Scott Dixon’s Helmet, Or: A Tale of Two Pities

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An embarrassing equipment failure at Sonoma typified Scott Dixon‘s season with Chip Ganassi Racing.

IndyCar’s defending champion suffered mightily on Sunday, floundering at a track he’d won on multiple times. Already losing his primary sponsor immediately after the race, Dixon limped home to a seventeenth place finish. Equipment issues and slow pit service stemming from a faulty wire doomed his chances at the largely passing-free Sonoma Raceway. It was truly a pity.

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With a malfunctioning radio and no communication with his team, Dixon was forced to swap helmets on his second pit stop. 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’

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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: Chip Ganassi Racing

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Team honcho and toad lookalike Chip Ganassi took a tumble recently celebrating another IndyCar championship, injuring himself in a cycling accident and busting his collarbone. Just imagine Chip on a bike! He’ll be fine, though previously we’d thought the idea of a fish riding a bicycle was amusing, but that’s nothing compared to a toad. CGR’s top gun Scott Dixon won his fourth championship at Sonoma in a dramatic conclusion to a somewhat perilous season. As longtime readers know, anyone who can beat Team Penske is all right in our book. Plus, there’s Scott’s lovely wife Emma who’s worth a few extra credit points by any measure.

Wins: 3

Podiums: 7

Poles: 2

After its usual slow start the team showed much improvement after the mid season report card starting with Texas, where Dixie did Dallas definitively. He’d won Long Beach earlier in the year, but neither he nor the team had any further luck until venturing deep into the heart of the metroplex. In Target’s twenty sixth year in the sport – though at a diminished level – Dixie delivered the goods yet again. In addition to his three wins and two poles, Dixon had seven top fives, twelve top tens and was running at the finish in an impressive fifteen races out of sixteen.

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Grizzled IndyCar veteran Tony Kanaan had a lackluster year failing to win a race. The big-nosed Brazilian Continue reading

Sonoma Finale Race Review: ‘Damn It, Man!’ Championship Edition

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In a result few outside of Chip Ganassi‘s Star Wars bar scene inner circle saw coming, Kiwi Scott Dixon won both the Sonoma GoPro Grand Prix and the IndyCar championship Sunday, his third win of the year and fourth title of Dixie’s storied career. It was thanks in large part to Team Penske and Juan Montoya‘s monumental collapse. Leading since St. Pete it was Montoya’s title to lose, and he did so in spectacular fashion. Banging into and spinning team mate Will Power who was leading the race on the first restart, Montoya damaged the nose of his own car and threw the championship away in a single turn. JPM had enjoyed a substantial points lead going into the finale – thirty four over Rahal and forty seven over Dixon – but thanks to this epic brain fade finished second in a tie breaker on wins.

Aug 30, 2015; Sonoma, CA, USA; Pit crew for IndyCar Series driver Juan Pablo Montoya bring the car to the grid before the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

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The first half of the contest was fairly humdrum and typical of a Sonoma race as Leigh Diffey himself admitted in the latter stages. From pole Power sped away from the field and dominated the race until Montoya foolishly punted him. It being a Penske affair, of course no penalty was forthcoming. The first caution was a questionable flag for Filippi who hit  nothing but was supposedly slow on course. This was the beginning of race control rearing its ugly heads though, and unfortunately it would have an effect on the outcome. For the first time in months they penalized drivers during the contest with drive through penalties including one for Sebastien Bourdais who hit Graham Rahal from behind, spinning him out and costing him any chance at the title. Rahal angrily confronted Bourdais afterwards on pit lane, saying “Good job . . . you knew exactly where I was going and you drove like a f___ing d__k! ”

Graham Rahal, right, and Charlie Kimball (83) compete during the IndyCar Grand Prix of Sonoma auto race Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015, in Sonoma, Calif. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg) ORG XMIT: CAER108

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Josef Newgarden ran well in second but Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud parked it on pit road obstructing the young American’s exit from his pit box. 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 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

Mid Ohio Preview: Oh No – Not Again!

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After a hiatus thanks to a half empty Brickyard 400 – making us wonder if those bean counters running Indy Car will ever learn to walk and chew gun at the same time – we’re finally back to racing. Too bad it’s at one of the lesser tracks on the schedule, Mid-Ohio. How’s that for IndyCar building momentum – a week off followed by a trip to a sports car track in the sticks?

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More fitting for a walk than a race, Mid-Ohio’s like Barber without the “beautiful setting” part. At least Barber manages to put on a watchable race every few years. To be fair, it’s nearby Indy and apparently the camping’s adequate. To be unfair, we advocate ditching this race in favor of Road America in Wisconsin plus a few ovals, reiterating our long held view “Down With Mid-Ohio.”

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Making matters worse, the undulating country sports car course is almost always won by Scott Dixon – five times now, yawn – or another Ganassi driver like Charlie Kimball, who broke through in 2013. When asked via Twitter if he expected to demolish the field with a four car sweep, The Chipster Continue reading

Milwaukee IndyFest Predictions & Prognostications: U-S-A! Edition

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Hopefully everyone had a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July and unlike a handful of NFL players still has all their digits intact. We wish America a belated yet very happy 239th birthday and also congratulate the U.S. women’s soccer team on their big win. With those obligatory niceties dispensed with, let’s get straight to predictions for IndyCar’s first race in July and since the epic 500 mile extravaganza in California.

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Our special prediction for the race at the Methuselah Mile involves its history as well as its future and should warm the hearts of motorsports fans everywhere, most especially in Wisconsin. The 113th IndyCar race in Milwaukee – that’s more times than they’ve raced bicycles across France – fortunately won’t be the last, despite Michael Andretti‘s latest grumblings.

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The series isn’t in a position to contract according to Hulman Co. CEO Mark Miles or lose another oval track from its increasingly road course-heavy schedule according to IRR. Combined with better attendance, an entertaining race and a fresh faced winner at the hundred and twelve year old facility, the result will be more of Milwaukee’s best  in the future. IndyCar fandom in its infinite wisdom will demand it – at least we will – and a return to the ancient mile fortunately will occur.

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One of our surprise picks is for pole position Continue reading

Milwaukee ‘IndyFest’ Preview: IndyCar’s History?!

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Prepare to watch fast on NBCSN this weekend for both qualifying and the IndyCar race will occur on Sunday within a few hours of one another, just like the good ol’ days. On a darker note, it may also be the last opportunity you ever have to see artistry on wheels at the historic track in Milwaukee. Ominously, it’ll mark the one hundred thirteenth IndyCar type race at America’s oldest remaining major sports venue – or what we at IRR affectionately refer to as the “Methuselah Mile” – opened way back in 1903.

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The Milwaukee “IndyFest” as it’s now known is an Andretti promoted event with a State Fair always nearby and even a Ferris wheel. Michael’s not only given us that merry moniker but also complaints about low attendance, lack of revenue and the like. It’s gotten to the point where Andretti’s threatening to pull out unless the bottom line improves. Sometimes lost in this is the fact that it’s his promotion company that’s responsible for the success of the event, which revolves largely around attendance. Considering the NOLA fiasco and now this, we’re beginning to question the efficacy of Andretti’s promotional abilities. If you’re a regular reader then you know we often wonder, “What’s Michael Andretti Thinking?

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In fairness we give credit to Andretti for saving the event at Milwaukee several years ago, but would similarly demote him if he were to pull the plug on America’s oldest IndyCar track. If that were to happen and Milwaukee were to disappear from the schedule like a lost city of gold, the loss of another oval – especially such an historic one –  would be beyond tragic. It’d be tantamount to Major League Baseball not visiting Wrigley Field, or the NFL by passing Lambeau. It’d be the end of history.

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Historically Ryan Hunter Reay‘s had success at Milwaukee, Continue reading