Monday, April 27, 2015

Musings From the Weekend: Where is Spring?

IndyCar got more sun and a first time winner. NASCAR got more rain and a not-so-popular winner. Pirelli World Challenge had some streaming issues. A Brit made history in Argentina of all place and Supercross made history in New Jersey. What a way to end the month of April. Here is a run down of what got me thinking.

I wrote this prior to the Grand Prix of Alabama, which was arguably one of the, if not the best race of 2015 to this point. If anything, it still applies to the street courses.

There has been less passing this IndyCar season with the introduction of aero kits. I don't think that's a bad thing. The manufactures weren't supposed to design aero kits that made passing easier. A manufacture shouldn't want their cars being passed. However, there needs to be some passing. IndyCar can't afford to have racing mirror that of Formula One during the late 1990s and at the turn of the millennium. 

Why not adopt DRS? How hard would it be to implement mid-season? Dallara already developed a DRS system for the GP2 chassis. Chevrolet and Honda developed their own aero kits but how hard would it be to add the Dallara DRS to their kits?

DRS is met with hostility across the motorsports world. Some think it's the root to all evil and is why ISIS exists. Others are fine with it. I can live with it. If DRS was something Penske developed in 1993 and gave him another unfair advantage or Ross Brawn came up with during the golden-era for Ferrari, would it be met with such hostility? I don't think so as it would have the extremely intelligent out smarting their competitors once again. But DRS wasn't one team's advantage that everyone had to catch up on. Formula One put it on all the cars in 2011 so there was no unfair advantage, everyone got the benefit of having DRS and for some reason, people are against equality. 

If IndyCar adopted DRS, they wouldn't have to have the same rules as Formula One and GP2. If anything, IndyCar should be looser on DRS use compared to other series. Instead of having only one or two places on track a driver can use DRS and having a rule that a driver must be within one-second of the car ahead, IndyCar could do whatever they want. There would need to be some minor regulations because if every driver could just use DRS whenever or wherever then it would just negate itself. 

Perhaps allow it to be used anywhere on circuit but a driver is limited to two uses on any lap. For example, at Barber a driver could use DRS on the front straightaway and from the exit of turn three, through turn four into turn five but then the driver couldn't use it on the exit of five, through six into seven or on the straightaway between turns 10 and 11. IndyCar also has push-2-pass and maybe it should be regulated that a driver can only use DRS and push-2-pass simultaneously once a lap just so it doesn't become predictable that when a driver uses DRS, they are going to also be on the button. A few other regulations would be similar to Formula One's DRS rules: No DRS use for the first two laps of the race and for the first lap or two after a restart and no use in the rain (Also, wouldn't it make sense for IndyCar to ban push-2-pass on the start and restarts now? Then push-2-pass doesn't become push-2-defend and those first couple corners and laps are all on the driver to make a pass on their own and hold off a driver on their own with no driving aids).

I think more relaxed DRS regulations would make it more interesting as it's use would be much less predictable use and could keep drivers and fans on their toes to see when and where a driver will use it.

DRS is something for IndyCar should be considering. IndyCar won't adopt DRS anytime soon though. 1. Because IndyCar doesn't have an official with a pulse and the stone do not a damn thing. 2. Because car owners (who are living in the top 1%) will cry poor.

Why IndyCar Should Go To Thailand
IndyCar failed miserably on their international schedule that they promised for 2015. Let me help them for 2016. Begin in Thailand. Go to the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand. It's an FIA Grade 1 circuit, meaning Formula One can head there tomorrow and hold a race meaning IndyCar can head there tomorrow and hold a race. 

It has lights and there is an 11-hour time difference between the Eastern Time Zone and Buriram. A race could start at 9:00 p.m. local time in Buriram, which would be 10:00 a.m. ET. It would be just like Formula One at Bahrain and this year's Bahrain Grand Prix was the most-watched Formula One race on NBCSN to date and had a better TV rating than IndyCar at Long Beach later that day. 

IndyCar could go in January, which is the driest month of the year in Buriram. They could race on January 24th, a week before the 24 Hours of Daytona that way the likes of Sébastien Bourdais, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Scott Dixon can do that event. It would be the weekend of the NFL Conference Championship Games but those are at 3:00 p.m. ET and 6:30 p.m. ET. The Asian Le Mans Series is scheduled to race at Buriram on January 10th and I don't think IndyCar could work out a deal with the ACO move that race back two weeks as Malaysia is scheduled to host the ALMS season finale on January 17th. Perhaps they could work on that for 2017. 

In case you are wondering, Buriram is about 255 miles northeast of Bangkok. The track is owned by Buriram United, the defending champions in Thai Premier League and the club had the highest average attendance last year in the Thai Premier League.

After that, IndyCar could take two weeks off for the 24 Hours of Daytona and the Super Bowl and then be back on track the week after the Super Bowl at Phoenix (It's a month before their NASCAR race but IndyCar could make it a one-day show). After a week off for the Daytona 500, IndyCar could head to Laguna Seca and just like that they have completed three races before the month of March. Join Pirelli World Challenge and the Blancpain Sprint Series at Austin in March, preferably March 13th and move NOLA to March 20th. Five races would be completed by Easter on March 27th and St. Petersburg could kick off the month of April on the 3rd. 

I could go on about what I think the IndyCar schedule should look like but I will save that for a rainy day. 

Think about Thailand though. Seriously think about it. 

Winners From the Weekend
You know about Josef Newgarden but did you know....

James Davison and Kevin Éstre split the Pirelli World Challenge GT races from Barber Motorsports Park. Kris Wilson swept the GTS races.

Kurt Busch won the NASCAR Cup race from Richmond and is now in the Chase.

Kris Meeke won Rally Argentina, his first career World Rally victory. It was the first WRC victory for a Brit since Colin McRae won the 2002 Safari Rally. 

Spencer Pigot swept the Indy Lights races from Barber. Weiron Tan and Neil Alberico split the Pro Mazda races. Aaron Telitz and Nico Jamin split in U.S. F2000.

Eli Tomac won the AMA Supercross event from East Rutherford, New Jersey, the first Supercross broadcasted on network television.

Denny Hamlin won NASCAR's second division race at Richmond. 

Coming Up This Weekend
FIA World Endurance Champions runs their second round of the season at Spa-Francorchamps.
MotoGP runs their first European round as they head to Jerez. 
NASCAR heads to Alabama a week after IndyCar but they will be at Talladega. 
DTM kicks off their season at Hockenheim after a 195-day offseason. 
V8 Supercars head west to Perth. 
IMSA heads to God's track, Laguna Seca.
Super GT runs their second round of 2015 at Fuji.
WTCC makes their European debut at Hungary.