IndyCar 2015 Mid Season Grades

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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IndyCar’s had an interesting season from a dangerous start with flying aero kit pieces to the emergence of a certified new American star. Although we at IRR admittedly tend to bitch a lot we’ve enjoyed the year thus far for the most part, though a rain-marred race at NOLA and cars flipping in practice at Indy were highly forgettable moments.

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How’s ten races into a fifteen race schedule in any way mid season, you ask? The schedule‘s simply too short and we feel cheated out of several races – Brazil and Toronto #2 to name a couple. Don’t get us started on the lack of ovals. Plus, in college the timing of midterms varies widely and since the IndyCar Series sometimes resembles a frat house, we find the break in the schedule to be a good time to assess individual teams’ performances this season.

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Carpenter Fisher Hartman Racing: B+

Josef Newgarden’s breakthrough wins at Barber and Toronto have made the team’s merger look brilliant and established a genuine American star – a non-legacy star, at that. The team’s 1-2 finish in Ontario almost made up for a string of bad luck that stretched from Indy to Texas. Newgarden’s success is no fluke and this new team’s best days lie ahead.

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Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing: B  Continue reading

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Detroit One Race Review: Half Assed Half Race Edition

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After Saturday’s half assed half race, we feel IndyCar owes its fans at least another race this season, if not two. We’ve had a cancelled race and now two rain shortened ones and we’re just halfway through the schedule. Of course the good folks at IMS can’t control the weather – yet – but it does point out how spoiled we’d all become during IndyCar’s years long stretch of good conditions for its races.

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Due to the weather and IndyCar’s recent proclivity to fill up the first half of its tv window, there was no pre race show and cars were already rolling in the rain on ABC at 2:30 Central. Downpours and debris marked Detroit’s first race of 2015 and had it been a complete race there may not have been many cars left to race on Sunday.

For the third race in a row now, a driver committed a first lap pile up. At least this time it was a rookie, Continue reading

Dual in Detroit Preview: Forget That Motor City

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Already at the halfway point of the season thanks to Brazil‘s cancellation, Toronto’s contraction and an absurdly abbreviated schedule,  IndyCar heads north to its dominant dynamo’s dwelling in destitute, dead-beat and derelict Detroit. Hardly the hub of America’s much less the world’s motor industry since at least the 1970s, today the city’s a bankrupt, decaying embarrassment – an open sore on an unhealthy nation. Oh well, at least a Honda probably won’t win this weekend.

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Crumbling old Detroit is a relic, a taxpayer bailed-out husk of a once great city. It’s a case study in decades of extremely poor one party rule and union control. It’s also where Roger Penske made his millions and since it’s easier to make a quick buck on a street “race” or two than a real race down the road in the Irish Hills, then that’s where IndyCar races. Because the Cap’n wills it. Penske’s former pride and joy Michigan International Speedway – a tremendous two mile oval southwest of Detroit – hosted extraordinary open wheel racing on and off from 1968 until 2007. Sold to ISC by Penske in 1999, IndyCar disappeared from the schedule completely soon thereafter. It’s the story of IndyCar ovals in a nutshell.

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So we prepare to watch two half assed races where top speeds are in the 160s and passing’s at a premium. Oh, we’re back to the winged aero kits this weekend too, so you might want to bring along a helmet if you’re attending in person. Continue reading

Indy 500 Predictions and Prognostications: Humble Edition

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The Indy 500 remains the most preeminent event on the American racing calendar, whether most people know it or not. Indy represents the high point of the IndyCar season and will be watched by several hundred thousand people at IMS and millions more on television around the globe. Disturbingly, for the first time in many years there exists real doubt surrounding driver and fan safety in the world’s biggest race. It’s a humbling thought, isn’t it?

Photo from Motorsports Snippets

We’re tempted to predict rain for the race on Sunday the way IndyCar’s year has gone so far. Let’s recap the first third of the season – a canceled opener in Brazil, an injured fan due to flying debris and a couple other races that nearly bored viewers to death. Now there’s the somersaulting car problem and most recently Hinch‘s serious injury, both troubling issues indeed. In reality a rain postponement – it’s in the forecast – which would bring out a smaller crowd and shrunken press coverage may be the safest outcome for a series in the midst of another crisis, humbled once again.

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

Photo from sports.usatoday.com

Conventional  wisdom holds the 500 will be a crash-fest – particularly if practice has been any indication – and it could well be. But we think not. Continue reading

IndyCar Nailed It At Barber

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No one saw it coming at Barber Motorsports Park on Sunday, not even first time race winner Josef Newgarden himself. “It’s just been such a long time coming trying to do this. I can’t believe now is when it happened.” Newgarden wasn’t the only one who was pleasantly surprised. After the most exciting and entertaining race in months, it soon became clear there was an even bigger story that had just unfolded beyond a successful event. The fourth year driver’s triumph for his fledgling, freshly merged team is still reverberating throughout the IndyCar paddock.

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As truly deserving as Newgarden and CFH Racing were of the win, the race outside Birmingham offered drama and intense action throughout the field. Three wide racing, aggressive passes and minimal mistakes made it the most enjoyable race in recent memory. New faces at the top of the podium – highly thought of American faces, at that – made for an especially refreshing change. There’s no denying IndyCar nailed it at Barber.

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Like all epic IndyCar races, it had something for everyone. Graham Rahal drove like he was possessed by Ray Harroun in his charge to second. Continue reading

Long Beach Grand Prix Predictions and Prognostications: Cautionary Edition

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With a dry California track in the forecast and two awful aero kit era races already in the books, IndyCar’s due for a classic duel on the beach, or at least a watchable show. A third consecutive clunker of a race following Brazil’s jilting of the series would be devastating, but happily won’t occur. IRR’s soothsaying  division has been on a hot buttery roll with our predictions as of late – that is, if you discount that farce last week in the swamps of NOLA – so let’s get right to the prognostications.

The specialty prediction of this week’s as sunny as the California coastline. Fortunately for fans there’ll be no flying debris showering the grandstands or smacking innocent, paying spectators upside the head at Long Beach. That shouldn’t happen again until at least the Indy GP; however, since Sebastian Saavedra‘s now back in the series we strongly recommend helmets for fans in the first twenty five rows, as a precaution.

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That leads us to our initial weekly prediction, who’ll be first out of the race. Continue reading

Taking IndyCar’s Message to NASCAR Country

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There was some very large IndyCar talk in the home of NASCAR recently. On a lark, the underrated IRR staff took the fight to enemy turf down in South Carolina, singing IndyCar’s praises Super Bowl weekend. On a “working” vacation to the hotbed of secession, we visited  family and friends, met new ones and had a rip roaring good time. We’re also happy to report that no NASCAR was discussed at all – it’s a completely clockwork orange series anyway.

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Continue reading

Brazilian Bust: IndyCar Told ‘Tough Tittie’

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The latest IndyCar scheduling disaster had local Brazilian authorities unilaterally cancel the March 8 season opener barely a month before the nearly sold out event. The announcement Thursday afternoon by the promoter in Brazil took the series completely by surprise and has overshadowed all other news this week, including a drivers’ meeting and the announcement of Brian Barnhart’s return as race director. It’s not the kind of news IndyCar needs, representing yet another crisis at 16th and Georgetown.

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The league’s point man in Brazil Tony Cotman has been telling us for months that construction on the circuit is “on schedule” and would be completed in time for the event. Continue reading

IndyCar Predictions and Prognostications – Silly Season, Andrettis, AJ & More

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For the debut of this visionary new column – one we foresee making sporadic appearances on this site with varying degrees of accuracy when it comes to the predictions ventured – IRR’s special soothsaying division offers some shocking statements about the future of racing.

Why wait for IndyCar news when our crack staff can divine it ahead of time? So without further adieu, here are our presumptuous prognostications for IndyCar in January.

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His birthday over, AJ lays off the sake and English brown ales – unlike his drivers – for at least a few more weeks.

Dale Coyne Racing will be making no announcements, media appearances or any other racing related moves whatsoever. Continue reading

IndyCar News Week in Review: The Poor Decisions Edition

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Fisher Leaves Retirement, Goes to Oklahoma: In the questionable call of the young year, ever emotional Sarah Fisher will return to her midget racing roots next week in OK nearly five years after retiring from a winless IndyCar career. The ‘Chili Bowl’ – Tulsa’s annual indoor midget races that take place in mid January – contains an extra dose of spice this year with Fisher’s participation. Bring your own spoons; NASCAR’s supplying the cheese and crackers. In light of Tony Stewart’s disastrous experiences in 2014, we seriously wonder if the 34 year old mother of two’s decision to race is a good idea.

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Andretti Autosport Poaches Veteran Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Employee: Continue reading