Frenchman Bourdais’ Big Rig Bursts Into Flames En Route To Phoenix; Pags Prime Suspect

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In an ominous start to IndyCar’s first oval race in eight months, KV Racing’s Hydroxycut hauler does its best impression of a matchstick.

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The semi truck hauling Sebastien Bourdais‘ IndyCar caught fire near Peoria, Arizona today. It had nearly completed its journey to Phoenix International Raceway for this weekend’s festivities before suddenly bursting into flames. There were neither injuries nor damage to the car once the flames were extinguished by fire crews, although the team may want to invest in some Febreeze. No immediate cause for the suspicious incident was released, but longtime Bourdais rival and fellow fast and feisty Frenchman Simon Pagenaud is a prime suspect. Here’s an IRR artist’s depiction of the Cap’n’s seafood special, so be on the lookout.

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This level of alleged French on French crime is appalling, particularly as the media continue to ignore the story. Bourdais, Continue reading

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Sonoma Finale Predictions and Prognostications: Rock ‘n Roll Edition

It’s been a trying week so let’s get right to the good stuff – our rip roarin’ Jimmy Page inspired crystal balling, of course. This week’s special prediction for IndyCar’s final race of the season and Championship decider is that there’ll be no driver-rattling, frightened-it’s-the-big-one, Fred Sanford-type earthquake hit Sonoma this year, at least not hours prior to the green flag like last visit.

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To quote Juan Pablo Montoya on 2014’s rockin’ act of God who come to think of it sounded a bit like Redd Foxx, “Awful, like awful. My shit . . . was shaking.” And since there’ll be no rockin’ and rollin’ pre-race – or probably during the race at all in “So Mind Numbing Sonoma,” thank you Indycar schedulers – we’ve supplied an excellent musical selection of our own choosing. Thought it’d be appropriate to have England’s greatest rock band provide it this week.

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Like a hot poker up the pee hole, picking Power for pole pains us plenty. Prognosticating “Mad” Will to prevail in anything just seems crazy and wrong. Moving right along first out of the race will be rookie Stefano “reckless-er than Andretti” Coletti, who seems to have trouble keeping his KV machine in one piece, whether it’s in practice or a race, on an oval or a crappy road course. In other words, Coletti doesn’t rock.

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The biggest surprise of the race and arguably the season 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

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 Predictions & Prognostications: ‘300’ Edition

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There’s going to be a fight of epic proportions Saturday night, one for the history books. The Iowa Corn 300 will resemble history’s bloody Battle of Thermopylae, the heroic stand against invaders made famous to modern readers by the Hollywood movie “300.” As in the film, Spartans in glistening helmets will be bravely battling their enemies, only this time they’ll be on track, knee deep in IndyCar gore and in normal color. We can guarantee gobs of good ol’ gladiatorial gamesmanship in the arena amongst the cornfields near Newton, Iowa. Long live Sparta!

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In its shape, size and utility, Iowa Speedway resembles a Greek coliseum and like its ancient precursor the speedway will be filled with screaming spectators ready to see the show. IndyCar drivers bring a warrior mentality to those chariots of theirs as well they should, for another oval track battle royal is about to take place. Here’s what else our oracles ordained to occur this weekend in Iowa.

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Our special prediction for Iowa is 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

Fontana Preview: Save The Ovals!

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Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California has played host to some thrilling IndyCar races over the two decades since it opened. Built on the site of an old steel mill that helped the arsenal of western civilization save itself in World War II, the track was completed in 1996. It began hosting CART races the next year. On the other side of the split the all oval IRL began holding competing races there in 2002, with the re-unified series holding its first race at Fontana in 2012. In an age of oval subtractions from the schedule, the addition of Fontana made imminent good sense.

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Previous winners among former drivers include KV Racing owner/wine connoisseur Jimmy Vasser who, like Sam Hornish, Jr won twice at Fontana along with recently retired Dario Franchitti. Ed Carpenter, Will Power and Tony Kanaan are the active winners in the field this year, while Juan Pablo Montoya will be a threat to take his second five hundred mile win of the season in as many attempts. Interestingly, Scott Dixon and Carlos Munoz both won SoCal’s fiesta in Indy lights, the quick Colombian winning consecutively in 2012 and 2013. We can’t help but wonder if those wins were simply “OK.” Hmmm, Carlos?

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Twenty years of racing at the Southern California track have witnessed wild fires, drought, incredible finishes and speeds over 235 miles per hour. 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

Toronto Qualifications Instant Reaction: Told You So Edition

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Precisely as predicted, Team Penske’s Will Power won his forty first IndyCar pole in the closing minutes of the fast six round of qualifications Saturday. He did so in dramatic fashion, edging his team mates Simon Pagenaud and Juan Montoya and doing it all with a broken thumb sustained at the dual in Detroit. That’s the Mad Will Power we know – quick in quals but often more reticent in the race.

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When people say they “hate to say it, but we told you so,” of course in reality they don’t dislike saying it at all. The reason is because you were wrong, your annoying friends were right and in some significant way that’s human nature in a nutshell. Why do we write all this? Only to say we at IRR told you so, again.

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As for our other predictions, Sebastien Bourdais qualified well in fifth positioning his KV car for another win in Toronto. Continue reading

Toronto Predictions & Prognostications: Double Secret Probation Edition

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First let’s predict who won’t win – it’s not going to be a Honda team, Dale Coyne freshman “un-Speedy” Gonzalez, Sebastien Saavedra or a certain reckless rookie from Monaco. Stefano “faster than Andretti” Coletti now finds himself on IndyCar’s version of double secret probation after speeding and ignoring lanes in the pits at Texas. Already on probation having racked up numerous crashes – sometimes multiple accidents in one weekend – and a penumbra of penalties and fines to boot, for KV’s Coletti it was the Dean Wormer speech. “One more slip up, one more mistake and you’re finished at Farber!” When IndyCar has taken to showing a close up of your car and number above the penalties announcement, you know you’re on thin ice.

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Our specialty prediction for the concrete car crusher known as Toronto is widespread confusion and disappointment amongst the gathered throngs of Molson-fogged Canucks in attendance. When they finally figure out that there’s only one race this year, the only Canadian in the series is sidelined due to injury AND they’ve only two Brits in the entire field to root for, the War of 1812 may break out again on the bicentennial of its conclusion. Our advice for Americans making the trek to the great white north? Prepare for a hasty though not re-enacted retreat south and be super polite to those border guards.

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Our pick for pole is Penske’s Will Power and not because we’re a fan of the champ. Continue reading