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In case you didn’t hear, the race at Iowa Speedway Saturday night got more eyeballs than any NBCSN IndyCar broadcast since early 2012: 444,000, according to the Sports Business Journal. If YOU didn’t see it, you missed a very entertaining race that saw Ryan Hunter-Reay and Josef Newgarden blast out of nowhere in the last 10 laps to beat a very strong Tony Kanaan to the line.

@stevewittich, who tracks IndyCar facts and figures at The Setup Sheet, notes that IndyCar viewership is up 38% this season so far over the last couple of years. The racing product is exceptional, and with a double-header in Toronto coming up this weekend, that trend should continue. The DW12 chassis is strong and capable of withstanding quite a bit of wheel-to-wheel contact, and Toronto’s streets are tight and rough. Highly recommend tuning in.

After losing part of his front wing when he poked his nose past team mate Will Power to take the lead, Juan Montoya won his first race since returning to the Verizon IndyCar series this season. And it was not a surprise to anyone – Montoya started a little slow but has adapted well and contended for the win a few times as the season has progressed.

Other than the restart near the end where Montoya made his move and some other great passing took place, this Pocono 500 was a bit dull. However, the championship implications were huge – Will Power came in leading team mate Helio Castroneves by 39 points, and they left tied. Power racked up another penalty by blocking Castroneves and drawing a drive through, pretty much handing his team mate a raft of points. We’ll definitely remember this if the championship comes down to these two drivers.

As for the dull race – I’m certainly spoiled by the amazing street course racing the series produces. We’ve seen plenty of battles with drivers banging cars two wide through corners and chicanes and continuing their battles on the other side, thanks to the strength of the DW12 chassis. Tight battles and plenty of overtaking make for thrilling viewing, so a strung out affair on a big oval seemed a little uninteresting in comparison. Don’t get me wrong, I love ovals – it’s just that not all races are nail biters. This is also true of twisty races sometimes. We’re just lucky to have more races turn out exciting than not these days. It’s pretty special.

Now…if it weren’t such a big secret. Tune in and tell your friends, folks!

Hello, dear readers -

After a year of health issues and unexpected life events, I think it’s calmed down enough to rev this thing up and start chattering about IndyCar again. Look for some words about the season and this weekend’s Pocono 500, coming up tomorrow.

Yay!

 

James Hinchcliffe does Derek Daly – Spot. On.

IMS STATEMENT ON THE PASSING OF ANDY GRANATELLI

 

INDIANAPOLIS, Sunday, December 29, 2013 – A statement from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway President J. Douglas Boles on the passing of Andy Granatelli, who passed away Sunday, December 29, 2013 in Santa Barbara, California at the age of 90.

“Andy Granatelli – known appropriately as “Mister 500″ – understood better than anyone the spirit and challenge of the Indianapolis 500 and had a remarkable ability to combine innovative technologies with talented race car drivers to make his cars a threat to win at Indianapolis every year,” said J. Douglas Boles, IMS. “Andy leaves a legacy of historic moments that will live forever in Indianapolis 500 lore including his famous turbine that dominated the 1967 Indianapolis 500, the Lotus 56 of 1968, and giving the great Mario Andretti a kiss on the cheek in victory lane after his 1969 win. Our thoughts and prayers are with Andy’s family, friends and legion of fans.”

Things haven’t been very active on this site this season, and there’s a mile-high pile of things I had planned for it sitting on my desk. Good intentions thwarted by life and health.

At this point, the best thing for me is to pause my participation in blogging and focus on putting things right elsewhere. My plan is to resume blogging, commentary and attending races in 2014.

Thanks for your patience, for reading and retweeting the IRP newspaper on paper.li (which runs itself and will continue) and I hope enjoy the rest of the season.

You can still find me on Twitter and Facebook if you want to get in touch. In the meantime, hope you are all happy and healthy and have a great  rest of 2013.

Bash

It’s been quiet here at the IRP blog, and it will be for another race or so. Due to health issues, I’ve not been able to follow closely enough to do any real commentary here. I’m hoping to resume more active posting starting with Toronto. Thanks for hanging with me.

–Bash

Here’s a sampling of the coverage from the opening weekend of Indy 500 practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

 

Indy Star: Curt Cavin and Phillip B. Wilson talk with various participants throughout the day at IMS.

http://www.indystar.com/interactive/article/20130510/SPORTS0107/305100015/

 

Indy Star: Motor sports coverage

http://www.indystar.com/section/sports01

 

IMS: Live from IMS shares press conferences on a daily basis from the speedway.

http://new.livestream.com/IMS/events/2089440

 

IMS: Take a live look at what’s going on the the garage area.

http://www.livestream.com/gasolinealley

 

WFNI: Hear the weekend edition podcasts of the Talk of Gasoline Alley with IMS Historian Donald Davidson.

http://www.1070thefan.com/podcast/Episodes.aspx?PID=2158

 

WTHR: Indycar coverage

http://www.wthr.com/category/65303/indycar

 

RTV6: Indycar coverage.

http://www.theindychannel.com/sports/indycar

 

RTV6: Oriol Servia interview.

http://www.theindychannel.com/sports/indianapolis-500/indycar-driver-oriol-servia-channels-salvador-dali

 

WISHTV: Indycar coverage.

http://www.wishtv.com/subindex/sports/auto_racing/indycar

 

FOX59: Sports coverage.

http://fox59.com/sports/

 

Blogs, web-based media: See our”You Should Read…”  links on the left to view news from the weekend.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

(Apologies to Edward Pola and George Wyle.)

It’s the most wonderful time of the year
With opening bombs booming
And IndyCars zooming
As fans stand to cheer
It’s the most wonderful time of the year

It’s the hap-happiest season of all
With Firestones gripping
And racers all slipping
To stay off the wall
It’s the hap-happiest season of all

There’ll be parties for hosting
Last row ‘ers for roasting
And spectators raring to go
There’ll be thrilling old stories
And tales of the glories
Of five hundreds long, long ago

It’s the most wonderful time of the year
There’ll be tearful milk drinking
And princesses winking
As spectators cheer
It’s the most wonderful time of the year

——–

 

Happy May, IndyCar fans!

Many moons ago, back on April 9, I posted that my Barber thoughts were coming soon. Best laid plans met with a full-on bout of arthritis in my hand – what little typing I could do had to be saved for my 9-5 content strategy job. Still struggling a bit, but I wanted to at least drop by for a few lines as The Month of May arrives.

About Barber – I thought it was very entertaining. Since the DW12 was introduced, the racing has vastly improved at this track and now I look forward to this weekend for more than the scenery. And it was good to see the Penske lock on this race be broken by Ryan Hunter-Reay, especially after his rough start at St. Pete.

And then….Long Beach. It was weird not being there in person, covering the race for one site or another. On the plus side, I was able to find a private spot at home very easily so I could breathe into a paper bag during the race. Thrilling stuff, and I was delighted to see “smaller” teams on the podium and the historic win by Takuma Sato.

Brazil can be so unpredictable, so we could have another edge-of-the-seater this weekend. I need to replenish the paper bag supply…

If my hand permits, there will be more typing here in a couple days. Maybe I should get some speech-to-type software. :)

Thanks for your patience.

 

Blame baseball, but I missed the race Sunday to see my San Francisco Giants get their 2012 World Champions rings. The race is waiting for me to view and as soon as I can, I’ll get some thoughts down here. Thanks for your patience!

James Hinchcliffe c. Lisa Bash Beard

Yeehaw! The season is finally underway!

I have my 68th cold of the winter, so my note taking during the race was filtered through a NyQuil haze. With apologies for any giddiness or illogical meanderings, here are my random thoughts captured during the Grand Prix of St. Pete:

I always watch the start of this race through my fingers, but everyone survived to get a clean first segment of the race completed. Surprised that Dario slipped into the wall on cold tires after his first stop, bringing out the first yellow. And yes, Dario doubters, he took responsibility for it. :) On the restart, cars went spinning and contact happened. And yellows bred yellows as they always do.

Susie Wheldon waved the green. She’s been popping up in my dreams the last month or so, always in the company of a certain current IndyCar driver. I must be dreaming about it because I think it would be a good pairing. #NotStartingRumors

Simona de Silvestro, James Hinchcliffe and Tristan Vautier impressed all weekend. Takuma Sato also had a strong weekend, starting second but dropping to around 10th about midway and hovering there the rest of the race.

It was fun to see Oriol Servia (he with fellow Spaniard Salvador Dali on his helmet) leading the race midway in Daliwood, USA. (There’s a Dali museum inside the course in St Pete.) Servia then pitted and his car quit – it took several laps to get him re-fired. Ryan Hunter-Reay had problems at the same time and shut it down in the pits. Something about yellow cars?

Lots of clutch in this race – malfunctioning clutch, that is. Josef Newgarten fell out about the same time as Servia and RHR were having their troubles. Electronics – gears, throttle issues, system issues – seemed to dog a lot of cars today and took Vautier out near the 2/3 point in the race. At this point, Newgarten could scour pit road and find enough drivers out of the race to make the Florida edition of his Harlem Shake video.

Sebastian Saavedra crunched his nose into the Turn 10 wall. Add another dancer to Newgarten’s video. A few laps later, we saw JR Hildebrand somehow drive up and over the side of Will Power during caution and crunched the wall as well. Power came in for a new right rear tire and and left without his right rear tire guard and right rear view mirror. Power made a second stop for further adjustments and labored to a 16th place finish. Hildebrand looked sheepish back at his pit box for a bit, then joined Newgarten’s Harlem Shake dance team.

Hinch powered past Helio Castroneves on the lap 85 restart and grabbed the lead, and that was all she wrote. While great battles raged behind him, including a strong drive from Marco Andretti to grab the third spot on the podium, Hinch drove on to his first IndyCar win. Oh Canada! Hopefully, a star is born, because Hinch has what it takes on and off the track.

Overall, it was a typical narrow street race with a side of carnage and some excitement at the end courtesy Marco’s advance and Hinch’s win. But it’s good to get the season underway. With that, I’m off for more NyQuil and a nap. Thanks for enduring my goofy mood.

We’re ready for this season to go GREEN GREEN GREEN!

This is how the thugs and gangstahs line up for today’s race, courtesy INDYCAR.

st pete lineup

 

We repainted, swept and cleared out some clutter. Hope ya like our new look!

We highly recommend attending the WIT – it’s an epic way to chase away off season blues and rev up for INDYCAR 2013! Details and a link to sign up for events are here:

http://winterindytweetup.wordpress.com/

Don’t dally around…sign up today before the tickets run out!

 

All the best to IndyCar fans around the globe – here’s to a great 2013!

We hope everyone has been enjoying the holiday season and wish you a safe and happy 2013!

After endless rumors, Tony George trying to buy the series and then resigning from the Hulman board due to “conflict of interest” and even more rumors, Randy Bernard is out at INDYCAR. We think he’d have stuck around if the environment was welcoming, but it doesn’t make sense to work so hard for an organization full of actors willing to place obstacle after obstacle in your path.  Here’s the release on the IMS site:

http://www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com/indy500/news/show/51973-randy-bernard-steps-down-as-ceo-of-indycar/

We need to take some time to let the steam pouring out our ears die down so we can actually think about this. We are supremely disappointed by Randy’s departure – no CEO is perfect, but he had the sport heading in a good direction and understood a lot of what it was lacking as an entertainment entity.  We’re now very concerned about the future of the sport and wary of who might be placed in control next.

Over the last year, life has made it very difficult for us to do this site and our coverage of IndyCar true justice, and we have to wonder if it will be worth the effort to continue trying. We’ll have to see how we feel after our heads stop spinning.

The 2013 schedule will be officially announced and discussed on SPEED’s ‘Wind Tunnel this Sunday, but Jeff Olson spilled the beans in USA Today this morning. Here’s a link to the article, which has details about double-headers, standing starts and a return to Pocono:

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/motor/indycar/story/2012/09/28/2013-indycar-schedule-includes-three-doubleheaders/57851452/1

From the article, here’s the schedule:

March 24–St. Petersburg, Fla. (street course)

April 7–Barber Motorsports Park, Birmingham, Ala. (road course)

April 21–Long Beach, Calif. (street course)

May 5–Sao Paulo, Brazil (street course)

May 26–Indianapolis 500 (oval)

June 1-2–Detroit doubleheader (street course)

June 8–Texas Motor Speedway (oval)

June 15–Milwaukee (oval)

June 22–Iowa Speedway (oval)

July 7–Pocono (Pa.) Raceway (oval)

July 13-14–Toronto doubleheader (street course)

Aug. 4–Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (road course)

Aug. 24-25–Sonoma Raceway doubleheader (road course)

Sept. 1–Baltimore (street race)

Oct. 6–Houston (street race)

Oct. 12–Fontana, Calif. (oval)

What do you think about the tracks, the balance of twisties vs ovals, length of season, etc.?

Thanks for your patience…bed rest has helped with health issues, so we can now take a little time to sit down and type about the last three races of 2012.

 

First, Sonoma.

The racing this year was definitely something new – the DW12 car is more nimble around the course, and the reconfiguration of turns 7 and 11 led to some excursions. Turn 7 in particular led to spins, taps and incidents that had championship implications. Will Power finished second to team mate Ryan Briscoe, widening his point lead due to Ryan Hunter-Reay, Helio Castroneves and Scott Dixon having incidents/resulting penalties. It looked like Power was finally going to lock down the championship as the trucks packed up and headed cross-country to Baltimore.

Here’s Bash’s coverage of Sonoma for other sites:

MoreFrontWing.com

Bash’s Saturday thoughts

Bash’s Sunday thoughts

RIS-news.com

Sonoma observations

TracksideOnline.com (photos)

Saturday

Sunday

 

On to Baltimore.

Wow – As the Wheel Turns could be the name of this one. Chicanery! Drama! Weather! Carnage! Like last year’s debut, the Baltimore Grand Prix was a gripping weekend of track changes, flying over the railroad grade and bouncing into the wall, unpredictable results and fascinating racing. Last year’s chicane was gone – at least at first. Street grinding didn’t help smooth the dip, so the chicane was re-installed. Cutting the chicane as drivers will do ended with cars getting airborne over *it* and careening into the walls, so tire stacks were also added. It rained during the race, on part of the course, for just a few minutes. Teams were split about 50/50 on who stayed on slicks and who went for wet tires and their decisions affected the championship race. Ryan Hunter-Reay won a nail-biter with a late pass on Ryan Briscoe, who was running on fumes. Will Power ended up 6th and saw his points lead cut to 17, which turned up the heat on the Aussie to the boiling point. He was angry about strategy decisions, other people’s actions that were deemed within the rules, and ended up swearing on live radio and paying a stiff fine for it. As confident as were after Sonoma that this was Will’s year at last, we were equally convinced after Baltimore that the pressure was getting to him and his team again. Fontana was going to be veddddddddy eeeenterestink.

 

Oh, Fontana!

It was a million degrees, and we were honestly glad our plans to attend this race had to be canceled due to health. The race was exciting enough watching from home, as JR Hildebrand and Ed Carpenter took turns leading a good part of the race. Sadly, JR brushed the wall and had to spend several laps in the pits getting repairs. The pace was quick, the passing was wild, and then, a quarter of the way through the 200-lap race, it happened: Will Power lost the rear of his car, spun and crunched the wall, ironically almost taking Ryan Hunter-Reay out with him. For the next half of the race, Ryan Hunter-Reay pushed forward, struggling with his car and not quite making it to the 6th-place position he needed to win the title, while Team Penske thrashed on Power’s car. They’d done the math and figured if they could gain one spot (to 24th), they would force Hunter-Reay to need 5th-place or better to take the championship. Power rejoined the fight and slowly clawed up that one spot before retiring for good. Hunter-Reay, with an overheating race car and just not quite enough speed, spent the last quarter of the race hovering around 6th. Most race fans we saw commenting on Facebook and Twitter at this point were hyperventilating from the drama.

At the front of the field, vying for the race win, we had the Target cars of Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon, as well as Alex Tagliani, Ed Carpenter and Takuma Sato. It was a fight that had an intermission as a caution flew with 8 laps to go when Tony Kanaan hit the wall. Just a few blinks later, the red flag was displayed. Many bewildered fans were looking for SAFER barrier damage or hoping that something serious hadn’t happened to TK while the cars filed into the pits and shut down. Michael Andretti was livid – his team’s number 28 car was overheating, its driver just on the edge of winning the title, and here was something we hadn’t seen before – a competition red. Fortunately, the wreck was cleared in short order and all cars re-fired and resumed the race. Dario Franchitti was being challenged for the race win, Takuma Sato crashed at the last moment, stopping Helio Castroneves’ valiant attempt to overtake Hunter-Reay and push him out of the title win. When it was all said and done, Ed Carpenter was celebrating his second career win and his new team’s first victory while Ryan Hunter-Reay made it an all-American night with the championship win. A dizzying, ever-changing scenario as exciting as the race itself, we think it was a perfect cap to what was a positive season for IndyCar.

We’re still glad we watched from the cool climes of San Francisco, though. :)

We’ll take a little while to let the season sink in, then come back with some thoughts about it as a whole. But before we go we want to say a couple-three things. First, we weren’t crazy about that competition red. Races sometimes end with a caution flag – we’d rather see that (real) than a non-safety-related stoppage (artificial, contrived) all for the sake of the show. The show was good enough as it was, thanks. Secondly, congrats to Ed Carpenter and his team for capturing their first win in their first season. Second year in a row Ed’s captured the season’s last trophy (last year at Kentucky for Sarah Fisher Racing) – he’s gotta be loving that. Thirdly, respect and congrats to Ryan Hunter-Reay and Andretti Autosport for persevering, digging and fighting for a terrific championship win.