Prix View Open Test Review: Reverting To Form

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Photo from twitter.com

Prodigal pilot J.R. Hildebrand – who’d been out of a full time ride for years – shot to the top of the speed charts Saturday during IndyCar’s open test at Phoenix International Raceway. Reaching speeds of over 193 miles per hour on the 1.02 mile oval in the afternoon session, J.R.’s nineteen second lap held up as the quickest of the weekend. Hildebrand then reverted to form and crashed during the evening session after contacting Mad Will Power.

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Photo from indycar.com

Hildebrand’s ECR teammate and owner Ed Carpenter posted the second highest speed of the test at over 192 mph as Chevy swept the top five speeds overall. He was followed by the Penske trio of Josef Newgarden, Helio and Power. Recently featured Russian driver Mikhail Aleshin impressed as top Honda in sixth place with a lap of just over 191 mph. Clearly he wasn’t horsing around and no fake news was reported or influenced the results.

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While Chevy again dominated the speed charts, Continue reading

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Daffy Leigh Diffey (An IndyCar Commentator’s Tale)

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Image from Indy Race Reviewer

NBCSN’s lead announcer is seriously funny, often without even trying.

You know Leigh Diffey if nothing else from his amusing accent. He’s the great big bloke on tv with an even bigger mug. Semi-famous as the (enormous) face of the IndyCar and F1 commentariate on NBCSN, he’s almost bigger than life. He also happens to have a head roughly the size of a Firestone. It’s said that Leigh once got his enormous noggin too close to a confused tire changer in the heat of the action – with near disastrous results. Fortunately both the crewman and air gun survived.

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Photo from motorsports.nbcsports.com

A real sport, Diffey calls F1 and IndyCar races indifferently. The talkative, if not fluent, talking head seamlessly transitions from one bunch of European and South American drivers with funny names like Kimi, Nico, Nico and Sebastian to the other bunch of European and South American drivers with funny names like Helio, Tony, Simon and Sebastien. While we’re on the subject, how about that label on Leigh? You suppose he caught any grief growing up down under in the ’70s with a moniker like that? Maybe they all have hilarious handles down there, who knows. He is from somewhere called Queensland, after all.

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Image from Indy Race Reviewer

Truly international in resume and style, Diffey has obvious, bulging talent. Vaguely resembling the Michelin man, had he not caught on as a television personality he no doubt would’ve become a successful Saturday morning cartoon character. Come to think of it, working with David Hobbs, Steve “Whoaa!” Matchette and Jon Beekhuis (not to mention Paul Tracy) on a lowly NBC cable channel isn’t that far off. Continue reading

IndyCar News Week in Review: Media Day Matters? Edition

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Photo from Indy Race Reviewer

Little in the way of actual news emerged from media day 2016.

Sage Replacement: On Monday it was announced that former F1 driver and Indy Lights winner Max Chilton will drive Chip Ganassi’s number 8 car this season, as apparently the issue with Sage “Wildman” Karam wasn’t really funding at all. The 24 year old Englishman was introduced at media day on Tuesday, admitting after the announcement that he hadn’t even met his teammates yet. But he does know Dario Franchitti, who was instrumental in getting Maxie the ride. Looks like Chip’s people had some intros to make at IMS Tuesday, as Ganassi Tweeted he was home sick with the flu. Perhaps his illness was some Karam karma.

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Photo from usatoday.com

The CFH Racing Marriage Didn’t Last: In still more pre-media day news, Carpenter Fisher Hartman Racing dissolved after only one season, as both Sarah Fisher and Wink Hartman are out at Ed Carpenter Racing. IRR questioned the all American ownership trio’s fortitude over a year ago when they announced the joint venture, as it always seemed forced. Apparently Sarah’s leaving IndyCar to run an indoor go cart track while Hartman’s fortune has been decimated due to Saudi overproduction, resulting in $30 a barrel oil. Rising star Josef “Just Gimme Some Stability” Newgarden will contest all sixteen races for the new/old Ed Carpenter Racing and his car, like Ed’s, will feature the gorgeous green Fuzzy’s Vodka livery. That’s a definite upgrade over the old crude oil black look, though both Sarah and Wink will be missed. On the upside, what’s not to love about more booze sponsored IndyCars?!

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Ed Carpenter(‘s Not) Racing: According to rumors that again sprang up prior to media day, Continue reading

IndyCar News Week in Review: ‘Flicks’ Edition

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Aero Kit Anti-Climax: Chevrolet introduced depictions of their road and short oval aero kits at Media Day on Tuesday, grabbing the headlines and beating Honda to the punch. Reaction has been predictably mixed, and a better idea will emerge when we see both manufacturers’ efforts in action in March. The do-dads, flicks or “winglets on stalks” of the new kits created some buzz and according to racer.com the aero changes will reduce down force by almost a thousand pounds. Concerning though is the continued boxy, closed wheel direction IndyCar chassis are headed. It’s an open wheel series and needs to remain that way. It isn’t NASCAR, thank goodness.

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Image from Indy Race Reviewer

Schedule Stretching: In easily the best news from Media Day, Phoenix International Raceway returns as a possible destination on the IndyCar series schedule. Continue reading

IndyCar News Week in Review: Youth Edition

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The Speedway’s Makeover: IMS announced numerous changes to the Month of May’s schedule, including open aero kit oval testing and longer practices leading up to the 500. The earlier starting and later ending sessions are not only to allow more track time but also to recapture the old, pre time change happy hour conditions on track. More shadows on the front stretch equals higher speeds. The change is aimed at setting a “New Track Record!” and corrects a chronological mistake. Between practice and qualifications, there’ll be eight straight days of action on the famed oval prior to the 500. These changes represent precisely the sort of ideas we’ve been advocating at IRR. We applaud the Speedway’s moves and highly encourage more of them for next year’s hundredth running.

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Photo from Indy Race Reviewer

Florida? Sounds Fun: Continue reading

If We Owned an IndyCar Team

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If we owned an IndyCar team, it’d be called 1st Place Racing

We’d have a portable bar and shiny metallic cars

For our drivers, who would excel at pacing

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Photo from 360sportsnetwork.com

If we owned an IndyCar team, it would rival Penske and Ganassi

It would smoke Coyne, Foyt and Schmidt – or else that’d be it

And be focused on stomping the Andrettis

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Photo from andrettiwinery.com

Continue reading

IndyCar Predictions and Prognostications – Silly Season, Andrettis, AJ & More

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For the debut of this visionary new column – one we foresee making sporadic appearances on this site with varying degrees of accuracy when it comes to the predictions ventured – IRR’s special soothsaying division offers some shocking statements about the future of racing.

Why wait for IndyCar news when our crack staff can divine it ahead of time? So without further adieu, here are our presumptuous prognostications for IndyCar in January.

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Image from beerwholesale.com

His birthday over, AJ lays off the sake and English brown ales – unlike his drivers – for at least a few more weeks.

Dale Coyne Racing will be making no announcements, media appearances or any other racing related moves whatsoever. Continue reading

IndyCar News Week in Review

  • Silly Season Dominoes Tumble: Canuck James Hinchcliffe announced Tuesday that he’s signed with Schmidt Peterson Motorsport, filling Pag’s vacant seat as he’s now at Team Penske. The Canadian comedian did so in characteristic style, making the announcement at a local brewery in Indianapolis. This after officiating the marriage ceremony of fellow driver Charlie Kimball last week. Beer, change of scenery and honeymooning – what a charmed life IndyCar drivers lead.

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  • The Game of Musical Seats continues: Ryan Briscoe’s now a free agent again with reports linking Sage Karam to Ganassi’s fourth car next year. It seems as though in IndyCar as in life the rich continue to get richer, the poor poorer. Rumors have linked young limey Jack Hawksworth to A.J. Foyt Racing’s famed 14 car. IRR predicted both Briscoe and Sato were in trouble months ago, as both underperformed rather spectacularly in 2014. With Hawksworth a free agent, Bryan Herta Autosport joins the list of teams looking for a fresh pilot, as does Andretti Autosport. Got all that?

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Mr. & Mrs. Briscoe – photo from indystar.com

  • A.J. Foyt Racing Expanding to Speedway: According to reports, A.J. Foyt Racing purchased a large building on Main Street in Speedway, Indiana. They plan to renovate, rent out part and use part of it as a satellite base in Indy during the season while maintaining their main base outside of Houston, Texas. A.J. is quoted on his team’s website: “We’re happy to be part of Speedway’s redevelopment.” It’s a positive sign for the team and a plus for Speedway. Plus it’ll be a little bit of A.J. in Indy, where he belongs.

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Photo from usatoday.com

  • Finale at Sonoma? Regrettably, it looks as though one of the dullest and dreariest tracks in the country will host the grand finale in 2015. Curt Cavin’s sidekick and minor television/radio personality Kevin Lee tweeted about “more speculation about #IndyCar schedule” and then Cavin posted his own. It’s now down to a matter of dates, as it’s no secret as to the tracks which will be visited. Happily, all of the ovals from this season return in 2015 and the only subtraction is Houston, which was a dangerous joke of a parking lot track that nearly killed Dario and others last year.

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Photo from dailymail.co.uk

  • Another possible change is Toronto losing its twin billing, with the date changing due to a conflict with the Goodwill Games or some such obsolete international nonsense. Seen any pro sports lately? We blame Ted Turner for this amongst many other things. Both Brasilia, the planned capital in central Brazil, and New Orleans NOLA Motorsports Park, south of the Big Sleazy will host new races on road courses next season. Yippie. Otherwise, no major changes are forthcoming apart from some date changes which make sense, such as Pocono moving off the weekend of July 4th.

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  • Odds and Ends: IMS upgraded their website, a long overdue move. IndyCar reporter for AutoRacing1.com Brian Carroccio showed IRR a kindness and followed us on Twitter, so a superspeedway sized thanks to him. Be sure to check out his work on the web. Finally, couldn’t resist this take on celubu-tard Gwynnie (a fave of ours to look at) and the recent fundraiser held in her California home for the once popular commander in chief. Wake me to your leader.

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Photo from dailymail.co.uk

IndyCar News Week in Review

  • Pags to Penske: The most significant IndyCar news of the week wasn’t even a close race – it was a Penske sweep. The championship winning team landed the hottest free agent on the market in 2014, ironically a Frenchman. Pagenaud to Penske is major news, creating a four car powerhouse team, a first for Penske for a full season. Looks like the Cap’n grew tired of watching Andretti’s and Ganassi’s cars outnumber his on track, so he’s upping the count. For fans of underdogs, this adds another reason to root against the former CART Cardinal turned Captain and his dominant team.

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Photo from pinterest.com

  • Hinch Marries Kimball?! On September 27, Charlie Kimball married long time girlfriend Kathleen Thompson in a ceremony in Indianapolis officiated by Canadian James Hinchcliffe. Apparently the madcap mayor obtained a ministerial license online from a shadowy group known as American Marriage Ministries. We wish the newlyweds all the happiness in the world and the Mayor of Hinchtown a very  blessed day in his new career. It could really pay off for him if his on track performance doesn’t improve.

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Photo from racing.ap.org

  • Other Silly Season News: Mayor/Minister Hinch remains unsigned, but Pagenaud’s vacant seat at Schmidt is said to be his for the taking. Schmidt has tested several lesser known drivers recently, although signs point to the quirky Canadian being paired with the mad Russian for next season. This should make an intriguing international combination for one of the few IRL era teams left in the paddock. Speaking of the good ol’ days, as predicted here at IRR months ago Sato’s ride with AJ Foyt Racing is apparently in jeopardy, as other drivers including rookie Englishman Jack Hawksworth have been rumored to be under consideration by the King of IndyCar.

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Photo from toledoblade.com

  • Career Change? Former series driver Swiss Miss Simona de Silvestro’s Formula 1 dreams have been obliterated, as Swiss team Sauber announced it’s moving in a different direction. De Silvestro departed IndyCar in 2013 after scoring her first podium finish with a second place finish in Houston. Enduring several unsuccessful seasons in IndyCar, Simona’s latest failed F-1 venture is considered by some as her last chance in big league racing. We wish her the best in her future endeavors and would enjoy seeing her return to IndyCar, though we’re not holding our breath.

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Photo from usatoday.com

  • Odds & Ends: There was a Firestone tire test at IMS recently, and it was uneventful according to reports.  Ed Carpenter, whose team is transitioning to two cars as he merges with SFH, participated in the test while his new teammate Josef Newgarden watched. Newkid Tweeted some snaps of his boss and it looked to be a perfect fall day in Indianapolis, the Rome of motorsport. Testing of the new aero kits hasn’t begun, but will be a crucial component for teams this off season. In other news, Honda’s scrambling to keep up with Chevy as they continue to hemorrhage top drivers and teams, most recently Pags.

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2014 IndyCar Horse Power Rankings – Teams

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Photo from gizmag.com

Team Rankings:

1. Team Penske

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2. Andretti Autosport

3. Target CG Racing

4. Schmidt Peterson Motorsports

5. Ed Carpenter Racing (soon to be defunct)

6. KV Racing

7. Dale Coyne Racing

8. Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing (soon to be defunct)

9. Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

10. AJ Foyt Racing

11. Herta Autosport

 

Observations:

Chevy & Honda split the top 4 rankings although Chevy took first & third, with the former winning the engine manufacturers’ race and the latter winning the Indy 500. 

There’s been no other silly season news as of yet, although that could change affecting the Horse Power Rankings. Stay tuned for updates. 

The series will be down to ten teams next year unless a new one joins full time. That’s old AFL levels, folks. Fan Force United, are you reading?

Target rose through the rankings during the last quarter of the season along with Penske, while Andretti fell. Momentum for 2015?

The introduction of aero-kits in 2015 will almost certainly affect the Horse Power rankings, also.