Ways to Enliven IndyCar Road Racing, Or: Obdurate Ovalista Offerings

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Whether it’s some fresh ideas, new rules or simply enforcing existing ones, IndyCar road racing really needs a revival. Since an all oval schedule is unlikely to return anytime soon, here are a few suggestions to liven up the road shows.

As fans of IndyCar it’s no secret we at IRR prefer oval track racing to squiggly courses because speed, passing and excitement are kinda our thing. Having already offered our “Ways To Save Oval Racing,” it’s now time to address the ten times as many curves as straightaways tracks.

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The first thing the series could do to improve squirmies is simply enforce the rules. When called at all, penalties are often wildly inconsistent – just see Emma Dixon‘s Twitter feed – with certain teams and drivers (think Penske and Ganassi) seemingly exempt. Last year’s Long Beach non-call on Simon Pagenaud is a perfect example of this. It’s grossly unfair and invites NASCAR type lawlessness.

Race control’s laxness calling penalties leads to drivers getting Kimballed, or what’s worse, Satoed. Recently on the Texas oval nine drivers were Kanaaned, which is in case you’re wondering much worse than a caning – just ask Hinch. Continue reading

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Mid-Ohio Predictions and Prognostications: ‘In Dreams’ Edition

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Regrettably it’s not just a bad dream, as IndyCar is actually visiting Mid-Ohio again this weekend. This despite our admonishments and advice to the contrary.

If you read our preview, then you already know our take on the so-called racing at Mid-Ohio. If you didn’t, then think less than glowing. So less than glowing, in fact, it’s about as watchable as the Brickyard 400, or even this week’s convention. It’s just that sleep inducing. Feel free to stay up late Saturday night, ’cause Sunday afternoon will be a perfect opportunity for napping.

Dennis Hopper’s classic character Frank in “Blue Velvet” fairly summed up our thoughts on both the track and the key to salvaging your Sunday. “F@%* THAT S&!T! Pabst Blue Ribbon, man!”

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This week’s special prediction concerns everyone’s favorite Hoosier hot foot, Conor Daly. It’s his first time in the big car at Middling Ohio and Conor doesn’t deal well with new. Continue reading

Josef Newgarden Won’t Be Racing Anytime Soon

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The rising American IndyCar star who suffered multiple broken bones in a recent frightening accident at Texas hasn’t somehow discovered a magic healing elixir. It’s flatly irresponsible to suggest he’ll be racing this weekend, or for that matter anytime soon. Sorry to be a buzzkill, but reality is reality.

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Broken clavicles and hands – both of which are fairly important when wheeling around chariots of speed without benefit of power steering – obviously take time to heal. More time than a week and a half. The mere suggestion by some in the press and, what’s worse, from his team owner Ed Carpenter that he could race this weekend at Road America is lunatic fringe stuff.

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The fact that his name appears on the Kohler Grand Prix entrant list is just absurd – something we know all about. But it’s worse than that. It’s also deceptive.  Continue reading

GPLB Predictions and Prognostications: The Bright Side of Long Beach

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To paraphrase Monty Python’s Eric Idle, the Grand Prix of Long Beach often tends to be “a piece of sh*t, when you look at it. The racing’s a laugh and passing’s a joke – it’s true.”

 

First up, we predict lots of celebrities, beautiful people and an out of this world atmosphere this weekend at Long Beach. Everything and more will be on display, except for entertaining IndyCar racing. At Long Beach and certain other left-right-left courses, it’s predictably poor racing. On the bright side, with a schedule chock full of lengthy layoffs almost any race is better than no race at all – unless it’s maudlin Mid-Ohio, that is.

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“When you’re chewing on life’s gristle, don’t grumble – give a whistle. And this’ll help things turn out for the best.”

Expect to see plenty of carbon fiber debris to be generated on the narrow, concrete walled circuit and concomitant lengthy caution periods. There’s also a high likelihood of another infamous hairpin pileup-cum-parking lot this year, especially with so many rookies, f-ing F1 invaders and Marco in the field. On the bright side, Continue reading

Ed Carpenter Needs To Finish A Race

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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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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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Carpenter committed a cardinal sin Continue reading

IndyCar Fans Just Love To Bitch

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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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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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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

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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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

Toronto Race Review: Take That NASCAR

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While NASCAR was rain delayed several hours at MIS – a track they stole from IndyCar, thank you Roger Penske – another classic IndyCar street fight broke out in what two time race winner and authentic Canuck Paul Tracy called “one of the best races I’ve ever seen at Toronto.” American Josef Newgarden won his second race of the season and his career as team owner Sarah Fisher – who happens to be female – shed tears of joy after the newly merged team went 1-2 with Italian Lucca Filippi. After disappointing in qualifying, Newgarden won from an 11th place starting position taking his second win in the last seven races.

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Despite absolutely awful renditions of both national anthems by Canadian rock group The Trews – which saw drivers and WAGS trying not to laugh on camera – IndyCar put on a helluva race in Toronto. With collisions galore in the wet and then dry conditions there was hard racing, action and passing all afternoon and merely two yellows – half the recent race average and fewer than expected on the wet streets of Exhibition Place. All the gnashing of teeth about another timed race, NBCSN not showing the number of laps, and so forth was all for naught as the race went the full eighty five laps in the end.

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Team mates got thickly into the fight, with Filippi and Newgarden, Power and Pags, and Gonzalez and seemingly everyone else fighting it out on track. The banging began immediately when Stefano “double secret probation” Coletti hit Frenchman Tristan Vautier on the opening lap, spinning them both. Flaunting his probationary status, the Monacan tangled with others during the course of the event too, later making contact with Charlie Kimball. Fortunately none of those incidents drew a yellow, though further penalties will be forthcoming.

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Surprisingly there were only two cautions the entire race, 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

Toronto Predictions & Prognostications: Double Secret Probation Edition

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First let’s predict who won’t win – it’s not going to be a Honda team, Dale Coyne freshman “un-Speedy” Gonzalez, Sebastien Saavedra or a certain reckless rookie from Monaco. Stefano “faster than Andretti” Coletti now finds himself on IndyCar’s version of double secret probation after speeding and ignoring lanes in the pits at Texas. Already on probation having racked up numerous crashes – sometimes multiple accidents in one weekend – and a penumbra of penalties and fines to boot, for KV’s Coletti it was the Dean Wormer speech. “One more slip up, one more mistake and you’re finished at Farber!” When IndyCar has taken to showing a close up of your car and number above the penalties announcement, you know you’re on thin ice.

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Our specialty prediction for the concrete car crusher known as Toronto is widespread confusion and disappointment amongst the gathered throngs of Molson-fogged Canucks in attendance. When they finally figure out that there’s only one race this year, the only Canadian in the series is sidelined due to injury AND they’ve only two Brits in the entire field to root for, the War of 1812 may break out again on the bicentennial of its conclusion. Our advice for Americans making the trek to the great white north? Prepare for a hasty though not re-enacted retreat south and be super polite to those border guards.

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Our pick for pole is Penske’s Will Power and not because we’re a fan of the champ. Continue reading