness. Here’s how we see the festivities unfolding at Texas Motor Speedway – just north of Fort Worth, amidst a vast, rolling sea of grass and scrub brush.

Our special prediction for the race is exquisite, unequaled oval track racing at breathtaking speeds. This is one weekend where the drivers definitely earn their money – or in Max “risk assessment” Chilton’s case, earn a replacement. IndyCar drivers are supposed to perform death defying tasks, at least once in a while. It’s part of what they signed up for. Hell, there’s what, a whopping four oval races outside Indy? Including Texas? We wish the schedule makers at IndyCar would seriously consider green lighting more of the sport’s highest form that is racing on ovals.

Texas1

Pole sitter is likely to be Continue reading

Texas Preview: Memory Lane

Texas

How-dy! We’re rip snortin’, bull stompin’ excited to get back to good ol’ fashioned oval track racing Saturday night in Texas. Texas Motor Speedway is undoubtedly one of the absolute best circuits the series visits and incredibly, it’ll host merely the second oval IndyCar race in the last ten months. That’s what we call a serious scheduling screw up.

Saturday night’s race will be IndyCar’s thirty first race held on the giant oval, scene of some of the more memorable races in recent history. Since it opened in 1996, TMS has seen some of the closest finishes, most action packed, side by side racing and entertaining events in all motorsports. We at IRR have been blessed to witness several of them in person. Ahhh, the memories. Ol’ AJ bitch slapping Arie Luyendyk in victory lane, Tomas Scheckter winning for Panther and the late Justin Wilson crossing the finish line first for Dale Coyne all leap to mind. Not to mention some horrifying crashes, such as Davey Hamilton’s and Kenny Brack’s (below), both of which unfortunately shortened their careers.

bracktexasmotorsportretrocom

Photo from motorsportretro.com

Colton “Joaquin” Herta Continue reading

Detroit 2 Race Review: Rear Ended Edition

ScottGump

If an IndyCar driver wasn’t involved in a rear end collision Sunday at Detroit, he probably won.

NBC’s rather amateurish broadcast was delayed this time by tennis from France, which after the Indy 500 was appropriate enough. While the weather proved much better than Saturday, the perfunctory Pagenaud platitudes didn’t. Qualifying was also missed due to a water delay – not from rain, but from a tire barrier – even though the recording was set for an extra half hour in case of such eventualities. Nevertheless we did get to hear “O’Canada” sung out loud as well as STP’s new front man do the US national anthem, which was superlative. Scott Dixon said he felt “very, very, very lucky” to be recognized by the Queen with an Order of Merit listing for his racing skills. Certainly no rear ending there.

JoNewTrinityIRR

Josef Newgarden and Alex Rossi made up the first row, and Colton “Joaquin” Herta and Zach “Son of Dracula” Veach the second with Conor Daly driving . . . the two seater. Continue reading

Detroit GP Predictions and Prognostications: Mixed Bag Edition

MixedBagIRR

Resembling a hot rod hodgepodge the last half decade, racing on the roads of Belle Isle varies widely when it comes to viewing quality. Fortunately though, something of interest almost always occurs during the medley that is IndyCar’s only annual doubleheader. So you’re getting two times the racing – and predictions! – for the price of one.

Our special prediction for the Detroit Grand Prix is that it’ll be a mixed bag, a melange if you will, with an entertaining race (for a street course) one day and an absolute laugher the next. This race has seen squirrels and other rodents feature prominently, the pace car crash and the track surface literally crumble and fall apart – and that’s only lately. Oh, and let’s not forget that the home team Penske stumbles and falls in Detroit fairly regularly. This last one’s enough in the mixture to keep us coming back for more.

WillPower

Photo from dailytelegraph.com.au

Pole sitters for this weekend’s extravaganza of speed will be an interesting combination. Continue reading

Detroit GP Preview: French Fried Edition

Image result for simon pagenaud french flag

Photo from mysanantonio.com

With one Frenchman winning the 500 and another notorious for chewing up and spitting out the competition on the streets of Belle Isle, prepare yourselves for what may well feel like a weekend long foodie’s junket to France. Only with better options on television and the web.

Detroit was originally a French town. Judging by the area’s blight, it’s also a prime candidate to give back to them. Or Quebec. The track itself has been improved in recent years, but Belle Isle’s still a definite dump. Adding insult to injury for fans, an outstanding large oval track lies just to the southwest of Detroit called Michigan International Speedway. Tragically, it’s going unused again this season – at least by IndyCar.

mismichiganorg

Photo from michigan.org

Fear not, for it’s not all overpriced wine, hairy pits and stinky cheese. Continue reading

IndyCar Grand Prix Race Review: Empty Seats Edition

Photo from twitter.com

Empty suited Frenchman Simon Pagenaud passed Scott Dixon with two laps to go to win the rain soaked IndyCar Grand Prix, coming from eighth starting position to take his third victory – and Team Penske’s sixth – out of six so-called races ’round the infield of IMS. It was a race held before a nearly empty – though admittedly cavernous – racetrack. Dixon’s discernible disappointment at finishing second after leading much of the race was plainly palpable.

The crowd of hangers-on flooding pit road during the pre-race was nearly as large as those poor, drenched paying customers in the sparsely populated stands. Chairman George gave the command to fire engines and the cars were quickly underway. The green flag gave way to the usual first lap problems with Alex Rossi getting rudely run into by Pato O’Ward, sending the 500 winner into the wall, his right rear suspension grievously wounded, ruining his day. The Coyne-ster was penalized for avoidable contact, though came back for a strong – if unjust – showing until the end. Rossi’s teammate Zach Veach got hit by Tony “time to call it quits” Kanaan, knocking the youthful, son of Dracula looking American out of the way and into the curb. The aged TK of course faced no such sanction.

Meanhile up front, Jack Harvey went to second around Dixon as rookie Felix Rosenqvist quickly lept out to a comfortable, albeit short-lived, lead. Continue reading

Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach Race Review: Ridin’ Bitch Edition

Alexander Rossi on track Long Beacj

Photo from indycar.com

Alexander Rossi forced the rest of the field to ride bitch Sunday at Long Beach, winning his second consecutive grand prix by over ten seconds from pole. It was one of those sleep inducing street course races that we’re constantly railing against, one that would’ve been totally forgettable but for a bit of late race controversy over the low step on the podium between Scott “Forrest” Dixon and Ragin’ Graham Rahal. But in the end, even that was less than dramatic.

Rossi featured mightily on the pre-race show but hell, if you’d have read our predictions you could have saved yourself some time and already known all that. Sorry to Alex – and almost everyone else – but the GP is NOT a close second to the Indy 500. It’s only about a third as old, much less prestigious and it’s a frickin’ street course, to boot. A couple of positives from the pre-race pageantry were F-18s doing a flyover and the hottie Mickey Guyton singing the national anthem. Candidly, we were surprised the kooky Californios let her sing it at all. Additionally, there was a second consecutive audio connection with the two seater passenger – some gal from The Bachelor who, not surprisingly, could hardly contain her enthusiasm.

At Long Beach there are a whopping two passing zones, according to Townsend Bell and – whoopie! – it showed. The start saw Dixon immediately dart behind Rossi, with the only change being Ryan Hunter-Reay (with the hyphen here to stay) bumping and then getting around Frenchman Simon Pagenaud for fifth. Continue reading