IndyCar Sonoma Season Finale Predictions and Prognostications: Adios, Aero Kits!

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IRR sets forth its final predictions of the 2017 season – including a surprise champion – while bidding adieu to a crime against racing aesthetics.

Our special prediction for the GoPro Grand Prix is while Sonoma may not feature much passing on its twisted, narrow confines, at least it’s the last time we’ll ever have to watch those hideously fugly, dangerous aero kits in action. Their departure alone will make this nearly unwatchable finale held in a dustbowl almost palatable, raising our spirits markedly in the process. That, and the wine.

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Photo from racesonoma.com

Incidentally, since the cars become obsolete Sunday night – it’s about time – we’d love to see a non-points demolition derby held immediately following the podium celebrations. Charlie “pinball” Kimball, J.R. “hair today, gone next year” Hildebrand and Taku Sato would battle for an Andretti Winery gift certificate and Conor Daly’s domestic duties for a day. Which leads us to . . .

Saturday’s fight for pole position will take on special significance at the infamously tedious track, with the championship contenders – Team Penske and Ganassi’s Scott Dixon – vying for the extra point and tremendous advantage starting up front at Sonoma brings. Four of the last five Grands Prix have been won by drivers starting in the top 3, including fickle Frenchman Simon Pagenaud from pole last year and Dixon’s win in 2014 (his win in 2015 came from 9th).

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Saying goodbye to all that, Continue reading

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IndyCar News Week in Review: Turkey Day Edition

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Introducing IndyCar’s Turkey Power: It’s best plucked, washed and Jay Fryed.

UPDATE: IndyCar finally heeded IRR’s advice and significantly altered its aero kits after nearly a year. Changes include tethers, flaps, a domed undercarriage and a Rahal at Fontana change to new engine control units for pits stops. Read all about our long time take on the kits here and here.

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Needs More Sage: Distressing news emerged from the Ganassi camp over the weekend which had nothing to do with dressing. Mike Hull said a fourth car for next year is iffy due to a lack of funding, which means Sage “Wild Man” Karam could well be out of a ride, at least with Butterball Chip. That’s disappointing, as the irascible rookie had a solid albeit partial season – Ed Carpenter, Graham Rahal and race control’s opinions notwithstanding. The probationary Pennsylvanian scored a couple of top five and top ten finishes, including a thrilling race to third at Iowa (of all places) for his first ever podium result. This PLUS impressively managing to piss off half the field, all within a mere twelve races. We say to hell with shirts, how about A RIDE for Sage?

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Courtney’s Gone a Courtin’: As previously reported rather wistfully by IRR, the talented and gorgeous Courtney Force Continue reading

Under-Reported IndyCar Rules Changes for 2016: ‘Miles of Cars’

YEEES-SIR!

Honda teams will not only benefit from certain aero kit rules changes for 2016, but also from mandatory sensitivity training and re-education. This is in order to avoid coming across as poor, ungracious winners to the few thousand fans worldwide who may bother to tune in and notice.

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Chevy teams will not be allowed to refer to “Honda,” “aero kits,” “unfair,” “fu@%in’ Aussie” or “wanker b@$tard” during any media engagements, either on television, radio or the jihad-web. This is especially so for a certain fu@%in’ Aussie wanker b@$tard’s three Penske teammates.

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Mad Russian Mikhail Aleshin’s urine, hair and blood  Continue reading

IndyCar News Week in Review: Mark Miles’ Flying Circus Edition

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UPDATE: Former N@$C@R owner and University of Missouri (!) alum Jay Frye has been hired to replace ousted Competition CEO Derrick Walker, finally. Walker’s exit was announced months ago after the exquisite race at Fontana. Frye enjoyed Red Bull backing in the ‘Clockwork Orange’ series and already had been working for IndyCar. Of course when you’ve got major problems as a series, it makes perfect sense to hire from within.

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Flying Kits And Aero Fits: Renewed testing of the gawd-awful and downright dangerous aero kits will commence at Indianapolis next April, a mere month and a half in advance of the most significant race in history. Presumably this is an attempt to minimize cars flying through the air at the Brickyard as they did last May in a scene reminiscent of IMS’ early days as a US Army Air Corps aerodrome. No one can say Mark Miles and crew don’t learn from history, though it does seem to take repeated bashing over the head with it before finally sinking in.

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To Honda According Its Needs: IndyCar recently announced Continue reading

IndyCar Leadership’s As Existent As Bars On Mars

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Combining the words “IndyCar” and “leadership” in the same sentence goes beyond oxymoronic – it blasts into “Total Recall” territory (the good one with Arnold, not the remake). Put another way, the likelihood of sound decisions coming out of 16th and Georgetown is roughly equivalent to the chances of getting some water to go with that bourbon on your next visit to the red planet.

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Derrick Walker still hasn’t been replaced as President of Competition months after his resignation, there’s no announced schedule for 2016 and the interminable six month off season has only just begun. The sport’s been hemorrhaging fans, forgetting its own past and merely managing to limp along. Mark Miles was supposed to be the savior; instead he’s proven to be a dud. Otherwise, things are going well – no disaster to see here.

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In fairness it’s not all doom and gloom, just largely. Positives include competitive racing most of the season, an uptick in viewership Continue reading

IndyCar 2015 Season Grades: AJ Foyt Racing

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The newly expanded group has gone from bad to worse and the ailing AJ can’t be happy about it, despite his public pronouncements. Here are the numbers for what the Texas based team itself recently called a “tough season.”

Wins: 0

Podiums: 1

Poles: 0

The Team’s eponymous and ornery octogenarian owner’s health remains a major concern, but their troubles go well beyond AJ’s age. All the Honda teams struggled early in the season with those hideously overdone aero kits and lack of power; however, Rahal nearly won the championship and Ryan Hunter-Reay rebounded for a decent year – both in Hondas – so some success certainly was attainable. For AJ Foyt Racing though, it wasn’t. Their nadir unfortunately came during the series’ biggest event – our Indy 500 race review was tellingly entitled “Foyt’s Foul Ups Edition.”

Stefano Coletti, of Monaco, (4) hits the car driven by Sebastian Saavedra, of Colombia, as Jack Hawksworth, right, of England, hits the wall in the closing laps of the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Sunday, May 24, 2015. (AP Photo/Kirk Stierwalt) ORG XMIT: NAA147

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AJ’s two drivers Continue reading

An Interview With Indy Sun’s Carl Cavern

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The Indianapolis Sun’s Carl Cavern is the star IndyCar reporter for the new-ish news site courageously challenging Circle City’s monotonous media monopoly. Ever the scamp, Carl’s Twitter profile reads “IndyCar, culture and everything else reporter and Curt Cavin’s existential nightmare.” Sounds fascinating, doesn’t he? We thought so, too.

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So in response to the tremendous demand from our readers to find out more about the mystery scribe that is Carl Cavern, we managed despite a great deal of difficulty to wangle an interview with the elusive writer and Tweeter extraordinaire. It was an intriguing experience, to say the least.

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IRR: Tell our readers about yourself. They probably only know you through your colorful Tweets about racing, if at all.

Carl Cavern: I’m a Hoosier, born and bred. Love IndyCar, God, country, Indiana and my family – in that order. I’ve seen too many races to count, going back to when I was a kid growing up in Terre Haute. Continue reading

Bring Us The Head of IndyCar’s Mark Miles

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The latest horribly disappointing news out of IndyCar this week nearly made us lose our heads. With the announcement that the series will not race at Fontana in 2016 – the scene of this year’s instant classic 500 miler – we were morbidly reminded of the 1974 Sam Peckinpah revenge fantasy, “Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia.” Sadly we at IRR aren’t in a position at the moment to offer a million dollar bounty for a head – not even in 2015 dollars – although we have got about a million reasons why Miles must go.

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So in a parodied way (in case any law enforcement officers happen to be reading) we proclaim, “Bring us the head of IndyCar’s Mark Miles.” We’re demanding his head for the following crimes against IndyCar and its fans, planning to send a few volleys over the net with it since Miles loves tennis so much. In some particular order, here are the top reasons we want Miles’ head delivered on a platter. For FU@%ING up Fontana, one of the top tracks for IndyCar in the country, thank you very much.

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For flying aero kit pieces that injure innocent paying fans. For a road course heavy “festival type atmosphere” schedule chock full of hum-drum racing. For a three week, momentum killing gap in the 2015 schedule. For NOLA.

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For the ongoing erosion Continue reading

IndyCar’s Presidential Search: Where’s Trump When You Need Him? Or, Making IndyCar Great Again

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A couple of things struck us while reading Curt Cavin’s story in the Star on potential candidates to replace Derrick Walker. Fortunately it wasn’t flying shards of aero kit debris. The first striking item was how unfamiliar and frankly unremarkable the names on the list seem to be. Talk about vanilla! Where’s The Donald-like figure to step in and take control of IndyCar, make some waves and generate some buzz?

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IndyCar needs a guy who can turn things around – or at least act like he can – and at the same time turn a profit. Heck, IndyCar needs a president who can turn methanol into Mojitos. That guy wasn’t on Cavin’s list, at least as far as we could tell. Suggesting a NASCAR guy for God’s sake?! Come on, Curt.

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It’s certainly not that we support Trump – or Lord knows that hairdo – although it would be a vast improvement over Walker’s Lucas Oil dome. Like many Americans however, we do admire his moxie, his tell-it-like-it-is, can-do attitude. That’s what IndyCar needs, not some mealy-mouthed, tell-you-what-you-want-to-hear politician type. That and a good dose of “you’re fired” both would help IndyCar immensely.

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The second striking thing from the piece Continue reading

IndyCar News Week in Review: Derrick, We Hardly Knew Ye

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Walker Walks: Mark Miles announced Derrick Walker’s resignation as IndyCar President of Competition Thursday, effective at season’s end. Walker’s brief two year tenure leaves yet another void in series leadership, using the term loosely. His biggest challenge was overseeing the introduction of the costly and controversial aero kits this season in an effort to differentiate the look of the cars.

Mike Hull, Target Chip Ganassi Racing team manager

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Walker’s Wake: It’s become a freakin’ turnstile at 16th & Georgetown and speculation about a replacement for Walker has already begun. Curt Cavin pointed to Ganassi honcho Mike Hull as a likely replacement, but we just don’t see it. Hull has the knowledge and experience, but he’s an extremely odd duck and like Walker would struggle as a face of the series with the press. Walker’s impending departure at the end of August also means we’ve a lame duck in charge of race control for the final three races, so don’t expect an immediate uptick in rational calls or a more even application of penalties. Sadly such inconsistency will be Walker’s legacy as competition chief.

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Expected Engine Infractions: Several Honda teams, including Andretti Autosport, Continue reading