2017 IndyCar Season Review

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The series’ recently concluded campaign proved predictable – at least to us – and lacked both a sense of rhythm and any real rivalries. While having its moments, overall 2017 missed out on the excitement and drama of previous years.

This season’s highlights included breathtaking oval racing at Pocono and – to a lesser extent, thank you Tony Kanaan – Texas. Even the racing at Gateway was much improved over the last time they visited a decade ago and an additional oval on the schedule – no matter how inadequate its layout – is welcome change.

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Lowlights involved beyond tedious racing at the usual suspects like Mid-Ohio, Watkins Glen and the season finale at Sonoma. Even St. Pete was a stinker this year and as usual the Indy Grand Prix was nearly unwatchable. Iowa‘s daytime race – as opposed to the superior night races of years past – earned the biggest flop award, with Phoenix a close second in the balloting. Iowa Speedway already announced a Sunday date in early July, meaning it’ll be another day race next year.

Easily the most absurd moment of the year was f-ing F1 invader Fernando Alonso being gifted the Indy 500 Rookie of the Year award over Ed Jones, or “The Great Hardware Robbery,” as we termed it. This was closely followed by Alo’s team owner Michael Andretti’s brief flirtation with Chevy after winning the last two 500s with Honda and Sam Schmidt beginning to mimic Andretti’s dumb Indy 500 decisions.

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The most shocking moment by far Continue reading

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IndyCar Bommarito 500 Predictions and Prognostications: Nostalgic Edition

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What’s old is new again this weekend at Gateway Motorsports Park as times gone by suddenly take on renewed relevance.

It’s been so long since IndyCar raced at Gateway more announcers have won there than drivers. The truly colorful Paul Tracy won the inaugural race in 1997 and talkative Townsend Bell took the checkers in the Indy Lights race in 2000. It’s just too bad Brian Till didn’t race – for more reasons than one. Helio Castro-Neves, who won the last race held there in 2003, is the only current driver to have done so. He did it in a Toyota.

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Juan Montoya won the race in 2000, but he’s only a test pilot at present. It’s interesting to note several current drivers were in diapers for PT’s win. Only two others apart from Helio have ever raced there: Scott Dixon and Tony “past expiration date” Kanaan. Interestingly, Dixie struggled in his only start there finishing 15th, while TK managed a second place showing in four starts.

Our special prediction is there’ll be lots of Sebastien Bourdais coverage as the Frenchman returns to the car for the first time since his injurious accident at Indy. His rapid recovery and return to racing is remarkable, but Continue reading

Toronto IndyCar Preview: Dallara’s Dollar Devising Dream Date

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IndyCar heads north to the Canuck concrete car crusher for arguably Dallara Automobili’s most consistently lucrative stop on the schedule. That – among other things – makes Toronto one of the series’ absolute worst tracks for viewing fans.

Following last year’s embarrassment of a race on the crumbling streets of Exhibition Place, IRR advocated an end to such nonsense north of the border until those LaBatt loving second raters constructed a decent track. Sadly and obviously, our schedule recommendations haven’t been implemented as of yet. So we’ll see IndyCar return for a thirty third time to a city that really doesn’t deserve it, judging by the overall lack of quality of late.

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Toronto averages about four cautions per race in recent years, although counting red flags it ballooned to seven in 2014. That’s rather high for a road race, though it’s no wonder when the crappy Canadian course disintegrates during competition. From what Hoosier Conor Daly called a “crazy” curved pit lane to Canuck curbs coming apart mid race, as usual IndyCar can and must do better.

When Toronto hasn’t ended under caution – as it has a third of the time lately – the average margin of victory is over two seconds. IndyCar’s Canadian token isn’t exactly the track of dreams, is it? That is, unless you’re the series’ exclusive chassis supplier. Cha-ching!

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Now for the series’ other Canadian token, James Hinchcliffe, a confessed Justin Bieber fan by the way. Continue reading

Iowa IndyCar Preview: A 7/8s Mile Slice of Heaven

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Among the dwindling oval tracks remaining on the schedule, Iowa Speedway routinely puts on some of the most riveting racing of the entire year. You could say it’s the nearest thing to IndyCar bliss outside Circle City and Texas.

The Iowa Corn 300 has witnessed some unforgettable moments in a decade of IndyCar racing. Ed Carpenter and Sage Karam’s confrontations in 2015 – both on track and post race – top our list. We termed the race at the time “Sage Gone Wild,” seemingly a breakout moment for the young Pennsylvanian. Perhaps it was his angelic features that drew us in, if not his devilish driving.

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Sadly, it wasn’t meant to be. Now Sage is relegated to one off status at Indy, and unfortunately won’t be racing at Iowa after finishing 28th in the 500 this year. At least the other half of the duelin’ duo, owner/driver Carpenter, will be driving (as if that’s any consolation). We do have an idea for a new arch enemy for Ed to do battle with, however.

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Speaking of which, could Iowa turn into another TK induced crash fest like Texas? Tempers still smolder in the wake of Wisconsin, where Tony “time to call it quits” Kanaan characteristically blamed Alex Rossi for his most recent crash. Continue reading

Iowa Race Review: Feel Good Edition

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A real feel good story emerged Sunday evening in Iowa, with Josef Newgarden winning his third IndyCar race and first since sustaining serious injuries at Texas in June. As usual, Iowa Speedway provided plenty of passing and thrilling oval track racing. In still more good news, the series announced its return for at least the next two years. The positive vibes were everywhere.

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Newgarden was feeling good in the car Sunday, despite his broken clavicle and hand still healing. He lapped and ran away from the field in the Fuzzy’s Vodka machine that was clearly the class of the field. Starting second, he took the lead from pole sitter Simon Pagenaud on the first lap and never let up. Mad Will Power battled his way up to second, while Scott Dixon equaled his best finish at Iowa in third. Racy Russian Mikhail Aleshin was top Honda in fifth for SPM.

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In a largely clean, green race there were three cautions, two for engines and one for a spin. Ryan Hunter-Reay did his best Simona de Silvestro impersonation Continue reading

Iowa Predictions And Prognostications: Predictable Edition

We hate to admit it about one of our favorite tracks, but Iowa’s grown predictable in IndyCar’s ass pods era. The racing’s still as exciting as all get out, but one team’s dull dominance is indisputable.

Jul 18, 2015; Newton, IA, USA; IndyCar Series driver Ryan Hunter-Reay (28) reacts after winning the Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: USATSI-230374 ORIG FILE ID:  20150718_lbm_ad1_319.JPG

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Iowa Speedway turning ten this year is surreal, as it seems like only yesterday the shiny, new oval was fortuitously added to the schedule. Its awe inspiring oval track racing is spectacular to behold. Thank you, Tony George. With absolutely no transition needed, predicting controversy at an IndyCar race in summertime is like shooting fish in a barrel. Our special prediction for the race is tempers flaring and gestures flying. Anyone can see it coming 7/8s of a mile away.

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It was only a year ago when George’s step son, Ed “never finishes” Carpenter, showily stomped into Sage Karam‘s pit after taking exception to his driving – and to being out driven. Fingers waved and tongues wagged, but no punches were thrown – it’s IndyCar not NASCAR, after all. Continue reading

Iowa Corn 300 Preview: AA’s Stompin’ Grounds

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Host of one of IndyCar’s most riveting races, Iowa Speedway has seen Andretti Autosport stomp the competition. Nevertheless, a return of the fast cars to an exhilarating short oval is a welcome event. It makes us want to jump with joy.

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Anticipate three wide oval-tastic fun on the 7/8s mile circuit with speeds exceeding a hundred and eighty miles per hour and plenty of passing. By comparison, NASCAR‘s junior league pole speed this year was in the hundred thirty range. Yawn. Speaking of NASCAR, the SAFER barrier’s certain to get a workout this weekend with Dallara Automobili making back some serious dough. Stomped upon stockholders demand it after an almost perfectly clean (and really boring) race at Road America.

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A quick, banked bull ring, Iowa Speedway’s one of the best tracks the series visits. The racing is routinely superior, Continue reading

Iowa Predictions & Prognostications: ‘300’ Edition

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There’s going to be a fight of epic proportions Saturday night, one for the history books. The Iowa Corn 300 will resemble history’s bloody Battle of Thermopylae, the heroic stand against invaders made famous to modern readers by the Hollywood movie “300.” As in the film, Spartans in glistening helmets will be bravely battling their enemies, only this time they’ll be on track, knee deep in IndyCar gore and in normal color. We can guarantee gobs of good ol’ gladiatorial gamesmanship in the arena amongst the cornfields near Newton, Iowa. Long live Sparta!

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In its shape, size and utility, Iowa Speedway resembles a Greek coliseum and like its ancient precursor the speedway will be filled with screaming spectators ready to see the show. IndyCar drivers bring a warrior mentality to those chariots of theirs as well they should, for another oval track battle royal is about to take place. Here’s what else our oracles ordained to occur this weekend in Iowa.

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Our special prediction for Iowa is Continue reading

Iowa Corn 300 Preview: Edibles Edition

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Iowa’s known for corn, hogs, related edibles and frankly little else. It’s the home of has been IndyCar blogger Bill Zahren, aka “PressdogTM,” as well as the Iowa Caucuses whatever those are. Apparently it’s some sort of beauty pageant for the rather homely political class, proving the old dictum that politics is celebrity for ugly people. Iowa sounds like it’s got a lot going for it, doesn’t it? We kid, we kid. Seriously, Saturday night should prove to be a tasty treat for fans of artistry on wheels.

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The best part of the entire god-forsaken state is Iowa Speedway, a 7/8s mile oval located east of Des Moines in the tiny town of Newton. Thank you, Rusty Wallace. Apparently it’s the one track in the country that can handle both an IndyCar race AND a certain other series race within a few weeks of each other. Now THAT’s tasty. It must be all that gooey corn pollen that makes this possible in the Hawkeye state. Or perhaps it’s the intense, wafting smell of hog shit (aka “money”) that has such a wonderfully efficient effect on the locals. They even have a “bar tent” at the Speedway and actually give away sweet corn during the festivities. Beer and corn – it’s not exactly wine and cheese – but what a culinary combo!

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The hors d’ oeuvres sized “speedway” opened back in 2006 and hosted its first IndyCar race the next year. Retired Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti – hailing from Scotland he’s used to horrible food – narrowly edged Marco Andretti to win the inaugural Iowa Corn 250. The race has been expanded to 300 laps the last couple of years and we’re thankful for the extra helping of fifty, gladly taking all the mouth watering oval track racing we can get. After all, egg shaped tracks are the meat and potatoes of IndyCar.

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