IRR Started a Hashtag – Now Use It

RideforSage

Prior to its creation, the “Ride for Sage” concept spawned from a heart rendering piece in our latest “IndyCar  News Week in Review: Turkey Day Edition.” As if the poor kid hadn’t been through enough already this year, mere days before the start of the holiday season the Ganassi team cruelly announced that Karam’s IndyCar ride for next year is in jeopardy. One of the most exciting drivers to come along in some time now may not even be in the series next year. Great.

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So before our MNF viewing party last night, on a lark we tweeted to Sage in the hopes of lifting his spirits and perhaps our own, as well. “Whadya think of this hashtag, @SageKaram? #RideForSage We’d love your comment.”

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Photo from dpccars.com

Not surprisingly, the tech savvy twenty year old almost instantly replied, Continue reading

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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

IndyCar 2015 Season Grades: Chip Ganassi Racing

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Team honcho and toad lookalike Chip Ganassi took a tumble recently celebrating another IndyCar championship, injuring himself in a cycling accident and busting his collarbone. Just imagine Chip on a bike! He’ll be fine, though previously we’d thought the idea of a fish riding a bicycle was amusing, but that’s nothing compared to a toad. CGR’s top gun Scott Dixon won his fourth championship at Sonoma in a dramatic conclusion to a somewhat perilous season. As longtime readers know, anyone who can beat Team Penske is all right in our book. Plus, there’s Scott’s lovely wife Emma who’s worth a few extra credit points by any measure.

Wins: 3

Podiums: 7

Poles: 2

After its usual slow start the team showed much improvement after the mid season report card starting with Texas, where Dixie did Dallas definitively. He’d won Long Beach earlier in the year, but neither he nor the team had any further luck until venturing deep into the heart of the metroplex. In Target’s twenty sixth year in the sport – though at a diminished level – Dixie delivered the goods yet again. In addition to his three wins and two poles, Dixon had seven top fives, twelve top tens and was running at the finish in an impressive fifteen races out of sixteen.

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Grizzled IndyCar veteran Tony Kanaan had a lackluster year failing to win a race. The big-nosed Brazilian Continue reading

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

IndyCar 2015 Season Grades: Bryan Herta Autosport

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The odd little one car team piloted by Gabby “Pat” Chavez had an indeterminate year considering the many challenges they face, including a dearth of funding, resources and experience – but boy, have they got spunk! The unisex twenty two year old Colombian earned Rookie of the Year awards for both the Indy 500 and season, a feat not accomplished since 2006 when Marco accomplished it. With a less than famous name, we certainly hope Pat’s career results are better than Marco’s after a decade in the sport.

Wins: 0

Podiums: 0

Poles: 0

In some ways Herta’s Honda regressed slightly this year compared to last, when rookie Englishman Jack Hawksworth at least scored a podium finish at the forgettable Houston “track,” coming in third behind  Pags and Aleshin in the totally unnecessary second race. While other sports joke about playing in a parking lot, IndyCar disgustingly does it – sometimes twice in the same weekend. [Audible groan.]

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But back to the guy er, um driver in question, Gabby. In addition to other accolades, we’re pleased to announce Chavez is the winner of our 2015 Bruce Jenner/Caitlyn Jenner Gender Bender Award, or the BJCJGBA. Continue reading

Pocono Race Review: Tragedy in Pennsylvania

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Ryan Hunter-Reay crossed the finish line first for Andretti Autosport at Pocono Sunday evening, but there were no celebrations and no confetti in a subdued victory lane. His team mate Justin Wilson had already been airlifted to the hospital and as yet no one at the track knew his status. It was the strangest scene after a race in memory as a pall hung heavily over the gathered crowd.

Wilson was hit in the head by debris from Sage Karam’s car, which disintegrated when he spun and hit the wall while leading the last portion of the race. Karam injured his right foot in the wreck, but he got off lightly compared to Justin. Slumped forward in the cockpit, Wilson was clearly already knocked unconscious as the car hit the inside wall and came to a stop. Today Wilson remains in a coma in critical condition. Sadly Justin passed away Monday night. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Englishman’s family.

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The incident isn’t dissimilar to the case of F-1 driver Jules Bianchi, 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)

Photo from poconoraceway.com

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

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

Honda 200 Predictions and Prognostications: Camp Edition

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Maybe several coats of pretty pastel Sherwin-Williams paint could spruce up the fifty something sports car course and campground, but as for the racing this weekend don’t count on much to look at. We at IRR can’t remember the last remotely watchable race at Mid-Ohio and although we’ve been fooled once this season by the racing on a road course unfortunately it’s highly unlikely Sunday. The track’s simply unsuitable for IndyCars and if they want fans squealing with delight then the series really ought to find a better place to camp next season.

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Anticipating abject and unrelenting tedium in the woods we’ll be Live Tweeting the “event” in the hopes of adding some spice and maybe even a touch of camp. Those noisy IndyCars at rustic Mid-Ohio – it’s all just a bit too manly for our tastes. Our special prediction for the race involves the campers at Mid-Ohio, or rather a large contingent of “glampers” invading the track this weekend. Largely city boys out for a thrill, there’ll be some spontaneous weddings break out on the lovely, wooded hillsides where methanol fumes magically intermingle with wispy campfire smoke. Sometimes and especially this year IndyCar needs a feminine touch – and the glampers won’t disappoint.

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Image from Indy Race Reviewer

Our prediction for pole sitter – such a deliciously descriptive term, isn’t it? – started second last year and has been hotter than a gay pride parade ever since. CFH’s Josef Newgarden – an attractive young man in great shape and with even better hair – has given Americans of all orientations someone to lustily cheer for in 2015. He’s just so cute!

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At the other end of the happy scale, first out of the race will be 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