IndyCar 2015 Season Grades: CFH Racing


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


Toronto Race Review: Take That NASCAR


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While NASCAR was rain delayed several hours at MIS – a track they stole from IndyCar, thank you Roger Penske – another classic IndyCar street fight broke out in what two time race winner and authentic Canuck Paul Tracy called “one of the best races I’ve ever seen at Toronto.” American Josef Newgarden won his second race of the season and his career as team owner Sarah Fisher – who happens to be female – shed tears of joy after the newly merged team went 1-2 with Italian Lucca Filippi. After disappointing in qualifying, Newgarden won from an 11th place starting position taking his second win in the last seven races.


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Despite absolutely awful renditions of both national anthems by Canadian rock group The Trews – which saw drivers and WAGS trying not to laugh on camera – IndyCar put on a helluva race in Toronto. With collisions galore in the wet and then dry conditions there was hard racing, action and passing all afternoon and merely two yellows – half the recent race average and fewer than expected on the wet streets of Exhibition Place. All the gnashing of teeth about another timed race, NBCSN not showing the number of laps, and so forth was all for naught as the race went the full eighty five laps in the end.


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Team mates got thickly into the fight, with Filippi and Newgarden, Power and Pags, and Gonzalez and seemingly everyone else fighting it out on track. The banging began immediately when Stefano “double secret probation” Coletti hit Frenchman Tristan Vautier on the opening lap, spinning them both. Flaunting his probationary status, the Monacan tangled with others during the course of the event too, later making contact with Charlie Kimball. Fortunately none of those incidents drew a yellow, though further penalties will be forthcoming.


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Surprisingly there were only two cautions the entire race, Continue reading

Barber Race Review: Wow, Were We Wrong


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Almost incredibly, a real live IndyCar race broke out for the first time in six visits to the amazingly gorgeous and beautiful facility outside Birmingham. Tennessee’s native son Josef Newgarden prevailed, making co-owner Sarah Fisher exceptionally happy. She’s stuck by him for four years and it finally paid off on a day Newkid’s dad not only made the broadcast, but also called him a “bad ass” on live television. Newgarden’s benefited greatly from his team’s switch to Chevy this year and it showed. When you’re seeing three wide racing at Barber – not to mention ten lead changes – you know it’s going to be an unusually entertaining race. It was one of those magical Sundays in IndyCarland that keep we fans coming back for more.


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The race didn’t start out that magically however, with a Penske front row for the fifth consecutive race and the TCGR cars lurking nearby. But also there at the front of the field and largely overlooked was young Josef Newgarden, who’d had a decent season already and started fifth. The twenty four year old would hang tough all day and eventually take the lead for good as his competitors had penalties, pit issues and other problems to contend with in addition to CFHR’s road course ace. Newgarden proved too stout for the field, cruising to his first IndyCar victory in fifty five races and providing his team with its coveted first win.


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Graham Rahal turned in the drive of the race, steadily storming to the front for a second place finish after starting eighth. Continue reading

IndyCar Predictions and Prognostications – Silly Season, Andrettis, AJ & More


For the debut of this visionary new column – one we foresee making sporadic appearances on this site with varying degrees of accuracy when it comes to the predictions ventured – IRR’s special soothsaying division offers some shocking statements about the future of racing.

Why wait for IndyCar news when our crack staff can divine it ahead of time? So without further adieu, here are our presumptuous prognostications for IndyCar in January.


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His birthday over, AJ lays off the sake and English brown ales – unlike his drivers – for at least a few more weeks.

Dale Coyne Racing will be making no announcements, media appearances or any other racing related moves whatsoever. Continue reading

An Interview with Brian Carroccio Previewing IndyCar’s 2015 Season


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Widely read AutoRacing1 columnist and one of IRR’s favorites is Brian Carroccio, a thirty eight year old family man who hails from Rockville, Maryland near our nation’s crime and politician ridden capital. Charmingly Brian or BC as we call him doesn’t know how many Twitter followers he has – it’s in excess of a thousand – though he does know good racing, has attended the Greatest Spectacle in Racing and plans to do so again. Interestingly, he said the most surprising country in which his readership can be found is the Ukraine.


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BC loves his family, the Washington Redskins and racing, and we say two out of three ain’t bad. He grew up a Newman-Haas IndyCar fan in a racing household with his dad doing duty in sports car pits on weekends. Brian began watching IndyCar in its latter day hey day with superstars Mears, Unsers, Andrettis, Sullivan, Rahal and Foyt battling it out on track. His favorite drivers growing up were Al Unser, Sr. and Paul Tracy. He also admits to following soccer – some club called Man U – but we’re willing to overlook that. Rooting for the Redskins however is unpardonable.


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We began the interview by asking BC about the Andrettis and their legacy in IndyCar. His response was rather surprising.

BC: “Mario’s Mario, a legendary winner. What can you say? As far as Michael, he was a vastly under-appreciated driver who had an epic career. To have raced and won against the level of competition that Michael did is amazing, and that was with the Andretti name and all its expectations. But as good as he was as a driver, he’s an even better owner. What he does for the sport, from team building to promotion to resurrecting Milwaukee, exceeds what the other owners have done.”  Continue reading

IndyCar News Week in Review: The Poor Decisions Edition


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Fisher Leaves Retirement, Goes to Oklahoma: In the questionable call of the young year, ever emotional Sarah Fisher will return to her midget racing roots next week in OK nearly five years after retiring from a winless IndyCar career. The ‘Chili Bowl’ – Tulsa’s annual indoor midget races that take place in mid January – contains an extra dose of spice this year with Fisher’s participation. Bring your own spoons; NASCAR’s supplying the cheese and crackers. In light of Tony Stewart’s disastrous experiences in 2014, we seriously wonder if the 34 year old mother of two’s decision to race is a good idea.


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Andretti Autosport Poaches Veteran Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Employee: Continue reading

Will The New CFH Racing Marriage Last?


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The amalgamation of Ed Carpenter Racing and Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing officially occurred in late 2014, forging the fabled new CFH Racing. Perhaps not since Ferdinand and Isabella’s marriage unifying Spain in the 15th century has a union been so momentous. On the surface the IndyCar marriage makes sense, as both capital deprived single car teams could use a team mate’s help, data and support. The thinking was that two marginally to mildly successful groups would join forces and become greater than the sum of their parts – like medieval Spain, a new force to be reckoned with. Scratch the surface on that shiny new IndyCar edifice however, and the crucial process of integration has a ways to go.


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Continue reading

IndyCar News Year in Review: Top Fourteen Stories of 2014 Edition


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1. Pags to Penske: The hottest free agent available this off season signed with the often froggy and widely reviled Team Penske. This is easily the biggest story of the year as well as the most unsettling for other teams. Plus there’s the fact that Pags is a likeable Frog, or was until turning coats to the dark side. IndyCar needs more villains, so the Frenchman’s foreign legion service for the Captain will be entertaining to watch.


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2. An American Actually Wins America’s Biggest Race: Continue reading

IndyCar News Week in Review


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SPECIAL UPDATE: Series Sponsor Verizon settled a damaging lawsuit late this week, agreeing to pay out millions of dollars to customers the communications company overcharged for years. This affected not only millions of Verizon subscribers, but also the rest of us as apparently the entire internet was impacted by Verizon’s shenanigans. Ripping off your customers certainly isn’t the sort of sleazy corporate behavior IndyCar wants or needs to be associated with one would think, nor is slowing down the whole of the web in the nation that invented it, although in light of the 2015 schedule perhaps Verizon’s the perfect sponsor for Miles’ new tennis racket approach to racing.


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The Hawk Has Landed: AJ Foyt Racing announced this week it’s expanding to a two car operation, and we don’t just mean at Indy. Inexplicably, Takuma Sato is back with the team and will be joined as co-recipient of AJ’s wrath by upstart northern Englishman Jack Hawksworth. Hawk is formerly of Bryan Herta Autosport, who formerly drove for AJ Foyt Racing. IndyCar’s a bit like the Hapsburgs of Europe and many modern day workplaces – an incestuous little circle.


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Schedule Announced and Many Pounced: The IndyCar Series unveiled its thinly veiled schedule for 2015 and there wasn’t an abundance to be excited about and even fewer surprises. Initial reaction to it is here and it hasn’t changed much. More ovals, please. Brasilia and NOLA will be new road courses, hurray. We hope everyone makes it back safely from these exotic, crime-ridden third world destinations. Dubai didn’t make the cut, although it appears to remain under consideration for the future. Why? We have no idea. As trumpeted by Curt Cavin and others, “Dollar Dale” Coyne’s driver and race winner Carlos Huertas posted “Dubai Feb 22” on his website earlier in the week. Perhaps he meant in 2016.


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Testing, Testing: Also according to the ever accurate Twitter, Rahal Letterman Lanigan failed to show at the test at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama on Monday, possibly significant of larger problems for the floundering team.  Maybe Graham was just hung over, or all loved up by Courtney Force. Graham, Bobby, Dave and company had a horrible year as documented in IndyCar Season Grades and missing off season tests isn’t a positive sign. Apparently the late night talk show business isn’t what it once was, but then again what is?


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Flipping Formula 1: Lesser known F-1 Teams are dropping like bribery charges against Billionaire Bernie Ecclestone lately. First Marussia went bankrupt, then Caterham bowed out of the next two races, also reportedly belly up and entering receivership. Respected British newspaper The Telegraph called F-1 a sport “no one can afford” and described it as being very much “in crisis.” Maybe IndyCar doesn’t look quite so bad in comparison after all.


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Odds, Ends & Tweets: At Monday’s test, unemployed driver/Indy 500 crasher J.R. Hildebrand drove the Fuzzy’s number 20 car normally reserved for Ed Carpenter of newly merged CFH Racing. No grand theft charges have been filed to date, so evidently J.R.’s joy ride was legit. Curiously Kentish Mike Conway was no where to be seen and rumors have him out. In a Tweet from Barber Motorsports Park, Carp’s teammate Josef Newgarden called it “the most consistent track” they race. Perhaps surprisingly to our readers we at IRR wholeheartedly agree. Barber is consistent – consistently tedious and boring. Finally, the flow chart at CFH Racing seems to be taking shape as another official Tweet referred to “Team Manager Andy O’Gara.” Andy is of course Sarah Fisher’s husband. We wonder if Ed knows of the news yet? Incestuous little circles.


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