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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Scott Dixon’s Helmet, Or: A Tale of Two Pities

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An embarrassing equipment failure at Sonoma typified Scott Dixon‘s season with Chip Ganassi Racing.

IndyCar’s defending champion suffered mightily on Sunday, floundering at a track he’d won on multiple times. Already losing his primary sponsor immediately after the race, Dixon limped home to a seventeenth place finish. Equipment issues and slow pit service stemming from a faulty wire doomed his chances at the largely passing-free Sonoma Raceway. It was truly a pity.

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Photo from racedepartment.com

With a malfunctioning radio and no communication with his team, Dixon was forced to swap helmets on his second pit stop. Continue reading

Toronto Race Review: Just Say No To TO

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Photo from sports.usatoday.com

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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Photo from sports.usatoday.com

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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Photo from gettyimages.com

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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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.

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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.

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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

100th Indy 500 Qualifications Day Two: Mayor of Indy

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Canuck comic and IndyCar pilot James Hinchcliffe completed a comeback story for the ages Sunday evening, going in the span of a year from the edge of oblivion to pole position for the 100th Indianapolis 500 mile extravaganza. He edged Americans Josef Newgarden and Ryan Hunter-Reay, the former by thirty four thousandths of a second over four laps, or ten miles. The series wanted drama for pole day and they got it.

In an early qualifications incident, A.J. Foyt Racing‘s Alex Tagliani “got really loose!” as he said on the exit of turn 4, spun and ended up clipping the pit lane wall attenuator. He’s fine, but the car’s not and receiving a DNQ they’ll start last in 33rd. AJ should be particularly thankful for the Monday practice session.

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Earlier Scott Dixon blew a Chevy engine, which is normally a death knell on the final day of qualifications, except there are only thirty three cars there. In almost super-human fashion, Ganassi’s teams changed the engines out in less than two hours, enabling him to qualify fairly well in thirteenth. That’s one better than Marco and one helluva team effort during a difficult week. Mike Hull, Ganassi’s head honcho on Dixon’s team, gave a different version. He said Chevy “asked us to change” the engine, citing “absolutely zero concern with our race engines,” when we asked. 
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Grand Prix of Long Beach Race Review: Half Right Edition

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Photo from indycar.com

IndyCar got it half right at the Beach Sunday. That is to say, they almost put on an entertaining show. Well, at least they held a race – sort of.

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Photo from criticsden.com

“Am I right or am I right or am I right?!”

Before the race, Scott Dixon predicted “an exciting first few laps.” As someone uttered during the broadcast and like almost everyone on Sunday, he too was half right. There were of course a first few laps, followed by the uneventful rest. After a train wreck of a qualification session, in some ways it’s a wonder they managed to pull off a race at all. Even the race winner was left wanting, as the Ned Ryerson of the series Simon Pagenaud had to actively seek out people in victory lane who’d let him spray ’em with champagne.

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Photo from sports.usatoday.com

The half left, half right race left much to be desired. What else can we write? It was boring. It was predictable. It was a “fuel mileage” race. It was won by a Frenchman. It was still another win for Penske. It was Long Beach.

Incredibly, there were no wrecks, no cautions, no hairpin pileups, no retirements and no mechanicals. Due to precious little passing there also was virtually no entertainment. That’s not to say the grand prix was controversy free, though.

The “carpet pissers” in race control were at it again, failing to make a crucial call against Pagenaud, instead merely issuing a “warning” in a critical race determining situation. Continue reading

If IndyCar Were ‘Star Wars’

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If IndyCar were ‘Star Wars,’

Newgarden would play the new Skywalker –

With Penske as Darth Vader, Andretti as Leia,

And Montoya the Empire’s hawker.

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Photo from usatoday.com

If IndyCar were ‘Star Wars,’

Graham Rahal‘d be a great Han Solo –

He’s tall and handsome, holds races for ransom,

With a Force that makes him shout “YOLO!”

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Photo from examiner.com

If IndyCar were ‘Star Wars,’

It’d be setting records, acclaimed as number one –

With throngs of fans, and clapping hands,

Instead of a collection of legacy sons.

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Continue reading