Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Winners and Losers: Pocono

Here are your winners, losers, and Cone of Shame "winner" following the 2016 ABC Supply 500 at Pocono:

Winners

Ryan Hunter-Reay
Normally, the first slot in Winners and Losers is always reserved for the driver who actually won the race (shocking, I know). But this week, how can Ryan Hunter-Reay not be the ultimate winner of the race? Sure he finished third, but overcame so much. A crash in practice, racing in a car he knew nothing about, and he comes home third. That was after starting last, moving up to first, only to have his car shut down on him on the second-to-last restart. He lost a lap but caught a break with a yellow, got his lap back, passed through the field again, and finished third. It was one of the best drives you'll ever see.


Will Power
Will Power is outside his mind at the moment, extending an impossible streak of six straight races finishing no lower than second. Hopefully St. Petersburg doesn't come back to haunt him.


Mikhail Aleshin
Mikhail Aleshin followed up an impressive performance at Iowa, finishing P5, with a podium finish and career best second place result at Pocono. The Mad Russian has turned into an ovalvista. I really think he is a driver who should get more recognition.


Honda
Honda may not have won the race, but they definitely have figured out how to perform on the superspeedways. Unfortunately for them, there are only two on the schedule and doesn't look like there will be any more next year.



Losers

Pit Accident Victims
In what is one of the most terrifying accidents I've seen in the pits, Charlie Kimball was preparing to enter his pit box while Alexander Rossi was leaving. Helio Castroneves, who was harmlessly leaving his pits, saw a launched Rossi coming at him after the Indy 500 champ touched wheels with Kimball. The tire narrowly missed Helio's head in a harrowing moment. Thankfully, all were okay. It's tough to assign blame when multiple parties are at fault (except the #3 camp). Still amazing to see such a ferocious crash at such a low rate of speed.


Simon Pagenaud
Tough day for Simon Pagenaud, who crashed out of the race with one stint to go. The severity of the wreck was compounded by his championship rival winning. Everyone knew a Pagenaud mistake was coming, but not too many thought it would be at Pocono.


Dale Coyne Racing
Dale Coyne Racing, which looked very promising at Indianapolis, has otherwise laid goose eggs on all over the ovals on the Indycar schedule. The small team, which fielded regular ace Conor Daly and part-timer Pippa Mann, needs a Bullet Bill or something for future ovals.


Ed Carpenter
It's put up or shut up at Texas for Ed Carpenter, who is having a year to forget and his worst season since the Verizon Indycar Series was called the IRL and was led by his step-dad.



Cone of Shame



Takuma Sato
Takuma Sato acknowledged the fact that the wind in turn three would be difficult to deal with and that he could handle it right before the race. So it was really awkward when Sato crashed without even completing a lap.... In turn three.... With all the wind.... Doubly awkward that the race happened at his sponsor's title race.... Triply awkward that AJ Foyt probably took him to the woodshed once he got back to the garage.



Let me know what you think!

-Matthew Hickey

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Fantasy Indycar Picks: Pocono

Here are your Fantasy Indycar Picks for the 2016 ABC Supply 500 at Pocono (current championship leader highlighted in green, those in the elimination zone are highlighted in yellow, and those who have been eliminated are in red):

Name Twitter Handle                                          Pocono  
Alan Stewart _alanstewart JPM Newg Mann Munoz Aleshin  
Andy Nagel Gabbahey75 Carpenter Munoz Hinch Kanaan RHR  
Chris Blackburn  chblackburn23 Carpenter Newg Andretti Helio Kanaan  
Chris Mienaltowski CPMski Aleshin Newg JPM Munoz Rossi  
Conor Daly conordaly22 Kanaan Carpenter Dixon Munoz Andretti  
David Leiting Jr. Dlite_47 Kanaan Hinch JPM RHR Kimball  
David Redner IndyCART Kanaan Newg JPM Andretti RHR  
DJ Jordan Indycardj32 JPM Helio Munoz Kanaan RHR  
Eric Hall Erock_in_Indy Helio Kanaan Kimball Chilton Andretti  
Jake Neely indycarfan25 Andretti RHR Munoz Newg Kanaan  
James Alban TheKing0fSwing Rossi Newg RHR Munoz Kanaan  
James Sedlmayr dfd827 JPM Dixon Kanaan Helio Hinch  
Jerry Cruz Indycar_Raider Helio Newg Munoz Aleshin Rossi  
Jessica Baker bakerjm13 JPM Andretti Helio Daly Newg  
Johanna Husband writebend Helio RHR Bourdais Sato Chilton  
Kieran Brughelli  kieranbrughelli Carpenter Kanaan Munoz Daly Pagenaud  
Kyle Lewis kylelewis1 RHR Kanaan JPM Munoz Hinch  
Lynn Weinberg lynnweinberg Dixon Helio JPM Munoz Daly  
Martin Plowman plowey Helio JPM Kimball Aleshin Rossi  
Mathew Gruenholz IndycarSTIG Andretti Mann RHR Hinch Daly  
Matthew Hickey Indycar_MN JPM Power Aleshin Newg Munoz  
Michael Friedman mfriedman_63 Dixon Rahal Helio JPM Munoz  
Mike Crawford 7BigMike Kanaan Daly RHR Hinch Carpenter  
Mitch Robinson mitchrobinson_ JPM Kanaan Hinch Munoz RHR  
Morgan Polizzi morganpolizzi RHR Kanaan Newg JPM Rossi  
Paige Hill paigehilll JPM Rossi Aleshin Newg Munoz  
Rick Snodie  rickfromwi JPM Kanaan Munoz Sato Carpenter  
Sam Klein sklein31 JPM Newg Kanaan Munoz Rossi  
Sandy Lamparello npssandy Andretti Daly Newg Rossi Power  
Sarah Hall SarahHall_528 Andretti JPM Munoz Newg Rossi  
Sean Kennedy _6thgear_ RHR Munoz Hinch JPM Kimball  
Sophie Hanson Sophie_Hansons3
Steven Jenkins ukindyfan Kanaan Helio RHR JPM Munoz  
               


Penalties

  • Alan Stewart has received a single pick violation for picking an invalid driver.

Let's go racing!

-Matthew Hickey

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Winners and Losers: Mid-Ohio

Here are your winners, losers, and Cone of Shame following the 2016 Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio:

Winners

Simon Pagenaud
Another win from Simon Pagenaud, who continues to be the championship favorite. This was important to stick it to Will Power, who has vaulted up the standings lately. His epic re-pass on Power in the last turn could be one of those championship defining moments.


Will Power
Will Power continues to be on an epic streak of races. Despite not winning, a second place finish is enough to keep Power within spittin' distance of teammate Pagenaud. We are setting up for an epic duel between the two.


Carlos Munoz
Carlos Munoz sneaked into the podium despite it looking like it was going to be a terrible weekend for Andretti Autosport. A solid weekend for a guy who may need to find a new home in 2017.


Conor Daly
Conor Daly once again used strategy to get into the lead, like we've seen many times this year. Most drivers can use strategy to get into the lead, but Conor finds a way to stay in the lead when he is there. It's not like Conor is holding off Jack Hawksworth; he was putting distance between himself and eventual winner Simon Pagenaud. After pushing on the final stint, Conor pitted for a splash of fuel and wound up P6. Despite some bad breaks, Conor is having an impressive rookie campaign.



Losers

Scott Dixon
Scott Dixon made a mistake, which was trying to pass Helio Castroneves, who is notoriously difficult and sometimes dangerous to be around. With his last place finish at a track where he usually finishes first, Dixon may have well been eliminated from the championship.


Mikhail Aleshin
Gutted for Mikhail Aleshin, who had a firm strangle on the race. After working his way into the lead, Aleshin used his speed to stay there, only to get sent from the pits into the path of Josef Newgarden. Aleshin would lose his chance to win right there. Sucks because these kind of things happen to Mikhail more often than not. His championship standing isn't reflective of his worth in the series.


Sebastien Bourdais
Not only did Sebastien Bourdais ruin his race in the closing stages of the Mid-Ohio race, but he hurt Takuma Sato's clean and good result he had going. Sato would lose a handful of positions, while Bourdais would be knocked out. Unfortunate result on an incident that I would pin on Bourdais. To Bourdais's defense, he did apologize for the incident.


Jack Hawksworth
I've said it before and I'll say it again: there's a sports car somewhere with Jack Hawksworth's name on it.



Cone of Shame



Helio Castroneves
This is a two-pronged Cone of Shame for Helio Castroneves. Part one is where he took out Scott Dixon by running him over the curb in a clear passing zone when Dixon was blatantly right next to him. Totally avoidable, very Helio-like (not his first time causing an accident). The second part to this is that Helio did not win a race last year and has not won a race this year, making it very difficult to win the championship. Another miserable outing at Mid-Ohio virtually makes the season a two-horse race between two of his teammates. Helio looks destined to go a 16th season at Team Penske without a championship.



Thanks for reading!

-Matthew Hickey

Friday, July 29, 2016

Fantasy Indycar Picks: Mid-Ohio

Here are your Fantasy Indycar picks for the 2016 Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (current championship leader in green, those in the EZ are in yellow, and those who have been eliminated are in red):

Name Twitter Handle                                      Mid-Ohio  
Alan Stewart _alanstewart Dixon Munoz Power Kimball Pagenaud  
Andy Nagel Gabbahey75 Dixon Hinch RHR Daly Kimball  
Chris Blackburn  chblackburn23 Dixon Kimball Newg Rossi Rahal  
Chris Mienaltowski CPMski Dixon Rahal Andretti Daly JPM  
Conor Daly conordaly22 Dixon Aleshin Bourdais Rahal Pagenaud  
David Leiting Jr. Dlite_47 Helio Dixon Pagenaud Kimball Daly  
David Redner IndyCART Andretti Power Newg Kanaan Rahal  
DJ Jordan Indycardj32 Dixon Bourdais Rahal Hinch Kimball  
Eric Hall Erock_in_Indy Power Dixon Chilton Bourdais Aleshin  
Jake Neely indycarfan25 Rahal Dixon Kimball Aleshin Daly  
James Alban TheKing0fSwing Daly Dixon Rahal Aleshin Bourdais  
James Sedlmayr dfd827 Rahal Kimball Sato Pagenaud Aleshin  
Jerry Cruz Indycar_Raider Dixon Rahal Kimball Power Pagenaud  
Jessica Baker bakerjm13 Rahal Pagenaud Dixon Newg Munoz  
Johanna Husband writebend Power Rahal RHR Kimball JPM  
Kieran Brughelli  kieranbrughelli Bourdais Kimball Power Rahal Dixon  
Kyle Lewis kylelewis1 Dixon Bourdais Kimball Pagenaud Rahal  
Lynn Weinberg lynnweinberg Hinch Rahal Kimball Andretti Rossi  
Martin Plowman plowey Rahal Hinch Pigot Helio RHR  
Mathew Gruenholz IndycarSTIG Dixon Rahal Aleshin Daly Kimball  
Matthew Hickey Indycar_MN Dixon Kimball Newg Pagenaud Rahal  
Michael Friedman mfriedman_63 Power Rahal Bourdais Kimball RHR  
Mike Crawford 7BigMike Sato Rahal Aleshin Munoz Kimball  
Mitch Robinson mitchrobinson_ JPM Aleshin Dixon Hawk Rossi  
Morgan Polizzi morganpolizzi Rahal Pagenaud Dixon Munoz Daly  
Paige Hill paigehilll Chilton Pagenaud Rahal Hawk Andretti  
Rick Snodie  rickfromwi Rahal Kimball Newg Sato Hinch  
Sam Klein sklein31 Rahal Dixon Helio RHR Hinch  
Sandy Lamparello npssandy Pagenaud Power Rahal Sato Munoz  
Sarah Hall SarahHall_528 Dixon Daly Kimball Pagenaud Rahal  
Sean Kennedy _6thgear_ Power Dixon Rahal Munoz Hinch  
Sophie Hanson Sophie_Hansons3
Steven Jenkins ukindyfan Chilton Daly Newg Pigot Rahal  
     





Penalties: Johanna Husband


Let's go racing!

-Matthew Hickey

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Be a Gil

I just finished watching the 1996 CART Season for the first time. I know many of the highlights and outcomes of the season, but it is still great to watch a race and catch all the details. A friend of mine told me watching races right as you crawl into bed helps you sleep, so I've been trying that out lately (PS: it helps, try it some time! There are infinite amount of races to watch for free on Youtube). Between that and some other free time, I have just finished watching the 1996 CART season just last week. It was a doozy. 1997 is turning out to be epic too.

One thing Paul Page talks about on a weekly basis in the '96 season is talks about second year stud Gil de Ferran and how he has a foot in the door for the next Formula 1 season. de Ferran, who was impressing everyone while driving for Jim Hall Racing, seemed like a perfect candidate for F1. Before de Ferran arrived to CART in 1995, he drove in International Formula 3000 series for Paul Stewart Racing. Paul Stewart is the son of Formula 1 legend Jackie Stewart.

Gil de Ferran in 1996 (Photo credit not given)

In 1996, Jackie and Paul announced they would be forming a team for the 1997 F1 Season under the banner Stewart Grand Prix. One of their drivers on a shortlist was Gil de Ferran. Gil had a choice to make, and by 1997, he had opted instead to join Walker Racing in the Valvoline car formerly occupied by Robby Gordon in the PPG CART Series (Indycar).

Gil de Ferran would continue at Walker Racing until 1999, where he would switch to Team Penske for his final years in racing between 2000-2003. Between 1997-2003, Gil would go on to rack up 10 wins, 18 poles, 44 podiums, 2 championships, an Indianapolis 500 victory, and the fastest lap ever recorded in a closed circuit while qualifying at Fontana (241 MPH AVERAGE!!)

Before making a decision on F1 vs. Indycar, Gil said that he loved CART because of the competitiveness and how most drivers could win any race, including himself. In F1, it mostly comes down to money and/or which team you drive for versus the driver. Many teams don't stand a chance. This isn't to say there aren't weak teams in Indycar, but even some of the non-Goliaths have a chance to be a David.

So what did Gil miss out on in F1? Stewart Grand Prix would initially struggle. Rubens Barrichello did finish P2 at Monaco, but those would be the only points he would score all year. He would not finish in 14 of the 17 races. Jan Magnussen would be one of three full-time drivers in the 1997 season who did not score a point. He would retire in 11 of the 17 races (he did not start one race as well).

Barrichello in 1999 (Photo: Ford)

Barrichello and Magnussen would return in 1998. Barrichello only scored points in two races and again struggled to finish many races. Magnussen would get off to a rough start before scoring a point in an attrition race in Montreal. Despite this, Magnussen was fired in favor of Jos Verstappen, who was worthless in the car. He would leave the team after 1998.

Barrichello would be teamed with Johnny Herbert in the 1999 season, hoping to avoid the struggle of the prior two seasons. It was a much better season for Stewart Grand Prix. Barrichello would pick up three podiums and 21 points, while Herbert scored 15 points and the team's first win at Nurburgring.

In the 1999 offseason, Stewart Grand Prix would be bought out and renamed Jaguar Racing. Jaguar Racing would be bought out in 2005 and be turned into Red Bull Racing.

So what does all that mean? Gil de Ferran could have gone to F1 and been a low-level cog in the "pinnacle of motor racing," or he could be abcompetitive driver in America's premier open-wheel racing series.

Gil de Ferran also had 'The Split' between IRL and CART to worry about, and yet he stayed. It was a great career move and one that he probably looks back on fondly.

Gil did what many Indycar drivers didn't do which is choosing Indycar over F1.

Michael Andretti took a year off in the prime of his career to race for McLaren. Yes, McLaren is a legendary team and yes driving alongside Ayrton Senna is a huge lure, but Andretti lasted 13 rounds before being fired. He gave up the best seat in Indycar to pursue an F1 career and it did not work out. Fortunately, he regained his footing and became a winner again in Indycar. F1 just proved to be a different beast for the Indycar legend.

Michael Andretti in 1993 (Photo: McLaren)

Juan Pablo Montoya left Chip Ganassi Racing after 2000 to drive for Williams, another great team. Despite winning some races (including the Monaco GP), Montoya's time in F1 was ultimately unfulfilling compared to his Indycar career. He would eventually make his way back to Indycar, where he would resume his chances at contending for a championship.

Alex Zanardi won back-to-back championships for Chip Ganassi Racing, but he left in 1999 to head back to F1 with Williams. Zanardi would be embarrassed by teammate Ralf Schumacher. Zanardi scored no points, while Schumacher scored 35 points, earning him a sixth place finish in the championship. Alex  would come back to Indycar in 2001 for his final season before suffering his Indycar-career ending crash in Germany.

Simona de Silvestro left Indycar after the 2013 season to attempt to work her way into Sauber so she could earn a ride for 2014 or 2015. Considering they're a lower-tier team, cash is always needed to earn a ride. Simona did not bring a big enough check, and a ride was never obtained and thus she never started a race. She would come back to race three races in Indycar during the 2015 season for Andretti Autosport, but her Indycar career has taken a serious hit.

Sebastien Bourdais was a dominant Champ Car driver for Newman-Haas Racing. It's hard to talk about Champ Car without mentioning Bourdais. Four straight championships and complete dominance, Bourdais left after 2007 to drive for Red Bull B-Team Toro Rosso. Bourdais struggled in 2008, but he returned in 2009. His second season was full of struggles, and it led to his firing halfway through the season. Bourdais would return to Indycar in 2011, but wouldn't drive full-time again until 2013.

Bourdais in 2008 (Photo: Toro Rosso)

I'm sure there are more cases out there that I am missing, but these are five highlighted cases of drivers leaving Indycar and not doing so hot once they get to F1 There are some success stories, like Mario Andretti and Jacques Villeneuve, but most situations end badly.

Why did I write all that above? We are rapidly seeing another scenario blooming. Alexander Rossi was demoted from Manor Racing race driver to a test-driver role in favor of Rio Haryanto, who has some massive backing from sponsors. Rio has been on the hot-seat, and many have speculated Rossi would be tabbed for the seat.

It's no secret that Rossi is a wanted man. He won the 100th Indianapolis 500, and that is something that will stick with him until he is playing cribbage in an old folks home 70 years from now. His 2016 Indycar season has had many ups and downs, but given the circumstances of being a rookie on a struggling team, he's done great, especially on ovals. He currently leads the Rookie of the Year standings in a stacked rookie class.

So, why would he even consider leaving Andretti Autosport and partner Bryan Herta, who are proven winners and will likely rebound in 2017, for a team that is on the struggle bus? While Pascal Wehrlein has had some good performances, Manor Racing won't be consistent winners anytime soon. But why even consider it? Gil de Ferran is a perfect example of how you can build a legacy in American and cement yourself as an all-time legend in racing.

Sorry Rossi, but you won't ever get this feeling in F1 (Photo: Chris Owens / Indycar Media)

Please Alexander Rossi, be a Gil. Stay in Indycar. Further your career in Indycar rather than going to a bottom feeder in F1. If Mercedes AMG or Ferrari came knocking, then by all means, book it. But Manor? Seriously?

Be a Gil.

Let me know what you think!

-Matthew Hickey