Thursday, September 11, 2014

2014: A Disorganized, Rambling Review

And just like that, it's over. The 2014 Indycar season is in the history books. It's a little depressing to think that we're done racing for the year. On the other hand, since I wasn't indoors watching a race, I did get the garage cleaned out last weekend.

Congratulations to Will Power. The guy is Superman behind the wheel. Not to mention he led the league in penalties this year, yet still took the Astor Cup. Even with his mistakes behind the wheel (I personally think he threw away 2 or 3 wins), he was still the clear championship winner. Look out, he's only going to be more dangerous from here on out.

Regarding the Fontana race, it was good to see the attrition so low after 2013. It wasn't good to see all the complaining about the race's late start time. I thought the reasons were pretty clear: 1. The race was on the west coast, meaning 3 hours behind the eastern time zone. 2. The race was on Labor Day weekend, meaning sunset was still relatively late in the day. 3. Running before sunset meant blinding glare for the drivers going into turn 3. That would be bad anywhere, but it has to be especially harrowing at high-speed Fontana. I wouldn't think it would be a big deal to stay up late one night to watch one race, or that most could DVR it. Me? I watched the entire race, live. And I was out of the house by 6:30 Sunday morning.

The real problem is the Labor Day date. Indycar got their advice from a consulting group that may or may not have known anything about racing. Stopping early in the season to avoid competing with football seems strange to me. I can see where football would bury Indycar in the ratings. Which is worse: Being buried in the ratings and getting little attention, or not being in the ratings at all and getting zero attention? I'm no media expert, but I'd think maintaining some profile for a larger portion of the year would be better than a blitz, followed by absolute silence. Run the season into October, but accept that those late-season ratings might suffer a bit. The positive effects on the rest of the schedule should make up for it, especially in the long-term. I'm thinking of a more consistent, spread-out schedule where individual venues have a little more flexibility with their dates and races are run about every 2 weeks. On the other hand, maybe that professional consulting group knows what they are talking about and the way we have it now will prove most effective.

Anyway, I thought it was a great season. Few (if any) 'bad' races and a lot of entertaining ones. Some high points of the season for me:

Best race: Indianapolis

Winner I cheered loudest for: Ryan Hunter-Reay, Indianapolis

Biggest disappointment: The Rahal team. Between yet another disappointing season for Graham, the lack of a full-time seat for Oriol Servia, and the loss of the National Guard sponsorship, this turn-around year turned out to be anything but.

Most heartbreaking moment: Tie, Long Beach and Mid-Ohio for Josef Newgarden. Ryan Hunter-Reay KNEW that Newgarden (on fresh, cold tires) had Long Beach won. That's why he went for the position when he did. Unfortunately, the pass proved optimistic and they wound up in the tires. Mid-Ohio looked like it was in the bag, too, when Newgarden ran over an air hose on a crucial pit stop.

Most heart-warming moment (Since I already mentioned Indy twice, I'm not going to say RHR and his son at Indy): Mike Conway validating his own and Ed Carpenter's career choices at Long Beach.

Biggest Comeback: Well, one could say Conway above, Montoya, or Bourdais. What the hell, it's a 3-way tie.

Best possible handling of a bad situation: Toronto. I'm sure the fans in attendance who got no updates will disagree, but I thought Indycar took care of that tricky weekend the best way they could have.

Most impressive rookie: Not to diminish anyone else's accomplishments, but NASCAR bad boy Kurt Busch humbled himself by leaving his comfort zone and learning to play on a new stage. He finished 6th on race day, ahead of guys like Will Power, Tony Kanaan, and Scott Dixon.

All right, I'm going to wrap it up for now. I'll be trying to keep up with demand for blog posts and new T-shirts in the off-season!

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