Thursday, August 30, 2012

Track Walk: Baltimore 2012

The final street course and the penultimate round the Izod IndyCar Championship will take place on the  street of Baltimore. Ryan Briscoe won last week at Sonoma holding off his teammate Will Power who dominated the race. Power extended his points lead over Ryan Hunter-Reay to thirty-six points. If Will Power has a point lead greater than forty-three points after Baltimore he will have clinched the title heading into Fontana.

Junqueira In for Newgarden
Josef Newgarden broke his finger in that crash with Sebastien Bourdais at Sonoma. It will require surgery and Bruno Junqueira will return to IndyCar this weekend for Sarah Fisher-Hartman Racing. We saw Junqueira at Indianapolis last year where he was replaced by Ryan Hunter-Reay in the unpopular, Foyt-Andretti deal to get the American into the race. Junqueira last start was at Indianapolis in 2010 and his last road or street course race was the non-points race at Surfers Paradise in 2008. This year, Junqueira has been racing in the American Le Mans Series.

Track Changes
The chicane on the front straightaway has been removed and the turn five, six, seven section around pit in has been remodeled.

No Delay
The push-2-pass delay has been removed after two races. The delay was five seconds at Mid-Ohio and three and a half seconds at Sonoma. The delay was not well received well by the drivers, teams or the fans.

Iowa Set For 2013
IndyCar will be heading back to Iowa in 2013 on June 21-22.

Predictions
I will be honest, I want to see the Championship come down to Fontana, but that looks unlikely. I think Hunter-Reay will finish ahead of Power and keeps his hope alive. With that said, I think Sebastien Bourdais has a great weekend after his hard hit and steals a win. Graham Rahal has a great weekend and gets a podium. Dixon and Castroneves will be eliminated from the championship hunt.
Sleeper: Takuma Sato.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Come On Alex!

What we as fans would give to go back, prevent the split and allow guys like Greg Moore and Alex Zanardi run the Indianapolis 500? Sadly, we can't go back and Greg is no longer with us but there is some hope for Zanardi. Though he lost his legs in Germany back in September 2001, that did not keep Zanardi from racing. Two years later he returned to EuroSpeedway Lausitz and completed the thirteen laps his had left. These weren't parade laps, he gave it his all and his fastest of the thirteen laps would have put him fifth on the grid for that race in 2003.

Thanks to hand controls, Zanardi would go on and race in the World Touring Car Championship for BMW from 2005-2009. Over that time, he won four races and scored ten podiums. In 2006 the BMW Sauber Formula One team gave him a test at the Valencia Circuit. Since leaving the WTCC, Zanardi has been working on hand cycling and will be competing in the Paralympics which opened today.

In an Autosport article, Zanardi came out saying he would like to return to racing on a top level, whether it be in the DTM or the Indianapolis 500. The DTM ride very well could be lined up with BMW since they rejoined the series this year. As for Indianapolis, Zanardi came up with the hypothetical that if Morris Nunn were to come to him with a ride he would consider it. Mo Nunn has been out of American Open-Wheel Racing for a while now, but the man Zanardi won his CART titles with, Chip Ganassi isn't going anywhere.

Would he give Zanardi a ride? Only one way to find out but as race fans we should be encouraging someone to give Alex Zanardi the opportunity. Some think Zanardi shouldn't risk anymore but he would not be the first to come back from a serious accident. Davey Hamilton returned after his terrible accident. Kenny Br├Ąck returned after his near fatal accident. Gary Bettenhausen had his left arm paralyzed in an accident in 1974 and continued racing until the early 1990s. Those who have followed Zanardi all this time know his wife may not approve, but Indianapolis is the last frontier for Zanardi to cover. He won in the heyday of CART, he raced in Formula One, won in Touring Cars. Indianapolis is the last thing on the list.

And the support behind Zanardi would be like never before. From Vasser to Franchitti, Kanaan to Papis, everyone would back Zanardi and help him where he needed it. And what fan would not like to see Zanardi get his shot at Indianapolis? It would definitely turn a few heads, not just in the United States but around the world. Come on Alex! Come run Indianapolis!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sonoma: First Impressions

1. I feel terrible for Tagliani because I bet he didn't mean to take out Hunter-Reay but now everybody needs Power to struggle at Baltimore if they want a shot at the championship, and it's hard to see that happening.

1a. Tagliani did drive in pretty deep and had a massive lock up. No doubt he was in the wrong but these things happen. Sucks for Hunter-Reay. He really hasn't done much wrong this year. A few mechanical failure but no mistakes from him. He won the pole at Edmonton but since the grid penalty for that engine change things haven't gone his way.

2. As I said in a Tweet, Sonoma, your track changes did not work.  Please try (just use the sports car course already) next year. Thank you.

3. Crowd looked really good. You had three Olympic gold medalist, the mayor of Sacramento who was a pretty good player in the NBA and the CEO of Twitter at the race. Not bad.

4. Thank God we had a caution and thank God Newgarden and Bourdais are alright.

5. Ryan Briscoe is thrown under the bus a lot and most of it isn't deserved. It was nice to see him win today.

6. Great race by Rubinho.

7. We need Ferris Wheels at more races. Just a random thought. Makes the race look festive.

8. Chevrolet wrapped up the manufactures championship with the win this weekend. It would be pretty cool if we saw Chevrolet commercials bragging about that.

9. Stinks that their are only two races remaining but it isn't all bad. Baltimore was a good race last year and five hundred miles at Fontana is a good way to end the season.

10. This race was pretty lackadaisical but was still light years ahead of Belle Isle.

Morning Warm-Up: Sonoma 2012

Will Power won his third consecutive pole at Sonoma yesterday as he looks for his third consecutive win at the track and to extend his points lead over Ryan Hunter-Reay, Helio Castroneves and Scott Dixon. Ryan Briscoe will start second, Sebastien Bourdais and Castroneves make up row two. The Target Chip Ganassi Racing guys will start fifth and sixth, Dixon ahead of Franchitti.

Hunter-Reay just missed the Firestone Fast Six and will roll off from seventh with Alex Tagliani on row four as well. Simon Pagenaud will start ninth and James Hinchcliffe will round out the top ten. Justin Wilson qualified tenth but will have to serve a ten grid spot penalty for an engine change. Others serving penalties for engine changes are Sebastien Saavedra dating back to Indianapolis, he will betwenty-third on the grid, Takuma Sato, who is on his sixth engine this weekend, will start twenty-sixth and Simona de Silvestro will be on her seventh Lotus engine at Sonoma and will start twenty-seventh. Other notable drivers are Rubens Barrichello who will start eleventh, Marco Andretti and Graham Rahal will be twelfth and thirteenth respectively, Tony Kanaan is sixteenth, Oriol Servia is eighteenth and Charlie Kimball with start twentieth in his first race back from his hand injury.

Some Sonoma facts, this is the ninth race at Sonoma Raceway in the history of American Open-Wheel racing. The furthest a winner has come from is fifth, that was Scott Dixon in 2007. The last four races have been won from pole position. The first races were won from third position, Dan Gurney in 1970 and Tony Kanaan in 2005 and Marco Andretti won from second position in 2006.

Hopefully the changes to the race track will allow for more passing as they are attended to do so. Coverage for the GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma will begin at 4:00pm ET. Green flag will be around 4:42pm ET.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Let's Run Two

I was mentioned during the week that the Izod IndyCar Series is considering running doubleheaders at road and street course events. The planned format would be practice and qualifying on Friday with a race Saturday and a race Sunday. Immediately though a few problems came to mind. One being television. Would a network show each race live or one race taped delayed before the second one? Another problem would be people choosing one race over the other. Maybe a family decides Saturday over Sunday and the goal to get people in both days fails.

What if they scheduled doubleheaders the way they did the Twin 275's at Texas last year. But instead of a half hour of empty race track, run the Lights race and package it as one large television window like NBC Sports Net was doing previously. Example: Run the first IndyCar race at 12:30pm, that race takes about an hour. Then at 1:45pm run the Lights, that race could be over in 45 minutes and by 2:45pm the final race can begin. I would be for an inversion of the top ten from race one to decide the grid for race two. As for points, I would not mind if they awarded full points for each race or if they gave away half points.

Also, if we are doing doubleheaders on road and street courses then we can definitely do heat races and/or twin races on all ovals except Indianapolis. Iowa has the format set perfectly. Milwaukee can also run heats. I would like to see the Twin 275's at Texas but if they choose to do heat races and run one 550KM race, I am fine with that. Fontana can do heats before their five hundred mile race.

But with heat races should come points. I suggested  giving 12 points for winning the third heat race, 8 for second, 7 for third, 6 for fourth, 5 for fifth, 4 for sixth, 3 for seventh, 2 for eighth and either a point for the winners of the first two heat races or, if they are allowed to transfer to the final heat, 1 point for ninth and tenth position. This gives the fans more racing at the track and on TV. A fan shows up to Sonoma, sees an IndyCar race, then the Lights before the IndyCar main event or a fan at home turns on his TV, sees the IndyCar race, leaves the Lights race on and then the main event. Will this happen? Maybe, maybe not but it's just some brainstorming.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Track Walk: Sonoma 2012

The final permanent road course race of the season and the thirteenth round of the Izod IndyCar Season takes place at Sonoma Raceway in California. The GroPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma is the first race in three weeks after the cancellation of the China race back in the spring.

Changes
A few changes to the race track configuration this year. A tighter turn seven, widen bus stop and a long run down to the turn eleven hairpin. The race will also be extended ten laps from previous season to eighty-five laps. Other changes have to do with push-2-pass, with a shorter delay of three and a half seconds instead of five that was used at Mid-Ohio.

Additions
Dragon Racing announced Katherine Legge would return at Sonoma in her TrueCar sponsored Chevrolet and Sebastian Saavedra will run the same car he ran at Indianapolis with AFS and Andretti Autosport.

CART Revival
News of the week came on Sunday when Robin Miller dropped a bomb on Wind Tunnel stating four to five team owners are trying to purchase the IndyCar Series from the Hulman-George family. No names were made public. Over the past few days things have died down. People have been speculating that while some may want to buy the series, the series may not be for sale. We will probably hear more during the weekend.

2013 Schedule
IndyCar will be heading back to Texas next year along with St. Pete, Long Beach, Sao Paulo, Indianapolis, Toronto, Edmonton, Iowa, Barber, Houston, Milwaukee and Belle Isle. Sonoma and Fontana both have three year deals with their sponsors but nothing has been confirmed with IndyCar. Mid-Ohio and Baltimore have not been confirmed for 2013. Reportedly other interested venues are Pocono, Michigan, NOLA Motorsports Park with other rumors of races in Austin, a third race in Canada and Brasilia, the capital city of Brazil. It has come out that doubleheaders at road and street courses are being considered for next year. The schedule is tentatively set to be announced on September 1st.

2014 Indy Lights Chassis
In the last week, two groups have come forward with ideas for the new Indy Lights car. DeltaWing has made it known they would like to become the new Lights car, while ALMS team Dyson Racing, in partnership with former Lola employees have a design similar to the car Lola presented to become the new IndyCar back in 2010. The Dyson group has decided to call their proposed car the "Hulman" in honor of Tony Hulman and his family.

Predictions
The point standings will remain close. Power will come out with the lead but Hunter-Reay will remain in second, while Dixon jumps ahead of Castroneves for third. Franchitti has a good weekend, as does Hildebrand in his home race. I know I have taken him before and more than one occasion but I will take Hinchcliffe this weekend and if he does not win I will not pick him for the remainder of 2012. If not Hinchcliffe, Power is a smart pick. He has won the last two Sonoma races from pole. Sleeper: Sebastien Bourdais.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Owners Buying IndyCar?

On the August 19th edition of SPEED Channel's weekly show Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain, Robin Miller made public a rumor that a few current IndyCar team owners are trying to buy the series from the Speedway and the Hulman-George Family. He also made known that said team owners would remove Randy Bernard from CEO if they do purchase the series.

OK, I will be honest, this is a little knee jerk of a post. This was made known to the general public about ten minutes ago but it is an interesting and seems to be a never changing topic with American Open-Wheel Racing. The team owners want control of the series, they do not want to be told what to do even if it will save them money. Miller did not go into depth about who the team owners are but he said around five are working together.

We can speculate all we want about who the team owners are and then dig as to why they would want control but I am not going to do that tonight. After years are struggling with two series, finally unifying,   and now trying to grow public attention and awareness of a series with a television deal that is less than favorable, the series is seeing the best on track action in years, the best field of drivers in years and more positivity than ever, I feel the general consensus WOULD NOT be in favor of a changing of the guard. CART was run by the team owners, and while it was all well and good for sometime, it ultimately ran itself under.

Not everything has been bullet-proof this season. From the grid penalties for engine changes to delaying aerokits again to the unpredictably high prices for spares, a lot of things have to be examined for 2013; but that is no reason to completely take over and clean house. Nobody is perfect and everybody, from the series to team owners, the manufactures to the drivers have to sit down together and discuss what has to change, why it has to change and what can be done to make it better. This is not CART. This sanctioning body has to listen to all key players involved and come to an understanding that is the best for the SERIES AS A WHOLE!

(Note: Not related to this post but I will be moving to Pittsburgh, Pa and was wondering if their are any public places in the Pittsburgh area where Formula One fans meet and watch the races together? My cable package will not have SPEED and I was wondering if their is a place where I can catch the races. You can let me know by leaving a comment at the bottom of this post or you can let me know on Twitter. My handle is @4theloveofindy. Thank you.)

Friday, August 17, 2012

What Uncomfortable Trend?

After Iowa, I talked about "The Uncomfortable Trend in IndyCar's Second Half" due to the lack of race title sponsorships. That has since changed and fans, teams and IndyCar themselves should be happy about that. While Edmonton did not have a title sponsor, it will be the only race in IndyCar's second half not to. Since late June, Sonoma, Baltimore and Fontana have all joined Toronto and Mid-Ohio and each has their own special title sponsor.

Sonoma signed the handheld camera company GoPro to sponsor the IndyCar race next weekend in Wine Country. Not only will GoPro sponsor this year's race but they signed a deal to be the IndyCar race title sponsor for the next three years, reassuring that IndyCar will be at Sonoma for the next few years.

Baltimore signed a deal with SRT, the performing-tuning arm of Chrysler to be presenting sponsor of the Baltimore Grand Prix. SRT is the badge for the new Viper, which races in the American Le Mans Series with drivers Dominik Farnbacher, Marc Goossens, Kuno Wittmer, Tommy Kendall and current IndyCar driver Ryan Hunter-Reay. While not a "title" sponsor, it is still money coming in for the race and series.

As for Fontana, their title sponsor, MAVTV is probably the most unknown of the three. MAVTV is a digital cable network that was bought by Lucas Oil late last year. The race will be called the "MAVTV 500 presented by Lucas Oil." Lucas Oil is a good company to be in business with their roots stretching to other forms of motorsports as well as sponsorship of Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts, Super Bowl XLVI and to-date one Final Four. Just like GoPro, MAVTV has signed a three year deal with Fontana, making one think IndyCar will be racing on the Southern California oval for the next few years as well.

These deals show sponsors are still interested in IndyCar and the length of these deals will be able to keep these races on the schedule for the next few years and build the fan base in these areas as well. We should all be pleased and be glad the tracks, promoters and maybe even the series stepped up to get deals done.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Another Week Off

With this being the middle of the second consecutive week off for IndyCar, we take a look at what else has been going on in and around IndyCar.

MotoGP Is Coming
After the United States Grand Prix three weeks ago, MotoGP heads to Indianapolis for the fifth running of the Indianapolis Grand Prix. The big news heading into this weekend is Valentino Rossi's return to Yamaha for 2013. After two seasons at Ducati, The Doctor heads back to the Japanese manufacture where he won four world championships. Rossi won the inaugural Indianapolis Grand Prix in 2008 for Yamaha and Jorge Lorenzo followed that up by winning in 2009. The last two races at the Speedway have been won by Honda with Dani Pedrosa's victory in 2010 and Casey Stoner in 2011. The Americans have done well at the Speedway. Nicky Hayden has finishes of fifth, third, sixth and fourteenth. Ben Spies has finished sixth, second and third in three races and scored his lone career MotoGP pole at the Speedway in 2010 for Tech3 Yamaha.

At Laguna Seca, Stoner beat the Spaniards Lorenzo and Pedrosa with the Tech3 bikes of Dovizioso and Crutchlow taking fourth and fifth. Hayden finished sixth with Rossi retiring from the race. Spies fell out of the race from fourth position and had an accident during qualifying the day prior.

2013 Schedule
Back to a familiar topic and that's scheduling. Curt Cavin of the Indianapolis Star reported interest in NOLA Motorsports Park just outside New Orleans. The track is hosting the final weekend of the AMA Pro Racing season on October 5-7. The project is planned to build a 5.5 mile full course that can be split into two smaller north and south tracks. Currently the 2.75 mile north course is complete. Reportedly, IndyCar is interested in a spring race that would capitalize off the Super Bowl crowd, which the city of New Orleans will host February 3, 2013.

Talks are continuing between Pocono Raceway and Michigan International Speedway as a financial agreement that would benefit both sides is the main talking point. The following races have contracts for 2013: Indianapolis, Houston, Milwaukee, Detroit, St. Pete, Sao Paulo, Toronto, Edmonton and Long Beach.

Veach Tests Andretti's Lights
Zach Veach tested Andretti Autosports Indy Lights car at Putnam Park yesterday, August 13th. Veach is currently tenth in the Star Mazda Championship standings with five races remaining. He has two podiums, a second at Toronto and a third at Indianapolis Raceway Park. His teammate in Star Mazda for Andretti Autosport is Sage Karam. Karam is second in the Star Mazda Championship standings with two wins and a total of eight podiums.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

IndyCar Silly Season Guide

With one of the most talented crop of free agents since the split, many drivers could be on the move for the 2013 season.

As mentioned prior, Graham Rahal is reportedly looking for a new team in 2013 and he just adds to an already deep field of who's who. Sebastien Bourdais, the four-time champion is looking for a full-time ride for the first time since 2007. After having his 2012 season cut to only road and street courses after Indianapolis, he has shown speed and had great races at Toronto and Mid-Ohio. Ryan Briscoe is in the uncomfortable position of being the low man at Penske Racing and many have him out of his current ride, opening one of the best seats in the series. Josef Newgarden has reportedly caught the eye of Roger Penske but has two more years left on his current contract and any move from Sarah Fisher-Hartman Racing will have to be by a buyout.

Ryan Hunter-Reay is in his final year with Andretti Autosport but is working on an extension. Rubens Barrichello has expressed interest in heading to a new team if KV Racing Technology does not become more competitive. Other free agents on the outside are Giorgio Pantano, Luca Filippi, Ana Beatriz, Pippa Mann, Martin Plowman and Sebasitan Saavedra.

Breakdown:

Graham Rahal
Rumored Destinations: Resign with Ganassi, go to Rahal-Letterman-Lanigan, go to Penske, help restart Newman-Haas.
Most Likely: Either signs with his dad's team because they have been quick each week and a two car team with Rahal and Sato could be a threat or resign with Ganassi and believe they are going to treat who more like you are on the "A Team".

Sebastien Bourdais
Rumored Destinations: Dragon Racing or Penske Racing.
Most Likely: I do not see Will Power being happy if they bring Bourdais in as his teammate. Dragon can easily compete and I think Jay Penske will keep him.

Josef Newgarden
Rumored Destinations: Stay at SFHR, go to Penske.
Most Likely: Unless Penske is going to pay top dollar to help out Sarah, Josef is staying.

Ryan Briscoe
Rumored Destinations: Unknown, just not Penske, demotion to Dragon, maybe.
Most Likely: It really hasn't been covered who would sign Briscoe, only that most people on the outside do not see him with Penske in 2013. A swap of Briscoe and Bourdais makes the most sense but I do not see that happening at this time. I think Briscoe will get a ride, where is just unclear right now.

Ryan Hunter-Reay
Rumored Destinations: Resign with Andretti, go to Penske.
Most Likely: Hunter-Reay wants to stay with Andretti and I think he will. The only way I see him going to Penske is if he gets a massive offer.

Rubens Barrichello
Rumored Destinations: Stay at KV, other than that a team better than KV.
Most Likely: Nothing specific where Rubinho would go if he leaves KV, other than he wants to go to a better team if they do not improve. I see Tony Kanaan calming Rubinho down and him staying with other changes at the team.

Giorgio Pantano
Rumored Destinations: Vacated Ganassi seat, Scuderia Coloni.
Most Likely: Not clear at this time. He has the talent to be in IndyCar and he would do well with Ganassi. With Scuderia Coloni expressing interest in IndyCar after announcing they would be leaving GP2 after 2012, Pantano, who raced for Coloni in 2006, would be a likely choice for the Italian team.

Luca Filippi
Rumored Destinations: Scuderia Coloni.
Most Likely: Filippi finished second in the 2011 GP2 championship with Coloni and makes as much sense as Pantano, if not more. Filippi was thought to be set for a half season with Rahal-Letterman-Lanigan this year but that fell through. Coloni has not committed to IndyCar for 2013.

The Rest
Ana Beatriz ran for Andretti in partnership with Conquest Racing at Sao Paulo and Indianapolis. If Conquest does return to IndyCar full-time in 2013, either her or Martin Plowman who races for the team in ALMS make the most sense. Sebastian Saavedra or Beatriz could be in a fourth Andretti or AFS Racing goes full-time with Saavedra. Haven't heard a thing about where Pippa Mann would land.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Look At The Road To Indy And North Americans Abroad

With it being the month of August, the Road To Indy seasons are coming down to the final few race weekends and with scholarships to the next level available it is time to see which drivers are vying for each title. Also, we'll take a look at North American drivers in lower Formula series abroad.
Firestone Indy Lights
With only two races remaining at Baltimore and Fontana, the Indy Lights season is the closest to deciding a champion. Esteban Guerrieri leads by only seven points over his rookie teammate Tristan Vautier. Both drivers have won three races but Vautier received a five point penalty after Indianapolis. Guerrieri finished second last year in Lights to Josef Newgarden and was always fast but he was a little wreck less and cost himself good finish, notably at Barber, Edmonton, New Hampshire and Baltimore. This year though he has been clean and has completed every lap to date. Vautier looks to be promoted for a second straight year after winning last year's Star Mazda Championship. Last year, the Frenchman won the Star Mazda race at Baltimore.

The question for these two drivers is who in IndyCar would take them? Guerrieri was rumored to be talking with KV Racing Technology if Rubens Barrichello was not signed. Both drive for Sam Schmidt Motorsports who fields Simon Pagenaud. Many thought Schmidt was going to field a two car team this year but that did not come to fruition. Would Schmidt field a second entry for the Lights champion? We'll have to wait and see. Other Lights drivers include Sebastian Saavedra who is third in the standings and will need some help if he wants to win the championship. Saavedra ran for Andretti Autosport in partnership with AFS Racing in the Indianapolis 500 this year and will run again at Sonoma. Gustavo Yacaman is fourth and forty-five points behind Guerrieri.

Star Mazda Championship
With three race weekends and five races remaining, British driver Jack Hawksworth leads the championship by forty-one points over Sage Karam. Hawksworth has won six races to Karam's two. Gabriel Chaves is third and Connor de Phillippi is fourth. De Phillippi has won two races but after two tough weekends in Toronto and Edmonton, he has fallen to seventy-four points back of Hawksworth. Star Mazda will run two races at Baltimore, two races at Laguna Seca during the Grand-Am weekend and their final race will be at Road Atlanta during the Petit Le Mans weekend.

U.S. F2000 Championship
Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing driver Spencer Pigot leads his teammate Matthew Brabham by eighteen points after their doubleheader weekend at Mid-Ohio. Pigot had won five races going into the second Mid-Ohio race but ended up one lap down in twenty-third position, while Brabham finished twenty-fifth. Scott Anderson won his first race with Belardi Auto Racing and is fourth in the standings behind Pigot, Brabham and Roman Lagudi. The series will run a triple header weekend at Road America with the American Le Mans series, a doubleheader at Baltimore and a doubleheader at Virginia International Raceway with ALMS, the same weekend the IndyCar and Indy Lights championships wrap up at Fontana.

Americans Abroad
Alexander Rossi is eleventh in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series standings with a podium finish at Monaco. This is Rossi's second season in Formula Renault 3.5 and finished third in the championship last year. He is currently a test driver for Caterham F1.

2010 Star Mazda Champion and Indy Lights race winner, Conor Daly is sixth in the GP3 Series standings with a win at Barcelona and a total of four podiums. Last year, Daly had only three finishes in the points during the GP3 season and his best finish was a fifth at Spa-Francorchamps. Daly also tested for the Formula One team, Force India in May. The other American in GP3 is Ethan Ringel and his best finish this year was a fourteenth at Valencia.

Michael Lewis is currently eight in the Formula 3 Euro Series standings with three podium finishes. Last year, Lewis won three race in Italian Formula Three, had six total podiums and was the highest finishing rookie by finishing second in points.

Eddie Cheever's son, Eddie Cheever Jr. is currently leading the Italian Formula Three standings with three wins, ten podiums in fifteen race and has won five pole positions. Eddie Jr., however races under the Italian flag.

Puerto Rican driver Felix Serralles is second in the British Formula Three Championship with two rounds, six races remaining. Serralles has three race wins, eleven podiums and three pole positions.

In the GP2 Series, Mexican driver Esteban Gutierrez is third in the standings, has won three races including the most recent race at Hungary and six total podiums.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Mid-Ohio: First Impressions

1. Now the championship is interesting.

2. Why pick anyone other than Scott Dixon at Mid-Ohio?

3. This wasn't a great race but was by far better than Belle Isle. Rain would've helped. Track changes have to be done. Moving turn two back a little and making one straightaway connecting turn nine to the carousel are what I would do.

4. Great race for Bourdais, Marco Andretti did a great job getting a top ten, so did Hildebrand.

5. Well, after back-to-back races ending under caution, we have had two caution free-races. No more complaining please. Sometimes these things just happen.

6. The NBC Sports Network guys did a great job on ABC. I hope the average/causal fans who flipped on the race were impressed with these guys.

7. Mid-Ohio needs a new pit lane.

8. Chevrolet has won two sets of four straight races. Honda won three races between those two streaks. If the trend holds, pencil in Honda for Sonoma and Baltimore.

9. Not looking forward to two weeks off before Sonoma. Hopefully, next season does not have these big gaps, especially during the summer time.

Morning Warm-Up: Mid-Ohio 2012

Will Power won his third pole of the season at Mid-Ohio as he beat the Hondas of Dario Franchitti, Simon Pagenaud, Alex Tagliani and Scott Dixon. His teammate and fellow Aussie, Ryan Briscoe bookend the Firestone Fast Six for Chevrolet and Team Penske. Alex Tagliani will have to serve a ten grid spot penalty and drop back to fourteenth. Just missing the Firestone Fast Six were Sebastien Bourdais, points leader Ryan Hunter-Reay and the surprise so-far this weekend, Marco Andretti. Josef Newgarden was tenth fastest. Other notable drivers were Justin Wilson in twelfth, Helio Castroneves in thirteenth, James Hinchcliffe in sixteenth, Tony Kanaan in nineteenth, Graham Rahal in twenty-second and Giorgio Pantano in twenty-fourth.

Push-2-Pass this weekend will be one hundred seconds and have the new delay feature. The extra horsepower will not kick-in until five seconds after hitting the button. This change was made a team admitted to watching timing and scoring and telling their driver when the trailing driver was on the button to easily defend their position.

Off the track, the first entry for the 2013 Indianapolis 500 was announced. Chase Austin will drive a second AJ Foyt Enterprises entry. Chase Austin was a development driver in NASCAR with Hendrick Motorsports and Rusty Wallace Racing and was the first black driver to race in a Nationwide Series oval event. Austin has ran a total of four Indy Lights races in the last two season, two at Indianapolis and two at Iowa. He has finished ninth and tenth at Indianapolis and finished tenth and eighth at Iowa.

As Kevin Lee was promoting it, the Mid-Ohio race is on ESPN on ABC powered by NBC Sports. Due to the amount of racing on ESPN this weekend (Cup at Pocono, Nationwide at Iowa, NHRA at Seattle), the NBC Sports Net crew (sans Robin Miller) is going to be the broadcast crew for this ABC race. Coverage begins at 12:30pm ET on ABC. I hope we all can take a two and a half hour break from the Olympics to watch this race.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Track Walk: Mid-Ohio 2012

Round twelve of the Izod IndyCar Championship will take place at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. Helio Castroneves took his second win of the season at Edmonton two weeks ago and is second in points behind Ryan Hunter-Reay.
Pantano in; Kimball Hurt
Charlie Kimball broke a bone in his hand at last week's Mid-Ohio test and needed surgery. Giorgio Pantano returns to IndyCar after substituting for Justin Wilson at Sonoma, Baltimore and Motegi last year. Pantano drove for Ganassi at Sonoma and Watkins Glen in 2005, recording a fourteenth and a fourth. Kimball has five top tens this season including an eight at Indianapolis and a second at Toronto. No time is set for Kimball's return, reports are he would like to be back for the next race at Sonoma.

1... 2... 3... 4... 5... A Delay For Push-2-Pass
Starting at Mid-Ohio, push-2-pass will take affect five seconds after pressing the button. This is a response to teams using timing and scoring to tell their drivers when the person behind them were on the button and could defend against it. One hundred seconds will be available for the drivers this weekend.

Rahal Leaving Ganassi?
I did not see this one coming. In an article by Marshall Pruett, he reports Rahal will be leaving Ganassi Racing after this season and other potential free agents including Ryan Briscoe, Sebastien Bourdais, Oriol Servia and Justin Wilson are highlighted. Ryan Hunter-Reay is reportedly working on a deal to stay at Andretti Autosport. If a deal is not reached he would be added to the free agent list.

Past Mid-Ohio Results
Ryan Hunter-Reay has never finished outside the top ten at Mid-Ohio. His first career podium was at Mid-Ohio in 2003 and added another podium last year. Castroneves has two wins at Mid-Ohio (2000 and 2001) as well as three additional podiums. He also has three finishes outside the top ten. Will Power has only raced at Mid-Ohio three times with finishes of fourth, second and fourteenth. He won pole for the 2010 Mid-Ohio race. Scott Dixon has three wins and a total of six top-fives in seven races at the track. However Dixon's three wins all came in odd years (2007, 2009 and 2011). 2011 was James Hinchcliffe's first race at Mid-Ohio where he started seventh, led twenty-six laps before a late spin in turn two relegated him back to twentieth position. Hinchcliffe did finish second and seventh in two Lights' races.

Big Week For Sonoma
A lot of positive news from Wine Country. First, GoPro was announced as title sponsor for the race. The camera company signed a three year deal with the track, making one think this race will be around for a few more years. Also announced were alterations to the race track at turn seven, nine and eleven. Turn seven will be tightened into a hairpin, turn nine (the bus stop) was widen by ten feet in hopes to encourage more passing and the turn eleven hairpin was extended by two hundred feet. Personally, I would just like to see IndyCar run the sports car course that runs the esses and not the bus stop, goes through turn ten and uses the actually turn eleven hairpin.

More Track Alterations
The Baltimore Grand Prix circuit will be altered as well. The chicane on the front straightaway will be removed, turn one will be wider and the turn five and six section, along with the pit entrance will be changed.

Predictions
I see Hunter-Reay holding on to the points lead with another top ten. Power and Dixon are also in the top ten. Pantano has an average weekend in his first DW12 race. Graham Rahal puts on a great showing at his home race. It would be cool to see him win. Sato is either going to wreck it or get a podium. I see Ryan Briscoe having a good day and I am going with an upset and taking Alex Tagliani this weekend. Sleeper: Marco Andretti (Hard to believe but I feel his luck will turn around. Either that or he has another weekend where he no better than fifteenth in any session).