Toronto Preview: Hinch, Hometown Hero Or Mere Mischief Maker?

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Though it’s only a hunch, we doubt Ontario native James Hinchcliffe becomes just the second Canadian ever to win an IndyCar race on the shores of Lake Ontario. And that’s in three decades of racing there.

Merely hours after he ripped our hearts out – or those of our Iowa Predictions, anyway – Hinch and the rest of the series are already preparing for Sunday’s happenings at a track we like to call the Canuck concrete car crusher, better known as the streets of Toronto. More on the sub-par circuit in a moment.

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The pressure building on Hinch – the face of the series – for his hometown, Honda sponsored event is immense, made even more gargantuan by his thrilling though baffling win Sunday. Real fans of Hinch won’t like what follows, as it’s not pleasant. Nevertheless, it’s true.  Continue reading

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Barber Preview: Broken Record Edition

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More records are likely to be broken as IndyCar screeches into Alabama this weekend, the series’ third consecutive race since inexplicably skipping an entire month after the St. Pete opener. Sorry to sound like a broken record, but Team Penske’s success at Barber is nearly as unblemished as a mint condition Beatles vinyl still in the original packaging.

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Josef “new American hero” Newgarden (according to Robin Miller) has swiped two of the last three at the deep south’s premier motorbike track, an undeniably impressive album of work. Continue reading

Long Beach Preview: Up in the Air

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IndyCar’s annual whiff of SoCal’s insalubrious smog arrives Sunday and the pending outcome is as up in the air as a juggler’s balls.

Hinch, Pags and Dixie have won the last three Grans Prix, by far the series’ most atmospheric street race. That’s three different teams represented atop the podium since 2015. Go back far enough and some rather wispy outfits indeed have triumphed by the shore, including Ed Carpenter Racing. On a street course. Twice. That’s certainly some rarefied air out west.

Bourdais is a three time winner, stratospherically taking three in a row during the most polluted days of the split. Understandably though, after Phoenix his pit crew may still be a bit sore at him this weekend. Even Will “hot air” Power vaporized the entire field twice at the Beach, though that was several years ago. Heck, Sato won there for Foyt in 2013. Tellingly, it was under caution and the tentative team‘s last win.

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Unassuming Ed Jones stole the show last year with a sixth place finish and second consecutive top ten to start his career. Continue reading

Rejigger Race Control, IndyCar

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The series’ ever rotating fortune wheel of race stewards desperately needs spun again following Sunday’s debacle. For IndyCar, race control’s rapidly becoming an oxymoron. Apparently it resides in Pope Penske’s plush pocket.

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The very definition of a steward is someone “appointed to supervise the arrangements or keep order at a race . . . ,” emphasis added.

IRR’s been hot on the steward story since February when this shadowy new lineup was announced. Rest assured, IRR’s harbored a healthy skepticism toward the latest reconfiguration of race control – like all things IndyCar – from the start. The series constantly jiggers with the stewards, and Jon “not for long” Beekhuis is but one example in a paddock full of former controllers.

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Reporting on race control’s latest iteration since February – and before – we boldly went where no other IndyCar outlet dared. IRR published photographic evidence of a clear cut case of cronyism during pre-season testing. Remember, this fraternizing photo was published months ago, long before the latest steward story broke.  Continue reading

GPLB Predictions and Prognostications: The Bright Side of Long Beach

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To paraphrase Monty Python’s Eric Idle, the Grand Prix of Long Beach often tends to be “a piece of sh*t, when you look at it. The racing’s a laugh and passing’s a joke – it’s true.”

 

First up, we predict lots of celebrities, beautiful people and an out of this world atmosphere this weekend at Long Beach. Everything and more will be on display, except for entertaining IndyCar racing. At Long Beach and certain other left-right-left courses, it’s predictably poor racing. On the bright side, with a schedule chock full of lengthy layoffs almost any race is better than no race at all – unless it’s maudlin Mid-Ohio, that is.

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“When you’re chewing on life’s gristle, don’t grumble – give a whistle. And this’ll help things turn out for the best.”

Expect to see plenty of carbon fiber debris to be generated on the narrow, concrete walled circuit and concomitant lengthy caution periods. There’s also a high likelihood of another infamous hairpin pileup-cum-parking lot this year, especially with so many rookies, f-ing F1 invaders and Marco in the field. On the bright side, Continue reading

IndyCar Grand Prix of Long Beach Preview: Cheap Trick Edition

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First F1, then CART/Champ Car, and finally IndyCar all have played a cheap trick upon the hospitable “I Want You To Want Me” Southern California destination. Fact is, fairly few edge of your seat races have unfolded at Long Beach during its long history, though you’d never know it. Almost inconceivably, this trickery’s been going on for four decades now.

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Appropriately for SoCal, the Grand Prix of Long Beach always has been upside down, like a wave riding a surfer. The ancient – at least by IndyCar standards – event is known more for its pre-race festivities and “atmosphere” than the race itself. This year’s hoopla will be highlighted by Rockford, Illinois’ own Cheap Trick in concert, a rock band from the ’70s and recent Rock ‘N Roll HOF inductee among whose best songs is, fittingly enough, “California Man.”

 

Included in the fanfare too will be an “ePrix,” a drift race and, perhaps most cryptic of all, a “Lifestyle Expo,” whatever the hell any of those are. One thing IRR‘s sure of, however. Prior to the race a must see Miss GPLB pageant will be held – not to be confused with an LGBT pageant, of course. Strictly for illustrative purposes, here’s a look at last year’s gorgeous finalists. Wonder how many “Southern Girls” are among them? Or cheap tricks?

 

Adding a crescendo to the bawdy buildup is Continue reading

Long Beach Grand Prix Predictions and Prognostications: Cautionary Edition

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With a dry California track in the forecast and two awful aero kit era races already in the books, IndyCar’s due for a classic duel on the beach, or at least a watchable show. A third consecutive clunker of a race following Brazil’s jilting of the series would be devastating, but happily won’t occur. IRR’s soothsaying  division has been on a hot buttery roll with our predictions as of late – that is, if you discount that farce last week in the swamps of NOLA – so let’s get right to the prognostications.

The specialty prediction of this week’s as sunny as the California coastline. Fortunately for fans there’ll be no flying debris showering the grandstands or smacking innocent, paying spectators upside the head at Long Beach. That shouldn’t happen again until at least the Indy GP; however, since Sebastian Saavedra‘s now back in the series we strongly recommend helmets for fans in the first twenty five rows, as a precaution.

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That leads us to our initial weekly prediction, who’ll be first out of the race. Continue reading