Friday, July 22, 2016

Make Indycar Great Again

**This piece is designed as a platform for a bid to be CEO of Indycar. Now, Imagine Donald Trump has been a key figure in Indycar since 1979. Here are some of the things he would campaign on**

"GOOD EVENING! Wow, Indianapolis is a great city. I love you. I really do.

Okay, before we begin, I first want to take a moment and pause to play Indycar’s commemorative anthem.


                        

That’s terrific stuff. I helped write that with Gene Simmons and some others guys. Great stuff.

Now, let’s get to the important stuff. I want to Make Indycar Great Again! For too long now, we have suffered through divisions, splits and tempers. Crooked Tony George is a phony. He talks like has your back, but he’s no better than any of those losers in the Hulman George Company. Frankly, they should be taken to the woodshed. Indycar would prosper like you would never believe if I was running it. Believe me. We would be so much better off in my hands. We would do so many great things, so many great things. Believe me.

No one trusts Tony George! I mean, if you talk to anyone, ANYONE, they say I get things done. I get along with everyone. I get along with USAC, CART, Champ Car, IRL, Ed Carpenter.. Speaking of which, how many people can honestly say they get along with Ed Carpenter? I mean really an endorsement from him is like getting an endorsement from the neighbor who deflates your ball if you kick it into his yard. I am proud to have the support of Ed. He's a wonderful guy.

My opponent always criticizes me for be one of the leaders behind filing for bankruptcy under the old Champ Car label. Listen, I don’t expect Tony George to know everything, but filing for bankruptcy was the smartest thing I could do. It is there to protect your assets in case things turn south, and I made a lot of money, believe me, a lot of money. And you got those morons over at ABC saying that it was a greedy move and yadda yadda yadda. They're a total disgrace, they should be banned from television. Eddie Cheever Jr. is a disgrace. Every time he opens his mouth I swear I just hear quacking. Plus he's kind of ugly. He deserves an asterisk for winning the Indy 500 while all the good drivers were in CART. I mean, am I wrong? He's disgraceful. Listening to NBCSN, they are totally professional and have long been supporters of Trump. Robin Miller predicted the calamity following The Split and I told Robin, there’s gotta be a better way. We let the most unqualified person in the Hulman George Company completely ruining racing.

We also need to toughen up our borders. Have you read the news recently? I mean seriously, we have guys like Pastor Maldonado coming into this country and attempting to race in Indycar. Who let this guy in?! This was a failed policy of Tony and Mary George, the same people who allowed Hiro Matsushita, Milka Duno, and other unauthorized people into the country. We have no idea who is coming to race in Indycar and it is a disaster! Whether people come in legally or not, we need to toughen our borders so guys like Pastor don’t come into our series. This would never happen under my command, believe me. Just believe me.



If we just built a wall around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, or maybe all of Indianapolis, and enforced strict patrols around the complex, we could protect our great facility at IMS and all of Indianapolis from the failed drivers like Pastor Maldonado. I've gotten endorsements from the Indiapolis Motor Speedway and the IMS Boarder Control. Tony George has the endorsement of that old saddle bag Mary Hulman George, go figure, and benefactors of the system like Dennis Vitolo.


How can we stop this?! BUILD THE WALL. BUILD THE WALL. It will be so high and we will make the Venezuelans pay for it, believe me.

Political correctness is also ruining this sport. You got guys getting run off the track by idiots, and after the race they have beers and laugh about it. It’s stupid, it’s not authentic, it’s a joke. Emotions are a great thing and seeing drivers meet in the parking lot after a race would be an instant success. AJ Foyt is a great example of how one can speak their mind. Don't be a Charlie Kimball. His comments to the media are disgraceful. He goes out there and fails to hit the pace car, but manages to hit everything else, and everyone gets mad at him, but then he talks about how blue the sky is and how his ninth place finish was so great. Disgraceful. Believe me, it would be so much better under my leadership. Believe me.

In closing, I think it is about time we ousted Tony George from Indycar altogether. He has ruined this sport to the point where others series’ laugh at us. Look at NASCAR. NASCAR is a complete disgrace to racing. I don’t what the hell they are trying to do with competition cautions and caution clocks, but it’s just a disgrace. Yet, they not only took a big bite out of the Indycar apple, they just took the apple altogether. I promise to never do stupid policies like competition cautions in Indycar, I will strengthen the borders, I will take this sport to new heights, just show up in November to vote! God Bless, and Vote Trump!"


*Note: this is not a sign of my political affiliations, Trump is an easy target to write a parody about :)*

Thanks for reading!

-Matthew Hickey

Thursday, July 21, 2016

2017 Schedule Outlook

It's never too early to look ahead to next year! Sure, we should enjoy the moment, but it's so exciting to think about the changes coming next season. It sounds like Jay Frye, Mark Miles, and the other higher-ups in Indycar are cooking up quite the schedule next year. They plan on not only releasing the 2017 schedule sometime next month, but 2018's as well. Here's what we know so far for the 2017 Verizon Indycar Schedule:


CONFIRMED RACES

Belle Isle
The chairman of Belle Isle Grand Prix, Bud Denker, confirmed that Indycar will return in 2017 and will once again host two races on June 3rd and June 4th, with the race weekend starting on Friday the 2nd. It once again takes the spot as the race following the Indianapolis 500.


Grand Prix of Indiaiapolis
A rapidly forming tradition in Indycar is to kick off the Month of May with a road course race at Indianapolis. The race looks to be a go, as ticket renewals are available on IMS's official website. Angie's List has been the primary sponsor of the race and looks like they will be back for another year.


Indianapolis 500
Indycar's crown jewel will once again take place on Memorial Day Weekend in May. The 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 will take place on May 28th.


Iowa Speedway
Iowa Speedway will return to the Indycar schedule for an 11th straight year. The deal was confirmed right before this year's Iowa Corn 300 and it includes a race in 2018 as well. The race will be on July 9th.


Long Beach
Indycar's most historic street race will return to the schedule for the 2017 season. The famous track nestled in the streets of Long Beach will host the race on April 9th.


Road America
After a triumphant return in 2016, Road America will be back on the schedule for June 25th. Both track officials and Indycar were impressed with the positive reaction from fans on the return of the race.


St. Petersburg
Indycar and St. Petersburg, which has prospered with each other since 2005, will race through the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida until 2020 under their new agreement. In 2017, the race will take place on March 12th.



Potential Races

Auto Club Speedway
Many Indycar fans were despondent when the track that hosted one of the most thrilling races of all-time was left off the 2016 Indycar Calendar. The lack of a consistent date on the schedule, lack of attendance, and three hour time difference from the eastern time zone which means the night races has to start late because of the blaring sunset has all impacted the race in Fontana. However, Fontana was on the shortlist of races to replace Boston. The President of the track aid after they were left off for 2016 that they wouldn't rule out Indycar in the future, so long as they two sides could agree on some parameters.


Barber Motorsports Park
Since 2010, Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama has been a great host of the Indycar Series. There is no confirmation of the race for 2017 yet, but there is no reason to think the race won't be back next year sometime in late March or early April. The title sponsor in recent years has been Honda.

Barber (Photo: Indycar Media)

Exhibition Place
Indycar has been racing around Toronto for decades. However, speculation persists that the outdated venue along with a sketchy realignment of the last section of the track and the pits means the track may have to undergo some upgrades for it to be viable in the future. There is no concrete information on the race for 2017 either for or against, but let's hope it returns. It is one of the more dramatic (in a good way) races of the season.


Gateway Motorsports Park
Just outside of St. Louis, Gateway Motorsports Park has hosted both CART and IRL races. When the Boston Grand Prix fell through, Indycar officials looked for established tracks as a replacement. When it came down to choosing, it fell between Watkins Glen and Gateway. Watkins Glen got the nod, but it bodes well knowing that Gateway was the last one out for 2017. New upgrades is also big selling point to bring Indycar back.


Homestead-Miami Speedway
Homestead-Miami, aka Homestead, was another one of these tracks that was on the shortlist of tracks to replace Boston. While it was one of the first races to be crossed off of the shortlist, any consideration means the two sides opened a dialogue about a race. The last Indycar race held there was in 2010, although the track does host pre-season testing for the Indy Lights season for the last two years.


International Venues
After recent failures in China and Brazil, Mark Miles said that despite the mistrust gained in international races, he has not ruled out hope of securing at least one international race. Brazil, China, and Japan remain the top contenders for an international race.


Kentucky Speedway
Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Kentucky hasn't hosted a race since 2011. It hosted some thrilling races in the IR07 era, including a pair of photo finishes. New track improvements, including a new track surface, has the GM of Kentucky Speedway hopeful that Indycar has a future in Kentucky. It may not be next year, as the GM insists they have to work out a date and finances in order for the race to move forward.

Indycars racing at Kentucky in 2011 (Photo: Indycar Media)

Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
There is no reason to doubt that Indycar won't return to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. Most of the races set to return in 2017 have already taken place, and I feel not long after the race on July 31st, a date will be confirmed for 2017.


Phoenix International Raceway
Indycar returned to Phoenix for the first time since 2005 in 2016. Although the race was lackluster at best, a second-time around means the aero package will hopefully be better. After a great fan turnout in 2016, the race in Phoenix will very likely be back in 2017 around the time period of April 29th. It will drop down from its early April spot this year because of Easter and NCAA Men's Basketball Final Four in Phoenix in early April. Still, expect this oval back next year.


Pocono Raceway
Ever since its inception. Pocono Raceway has had an ax over their head for the following season. Last season, the race was set to be discontinued for 2016, but nevertheless, the race was on the 2016 calendar. This year, there hasn't been too much talk for or against the race, so it will be one of those wait and see situations.


Portland International Raceway
There is serious momentum for Indycar to return to one of its longtime tracks in Portland, Oregon. The thrilling road course hosted some doozies back in the day. Indycar just recently inspected the track, which is a good first sign towards a return to the track.

Portland lasted hosted an Indycar race in 2007 (Photo: Champ Car Media)

Sonoma Raceway
A long-time fixture on the Indycar calendar, the Sonoma Raceway outside of the San Francisco Bay Area has gotten the support of local fans and big corporate sponsors, meaning that the race will continue so long as the people behind the race are happy.


Streets of Calgary
James Hinchcliffe and boss Ric Peterson have really been pushing for a street race in Calgary, Alberta. The promotors, Green-Savoree, as well as Hinch and Peterson have been gearing towards a September date in the 2017 schedule. Given that the race track will be in the same area as the Calgary Stampede, people will be accustomed to the delays and closuers in the surrounding area. The Stampede attracts close-to or more than 100,000 people a day for a 10 day festival. Watch out for this race to make the schedule next season, as Edmonton was the last Western Canadian city to host a race in 2012.

The Stampede Grounds in Calgary (Photo: Visit Calgary)

Streets of Omaha
Local businessman Chris Nielsen seems to have succeeded where Boston failed in getting support from many groups in order to get the race off the ground. Nielsen has a scrutinized budget, the support of businesses, and the support of many people to host an Indycar race in the streets of Omaha, Nebraska. It may not appear on the calendar in 2017, but keep any eye on this race for the future.


Streets of Providence
The street race that was supposed to happen in 2015... And then 2016.... And then a potential replacement for Boston.... Yeah, it hasn't happened. Despite going through hurdles and hoops, the race has yet to happen. It's tough to see if it will happen for 2017.


Surfers Paradise
The Gold Coast, Australian Government, and Indycar are all making a concerted effort to get Indycar back to Surfers Paradise in 2017. Although there are still hoops to jump through, the chief among which is a date to race on, both sides seem adamant that they wish to see a race return to Australia.


Texas Motor Speedway
Every year, like Pocono, I wonder if this will be the last year we race at Texas. This year's race turned into a fiasco thanks to the weather. The weather exposed the outdated race surface and infrastructure of the track. But Eddie Gossage is one hell of a promoter and a good ally to Indycar, so I expect to see the race back in 2017. There has been no official date set.


Watkins Glen International 
After the castrophe of the Boston Grand Prix, Watkins Glen was tabbed as the replacement race for 2016 in the prized Labor Day slot. Not only was this a good move for Indycar for 2016, but for its future as well. Indycar picked Watkins Glen because of their interest in hosting Indycar for the long-term future (till at least 2018), but no official date has been set yet for 2017.

Watkins Glen (Photo: Autosport)


CONFRIMED SCHDULE OUTLOOK
March 12 - St. Petersburg
April 9 - Long Beach
May 3 - Grand Prix of Indianapolis
May 28 - Indianapolis 500
June 3 - Belle Isle
June 4 - Belle Isle
June 25 - Road America
July 9 - Iowa Speedway



EDITORIAL SCHEDULE (bold are confirmed, rest are my guesses)
1) February 19 - Surfers Paradise
2) March 12 - St. Petersburg
3) March 19 - Barber
4) March 26 - Gateway
5) April 9 - Long Beach
6) April 29 - Phoenix
7) May 13 - Grand Prix of Indianapolis
8) May 28 - Indianapolis 500
9) June 3 - Belle Isle
10) June 4 - Belle Isle
11) June 11 - Texas
12) June 25 - Road America
13) July 9 - Iowa
14) July 16 - Toronto
15) July 30 - Mid-Ohio
16) August 13 - Portland
17) August 20 - Pocono
18) September 3 - Watkins Glen
19) September 10 - Calgary
20) September 24 - Sonoma



To defend myself, these include many of the current races and the legitimate prospects for 2017. It satisfies Mark Miles' wants for the 20 races starting in February and ending in September. This wasn't something I just pulled out my ass in a Fantasy Land scenario that we see from other sources; this is a legitimate *optimistic* outlook on next year's schedule. But hey, I'm not the expert! 20 races would be a dream.

Let me know what you think!

-Matthew Hickey

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Winners and Losers: Toronto

Here are the winners, losers, and Cone of Shame winner following the 2016 Honda Toronto Indy:

Winners

Will Power
Will Power is rapidly making himself a championship favorite. Even though Simon Pagenaud has dominated much of the season, Power's last four races have vaulted him right into the mix with Pagenaud. He's very impressive to watch.


Helio Castroneves
Helio Castroneves was one flat tire away from winning the race. After things cycled out, Castroneves would have been ahead of the leaders had he not limped around the track. Still, a P2 result is great news for the #3 Team Penske entry.


James Hinchcliffe
The Mayor of Hinchtown James Hinchcliffe put on an epic show on his way to a podium finish in his home race. In his four previous starts at Toronto, Hinch failed to make an impression on the home crowd. After a good qualifying session, James caught some luck which landed him on the podium. A good result for the Canadian.


Takuma Sato
Today was a great day for Takuma Sato, who has time and again beaten his teammate, which hasn't proven to be that difficult. He's beaten his teammate in all but two races. Good stuff from Sato, who also managed to finish a race in a clean manner.



Losers

Scott Dixon
Scott Dixon drinking game: next time Scott Dixon gets screwed in a pit strategy, take a shot every time he drops the f-bomb. If you were playing this weekend, you are probably just now waking up from your alcohol induced coma.


Juan Pablo Montoya
Juan Pablo Montoya's season has gone very south very quickly. Coming up to a crashed Jack Hawksworth, Montoya was left with a decision to try and force two cars through a whole obstructed by a crashed car, or to put the car into the tires. He put the car into the tires and threw away his result. His season has just been brutal.


Josef Newgarden
It was pretty crushing to see Josef Newgarden end his day with a hard accident. It's even more crushing to know that his championship hopes are all but over.


Jack Hawksworth
Can we just put Jack Hawksworth out to pasture already? There is a sports car somewhere with his name on it. It's become very painful to watch his atrocious season.


Cone of Shame



Hotel X Toronto
Thanks for ruining the last couple turns of Toronto. Pricks.


Let me know what you think!

-Matthew Hickey

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Fantasy Indycar Picks: Toronto

Here are the Fantasy Indycar picks from the 2016 Honda Indy Toronto (current points leader highlighted in green, those in the elimination zone are in yellow, and those who have been eliminated is in red):

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


Penalties have been assessed to David Redner, Johanna Husband, Kieran Brughelli, Mike Crawford, and Sean Kennedy for failing to turn picks in on time.

Let's go racing!

-Matthew Hickey

Friday, July 15, 2016

Twitter Stats - 2016

Twitter has been and can be an enormous tool in the shaping any brand or sport. In the case of Indycar, Twitter should be exploited in the best interest of the sport. In 2012, I took note of active Indycar drivers and the official Indycar Twitter account to see what their numbers looked like. Then, I checked again in 2013 to see the growth. The growth was good.

I'm not trying to say that growth in Twitter numbers automatically equals growth in the sport, but it is a good indication of healthy times on social media for the sport. I'm happy to report that after checking the numbers again this year (2016), the numbers look promising. Here are some of the things to compare from August 15, 2013 to July 14, 2016:


The official Indycar Twitter count has gone from 94,674 followers to 213,171, a growth of 125.2%.


The 23 (includes Carpenter and Pigot) combined full-time Indycar drivers in the field have a combined following of 2,943,931 followers.


If we expand it to the drivers in this year's Indianapolis 500, it climbs to just under 3.1 million.

Photo: Forrest Mellott / Indycar Media

The driver with the most followers is Juan Pablo Montoya, with 1,124,078. If Juan was a city in the United States of America, he would be the 10th largest city based on population. In all of Europe, he would be the 27th largest city.


The driver who has received the most percent growth in the series is Sage Karam, who's growth is an astronomical 648.8% after his following jumped from 2,435 to 18,185.


The driver with the least amount of growth is Tony Kanaan, who has only grown 5.3% in three years.


That being said, Tony Kanaan and Juan Pablo Montoya have more followers than the other 32 Indycar drivers combined.


13 of the 25 drivers on record have more than doubled their following from 2013 till today.


Top-ten drivers with the most followers:
1) Juan Pablo Montoya - 1,124,078
2) Tony Kanaan - 639, 197
3) Max Chilton - 186,557
4) Helio Castroneves - 142,027
5) Marco Andretti - 102,615
6) Alex Tagliani - 85,557
7) Graham Rahal - 82,044
8) Will Power - 80,096
9) James Hinchcliffe - 79,762
10) Scott Dixon - 75,026


Top-ten drivers with the highest percentage of growth since 2013:
1) Sage Karam - 648.8%,
2) Carlos Munoz - 298.5%
3) Stefan Wilson - 286.3%
4) Luca Filippi - 193.8%
5) Sebastien Bourdais - 189.7%
6) Simon Pagenaud - 187.9%
7) Josef Newgarden - 183.2%
8) Takuma Sato - 125.5%
9) Conor Daly - 114.8%
10) James Hinchcliffe - 106.2%


*I did not have prior stats for Alexander Rossi, Bryan Clauson, Buddy Lazier, Gabby Chaves, Jack Hawksworth, Matthew Brabham, Max Chilton, Mikhail Aleshin, and Spencer Pigot, thus they were excluded from the percent change category.*


I think there are only positive things to take away from this Twitter growth. Combine this with the spike in TV ratings, and I say things are on the up-and-up. You can't definitively say this means Indycar is rising, but it certainly does not hurt.


Let me know what you think (and make sure to keep tweeting!


Many thanks.


-Matthew Hickey