Why Foyt Should Fold

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The legendary IndyCar gambler’s game has gone, his eponymous team no longer worthy of the name. As longtime fans of the ornery octogenarian, it pains us to point out his team’s precipitous decline.

A recent conversation with an A.J. fan who’s followed him since the 1960s got us to thinking. While there’s no questioning Foyt’s former skills behind the wheel, his decisions on the stand are downright dumbfounding. It dawned on us that the last twelve years he’s been in the sport, Marco Andretti has more wins than all of A.J. Foyt Racing – twice as many wins, in fact. That’s not only extremely sad, but also tremendously telling.

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For the sake of A.J.’s legacy and his place at the center of IndyCar history, it’s time for his team to toss in their cards. Larry Foyt’s been running things the last decade, and rather poorly at that. Continue reading

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IndyCar News Week in Review: Surgical Edition

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Hinch’s Comeback: After four months off convalescing outside of the car, lucky to be alive Canadian funnyman James Hinchcliffe returns to his SPM machine this week for testing at Road America in Wisconsin. The Mayor of something or other nearly lost his life due to a “dagger through the bottom of the seat” in his crash at IMS in May, losing copious amounts of blood and undergoing multiple surgeries. After the trying ordeal Hinch is thankful he’ll be back behind the wheel of his car. We’re glad the crazy Canuck’s back, too and hopeful he avoids further surgery for at least a few months.

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Newgarden Stays in Troubled Marriage: For at least another season, Josef Newgarden will stay put at CFH Racing after agreeing to a one year contract extension. The young American had a terrific season 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

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

IndyCar Toronto Preview: Canuck Concrete Car Crusher

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Prepare for carnage, cautions and churlishness in Canada on Sunday. The last four races at Exhibition Place have averaged four cautions each, with a first lap pile up last year and multiple red flags in the rain. Compared to Texas that’s a demolition derby. The course is a challenging combination of concrete and asphalt even in dry conditions, which were almost completely absent in 2014. There was no such excuse for 2013. Historically Toronto’s a Canuck concrete car crusher and a godsend for Italy’s Dallara Automibili. North of the border, it’s free gelato for everyone!

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Appropriate for Canada, last year’s double headers were won by a Frenchman and an Englishman – Sebastien Bourdais and Mike Conway. All this Euro flair occurred on Sunday due to rain completely washing Saturday out and was the first one day double header with full points since 1981. As a result of the humidity both races were shortened and the second was timed. TCGR’s Scott Dixon swept the 2013 double header, winning the crash-fest second race – with a total of seven caution flags – under yellow.

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The thirty first IndyCar race to take place in Toronto looks to be dry for a pleasant change this season and will be a stand-alone race for the first time since 2012. Continue reading

Texas Race Review: Dixie Does Dallas

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New Zealander Scott Dixon won going away Saturday night in Texas during a nearly entirely green flag race, shattering the track record with a race average of 191.9 mph. His margin of victory was almost eight seconds over Ganassi team mate Tony Kanaan in a race that lacked a dramatic conclusion but included plenty of close racing and passing if not outright speed. It was Dixon’s second win at Texas – the other back in 2008 – and he led ninety seven laps out of two hundred and forty eight.

Scott Dixon (9), of New Zealand, leads Tony Kanaan (10), of Brazil, out of Turn 4 late in the Firestone 600 IndyCar auto race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas, Saturday June 6, 2015. Dixon won the race and Kanaan finished in second. (AP Photo/Larry Papke) ORG XMIT: TXTG135

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Chevy’s dominance continued, taking their seventh race out of nine. Oddly there were no crashes and only a single caution for debris all night long north of Dallas, resulting in only four cars on the lead lap at the conclusion. That said, the caution was too long as usual dragging out for over a dozen laps. The one restart saw exciting three wide racing break out on track again, though it was short lived. Dixon and Kanaan showed no team sympathies in their intra-TCGR battle for supremacy at TMS.

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The NBCSN pre-race coverage had some interesting segments. There were several morbid moments during a Robin Miller interview with the ornery octogenarian legend A.J. Foyt. Repeatedly referring to death as well as age and longevity, Miller missed in keeping it either light or informative in his talk with AJ. The four time Indy 500 winner did manage to say “Whoever you go with, you gotta stand up with ’em, good or bad. I’m not happy on their [Honda’s] air package . . ., as far as the body I think they’re out to lunch.”

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After talking to AJ, Miller then went on to do an abbreviated “grid run” of little worth. Continue reading

IndyCar Texas Preview: Bigger Is Better

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Delightfully delivering up delicious dishes of daredevil driving for decades, Texas Motor Speedway’s consistently been one of the most exciting tracks IndyCar visits, a real highlight of the schedule and an all around big deal. Located north of Fort Worth and just south of Denton, it’s an area that’s been hit hard by flooding in recent weeks. Happily the floodwaters are receding and the forecast looks good for Saturday.

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A spectacular oval staple on the schedule, TMS opened in 1997 and has hosted twenty six IndyCar races in its history, not counting CART‘s cancellation fiasco in 2001.Two visits per year were common in the good ol’ days with winning margins in the thousandths of seconds and championships regularly decided. They say in Texas everything’s bigger and both TMS and IndyCar racing there certainly measure up.

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Its high banked mile and a half racing surface has witnessed terrifying crashes, victory lane smack downs and some of the most memorable finishes of the modern era of the sport. Continue reading

Indy 500 Race Review: Foyt’s Foul Ups Edition

Sage Karam, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet and Takuma Sato, A.J. Foyt Enterprises crash

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Veteran driver Juan Pablo Montoya from Colombia won his second Indianapolis 500 Sunday a record fifteen years after a dominating win in his first appearance at the Brickyard. That’s appropriate, as Montoya received two warnings from race control – though no penalties – for running over an air hose and blocking. The ABC commentators said something about a “rules change” regarding the pit equipment which was fitting since rules changes have been the theme of the month at IMS. That controversy wasn’t even close to AJ Foyt Racing’s performance on the sport’s grandest stage though, which was utterly pathetic.

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Once it finally got started, the Indy 500 proved to be an entertaining race with a remarkable thirty seven lead changes among ten different drivers. Montoya beat Power to the line by a tenth of a second, the fourth closest margin of victory in race history. It also marked the fifth year in a row there was a last lap lead change. American Charlie Kimball rounded out the podium with a strong third place finish for Ganassi while Graham Rahal was top Honda in fifth. Super sub Ryan Briscoe gained an impressive nineteen spots in James Hinchcliffe’s SPM car and finished twelfth despite spinning.

Ryan Briscoe, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda spins

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Both the weather and the rules tweaks made to the cars cooperated on a gorgeous day in Indy. JPM’s win was Roger Penske’s 16th Indy 500 triumph, both deserved and a bit surprising considering the month he’d endured at Indianapolis. Montoya qualified poorly in fifteenth behind two of his team mates, experienced a horrible Carburetion Day with a serious lack of speed and to top it all off  he was hit from behind by Simona de Silvestro under caution after the failed start of the race.

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The race was far from perfect with six cautions for forty seven laps as a ragged false start to the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 got things started poorly. 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

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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

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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

Indy 500 Qualifications Instant Reaction: Exorcism Edition

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

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An exceptionally odd weekend unfolded at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with weather, aero kit caused crashes and high level closed door meetings all playing large roles in the dada-esque Indianapolis 500 qualifications show. Somehow IndyCar pulled it off in a single afternoon without anyone getting hurt or too many thousands of fans growing irate. Qualifications Sunday were in fact uneventful and even boring, just as the series wanted after a harrowing few days of testing, rain forcing a compressed one day schedule and another scary crash in the final practice. Carpenter’s wreck damaged the wall, delayed proceedings past the television window and eventually changed the Indianapolis 500 mile race.

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Decreased funding this year from Target helped Scott Dixon as the third driver on track put up the fastest speed of qualifications at 226.76 mph – over 3 miles per hour off last year’s pole. It’s the New Zealander’s second Indianapolis 500 pole – last time in 2008 he dominated the race and won. “I’m so damn happy – for this team,” he blurted after being forced to watch drivers target his speed all afternoon. Continue reading