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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Indy Rivals We’d Like To See

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Photo from usatoday.com

Just as IndyCar’s speed is wantonly wasted on road courses – and Marco – the series seriously under utilizes rivalries. IRR aims to change that with some actionable ideas for a brand new set of Indy rivals.

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Photo from pinterest.com

Sure, a few rivalries may still exist, but they’re neither good nor old fashioned. Today they generally start – and end – on social media, often failing to last long enough even to make the television coverage. Compounding this crisis of (a lack of) contention is the fact that Sage Karam remains in IndyCar exile. Sage and half the field last year aside, nowadays rivalries pale in comparison to A.J. and Mario – or even A.J. and Arie. Hell, A.J. and anybody. This mirrors the state of the sport as a whole and that’s just not good enough. It’s something the drivers and owners under their own initiative can do to better the show. Above all, improving IndyCar is what we’re all about.

For the good of IndyCar, here are some Indy rivals we’d like to see:

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Photo from edcarpenterracing.com

Josef and Ed – The ECR teammates should turn nemesis and there are plenty of reasons why. Owner Ed “prince” Carpenter crashed Josef out at Fontana last year and Sunday at St. Pete didn’t even bother to run a teammate for him, while he of course only drives on the ovals. Continue reading

St. Pete Race Review: Pete & Repeat, Sitting On A Podium

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Series devotees who secretly suspect Penske will win every single Sunday – but yet repetitively hope it isn’t the case – have seen this race before.

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Photo from sports.usatoday.com

Riveting racing made a brief appearance in the 2016 IndyCar series season opener, but vanished more surely than Dale Coyne fans’ momentary folly that the team has the remotest chance of winning a race. The combination of the cavernous street circuit, the still overly weak aero kits and highly aggressive and inexperienced jockeys made for a predictable race – and one reminiscent of other sucky street course events. Leaving us at one point wishing for rain – anything! – to liven up the show, it just seems all those beautiful horses are wasted running in a bumpy alley – not to mention the duplicate body work bills.

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Photo from indycar.com

Juan “schoolgirl giddy” Montoya forced his way around Coyne’s young Hoosier Conor Daly – the favorite of underdog lovers everywhere – just past mid race to repeat in St. Pete. It was the Cap’n’s zillionth IndyCar victory and started his fiftieth anniversary year off right. Continue reading

IndyCar News Week in Review

  • The latest bad idea acknowledged as under consideration by series honcho Derrick Walker is canopies. That’s right, canopies on gorgeous open wheel, open cockpit cars that have had the same general look since they were invented over a century ago (DW-12 ass pods notwithstanding). Attention IndyCar brass: rich traditions and history are not mere nothings to be sloughed off by the people who happen to be in charge of IndyCar’s sacred stewardship at the moment.

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  • Rather than using unsightly canopies, we suggest airbags as alternatives. Advanced, ultra-safe airbags similar to but stronger than those in passenger cars could solve the perceived problem, which is protecting drivers’ heads during catastrophic collisions. They would accomplish the goal without altering the characteristic open-topped aesthetic appeal of IndyCars. In keeping with another hallowed and ancient IndyCar tradition, the development of such revolutionary airbag technology has all sorts of safety applications for the citizenry, from motorbikes to passenger vehicles to the military. This would enhance IndyCar’s long legacy of safety and technology innovations – including rear view mirrors and safer barriers – while not radically altering tradition, the unique look or inherent riskiness of the sport.

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Photo from autoevolution.com

  • Honda’s misery deepens as they continue to lose teams as well as championships. Most recently the newly fused Carpenter-Fisher-Hartman Team announced they’d be utilizing Chevrolet power in 2015. This wasn’t surprising considering ECR’s success this year using Chevy to the tune of three wins, a podium and pole position at Indianapolis. On the other side of the steering wheel SFHR and Josef Newgarden didn’t wow the crowds with Honda in 2014 and willingly accepted the change for next year. Big things are expected of the newly merged team, due in part to the bow tie power plants. Of course the aero-kits of both Honda and Chevy and their overall effects upon the racing in 2015 remain to be seen and are a true wildcard. They’re supposed to make the cars faster.

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Photo from espn.go.com

  • As for silly season news, there really is none. Interestingly, Frenchman Simon Pagenaud who’s been driving for Sam Schmidt the last few years is the hot free agent this off season. Recent rumors linked him to Penske, whereas earlier rumors had him at Andretti. No signing has been announced as of yet, so it’s all been pure speculation. IRR only knows this – we’d hire him.

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Photo from pinterest.com

  • The final bit o’ IndyCar news this week concerns the schedule. The long rumored race in Brazil – at yet another new venue in the capital Brasilia apparently made with leftovers from the World Cup building frenzy – will in fact take place early March, 2015.  Unfortunately it’s an additional street course. This flies in the face of IRR’s sound advice to the series to instead race in Colombia, which is not only a nicer and safer destination for tourists but also the home nation of no fewer than four series participants, three of whom swept one of the podia in Houston this year. But no, IndyCar seems determined to go about things in the same old way while expecting different results – and that’s just crazy.

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Photo from blogs.wsj.com

  • In spite of IndyCar’s obtuseness and flat out refusal to accept our wise counsel, we’ll conclude by  offering a few other helpful bits of advice. First, include more oval tracks on the schedule, as they are the sport’s heritage and provide by far the best racing. Second, start listening to your fans and supporters while you still have some left. And third, can the campy canopy idea.

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Photo from leicestermercury.co.uk

  • On a related note, there was some international news this week as Scotland voted whether to secede from the United Kingdom and discard a mutually beneficial and peaceful union of three hundred and seven years. Fortunately for most concerned including the United States, the large majority of Scots kept their senses and voted no. The IndyCar connection? It’s three time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti, tiny Scotland’s only recent series participant. The former driver’s stance on the historic decision of his countrymen when asked directly by an IRR reporter? A resounding no comment.

2014 IndyCar Horse Power Rankings – Drivers

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Driver Rankings:

  1. Will Power
  2. Helio Castro Neves
  3. Scott Dixon
  4. Ryan Hunter-Reay
  5. Simon Pagenaud
  6. Juan Pablo Montoya
  7. Tony Kanaan
  8. Ed Carpenter
  9. Sebastian Bourdais
  10. Justin Wilson
  11. Ryan Briscoe
  12. James Hinchcliffe
  13. Marco Andretti
  14. Graham Rahal
  15. Charlie Kimball
  16. Josef Newgarden
  17. Takuma Sato
  18. Carlos Munoz
  19. Carlos Huertas
  20. Mikhail Aleshin
  21. Jack Hawksworth
  22. Sebastian Saavedra

Observations:

The Horse Power rankings for drivers are based upon recent, career and potential performance as well as personal preference, of course.

The rookies as a group were more impressive than one established driver and are gaining on several others.

The top four drivers clearly stand out and are somewhat interchangeable in ranking. 

IndyCar 2014 Season Grades

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Under new leadership yet again for the 2014 campaign Indycar instituted several changes, apparently operating under the philosophy ‘if it’s kinda broke, then half-ass fix it.’ One modification brought a more compact schedule with fewer gaps but lasting less than six months and concluded by Labor Day. While the more concentrated schedule with less momentum-killing layoffs was an improvement, we’d still like to see more races and an earlier start to the season.

Next year’s schedule hasn’t been released yet to the consternation of many, but this is standard operating procedure for IndyCar. While leaks and snippets have caused angst amongst some, we’re taking a largely wait and see approach to 2015. The subtraction of Houston from next year’s lineup is a positive move though, as the track was a dangerous and thrown together creation on a parking lot, for goodness sake. It’s the track that nearly killed Dario and big league racing can do better. 

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Photo from dailymail.co.uk

The series also relied upon double header races at three different street venues again in 2014 to reach eighteen races for the season. For the three 500 mile races double points were awarded in an effort to balance the increasingly road and street course-heavy schedule. This trend is not helpful because the on-track product suffers when fewer oval tracks are visited. Tracks like Michigan, Kentucky, Phoenix and others all should be brought back to IndyCar. Re-instituting the 500 mile triple crown this season added an extra element of racing (as well as more mileage) and should be continued along with some 400 mile events.

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Photo from sfhracing.com

Penalties were another focal point of 2014, with both calls and non-calls making headlines and causing outrage across IndyCar association of states. Race control added Jan Beekhuis as a steward late in the season as it seems rules related issues are still being sorted out by Derrick Walker and Beaux Barfield. Most races went fairly smoothly even in spite of an earthquake at Sonoma, although it seemed race control was a larger part of the story this year, which isn’t a positive development. Refs aren’t what fill the stands or gain viewers.

With a few exceptions like the usual suspects Barber and Mid-Ohio, the racing was highly entertaining and exciting this season. Weather intruded on a couple of races such as Toronto so the new rain tires made their debut, but overall there were few major glitches. It was also a relatively safe season thankfully, although Aleshin’s accident in the final practice was no minor crash.

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The series’ crown jewel Indianapolis 500 once again proved thrilling and one of the better races of the year with winner Ryan Hunter-Reay making an agreeable face of IndyCar. Fontana provided an exciting finale as usual, marking an astounding nine years in a row the last race has decided the championship and rewarding Tony Kanaan with a deserved win. Overall, we give IndyCar a solid grade of B for the season – above average with some room for improvement.

Team Grades :

AJ Foyt Racing

Race Wins: 0

Podiums: 0

Poles: 2

Sato and the team failed to impress with season high finishes of fourth and fifth after winning a race last year. Another disappointing year means there could be changes in AJ Foyt Racing’s future, starting with the driver.

Bonus Points: Underfunded increasingly rare one car team nominally headed by an IndyCar legend.

Overall Grade: D-

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Photo from speedsport-magazine.com

 

Andretti Autosport

Race Wins: 3

Podiums: 9

Poles: 1

Carlos Munoz ran an impressive rookie campaign, winning ROY honors and taking three podium finishes.

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Photo from indycar.com

Hunter-Reay won the Indy 500 and two other races making the team’s season. Hinchcliffe and Marco were disappointing, as were the team’s qualifying efforts.

Bonus Points: RHR’s first Indy 500 victory and AA’s first since Dario won in 2007.

Overall Grade: B-

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Photo from Getty Images

 

Bryan Herta Autosport

Race Wins: 0

Podiums: 1

Poles: 0

English rookie Jack Hawksworth ran well at times taking a podium at Houston race 2, but still has some development to undergo. Herta’s little team like Foyt’s is a dying breed.

Bonus Points: Underfunded one car team with a hungry young Englishman driving.

Overall Grade: D

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Photo from jackhawsksworth.co.uk

 

Dale Coyne Racing

Race Wins: 1

Podiums: 0

Poles: 0

Carlos Huertas won in Houston race 1 as a rookie, but the team was a non-factor everywhere else and the track’s gone from next year’s schedule. Talented veteran Justin Wilson struggled consistently throughout a difficult season.

Bonus Points: Underfunded two car team run by a quirky former ‘driver.’

Overall Grade: C-

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Photo from racing.ap.org

 

Ed Carpenter Racing

Race Wins: 3

Podiums: 1

Poles: 1

Conway won Long Beach and Toronto race 2 while Ed won Texas and took the pole at Indy as owner/driver. Next year the team merges with SFHR, which probably can’t hurt.

Bonus Points: One car shared by two drivers, plus Ed’s a true underdog.

Overall Grade: B+

Ed (2)

 

KV Racing

Race Wins: 1

Podiums: 1

Poles: 3

Frenchman Bourdais won Toronto race 1 and finished second at Mid-Ohio. Saavedra struggled mightily all year and in his one highlight he disastrously stalled it on pole at the Indy GP.

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Photo from foxsports.com

Bonus Points: The number one pilot is a Frenchman. None.

Overall Grade: C-

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Photo from usatoday.com

 

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

Race Wins: 0

Podiums: 1

Poles: 0

Rahal finished second at Detroit Race 1 and later predicted a win by year’s end. He still only has one IndyCar series victory after seven seasons.

Bonus Points: One car team for most of the year, working through a difficult father-son relationship. They lost their main sponsor for next year and appear to be in some disarray.

Overall Grade: D-

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Photo from motorsport.com

 

Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing

Race Wins: 0

Podiums: 1

Poles: 0

Josef Newgarden finished second at Iowa and had several second place starts in a frustrating season. No wins yet from Newkid after three seasons but a teammate will help.

Bonus Points: One car outfit with lots of potential and merging with ECR in 2015.

Overall Grade: D

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Photo from espn.go.com

 

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports

Race Wins: 2

Podiums: 1

Poles: 1

Great job by Pagenaud and the underfunded team to battle Penske in the championship right to the end. Pags & Aleshin finished 1-2 at Houston race 2 and Pags won the inaugural Indy Grand Prix. Aleshin showed potential but is currently recovering from serious injuries suffered in the year’s final practice.

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Photo from usatoday.com

Bonus Points: Schmidt’s an IndyCar guy we all want to root for with two interesting, off beat European drivers. The team represents a future threat provided Pags doesn’t jump ship to Andretti as rumored.

Overall Grade: B-

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Photo from autosport.com

 

Target Chip Ganassi Racing

Race Wins: 3

Podiums: 8

Poles: 1

Dixie and Kanaan came through toward the end of the campaign, but Kimball and especially Briscoe struggled all year in a disappointing 25th anniversary for Target. They should be even more adept with the bow tie next year and carry substantial momentum.

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Photo from chipganassiracing.com

Bonus Points: It’s Chip Ganassi. None.

Overall Grade: C+

 Dixie

 

Team Penske

Race Wins: 5

Podiums: 11

Poles: 9

The team swept the top two spots in the championship with Power prevailing at Fontana. Helio and Montoya both contributed race wins, podiums  and poles with Montoya doing so after more than a decade out of the car. They’re top of the class for reasons, folks.

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Photo from tri-cityherald.com

Bonus Points: None.

Overall Grade: A

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Fontana Finale Race Review: Mea Culpa Edition

Allow us to begin with a mea culpa, as congratulations are in order for Will Power. He didn’t blow the finale as we predicted, but rather triumphed to win the IndyCar Championship in fine fashion. He did not melt down, embarrass himself or his homeland of Australia, or go berserk – much less stark raving lunatic mad – on live television as we envisaged. He performed brilliantly and proved us utterly wrong. Good on you, mate. Finally, we assure all our readers once and for all he’s perfectly sane.

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Photo from foxsports.com.au

IndyCar’s finale Saturday night delivered an action packed and thrilling conclusion to a compact 2014 campaign. Seems like it just began at St. Pete the other weekend, doesn’t it? The race entertained the sparse looking crowd, settled the championship and provided the eleventh different winner in eighteen races, which ties the record. Thankfully after Aleshin’s terrible crash in Friday night’s practice it remained safe throughout with only a single caution brought out late by Hunter-Reay’s spin, and he deftly managed to avoid the wall and competitors.   

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Photo from ap.org

The pre-race was a drawn out affair lasting over an hour and recapping the entire season, including each race winner, interviews with three quarters of the field and a full points rundown. It was disappointing there was no Miller grid run (our favorite!) in all that programming and despite its length the pre race show still seemed somehow rushed. There was the usual comic relief during the build up when viewers couldn’t hear the command to start engines due to a dead mic. Happily they were fired anyway and we could hear the two-seater’s mic. By the way that’s the last two races in a row where we’ve heard from the contest winner, which surely must be a record.

When the green flag finally flew on the rows of three the action proved intense with three and four wide passing through the corners. There was near constant battling at speeds over 215 mph throughout the field most of the night. The 500 miler was another exceptionally clean race as it seemed like the Russian’s destructive accident twenty four hours earlier had put the fear of God into the drivers. Long stints of green flag racing ruled and other than Huertas’s very unusual retirement due to illness for Coyne (when’s the last time you remember that occurring? we’re currently investigating the matter) neither engine reliability nor debris on track became an issue as some had feared. In fact every other car besides Coyne’s finished the lengthy race.

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Photo from racing.ap.org

Starting second to last and remaining there initially, Power steadily advanced through the field and even led the race at one point. He finished ninth which was enough for the championship as Helio led too, but then drew a costly penalty for a rules violation. Committing an uncharacteristic mistake, he swerved late off the track entering pit lane which is a no no. After being penalized – they actually did penalize Team Penske – Helio’s race was effectively over as he struggled to stay in contact with the leaders and finished 15th.

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Photo from usatoday.com

Unfortunately Pags lost a teammate the night before and wasn’t a factor in the championship battle or race. Going seven laps down after experiencing early problems the Frenchman never recovered. Sam Schmidt did give a positive update on Aleshin’s health during the broadcast and mentioned looking forward to having him back in the car again next year, both good signs.

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Photo from usatoday.com

Power shed tears of joy after finishing the race and winning his first championship after three straight years as runner up. “I can’t believe I won it,” he said emotionally afterward. We can’t believe it either, Will, we really can’t. At the front Tony Kanaan finally broke through taking his first win of the year and with his new team Target, which celebrated three late victories after a rather slow start in its 25th anniversary year.

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TK’s teammate Dixie rallied to second and remarkably finished third in points with a late race and season surge. Carpenter ran solidly on track despite a pit lane speed violation advancing to finish third in his swansong effort with ECR before the merger. His future teammate Josef Newgarden started second but quickly dropped back, finishing a disappointing tenth to end a somewhat frustrating year for the young driver. Juan Montoya “you know what I mean?” capped off a strong comeback to the IndyCar series with a fourth place result while Hinch and Sato both performed well to round out the top six.

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Photo from sfhracing.com

Obviously we absolutely adore Auto Club Speedway and the exciting racing IndyCars routinely display there. SoCal saw a thrilling 500 mile extravaganza as advertised and we’re looking forward to next year’s race already. In the meantime IndyCar fans all must endure a long off season with Will Power as Champion, our newly crowned IndyCar King. We fear it’s going to be an extremely down under reign.

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Photo from dailytelegraph.com.au

 

Race Day Rumblings: Earthquake Edition

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Photo from stanford.edu

It’s been an unusually unsettling morning for the IndyCar series. A 6.0 magnitude earthquake struck overnight in the Sonoma, CA area. Reports of power outages, fires and damage are coming in this race morning. Effects on the track and today’s race remain to be seen. If there were to be a postponement or even cancellation of the race it would be a first for the IndyCar Series – cancellation due to earthquake. It’s one of the inherent risks in racing much less ending the season in Cali where numerous fault lines are found. It’s all oddly reminiscent of the 1989 quake during the World Series in San Francisco.Check back for updates.

There are already rumors of damage at the track and of a race cancellation today. The epicenter reportedly was six milesouthwest of Napa, very near the track at Sonoma. No injures have been reported, although fires and infrastructure damage will make today’s race highly unlikely to occur. Reports of aftershocks and widespread though moderate damage are coming in as the sun rises over Cali.

There’s still no word from IndyCar. Why the delay and why remain silent during this disaster? Wildfires are a growing concern as the state’s already taxed emergency resources will be stretched thinner. Is there any way a race can be held today in the midst of such chaos?

Preliminary reports from Sonoma Raceway state there is no damage to the facility. These reports don’t include the surrounding area’s infrastructure damage, however. Finally at 9:00 am central time the IndyCar website is reporting the races will go on today as scheduled. After a delay, it’s a remarkable turn of events in California. 

A cancellation of the race today would be huge for the championship, taking points away from Power almost certainly and making the double points 500 mile finale in Fontana even more crucial to the title race. 

If the race does eventually occur – and that’s an increasingly large if – the question is can Power win from the pole? It’s happened three of the last five years at Sonoma and Power’s done it twice in a row in 2010-11.

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Photo from dailytelegraph.com.au

There haven’t been any major silly season news updates at Sonoma this weekend, unlike Milwaukee where SFH & Carpenter announced a merger for next year. Perhaps they’re saving it up for the Fontana finale, or maybe the earthquake will shake things out. 

Can Sato keep his ride at AJ Foyt Racing? Larry said he needed “a strong finish” to the season but he starts 20th today. The results this year have been disappointing. 

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How long will Saavedra last at KVSH? It’s been another very difficult year for him and the team and Sebastian hasn’t been close to a win yet in multiple seasons.

Can Target get back on track? Dixon’s won at Sonoma and starts third while Briscoe and Kanaan begin fifth and eighth respectively. The team needs a strong race. Will Briscoe keep his streak of finishes alive this year and keep his ride for next year?

Dixie

Will AA’s up and down year continue? Their best qualifying effort was from Hinchcliffe in fourth, followed by Munoz and Hunter-Reay in 9th and 10th. They’ve seemed lost as of late and Hinch spun repeatedly on Saturday. 

Josef Newgarden starts second and has been strong this season. Reports are out this morning that he’s extended his contract with SFHR (soon to be CFHR) through next year. 

Will JPM be able to storm to the front and become a factor today? A penalty in quals (“Over the line!”) has him starting 19th next to Sato. It’ll be a challenge for Montoya to pull off a coca crazed charge to Cartagena from that far back in the field, but he should be fun to watch.

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Photo from usatoday.com

Milwaukee Mile Madness

The race entertained as promised with plenty of passing, traffic and action on the flat oval track. Before qualifications even commenced though the silly season news heated up. SFHR and ECR announced they’re joining forces next year to become a multi car team, consolidating into one big happy All American family.  Except for Conway that is, who’s a part time driver and full time Englishman. The series loses two teams but gains one, and we hope CFHR have success together. They cited the coming of aero kits, the need for shared data and the advantages of a two car team in the decision. We’d love to see Sarah back behind the wheel next year, but that ain’t gonna happen.

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Power started and won the race from pole, leading most of the race in dominating fashion. Team Penske finished 1-2 with Montoya also running a strong race despite a rough pit stop and looking solid heading into the last two races. He received a warning for running into a tire in his pit box but no penalty, as it seems Penske rules were in effect again for race control. The race was run almost entirely under green flag conditions with drivers generally behaving themselves all day. Kanaan and Dixon took third and fourth for Target Chip Ganassi Racing while Josef Newgarden took fifth for SFHR.

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Photo from dailytelegraph.com.au

Andretti Autosport had a disappointing weekend, with all four cars qualifying poorly and Hinchcliffe who’d been quickest hitting the wall with minutes to go in the final practice, wrecking a perfectly good car. Hunter-Reay had the most entertaining drive of the race, storming from the rear of the field to near the front and gaining fourteen positions before his suspension finally gave up on him. After he climbed out of his car a dejected Hunter-Reay said “Our championship hopes are up in smoke.” AA rookie Munoz struggled all weekend and made the only contact with the wall all race, finishing last.

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Photo from indycar.com

In pre-race, Robin Miller amused viewers on NBCSN as usual with his grid run. In a brief encounter with J.R. Hildebrand, he raised the possibility of him driving a third car for the new CFH Racing. He then spoke with Larry Foyt about expanding to two cars and of the possibility of “half the grid being Americans next year.” We can only hope. Miller also mentioned the field being even stronger next year, which really would be something.

The grandstands looked to be only about half full for the race, if that, but we’re happy to pass along news reports stating that the IndyCar series will return to the historic mile next year. At least there’s some stability when it comes to oval tracks on the schedule. The oval track racing proved exciting with two and even three wide passing throughout the afternoon.

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One of the biggest moments of the race was the start, where Sato in mid pack got extremely loose and nearly caused a pile up on the first lap. He recovered but was never a factor in another disappointing performance in front of his sponsor’s home town crowd. This after Larry Foyt told Miller in pre race that “the pressure’s on” Sato who “needs to finish the season strong.”

The grand old mile put in a good showing yesterday, providing challenging and entertaining racing for drivers and spectators alike. Power’s prime position in the points was strengthened as was Montoya’s, while Helio’s standing suffered with an 11th place finish. It was one of those pure Penske days in Milwaukee and sets up an exciting final two races of a rapidly dwindling season.

Race Day Rattlings

Eleven Race Day Rattlings & Ruminations:

Sarah Fisher (O’Gara) Hartman Racing plus Ed Carpenter Racing equals a whole lot a racing. Will the combined CFHR remain the underdogs we enjoy rooting for?

What’s next we can only imagine. Ever heard a’ Herta Foyt Racing?! We’d take the sharp looking black 14 car back on track.

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Photo from espn.go.com

Our pole predictions were extremely close, missing it by that much. Right team, wrong Penske and 2nd choice TK starts 2nd. Our picks to win? Starting 19th & 20th. Ouch.

How about that pole speed? 169.262 mph – over a mile per hour slower than Marco’s record last year.

Perhaps Penske’s perpetually perturbed Power prevails from pole?

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Photo from dailytelegraph.com.au

Does JPM’s resurgence continue, increasing the pressure on Will and Helio?

Will AA’s surprising recent struggles at the Mile persist? Marco’s their top qualifier – in 9th.

Is Tony Target’s best shot at victory at the Mile? Or is it Briscoe? What an off year for Dixie and the whole Ganassi team.

Dixie

Do either of the newly paired Newkid or Carpenter have a shot at victory circle? It’d complete a big weekend for them. 

Can Sato turn in a strong showing and actually finish in front of his sponsor’s home crowd? We’re dubious but hopefully wrong. 

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We’re high on Munoz, but which rookie makes the most of his maiden Milwaukee Mile?