Indy Grand Prix Preview: Pagenaud, the Destroyer

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Photo from usatoday.com

Pags and the Penskes have been destroying it lately, eliciting widespread fear – and worse.

“Paranoia, the Destroyer” as the Kinks artfully put it runs rampant throughout IndyCar. Specifically, Penske paranoia – a creeping, deep seeded fear that Pagenaud the Destroyer and crew will win every remaining blasted race.

You blow it all with paranoia.

You’re so insecure, you self destroyer.

Pagenaud has won a lot lately, so much so that we’re getting tired of his winning. He won the previous race either way you look at it – both at Phoenix and last season’s Indy GP. It’s starting to become habitual for the Frenchman. His seemingly unending tear dates back over a year now, as he absolutely ran away with it at Phoenix, just like 2016’s procession around the IMS infield.

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Photo from indycar.com

Feelin’ guilty, feelin’ scared.

Hidden cameras everywhere!

It’s no wonder why the other teams are fearful of the Cap’n’s outfit. Continue reading

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Phoenix Race Review: Single Handed

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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.

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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.

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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

Phoenix Predictions and Prognostications: Sponsors Needed

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Several high profile drivers and teams remain without solid sponsorship for the season’s first oval race – a big deal around here – including the previous winner. As true IndyCar racing arrives with Saturday night’s fiesta of fast in Phoenix, it’s the lack of big, big money that rightfully has some fans concerned.

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Image from digital journal.com

Empty sidepods are less than desirable, especially when they adorn a super team that sometimes tends not to finish races and another that barely cracks the top ten (except for Dixon). Scott enjoyed the thirty ninth win of his storied career last year in the desert, yet three races in still hasn’t found a permanent replacement for the dearly departed Target. How 100th Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi’s car remains a blank slate is equally incomprehensible. In the spirit of ovular optimism, our special prediction is that this dearth of signage on quality competitors won’t last long.

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Photo from motorsport.com

Speaking of money, Helio Castro-Neves Continue reading

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

Ed Carpenter Needs To Finish A Race

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Photo from sports.usatoday.com

IndyCar’s only owner/driver, Hulman-George family member Ed Carpenter needs to finish a race – much less win one – along with accomplishing a number of other important items.

As fans of Ed – he’s an underdog, American, and actually defends IndyCar instead of rudely ripping or apologizing for the racing – it pains us to write this. However, IndyCar fans do just love to bitch. One for one so far this year with his crash at Phoenix – after a whopping four DNFs in only six oval starts in 2015 – Eddie needs to refocus on his driving before climbing back into the car. As you may have guessed, he managed precisely no top fives on the season either, coming off an impressive three in 2014. Also troubling, Carpenter’s crashed out of the last two Indy 500s.

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Photo from foxsports.com

Obviously he’s the outfit’s owner, but come on. He hasn’t won a race since Texas in 2014, which was only the third victory of his career. That’s in a hundred and sixty career starts, spread out over fourteen seasons. Put another way, if he keeps it up Ed’s record will approach Marco bad.  And that’d be a shame.

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Photo from fontanaheraldnews.com

Carpenter committed a cardinal sin Continue reading

Phoenix Race Review: IndyCar Drivers Just Love To Apologize

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The pilots really shouldn’t be so hard on themselves after races. Phoenix wasn’t that bad, although the series’ handling of it was.

From Fontana last year to Phoenix last night, IndyCar drivers have apologized enough. It isn’t their fault. The fact that they feel the need to constantly make amends is quite telling, though. It’s high time to take a good, hard look at those running the series, as we’ve advocated for some time now.

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Photo from sports.usatoday.com

In a near weekly ritual, PIR was billed as “the most physically demanding” track on the schedule. A mildly entertaining race had Scott Dixon cruising to a whopping thirty ninth career win, fourth on the all time list. Like others, our expectations for IndyCar oval track racing are sky high; unfortunately, the return to Phoenix didn’t exactly soar. Dixie took the checkers ahead of Pags and Power under caution. He then promptly began to apologize for it.

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Photo from sports.usatoday.com

In his article, cringe worthy Curt Cavin resorted to hyperbole Continue reading

IndyCar Fans Just Love To Bitch

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Photo from racer.com

The wine and cheese crowd of open wheel auto racing – like most Americans – finds much to complain about these days. Rightfully so.

As regular fans who love the sport, yet at the same time wish to see it bettered, we at IRR freely admit loving to bitch at, to and about all things IndyCar. Doesn’t everyone? IndyCar fans’ bitching easily puts that of NASCAR fans to shame. It’s another tremendous tradition that all followers of artistry on wheels share, no matter the era – or the issue – in question. For devotees of speed, it’s practically a point of pride. In fact, the IndyCar series may well enjoy (or is it endure?) the bitchiest fan base in all of sports, certainly per capita. Considering Philadelphia Eagles rooters are on that list, it’s quite an impressive feat.

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Photo from lehighvalleylive.com

Whether it’s their 500 tickets not arriving in the mail when they feel they should (or worse – the horror! – they arrive after a fellow Twitter user got theirs), the series’ so called schedule, its poor promotion, inept leadership, woeful owners, crappy streaming, questionable ride buying talent, lack of ovals, ad hoc rule enforcement, lousy coverage, or any number of other things, fans of fast love letting their disapproval be known. Why shouldn’t they? After all, they’re the ones paying for it.

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Photo from ethicsalarms.com

Over the last twenty months, IRR alone has published countless articles critical of the sport we adore – and with good reason. Alas, for lovers of Indy there’s plenty to bitch about. Continue reading

Phoenix IndyCar Preview: Reclaiming The Desert

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Photo from foxsports.com

As IndyCar returns to Phoenix for the first time in over a decade, fast paced surprises await race fans in the springtime desert.

Phoenix International Raceway’s been the sole haunt of those nattering NASCAR nabobs since the speedy set split after last racing there in 2005. IndyCar’s kiss off saw Sam Hornish, Jr. win for the second time at Phoenix, beating Tony Kanaan who’d won the previous two. Helio‘s also won at PIR for the Cap’n – once – in 2002. In all of IndyCar, TK and Helio are the only two still in the field old enough to ever have run in the desert. Question is, can these two codgers reclaim their former glory?

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The first IndyCar race occurred at the brand spankin’ new PIR way back in 1964. Not surprisingly, it was won by the bigger than life A.J. Foyt in a Watson/Offy. Phoenix was favorable for the never dry Foyt, as he went on to win three more times during his long career. He’s joined by other multiple winners and legends of the sport including Lloyd Ruby, Mario Andretti, Al Unser and perhaps the best named racer of all time, Gordon Johncock. Here’s to reclaiming IndyCar history in Arizona.

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Photo from autoracingmemories.com

PIR is an oval – albeit a dog legged, relatively flat one – so we’re loyally, though levelly enthusiastic. At least Miles and company haven’t eliminated all of ’em yet. Continue reading

IndyCar News Week in Review: Finally Edition

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Image from racer.com

With the season still a month away, some tidbits – testing, staffing and the like – against a background of finality.

IndyCar Rising From The Ashes in Phoenix: The exhilarating sound of IndyCar engines roaring to life finally returned to PIR this week with pre season testing by ECR‘s Ed Carpenter and Josef Newgarden. Penske’s four ponies also ran. Afterward, Will “Sour Gapes” Power mumbled something about “history,” as if. No fan of oval tracks, the “wot are we doing?” wanker who hates Fontana has never even raced in the desert. He certainly doesn’t know anything about history. When’s The Cap’n finally gonna get rid of this malcontented marsupial once and for all?

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Photo from usatoday.com

Miles of Madness: Unsettlingly, we noticed that on the schedule, publicity pieces and raceway website it’s being referred to as the “Phoenix Grand Prix.” This is odd for an oval race and certainly could be confusing for fans. Hopefully Mark “Meandering” Miles isn’t trying to turn the race into another regrettable road course event. IRR wants to know, when is Miles’ final performance review and where can we comment?

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Foyt Choo-Choo Chooses New Engineers: Among a plethora of engineering changes at AJ Foyt Racing, Dan Hobbs has arrived from Schmidt Peterson Motorsports to work with regressing Englishman Jack Hawksworth. Apparently Mr. Hobbs has been too busy to update LinkedIn to reflect his recent career changes. Continue reading

Our Ideal IndyCar Schedule

2016 Ideal Schedule

There’s still no IndyCar schedule for 2016, but when it is finally announced (assuming it is) rest assured we’ll have a rip-snortin’ reaction. A big league series should strive for consistency in scheduling with annual racing dates and locales – none of this fly by night, here one year and gone the next BS. The lineup should also contain twenty-plus races and obviously be announced before late October.

Barring that, IRR offers up our ideal slate of races with the added bonus of a brief description of each. Readers will notice a heavy dose of good ol’ fashioned oval tracks and a corresponding dearth of road courses, as it should be. Of course this would require some balls from IndyCar “leadership” and above all else the firing of series boss/mouthpiece Mark Miles. Ah, if only it were so.

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Fontana: The track offers breath-taking open wheel racing and is a must for the schedule. Why not open the season with a thrilling five hundred miler before it gets too hot for those trendy, fair weather fans in California? The Dude abides.

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Image from thefix.com

Long Beach: It’s a street circuit with some tradition, so unlike many others it survived the cut. The Beach is vastly superior to Sonoma, which doesn’t make our list. Sorry winos, but we prefer beer – and good racing.

Phoenix: Obviously PIR Continue reading