IndyCar 2015 Season Grades: Dale Coyne Racing

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It’s no wonder Coyne and chaos have become synonymous in the series, as the casualty rate among his crewman approached Chickamauga levels. Dale Coyne had quite possibly his worst year ever and that’s saying something. One incident of hitting a crewman on pit road is too many, two is a real problem. But four wounded team mates is a travesty and deserves serious sanction. The series’ most dubious owner is ultimately responsible for this rank amateurism and must be held to account.

Wins: 0

Podiums: 0

Poles: 0

Three races were marred by three Coyne drivers hitting four Coyne crew members in the pits. At least they were all friendlies who were bashed. Italian Francesco Dracone started it at NOLA, sliding hotly into a wet pit box and violently upending his crewman. During the Indy 500 the crew sent Aussie driver James Davison out of his pit and into fellow Coyne jockey Pippa Mann’s path. This caused Davison to crash into two of his team’s primary pilot Tristan Vautier’s tire changers, sending one to the hospital with a leg injury. The ugliness repeated itself yet again in the classic at Fontana, where Frenchman Vautier nailed his left front tire changer while coming wildly into the pit box.

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Obviously both the drivers and the crew shared in the calamitousness, but it’s ultimately on the owner whose name is on the transporter. Here’s the problem: Continue reading

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Detroit Grand Prix Predictions and Prognostications: Double Down Edition

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Our expectations are rolling high for the first race on Saturday afternoon as it’s forecast to be wet.  With heavy thunderstorms expected, there’s the feeling that it could be one of those Houston 2014 double header weekends with all sorts of surprises. Considering it’s in Detroit, rain’s as good as it gets on the coma inducing street course giving the gamblers a better shot at beating the house.

HOUSTON, TX - JUNE 28:  Carlos Huertas of Colombia, driver of the #18 Dale Coyne Racing Dallara Honda, celebrates with Miss Grand Prix contestants after winning the Verizon IndyCar Series Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston Race #1 at NRG Park on June 28, 2014 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

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It could be the magical kind of weekend where a group like Carlos Huertas and Dale Coyne beat Penske and Ganassi to win defying all the odds. Luckily for race fans, IndyCar in its infinite wisdom has doubled down on Detroit at a time when nearly everyone else has fled.  All this, right there on an international border that’s now one giant casino.

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The special prediction for the weekend is lots of losers – wet fans, most every gambler and once again the Honda teams. Andretti Autosport’s Continue reading

Grand Prix of Indy Qualifications: Instant Reaction

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The cars are all brightly painted and freshly decaled for the Month of May and there was even a little excitement during qualifying today – precious little. Some off course adventures livened up the show a bit, including Luca Filippi going off course during the second round in his sharp green CFH Racing Fuzzy’s car. His team mate and Barber winner Josef Newgarden also advanced to the top twelve but no further in his worst qualifying effort in several races. In a potential case of anti-New Zealander bias, Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais and KV Racing protested Scottie Dixon‘s fast lap in round two after a brief on track encounter between the two rivals. IndyCar race control wisely denied KV’s seemingly hemispherist and ugly complaint.

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Unluckily, Carlos Huertas of ‘Dollar’ Dale Coyne Racing saw his Honda engine blow up, spewing oil all over the recently configured track. Even when intact the Hondas remain significantly slower than the Chevys. Continue reading

Qualifications: Instant Reaction

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IndyCar’s first ever qualifying session using aero kits occurred yesterday, though few noticed. Fans were forced to watch a dodgy web stream if they cared to see it. As predicted, Mad Will Power won the pole with a new track record and his Penske team mates took the other top three spots. Chevrolet was dominant, sweeping eight of the top ten quickest times. Unfortunately aero kits are bringing greater disparity between teams and Team Penske will continue to benefit from it this season.

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Marco Andretti was out-qualified by a his new part time team mate who was out of the car all last year Simona De Silvestro. Even further back, Graham Rahal‘s starting 15th. It appears there are no legacies in IndyCar, at least not lately. Continue reading

IndyCar News Week in Review: Silliest Season

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Mess Kits: Aero kit testing began Sunday at NOLA and then continued Monday and Tuesday at Barber Motorsports park in nearby Alabama. The Chevys showed the speed as Target driver Scott Dixon topped day one of testing at Barber with a lap time of just over a minute and seven seconds. The NOLA laps were untimed. KV’s rookie Stefano “faster than Andretti” Coletti was second quick on day two behind Power and was in fact faster than Marco by nearly a second. Will Power‘s time of a minute seven point three seconds for Penske topped day two, which translates to a whopping 123 miles per hour on the undulating road course. Dixon’s previous track record without the benefit of aero kit still stands at nearly a second quicker than Power’s Tuesday time.

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Accidents Happen: Rookie Ganassi driver Sage Karam broke a bone in his right hand in a scary accident leaving the track at Barber Monday. We affectionately call it Karam’s carom. Continue reading

IndyCar News Week in Review: Stand Pat Edition

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Aero Kit Antagonism: We published “Honda’s IndyCar Aero Kits Also Look Ugly, Silly and New Fangled” immediately upon seeing them Tuesday evening and haven’t changed our take on them. Honda’s kit makes Chevy’s look sane by comparison and that’s saying something. Alarmingly, new cars aren’t due for four years. The saving grace of the aero kits still could be the large oval configuration which hasn’t been seen yet. They should make their debut testing at Texas Motor Speedway in the near future so we’ll see.

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Southern European Silly Season: Swiss Miss Simona de Silvestro and the as yet un-nicknamed Stefano Coletti from Monaco were both announced as IndyCar drivers this week. Continue reading

IndyCar News Week in Review: Keep the Change Edition

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In With The New: Eight drivers tested at Sebring this week, including the Penske Powerhouse tetrarchy of Power, Helio, Montoya and newcomer Pagenaud. The other veteran was SeBass, but new faces drew our attention. 2014 IndyCar winner Carlos Huertas and Venezuelan Rodolfo “Speedy” Gonzalez – who’s twenty eight and an unknown quantity –  tested Dale Coyne’s cars. Huertas drove for Dollar Dale in his rookie campaign while Gonzalez hasn’t driven an IndyCar for anyone, coming from the failed F1 team Marussia’s test program.

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Gonzo almost certainly brings some petro cash to the table from his basket case socialist paradise of a homeland where toilet paper is eternally in short supply. Ryan Phinny from LA tested KV’s second car and seems a perfect fit for fellow Californian Vasser while Swiss Miss Simona de Silvestro is rumored to be close to Andretti’s fourth seat. Sorry Conor, Zach and JWil – the few remaining seats in the series could be taken.

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Changing Numbers:  Continue reading

IndyCar News Week in Review: Goaaal! Edition

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UPDATE: AP is reporting the season opening IndyCar race scheduled in Brasilia, Brazil has been canceled by local authorities. The costly construction and renovations at the race course have been ongoing for some time and could well be the issue. This is truly a crisis for IndyCar and makes an already short season even shorter. We’ve offered alternatives to a race in Brazil as well as skepticism towards holding a race there for months now. It was another poor decision by the series to schedule a race in Brazil to begin with and now once again it’s the fans who suffer due to a further abbreviated schedule.

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Brian Barnhart Battles Back: IndyCar announced Wednesday that Brian Barnhart will resume his former duties as Race Director. He’d served in that role from 1997 until 2011, after which ‘Beautiful’ Beaux Barfield took over due to controversies at New Hampshire and elsewhere. The system, described as being like a “jury,” will consist of three stewards who make the calls and assess the penalties collaboratively. Mindful of the anti-Barnhart and anti-IRL sentiment that exists in some quarters, we say anybody but Beaux.

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Drivers’ Meeting in Indy: The Barnhart announcement was made at the winter drivers’ meeting at IMS. Of note were some of the drivers in attendance, including Americans Conor Daly and Zach Veach, British brothers Justin and Stefan Wilson, and Colombians Carlos Huertas and Sebastian Saavedra. Continue reading

IndyCar’s Chopping Block: A Gory Recent History

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It’s a bloody business ending people’s careers, although not so long ago it was a good deal worse when one’s fate literally rested in the executioner’s hands. At the risk of sounding unsympathetic or even – gasp! – ‘mean spirited,’ IndyCar’s a business and personnel changes are a grim but necessary aspect of the sport. Besides these folks get paid handsomely to ‘work’ in IndyCar, which would be a dream job for millions. Sentimentality aside, let’s cut to the chase and review the recent terminations and potential axing of some of IndyCar’s more recognizable faces.

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Living the dream until lately, Sebastian Saavedra made fifty seven big league starts and has absolutely no results. Never coming close to a win, the quirky Colombian failed to crack the top five and only recorded three top tens in the equivalent of four seasons. He’s finished at the very bottom of the field with KVSH two years running now. You may recall his one highlight turned out to be a disaster, as pole position at the inaugural Indy Grand Prix led to a stall and spectacularly expensive carbon fiber shower. In SeSaav’s case as in others it was high time a quick cut was made.

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Ryan Briscoe had a decent IndyCar career over the last decade with seven wins, but it appears to be in the past tense.   Continue reading

‘Dollar Dale’ Doesn’t Do Domestic Drivers, Despite No Discernible Dearth

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Ever notice ‘Dollar Dale’ Coyne’s revolving door of drivers? Colorful, attractive, tempestuous and even successful every few years, there’s one thing the Coyne merry go ’round of British blondes and Venezuelan beauties never includes – that’s American drivers. Can you remember the last U.S. born pilot employed by DCR, an American team based out of Chicago? We can’t, although despite her utter lack of driving ability Milka Duno stands out in our memory for a couple of reasons.

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