St. Pete Race Review: Crass Commercial Edition

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Riveting racing in IndyCar’s return to action Sunday was largely overshadowed by shabby coverage from the Always Being Crass network in hopefully its last year broadcasting the series. Sebastien Bourdais survived the near constant carnage to repeat at St. Pete in a race featuring a whopping 366 on track passes. Fans maybe got to see ten percent of them. Given the sheer frequency of commercial interruptions, one would have thought the local newscaster the victor.

An asinine infomercial ran until ten minutes before the green flag. With so much new this year – gorgeous cars, rookie drivers and fledgling teams – the hyper abbreviated “pre-race” was in reality a slap in fans’ faces. Considering it’s Bestwicke, Goodyear and Cheever in the booth however, perhaps it wasn’t such a great loss.

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Will “Sour Grapes” Power’s first lap spin surprised even those of us predicting early trouble, and boy did it materialize. Even Scott Dixon suffered a rare brain fade worthy of a rookie – or worse, Marco – smacking Sato and instigating one of eight caution flags, five of which came in the early going. Old ‘n in the way TK and rookie Zach Veach made contact before Ragin’ Graham Rahal banged into Spencer Pigot, bringing out yet another yellow.

Away for another ubiquitous break, ABC missed multiple restarts as pole sitting newby Robert Wickens enjoyed a comfortable lead throughout most of the race. In a bit of foreshadowing, Bourdais briefly inherited the lead after the first round of pit stops. Continue reading

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St. Pete Predictions and Prognostications: Kinks Edition

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Florida’s experiencing not a British invasion this weekend, but rather an IndyCar one. Tired of waiting? Us too. At long last, it’s time for sexy cars and rock ‘n roll – all day, and all of the night. Warning: some may consider our peerless prognostications – kinda like The Kinks – to be slightly deviant.

The series hits a high note with the start of a brand new tour Sunday. It’s at one of the kinkiest courses on the schedule and in a spring break hot spot, with all the accompanying decadence you’d expect. Speaking of kinky, there’s little straight about the circuit at St. Pete, though there is plenty of narrow. Despite the trashy track, when the new chariots’ engines finally do fire, it’ll be music to our ears. So on this sunny afternoon we offer up some of our ever popular power chord predictions.

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Photo from autosport.com

Our special prognostications for the race involve the new cars and plethora of untested drivers. Due to the virginal inexperience of over a quarter of the field, expect a first lap pileup that’ll make the inelegant Indy GP look tame by comparison. Needless to say, this’ll prove to be a destroyer for the hopes of several. And don’t be surprised when crews are forced to work out various kinks in the unproven equipment. There’ll be no L-O-L-A Lolas on the grid – or any other chassis – only updated Dallaras.

For pole we’re going with experience, a turned on team with proven performance. In keeping with our overall theme, Continue reading

St. Pete Preview: My God – It’s Full Of Rookies!

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The cold, dark and vast vacuum of IndyCar’s off season is finally about to be penetrated – ironically, not on Florida’s space coast, but rather in the western city of St. Petersburg. Spinning, revolutions and centrifugal forces will be on full display during this important inaugural mission of 2018.

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No, you’re not tripping. The Firestone Grand Prix will see the most colossal class of rookies since the dawn of man. Aping the veterans, they’ll be strapping into brand new rocket ships for the first time next weekend. An asteroid sized chunk of the field has never raced an IndyCar in anger, much less in the unforgiving confines of St. Pete. These FNGs’ race odyssey begins in earnest with the blastoff of a new age in IndyCar.

Most of this generation were in diapers in 2001, as were their parents in 1968 when Kubrick’s mind blowing film 2001: A Space Odyssey debuted in theaters. Considering their boundless inexperience, let’s just hope come Sunday they don’t forget their friggin’ helmets.

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Image from redbubble.com

In the hostile space that is the streets of St. Pete – where the zero gravity toilet is in fact one’s driver suit – Continue reading

St. Pete IndyCar Race Review: A Real Stinker

The Firestone Grand Prix at times smelled like a tire fire.

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Photo from indycar.com

Frenchmen swept the top two spots at St. Pete Sunday, as Sebastien Bourdais bested defending champ Simon Pagenaud in a result no one foresaw, much less foresmelled. Charging all the way from last place, it was Bourdais’ thirty sixth major open wheel victory of his storied career, and it smelled of feet. By all accounts, SeBass was able to avoid embarrassing himself by not dropping the trophy again from atop the podium. It was his first win since Detroit 1 last June and added to other recent renaissance wins including Milwaukee.

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Photo from dailymail.co.uk

While the racing on the newly repaved circuit had its moments, particularly during the start and restart, on the whole it still stunk like week old French cheese. St. Pete’s a ramshackle temporary street course, on top of which Mark “Stink” Schlereth acted as Grand Marshall, so what’d you expect?

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Bestwicke, Goodyear and Cheever provided their usual Mickey Mouse coverage, Continue reading

St. Pete Predictions and Prognostications: The Penske Paradox

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IndyCar’s best team is also by far the worst.

Team Penske has won the lion’s share of the races lately, taking ten of sixteen in 2016 on the way to a championship. That’s one awfully rude lion. The four horsemen of the Penske paradox also have won the last three St. Pete season openers in a row.

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In the twelve year history of the event – not counting Paul “nearly won the 500” Tracy’s 2003 win in CART – Penske pilots have won an astounding eight races. That’s two out of every three on the west Florida streets.

Predictable doesn’t describe the sort of dominance RP’s team enjoys in IndyCar’s initial race. Tedious comes close.

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Which brings us to the worst part of Team Penske. Continue reading

St. Pete IndyCar Predictions And Prognostications: For Pete’s Sake!

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IRR’s crystal ball has been polished and readied for another scintillating season of predictions and prognostications. Let’s hope they’re worthy of ol’ Saint Peter himself, or at least a third rate beachfront community.

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Unlike last year, the season opener actually will take place and won’t be rudely cancelled by the host. Oddly enough, St. Pete welcomes IndyCar with open arms – despite last year’s horrific fan injuries that made “Shaun of the Dead” look tame. Luckily after being showered with flying aero kit debris nobody was shown the pearly gates.

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Propitiously, there’ll be fewer casualties among the paying fans this year. Not because the aero kits are any better, but because Continue reading