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

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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 2015 Season Grades: Andretti Autosport

Jul 18, 2015; Newton, IA, USA; IndyCar Series driver Ryan Hunter-Reay (28) reacts after winning the Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: USATSI-230374 ORIG FILE ID: 20150718_lbm_ad1_319.JPG

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The Andretti bunch had a wild year that began poorly, turned around in the last portion yet ended in tragedy. It strongly resembled a Sam Peckinpah movie, come to think of it. Legal issues notwithstanding, 2015 was so turbulent it may well make AA want to start drinking again. For all Michael and Hunter-Reay’s talk of being “lost” with Honda early on, the “autosport” actually bounced back for a decent year on track equaling last year’s win total.

Wins: 3

Podiums: 6

Poles: 0

The team’s top driver and 2014 Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay scored oval wins at Iowa and Pocono along with four top five finishes including second at the Sonoma finale. He came back strong to finish sixth in points, helped by the fact that he was running at the end of thirteen out of sixteen races.

Marco Andretti (27) heads into a turn during IndyCar testing at Barber Motorsports Park, Monday, March 16, 2015, in Birmingham, Ala. Drivers are testing the new aerodynamic packages on their cars. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

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Marco’s years’ long difficulties continued, Continue reading

Pocono Race Review: Tragedy in Pennsylvania

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Ryan Hunter-Reay crossed the finish line first for Andretti Autosport at Pocono Sunday evening, but there were no celebrations and no confetti in a subdued victory lane. His team mate Justin Wilson had already been airlifted to the hospital and as yet no one at the track knew his status. It was the strangest scene after a race in memory as a pall hung heavily over the gathered crowd.

Wilson was hit in the head by debris from Sage Karam’s car, which disintegrated when he spun and hit the wall while leading the last portion of the race. Karam injured his right foot in the wreck, but he got off lightly compared to Justin. Slumped forward in the cockpit, Wilson was clearly already knocked unconscious as the car hit the inside wall and came to a stop. Today Wilson remains in a coma in critical condition. Sadly Justin passed away Monday night. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Englishman’s family.

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The incident isn’t dissimilar to the case of F-1 driver Jules Bianchi, Continue reading

Iowa Race Review: Sage Gone Wild

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Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay won Iowa for the third time Saturday night, but twenty year old rookie Sage Karam stole the show, swerving and chopping his way to third for his first IndyCar podium finish. Clearly on a roll the last several races, in short Sage went wild. Josef Newgarden led much of the latter stages of the frantic race only to finish second while Graham Rahal led another charge from seventeenth to fourth making it an American sweep in the heartland. Andretti Autosport’s Carlos Munoz rounded out the top five in a favorable night for Andretti‘s team.

Jul 18, 2015; Newton, IA, USA; IndyCar Series driver Ryan Hunter-Reay (28) reacts after winning the Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: USATSI-230374 ORIG FILE ID:  20150718_lbm_ad1_319.JPG

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Sparks flew throughout the last half of the race as intense racing and hectic traffic around the tiny oval led to drivers being either exhausted or enraged or both. Karam enjoyed another rocket ride to the front in the number eight car. Were it not for a slow right front tire change during his last pit stop he might have fared even better. At one point Sage simultaneously showed his immaturity and fearlessness, screaming about Jack Hawksworth on the radio. “Dude, I’m alongside him and he won’t back out!” Ed Carpenter appeared high on the list of drivers Karam managed to offend on his charismatic, choppy charge as the veteran gestured repeatedly from the car and then confronted the Ganassi driver immediately after the race.

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Ambling angrily down pit lane with cameras following, IndyCar’s only owner-driver animatedly got in the youngster’s face and loudly lectured him about “respect.” Continue reading

Fontana Preview: Save The Ovals!

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Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California has played host to some thrilling IndyCar races over the two decades since it opened. Built on the site of an old steel mill that helped the arsenal of western civilization save itself in World War II, the track was completed in 1996. It began hosting CART races the next year. On the other side of the split the all oval IRL began holding competing races there in 2002, with the re-unified series holding its first race at Fontana in 2012. In an age of oval subtractions from the schedule, the addition of Fontana made imminent good sense.

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Previous winners among former drivers include KV Racing owner/wine connoisseur Jimmy Vasser who, like Sam Hornish, Jr won twice at Fontana along with recently retired Dario Franchitti. Ed Carpenter, Will Power and Tony Kanaan are the active winners in the field this year, while Juan Pablo Montoya will be a threat to take his second five hundred mile win of the season in as many attempts. Interestingly, Scott Dixon and Carlos Munoz both won SoCal’s fiesta in Indy lights, the quick Colombian winning consecutively in 2012 and 2013. We can’t help but wonder if those wins were simply “OK.” Hmmm, Carlos?

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Twenty years of racing at the Southern California track have witnessed wild fires, drought, incredible finishes and speeds over 235 miles per hour. Continue reading

IndyCar News Week in Review: Death & Decline Edition

Milwaukee

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Milwaukee Mile Moribund?: Rumors have Michael Andretti grumbling about lack of fan interest in the upcoming Milwaukee race, threatening to pull his group’s promotion of the historic event. This may simply be Michael playing hardball and attempting to up his company’s revenue in advance of the race, though it could be more . . .

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No More NOLA?: Andretti’s currently in litigation over the NOLA race seeking more money from the local honchos in Louisiana – we say good luck with that. Additional issues with a cherished oval track like Milwaukee would spell serious trouble for a series with too few non-street course events as it is. The loss of NOLA? Much less of a concern in our view, as “One Stop’s Enough.” All this bears watching, and you can bet as always we’ll be wondering, “What’s Michael Andretti Thinking?”

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Filippi Fined For Fuel: Continue reading

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

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

Detroit Two Race Review: Bourdais Haze

May 31, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; IndyCar Series driver Takuma Sato (left) Sebastien Bourdais and Graham Rahal celebrate in victory circle after the Dual in Detroit Race 2 at Belle Isle road course. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: USATSI-225300 ORIG FILE ID:  20150531_lbm_aw3_258.JPG

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Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais prevailed in the rain in Detroit on Sunday for KV Racing for the thirty third win of an IndyCar career that spans a decade.  Happily Bourdais even managed not to drop the trophy off the podium this time. AJ Foyt Racing’s Takuma Sato recovered from a poor string of races to finish second ahead of RLL’s Graham Rahal, who was penalized for blocking Sato in the frenzied street fight.

Sebastien Bourdais, of France, drives in the rain during the second race of the IndyCar Detroit Grand Prix auto racing doubleheader Sunday, May 31, 2015, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Dave Frechette) ORG XMIT: MIPS109

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The race saw a wet start, a clean and green first half and a second half reminiscent of Saturday’s stinker. After another aero kit explosion of debris thanks to a Penske tussle the race was eventually red flagged for clean up. This set up a mad dash to the finish of a timed race and an exciting ending to a water logged weekend on the border.

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ABC aired a brief fifteen minute pre race show that was typically heavy on the Capn’s team. It didn’t ignore Andretti Autosport though, allowing Carlos Munoz to correct the record and say “it feels good” to have won his first race rather than just “ok.” Graham Rahal also got some air time after his poor showing Saturday. After GM’s CEO gave the command to start engines, another rain race began on Belle Isle. In a double file start which always adds some drama the drivers behaved themselves for a caution free fifty laps of racing.

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First race winner Munoz’s AA Honda went up in smoke in the first ten laps having given its all the previous day. First out of the race, he recklessly drove his car across the racing line to a pull off area, smoke billowing out the back. Fortunately no one hit him as he did so. It was a case of karma for the young Colombian who never should have described an IndyCar win as ok. Continue reading