Toronto IndyCar Race Review: Yellow is the New Orange Edition

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A perfectly timed yellow flag handed the orange DeVilbiss car a victory on the walled streets of Toronto.

Josef Newgarden happened to be pitting when Tony “Time To Call It Quits” Kanaan committed his latest brain fade and careened into the Turn 1 tire barrier. As a result, Newgarden ran away with it for his second win out of the last three times north of the border.

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Scott Dixon was rudely hit by “Sour Grapes” Will Power – twice – during a first lap melee bringing out the first of only two cautions on the day. Power limped around the course failing to make it to his pit and would be a surprise first out. Dixon soldiered to a tenth place finish and as usual no infraction was called on the Penske pilot.

In front of all the banging, Helio grabbed the lead from Simon Pagenaud in a ballsy inside move at the start and TK managed to gain five spots, but it was Josef Newgarden’s jump of three positions to fourth that ultimately made all the difference. He’d soon find himself out front and, due to both timing and luck, in possession of another street course victory.

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The restart saw Indy 500 winners and Andretti Autosport teammates Alexander Rossi and Takuma Sato make contact, as Rossi battled nearly everyone on his way to second. Continue reading

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Watkins Glen Race Review: Paid Plugs Edition

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Verizon’s new data plan got more than enough mentions Sunday, but its IndyCar series championship suffered a real blow as viewers’ attention spans were severely tested at Watkins Glen.

Pole sitter Scott Dixon commandingly ran away from the field in another fuel saving snoozer on a roadie, winning by a whopping sixteen seconds ahead of Josef Newgarden. Things at the back of the pack did become interesting though, with exploding Firestones, Will Power practically taking himself out of the points chase and drivers fighting for their jobs. Silly season hung over the paddock like a shroud of Finger Lakes fog.

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Three caution flags flew for a total of nine laps, which at the Glen are long at over three miles. Muscovite Mikhail Aleshin was seemingly victimized by a sniper’s round on lap fifteen, his left rear Firestone exploding in an extremely rare total tire failure. The bumper disintegrated in a spectacular display of collateral damage as he spun, collecting no one and brushing the wall.

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The SPM jockey, who like many others grew furious after being penalized in qualifications, as usual acquitted himself well in interviews afterward, looked ahead to the next race and further ingratiated himself to a growing number of fans. We envision some sponsorship on those blank red sidepods, and soon.

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Five laps later following the restart, Ragin’ Graham Rahal brought out the second caution when he Continue reading

Pocono Race Review: Delayed Gratification

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NBCSN’s Brian Till described the racing at Pocono as “spectacular,” and on Monday it certainly was. Will “awesome” Power won thanks to a Penske perfect late race charge to the front, but Ryan Hunter-Reay ran the race of the day. He drove his burnt yellow DHL machine through the field – twice! – to a podium finish, racing a brand new, unfamiliar car after crashing his Indy 500 winner in practice. Failing even to attempt qualifying, he started dead last and still very nearly won.

After a washout on Sunday even the command to start engines was delayed, leading to an awkward pause during the beginning of the broadcast. Then a bomb was dropped on the audience as they revealed that Robin Miller was joining Till and Townsend Bell in the booth. A surreal quality instantly infused the broadcast as the news rippled across the land. Apparently Paul Tracy had important buffets to attend in Vegas.

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The start was waived off after first time pole sitter Mikhail Aleshin jumped the gun, forcing another attempt. Aleshin again shot out to a lead coming to the flag stand, but Josef Newgarden quickly took the lead just before Takuma Sato snap spun into the wall in turn three, coming to a wrecked rest in front of the “what turn 4?” sign. Continue reading

Toronto Race Review: Just Say No To TO

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The Toronto track’s too narrow, ramshackle and winding, making the racing too processional for our tastes. Especially with the recent changes to pit lane and curbs coming apart mid-race – that’s Detroit level awful. It’s high time to reconsider Toronto’s place on IndyCar’s already sketchy schedule.

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A new ‘S’ shaped pit lane is “ridiculous” as Conor Daly rightly called it after the race. Its forty mile per hour speed limit is an embarrassment. If we wanted to see racing at school zone speeds, we’d watch NASCAR. Throw in the extra short pit stalls and it all adds up to a joke. Perhaps thirty years at Toronto’s enough, as the city seems to have grown apathetic toward the series, at least judging by their “track.”

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As quintessential Canuck Paul Tracy said, “they almost made a full lap” before the first wreck. 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

Road America Race Review: Good Fun Edition

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Overall the racing in IndyCar’s return to Wisconsin disappointed almost as badly as the eventual winner, though good fun was had by almost everyone at Road America.

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The Kohler Grand Prix turned out to be a fairly boring one caution affair with the unlikable pole sitter cruising to victory. It was Mad Will Power‘s second win in the last two races, after undergoing a year long drought. Frankly, we preferred the drought.

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Nevertheless, the drivers enjoyed themselves, with the injured Josef Newgarden Continue reading

Texas Firestone 600 Predictions And Prognostications: Huge Edition

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Expect high speeds, plenty of passing action and lots of sparks flying on track in Texas Saturday night. As Napoleon said, “that which is large is beautiful,” and Texas Motor Speedway certainly qualifies. Also, there’ll be no preordained Penske parades like we saw Sunday in Detroit. In our eyes, that’s just huge.

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This week’s special prediction for the race is some good old fashioned, hugely entertaining oval track racing. Last year’s race was one of those rare Texas IndyCar contests that failed to fulfill fans. Caution free, Scott Dixon ran away with it cruising to an almost eight second margin of victory. Truly, Dixie did Dallas last year – in a huge way.

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The broadcast will also be noticeably superior to those of the last several races. NBCSN is not only covering the race and qualifications on its air, but also a bonus practice session Friday morning. Continue reading

GPLB Qualifications Instant Reaction: Carpet Pissers Did This

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As Marty Snider summed it up, “What a bizarre qualifying session!” And as SoCal’s own “The Dude” once appropriately alleged, “carpet pissers did this.”

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Other than a timing and scoring blackout, Frenchman Bourdais slyly staying out after seeing the checkered, the timing line inexplicably being moved mid session and an additional lap being added at the end, yesterday’s qualifications at the Grand Prix of Long Beach went off without a hitch. At least all the crashes occurred in practice again.

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NBCSN’s crew was as in the dark as were the viewers – and teams – for much of the broadcast. A few things were clear, however. Continue reading

Phoenix Race Review: IndyCar Drivers Just Love To Apologize

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The pilots really shouldn’t be so hard on themselves after races. Phoenix wasn’t that bad, although the series’ handling of it was.

From Fontana last year to Phoenix last night, IndyCar drivers have apologized enough. It isn’t their fault. The fact that they feel the need to constantly make amends is quite telling, though. It’s high time to take a good, hard look at those running the series, as we’ve advocated for some time now.

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In a near weekly ritual, PIR was billed as “the most physically demanding” track on the schedule. A mildly entertaining race had Scott Dixon cruising to a whopping thirty ninth career win, fourth on the all time list. Like others, our expectations for IndyCar oval track racing are sky high; unfortunately, the return to Phoenix didn’t exactly soar. Dixie took the checkers ahead of Pags and Power under caution. He then promptly began to apologize for it.

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In his article, cringe worthy Curt Cavin resorted to hyperbole 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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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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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