Road America Race Review: Absolutely No Action Edition

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Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden won from pole for the first time at Elkhart Lake on Sunday, scoring his tenth career triumph in a paltry parade round a track unworthy of hosting a major league race. So what does IndyCar do, hot on the heels of being dropped from Phoenix, one of a few, dwindling oval tracks left? They reward Road America with a three year extension. Great. Meanwhile, in the utter dumbing down of the sport, ovals are being systematically eliminated from the schedule.

Newkid led 53 of the almost agonizingly boring 55 laps, with what little engaging entertainment there was emerging deep in the field or, in reality, when the tipsy though not unattractive blonde crashed Josef’s champagne spraying party in victory lane. His patting her ass is epic, especially in this age of outrage assassins. Otherwise, the highest drama occurred when race control was reviewing several on track fracases, usually involving Rossi and in every single case – except those involving the pits – offering no action whatsoever. Just exactly like the racing.

The Penske front row didn’t last long as Power dropped like a stone once the green flag flew, shouting “engine!” into his mic. Turned out to be a header issue and  Continue reading

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Road America Predictions and Prognostications: Malodorous Edition

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If winning’s the best deodorant (to paraphrase Liz Taylor for the purposes of racing), then why does Will Power’s stench remain so stubbornly enduring? It’s a rhetorical question obviously, but seems relevant heading into a place like Road America. The answer lies in the unlikable Aussie’s status with Team Penske, recently reinforced since his fluky 500 win.

Our special prediction for the race is an underdog kinda contest, which is both positive and welcome in the wake of Power’s meteoric rise in the standings since May. The kind of racer you want to root for, he isn’t. But plenty of those aromatic sorts you do enjoy pulling for will stand out this weekend, including the rookies Zach – both Veach and De Melo.

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Pole prognostication points to Power, much as it pains us to write it. The putrid Penske pilot’s perfected his qualifying chops; thankfully it doesn’t always translate to race wins. That would reek.  Continue reading

Road America IndyCar Race Review: Dixon’s Cheese Edition

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Surprisingly an engaging battle broke out Sunday in Wisconsin, although the eventual cheese taker was never in doubt. No runaway like last year, the Kohler Grand Prix managed to keep fans’ interest fully engaged from beginning to end – a remarkable accomplishment for the wine and cheese crowd on a road course.

One after another of Penske’s four horsemen faltered, paving the way for Scott Dixon’s 41st career win. He’s now a mere win away from third on the all time list. The half second victory was the Ganassi ace’s first since September and also his first at Elkhart Lake. Once the confetti had settled, the Cap’n’s crew were highly cheesed.

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Action occurred right from the start at the series’ longest track, as passing aplenty played out. Owning the first two rows, Team Penske seemed set to figure largely in the outcome. Josef Newgarden who started third fought his way to the lead by lap 13, getting around Will Power and pole sitter Helio Castro-Neves. But with the Cap’n away the Penskes did stray, and for Tim Cindric it turned into a long day.

The first caution was brought out by Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato, who left the course and came sliding to an abrupt halt. Continue reading

Road America IndyCar Preview: This Replaced Milwaukee Why?!

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No kidding – not yet, at least – 1986 Indy 500 winner Bobby Rahal recently called Road America “THE best circuit in North America” and among the “top ten in the world.” Well, Mr. Mustache, pardon the hell out of us if we beg to differ.

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Last year’s Wisconsin visit typified REM inducing road racing. This despite others’ – and admittedly even our own – efforts at optimism leading up to the event. The series hadn’t raced there in a decade and every track deserves a shot, it’s thought. Except NOLA. And Baltimore. And Boston. And Brasilia. And . . . but we digress. The series’ big return was an absolute laugher, with Sour Grapes Power running away from the field. Stop us – and road racing – if you’ve seen this before.

One problem was – and there were many – only one caution flag. As previously exposed on this site, IndyCar road racing needs a shot in the arm, nay – a salvation – before it bores fans to a tedious, road weary death. Squirrely tracks – especially a super long, scary circuit like RA – need LOTS of flags to make it even remotely interesting. Oh, and rain tires. And penalties. And grid girls.

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At least it’s a road course Scott Dixon didn’t run away with, like Mid-Ohio or Sonoma. Continue reading

Road America Race Review: Good Fun Edition

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Overall the racing in IndyCar’s return to Wisconsin disappointed almost as badly as the eventual winner, though good fun was had by almost everyone at Road America.

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The Kohler Grand Prix turned out to be a fairly boring one caution affair with the unlikable pole sitter cruising to victory. It was Mad Will Power‘s second win in the last two races, after undergoing a year long drought. Frankly, we preferred the drought.

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Nevertheless, the drivers enjoyed themselves, with the injured Josef Newgarden Continue reading

Road America Predictions and Prognostications: Tasteful Edition

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The home state of Miller beer hosts an IndyCar race this weekend and we’re predicting a tasteful, if less fulfilling, outcome for the series’ return to Road America.

It’s been nearly a decade since IndyCar raced in Wisconsin’s haunted woods and then it was only one of two warring camps during the open wheel civil war. Few current drivers have raced there, although those who have include road course aces mad Aussie Will Power and irascible Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais. Fortunately for fans experience isn’t always the key to winning and tasting the champagne in this series.

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It’ll be a packed house in the campgrounds of RA Sunday, as a reported hundred thousand tickets have been sold. That’s all well and good, though we can’t help but wonder where these folks were when the historic Milwaukee Mile struggled to attract a fifth that number. The Methuselah Mile undoubtedly exhibited better racing than we’ll see at Elkhart Lake, yet it’s off this year’s schedule. There’s truly no accounting for taste.

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Our special prediction for Road America is Continue reading

Road America Preview: Racing The Haunted Woods

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A mysterious land of wonderment, danger and frights, Road America’s where AJ‘s leg bones from his terrifying 1990 crash still haunt the foreboding, forested hills. For modern day racers, it’s a lengthy leap into the unsettling unknown.

 

Once upon a time long, long ago IndyCar raced at a magical place called Road America. The scene of flips, collisions and even rear wings flying off, racing last occurred there in 2007 prior to the conclusion of the super scary split. The series first appeared at the frightful facility in the deep, dark woods way back in 1982. Legends including Mario Andretti and Danny Sullivan won races there. It truly was an epic age.

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Only half the field tested in Wisconsin after the Texas flood, as they scattered for vacations from Vegas to Le Mans. Those who did test included 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

’16 Schedule Stupor: ‘Too Stupid’

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In everyone’s excitement over the announcement of Road America returning to IndyCar’s schedule after a nearly decade long absence, a crucial and rather alarming fact was overlooked. The announced date for next year’s race at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin coincides with Fontana’s late June date this year. Road America may be the greatest road course on the planet for all we care, but three of them couldn’t make up for the loss of the awe-inspiring Auto Club Speedway in Southern California. Famous for thrilling, edge of your seat oval racing, this year’s MAVTV 500 proved to be one of the greatest races many have ever witnessed. IndyCar refusing to race there next year would be the height of stupidity.

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Not helping matters, the date of the Fontana race has been a moving target the last few years, going from season finale in 2014 to the solstice season this summer. Seems as though heat’s a huge factor for Californian race fans – as well as drought, earthquakes, wild fires & crime – though the racetrack does have lights the series has utilized to escape the heat of the day. Outgoing competition president Derrick Walker acknowledged Fontana’s issues when asked about its return recently. Although he called this year’s race one of the most entertaining races ever, his response wasn’t overly encouraging.

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Said Walker Continue reading

IndyCar News Week in Review: Seconds Edition

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Rahal’s Reeling ‘Em In: With his surprising hometown win at Mid-Ohio, Graham Rahal jumped to second pulling within nine points of the championship lead with two races to go. It’s been an incredible year for Rahal, who’s won twice, scored multiple podium finishes and an impressive eight top fives. At the same time, Montoya’s fading in the homestretch not even having appeared on the podium in months. JPM did win Pocono last year though, and can’t be counted out yet – no matter how much we might like to do so.

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Television Ratings Rise: For the fourth race in a row on NBCSN, viewership of IndyCar was up for Mid-Ohio. The combined numbers for the live showing on CNBC and the later re-air on NBCSN rivaled ABC races with nearly seven hundred thousand viewers. That’s the highest ever rated IndyCar race on the cable sports network, which now also shows NASCAR. For a sport where seconds count that’s an outstanding trend and one that could continue, though it’ll have to withstand a withering three week break before Pocono.

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Return of the Mad Russian: SPM announced Mikhail Aleshin Continue reading