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Monday, April 7, 2014

2014 is Underway!

I hope everyone enjoyed the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg; I thought it was a good, interesting race. The winner was no surprise, but it was fun watching him do it.

For the first time I was able to watch live timing and scoring during the race. (Sometimes I'm a little behind the times...) What a fantastic addition to the race-watching experience! It added almost as much depth and detail as being there in person. For once, I was able to watch the leader and the rest of the field throughout the race. I knew Mike Conway was on the move, and wondered why the TV folks never seemed to notice. Is there a publicly-available source for every driver's lap times over the whole race? I have some questions about what Will Power was able to do. Quick notes on some of the race's controversies: Power's slow restart was fine. Were Conway's problems just the result of communicating with a new team? Once they get sorted out it doesn't look like Ed Carpenter Racing will have any problem proving the naysayers wrong. I was impressed with Jack Hawksworth. Takuma Sato and AJ Foyt Racing will not be ignored this year. There are lots of other great storylines that will carry over to...

The Grand Prix of Long Beach!
The second race of the year will be the first to feature standing starts. I'm not a fan of these. There's already a popular open-wheel series that uses standing starts. I don't see what they add to a race; if anything they seem to cause more problems, drivers don't seem to like them, and the DW12 doesn't seem particularly suited to the practice. There is nothing unexciting about a flying start-it's one of the trademarks of that big race in May.

Why we're talking about Long Beach and F1, it seems that the promoter is working to make the street circuit race a Formula 1 event in the near future. I'll admit I'm very pessimistic when it comes to combining "Formula 1" and "America" in any way: witness the number of American F1 teams talked about vs the number that have made the grid in the past 15 years and that second American race that keeps getting postponed, etc. But this move has the feeling of a cash grab for the promoter, damn whatever is best for the event, the host city, etc. Maybe I'm wrong, or maybe I just don't want to lose an Indycar event.

If you don't already, please follow me on Twitter: @FlatIntoOne . I try to get at least a few (and sometimes many more) tweets off during the race broadcast.

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Indycar 2014-the People

With the season opener at St. Petersburg this weekend, I'd like to share some comments on the 2014 Indycar personnel lineup. It was going to be just drivers, but I have something to say about Derrick Walker's comments in a recent article. In no particular order (other than what's on the Indycar website):

Derrick Walker
Walker talked about a lot of rule changes for the 2014 season, many of which will certainly ignite controversy (no more double-file restarts???). The most important thing isn't the rule changes themselves. Rather, it's that someone at Indycar is talking about what they are and why they made them. You know, something befitting a professional sports organization. I doubt these comments would have been made to anyone in the press, say, 5 years ago. The mentality was (to this fan) so private-club.

Marco Andretti
Much was said about how 2013 was going to be his breakout year. Indeed, he was a strong performer for a good bit of the season. Part of that may have been because everyone else seemed intent on being as inconsistent as possible for the rest of the year.

Sebastien Bourdais
I believe getting away from Dragon racing is a good thing. Inconsistent on-track and a lawyer magnet off, one wonders what went on behind the scenes there. KV is a step up, if maybe not to the top as Bourdais would like. Prediction: Not a championship contender, but this team will dazzle at times and challenge for wins.

Ed Carpenter
I was pulling for Carpenter to develop on the road courses, but he made a good decision for his business and hired a specialist for those rounds. Conspiracy theorists may suggest that awarding double points for the 500 milers is a ploy to give Ed a chance at the championship.

Helio Castroneves
I almost feel bad for Helio, since everyone has already written him off for the 2014 championship. His unsuccessful 2013 championship run was regarded as his best shot at the title. See Marco Andretti above for the reason why.

Scott Dixon
My impression is that Dixon is the most feared driver on the grid. Odds are at least even on a 4th championship for him. If only the fans would give him the same love...

James Hinchcliffe
There are so many trite cliches that could describe Hinch's 2013 season. I think we should come up with a new one. How about... "He was leading the pack...Or bringing up the back!" That's pretty terrible, I think I'll go with it. Much better than having to hear "feast or famine!" again.

Tony Kanaan
This might be our last best chance to see what TK can really do with a car, especially when paired with a 3-time champ for a teammate.

Charlie Kimball
It's a toss-up: Who gets less respect-Helio Castroneves, or Charlie Kimball? Every piece written about him has a "but..." somewhere in it. 

Juan Pablo Montoya
Did 7 years in stock cars dull his reflexes? Is he still hungry? Can he keep his temper in check? I hope so. He might be the most exciting man on track this season. Remember 1999-2000 in CART? I do. I was there, man. I saw it...

Carlos Munoz
It's very difficult to tell on TV just how hard a driver is pushing it. Munoz' qualifying run in the Fast 9 at Indianapolis last year was an exception to that rule. I'm looking forward to watching him all season. I can't find complete stats on this short notice, but I would bet that he has the third-best average 500 finish in the field (2nd).

Will Power
If Scott Dixon is the most feared driver in the series, Will Power is the least scared. With his 500-mile win at Fontana last fall, the final piece of his confidence fell into place. I'm picking Will Power to win the championship in 2014. And he's going to have a good time doing it.

Graham Rahal
By my (possibly inaccurate) count, this is the 38th year in a row that Rahal has had no excuses and absolutely must perform. By teaming up with his father, both are betting their reputations that he will. With a rebuilding year under their belts, this should be the year Graham breaks through and regularly contends for wins. Seriously. We mean it this time.

Oriol Servia
Yes, yes, and yes! Finally, in a car he deserves! Er, well, for at least 4 races, anyway...