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 News Week in Review: Surgical Edition

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Hinch’s Comeback: After four months off convalescing outside of the car, lucky to be alive Canadian funnyman James Hinchcliffe returns to his SPM machine this week for testing at Road America in Wisconsin. The Mayor of something or other nearly lost his life due to a “dagger through the bottom of the seat” in his crash at IMS in May, losing copious amounts of blood and undergoing multiple surgeries. After the trying ordeal Hinch is thankful he’ll be back behind the wheel of his car. We’re glad the crazy Canuck’s back, too and hopeful he avoids further surgery for at least a few months.

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Newgarden Stays in Troubled Marriage: For at least another season, Josef Newgarden will stay put at CFH Racing after agreeing to a one year contract extension. The young American had a terrific season Continue reading

IndyCar 2015 Season Grades: Schmidt Peterson Motorsports

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Sam Schmidt’s team – we’ve no idea who this Peterson fellow is – endured a severe reversal of fortunes after a moderately successful 2014. The seemingly snake-bit SPM dealt with a host of issues apart from having two brand new drivers – the Two Jameses, Hinchcliffe and Jakes – as well as humpback Hondas. The poorly performing team failed to overcome devastating injuries, spectacular wrecks and more than their fair share of rotten racing luck. The group regressed this season and received low marks as a result.

Wins: 1

Podiums: 1

Poles: 0

Their tough year started quickly at St. Pete where a perfectly healthy team couldn’t crack the top fifteen, a harbinger of the season to come. Canuck funny man Hinchcliffe won at swampy NOLA – where one stop was enough – before being gravely wounded during practice for the Indy 500. His injuries at IMS resulted from a one hundred and twenty five G-force collision with the wall due to the failure of a right front suspension part.

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Upon impact, a suspension arm penetrated the cockpit, striking him in the thigh and gouging his artery. Schmidt likened it to “a dagger through the bottom of the seat.” Suffering extreme blood loss, Hinchcliffe Continue reading

Pocono Qualifications: Instant Reaction

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Helio Castro Neves wrested the forty fifth pole of his decades long IndyCar career away from his team mate Simon Pagenaud Saturday at Pocono Raceway. He did so at over 220 miles per hour and then proceeded to hoot and giggle girlishly in the post qualifications interview. Team Penske swept the top three spots with “Mad” Will Power on the inside of row two in tomorrow’s five hundred mile race, while CFH Racing’s Josef Newgarden and championship contender Graham Rahal –  the quickest Honda – round out the top five.

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Fourth Penske entry and points leader Juan Pablo Montoya encountered a problem on his first lap, drifted up the track and lifted off the throttle. He qualified poorly as a result, starting nineteenth. When asked about his bobble in an interview Montoya replied, “It’s racing.” A big thanks to Paul Tracy, who guaranteed Montoya would be a contender tomorrow thereby jinxing him utterly. This along with Juan’s screw up in quals makes our prediction look better and better. Curiously, JPM declined interviews all day before qualifications, though not with IRR. We didn’t request one.

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Charlie Kimball who’d been quickest in practice spun and crashed during his qualifying run  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

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 Corn 300 Preview: Edibles Edition

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Iowa’s known for corn, hogs, related edibles and frankly little else. It’s the home of has been IndyCar blogger Bill Zahren, aka “PressdogTM,” as well as the Iowa Caucuses whatever those are. Apparently it’s some sort of beauty pageant for the rather homely political class, proving the old dictum that politics is celebrity for ugly people. Iowa sounds like it’s got a lot going for it, doesn’t it? We kid, we kid. Seriously, Saturday night should prove to be a tasty treat for fans of artistry on wheels.

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The best part of the entire god-forsaken state is Iowa Speedway, a 7/8s mile oval located east of Des Moines in the tiny town of Newton. Thank you, Rusty Wallace. Apparently it’s the one track in the country that can handle both an IndyCar race AND a certain other series race within a few weeks of each other. Now THAT’s tasty. It must be all that gooey corn pollen that makes this possible in the Hawkeye state. Or perhaps it’s the intense, wafting smell of hog shit (aka “money”) that has such a wonderfully efficient effect on the locals. They even have a “bar tent” at the Speedway and actually give away sweet corn during the festivities. Beer and corn – it’s not exactly wine and cheese – but what a culinary combo!

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The hors d’ oeuvres sized “speedway” opened back in 2006 and hosted its first IndyCar race the next year. Retired Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti – hailing from Scotland he’s used to horrible food – narrowly edged Marco Andretti to win the inaugural Iowa Corn 250. The race has been expanded to 300 laps the last couple of years and we’re thankful for the extra helping of fifty, gladly taking all the mouth watering oval track racing we can get. After all, egg shaped tracks are the meat and potatoes of IndyCar.

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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