Alexander Rossi Dominates at Long Beach

When Alexander Rossi first joined the IndyCar series in 2016 it was obvious to the fans he would rather be in F1. After his first season and winning a little race called the Indianapolis 500 he seemed to be a bit more interested in staying in IndyCar. Now in his third season I think it is safe to say Alexander Rossi is thrilled to be running in the Verizon IndyCar Series. He has also won the hearts of the fans and many of us were thrilled to watch him dominate and win at Long Beach Sunday afternoon. I’m always the first to say I hate a Penske parade. I want lead changes and drama but I loved every minute of the race on Sunday and was thrilled that Rossi led so many laps before finally taking the twin checkered flags. Farther back in the field was where the drama was and that all made for a fun and interesting race.

The drama began in qualifying, nothing too major at first but then Ryan Hunter-Reay was penalized for not staying in the designated lane when leaving the pits. In the driver meeting they were very specifically told where the blend line was and where they could cross over to the race track. During qualifying RHR cut over early and was penalized and therefore did not advance to the fast six. Now Marco Andretti is often called a cry baby but that title should really belong to Hunter-Reay. It was very clear he cut over too soon. It was a mistake, it stinks, move on.

The middle of the car needs to pass over the orange line. It didn’t. Ok so it was qualifying and not the race but a rule is a rule and after the drama we had last year over this same issue you would think RHR would have admitted he goofed up and be thankful it was only during qualifying and not the race. The race didn’t go so well for him either although that was not his fault- cry over that but man up about your own mistake.

We didn’t have to wait long for more drama- Lap one Graham Rahal had his brakes lock up on him and rear ended Simon Pagenaud. Pagenaud spun but Rahal continued on. He had to serve a drive through penalty but worked his way back up to finish fifth. Sadly Pagenaud was out for the day.

Some cars were on a two pit strategy and some on a three pit strategy so that kept us wondering how things would play out. Robert Wickens had gearbox problems and Kyle Kaiser caused the second yellow when he slowed on the track. When the green came back out we were entertained once again. RHR had problems when he punctured his tire. Just not his day. Then Sebastien Bourdais made an incredible pass on lap 47. He passed Spenser Pigot, Scott Dixon and Matheus Leist. Unbelievable. Sadly he crossed over into the pit lane with his two right tires and had to give the position back to Scott Dixon. Ok. That was the right call although it was such a gutsy move I’d be tempted to look the other way if I was race control but rules are rules. The problem was by the time race control told Bourdais he had to give up his position he had pulled away from Dixon by several seconds. He had to slow down allow Dixon to catch up and pass him. Bourdais then passed Dixon again two turns later. However, that just allowed Rossi to build an even greater lead and Bourdais couldn’t recover. Bourdais and Dixon both would later pull into closed pits and effectively ended any chance either one had of winning.

The closed pits added to more of the drama. I see them kinda like a yellow light. You are approaching planning to go and suddenly the light changes or the pits close. You’ve already committed and turning back might not be impossible but also not easy or possible safe. How many times have you gone through a yellow as it turns red because you took half a second to decide which option was better. Stop or go. The way I saw it both Bourdais and Dixon were close enough to the pits and had already decided to pit. Bourdais drove through, Dixon was serviced and then had to drive through during green. Might need to review the best way to handle closed pits during a yellow.

At the end of the day it was an entertaining race and I was thrilled to watch Alexander Rossi win. He clearly dominated the race. Will Power finished second and while it looked for a bit like he might be gaining on Rossi he just didn’t have enough to really challenge. Ed Jones finished third. Very impressive.

Zach Veach also had a great day earning the fourth spot. He is one to watch.

Graham finished fifth and Marco Andretti after poor qualifying finished 6th. Perhaps if they can start from the front of the field he will finally win a race again. I hope so. Tony Kanaan finished 8th for AJ Foyt Racing. His second top ten I believe. That team still needs to improve but I’m seeing glimpses of what could be and I’m very hopeful AJ will be back in victory circle soon.

Less than a week till the IndyCars are Racing again. This time at Barber Motorsports Park. I love this time of year!

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Phoenix, snooze fest or interesting race?

I’ve been battling some fatigue lately so I wasn’t sure how I would stay away for Saturday nights IndyCar race at Phoenix. It’s proved to be a dull race in the past and sometimes the roar of the cars is just the right sound to lull me into a good nap. Since this race was also later in the evening I was concerned about staying awake. Fortunately, a quick trip to Starbucks with Randy in the afternoon along with a surprisingly entertaining end to the race helped keep me awake.

I was already excited to begin with because this race was covered in NBCSN. That meant rather than a few quick minutes of preshow we had a qualifying show, a half hour pre show and a post show. Within the first few minutes we had seen more of Robert Wickens face than we did the entire race at St. Pete. Plenty of interviews before and after and lots of insight. The NBCSN team does a great job. That helps keep your attention and give you things to watch for during the race.

Qualifying was so fun to watch. I’m not sold on having the qualifying order be according to points. I feel it takes away a chance from those going first to get on the pole. I liked the random draw. However, watching Sebastien Bourdais take the pole from the Penske guys was priceless. I like Bourdais and the Coyne/Vasser team. Loved seeing them on the pole. Also great to see Bourdais give it his all after that horrible crash at Indy. We knew he was back but winning a pole on an oval is awesome.

Also super impressed with Robert Wickens and James Hinchcliffe. The Schmidt Peterson team is very impressive this year.

So after our enjoyable pre race show we went green at ISM Raceway in Phoenix. Bourdais ran into trouble but was able to get his car restarted before green flag and start from the front. Green flag flew and while a couple cars made up some positions it didn’t take long for everyone to fall into line and there was not much action on the track. Lap 41 Pietro Fittipaldi made contact with the wall and the yellow flag came out. Pit stops were interesting as both Bourdais and Alexander Rossi hit crew men during their stop. Both would serve a drive through penalty. Green flag and very similar to the start we saw a couple quick moves for position and then everyone fell in line. There was very little passing. I don’t recall seeing any passing the first 100 laps except for those at the start and restart. Other than Matheus Leist losing a wheel during his pit stop around lap 121 is wasn’t an overly exciting race. Will Power brushed the wall and went into the pits. On lap176, Kyle Kaiser also hit the wall. He also pulled into the pits. I honestly thought they would have thrown the yellow flag there and while many times we complain when they throw the yellow for something insignificant I thought the race was a bit dull and a restart would have made things fun. I wasn’t wrong as we would find out later but race control did not go yellow for Kaiser’s brush with the wall so not restart for us.

On lap 229 Ed Jones hits the wall and brings out the yellow we’ve been waiting for- or at least the one I was waiting for. So with 20 laps left who will take tires? Surely not the leaders, they would have to many spots to make up on a night when passing seems impossible. But actually the opposite happened and most went in for tires. Rossi, Hinchcliffe and Wickens stayed out. I really felt those with the new tires would be sorry they went in but I was proved wrong. The right call was to get new tires. Josef Newgarden quickly went around Rossi and Hinchcliffe. Wickens was able to hold Newgarden off for a couple laps but the new tires were too good and Josef made his way around Wickens and eventually took the twin checkers. Robert Wickens finished second and Alexander Rossi was third. So, as is often the case, the most impressive drive of the night did not go to Josef. Josef did great but was also in the right place at the right time with the right tires to get the win- very familiar scenario for Penske. The most impressive driver had to be Alexander Rossi closely followed by Robert Wickens. Rossi had a drive through penalty and worked his way back up passing 53 cars along the way. I saw a statistic that his passes made up nearly 20% of all the passes that night. Wow! Super impressive! Robert Wickens is an IndyCar rookie on his first oval, second place for him is also quite impressive. We knew it after St. Pete but he is one to watch. I was also impressed with AJ’s team. They still have a long way to go and need significant work on pit stops but we are seeing some glimpses of what could be. Still keeping my fingers crossed that this is a good year for AJ Foyt Racing. Tony Kanaan finished 8th and Matheus Leist finished 19th, several laps down due to the tire incident.

So was it a snoozer or entertaining? Honestly a bit of both but more entertaining than last years so that was enough for me to put it in the entertaining category.

Next up is Long Beach which always proves to be an exciting race and a fan favorite. Best part is we don’t need to wait we are racing again next week!

St. Pete- Great Start to the Season

After such along off-season one could only hope that we would be treated to a fun and exciting race when the cars hit the track on the track at St Petersburg. The Verizon IndyCar Series did not disappoint. Practice first got our hopes up when we saw AJ Foyt’s rookie driver, Matheus Leist, topping the charts. Qualifying continued to get our blood pumping when rookie, Robert Wickens grabbed the pole from Will Power in the last seconds of qualifying. Then race day! I don’t even know where to begin. Lots of story lines.

I’m very faithful about my church attendance but I left early to be home in time for the green flag. I changed into my St Pete shirt and sat down to enjoy the pre-show, except there wasn’t one. How do you start the new season and not give us at least ten minutes to introduce us to the new drivers and teams. ABC seriously doesn’t give a crap about IndyCar and it is so obvious. They’ve never been much into extras for IndyCar but I expected something to fill us in on the last six months. Even though I follow the off-season closely, I had never heard of Rene Binder. A little information would have been helpful.

So we went basically straight to the command to start engines. Helio Castroneves was the Grand Marshall and he made the call. He did it from the fence. I Loved It! Helio is going to be missed this season.

The green flag flew and the 2018 season began. The first half of the race was filled with cautions. The new body style and the paint on the course made for some interesting racing and it took quite a few laps for the race to fall into a steady pace. The early yellows were nothing major and didn’t cause any real controversy.

So what did cause controversy? Let’s get into that! Let’s start with ABC

Always Bad Coverage took it to a new high, or rather low. It was so disappointing. I’ve already discussed the lack of a pre-show. Why anyone thinks Eddie Cheever is a good fit in the booth is beyond me. I never noticed a problem years ago. I’m sure I pay much closer attention as I’ve become a bigger fan but I think the problem is just Cheever himself. He has been doing this exact same thing forever without any attempt to grow in his role. He just shows up, spews the same lines over and over. It gets so old. Scott Goodyear doesn’t bother me like Cheever does. I think Scott would be much better if he wasn’t paired with Cheever. I think Scott does a great job for the new fans, reminding them what the red tires mean, push to pass and other racing details people just tuning in might not understand. It might get old for us diehards but it needs to be said. I think Scott and Allen Bestwick would do just fine without Cheever in the booth. It would be much more enjoyable I’m sure. And speaking of Allen, he is great. I enjoy listening to him and feel bad he is stuck in the position he is. One highlight- I loved it when Helio Castroneves stopped in the booth. Even though I should have expected it I was surprised when Allen said see if you can guess his voice. Loved hearing Helio. Let’s kick Cheever out and put Helio in.

Unfortunately, the booth isn’t ABC’s only problem. Twice they were still at commercial break when the race went back to green. How do you miss that? Twice? Well I guess it was because the coverage was all commercials. I swear there were more commercials than before. I usually enjoy the commercial breaks to refill a drink or check Twitter. I didn’t need as many breaks as I was given. It was absolutely ridiculous.

And then the post-show! There was so much to talk about and hash out after the race. I was still stunned by the outcome and processing it all. Well guess next time I better process faster because they didn’t even allow winner Sebastien Bourdais to get out of his car before his interview and as soon as that was done the show was over. No interview with Robert Wickens or Alexander Rossi. As ForTheLoveofIndy @4TheLoveOfIndy said on Twitter

Robert Wickens was the driver of the day and no one who watched this broadcast heard him speak or saw his face. There was no pre-race interview, he had his helmet on and was in the car when the broadcast started and nothing post-race. That is a missed opportunity. #IndyCar

I’m a fan of IndyCar because I love the drivers. Sure the cars and speed are cool but I love the people so when the broadcast doesn’t give us a chance to get to know the drivers it truly is a lost opportunity. Robert Wickens lost a race he dominated all day. Then he lost a chance to really connect with fans by telling his side of the story. I’ve no doubt some new Robert Wickens fans emerged yesterday but I believe even more would have if we got even a small opportunity to get to know the man as someone other that James Hinchcliffle’s lifelong friend.

Ok I think I’ve complained enough about ABC. I saw on George Phillips blog today that there was a story by Adam Stern saying that it does look like the tv coverage is going to NBC. Please, please, please let that be so.

So back to the race. As mentioned in the tweet it was a race dominated by Robert Wickens. He won the pole and led the most laps. With approximately 20 laps to go Alexander Rossi was in second and slowly gaining. He made a move to try and pass but his car slipped a bit and while Rossi recovered it made it doubtful that he would catch up to Wickens and get another chance. Then a yellow came out. Rossi tried to stay close enough to pass when the course went back to green but wasn’t able to. Wickens fans breathed a sigh of relief thinking the race was over but it wasn’t to be, another yellow came out. This time Rossi made sure to line up right on Wickens gearbox. I was afraid he would touch before we went back to green but Rossi was not letting Wickens get the jump on him again. Rossi was close enough to make a pass and went for it on the inside of turn one. What happened next will continue to cause debate but I chalk it up to a racing incident. Rossi ducked on the inside. I believe he had the advantage and every right to make the move he did. Wickens rather than allow Rossi to gain the position squeezed him into the corner (as is his right) neither driver wanted to be second (FYI that is why they are racers) and Rossi slid up from the slick track, he and Wickens touched which spun Wickens and slowed down Rossi. Sebastien Bourdais was in third and took advantage of the mishap to vault into first place, Graham Rahal finished second and Rossi recovered to place third. What? It is still exciting thinking about it. It’s heartbreaking for Robert Wickens, disappointing for Alexander Rossi and absolutely thrilling to see Sebastien Bourdais win for the second time in a row at St. Pete. The emotion of that win was felt as soon as the camera was on Seb and before his helmet was off. Wow what a long way he has come from that horrible crash at Indy. I love that Bourdais won! I love that Dale Coyne won! What a fantastic race!

So let’s wrap this up with a couple thoughts on other teams.

  • Penske Racing. Who? They really never were a threat during the race. Very uncharacteristic of Penske. I expect they will figure things out though.
  • Ganassi Racing. Dixon had multiple mishaps and somehow still finished 6th. He will always be a threat. Ed Jones finished 9th, not bad for his first race with this team.
  • A.J. Foyt Racing. I’m still hoping for great things for AJ’s team. Matheus Leist showed great potential until he had a problem with his car. Maybe if ABC would have interviewed him we would have learned more about him. Tony Kanaan ran mid pack most the day finishing 11th
  • Andretti/Herta. Marco looked impressive early and I was hopeful. He finished 9th. Rossi of course did great.
  • Carlin. A slow start for the Carlin team.
  • Dale Coyne. Winner and championship points leader. Maybe this is Dale’s year.
  • Ed Carpenter. Jordan King looked very competitive.
  • Harding. Gabby Chaves spent most his time mid pack and finished 14th. Not bad.
  • Juncos. Rene Binder? Who? Didn’t hear much about him and expect the team will spend most the year learning.
  • Schmidt Peterson/ Shank. Wickens and Hinchcliffe both looked impressive. Expect podiums and wins from this team. Jack Harvey in the Shank car finished 23rd, hopefully they will make improvements with time.

All in all I loved the race yesterday. I’m excited for the season, just wish we didn’t have to wait four weeks for race 2. Very thankful to IndyCar Radio and the livestream for coverage of practice and qualifying. Anders Krohn is a great addition to their team. Can’t wait for the “post-show” on Trackside this week. Thankfully Curt and Kevin will discuss what was missing from the ABC coverage.

St Pete Preview- thoughts before the green flag

It’s finally IndyCar season. I just streamed the second practice from St. Pete – so fun! I’m thrilled to watch racing again and am so excited to see how this season turns out. Here is what I want to share before the green flag waves.

In past years I’ve kept up more on social media and podcasts. This year I think I feel a bit overwhelmed by how many people there are offering opinions or even just facts. I found myself just glancing at a lot of it (with a few exceptions). Somehow even with all the information at my fingertips I missed who was driving for Juncos Racing. I was watching the second practice and for the life of me couldn’t figure out who almost hit the wall. It was Rene Binder- who? I had never heard of him. I pride myself on being a serious fan. How did I let this one get past me? Guess I’m going to have to do some research and figure out who this guy is. The St. Pete race is broadcast on ABC so it’s a safe bet that they won’t fill me in.

Speaking of ABC we should be getting news soon about who will have the broadcast rights in 2019 and possibly beyond. I seriously might cry if it’s not NBC. IndyCar is one of the few sports whose fan base and TV numbers are growing. Hopefully the powers that be realize that the numbers are growing in part because NBCSN does an amazing job covering and promoting races. ABC could care less with the exception on the Indianapolis 500. Even then ABC has poor coverage but they like bragging about their coverage of the 500 for so many years. For me there is no contest, NBC needs to be the TV provider. They do a far better job and that is how you grow the sport. Even the rich can only attend a limited number of races, for the rest of us it’s even less. IndyCar needs good TV coverage. NBCSN supplies that. They make every effort to show qualifying and practice. They offer specials on drivers and deliver a much better product that ABC. My fingers are crossed that NBC wins and IndyCar will be the real winner with the great coverage they supply.

I saw the spotter guide for the race. I am a diehard fan and with the exception of Rene Binder I know every driver in the field. That said I’m going to struggle greatly on Sunday. So many drivers have changed teams and new sponsors have been added. I hardly recognized any of the cars. I’m so excited to have Tony Kanaan in the ABC supply no 14 car but honestly even after Carlos Munoz was in it I still think of Takuma Sato in that car. We have multiple new teams so new numbers and new drivers, it’s going to be hard to keep track. Here is a list of those I recognize quickly-

  • Hinchcliffe
  • Power
  • Rahal (although Steak n Shake would be better)
  • Pagenaud
  • Rossi
  • Hunter-Reay
  • Chilton (new number but Gallagher is familiar)

Andretti (barely he also has a new number but has had Ruoff as a sponsor)

That leaves 16 cars that I will struggle to know who is driving. The Foyt cars will be recognizable but I just need to remember that they are driven by TK and Matheus Leist. We’ve seen Jack Harvey in the pink car before so that helps. Josef Newgarden is fairly recognizable but the Penske’s all blend together sometimes. The rest I might need to keep my spotters guide handy for. I can’t imagine how someone unfamiliar with IndyCar will keep track when I’m struggling. So thankful for new teams and new sponsors but it’s not helpful when you can’t keep track of the cars.

AJ Foyt Racing- I’ve said this before but hopefully saying it multiple times will make it true, I think this will be a great year for Foyt’s team. I’m so excited to have Tony Kanaan (my favorite driver) in my favorite car. Matheus Leist was fastest in the first practice and while that doesn’t mean too much it’s got to be an ego boost for him. I’m really hoping AJ’s team can make a turn around and start winning races. TK winning the 500 in the 14 car would be a dream. Love to see that this year but even better next year (2019) when I am at the race.

I am also hoping that this new aerokit is to Marco Andrettis liking. I’m a Marco fan and believe he is a good driver, I’m hoping this year is his year. I’m so sick of all the Marco haters.

I’m also excited about Danica’s return to the 500. She was Zach’s favorite and I hope she does well.

Okay let’s wind this up. What do I predict about this year?

  • Josef Newgarden will win the championship again.
  • AJ Foyt’s team will be more competitive and win a race.
  • Marco Andretti will win a race.

Ok maybe the last two are wishful thinking but…

  • Alexander Rossi will win the 500.
  • TV ratings will continue to rise
  • It will be a great season

I plan to attend the GP of Indy with my boys, we haven’t missed a race. I also plan to attend qualifying for the 500, Road America and Gateway. My cousin, Randy, and my friend, Kristen, both are wanting to join me for races this year again- that’s how you grow fans. It’s going to be a fun year! What do you think? Agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments. Hope to to you at a race soon.

Windscreens, Matheus Leist and The Amazing Race!

If you haven’t figured it out by now my blog is a place for me to state my opinions. My husband could care less about IndyCar so I need a place to say what I’m thinking. I’m a girl after all and girls like to talk, it’s how I process things so thanks to my readers I have a place to say what I’m thinking about some things happening in IndyCar. So if you want more details read George Phillips blog post about Windscreens or Mark Glendenning’s article on Racer.com about Matheus Leist.

LETS START WITH WINDSCREENS-

Dan Weldon’s death was such a shock but losing Justin Wilson, my family’s favorite driver, made me ready to consider anything that would keep the drivers safe. I love the speed, the sounds, the cars but the really reason I love IndyCar if the drivers and teams. They could be racing on tricycles and I would still watch. I like the people. If we need to greatly alter the cars to keep them safe I’m all for it but what is safe when you are traveling at 200+ miles per hour. I never once thought a closed cockpit was the answer. So currently IndyCar is testing windscreens. I’m impressed with what I’ve seen and heard so far! You almost don’t even notice them on the cars. They look like they’ve always been there. I don’t think they distract from the new sleek design at all. The car still looks fantastic to me. I have some concern about rain, bugs and dust/ debris obstructing the view since drivers won’t be able to reach tear off strips or turn on wipers to remove any thing on the windscreen but it does seem a lot safer. I don’t think this design would have helped save Justin’s life. I am less sure how it might have helped Dan. It’s racing, it will always be dangerous. My fear with the windscreen is where the large debris that hits the screen goes next. Again- racing will always be dangerous. I’m thankful to IndyCar for continuing to seek ways to make it safer through time and research. So far I’m excited and optimistic about the windscreens. Here is a view from Scott Dixon’s visor cam. It looks great!

MATHEUS LEIST

As disappointed as I was that AJ Foyt Racing did not resign Conor Daly, I’m excited for their 2018 season. I think Tony Kanaan will be an amazing asset and I hear good things about Leist. The good news keeps coming, Matheus was the fastest rookie at the IndyCar rookie test at Phoenix on Thursday. Matheus ran 63 laps on Thursday. His fastest lap was 184.236 mph. Pietro Fittipaldi was close behind with 183.347 mph. I imagine AJ is quite pleased to have his guy on top. We all know teasing is just that- testing. Drivers aren’t necessarily attempting to go their fastest but it is still a hopeful sign for the 2018 season. Tony Kanaan and Leist also seem to having a bit of fun with the new partnership. I hope they both have a great season.

So that brings us to THE AMAZING RACE!

I hate that fans of the Amazing Race might be wanting to tune into IndyCar to watch Alexander Rossi and Conor Daly only to find out that Conor does not have a spot in the 2018 season. So disappointing. That said if I wasn’t a fan of IndyCar already I’m not sure that Alex and Conor would be the team I was rooting for. We see glimpses of their personalities but I feel the other competitors get more airtime than the IndyCar guys. Maybe it’s because I want to see more of Alex and Conor so it’s very obvious to me when they aren’t on screen. So far the guys are holding their own and progressing on the race. I actually enjoyed it more when the teams did a partner swap. Alex and Conor were chosen by team Ocean Rescue, Lucas and Brittany, Alex paired with Brittany and Conor with Lucas. Alex and Brittany did fantastic and came in second. Conor and Lucas got stuck their truck stuck in the mud. That was a bit embarrassing since the Big Brother contestant was able to make it through- although he did go through before Conor and it seemed obvious that the trail was going to be in worse condition as more trucks eroded the trail. Then Conor waited in the car as Lucas winched it out. I know someone needs to give the car some gas but it made Conor appear lazy. I kept screaming at the tv for Conor to jump out and help. Conor seems a lot stronger to me than Lucas so I was getting frustrated. They did get the car out and advanced in the race but while I love Conor this episode did not show the best side of him. I actually preferred Alex paired up with Brittany (as least for this episode). They made a great team. Hope the IndyCar guys stay around longer so viewers can see how great they really are.

So all that said, I can’t wait for The IndyCar season to start. St Pete can’t get here fast enough! Oh and I love that Helio Castroneves will be the Grand Marshall for the St. Pete race. What a great way to honor him. He will definitely be missed so I’m thankful to have him participating in this way and look forward to seeing him at Indy.

Catching Up

George Phillips of Oilpressure (Oilpressure.wordpress.com) recently asked “Where have all the bloggers gone?”. I’m here George, I’m here! I just haven’t wrote a new post since the end of the IndyCar season. I have no excuse, well no good one. I write posts in my head all the time but just don’t take the time to put them down. So even though I am a bit pressed for time this morning (in a fun way, we are on our annual trip to Wisconsin with family for Eagle watching) I’m going to write a couple things that have been on my mind.

I say it all the time but I’m so thankful for Trackside with Curt Cavin and Kevin Lee. They keep me updated on all the IndyCar news all year long. I love listening to the podcast.

If you are reading this I’m sure you are reading George’s blog- Oilpressure. He is the king of bloggers. He is so faithful posting three times a week all year long. 99% of the time I agree with him, very seldom I feel I have a different opinion. The other blog you must follow is The Pit Window (formerly The First Fifty Races are the Hardest) by Mike Silver. Mike updates regularly and gives his thoughts on the news in IndyCar. My favorite posts from Mike though are when he recalls a race or event from his 50+ years of being a fan. He has met some legends and his post about meeting Harry Hartz is among my favorites. Also keep an eye on Mike Knapp, 15 Days in May. He has also started writing for Beyond the Flag. Mike is another good friend and I always enjoy his insights.

On to IndyCar news- some not so new (each of these deserve their own post but that is what I get for procrastinating)

AJ FOYT RACING- This team once again is starting fresh with all new drivers. Lots of people have lots of thoughts about the decision and so do I- both good and bad. The good- Tony Kanaan moving to AJ’s team is amazing! Sure the team has struggled but once they built some continuity they will figure some things out and win races again. I have no doubt about that. They have good employees in place and the competition is so close, they aren’t that far off, never have been, they just need that little extra bit. I think TK will help with that a lot. Many say racers end their career at Foyt Racing and I expect the same will be true of Tony but for different reasons- he will retire before too long. I though an very thankful he has a ride for 2018. I love that my current favorite driver is racing for my first favorite driver. Tony did not have great years at Ganassi Racing but he is still competitive and I expect great things. The fan girl in me (she is quite prominent if you haven’t figured that out) has played out the scenario where TK wins The 500 for AJ and both enjoy that wonderful drink of milk many times. That would be amazing.

The bad- I have nothing against Matheus Leist but I was so incredibly disappointed that Conor Daly was not returning. I don’t agree with that decision at all. Conor just needs another season with the same team and we will see results. I hate the idea of him not driving in IndyCar. Dale please hire him! I begged Larry at Gateway (long before we knew who would be driving in 2018) to keep Conor. Can’t believe he didn’t listen to the crazy fan telling him what she thought the team should do. Well okay I didn’t expect him to listen but I’m still so very disappointed. Conor and TK would have been an amazing team.

NEW QUALIFYING RULES AND INDY 500 QUALIFICATION POINTS- Qualifying order on the ovals will now be determined by entrant points. While qualifying order is not super important on an oval I’m not thrilled with this decision. The drivers in the points lead will go last almost guaranteeing they win the Pole. I prefer a random draw and a chance for any team/driver to win the Pole.

Indianapolis 500 qualification points will be significantly less than they have been in the last few years but still offer more than other races. They were too high before but I do think qualifying for Indy is much more important than any other race so I never had a problem with it. I do think the new points are better though. Somewhere in between would be about perfect for me.

DANICA PATRICK- Danica announced she would run the Daytona 500 and the Indy 500 before retiring. It was big news and while some wish she would just go away others were quite excited and saw it as a good thing for IndyCar. I’ve always liked Danica so I was excited to see her back at The 500. However, she is struggling to find a ride. This infuriates me. Why was IndyCar so willing to kick Stefan Wilson out of his seat to make room for Fernando Alonso but no one will lift a finger to help Danica. Many say that having Danica race will help ratings and be big news (same things said about Alonso) so why is it so hard for her to find a seat? There are 33. However, so help me if anyone even looks at Stefan’s car Andretti Autosport will never hear the end of it from me. I get that Danica is not as big as Fernando Alonso but I still don’t get it.

REALITY TV- Arie Luyendyk Jr is The Bachelor. This show is a bit ridiculous but I’ve always liked Arie. IndyCar and Racing have played a prominent role on the show. Two weeks in and we’ve seen Arie Sr. on both episodes and Robby Gordon on the second. I will never understand why you go on a reality show and compete to win the guy but for now I’m watching- that is a true fan.

Alexander Rossi and Conor Daly are on The Amazing Race. This show is one I already watch. So far we haven’t seen much of Rossi and Daly but there are several references to them as the IndyCar drivers. Curt Cavin has implied that they stick around for awhile. I’m enjoying watching and love that I can get my IndyCar fix.

So to answer George’s question- I’m still here and plan to stay. I will never be a three time a week blogger but I do love doing it and sharing my thoughts and experiences. Thanks George for the kick in the butt to post.

Extra note- I didn’t mention my cousin, Randy, in my end of year post. (He made sure I heard about that) He accompanied me to both Indy 500 Pole Day and the race at Gateway last year. He enjoyed both and looks forward to attending more races. I think I made a new fan. Thanks Randy for putting up with me- and here is your mention on my blog lol.

Also Steve bought me a scanner and headset for our 20th wedding anniversary. He is not a fan but always supports my IndyCar addiction. He was good to me at Christmas with many IndyCar gifts and topped it off with the awesome gift of the scanner. Can’t wait to break it in.

Thank you all for reading!

2017 IndyCar Season Wrap-up

Well once again the IndyCar season did not disappoint. Although it did go by way too fast. Here is what I will remember from the 2017 season. 

Racing highlights- 

  • Penske and Chevy were dominate. Not much different from other seasons. 
  • Josef started strong and just kept going. Winning in his first season with Penske was impressive. Winning the Championship was amazing. No one really saw that coming- not in his first season. He is such a talented young driver.  
  • Stefan Wilson gave up his ride for Fernando Alonso. Professionally it might not have been his best decision, time will tell, but it was an incredibly selfless gesture and I’m very hopeful that IndyCar will honor that selfless act by making sure he is in a great ride for the 2018 Indianapolis 500. Stefan Wilson is a class act and as good as they come. Justin would be so proud. 
  • Helio won at Iowa and fans might have seen his last fence climb in IndyCar. 
  • Sebastian Bourdais had a horrible crash at Indianapolis, many feared he wouldn’t race again. He returned at the end of the season racing at Gateway, Watkins Glen and Sonoma. 
  • Scott Dixon walked away from a horrific crash during the Indy500. 
  • Takuma Sato won the Indy 500. It was a popular win and the first time a Japanese man has won. 
  • The championship went down to the last race with four strong contenders and others still mathematically able to win. It was Josef Newgarden who won the honor. 

My Race Highlights-

  • I met Arie Luyendyk on Mothers Day at the IMS museum. He helped me with a trivia contest I was working on from George Phillips at oilpressure.com
  • Curt Cavin now recognizes me and was kind enough to offer me a garage pass the day of the GP of Indy. 
  • Spent time at the races with my IndyCar friends.  I always love meeting up with my friends at races. This year I saw Mike Silver at every event I attended. The same can be said of my friend Lisa. Lisa and I also went out for several meals before or after races. Thanks to Mark and his big blue tarp we had a great place to watch the GP of Indy again this year. Always fun to see Mike Knapp- my oldest racing/Twitter friend. He had the honor of working with Buddy Lazier’s team at the 500. 
  • My good friend, Kristen, attended the Iowa race with me after not attending a race the two previous seasons. 
  • Saw Helio climb the fence at Iowa. 
  • Met many drivers including once again meeting Stefan Wilson. He needs a full time ride!

Silly Season-

Many things have already been decided. Some have been announced some are still in the works but there is a general consensus as to how the 2018 season will look. Here are a few that stick out to me. 

  • Tony Kanaan is expected to sign with AJ Foyt racing. Not everyone thinks this is the best idea but I love it. I think TK can help the team and I want TK to continue in IndyCar. It’s a win win. Many say that if he signs with AJ he will be gone after he drives for them. Well duh- he is 42. If he signs a two year contract which is what we are hearing he will most likely be retiring no matter who he drove for. Drivers don’t usually keep driving into their 40’s. Let’s just enjoy the time we have and if TK can offer valuable insights and advice to AJ’s team then that is great. Oh and did I mention that AJ and TK are my two favorites. I love these guys and think they will make an amazing team. Larry Foyt get ready because I’m expecting good things from your team. 
  • New teams. I’m excited about the new teams looking to join IndyCar. 
  • Ganassi moving to a two car team. That is going to mix things up a bit. 
  • No official word on Helio but sounds like he is moving to sports cars. 

All in all it was such a fun season and I’m already missing it terribly. The day after the Indy 500 is always so depressing but just a few days after the 500 we have a double header in Detroit to look forward to. The end of the season doesn’t offer as much. Thankfully we still need a few pieces from silly season to fall into place.  I’m also a huge fan of Trackside with Curt Cavin and Kevin Lee. I can get a small IndyCar fix listening to their podcast every week. 

    I will occasionally blog during the off season but will be back at it in March. Thanks to all who read.  I really enjoy sharing my thoughts here and appreciate those who take the time to read it.