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Personally, I'm very happy to see the track on the schedule. It's going to be a good part of the country to hold a race, and even though that might be Nascab country. I think with the decline in Nascab popularity the last year or so, however slight it might be, that holding a race in Alabama might be a good opportunity for the ICS to possibly grab a couple of their fans and atleast expose them to open wheel racing off of an oval.
On top of that, it adds another road course to the schedule. And the teams must like it and it will lower any crash damage they might endure. If it does end up between St. Petersburg and Long Beach on the schedule, it breaks up the east coast to west coast trip the teams have to make. Atleast it is a stop along the way.
Barber will need to work on a couple of issues to upgrade the track and add passing zones, however, I think it will work out alright even if they don't add passing zones for the first year. Rumors from multiple sources say that the track will be worked on for the second year of a three year contract.
So, we'll see what other surprises will pop up on the schedule, if any, come this sunday if everything comes together the way it should. Hopefully, in my opinion, we'll see Cleveland on there as well.
I don't like the fact that Danica gets paraded around as the IRL show girl. Luckily, it has declined a bit this year, but, I still find it terribly annoying that a driver who won 1 race in 5 years (74 starts) is the face of the IRL. Unfortunately, we seem to be stuck with this situation as she is the biggest name we have, since we can't seem to produce stars to carry the series. I guess we need multiple American Women to get even more popularity for our drivers.
The fact that she is creating headlines simply by showing up in Nascab shops is annoying as hell, and the fact she is eating it up in the media by waiting it out until the end of the season to announce her future plans.
I have nothing against women in racing, in fact I think it's a positive to see both men and women competing together, but it bothers me when I see Danica being treated differently then the rest of the boys. She keeps saying she just wants to be one of the boys, and just be another driver, but then she throws herself on the cover of Sports Illustrated in less clothes then Pamela Anderson usually wears.
Problem is, if she leaves, the IRL is relatively screwed. If ratings drop, which they most likely will unfortunately, if she leaves, it will be twice as hard to grow and develop new faces for American fans to grab a hold of as their own. To grow stars, we need people watching when Ryan Hunter-Reay beats the big dogs again and steps on top of the podium, or when Graham Rahal and Justin Wilson battle it out in the late laps in a historic Indycar race. If no one is watching, then no one cares how great these battles and drivers are.
Unfortunately, as much as I dislike Danica, I realize the need we have for her in the league. I guess if people hate Paul Tracy while agreeing he would be an asset, Danica could be put in the same boat unfortunately. Maybe Danica pushes some of the same buttons PT pushes with fans, some people love them, some people don't, but either way, they are both huge news makers when they are driving, or talking about driving, or pushing someone on TV in pitlane.
If Danica leaves, it's a huge blow, but that won't stop me from hating seeing her do well. I guess I know how all these PT hater's feel.
One of the reasons I started this blog was to talk about IRL news and notes, rumors, and to discuss major topics Indycar fans were talking about. And this past weekend, one of the things I saw alot of people discuss on Twitter and some forums was running the Firestone Indy Lights and Indycar Series together during races, a la ALMS. So now, I shall provide my opinion on this subject for you lucky readers.
First of all, this would provide a high level of excitement, just as it does in the ALMS. It would provide plenty of passing between classes, and would add some slower traffic to create dramatic passing opportunities. Watching two prototypes in the ALMS battling for the lead coming up on a couple of GT2 cars adds a little suspense to the race. That could of course translate to excitement and drama in the IRL as well.
On top of all of that, with the decent ICS car count, but a diminishing FIL car count, it would definately fill the track up and put about 40 cars on track. It would give the appearance that the fields are much larger and would give the fans at the track action all the time. That can't be a negative, even if the track gets a little crowded.
Running the FIL cars with the IRL cars would add the sponsorship value for the Lights as they would get a hell of a lot more exposure for the races. Running with the big boys can only help the exposure and bring in more money through sponsorship and butts in the seats.
Of course, this could only work on the road and street courses as the speeds on the ovals would just be too different. I wouldn't want Mario Moraes trying to get three wide with 2 Indy Lights cars at Kentucky Speedway. I love Mario, but I don't trust him to run 2 wide with another IRL car (ask Marco about that) and the rate of closing speed on an oval would be way too high.
Even in the ALMS, some of the prototype drivers complain about the skill level of the GT guys and their ability to get out of the way. They also think the rate of closing is too great even on road courses. Think about it in the IRL. The FIL is a development series for the ICS, where as the GT categories in ALMS are not a development series. The talent gap between FIL and ICS must be much greater then the gap between the prototypes and GT cars. Add to that, the fact that the ALMS runs fenders and closed wheels, if an inexperienced GT driver happens to get into the side of a prototype, it may cost the P1/P2 car a bit of time a bit of damage, but that is it. If you get an inexperienced FIL driver locking wheels with Scott Dixon, you have the potential for an airborn Dallara and a high risk of injury. Sure, racing is dangerous, but, we do the best we can to lower the danger, and FIL with ICS isn't a good idea for safety.
On top of all that, the FIL cars would have to be redesigned to either accept a much larger fuel cell or to accept in-race refueling, which would mean adding a bunch of members to the team, adding salaries which would boost up the budget for a FIL team. That would defeat the purpose of a low cost training grounds for a bunch of young guns trying to move up the ICS. And if you want to do pitstops for the FIL cars, you have to find a hell of a lot more pit boxes.
Take away the FIL race, and you're searching for another support race. We are hurting for support races in the first place at most tracks, and losing the FIL race would hurt the race weekends even more.
Basically, I can't see how this would work. I think it would be very exciting to watch, but, the safety would overrule any positives we could pull out of it. I doubt there is any talk at all from the IRL's perspective of doing this anyway. Just the pure danger of touching wheels and getting airborn is what will shoot this idea down if anyone ever brings it up.
For those who brought it up, on paper it looks good, but once we get to the details, it just doesn't work out. Atleast people are thinking of ways to improve the product though, which we can't stop doing. It's our job to push the IRL to think and try new things which will increase the excitement and fun on race weekends.
- To back up all the rumors about ALMS teams coming over to the IRL next season, he said de Ferran is already a done deal. Says it will be Pagenaud and a second driver, most likely F1 veteran Takuma Sato.
- On top of de Ferran, he says all the Acura teams are likely to bolt to the IRL if the Prototype classes don't grow. This goes right along with various rumors, summed up well by Mr. Estrada over at IRR.
- He says he can't figure out which other team Marco would drive for next year, unless it's one of the new ALMS teams that come over. He says he expects Marco to stay at AGR because there just aren't any other seats open that Marco would consider, unless, Panther is able to find sponsorship for a second car.
- Apparently one of his old teams is already planning for two Brazil races next year even though nothing has been announced.
- He says Milwaukee won't be on the schedule when it is released in a couple of weeks.
Well, that's what I got out of him last night. He said he was at the Toronto race and was not pleased with the off-track atmosphere and lack of ammenities compared to usual. He said that it was so far off of what it used to be that he was embarrassed about his home race.
Anyways, that is it. I'll make a trip back out there soon, and probably stay a bit longer for a drink or two.
Oh, let me know what you guys think about his stuff on the comment section.
There were plenty of feel good stories dating back to Watkins Glen including Justin Wilson and Dale Coyne (finally) winning, the slight hiccup of the Penske/Ganassi domination, PT getting into a car for 3 races in a row, Will Power getting back into a car at Toronto and Edmonton, and add another Canadian in Tags for the Toronto and Edmonton. Fans were happy to see these things happen. I was so happy to see Dale Coyne get his first 'W', I haven't been so excited for a long time watching an IC race. Then you follow that up seeing a nice field in Toronto with strong showings from the Canadian boys, and just an overall excellent race with a little controversy involving PT (who would had thought?), and you've got two good weeks of Indycar racing heading into the second half of the season.
Of course, there were still some negatives like Milwaukee and the lack of passing that could or could not be fixed right now, how do we know? Throw in diminishing Indy Lights car counts and you've got yourself some news.
Basically, the point I'm trying to make is that it hasn't been all rosy the last couple of weeks, but atleast there has been news about the league and things to talk about. It seems like the IRL PR department took their summer vacation this week as all we really have of newsworthiness is Brian Barnhart talking about the radical new cars on Indycar.com. That wasn't even really that big a deal because he hardly even talked about it.
Come on, give us something to talk about. Give us a hint about the schedule so we have something to overtalk about. Or do an episode of 'Up to Speed' with E.J. Viso or Mario Moraes and get some dirt on them for the demolition derby they had after the Toronto race, get that mini-feud heated up a bit. Imagine Mario Moraes calling Viso a snake or Viso calling Moraes a... umm... he already called him a "Monkey with a bag full of money", so think of something else he could call him. Hell, put out a sex tape with the AGR drivers, it should get some news, and don't worry, they won't see eachother often after this season so it won't be too awkward.
Point is this, the IRL had a boatload of momentum with these last two races on ABC which had decent ratings (in comparison with the rest of the season) and this week, they are laying dormant and doing nothing to maintain that momentum. They have to do something to stay in the minds of the fans. Take a look at the blog roll, even us bloggers are having difficulty finding things to talk about. This silence from the league isn't going to help grow the league back to where it should be, it's only going to hurt.
I guess somethings might never change though.
Of course, the top joke is that Sebastien Bourdais and Paul Tracy will both end up at KVRT in 2010, making for a wonderful circus on the Indycar circuit. Call up the camera's and have Versus shoot a reality show following this team around for 2010 and watch the IRL ratings sky rocket.
I've seen a bunch of people asking how long it will take for Newman/Haas/Lanigan to dump Robert Doornbos and replace him with Seabass. I think it's safe to say we can squash that rumor since Doorknobs is paying his own way to run for one of American Open Wheel Racing's most historic team. Unless NHLR finds some funds (which they supposedly had done prior to the season to run Seabass before he re-upped with Toro Rosso), or Bourdais brings some Red Bull money with him as part of being let go, he won't be running in the Indycar's until atleast 2010. Doornbos is here to stay until either his money runs out, or atleast the end of 2009.
Other options or rumors have Bourdais running for AGR in '10 since they have 3 drivers out of contract after 2009. A team of Tony Kanaan and Sebastien Bourdais (if Marco and Hideki move elsewhere) would rival, on paper anyways, Target Chip Ganassi Racing. Throw in a third car at AGR for someone like J.R. Hildebrand or Marco Andretti, and you just think that AGR is much improved over 2009. There are so many open seats at AGR that this is a decent possibility, and a team with all the aero parts needed on ovals, that Bourdais could be a strong competitor right out of the gate.
Other options are Graham Rahal and Bourdais at NHLR in 2010 to reunite the 2008 team that finished 5th and 1st in the final year of the Champ Car World Series. NHLR has a sweet spot for Bourdais after he won them 4 drivers titles in a row, and they worked hard to find him the money to run for them in 2009.
Non-IRL options include driving full time for Peugeot in the Le Mans Series in Europe. His wife enjoys living in Europe and he already has a contract signed with them for the 24 hours of Le Mans. It's a good option for someone who has already made decent money in his career and might want to quiet down with his family. He can also try and hop on with one of the new F1 teams starting in 2010 or look for a seat to open up at the french Renault team. There are atleast 6 seats available for 2010 in F1 and he has experience which could help him land one of the rides.
Yours truly would love to see Bourdais land in the States with Newman/Haas/Lanigan first, and any other IRL team second. But I think seeing Bourdais running in the Indycar series for 2010 is a positive for the depth and talent of the series if someone can run him full time. Problem is, he probably doesn't bring any money which is an issue in these times. Hopefully the economy picks up a tad bit before the end of the year.
We have to wait and see what happens. Rumors will spiral out of control and I'm sure Bourdais to Ferrari will show up, and Bourdais to Penske will show up. For now though, let's watch Bourdais and Wilson running in the rain at Mexico City in '06.
So now that I'm back in the saddle with the blog, I decided that throwing a new layout up for all your wonderful viewing eyes would be a nice touch for you fine folks.
I think it is a nice upgrade over the last layout, and thanks to my wonderful girlfriend, I was finally able to put together a fancy banner for the site with her. I think I sent her a bit crazy doing it, but it was worth it in the end.
Let me know what you think, you can vote on the top left of the site and leave comments in the now english comment section, in english.
Hope you guys like it. I'll have something up in a bit, and I'll be visiting the Gryphon tomorrow night for some more rumors hopefully.
And thank the Lord I was able to see most of it. I'm a road/street course fan, and I make no secret of that amongst many oval enthusiasts who read this blog. But even at the beginning of the season, I would had told you that atleast one of the two most exciting and best races this year would be an oval.
Now, I haven't seen every race myself, but, so far, among all the races I've seen, Watkins Glen and Toronto are both at the top of the list (Iowa is a close third). These races included passing! What a novel concept, one car going past another, for position, out side of the pits. There has been drama at both races, racers have put on some great driving, decent car counts, and no sense of knowing who would win.
Of course, Toronto, being my home track and seeing two Canadians running 1-2 part way through the race, it was special. And seeing PT picking off car after car at turn 3 was priceless. It's too bad Helio and PT got together, because they were both having a good run. I don't think there is anyone to blame, but Helio should had known PT wasn't going to give Helio the spot. PT isn't racing for points or a championship, he was racing for a win. I recall PT running down the inside of Bourdais at Denver in '06 with the same mentality.
And what a treat to see Tags run up front most of the race. You've got to feel good about seeing Alex Tagliani and Eric Bachelart having a good day. They scrapped everything they had together just to get out to the track for Toronto and Edmonton, and they are probably done after that. Hopefully they can have another good run and woo some sponsors for 2010. Only bad part about today was Tags taking out Scheckter on a dumb move. It sure did get Mona-Vie some airtime though.
Anyone have any objection to calling turn 3 in Toronto one of the most exciting right turns of the circuit? Did you see Dixon pass Wilson on the outside of turn 3? That takes balls to put your car out that close to the wall on the exit of turn 3.
Big day for Ryan Hunter-Reay who finally got a full race under his belt and came home with a 7th place finish. I'm sure that 7th place feels like a win after all he has been through this year.
At the end of the day though, I'm happy with the way things shaped up. Sure, the top five included 4 Penske and TCGR cars, and there was no PT or Tags involved in the podium ceremony, but, one of those Penske's was Will Power, and it was nice to see him run well. Also, seeing "Bad Ass" Justin Wilson run in the top 5 again was wonderful. DCR was running some Canadian sponsorship this weekend as well, with Leon's on both wings.
I enjoyed the race, and it seemed like a pretty good crowd was on hand, you could tell from all the boo's Helio got after the Tracy incident. But, it felt good to have the race back in Toronto and seeing the Indycars running down Lake Shore Boulevard again. I might had missed it this year, but I made a promise to my girlfriend that we'd do our best to keep next year's race weekend open so we could make it out there. I can't wait.
This weekend is my home race, and, as usual, I won't be able to go. Not exactly pleased I won't be attending, probably more upset I couldn't get my media pass for the event. Either way, I wouldn't be able to get to the race on sunday. Another lacrosse game is scheduled perfectly to ruin my race watching ability.
Mind you, I was able to watch the last half of the Richmond procession after a lacrosse game in a hotel in Ottawa, and was able to watch the Watkins Glen race on Sunday sick as a dog. That was a hell of a race. This was all on top of the Iowa race, which gives me three races in a row. That streak will be snapped this sunday.
I thought about buying a ticket simply for saturday for my girlfriend and I, but, there just isn't much happening tomorrow to make it worth while I think. I still might depending on what she is interested in doing.
Anyways, I made my Indycar.com debut today, sending in a couple of comments during the second ICS practice. Got lacrosse a big mention regarding BMO Field inside the track, asked about Seabass, and then mentioned the Standing Start comments one of their pit reporters butchered (last year of CCWS ONLY).
Looks like a good crowd though, for a friday anyways. I'm very impressed with how many fans are there for practice. Lots of people must have called in sick, or maybe all the garbage workers (Toronto garbage workers are on strike) are attending the race.
I'm happy to see qualifying 2 finished with 4 former CCWS guys on top. I'm really getting my hopes up that Justin Wilson (P2 - Q2) can do it all over again and take this race win too. If not Justin, then I'd love to see Matos (P1 - Q2), Doornbos (P4 - Q2), or Power (P3 - Q2) take it. It is just such a good feeling to see someone finish ahead of those red cars.
I'm hoping PT jumps up the charts a bit tomorrow and pulls something out. It'd be nice to see him do something. Hoping for good things from Tags tomorrow too. On the Indycar.com coverage, not sure who it was, but one of the commentators mentioned something about PT having something lined up for a few more races. Hoping that comes together.
Anyone impressed with Richard Antinucci? He is stickin' with Team 3G for now, and has found a touch of speed. I say that, in comparison to Stanton Barrett who is thankfully out of that car now. And it's a younger American kid, which is good for the series. Hopefully he can teach those guys how to set a car up better and get them some decent times. Hope he sticks around.
The more I think of it, the more I think I might make an appearence tomorrow, if I can get the cash together. Drop me a comment if you are there.