Texas IndyCar Race Review: Attrition Edition

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Photo from indycar.com

The racing was breathtaking Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway – as usual – when they weren’t screwing it up. Cautions breed cautions the saying goes, but apparently the same isn’t true for red flags. Instead, the thrilling race petered out under yellow with Will Power anticlimactically taking his second win at Texas.

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Photo from indycar.com

There were accidents galore, with a dozen cars retiring due to contact. By contrast, the race saw only one mechanical when pole sitter Charlie Kimball’s Honda expired. Nine cautions flew for 66 laps including the red flag stoppage. There were no fewer than seven crashes including James Hinchcliffe’s pit lane fiasco as well as six on track incidents. The race had it all. Ed Carpenter even did a 360 on a lap 102 restart, spinning on the front straight before amazingly saving his car and avoiding everyone else.

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Image from twitter.com

Alexander Rossi was first out, the victim of a Ganassi sandwich as he got bounced like a basketball between the blue cars and into the wall. It wouldn’t be the last time Tony Kanaan was involved in an on track fracas. Continue reading

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

Barber Race Review: Friends Edition

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So much for a friends reunion at IndyCar’s annual parade ’round a motorcycle track in Alabama. None were made and, what’s worse, auld acquaintances fractured under the pressure Sunday afternoon.

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Photo from indycar.com

The Cap’n’s Frenchman Simon Pagenaud – who has few friends – dominated the road course race winning from pole. It’s his second straight triumph and sixth overall, a trend that won’t win him many new friends in the IndyCar paddock. The fuel saving and “coasting” exhibited yet again during the affair won’t win the series many new fans, either.

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Photo from indycar.com

It was a fugly start, with AA‘s Carlos “unfriendly” Munoz smashing into Mad Russian Mikhail Aleshin. Continue reading

Rejigger Race Control, IndyCar

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The series’ ever rotating fortune wheel of race stewards desperately needs spun again following Sunday’s debacle. For IndyCar, race control’s rapidly becoming an oxymoron. Apparently it resides in Pope Penske’s plush pocket.

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The very definition of a steward is someone “appointed to supervise the arrangements or keep order at a race . . . ,” emphasis added.

IRR’s been hot on the steward story since February when this shadowy new lineup was announced. Rest assured, IRR’s harbored a healthy skepticism toward the latest reconfiguration of race control – like all things IndyCar – from the start. The series constantly jiggers with the stewards, and Jon “not for long” Beekhuis is but one example in a paddock full of former controllers.

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Photo from indycar.com

Reporting on race control’s latest iteration since February – and before – we boldly went where no other IndyCar outlet dared. IRR published photographic evidence of a clear cut case of cronyism during pre-season testing. Remember, this fraternizing photo was published months ago, long before the latest steward story broke.  Continue reading

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

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

St. Pete Race Review: Pete & Repeat, Sitting On A Podium

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Series devotees who secretly suspect Penske will win every single Sunday – but yet repetitively hope it isn’t the case – have seen this race before.

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Photo from sports.usatoday.com

Riveting racing made a brief appearance in the 2016 IndyCar series season opener, but vanished more surely than Dale Coyne fans’ momentary folly that the team has the remotest chance of winning a race. The combination of the cavernous street circuit, the still overly weak aero kits and highly aggressive and inexperienced jockeys made for a predictable race – and one reminiscent of other sucky street course events. Leaving us at one point wishing for rain – anything! – to liven up the show, it just seems all those beautiful horses are wasted running in a bumpy alley – not to mention the duplicate body work bills.

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Photo from indycar.com

Juan “schoolgirl giddy” Montoya forced his way around Coyne’s young Hoosier Conor Daly – the favorite of underdog lovers everywhere – just past mid race to repeat in St. Pete. It was the Cap’n’s zillionth IndyCar victory and started his fiftieth anniversary year off right. Continue reading

IndyCar News Week In Review: Carousel Edition

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Photo from indycar.com

As the season draws near, IndyCar’s merry go ’round of race stewards spins on amidst furious circular testing in the desert.

 

Ford Joins The Fast Cars: We wish, although former Ford racing honcho Dan Davis actually is joining Indy 500 winner and AJ assault victim Arie Luyendyk as well as self described “NASCAR driver” Max Papis in the new IndyCar steward triumvirate. These three could well make for yet another hilariously awful season of officiating. Shouldn’t be long before the steward wheel spins’round  again – hell, they could even bring Beekhuis back.

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Photo from twitter.com

PrixView Poop, Part 1: Papis was recently seen huddling with Team Penske at Phoenix, as it looks like the Cap’n‘s already getting the newly reconfigured race control firmly his corner. Continue reading