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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IndyCar 2015 Season Grades: CFH Racing

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For Carpenter Fisher Hartman Racing it was an almost Dickensian tale of two seasons, which is altogether fitting because until this year they were two teams. Josef Newgarden performed brilliantly in a break out year scoring his first two career wins, while by contrast Italian Luca Filippi and especially Ed Carpenter who platooned in the #20 car performed rather poorly.

Wins: 2

Podiums: 1

Poles: 1

Newgarden had an outstanding year, winning in fine fashion at both Barber and Toronto – where Filippi finished second – and scoring his first ever pole position at Milwaukee’s Methuselah Mile. In his best season yet, the young Tennessean came in seventh in the championship with five top fives and nine top ten finishes. He was running at the finish in thirteen out of sixteen races and remember, one of those DNFs was when Ed crashed him out at Fontana.

In ten starts on road courses, Filippi managed twenty first in the championship with the one top five and four top tens. Not having Ed to dodge helped, Continue reading

Pocono Predictions And Prognostications: Problems Edition

Our problem – one of about 500 of them – is that after nearly a month off our powers of prognostication are really rusty. It’s a good thing our picks have been weaker than an IndyCar penalty all year or else it could’ve been a real problem. Perhaps a month off’s exactly what was needed and everyone can just get back to racing at Pocono problem-free. Yeah, right – at this point IndyCar’s about as problem-free as the drug-addled punk rockers the Sex Pistols.

LONG POND, PA - JULY 6, 2014: The Verizon IndyCar Series Pocono INDYCAR 500 fueled by Sunoco race is held at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, PA on July 6, 2014 (2014 pixelcrisp)

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In honor of “NASCAR‘s Tricky Triangle,” we’ve a series of special predictions, though they’re probably problematic for fans of the artistry on wheels that is IndyCar – you’ve been warned. Tragically it’ll most likely be the series’ last trip to Pocono, like Fontana, at least for a while. Sigh. Befitting the mood of the occasion, in their first on track meeting since Iowa Sage “Wildman” Karam and Ed “The Finger” Carpenter won’t tangle with each other again or even make unkind gestures. It’d be just too juicy and beneficial for a series that has so many problems it doesn’t seem worthy of a good break.

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Despite his prowess in 500 milers, Team Penske championship leader Juan “You Know” Montoya will encounter problems during the course of the marathon race and fail to repeat at Pocono. This’ll present Graham Rahal and other title contenders with a golden opportunity at Long Pond before heading into the season finale. Looks like it’s not the Cap’n’s year, as even Penske isn’t immune to Pocono’s plentiful problems.

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Another problem for Pocono Continue reading

Pocono, You Know: ABC Supply 500 Preview

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Great Jules Goux’s ghost  are we glad to get back to some good old IndyCar oval track racing. This season’s oval finale ABC Supply 500 will be run at Pocono Raceway Sunday afternoon and in our view it can’t get here quickly enough. After a three week layoff, anticipating the exciting, side by side racing IndyCar generally displays on ovals is a given, although so you know Pocono’s a bit roval-esque for our particularly refined racing tastes.

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A technical track, Pocono’s a tri-oval with different banking in each of its three unique corners – a triangular shaped track and a really odd duck. Turn one was modeled after the old Trenton Speedway, two after Indianapolis Motor Speedway and turn three after the flat Milwaukee Mile. Apparently they couldn’t think of a track for a fourth turn. Drivers and teams must make compromises in their setups to navigate each corner smoothly, although there’s usually at least one corner the car doesn’t like. Clearly “NASCAR’s Tricky Triangle” as it’s irksomely billed isn’t your typical oval, don’t you know.

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You know IRR’s definitely jazzed about another 500 mile IndyCar race, but at the same time sad that it’ll be the last until next Memorial Day weekend, especially in the wake of Fontana’s loss. From what we’re hearing, ticket sales had better improve ASAP in northeastern PA or else it may be the last 500 miler – or IndyCar race of any distance – at Pocono. Tragically it may truly be “NASCAR’s triangle” after this weekend. That is at least until a certain head we’ve requested comes in, you know.

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Sadly like many IndyCar races at NASCAR owned and controlled tracks, Pocono – which is privately owned, despite its billing –  Continue reading

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

Mid-Ohio Race Review: ‘Graham Being Graham’ Edition

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Finally Graham Rahal won a race on his home track after seven previous starts at Mid-Ohio and nary a podium to show for them. Inheriting the lead after pitting just as a caution flag came out, Rahal determinedly held on for his second win in what’s already his best ever season in IndyCar. Unfortunately Courtney Force wasn’t on hand for her fiance’s big day yesterday, as she brightens up any venue she attends. But who can blame her for skipping Mid-Ohio though, really?

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During the pre race show Katie Hargitt interviewed Graham Rahal about “growing up at Mid-Ohio.” Graham mentioned remembering camping there as a youth, seamlessly worked in his sponsor Steak ‘N Shake and spoke of generally “terrorizing the place.” We wonder why there are never any Maxim references from Rahal. His helmet for the race resembled the Ohio State Buckeyes football headgear, right down to the buckeye stickers awarded for good play. Graham mentioned he wanted to introduce helmet stickers to his pit crew for performance, citing “competition.” It must have worked, as his crew performed well all day long.

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Coming off an American sweep in Iowa, Mid-Ohio was packed in anticipation of a home town hero emerging and the fans weren’t disappointed. NBCSN’s competent coverage on CNBC included all the usual angles, as Katie Hargitt also interviewed Sage Karam, asking him about the recent dust-ups with Ed Carpenter and Graham. Sage first played the pity card before calling Rahal out.

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“I think a lot of people are picking on the rookie, to be honest. Continue reading

IndyCar News Week in Review: Rule 9.3.8 Edition

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Boob Tube Views News: Television viewership increased for the third straight race – that’s third straight oval race, thank you very much – on NBCSN. It’s welcome news for the series and network, although at roughly 500,000 it’s kinda like being voted prettiest woman who was formerly a male decathlete. [Rule 9.3.8 violation] Then the rule 9.3.8 controversy – which we had nothing to do with – sprang forth and sucked all the air out of IndyCar’s room. Oh well. We’re already looking forward to the last remaining oval contest at Pocono – the racing’s been superb on the circular tracks, particularly Fontana and Iowa – and predict that Mid-Ohio won’t have either the racing or the ratings IndyCar’s been enjoying. [Rule 9.3.8 violation]

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Iowa’s Intensity: Sage Karam violently burst onto the niche cable sports channel stage Saturday night for the few hundred thousand viewers who tuned in to see the show. Attendance at the track looked off a bit as Ryan Hunter-Reay won again which we’ve all seen before – three times now and twice in a row – but the race itself was outstanding. Bonus drama broke out with Ed “Macho Man” Carpenter getting into “Wild Man” Sage’s face and letting the f-bombs fly. And all completely penalty free, to boot. Finally, it looks like “Indy Rivals” may be starting to get some actual rivals for a change. [Rule 9.3.8 violation]

17-18 July, 2015, Newton, Iowa USA Sage Karam ©2015 Scott R LePage  LAT Photo USA

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Penalties Are Passe: As predicted no drivers were penalized for the mayhem in Iowa, Continue reading

IndyCar Gives Drivers The Finger – And Some Deserve It

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IndyCar’s new addendum to Rule 9 regarding detrimental conduct toward the series and its competitors provoked much wailing and gnashing of teeth Tuesday when it was announced. Judging by the reaction in the press and Twitter environs, we think many of the windier wind bags doth protest too much, as usual. Because common sense once existed and thrived in this country, no major professional sports league allows its participants to publicly belittle the sport. IndyCar only fortified its stance in this regard after a number of drivers did exactly that in California.

Will Power and Juan Montoya‘s utterances following the thrilling MAVTV 500 at Fontana were completely unacceptable. Their degrading judgments were way out of line and as we wrote deserved action. Now action has been taken. Don’t blame IndyCar however, blame Power and Montoya.

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A study of society shows that’s the way it almost always works – a few bad apples, malcontents, idiots or incompetents screw things up for everybody else by bringing about new rules that everyone had lived perfectly well without. That’s why freedom today’s in so much jeopardy. Power and Montoya are those two kids in class who can’t resist eating the paste, so because of them nobody gets craft time. Thanks a lot, losers.

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But wait. IndyCar honcho Mark Miles insisted Continue reading

About Those IndyCar Penalties, Or Under-Officious Jerks

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Seems to us IndyCar’s iron fist of justice has turned a bit well, limp lately. The faceless, mysterious and secretive force known only as “race control” has obviously changed direction this season, taking a delayed approach to penalty enforcement – if bothering at all. Remember black flags? Drive through penalties? Disqualifications? As we all learned in government class and more recently in Ferguson, Baltimore and movie theaters everywhere, lax enforcement leads to disregard of the rules, which in turn leads to chaos. IndyCar’s chaotic enough without adopting Russian mob rules.

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In taking a wait and see approach to penalties, IndyCar is bucking the long standing tradition of penalizing drivers for infractions during the race in which they committed them so as to affect the offending drivers’ outcomes. IndyCar has three stewards and new, supposedly state of the art video equipment, so why not use them? Instant assessment of penalties not only discourages bad behavior and rule breaking – both of which are occurring this season – but also eliminates the speculation, whining and questioning that inevitably lingers long after the incidents themselves. Seen Twitter lately? After all, when it comes to officiating it’s an issue of basic fairness.

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Little was written or said about the Milwaukee winner’s misdeeds as the series ploddingly plowed its way into Iowa. Bourdais‘ team 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