Toronto IndyCar Preview: Dallara’s Dollar Devising Dream Date

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IndyCar heads north to the Canuck concrete car crusher for arguably Dallara Automobili’s most consistently lucrative stop on the schedule. That – among other things – makes Toronto one of the series’ absolute worst tracks for viewing fans.

Following last year’s embarrassment of a race on the crumbling streets of Exhibition Place, IRR advocated an end to such nonsense north of the border until those LaBatt loving second raters constructed a decent track. Sadly and obviously, our schedule recommendations haven’t been implemented as of yet. So we’ll see IndyCar return for a thirty third time to a city that really doesn’t deserve it, judging by the overall lack of quality of late.

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Toronto averages about four cautions per race in recent years, although counting red flags it ballooned to seven in 2014. That’s rather high for a road race, though it’s no wonder when the crappy Canadian course disintegrates during competition. From what Hoosier Conor Daly called a “crazy” curved pit lane to Canuck curbs coming apart mid race, as usual IndyCar can and must do better.

When Toronto hasn’t ended under caution – as it has a third of the time lately – the average margin of victory is over two seconds. IndyCar’s Canadian token isn’t exactly the track of dreams, is it? That is, unless you’re the series’ exclusive chassis supplier. Cha-ching!

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Now for the series’ other Canadian token, James Hinchcliffe, a confessed Justin Bieber fan by the way. Continue reading

Road America IndyCar Preview: This Replaced Milwaukee Why?!

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No kidding – not yet, at least – 1986 Indy 500 winner Bobby Rahal recently called Road America “THE best circuit in North America” and among the “top ten in the world.” Well, Mr. Mustache, pardon the hell out of us if we beg to differ.

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Last year’s Wisconsin visit typified REM inducing road racing. This despite others’ – and admittedly even our own – efforts at optimism leading up to the event. The series hadn’t raced there in a decade and every track deserves a shot, it’s thought. Except NOLA. And Baltimore. And Boston. And Brasilia. And . . . but we digress. The series’ big return was an absolute laugher, with Sour Grapes Power running away from the field. Stop us – and road racing – if you’ve seen this before.

One problem was – and there were many – only one caution flag. As previously exposed on this site, IndyCar road racing needs a shot in the arm, nay – a salvation – before it bores fans to a tedious, road weary death. Squirrely tracks – especially a super long, scary circuit like RA – need LOTS of flags to make it even remotely interesting. Oh, and rain tires. And penalties. And grid girls.

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At least it’s a road course Scott Dixon didn’t run away with, like Mid-Ohio or Sonoma. Continue reading

Initial Ideas and Insights Into IndyCar’s Impending Imminence

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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.

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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.

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

What’s Michael Andretti Thinking Now? Or, Andretti’s Always Alarming Approach

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IndyCar’s loosest lipped loose cannon – and that’s saying something – makes more dubious decisions.

You know those tortured guys with the prolonged, seemingly perpetual mid life crises? The ones who share their problems liberally with the rest of us? That’s our Michael. Without erratic owners like Mario’s eldest son, there’d be precious little to write about in the off season. Speaking of precious little . . .

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Takuma Sato – the all time leader in most crashes per win – will replace Carlos “Speedy” Munoz at Andretti Autosport. Considering Sato’s dismal record of a single win in seven IndyCar seasons coupled with nearly a decade of F1 futility, one has to again wonder what Michael’s thinking. After all, a late career renaissance for the soon to be forty year old Japanese jockey’s highly unlikely. It’s not as though his record at Indy‘s any better, with a best finish of thirteenth and several high profile crashes.

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Taku finished seventeenth in points in 2016, near the bottom of the full timers. He’s made a hundred eighteen starts, yet achieved only twelve top five finishes. Tellingly, he failed to finish forty four of those races, or a whopping thirty seven percent. Continue reading

Some IndyCar Owners Need To Seriously Step It Up, Part 3

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In part three, we take a good, hard look at Michael Andretti’s decisions at Andretti Autosport.

Michael Andretti made our list too, though for different reasons than either Coyne or Foyt. Andretti’s foremost weakness is his insistence upon pursuing tangential business ventures – failed ventures. Some months ago he was forced to dissolve his race promotion group, which landed Michael in a messy legal imbroglio when his own company sued him. His latest get rich quick scheme? Auctioning off Ryan Hunter-Reay’s Indy 500 winning car, with caveats of course. Mario’s son needs to stick to what he knows – racing – and leave the shady money making ventures to others.

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His purported promotional prowess involved the ill-fated “race” at NOLA where yet another legal battle ensued following the (thankfully) one and done event. Michael himself called it “a nightmare.” Speaking of horror, Andretti’s company also badly mishandled the world’s oldest race track the Milwaukee Mile, now conspicuously absent from the 2016 schedule. Thank you for that, Michael. Another Andretti pipe dream is a green racing series – talk about an oxymoron! – called Formula E or some such thing. Clearly the distracted reality television celebrity should focus more on his IndyCar team and less on derivative business ventures. They not only lead nowhere, but also detract from his performance as an IndyCar team owner.

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It’s not just the risky corporate dealings that need to stop, either. Continue reading

NOLA: One Stop’s Enough

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Searching long and hard for positives to report about yesterday’s embarrassment of a race, NOLA featured the only Ferris wheel in the world located in a swamp. On Sunday IndyCar ran half a race that consisted of over half caution periods with half the field going off course and called it good. The race was so slow that Canuck funnyman James Hinchcliffe won it for Sam Schmidt on one pit stop. Summing up the entire weekend the winner tellingly said afterward, “I feel bad for the fans.” We agree and say one stop is enough for NOLA. Surprisingly we also concur with Michael Andretti who referred to it all as “a nightmare,” and even with Chip Ganassi who apologized to the fans for the fiasco.

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The IndyCar season so far has seen the first race cancelled and the next two filled with crashes and cautions. Continue reading

NOLA’s Non-Qualifications: Instant Reaction

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There were several interesting items to come out of the storm cancelled qualifying session including Target’s resurgence and particularly Kanaan’s, a swamp becoming even swampier, and the mouth of the north Paul Tracy squeezing back into the broadcast booth. Heck, NBCSN even put Robin Miller on television again this season. Yet there were two still curiouser stories that emerged Saturday evening that caught our eye.

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The first story of note was a controversial call made by IndyCar’s race control penalizing KV Racing’s Sebastian Bourdais for impeding TCGR driver Tony Kanaan’s lap. Turns out it’s all a moot point with qualifications being called off, but race control docking SeBass his fastest laps looked questionable particularly considering the poor conditions. Bourdais ran off track into a runoff area, turned around and then re-entered the fray ahead of Tony Kanaan who he then let pass. Both cars were set to advance until race control acted with an iron fist. Twitter – partly due to IRR’s instigation we admit – was immediately set alight.

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Owner Jimmy Vasser was livid. Flustered and on live television – always a compelling viewing combination – Continue reading

IndyCar NOLA Predictions and Prognostications: All Wet Edition

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How’d our crack crystal ball division do predicting last race, you ask? Fairly well. We accurately predicted the pole winner as well as the winning team, if not the winning driver. Also that there’d be a surprise winner, which JPM sort of was. Stefano “faster than Andretti” Coletti was a bit of a disappointment, but after all it was only his first IndyCar race.

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Obviously New Orleans is likely to be wet, as the race is being held in a swamp in April. If you’ve ever visited Louisiana, then you know that the entire southern half of the state’s one giant mass of menacing, brackish swamp water so some amount of discomfort will come as no surprise. Plus there’s rain in the forecast. This week’s out of the ordinary prediction is that a local gator makes a surprise appearance at the track, so be sure to mind those hands and feet! Also, lots of those hilarious, James Carville-awful Cajun accents will be on display so it won’t be an entirely joyless race.

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The couple hundred thousand viewers who bother to tune in to the race will notice the difference in coverage from ABC, assuming they have the “No Body Can See Network.” Continue reading

NOLA IndyCar Preview: Grime and Punishment

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New Orleans was founded by the French on May 7, 1718 when the twelve far off British colonies (Georgia would come later) were still quite happily ruled from London. It enjoyed status as the major port on the Gulf of Mexico for over a century, changing hands along the way multiple times before finally being purchased with a quarter of the continent by Jefferson from Napoleon in 1803. Cotton, yellow fever and jazz have all played major roles in the epic drama of New Orleans. More recently there’s been decline, crime and lots of grime, and now IndyCar with its near lethal aero kits is coming to town. One might think it’d be a fun – if voodoo scary – mix to behold.

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Sadly, some IndyCar fans likely will be victimized by crime in New Orleans as many who visit the Big Sleazy unfortunately are. We shudder to think of the poor foreign fans who’ll be visiting, blissfully unaware of NO’s shady reputation. If flying aero kit pieces don’t get you, then the criminals may. Here are some shocking but true statistics – the violent crime rate in New Orleans was over twice the national average in both 2011 and 2012. Though slightly lower than the previous year, the murder rate in New Orleans in 2013 was still eight times the national average.

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Those numbers provide some food for thought for those visiting a city that even pre-Katrina had a myriad of serious, systemic problems – including a corrupt political class and police force. Continue reading