2013 Indianapolis Racing League
Posted 17 March 2013 - 02:51 PM
So, we'll pretend it's 1996 and call it the IRL.
The season starts next weekend in St. Petersburg. For the U.S. Americans, it's on NBCSN, just like the Grand Prix in the morning. What a great channel that is, and on the subject of TV coverage, you'll be hearing from Leigh Diffey, Wally Dallenbach, Townsend Bell, Jon Beekhuis, Kevin Lee, Marty Snider, Robin Miller, Brian Till, David Hobbs, Steve Matchett, Will Buxton, and Bob Jenkins at various points during the year. That's an all-star cast.
But this isn't a thread about TV, as much as that would interest me. It's about racing.
Big storyline, for me, is to see if Honda can redeem itself and take on Chevrolet after year one of engine competition went in favor of the twin turbo Chevy. Honda did get to redesign the single turbo at Indianapolis, as a bit of a thanks for being the sole supplier for so long. This was controversial, as the rules didn't allow that kind of thing, but it happened, and they obviously found something, as Honda really improved in the 500-mile race. I'm interested to see what they've done to get better this year. Dixon, Franchitti, Wilson, and Pagenaud are really excellent drivers, so I'd like to see that Honda serving them well.
You also have some new concepts in IndyCar, like double-headers. Certain weekends will feature two races. One on Saturday, one on Sunday. More exposure without increasing the cost of travel is the goal here. Might be interesting to see how that shakes out. You also have a triple-crown of big oval races, presented by Fuzzy's Vodka. This includes Indy and Fontana, which were obviously on the calendar last year, and the return to Pocono. The Pocono race could be a lot of fun. That track is crazy.
Craig Hampson will be engineering for James Hinchcliffe this year. That's big news. Andretti Autosport is a good team, we all know, and Hinchcliffe was solid last season. Hampson was the genius behind Newman/Haas and their excellent run with Sébastien Bourdais, so that's a move that could make the 27 car a real contender. I'm sure there will be benefits to the #1 and #25 entires of Hunter-Reay and Andretti, too.
Been a few other off-season moves, drivers and the like. Obviously, no more Lotus, so everyone has a real engine now. Just a matter of seeing which one is strongest. Chevrolet looked better in testing, but the rumor is that Honda were holding back. Why? Well, the engines used at the test count toward the race engines. So, if you lose a motor in the test, you get a 10 place grid penalty in the first race at St. Petersburg. No one wants that, so Honda may have tuned it back. They had paced a Sebring test with Takuma Sato (now at Foyt, gosh, what a combo) earlier, when the engines weren't counting toward that sort of thing.
So, any interest in the IndyCar this year? What are you guys looking for in this season?
Posted 17 March 2013 - 10:26 PM
Still like Hinch though. I know your thoughts on him already, but he strikes me as a cool, down-to-earth guy. So hoping he has a strong run this year and perhaps gets a win or two.
Is it true that Senna is trying to put a deal together to run the road courses when he's not racing for Aston Martin? If so, who is he likely to be driving for?
Edited by JHS18, 17 March 2013 - 10:26 PM.
Posted 18 March 2013 - 12:44 AM
I'm not sure where Senna would land, but that rumor is definitely out there. He wants to stay sharp and race as much as possible when he isn't in the WEC. I know Rahal Letterman Lanigan have the capacity to do an extra car, since they'll have Mike Conway running Long Beach. Dale Coyne may still have some races in the second car (Stefan Wilson and Ana Beatriz are putting together deals to share it). There's the third Penske car that A.J. Allmendinger will run in two races, so I guess they could field that in a few more (Ayrton did test with them, though Bruno is his own man). I'd doubt that, of course. Hmm...yeah. I guess it'll be a surprise. I'm sure a few other teams could put out an extra car if the funding's there, so it could be anywhere. That said, with more Chevrolet-engined cars out there versus Honda, I'd figure Honda teams would have an easier time getting an engine at this point.
Karthikeyan also looked at it, but failed to secure a seat. I think the sports car path's more successful right now for ex-F1 drivers. The combination of funding requirements, moving across the world, and seeing the lack of success a guy like Barrichello had probably has deterred others. Plus, I know some guys (i.e. Petrov) have been vocal about not wanting to race ovals at this point, so that's another situation.
One guy to watch is Carlos Muñoz. Very exciting driver. He'll only run the Indy 500 this year, but it was worth pointing out.
I've always been a Servià guy, even if he's in a Chevrolet. I'd like to see Pagenaud, Wilson, and Franchitti do well, too. And Bourdais, as ever. I just want good races, though, whoever's up front. Maybe we'll see one Sunday in St. Petersburg.
Posted 22 March 2013 - 02:38 PM
Tony Kanaan's Dallara/Chevrolet. I like the purple.
Firestone has increased the gap between the primary and alternate tires this year. The alternate tire will be softer; obviously, that means higher grip and increased wear. Every team must run one set of new primary tires and one set of alternate tires in every race, and can now change tires during knockout qualifying for the road and street events.
I think a softer alternate tire should help to improve the racing this year. I find it kind of interesting that this came as a result of drivers requesting it. They wanted the performance gap to be broader. I'm not entirely sure what incentive the drivers would have to request that, but I am glad they did. Perhaps they're Formula One fans and have seen how Pirelli's transformed F1 strategy and racing.
We'll see how practice goes today.
Posted 22 March 2013 - 05:52 PM
At least they have tried something new with the design, though.
Not much going on in practice today due to limited running (tire conservation, I think). The Chevrolet appears much stronger than the Honda right now, but I'm not ready to conclude that fully. I think HPD regret not using a twin turbo, and considering their LMP2 engine is a TT, I'm kind of surprised they went in the single turbo direction. Still, I can't imagine Ganassi's drivers, Pagenaud, Wilson, etc. not being successful. Honda will figure something out if they really are behind, I hope. For the sake of competition, obviously, and out of my personal bias for Honda and against Chevrolet in their respective racing endeavors.
Andretti Autosport really looked fast (well, outside of the actual Andretti). I figured Hinchcliffe's new engineer would help. E.J. Viso was third. I guess that leaves Ryan Hunter-Reay to be first. I won't voice an opinion on that, in the interest of being informative rather than whiny.
Obviously, it's a surprise to not have Will Power on top. I guess the days of failing to qualify for the 500 are well behind AA.
There is a 60% chance of rain/thunderstorms between 1:00 and 2:00 PM local (race begins at 12:40 PM). The weather forecast doesn't go past that, and can definitely change. IndyCar will race in the rain (on ovals like Loudon ), but obviously not in extreme conditions. A street course like St. Petersburg does not lend itself as well to wet conditions as a permanent course might, so I'd be hesitant to let them go if the rain is too heavy. There can be a bit more contact and collisions in IndyCar than I'd like to see, and I don't think rain would do anything to alleviate that on the tight confines of a temporary circuit. Plus, without the budget of F1, clean-up usually necessitates a full course caution, as the cars don't have run-off space to stop, and there are no cranes to remove them. Hopefully, the rain stays away, or is light, and we can enjoy a clean race with some flow to it. I think it has potential to be an interesting one.
Posted 22 March 2013 - 08:28 PM
Posted 22 March 2013 - 09:50 PM
...I think the J.R. they were looking for was the one who could actually navigate turn four...
Also on the Flickr page:
Sébastien Bourdais has an awesome livery this year, I think.
Also, I could be wrong, but the sidepods seem to be a little reshaped on the DW12 this year. Maybe they're lower at the front? The proportions of the car look entirely different to me, and I think it's a result of that.
Posted 23 March 2013 - 07:31 PM
Vautier was the only other Honda in the Fast Six. Honda's down on straight-line speed, but more importantly, a lot of Honda teams are just having issues totally unrelated to the engine. Dixon reported understeer issues, and Franchitti looked like he had oversteer when he was out there. Pagenaud seems to be struggling with the new tire compounds, which is a shame, as his teammate has proven that SSM can be strong.
I'm hoping for a nice race in the afternoon to follow the Grand Prix.
Posted 23 March 2013 - 07:49 PM
Posted 24 March 2013 - 07:14 PM
Impressive runs by de Silvestro and Vautier. Shame how it ended for the latter - looking forward to seeing more of that guy this year.
Shame for Servia and Power too. Will Power must surely be the unluckiest guy in IndyCar at the moment. What does the guy have to do to catch a break?
Posted 24 March 2013 - 07:26 PM
I'm not a big fan of the length of safety car periods in IndyCar, though. They spend so much time sweeping up the marbles that it really gets a little tiring. That's my only real complaint. I do like that the pits stay open when the yellow comes out; that's more efficient. I just wish it could translate to shorter caution periods, but to do that, they'd need to alleviate that street sweeping thing they do. I guess the thinking is that cleaning up the marbles will allow for more passing, so I understand it. I'm just impatient.
As for the racing, Sato and Viso had some really exciting moments. It's too bad Sato's car lost front grip, and I was interested to see Power's final stint on the reds. I have no idea what Hildebrand's issue is, but the guy seemed pretty oblivious all race. He's not really lived up to the hype. Another guy like that? Andretti, so credit where credit's due, he was all over de Silvestro at the end there and looked strong. He's an exciting driver, so it wouldn't be so bad to have him running well.
One thing that I found interesting was how fuel was not a concern for Hinchcliffe and Castroneves, yet everyone behind them seemed to have to dial it back. Moreover, de Silvestro seemed to have very little fuel in her car; the drivers behind her were able to turn it back up at the end after saving for a while. It seemed like the top two didn't have to save any on the final run, and with all being Chevrolet runners, I'd have expected the same. Maybe they short-filled de Silvestro to retain track position? Not sure.
Hinchcliffe did a good job keeping Castroneves behind. I told you Craig Hampson would do good things over there, having so many championships with Bourdais. Good for him to get his first win. Speaking of Bourdais, he was pretty invisible today.
Dixon salvaged a lot for Ganassi, but that team's pretty far off. I hope Honda can contend this year.
Overall, pretty good race for these guys to start their season. Pretty professional, a few new names at the top, and some real excitement in the run to the finish. Weekend off for them, and then back on April 7 at the United States of America's only FIA Grade IT track, Barber Motorsports Park.
Posted 25 March 2013 - 12:21 AM
It was a shame for de Silvestro - but loved that finish with her, Dixon and...who was the other guy? Viso? It's not often that you see cars crossing that line so close to each other on a normal track or a street circuit, so it was very spectacular. Would have been brilliant if that had been for the victory, but hey, there's always the next race.
How come Ganassi were struggling that much? Was it just down to the engine or something? I have no idea.
Who do you see as being championship contenders going forward from this then? Usual suspects? It'd be cool if Hinch could get in there. It's definitely promising to be an interesting season with a few different faces appearing towards the front of the grid, like today with Silvestro, Hinchcliffe, Sato and Vautier.
Posted 25 March 2013 - 01:34 AM
Maybe a shame for her, but she was on the same tires everyone else behind her had been on, for the same number of laps. Castroneves made it work at full pace on the reds, and she cracked under Andretti's pressure more than anything. Not knocking her; she drove a great race to hold on as long as she did. I just think Andretti got inside her head, and then the tire wear started to really show. It happens.
Ganassi's struggles have to do with handling, but I'm not sure why. The cars haven't changed much, though the tires do have different characteristics. It's just a coincidence that the teams that have lost ground have Honda engines; it isn't the Honda engine. Honda uses a slightly more conservative power output to try to avoid failures (and the 10 place grid penalties that result), but it's not a big enough difference to be noticed at a place like this. Drivers like Sato have said that it's not the engine, and Dixon was complaining of understeer all weekend. The 2012 setups must just not work on the new tire compounds, I guess. Ganassi himself is blaming Honda, which is all I need to know to conclude that the problem is Ganassi's setups and not actually Honda.
I think you might see Hinchcliffe in the championship battle. Hampson is a great engineer and the Andretti Autosport team is capable. Power's an obvious choice, but they just seem to have a lot of screw-ups and unfortunate situations over there. You just get the feeling he's destined to never win one. I honestly don't rate Hunter-Reay highly enough to consider him a threat to repeat, personally. Dixon didn't lose much ground this weekend with a P5, but that was one hard-earned fifth place. Unless Ganassi can figure out the problems, those results aren't going to be easy. I figured pre-season that Pagenaud might be a factor, but it seems like Vautier has the better program at SSM right now.
Honestly, it's pretty wide open right now. It's hard to get a feel for it because all of the favorites had their struggles today. Even though ovals are a minority in this schedule, you have to wonder if oval performance will be what decides the championship, since it's really hard to tell on the road and street courses right now. If someone can be just a little stronger in those oval races, it could be the difference.
Well, they did their job today. They got my attention. I'll have to check more races out this season and see if they can keep it up. There was some really good stuff there.
Posted 25 March 2013 - 09:05 AM
I have obviously missed the details, but what happened to Ryan Briscoe this year?
Posted 25 March 2013 - 02:02 PM
Briscoe did win the 12 Hours of Sebring in-class with Level 5, and will run Le Mans with them. If Level 5 decide to do the full ALMS season, he'll most likely be a part of their lineup.
Posted 25 March 2013 - 07:06 PM
Why you'd side towards Allmendinger over Briscoe is another matter though. The former has done, what, exactly in the past five years???
Posted 25 March 2013 - 08:52 PM
I think it's the Penske way, as much as I agree that Briscoe's the better choice.
Penske's seen a lot of people make mistakes. His sons, Jay (the Dragon Racing owner) and Mark were arrested last summer for breaking and entering, and for peeing on a woman's shoes. His star driver, Rick Mears, had problems with alcohol etc. and completed rehab about a decade ago. Another star, Al Unser, Jr., has had well-documented issues, personally, domestically, and legally. NASCAR's Jeremy Mayfield drove for Penske. I'm sure there are countless other examples.
I think Penske believes what Allmendinger did last summer was a mistake, and that he owed something to Allmendinger afterward. The thing is, Penske couldn't put Allmendinger back in his Sprint Cup car. The sponsor, Shell/Pennzoil, had enough bad press from that, and from the Kurt Busch stuff the prior year. They wouldn't allow it. Penske wanted to be loyal to Allmendinger, give him a second chance, and not set him back even more in life by taking his livelihood away. He just couldn't do that in NASCAR because of the sponsors, so this happened.
I'd also venture that IZOD, the sponsor, was more willing to work with a big headline like Allmendinger than someone like Briscoe.
I don't think the results will be there, though, and his long-term career will remain in NASCAR. His results are too impressive there right now; eventually, it will be safe for a bigger team to work with him.
Posted 05 April 2013 - 09:49 PM
Scott Dixon takes you around the circuit. Some cool stuff going on, though it looks like Dixon has a bit of trouble finding a gear during the lap.
So, how did practice one go? Honda's revenge. Tristan Vautier was fastest for Schmidt Peterson. Quality over quantity with rookies this year; there is just one, but he's going to amass enough points to spread among an entire crop.
Dixon was second, with Kimball a surprise fourth and Franchitti sixth. Definitely a better day for Chip Ganassi, though practice is not a race (despite the fact I've already given Vautier the championship trophy).
Hunter-Reay fills that gap in third, and the omission in fifth is Will Power. I really thought RHR would crack in his title defense, so good for IndyCar to have him still competitive. The more guys who can run at the front, the better, right?
de Silvestro is P7, pretty strong again. Let's see if she can manage her tires a little better. That'll be a good skill to have this year, though I also wonder if tire wear was a bigger deal at St. Petersburg. Being part street, part airport, the surface has to be a little odd.
Pagenaud eighth, looking to rebound after this rookie teammate of his has done better so far. A.J. Allmendinger debuts in ninth with Penske, and his teammate, Castroneves, is tenth.
Check out the full results in PDF form below:
In Indy Lights, Carlos Muñoz was quickest. I mention this because I want to make Muñoz a name before he gets to IndyCar. He's a really exciting driver. Maybe a bit too exciting, sometimes.
1 This fact is contested. Some say it is in Birmingham, but the Birmingham government wants to say it is in Leeds so they don't have to deal with it.
Posted 05 April 2013 - 11:38 PM
"I have seen nobody that looks like me making decisions at Barber motor sports. None. Zero."
Posted 05 April 2013 - 11:47 PM
Posted 06 April 2013 - 03:06 AM
If you happen to take any cell phone quality pictures of race cars (or the rear-ends of people who work on race cars, as I always inadvertently end up doing), please share them there with a Jayski.com watermark. It'd be appreciated.
No one making decisions at Barber has hair like mine. Close the track.
Posted 06 April 2013 - 04:21 AM
Posted 06 April 2013 - 12:24 PM
Hopefully I'll get to see it. Looks like a nice track, and it seems like Vautier is looking quick. Was massively impressed with him last time out - he's definitely going to be one to watch this year I think.
Enjoyed the first race, so hopefully this one is as action packed too.
Posted 06 April 2013 - 05:06 PM
Is that before or after presenting a valid daycare student ID?
Posted 06 April 2013 - 11:48 PM
Posted 07 April 2013 - 09:54 PM
It's a nice track, and there was some good racing. Power's two-stop strategy was the greatest thing that could have happened today, simply because it held Hunter-Reay up enough to keep it close in the final stint. Had he not pulled a Fisichella so well, I'd assume Hunter-Reay would've had a literal 11 second lead to start the last portion there. Best car of the race, so it's no surprise they won. I had hoped traffic (or anything else) would have allowed Dixon to get even closer, but hey, that's how it goes. I was surprised Dixon never used his final push-to-pass, assuming the numbers on the TV were correct.
Move of the race was Kimball on Power, obviously, though I do think Power had some sort of issue, so it wasn't an even strength overtake. Still, goals on the power play can be pretty, and so too can be overtakes on a weaker car (if they were all equal, they never would pass, now would they?). It was an excellent move. Hunter-Reay's NASCAR move into Castroneves wasn't impressive (it wasn't bad enough to warrant steward intervention, but I think that was more luck than anything. Not very much in control there), but his actual pass for the lead was nice. Smoking the tires, 15 to go, overtake to change the course of the race. I'll give him credit for that one; nice.
Could this be a title year for Dixon? His teammate's all but out of the way, and we know he's capable.
Bourdais...man, he's lost something. Bad car, yeah, but he's not driven it the way he used to be able to. Big-time gaffe trying to pass Vautier, who unfortunately couldn't keep the pace he had earlier. Still, a good day for Schmidt Peterson, with Pagenaud rebounding from St. Petersburg. The DW12 looks better in those Schmidt liveries, I think. Something about the layout of the design (though the Bourdais car is sharp, too).
Whatever Firestone has done to the tires, it's a lot better now. Really setting up more strategy and more overtaking, and I appreciate that. In a series with cars that have so few variables, being tightly controlled as they are for cost reasons, you need something to be opened up to help mix things around. The tires are doing that.
Another two weeks and they're in Long Beach for round three. They haven't lost me yet.
Posted 08 April 2013 - 02:30 PM
How about an update on the Indianapolis 500 entry list? It's getting closer. Will we have a Bump Day, a Fill Day, a subsequent Buy Day (this is the main reason I just can't accept Hunter-Reay as champion...he earned it, yeah, but man...there's just a difference in integrity with him and Michael Andretti versus Roger Penske and Fittipaldi/Unser. There were plenty of opportunities in 1995 for Penske to buy his two drivers into the race after they failed to qualify. Penske refused to do it. They failed to qualify as a team in competition, so they did not race. I realize Hunter-Reay's program would have dissolved had he not been in the 500, and obviously, Penske's would not have. Still, I hated it. After how thrilling Bump Day was...I hated that. I just can't respect Hunter-Reay and Andretti Autosport, or A.J. Foyt Enterprises. Someone in those three parties should have stopped it. Anyway...), or No Fill Day at all (below 33)?
I'd assume they hit 33, but I wouldn't expect anything more beyond that. The engine supply issue seems to be a big obstacle for one-off teams. Honda and Chevrolet appear to be reluctant to give engines to something like that, and are more comfortable adding an extra car for an established team (i.e. RLL, Ganassi, etc).
So, we have 25 full-time entries plus:
Team Penske #2 (Allmendinger)
A.J. Foyt Enterprises #41 (Daly)
Andretti Autosport #26 (Muñoz)
RLL Racing #17 (Jourdain)
Chip Ganassi Racing #X (Briscoe)
That makes 30 confirmed so far. A few guys are known to be working on programs (Townsend Bell, John Andretti), so we'll see if they can be part of the additions to get to 33. I'd love to see something surprising...a different team, a different driver, whatever. It'd be cool to have a one-off kind of deal, especially a last-minute one.
Posted 12 April 2013 - 02:56 PM
Comcast, Cablevision, Sudden Link, and FiOs subscribers can use the service, so it's not a help to international viewers, but certainly an improvement to have free streaming.
Posted 12 April 2013 - 03:02 PM
Ryan Briscoe has been confirmed at Ganassi in the #8.
Townsend Bell and Pippa Mann are trying to get a second Ed Carpenter Racing car for the 500. Mann is also connected to Dale Coyne Racing.
Jay Howard might be in a third car for Schmidt Peterson Racing.
One of the former Lotus cars might be driven by Jaques Lazier. I don't know which team; it sounds like it's the Fan Force United chassis, but not the Fan Force United team. Buddy Lazier was a driver coach with Fan Force United last year, so I guess the connection to that particular chassis would be through that.
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