Toronto Race Review: Penske’s Pulled A Fast One

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Photo from twitter.com

The Penske’s pulled a fast one on the paying public Sunday.

With leader Frenchman Simon Pagenaud running low on fuel and fellow Penske pilot Josef Newgarden – the championship points leader – nursing home a damaged car in fourth after hitting the same stretch of wall for a second consecutive year, an uninteresting sleeping pill of a race looked like it might finally become eventful on the last lap. When suddenly third Penske teammate Will Power uncharacteristically – and all by himself – ran straight into a tire barrier, ending the race under caution and guaranteeing both a win for Pags and a continued grip on the points lead for Newkid. Coincidence? We think not. We believe the Penske’s pulled a fast one.

What sometimes saves the racing in Toronto – and in deed, its only redeeming quality – are multiple caution flags. Sunday’s affair had two and therefore technically qualified, but they were too few and far between to liven up the show. NBCSN’s pre-race coverage included the gobsmackingly dreadful condition of the supposed track in Toronto and, on a happier note, Robert Wickens’ return to IndyCar driving the specially configured pace car in his home country less than a year after his tragic accident at Pocono. During his pacing duties, which necessarily carried them close to the walls, his fiancee rode anxiously along screetching at one point, “Don’t be stupid!”

The green flag flew and fans were at least treated to a clean first turn as pole sitter Simon Pagenaud led Scott Dixon and Alexander Rossi. But problems quickly began with hometown boy James Hinchcliffe bumping into Marco and getting by him. Continue reading

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Toronto Predictions & Prognostications: Penske’s Province

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Stop us if you’ve heard this one before, but Team Penske’s won two of the last three races held in Ontario – and their current drivers have won three of the last four. Fact is, thanks to IndyCar’s current road course heavy, ridiculously redundant schedule, these totally one-sided results are fast becoming a joke.

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Photo from usatoday.com

Our special prediction for Sunday is a dash more excitement than the ramshackle racing the streets of Toronto usually provides. Why, you ask? Because Continue reading

Toronto Preview: Canadian Goose Chase

Canadian Goose Chase IRR

It almost certainly won’t be a Canuck goosing the gas toward victory lane come Sunday, so who might it be? Let’s take a gander.

Of five street course races so far this year – as opposed to equally unwatchable, though slightly different natural terrain road courses – Josef Newgarden’s won two while Scott Dixon, Alexander Rossi and Simon Pagenaud have a win apiece. The cobbled together, part concrete, part asphalt and all bad track in Toronto most closely resembles dilapidated Detroit, which would seem to favor both Dixie and Newkid. Occasionally some exciting racing breaks out north of the border though, or what passes for it on a street course, which also sometimes happens in St. Pete where Josef won to kick off the fledgling season.

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Photo from toronotograndprixtourist.com

Like Belle Isle, the race track itself is too narrow, winding and rough for much side by side racing, let alone passing. We unaffectionately refer to it as the Canuck concrete car crusher. Continue reading

Road America Race Review: Caution Needed Edition

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In the most lop-sided IndyCar contest in a decade, Alexander Rossi won going away for Andretti Autosport in a typical Road America laugher. In the annals of racing, perhaps never was a caution, a rain storm, or a Sato desperation banzai move more needed to liven up the show.

Sunday’s pre-race coverage was lengthy, featuring Rossi, Jean Girard lookalike Indy 500 winner Simon Pagenaud and the legendary Scott Dixon, whose dreadful luck of late was chronicled – and would continue. The start of the race saw polesitter Colton Herta lead Rossi toward turn 1, although it wouldn’t last. Rossi skillfully passed him on the outside of the corner for P1 and never looked back. Whinin’ Will Power immediately was all over the 19 year old rookie for second, a spot he’d eventually take. Herta would finish eighth.

Then Dixon spun ’round after going wide into a turn and being rudely hit from behind by Ryan Hunter-Reay (with the hyphen here to stay), dropping to last. In typical Gumpian fashion, he’d fight his way all the way back to fifth by the checkered flag. Continue reading

Road America Preview: Herta, Or It Hurts Ya

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IndyCar could use another victory this weekend from its bad ass, drum bangin’, swashbuckling rookie phenom – in the worst way.

It wasn’t Alonso’s DNQ in May, or some Swede pedaling for Ganassi. It certainly wasn’t a Frenchman giving himself a milk facial at the 500, either. No, the biggest story of the year is one absolutely nobody saw coming. Thus far (and by far) the sensation has been Colton “Joaquin” Herta, especially since his breakthrough win at COTA. Becoming the youngest winner in the history of the sport, his impressive drive back in March pumped some badly needed energy into a lackluster series struggling through an unimaginitve – and notably winding – early season schedule.

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Now foolishly following up the titillating Texas thriller with yet another hum-drum, just like all the others road course race this weekend, IndyCar enters its equally unimaginative mid season portion of the schedule. Therefore, it badly needs another shot of Herta hysteria. Continue reading

Texas Predictions and Prognostications: Greener Pastures

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It’s one of our favorite nights of the year – IndyCar Saturday in Texas! The green flag waving over cars with the sun beginning to set over this spectacular race is highly anticipated annual awesomeness. Here’s how we see the festivities unfolding at Texas Motor Speedway – just north of Fort Worth, amidst a vast, rolling sea of grass and scrub brush.

Our special prediction for the race is exquisite, unequaled oval track racing at breathtaking speeds. This is one weekend where the drivers definitely earn their money – or in Max “risk assessment” Chilton’s case, earn a replacement. IndyCar drivers are supposed to perform death defying tasks, at least once in a while. It’s part of what they signed up for. Hell, there’s what, a whopping four oval races outside Indy? Including Texas? We wish the schedule makers at IndyCar would seriously consider green lighting more of the sport’s highest form that is racing on ovals.

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Pole sitter is likely to be Continue reading

Texas Preview: Memory Lane

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How-dy! We’re rip snortin’, bull stompin’ excited to get back to good ol’ fashioned oval track racing Saturday night in Texas. Texas Motor Speedway is undoubtedly one of the absolute best circuits the series visits and incredibly, it’ll host merely the second oval IndyCar race in the last ten months. That’s what we call a serious scheduling screw up.

Saturday night’s race will be IndyCar’s thirty first race held on the giant oval, scene of some of the more memorable races in recent history. Since it opened in 1996, TMS has seen some of the closest finishes, most action packed, side by side racing and entertaining events in all motorsports. We at IRR have been blessed to witness several of them in person. Ahhh, the memories. Ol’ AJ bitch slapping Arie Luyendyk in victory lane, Tomas Scheckter winning for Panther and the late Justin Wilson crossing the finish line first for Dale Coyne all leap to mind. Not to mention some horrifying crashes, such as Davey Hamilton’s and Kenny Brack’s (below), both of which unfortunately shortened their careers.

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Photo from motorsportretro.com

Colton “Joaquin” Herta Continue reading

Detroit 2 Race Review: Rear Ended Edition

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If an IndyCar driver wasn’t involved in a rear end collision Sunday at Detroit, he probably won.

NBC’s rather amateurish broadcast was delayed this time by tennis from France, which after the Indy 500 was appropriate enough. While the weather proved much better than Saturday, the perfunctory Pagenaud platitudes didn’t. Qualifying was also missed due to a water delay – not from rain, but from a tire barrier – even though the recording was set for an extra half hour in case of such eventualities. Nevertheless we did get to hear “O’Canada” sung out loud as well as STP’s new front man do the US national anthem, which was superlative. Scott Dixon said he felt “very, very, very lucky” to be recognized by the Queen with an Order of Merit listing for his racing skills. Certainly no rear ending there.

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Josef Newgarden and Alex Rossi made up the first row, and Colton “Joaquin” Herta and Zach “Son of Dracula” Veach the second with Conor Daly driving . . . the two seater. Continue reading

Detroit 1 Race Review: Rain Delay Edition

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Following a lengthy rain delay, Rossi’s typical smugness and a whole lotta Frenchman in the pre-race, festivities finally got underway over an hour and twenty minutes late. It’s what NBC’s Daffy Leigh Diffey called “a slight delay.” For sitting through the wait, fans were treated to a single file start and a timed race. Really?! Either the track’s good to go racing or it isn’t. We’ve long been on record arguing the latter.

Zach “son of Dracula” Veach spun during the parade laps, soon followed by Canuck James Hinchcliffe, both suffering no apparent damage and thankfully only added a lap’s delay. Now with merely seventy two minutes left, Santino Ferrucci narrowly avoided AJ Foyt’s Matt Leist who spun out on a wet patch of concrete. Then Whinin’ Will Power pinched one of the way too many blue cars as they went three wide through the turn. The yellow flag flew by lap 2, with Takuma Sato getting into Pato O’Ward on a track clearly too wet to start a race.

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The caution dragged on and the track continued to dry when, with just over an hour of racing left, Power Continue reading

Detroit GP Predictions and Prognostications: Mixed Bag Edition

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Resembling a hot rod hodgepodge the last half decade, racing on the roads of Belle Isle varies widely when it comes to viewing quality. Fortunately though, something of interest almost always occurs during the medley that is IndyCar’s only annual doubleheader. So you’re getting two times the racing – and predictions! – for the price of one.

Our special prediction for the Detroit Grand Prix is that it’ll be a mixed bag, a melange if you will, with an entertaining race (for a street course) one day and an absolute laugher the next. This race has seen squirrels and other rodents feature prominently, the pace car crash and the track surface literally crumble and fall apart – and that’s only lately. Oh, and let’s not forget that the home team Penske stumbles and falls in Detroit fairly regularly. This last one’s enough in the mixture to keep us coming back for more.

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Photo from dailytelegraph.com.au

Pole sitters for this weekend’s extravaganza of speed will be an interesting combination. Continue reading