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 Racer.com article. In no particular order (other than what's on the Indycar website):
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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...
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).
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.
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.
Yes, yes, and yes! Finally, in a car he deserves! Er, well, for at least 4 races, anyway...