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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IndyCar News Week in Review: Vacation Edition

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Andretti Sued By His Own Company: Only in IndyCar would a prominent owner and face of the sport be sued by his own company. Leave it to Curt Cavin to report that Andretti Sports Marketing is suing Andretti Autosport in Marion County Superior Court. In a statement Michael Andretti – the CEO of both outfits – singled out complainants President John Lopes and Treasurer Starke Taylor as “disingenuous and self serving” in their attempt “to impact our family name.” Sounds like recent cutbacks at ASM have led to disgruntled employees and hard feelings. Wonder if Michael wants to get away?

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Testing For The Centennial: Six cars from four teams are testing today at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Marco and Helio will be testing Firestone tires while Carpenter, Kanaan, Pags and RHR will be doing some team testing on the historic oval. Looks like no vacation for these six drivers, or at least a slightly shorter one. It’s wise to test the cars, tires and aero kits earlier as opposed to later, as hopefully next year won’t see a rash of cars flying through the air at Indy.

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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USF2000, Pro Mazda To Get NEW CARS!: Continue reading

Milwaukee Race Review: ‘Because He Got High’ Edition

Jul 12, 2015; West Allis, WI, USA; Verizon IndyCar Series driver Sebastien Bourdais (11) during practice for the ABC Supply Wisconsin 250 at Milwaukee Mile Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: USATSI-230510 ORIG FILE ID:  20150712_ads_bv1_019.JPG

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First time pole sitter Josef Newgarden could have won the ABC Supply Wisconsin 250 after leading over a hundred laps Sunday, but faded in the middle portion of the race due to pit stops and traffic, ultimately finishing fifth because he got high. The same could be said for other drivers in the highly entertaining show, though none reached the heights of Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais who took his thirty fourth career IndyCar win at the Milwaukee Mile. Helio Castro Neves started dead last – behind even Pippa Mann – then steadily sped through the field to a highly surprising second place finish for the Cap’n‘s best result. Helio also could have won the race, but he got high. Third place was as high as Graham Rahal could hold on to, but Bobby’s boy continued his strong 2015 season with another highly satisfying podium finish.

On the other end of the blunt, Ed Carpenter‘s horrid year continued at the Milwaukee Mile. Early in the contest he held up the race leader and his team mate JoNew for several laps before finally letting him – and  those pursuing him – past. They got around him, high. It was reported during the race that Ed fired his spotter after crashing both his team’s cars and then calling the spotter out at Fontana, replacing him with former 500 winner Buddy Rice. Apparently the spotter wasn’t the problem at Milwaukee, as Carpenter eventually struggled home in tenth. That’s his highest result of the year, as the Fuzzy’s Vodka car hadn’t completed an oval race until Sunday.

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Getting high on the flat oval seemed to be the key to speed for those running up front as many cars experienced ill handling most of the day. Race control in its infinite wisdom slowed the competitors down to a snail’s pace of fifty miles per hour on pit lane in the ever tiresome interest of safety, and for a change none of Dale Coyne’s drivers hit a crewman. Not surprisingly there was a pit lane speed violation by Juan Montoya, however. His speed was judged to be too high.  Continue reading

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

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

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

IndyCar News Week in Review: “Talkin’ ‘Bout Practice” Edition

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Misleading Speeds: Andretti Autosport’s cat-like Colombian Carlos Munoz topped the speed charts at Indy this week with a lap of 230.1 miles per hour on Wednesday. It’s a misleading number, however. Without tows from other cars the speeds had been in the high 220s, compliments of Helio, Pags and Chevy’s special new aero pieces. We stand by our prediction that there’ll be no new track records at Indianapolis this year, at least not in qualifying. Possibly in the number of back-flips by a car down the straightaway, though.

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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Helio’s Bad Day: Wednesday’s practice got expensive and scary for Team Penske’s Helio Castro-Neves, who got sideways, hit the wall and then somersaulted down the straightaway ultimately landing upside down on track. Fortunately and thanks to the safety of the Dallara cars he was uninjured. All this after IndyCar slapped him with an iron fisted though admittedly tortoise-paced reprimand subtracting eight points. Talk about adding insult to injury. The penalty was for last Saturday’s punting of Dixie at the start of the Grand Prix of Indy and was deserved, if not obvious. It came four days later – now that’s some decisive decision making from race control for ya.  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

IndyCar News Week in Review: Karmic Wheels Edition

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New Winner Newgarden: Twenty four year old American Josef Newgarden took his first IndyCar win in fifty five races at Barber last Sunday to the joy of many race fans. Seems as though the racing gods were smiling upon him in Bama. Graham Rahal advanced from eighth starting position to second for an all American 1-2 finish. The race was highly entertaining as Barber shocked many with its raciness, let alone its result. It was a popular event and both Josef and Graham deserve some good karma.

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99th Indy 500 Approacheth: There’s been some Greatest Spectacle in Racing news since our last Week in Review. Continue reading

IndyCar Barber Predictions and Prognostications: Bike Wreck

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The less said about the Long Beach edition of predictions the better. Happily we did at least accurately foresee that no fans would be grievously injured by flying aero kit debris. With only one caution all race, that proved to be prescient. Unfortunately little else we published was as Montoya managed only second. That’s why they call it prognosticating, after all.

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The series heads south for a visit to Alabama and we can confidently predict repeated references by commentators to the “beauty” of Barber’s “gorgeous facility.”  While that assessment may be accurate, it certainly doesn’t mean the track provides entertaining racing, because it doesn’t. Little passing and strung out fields are hallmarks of IndyCar on this motorcycle track in the woods, and this year’s race will be no different.

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Don’t expect many cautions at Barber either as teams are still short of parts like $20,000 front wings, particularly KV Racing. Thank you Stefano Coletti. With numerous driver changes taking place already this season – at Coyne, Ganassi, and Coyne – the pilots will be on their best behavior again on Sunday. Continue reading