Race Review, Long Beach: Quite a Reach

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New Zealand’s Scott Dixon triumphed for the first time in nine tries in his storied career at the Long Beach Grand Prix. Surprisingly, the Target driver’s best previous finish and only top ten at the track nearest his homeland was a 4th place in 2010. It’s the “Ice Man’s” thirty sixth IndyCar win putting him fifth all time behind Al Unser and Michael Andretti, whose records are both well within reach. Dixon passed Castro-Neves during pit stops as Helio hesitated waiting for Tony Kanaan to enter his pit box directly in front, and then opened up an insurmountable lead.

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The Penskes swept positions two through four with Helio, Montoya and Pagenaud, the former two battling it out to the very end. TCGR’s Kanaan took fifth, followed by KV’s Sebastian Bourdais and CFHR’s Josef Newgarden in 7th. Marco Andretti rebounded at Long Beach with an 8th place finish and top Honda after starting 10th. His team mate Carlos Munoz finished ninth while Sebastian Saavedra came in 10th in his first race back since a disappointing 2014. Penske’s 2014 Champion Will Power struggled all weekend, starting 18th and finishing twentieth after stalling on pit road. Hoosier Conor Daly jumped into the Coyne car as a late substitute and raced from 21st to 17th, making the biggest gain of the race.

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Fan reaction was split in regard to Long Beach, which is an improvement compared to the overwhelmingly negative reception the first two races enjoyed. Continue reading

Long Beach Qualifications: Instant Reaction

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A study in contrasts to last week at NOLA, there was qualifying yesterday that actually counted – a real plus for both the fans and series. Under sunny skies, before a decent crowd and with no controversies to speak of from race control, the three knockout rounds went off without a hitch. That is, except for recent race winner Hinch.

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At the end of the first knockout qualifying round the Ganassi boys hindered Hinchcliffe, at least in his view. Continue reading

Long Beach IndyCar Preview: Glitz, Glam and Godly Acts

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Last time the IndyCar series visited California an act of God nearly derailed the whole show. In August an earthquake struck Sonoma valley, rattling and rocking the entire area for several seconds early on race morning. As Juan Pablo Montoya described the ordeal,  “Awful, like awful. Like my shit – my, the bed was shaking. Anything in the bathroom went to the floor. It was bad.”

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His team mates were similarly terrified by the experience. Will Power blurted out, “Man I thought it was all over. I didn’t think we’d have the race. Oh my God – such a shock. I thought I was gonna die – uh.” Helio‘s reaction was priceless. “Not what you want. Man, it was amazing. I never knew we had that. Man, wow – that was the scariest thing of my life.” Of course we fervently hope The Big One doesn’t hit SoCal, at least not until next week after teams have cleared out with the cars and haulers.

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Long Beach is the first of a trio of left coast races on the schedule this year, but it’s by far the glitziest. Continue reading

NOLA: One Stop’s Enough

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Searching long and hard for positives to report about yesterday’s embarrassment of a race, NOLA featured the only Ferris wheel in the world located in a swamp. On Sunday IndyCar ran half a race that consisted of over half caution periods with half the field going off course and called it good. The race was so slow that Canuck funnyman James Hinchcliffe won it for Sam Schmidt on one pit stop. Summing up the entire weekend the winner tellingly said afterward, “I feel bad for the fans.” We agree and say one stop is enough for NOLA. Surprisingly we also concur with Michael Andretti who referred to it all as “a nightmare,” and even with Chip Ganassi who apologized to the fans for the fiasco.

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The IndyCar season so far has seen the first race cancelled and the next two filled with crashes and cautions. Continue reading

NOLA’s Non-Qualifications: Instant Reaction

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There were several interesting items to come out of the storm cancelled qualifying session including Target’s resurgence and particularly Kanaan’s, a swamp becoming even swampier, and the mouth of the north Paul Tracy squeezing back into the broadcast booth. Heck, NBCSN even put Robin Miller on television again this season. Yet there were two still curiouser stories that emerged Saturday evening that caught our eye.

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The first story of note was a controversial call made by IndyCar’s race control penalizing KV Racing’s Sebastian Bourdais for impeding TCGR driver Tony Kanaan’s lap. Turns out it’s all a moot point with qualifications being called off, but race control docking SeBass his fastest laps looked questionable particularly considering the poor conditions. Bourdais ran off track into a runoff area, turned around and then re-entered the fray ahead of Tony Kanaan who he then let pass. Both cars were set to advance until race control acted with an iron fist. Twitter – partly due to IRR’s instigation we admit – was immediately set alight.

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Owner Jimmy Vasser was livid. Flustered and on live television – always a compelling viewing combination – Continue reading

IndyCar Predictions and Prognostications: St. Pete Effete

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From the Latin, effete is usually defined as either “weak,” “soft” or “ineffectual.” Our initial prediction is that the new aero kits will prove to be all of the above. Why beat around the bush? We came right out and said IndyCar aero kits look ugly, silly and new fangled. We forthrightly continue to stand by those views. After all, when you’re right you’re right. Aero kits will allow the mega teams to separate from the pack due to testing, number of cars, resources and the like. Get ready for the opposite of parity and for plentiful Penske celebrations.

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Prediction number two is regarding the overall show in St Pete on Sunday. Continue reading

IndyCar News Week in Review: Beachfront Edition

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Good News First: There were no race cancellations announced by either IndyCar or any third world countries this week, nor did the series or any of its teams close up shop or declare bankruptcy. The series did head south, however.

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Testing Obsolescence at NOLA: Fourteen drivers tested at the NOLA road course this week south of New Orleans, Louisiana. Alongside SeBass KV ran newcomer Stefano Coletti from Monaco, a fresh foreign face whose first ever IndyCar experience was in December at Sebring with Schmidt Peterson Motorsport. The aero kits aren’t out yet (see below), so testing was in some ways a waste. On the positive side, the swampy addition to the schedule is getting glowing reviews from drivers. Juan Pablo Montoya’s one word take was “Wow!”

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Blast From the Last: In a surprise appearance, sedate Englishman and starter of fifty IndyCar races James Jakes tested SPM’s second car at NOLA. Continue reading

Sunday Rolex Roast

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The Rolex 24 hours of Daytona: Any race that’s so long you can’t continue drinking throughout it to conclusion is too long. Also, sports car races are confusing with no fewer than four different classes of cars running at the same time, seeming more like an exercise for manic mathematicians using traffic camera footage than a race. Besides, who can afford Florida, much less a Rolex?

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Plus, the cars are exceptionally weird looking – closed wheels and cockpits, yuck! – and IndyCar fans are already set for enough weirdness with the coming aero kits. At IRR we’re IndyCar purists – snobs some may say – who consider the real season worth the wait. Today we recommend getting outdoors instead of watching what we all know is merely a poor substitute for actual racing. Continue reading

Fool, Britannia! An IndyCar Intervention

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Having lived, loved and taught in England, your author has a special fondness in his heart for almost everything British (with the exceptions of the food and weather), but most especially her people. It’s an endlessly historic and fascinating nation full of wonderfully accented, polite and thin folks. As The Stranger once said, “and in English, too.”

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Continue reading

2014 IndyCar Horse Power Rankings – Drivers

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Driver Rankings:

  1. Will Power
  2. Helio Castro Neves
  3. Scott Dixon
  4. Ryan Hunter-Reay
  5. Simon Pagenaud
  6. Juan Pablo Montoya
  7. Tony Kanaan
  8. Ed Carpenter
  9. Sebastian Bourdais
  10. Justin Wilson
  11. Ryan Briscoe
  12. James Hinchcliffe
  13. Marco Andretti
  14. Graham Rahal
  15. Charlie Kimball
  16. Josef Newgarden
  17. Takuma Sato
  18. Carlos Munoz
  19. Carlos Huertas
  20. Mikhail Aleshin
  21. Jack Hawksworth
  22. Sebastian Saavedra

Observations:

The Horse Power rankings for drivers are based upon recent, career and potential performance as well as personal preference, of course.

The rookies as a group were more impressive than one established driver and are gaining on several others.

The top four drivers clearly stand out and are somewhat interchangeable in ranking.