Silly Season ’17: A Succinct Synopsis

HardingRacingBanner

Penske pared back, Ganassi got leaner, Rahal redoubled and Foyt became even less relevant. Perhaps the greatest concern – apart from the second rate schedule – is the car count for 2018.

EscapeEastSTL

After yet another IndyCar title thanks to Josef Newgarden’s pivotal piloting, Penske’s crew will consist of only three cars for the first time since 2014. At 42 the ever popular Helio Castro-Neves finally has been put out to pasture, where presumably he can climb all the fences he wishes. The formidable trio of Pags, Power and Newkid will carry the Cap’n’s colors in the upcoming campaign, easily remaining the odds on favorites nearly every weekend.

ParisChiltonIRR

Not one to be outdone when it comes to downsizing, the Chipster Continue reading

Advertisements

IndyCar Watkins Glen Race Review: ‘A Really Timely Caution’ or: T-Bell’s Faux Pas Edition

RossiWGindycarcom

Photo from indycar.com

Alexander Rossi owes a highly dubious second career win to his teammate and fellow Indy 500 winner Takuma “timing is everything” Sato, who committed the racing equivalent of hari kari at the Glen – twice. In NBCSN’s booth, apparently Townsend Bell was under the influence of enough meds to nearly forget his name, which makes us wonder about his urine test for the next race.

For Daffy Leigh Diffey‘s triumphant return to IndyCar there was the ridiculous wet start that wasn’t. That is to say, it wasn’t wet and it wasn’t much of a start. Thank goodness Tony Kanaan made it through the parade laps this time, though he would eventually find pit lane too difficult to navigate, hitting the wall at pit lane exit – right after the championship leader did the exact same thing.

WGstartindycarcom.jpg

Photo from indycar.com

The start saw Josef Newgarden surging, Scott Dixon dropping and Helio going way wide with no track restrictions in place. After the first lap pit stops for slicks a reshuffle had Helio around Rossi for the lead and Ryan Hunter-Reay up to fourth. Spencer Pigot spun completely around on lap 4 but managed to keep it going and even lead some laps before finishing 12th.

On lap 5 Dixon got around RHR prior to the first of three cautions, as Hinchcliff’s gear box issue and a puff of smoke from his Honda ended his day. The race returned to green on lap nine and as usual Helio jumped the restart ahead of Rossi, Newgarden and Dixie. Dixon soon passed Newkid again and appeared to be on the way to another win at the Glen. However, it wasn’t to be and Helio opened up a sizable lead.

TBellyoutubecom

Image from youtube.com

Then the Townsend Bell blooper reel portion of the broadcast began. Continue reading

IndyCar Bommarito 500 Race Review: Hood Vibrations

Gatewaypodiumindycarcom.jpg

Photo from indycar.com

Josef Newgarden won his fourth race of the year Saturday night, making it three of the last four for the blonde American who somehow reminds us of a beach boy. He bested Scott Dixon by seven tenths of a second and was joined by peeved teammate Simon Pagenaud on the podium. Newkid’s late race pass around Pags for the lead was classic.

The race began comically, with the increasingly dangerous Tony Kanaan spinning and crashing on the final parade lap. It was a weird vibe to start a race. After some repairs, he eventually finished many laps down in sixteenth, then refused to do an interview. That’s some fan favorite, huh?

Gatewaycrashsportsusatodaycom.jpg

Photo from sports.usatoday.com

After the Kanaan debacle was cleaned up, the field had just taken the green flag when pole sitter Will Power spun and crashed into the turn 2 wall. Ed Carpenter and Takuma Sato were caught up in the melee, with Ed spectacularly going up and over Power’s car, their races ruined.

Sato posted that he was “hit from behind” in a subsequent Tweet. Ed mentioned the slick track and Lights rubber being a factor, and looked forward to next season. “This year just did not go well,” the owner/driver admitted. His employee J.R. Hildebrand later joined him in the pits after crashing out due to an apparent suspension failure. Power said “it was super slippery,” and that his teammate “Josef took my air” when passing. It’s “unfortunate,” the first to retire summed up, hinting at early dissension in the Penske ranks.

Newkidgatewaysportsusatodaycom.jpg

Photo from sports.usatoday.com

Following the second brain fade in as many laps, Newgarden took command and pulled away from the field until the second round of pit stops. Continue reading

Mid-Ohio IndyCar Preview: Ganassi’s Paradise

GanassisParadise

IndyCar’s annual visit to Mid-Ohio brings to mind Coolio’s classic track “Gangsta’s Paradise,” although in actuality it’s Ganassi’s paradise in more ways than one. Both places are plenty dangerous with lots of twists, turns and curves – but only one’s dull as daytime lookout duty. Get the Courvoisier and blunts ready for this one, y’all!

Been spending most their lives
Livin’ in a gangsta’s paradise

dixiebusinessinsidercom.jpg

Photo from businessinsider.com

Scott Dixon’s five wins at the joint most definitely mean he’s ridin’ dirty. They also highlight Chip “G-daddy” Ganassi’s utter dominance of central Ohio’s hood. That’s how he rolls and he definitely woke, yo. Chipster’s stealing seven out of the last ten (excuses for) races is straight dope, man. Charlie “Straight Outta Cali” Kimball’s breakthrough victory in 2013 was one of ’em, going from ghetto to penthouse with that fashizzzle.

Ganassi’s got one bangin’ posse, though there are of course exceptions. Not surprisingly, Tony “old over the hill bastard” Kanaan has never scored in the O. And don’t get us started on G-daddy’s fourth driver Max “Paris” Chilton. He definitely unwoke and ’bout to be replaced by some Swede named Rosenqvist.

grahamandstatuetwittercom.jpg

Photo from twitter.com

Graham “homeboy” Rahal won in 2015 in yet another of those ‘luckily timed pit stops that win you the race’ kind of deals. It’s cool as hell driving for your dad’s team, ain’t it? Continue reading

Texas IndyCar Race Review: Attrition Edition

RHRtexasindycarcom.jpg

Photo from indycar.com

The racing was breathtaking Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway – as usual – when they weren’t screwing it up. Cautions breed cautions the saying goes, but apparently the same isn’t true for red flags. Instead, the thrilling race petered out under yellow with Will Power anticlimactically taking his second win at Texas.

Powertexasindycarcom

Photo from indycar.com

There were accidents galore, with a dozen cars retiring due to contact. By contrast, the race saw only one mechanical when pole sitter Charlie Kimball’s Honda expired. Nine cautions flew for 66 laps including the red flag stoppage. There were no fewer than seven crashes including James Hinchcliffe’s pit lane fiasco as well as six on track incidents. The race had it all. Ed Carpenter even did a 360 on a lap 102 restart, spinning on the front straight before amazingly saving his car and avoiding everyone else.

Texaspitstwittercom.jpg

Image from twitter.com

Alexander Rossi was first out, the victim of a Ganassi sandwich as he got bounced like a basketball between the blue cars and into the wall. It wouldn’t be the last time Tony Kanaan was involved in an on track fracas. Continue reading

Detroit Grand Prix Predictions and Prognostications: Bizarro Edition

takusladiestakumasatocom.jpg

Photo from takumasato.com

Considering that incredible Indy 500 result, the season’s obviously gone completely through the looking glass. Up is down, black is white and forty year old foreign ride buyers reign supreme. Hold on to your hats tightly for our picks for this Duesie of a double header in Detroit.

detroitusnewscom

Photo from usnews.com

Any series that thinks Belle Isle is worthy of one race a year – much less two, hot on the heels of Indy – has long occupied bizzarro land. As we’ve documented before at some length, it’s a rat infested dump best avoided, a destination rivaled in its unpleasantness only by Gateway in East St. Louis. It’s a peculiar location for a series seeking to maintain momentum to feature, for sure.

The thing about predicting how the races will turn out in bizarro IndyCar is that it’s just so damned . . . well, unpredictable. Did we mention this year’s 500? Oh, yeah. In light of all that, here go some rather unexpected, unorthodox picks for this weekend.

  heliotearspowermadtwitterusatodaycom

Photos from twitter.com and usatoday.com

Pole sitters for the two races will be unusual in the sense that they won’t include Frenchman Simon Pagenaud for a change. In an unbelievably hoggish display he occupied point for both races last year, edging Ryan Hunter-Reay and stable mate Helio Castro-Neves. Continue reading

Phoenix Race Review: Single Handed

PagsPhx17.jpg

Photo from twitter.com

J.R. Hildebrand gave fans someone to root for other than those paradoxical Penskes in a flawed though mildly entertaining show in the desert.

jrhildebrandedcarpenterracingcom.jpg

Photo from edcarpenterracing.com

Simon Pagenaud and the Penskes prevailed going away as the first oval and night race of the year looked like 2016 in microcosm. Thankfully there were other stories, or rather a single other story, on NBCSN. If we heard about it once, we heard it a thousand times. Hildebrand‘s comeback race from a broken hand at Long Beach – requiring “a plate and eight screws” as Paul Tracy read from a card – saw him finish an impressive third. It was Ed Carpenter Racing‘s best result in some time and a remarkable feat by the team’s shorthanded newcomer.

We couldn’t help but think of the sound of one hand clapping during the race, as the crowd looked sparse on television and the Saturday night time slot is challenging for ratings to begin with. After seeing the start though, maybe that’s not all bad.

Phoenixstart17

Photo from twitter.com

The race began embarrassingly with a first lap caution as Mikhail Aleshin lost it and spun in turn two collecting Marco, Rahal, Chilton and Bourdais – Hondas all. Continue reading

Is IndyCar Becoming Too French-ified?

jeangirardpagenaudsebass.jpg

Both the new crowned series king and the lone 2017 victor hail from France, so the question seemed obvious. Especially when the wine and cheese league is on the verge of becoming the full blown Verizon Jean Girard Series, Presented by Crepes.

Bourdaisstpete3indycarcom.jpg

Photo from indycar.com

Sebastien Bourdais and Simon Pagenaud are Frenchmen on fire in IndyCar. Storming to 1-2 at St. Pete, they appear truly tough to beat. Who could have imagined a few short years ago that these musketeers would be dueling it out atop asphalt parapets, like Athos and Aramis?

The fast frogs in question have greedily gobbled up nearly half the races going back to 2015, with a whopping nine wins between them. Despite Seb’s highly suspicious trailer fire last spring, the two apparently harbor no animosity. There’s a distinct absence of rudeness.

pagsLBindycarcom.jpg

Photo from indycar.com

Instead, they tend to be respectful and even complimentary of each other, as evidenced following the opener. Continue reading

IndyCar News Week in Review: The More Things Change Edition

JRMidOHtwittercom

Photo from twitter.com

New Year, New Look . . . Next Year: So-called “uniform body kits,” spec chassis set to replace the aborted IndyCar aero kits, will be previewed in a test on February 10th at PIR. Unfortunately, they’re not set to debut in action until 2018. Brant James recently agreed with us on the egregious aero kits, writing of the “unpopular and expensive assemblies” going away after this season – and none too soon.

stpetedebris

He also quoted IndyCar president of competition ol’ Jay Frye on the mysterious appearance of the forthcoming chassis, who cited “cool” looking “bits and pieces” from “the past twenty years,” with “a lot of retro.”  Encouragingly, Frye claimed the new design would be “lower, sleeker, what an IndyCar has historically looked like.” Perhaps over-promising, the competition president predicted the experience would be “aesthetically exciting for the fans.” Depends upon the quality of the grid girls, obviously. Chassis that aren’t aesthetically appalling would be an improvement, and we hope he’s not speaking of NASCAR fans.

acwobuschcrm114

Optimism Abounds, Apparently: Between Frye’s gushing about the next generation of chassis and Mark Miles‘ ebullience about Continue reading

Initial Ideas and Insights Into IndyCar’s Impending Imminence

newkidtorontosportsusatodaycomnm

Photo from sports.usatoday.com

Are Foyt’s Fixes Finally Functional? With two new pilots, brand new Chevy engines and in the midst of an exhilarating era in which it seems almost anything’s possible, A.J.’s team just might stand a chance at success in 2017. Finally. The ornery octogenarian‘s outfit will be one to watch, with the caveat of consistently disappointing performances since at least the IRL days.

ajsworld3

Can Ganassi Going Geisha Garner Gains? The change back to Honda comes after a Hillary level disappointing season, with neither a 500 win nor a championship to the Chipster’s credit, not to mention Target’s departure after a quarter century of sponsorship. Dixon’s still an ace, especially on the roadies, and Charlie “fearless” Kimball’s improving. But TK, the aged one? And TBD, meaning perhaps the return of Englishman Max “Paris” Chilton? Seems Ganassi could have developed a deeper bench. Meanwhile, Sage Karam‘s coaching wrestling.

mausatodaycom

Photo from usatoday.com

Which Andretti Autosport Are You Asking About? On this Jekyll and Hyde team, Continue reading