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

Texas (Part Two) Race Review: Ragin’ Rahal Edition

texasfinishtwittercom

Photo from twitter.com

IndyCar put on its second consecutive extraordinarily exhilarating oval track race in less than a week.

Enduring a year long winless drought, Graham Rahal won the closest race in Texas Motor Speedway history Saturday night charging all the way from lucky thirteenth. The race, started in June and rained out after the first seventy three laps and a horrific collision between Conor Daly and Josef Newgarden, proved an instant classic.

NewgardenTexasapcom

Photo from ap.com

The restarts were exquisite, the action and passing superb. It was like the good ol’ days of racing at Texas back in the ’90s and early ’00s, with a photo finish and the margin of victory a mere eight thousandths of a second. The race was breathtaking.

texas2016indycarcom

Photo from indycar.com

Canuck James Hinchcliffe led the field to the restart, enjoyed as Paul Tracy said “the car to beat” and dominated almost the entire race. Crucially though, Continue reading

Pocono Predictions and Prognostications: Jersey Edition

poconoracewaycom

Photo from poconoraceway.com

A special prediction deals with Pocono Raceway‘s proximity to New Jersey, which failed to land an F1 race but did give the world Governor Chris Christie. Sporting a rough reputation as perhaps America’s rudest state, Jersey’s also high in the running for funniest accent, most mobbed up state and much more. Just like the Jersey turnpike, IndyCar fans can expect lots of traffic jams to go with miles of pavement and full service fill ups this weekend.

kimballtorontomotorsportcom.jpg

Photo from motorsport.com

The biggest surprise of the race fittingly enough will be Charlie Kimball. Ganassi – an honorary Jersey guy, obviously – won three years ago with Scott Dixon and Kimball’s definitely developed an east coast approach to racing this year. As Juan Montoya said after one recent on track tiff, “That’s Charlie! Ask anybody!” Charlie’s unacceptably rude behavior currently has him tenth in the standings, two spots ahead of Juan. Continue reading

Toronto Predictions And Prognostications: So Sorry Edition

hinchindygpusatodaycom

Photo from usatoday.com

Ontario, Canada plays host to the next round of IndyCar’s summer swing. We’re sorry they’re down to one race on a subpar surface and one driver who’s been subpar lately. Sorry in advance for any crude or boorish behavior on the part of American fans in attendance this weekend – and particularly for what’s coming next.

southparkmomsvscanadaflickrcom.jpg

Image from flickr.com

A special pre race prediction is that the Canadians will manage to screw up the national anthems again, like they did last year and even at the All Star game this week. Last year’s butchery during the Toronto pre race sounded like alley cats in heat. Sorry, but can they get it right already? Use a frickin’ recording if nothing else.

hinchdetroitnewscom

Photo from detroitnews.com

This week’s special prediction for the race regards local Canuck favorite, the Mayor of Hinchtown. Continue reading

Iowa Race Review: Feel Good Edition

newgardeniowasportsusatodaycom.jpg

Photo from sports.usatoday.com

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.

iowa16centredailycom.JPEG

Photo from centredaily.com

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.

juanstrangelove

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