Long Beach Race Review: Nose-cam Slam Edition

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Photo from twitter.com

On an AA kinda day Californian Alexander Rossi won in utterly jack booted fashion, but the advent, added entertainment value and absurd level of abuse meted out to NBCSN’s nose-cam stole the show at Long Beach.

An above average four caution flags fell at just the right times helping out the racing immensely. Without them, Rossi might’ve lapped the entire field. Twice. One of the pole sitter’s biggest competitors was knocked out prior to the first turn, sadly along with a cherished nose-cam. Thank God they had plenty of the tiny cameras in reserve to significantly enhance the coverage.

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Photo from indycar.com

Ragin’ Graham Rahal ran into Simon Pagenaud from behind on the first lap, sending him spinning into the wall and ending his day. Ryan Hunter-Reay also got caught up in the fracas banging into Dixon, suffering some front wing damage and more importantly destroying the first nose-cam of the day, though happily not before it provided excellent views of the action. Rahal was rightly slapped by race control with a drive through penalty, later apologizing to Pags after battling all the way back to finish fifth.

The restart on lap five set a pattern of Rossi opening up a lead and pulling away. Continue reading

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Phoenix Predictions and Prognostications: Critical Edition

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Following a decade long absence and two run of the mill races since its return, IndyCar’s upcoming foray to Phoenix could make or break the series there.

Fully swathed in the spirit of dazzling open wheel oval track racing – and knowing the series’ crucial need of more of it – here’s our interpretive soothsaying for the season’s first egg shaped track.

Critical – from the Latin criticus, referring to a disease related crisis.

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Our special prediction is when the Saturday night race finally does arrive, no matter how it goes, the racing will be criticized. If it isn’t the drivers apologizing all over themselves again, it’ll be the so-called writers. If not them, then the segment of fans who somehow find fault in Continue reading

101st Indy 500 Preview: Second Thoughts Edition

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As race day approaches a number of issues become secondary, while others rise to primary importance.

The two days of qualifying were, as f-ing F1’s Alonso says, intense. Sebastien Bourdais was putting up the month’s fastest laps on Saturday when he crashed horribly in turn 2, ending his day and season with a broken pelvis and hip. Post surgery, Dale Coyne‘s pilot Tweeted thanks for the support and that he’ll “be back at some point.” Meantime, James Davison will drive the 18 car in the 500 and start last.

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Photo from twitter.com

Sunday’s round was less eventful as everyone managed to avoid Bourdais’ fate, if not the turn 2 wall entirely. Pushing their cars to the limit, several drivers slapped the safer barrier on the backstretch, including Takuma Sato and Charlie Kimball.

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Photo from sports.usatoday.com

It was Scott Dixon‘s day, as his four lap average of 232.1 mph was the fastest qualifying speed since 1996 – when Arie Luyendyk set the record – and good enough for pole. 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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Photo from ap.org

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

Fast Friday Fun

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Photo from Chad Smith on twitter.com

The day was incident free (though barely) and with additional boost added to the engines the speeds increased, as some topped 231 mph. Over half the field bested 230. Fast Friday was interrupted by rain and for the second time this week track time was lost due to precipitation. But the skies cleared in time for happy hour, which is always fun.

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Team Penske’s resident lunatic Will Power jumped out to an early lead with a top speed of 231.47, while quirky Californian Townsend Bell had the best speed by himself at 231.06 in the early going. The top drivers didn’t change by the end, funnily enough.

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Photo from Chad Smith on twitter.com

Power put up the day’s – and week’s – fastest lap of 232.6 with a tow during happy hour and Josef Newgarden soon jumped to second quick. SPM’s James Hinchcliffe Continue reading

GPLB Qualifications Instant Reaction: Carpet Pissers Did This

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As Marty Snider summed it up, “What a bizarre qualifying session!” And as SoCal’s own “The Dude” once appropriately alleged, “carpet pissers did this.”

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Photo from thefix.com

Other than a timing and scoring blackout, Frenchman Bourdais slyly staying out after seeing the checkered, the timing line inexplicably being moved mid session and an additional lap being added at the end, yesterday’s qualifications at the Grand Prix of Long Beach went off without a hitch. At least all the crashes occurred in practice again.

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NBCSN’s crew was as in the dark as were the viewers – and teams – for much of the broadcast. A few things were clear, however. Continue reading

Pocono Qualifications: Instant Reaction

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Helio Castro Neves wrested the forty fifth pole of his decades long IndyCar career away from his team mate Simon Pagenaud Saturday at Pocono Raceway. He did so at over 220 miles per hour and then proceeded to hoot and giggle girlishly in the post qualifications interview. Team Penske swept the top three spots with “Mad” Will Power on the inside of row two in tomorrow’s five hundred mile race, while CFH Racing’s Josef Newgarden and championship contender Graham Rahal –  the quickest Honda – round out the top five.

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Fourth Penske entry and points leader Juan Pablo Montoya encountered a problem on his first lap, drifted up the track and lifted off the throttle. He qualified poorly as a result, starting nineteenth. When asked about his bobble in an interview Montoya replied, “It’s racing.” A big thanks to Paul Tracy, who guaranteed Montoya would be a contender tomorrow thereby jinxing him utterly. This along with Juan’s screw up in quals makes our prediction look better and better. Curiously, JPM declined interviews all day before qualifications, though not with IRR. We didn’t request one.

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Charlie Kimball who’d been quickest in practice spun and crashed during his qualifying run  Continue reading

Toronto Qualifications Instant Reaction: Told You So Edition

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Precisely as predicted, Team Penske’s Will Power won his forty first IndyCar pole in the closing minutes of the fast six round of qualifications Saturday. He did so in dramatic fashion, edging his team mates Simon Pagenaud and Juan Montoya and doing it all with a broken thumb sustained at the dual in Detroit. That’s the Mad Will Power we know – quick in quals but often more reticent in the race.

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When people say they “hate to say it, but we told you so,” of course in reality they don’t dislike saying it at all. The reason is because you were wrong, your annoying friends were right and in some significant way that’s human nature in a nutshell. Why do we write all this? Only to say we at IRR told you so, again.

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As for our other predictions, Sebastien Bourdais qualified well in fifth positioning his KV car for another win in Toronto. Continue reading

Indy 500 Preview: Aero Fits

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Thoroughly entertaining, last year’s Indianapolis 500 ran caution-free for the first three quarters of the race and featured an absolutely thrilling finish. American Ryan Hunter-Reay amazingly edged out Brazilian three-time winner Helio Castro Neves by less than a car length after passing him through the infield grass for the lead. The race was run with spec Dallara chassis, evolutionary cousin to the DW12. Before turning to this year’s 500, we have a serious question to ask. Now that the crown jewel of the sport the Indianapolis 500 has been adversely affected by aero kit madness, why not admit your mistake and go back to the pre aero kit Dallaras of last year, IndyCar?

The car driven by Josef Newgarden slides down the track after hitting the wall in the first turn and going airborne during practice for the Indianapolis 500 auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Thursday, May 14, 2015. (AP Photo/Joe Watts) ORG XMIT: NAA120

Photo from sports.usatoday.com

Practice for this year’s 500 turned out to be a disaster, especially for a number of Chevys which couldn’t manage to keep tires on the track instead getting airborne. The number of Chevys is three, in case you’re wondering. As a result the cars were slowed significantly, everyone was made safe and qualifications went off with a whimper, though there’s no denying the 500 was compromised by the last minute rules changes. Then Monday practice happened and things suddenly took a turn toward the injurious. James Hinchcliffe’s Honda hit the wall in a hard impact, breaking the Canuck Mayor’s leg and eliminating him from the field (and rest of the season) in the painful process. One driver down in the aero kit era at Indy, thirty two to go.

James Hinchcliffe, of Canada, hits the wall in the third turn during practice for the Indianapolis 500 auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Monday, May 18, 2015.  (Jimmy Dawson/The Indianapolis Star via AP) ORG XMIT: ININS101

Photo from sports.usatoday.com

Interestingly there are only two rookies in the field this year – Gabby “Pat” Chavez and Stefano “faster than Andretti” Coletti. Both start at the rear of the field. There are plenty of former 500 winners in the field of thirty three, however. Here’s the rundown of the participating victors: Continue reading

Carpenter Crashes, 3-peat Pole Possibility Past

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Owner/driver Ed Carpenter crashed in morning practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway at shortly after 8 a.m. local time. The CFH Racing partner lost his #20 Fuzzy’s car in turn 2, spun into the wall and the flipped upside down before coming to rest. Fortunately Carpenter, who’d won the last two poles at Indianapolis and was seeking a record third straight, escaped the accident fully intact though obviously upset. He mentioned the unpredictability of the cars and being “pissed.” It’s the third time a Chevy has been airborne or upside down this month at Indianapolis, as Helio and Josef Newgarden already took wild rides last week. It’s a concern for the race, for certain.

The car driven by Helio Castroneves, of Brazil, is airborne after hitting the wall in the first turn during practice for the Indianapolis 500 auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Wednesday, May 13, 2015.  (AP Photo/Joe Watts) ORG XMIT: NAA107

Photo from ap.org

Carpenter’s qualifying for the Indy 500 is now in some doubt, as due to rain yesterday the entire schedule has been compressed into today’s sessions. It’s a real shame for the American oval ace who was a favorite to win the race. His hopes of a record third consecutive pole now gone, Carpenter must focus on the race itself which remember was won last year by the 19th place starter Ryan Hunter-Reay.