Monday, February 2, 2015

Musings From the Weekend: Housekeeping

It was a dead weekend for motorsports, unless you count Formula One testing, but this will be the last dead weekend for quite sometime. Football season is now behind us and I bet next weekend will be tough for many but they will all recover. Here is a run down of what got me thinking.

With a lot of time on my hands, I used this weekend to do some housekeeping on the blog. First, you will notice I few changes with the pages at the top. I felt the Track Walks, Morning Warm-Ups and First Impressions pages were adding much to the blog and could be scrapped. They were just lists of links.

I decided to add two new pages, the first will be a page of many different championships if they used the 9-6-4-3-2-1 points system to determine their champions. So far the only two series up are Formula E and IMSA as they are the only series underway. More series will be added as NASCAR starts up in the next few weeks, Formula One is a little over a month and IndyCar... eventually start their season.

Back in September, I posed the question "how many hours of motorsports do I watch a year?" I also promised to track my viewing habits. Well, I dropped the ball on remembering to start prior to the Dubai 24 Hour but did remember for the 24 Hours of Daytona and plan on keeping track through the 2016 edition. You can follow along here.

I think these two new pages are a little more interesting and will be updated regularly and will give you something to follow over the course of the year.

American Silver
Scuderia Corsa is set to go to Le Mans this June with Bill Sweedler and Townsend Bell. The one problem is the IMSA team needs a silver driver to round out the line-up for their Ferrari and they want an All-American driver line-up.

I thought I would give them a hand and go through the driver rankings and pick out some silver-rated Americans that could make excellent third drivers.

Eddie Cheever:
Positives: Has run Le Mans before. Indianapolis 500 winner who brings name recognition. Le Mans test day would force him to miss the ABC IndyCar race at Belle Isle and there be one fewer color commentators.
Negatives: Claims to have won at Le Mans but really didn't but that's another story. Do you really want Eddie Cheever apart of your team?

Eddie Cheever III:
Positives: Ran Petit Le Mans last year. Success in Italian Formula Three. Winner in NASCAR Euro Series.
Negatives: A Giuseppe Rossi-type of driver. American but is represented by the Italian flag. Lacks endurance race experience.

Duncan Ende
Positives: Has been successful in PC, GTC, Pirelli World Challenge. Driving for Scuderia Corsa in PWC this season.
Negative: Has never run Le Mans.

Ashley Freiberg
Positives: Winner in Continental Tires Sports Car Challenge and IMSA GT3 Cup.
Negative: Not a lot of endurance race experience.

Burt Frisselle
Positives: Lots of sports car experience. Class winner at 12 Hours of Sebring (PC 2012). Ten starts in 24 Hours of Daytona.
Negative: Has never run Le Mans.

Brendan Gaughan
Positives: Notable name due to NASCAR roots. Won at Road America. Class winner at 24 Hours of Daytona (GT 2011).
Negatives: NASCAR commitments. Second division races at Michigan same day as Le Mans.

Ben Keating
Positive: Just won GTD in this year's 24 Horus of Daytona.
Negatives: Drives for Viper and Riley Technology is working on their own Le Mans program. Keating might be busy.

Anthony Lazzaro
Positives: Raced for Scuderia Corsa at Daytona last month. Plenty of sports car experience. Has run Le Mans.
Negatives: None really. I would say he is the clubhouse leader.

Cooper MacNeil
Positives: Young driver with a respectable amount of sports car experience. Has run Le Mans the last two years.
Negatives: Could be lining up a Le Mans run with another team. Likely looking to drive a Porsche.

Justin Marks
Positives: Very experienced. Class winner at 24 Hours of Daytona (GT 2009).
Negative: Has never run Le Mans.

Gustavo Menezes
Positives: Up-and-coming American. Races in Europe full-time.
Negatives: Has never run at Le Mans. Limited endurance race experience.

Bryce Miller
Positives: Has run Le Mans twice. Won Petit Le Mans last season in GTD.
Negative: Stepped back from full-time driving for this season.

John Pew
Positives: Lots of prototype experience. Won 24 Hours of Daytona overall in 2012. Mike Shank wants to go to Le Mans in 2016. Would get Pew experience.
Negative: Shank probably would prefer Pew getting experience in LMP2 at Le Mans.

Boris Said
Positives: Not many more experienced silver-rated Americans than Said. Winner at Daytona, Sebring, Nürburgring.
Negative: Has one run Le Mans once and that was in 1994. Surprising, right?

Madison Snow
Positives: 2013 IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge champion. Has a fair amount of endurance race experience for a 19-year old.
Negative: Has never run Le Mans.

Jonathan Summerton
Positives: Once the United States' biggest hope for next Formula One driver. Class winner at 12 Hours of Sebring (GT 2012).
Negatives: Has never race at Le Mans and to be frank, hasn't run much of anything in the last two and a half years. What a shame.

These are just sixteen names I picked out. There definitely could be a silver-rated American not listed or one I missed that could be Scuderia Corsa's third driver at Le Mans.

I would say Lazzaro and Ende are the most likely candidates because of their association with Scuderia Corsa although I think Frisselle, Pew and Said would all be great choices as well.

Formula One's First Test At A Glance
Sebastian Vettel was fastest with Ferrari (1:22.620 seconds) with Marcus Ericsson in the Sauber 0.157 seconds back. Nico Rosberg was third but was on top most of the first day. Rosberg was just under a half second back of his fellow German. Vettel's former team was just over seven tenths back with Daniel Ricciardo. Valtteri Bottas was just over a second and a quarter back for Williams. Carlos Sainz, Jr. was just over 2.7 seconds back and the McLaren-Honda did just six laps with Fernando Alonso behind the wheel and has quite a way to go.

First thoughts from first test: It's still early. This doesn't mean we will see four-team battle at every race. I expect the Williams to be quicker over the next few days. Not surprised to see Sainz, Jr. struggle but I think Max Verstappen will do a little better when he gets behind the wheel. Not surprised the McLaren-Honda completed so few laps but they completed more laps than Red Bull did last year in the opening day and Red Bull ended up winning three races in 2014.

Grand Prix Viewing Notice
Turner Classic Movies will be airing arguably the best motorsports film, Grand Prix, at 11:00 a.m. ET  (8:00 a.m. PT) on Wednesday. I suggest those on the east coast, take an early and extended lunch and those in the Pacific Time Zone say they are working half a day.

Winners From the Weekend
You know about the New England Patriots but did you know...

Ryan Dungey won the Supercross race from Anaheim.

Coming Up This Weekend
The Bathurst 12 Hour.
AMA Supercross heads to San Diego.