Thursday, June 28, 2018

This Month in Motorsports Headlines: June 2018

It is getting hotter, series are surpassing the midway points and days are getting shorter. The one thing that is always overlooked with the start of summer is it marks the start of shorter days, losing daylight and yet it was the time from childhood we were conditioned to celebrate. Oh, how cruel of this world to con us into believing the worst was behind us when the slow decline was only getting started.

Social commentary aside, we had Le Mans. IndyCar had four races. NASCAR had some races. MotoGP still hasn't been to the Netherlands. Formula One returned to France. The World Cup is more than halfway over. A lot has happened. A new story pops up every thirty seconds and the proliferation only increases in July. The rumor mill does not slow even when suffering a drought.

Once again, this is just for fun. In case you are new, this is my gut reaction to headlines without reading the article. Of course, the gripes I have may be answered in the article.

This month we have 11 headlines and after inconceivably being shut out in May, IndyCar leads off this month.

Rossi admits Detroit error but "conceding a win isn't going to happen"
That sounds great but in the long haul you got to know when second is good enough and second would have been good enough for Alexander Rossi in the second Belle Isle race. There is this false sense of bravado that winning is all that matters and you should want to win every race and winning is all that matters and that is stupid. Think big picture. What is the best for the big picture? Consider the consequences. Rossi was going to gain points on all his title rivals regardless of if he finished first or second. He would have scored ten fewer points in second than if he had won but Ryan Hunter-Reay was a distance behind Rossi and give him ten more points would not have been the end of the world.

Two races later, Hunter-Reay and Rossi are tied. Congratulations, you didn't concede a victory, I hope you are happy for your ego. It might have cost you a championship.

IndyCar: Tony Kanaan isn't excited to run at Texas
Race car drivers should be honest and I think we appreciate their honesty but boy can they exaggerate. I don't blame Kanaan for being worried no passing would occur at Texas this year but many were quick to point out how everyone thought there would be a lack of passing before the 2017 race and the 2017 race turned out fine. Drivers and teams did not have enough information to know how the race would turn out at Texas and that is the case at a few other venues. We think one thing and get the opposite. Everyone thought Barber would be terrible and every year has produced excellent racing. Mid-Ohio has turned into a competitive racetrack; even Belle Isle is much more interesting than it was during the days of CART and the IRL.

I am not going to say race car drivers shouldn't say a race will not have passing or be boring but I think it should be noted when it is a knee-jerk reaction. Fans hate hearing about PR and sometimes a driver has to break rank to get a point across but it wouldn't a bad thing if drivers are educated about their words and the ramifications they could have and if they were encouraged to think before speaking.

What next for Alonso after Le Mans win?
The rest of the Formula One season and the rest of the FIA World Endurance Championship season.

Montoya: "I had no idea how cool Le Mans would be"
So what did you think it would be?

The one thing I have always noticed about Montoya is he has never been awestruck and I think that is part of the reason for why he is one of the greatest drivers of all-time. He didn't enter Indianapolis Motor Speedway covered in goosebumps. It was more of a shoulder shrug. He got on the tour bus and did a lap and the rest of history.

I don't want to say he has no respect for history but he doesn't let history affect his emotions, which makes his response to Le Mans surprising and refreshing. I don't know if it is his age, I don't know if it was because he was racing in LMP2, I don't know if it because of how limited his schedule has been compared to previous years but I wouldn't have been surprised if he was asked about the atmosphere at Le Mans and said he didn't really notice it considering he has experience the circuses of Formula One and NASCAR. It speaks to how special Le Mans is and how the entire build up differs from the other great motorsports events around the world.

Why the Formula 1 Stars are invading Le Mans
Let's settle down on this one. Fernando Alonso went to Le Mans because he has McLaren in the palm of his hand and can get whatever he wants. Nico Hülkenberg went in 2015 because Alonso wasn't allowed to go at that time, Force India had little control over stopping him and Porsche had an open seat. Outside of Alonso, no other active Formula One drivers were at Le Mans. The stars aren't invading Le Mans.

There was a litter of former Formula One drivers at Le Mans but let's not act like this shows how great Formula One drivers are and other motorsports series can't pass them up. Most of them were kicked to the curb faster than you can blink. Formula One didn't want Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima, Kaumi Kobayashi, Giedo van der Garde, Bruno Senna, Pastor Maldonado, Will Stevens, Paul di Resta, Felipe Nasr and Jean-Éric Vergne. And Juan Pablo Montoya and Jenson Button were done with Formula One. You don't get to claim any driver with experience in the series as your own when many have been elsewhere for the last few years.

Vinales: "Yamaha promised I'd win, not fighting satellite Ducatis"
To be fair, you have won with Yamaha. It has been a while since you won with Yamaha but you did win a few races, three to be exact. I am sure after you won three of your first five starts with the manufacture it seemed like victories would come at a regular pace. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. And you are also fighting satellite Hondas and your previous team, the factory Suzukis and you are fighting the satellite Yamahas so it isn't just satellite Ducatis.

NFL star Russell Wilson: Montreal F1 "reminded me of Super Bowl"
Which one, the blowout against Denver or the one where you threw an interception at the goal line? Because this year's Canadian Grand Prix resembled both. Sebastian Vettel kicked everybody's ass from the get-go and the FIA blew it at the finish.

Sirotkin seat discomfort woes finally "sorted"
I am glad it took eight races to get the seating figured out. Williams is having a rough year. I am glad Sergey Sirotkin is now comfortable in his car while over two and a half seconds slower than the leaders.

NASCAR could place more limits on Cup drivers in other series
It is kind of exasperating the slow squeeze NASCAR has on Cup drivers in the lower two national touring divisions and while I support limited participation I think NASCAR should have set it and left it. It was set, Kyle Busch and the #22 Team Penske Ford kept winning, the limit was dropped. Kyle Busch and the #22 Team Penske Ford kept winning and now we are at a point where Cup guys keep winning and everyone wants the limit dropped again.

We underestimate the equipment. It isn't necessarily the driver but the combination of the driver and the car. I think back to Andy Lally finishing fifth at Mid-Ohio driving for SS-Green Light Racing last year. That car did not have a top ten finish all season prior to that race and it didn't finish in the top twenty in the rest of the season. It would be more interesting to see the likes of Busch, Keselowski and Larson in that car in the Grand National Series than a Cup-esque team running in the lower division. It is not going to happen, you can't legislate it and even if you did they would find a loophole.

Keselowski: NASCAR All-Star package encourage drivers to quit NASCAR
No, it wouldn't dumb ass. Brad Keselowski is going to be a senator sometime because he is great at exaggerating bullshit. Drivers aren't going to quit. Why? Money. Drivers aren't all of a sudden going to turn down a multi-million dollar salary in NASCAR because of the aero package and go run IndyCar or sports cars to make a fraction of the money. It is not like a half-dozen drivers could decide Formula One is now the better option and somehow find the funding to fill the seats at Williams or Force India. Dumb ass.

Drivers follow the money. Kyle Larson loves racing a sprint car but it doesn't fill his coffers nearly as much as driving in NASCAR. He knows that. He isn't going anywhere. If he has the ability to make millions of dollars he is going to make millions of dollars even if the aero package isn't what he prefers. Drivers aren't going to turn down the money for some bullshit greater good that the racing isn't pure. They aren't doing it now. They will happily continue cashing the checks.

In search of Team Penske racing legend Mark Donohue
I was going to come up with some smart aleck remark that you aren't going to find him because he is dead but I knew this article wasn't some kind of scavenger hunt and this is actually a beautiful story about a great racing mind lost at a young age, the son following his father's faded foot steps and the legacy of a driver who does not get nearly as much praise as he deserves because his numbers are not flashy in IndyCar or NASCAR or Formula One. If you haven't read this article yet go read it.

June is almost over, summer is here and the end of July will at the door with the setting sun.