Monday, August 31, 2015

Musings From the Weekend: Throw Away the Cookie Cutters

The Astor Cup is Scott Dixon's
Scott Dixon won the IndyCar championship. Shocker! It rained at Silverstone. Germany hosted a sports car race. Someone won at home in Wisconsin and in Great Britain. A Brit made history in Japan. With all that happened last week, there were things that were left unsaid because it wasn't the right time and they could wait a week. Here is a run down of what got me thinking.

Throw Away the Cookie Cutters
Having attended Pocono Raceway for many years, I wonder why there aren't more tracks with different shapes. I want a rhombus-shaped track with the acute angled corners having 15º of banking and the obtuse angled corners having 9º of banking. I want a trapezoid-shaped track with base angle corners being high-banked and the other two corners being as flat as paper. 

And why aren't there more triangle shaped circuits? Remember Trenton? It had a right-handed kink! It was shaped like a kidney bean! We need more kinks on ovals. Pocono has gotten a bum-wrap the last few years because NASCAR races aren't that good there but the three corners with three different degrees of banking is a fantastic challenge for the teams and drivers. I would love to see an obtuse triangle racetrack. 

Racetrack designs got boring. Look at all the 1.5-mile racetracks that popped up around the United States. They all look similar. Kansas, Chicagoland and Las Vegas are practically triplets, as are Charlotte, Texas and Atlanta. Homestead is the only 1.5-mile track that stands out and even then, it's as boring of a racetrack as you can get. Two straightaways with equally banked corners. 

If I were building a racetrack, I would want it to be noticeable. I would want people to know the moment they see it on their television screens that it's my track and not mix it up for another circuit. Make every corner a different degree of banking. Making it with three, four, heck five or six straightaways. Make it unique. Throw away the cookie cutter designs and take a blank piece of paper just let you mind wander on what an oval racetrack can be. 

Speaking of Race Tracks
Miller Motorsports Park was bought and it looks as the track has been saved. I have always like Miller Motorsports Park and I wish more series went there. Pirelli World Challenge was the only major series that went to the track and the place use to host World Superbike, ALMS and Grand-Am. 

The track is plenty big enough and has a very nice paddock area. I would love to see IMSA return there. Whether they run the 4.48-mile full circuit or the 3.048-mile outer circuit doesn't matter, as there is enough room for all four classes to compete. I am sure IndyCar could put on a good race there but IndyCar has plenty of other scheduling issues to clear up so Miller is way down on the list. 

Miller Motorsports Park hosted one of the best season finales in American motorsports. The 2007 Grand-Am season finale took place at Miller for a few years and the race was a 1,000km race. Scott Pruett, Max Angelelli and the pairing of Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty all entered with a shot of walking away with the championship and all three of those cars were at the front battling. Angelelli's championship hopes flamed out, literally. The Italian had a flat tire on his Wayne Taylor Racing Pontiac-Riley while leading and it caused a fire as he was trying to drive back to the pit lane.

That left it to be a Pruett vs. Gurney/Fogarty battle and Pruett and Fogarty made contact while battling for the lead, which left both cars with flat tires. Both were able to make it to the pit lane and continued but instead of battling for the victory, they were battling for eighth and only two points separated the teams in the standings. Fogarty was able to hold off Pruett and he and Gurney won the title by two points while Marc Goossens, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Jim Mathews won the race overall in the #91 Pontiac-Riley. 

It was a nail-biter from start to finish. I hope the new era at Miller sees races like that return.

Who would have been IndyCar champion had the old Formula One points system of 9-6-4-3-2-1 been used? Well, here you go:

Graham Rahal- 43
Juan Pablo Montoya- 42
Scott Dixon- 40
Will Power- 33
Josef Newgarden- 32
Hélio Castroneves- 31
Ryan Hunter-Reay- 26
Tony Kanaan- 26
Sébastien Bourdais- 25
Marco Andretti- 15
Carlos Muñoz- 15
Simon Pagenaud- 13
Charlie Kimball- 10
James Hinchcliffe- 9
Takuma Sato- 7
Luca Filippi- 6
Sage Karam- 6
Justin Wilson- 6
James Jakes- 4
Tristan Vautier- 4
Simona de Silvestro- 3
Ryan Briscoe- 2
Conor Daly- 1
Ed Carpenter- 1

Graham Rahal would have been champion by one point over Montoya and three over Dixon. While having as many wins as Montoya and one fewer than Dixon, Rahal had six podiums this season, the most of any driver in IndyCar, one more than Montoya and two more than Dixon. 

Winners From the Weekend
You know about Scott Dixon and Valentino Rossi but did you know...

Kevin Éstre and Renger van der Zande split the Pirelli World Challenge GT races from Sonoma. Andy Lee and Michael Cooper won in GTS.

The #17 Porsche 919 Hybrid of Mark Webber, Timo Bernhard and Brandon Hartley won the FIA WEC 6 Hours of Nürburgring. The #47 KCMG Oreca-Nissan of Nick Tandy, Matthew Howson and Richard Bradley won in LMP2. The #91 Porsche 911 RSR of Michael Christensen and Richard Leitz won in GTE-Pro. The #72 SMP Racing Ferrari of Victor Shaytar, Andrea Bertolini and Aleksey Basov won in GTE-Am.

The #36 Petronas TOM's Lexas RC F of James Rossiter and Daisuke Ito won the Suzuka 1000km. It's Rossiter's second consecutive Suzuka 1000km victory. The #10 Gainer Nissan GT-R GT3 of André Couto, Katsumasa Chiyo and Ryuichiro Tomita won in GT300.

Pascal Wehrlein and Mike Rockenfeller won the DTM races from Moscow Raceway.

Johann Zarco won the Moto2 race from Silverstone. Danny Kent won on home soil in Moto3. 

Wisconsinite Paul Menard won the NASCAR Grand National race from Road America.

Erik Jones won the Trucks race from Mosport.

Coming Up This Weekend
For the first time since 2003, the Southern 500 is on Labor Day weekend. 
Monza plays host to the Italian Grand Prix. 
Blancpain Sprint Series head to Algarve, Portugal. 
The European Le Mans Series runs their penultimate race of 2015 at Circuit Paul Ricard.