101st Indy 500 Practice Three: Scaredy Penske Edition

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Photo from twitter.com

Windy conditions kept the Cap’n’s crew – quickest the previous practice, at least in the tow – largely off of Indy’s oval Wednesday. Only Newkid made an appearance, for eleven whole laps. Luckily other teams weren’t deterred by some mere gusts – not entirely.

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Photo from twitter.com

Early on Ed Carpenter Racing held the top two spots no matter the tow, with Ed and J.R. 1-2 in their respective Chevys, tops in both categories. Recall that Ed led the way with the highest non-tow speed Tuesday, with J.R. not far behind. By the end of the session, the series’ only owner/driver again owned the quickest lap at over 222.8 mph.

Dixon was second quick for Ganassi, his Honda doing nearly 222.6 mph, while J.R. was third. Fernando Alonso  turned in the fourth best speed – more on him later – and our man Conor Daly completed the top five, Tweeting he was “really happy with the changes overnight.” Way to go, Conor!

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A few questions occurred to us after three days of practice for the greatest spectacle in racing. Continue reading

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Bryan Clauson, Racer, R.I.P.

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Racer and four time USAC Champion Bryan Clauson has died from injuries suffered at a midget race in Belleville, Kansas Saturday night. He was only twenty seven years old.

The Noblesville, Indiana resident was in pursuit of starting a record two hundred races in 2016, including the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 in which he finished twenty third for Dale Coyne Racing. The Belleville Nationals race that became his last was number one hundred and sixteen out of two hundred. Characteristically, he was leading when the accident occurred.

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Clauson was widely respected and admired Continue reading

IndyCar News Week in Review: Outrageous Hiatus Edition

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Usually reserved for the off season, an idiotic three week involuntary layoff from IndyCar action qualifies. See what we mean about this silly schedule? Purposely not on a break, here’s our latest version of IndyCar News Week in Review.

Flipping Nasty: Hoosier USAC iron man Bryan Clauson was critically injured during a midget race in Belleville, Kansas Saturday night. While leading the twenty seven year old was forced into the wall by a lapped car sending him cart-wheeling down the track. Before even coming to a stop, the three time Indy 500 starter was violently struck in the cockpit by a trailing car. It took them nearly a half hour to remove the cage and extract Clauson from the mangled wreck. He was airlifted to a Lincoln, Nebraska hospital.

Little has been reported on the extent of his injuries, though according to Robin Miller he’s in stable condition and breathing on his own. It appears an unwanted racing hiatus is in Bryan’s future and we wish him a full recovery. His Dale Coyne Racing teammate Pippa Mann, fellow Indy 500 competitor Graham Rahal and many others have expressed their thoughts and wishes. Forebodingly, Mann joined journalist Jenna Fryer in urging against speculation “until his family has something official to say.”

Ironically, Clauson’s last Tweet was sent out Saturday following a previous wreck. “Thanks to and for keeping me safe!”

Bryan’s family issued a statement on Facebook at just after 2:30 pm central time. They confirmed he remains in critical condition and asked for fans “to respect our privacy as we focus on Bryan.”

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Photo from indycar.com

Continue reading

Ways to Save Oval Racing: An Open Letter to IndyCar

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Some easily accomplished changes can save the fastest and in our opinion highest form of IndyCar competition, oval track racing. Neither difficult nor expensive to implement, these improvements should be made immediately for the sake of the sport. May God save open wheel oval racing, the closest thing to spectator heaven that exists upon this earth.

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Long time fans of IndyCar racing on ovals, we’ve consistently raised alarms at their steady erosion from the schedule. At first blush the very thought of bettering side by side racing at over 200 mph seems ludicrous, but it can be done and fairly easily so. There are a number of things IndyCar needs more of to attract fans to its oval events – and one less. Among those additions are more comfort and fun. The subtraction involves putting someone in charge who appreciates IndyCar’s heritage.

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First – and this is very important – is give fans in the stands more Continue reading

100th Indy 500 Qualifications Day One: Mayor of Indy?

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Photo from Chad Smith on twitter.com

After more a.m. rain, weepers on the track caused a delay in the first day of qualifying for the greatest spectacle in racing. IMS extended the track window by an hour setting up a helluva climax for ESPNews. Boy, was it a Duesie. The Mayor James Hinchcliffe stole the show – and the pole – in a riveting late happy hour run of 230.946 mph.

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Photo from Chad Smith on twitter.com

Prior to that, Max Chilton was involved in the first accident of the day in practice, losing the car in turn 2 and smashing Chip’s half million dollar bill board up pretty well. Calamity next struck Pippa Mann when her rear wing end fence failed during a qualifying attempt, spinning her out in turn 2. She almost saved it with an evasive maneuver before lightly brushing the wall.

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ABC’s two hour window missed almost everything except Pippa’s spin and the final few qualifiers like 500 winner Buddy Lazier. Continue reading

100th Indy 500 Predictions and Prognostications: History Yet To Be Made

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Auto racing’s most important race ever is mere days away, the 100th running of the Indy 500. A fixture at Indianapolis, one thing’s always certain: history will be made come Memorial Day Sunday.

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Our special 100th Indianapolis 500 prediction is a whole lot of yellow – the angular 100th 500 emblem, countless canary cars, hordes of yellow shirts and yes, also a goodly number of caution flags. In IndyCar, that means lots of twenty minute snack and bathroom breaks for the spectators. With six full fledged rookies, another who barely started the 500, several more Month of May one offs and Takuma Sato in the field there’s bound to be some crashing. As for nearly half the field being yellow liveried, despite the odds we’re predicting a non-yellow car to win.

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There’ll be no track record again this year, far from it. The pole speed won’t hit  Continue reading

100th Indy 500 Practice 4: Cautionary Edition

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The normally rideless Rookie of the Year Gabby “Pat” Chaves found him/herself atop the speed charts on the fourth/third day of practice. This extreme oddity – in a Dale Coyne car, to boot! – continues a Honda sweep at the top of the charts. There’s a cautionary note or two that accompany this story, though. First, the speed was tow assisted. Plus, a third Honda engine blew up in as many days of practice, never a good sign. Ryan Hunter-Reay’s AA machine belched smoke rolling to a halt on the warm up lane during the afternoon session.

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After Spencer Pigot’s wreck in his yellow car Wednesday, the series was taking no chances. Perhaps they were being overly cautious, like last year. Either that, or an inordinate amount of debris somehow found its way onto the racing surface. Seemed like an awful lot of cautions Thursday, despite the happy absence of wrecks. The speeds were slower, too. Pigot still hasn’t made it back out in his RLL backup car, which he’d described as “bare.” Probably the cautious thing to do.

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Photo from autosport.com

Add another yellow and blue car to the field, as f-ing F1 invader Alexander Rossi – who’s been quick this week for Andretti Autosport – makes the field practically half yellow this year. Ray Harroun’s probably spinning in his grave. We took it to the highest levels.  Continue reading

100th Indy 500 Preparations: 1st Practice Blues

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Photo from Honda on twitter.com

Chevy couldn’t have been happy with the first day’s results, as Honda swept the top four spots. In fact, Andretti Autosport claimed the four fastest cars, with Marco quickest at almost 229 mph. Townsend Bell – who wins ugliest car of the year award, hands down – piloted the fastest non-towed car at just over 223. Even AA’s f-ing F1 invader Alexander Rossi was quick. Scott “Gump” Dixon wound up as top Chevy in fifth at 226.8. None of which made us very happy – but it’s early.

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Photo from Chad Smith on twitter.com

All thirty three entries appeared on track Monday, the most cars on opening day in years. [In Robert Duvall’s ‘Apocalypse Now’ voice] “Smells like – the hundredth!” Had to be the most yellow cars on track in a long time too, including those of Helio, Pags, Marco, Hunter-Reay and Pigot. Oh, also the aforementioned Bell – and probably a few others, too. Often and rather oddly, the yellow liveries are combined with blue.

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Photo from Chad Smith on twitter.com

The other category of cars is red, white and blue ones. AJ was in the house, Continue reading