Around the Horn: November 2013

Returning to the blog is Around the Horn: Indycar edition! This blog is modeled after the ESPN show "Around the Horn", where a panel talks about sport issues in a round-table manner. Make sure you share your opinions with the panelists on their responses to the questions! Get involved! The panel for this month includes:

  • Ross Fujibayashi, code named OMAR (inside joke), Twitter: @fujis123, answers listed as RF 
  • Sandy Lamparello, all around friendly Indycar fan, Twitter: @npssandy, answers listed as SL 
  • Adrian Rickard, everyone's favorite brit, Twitter: @IndyCarUK, answers listed as AR 
  • Michael Tressler, passinate and nice Indycar fan, Twitter: @mtressler13, answers listed as MT 
  • Pippa Mann, two time Indianapolis 500 starter, really no intro needed! Twitter: @PippaMann, answers listed as PM 
  • Mathew Gruenholz, aka THE STIG. Twitter: @IndyCarSTIG, answers listed as STIG 
  • James Alban, aka THE SWINGER. Twitter: @TheKing0fSwing, answers listed as JA 
  • And then there's me, Matt Hickey. Twitter: @Indycar_MN, answers listed as MH  

1) The First Word (opening topic)

What do you make of the new Indy 500 qualifying format that's being considered? Are you for or against it?  

Ed Carpenter, who won the pole in 2012, in the pits at Indianapolis (Photo: USA Today Sports)

RF: I like the idea. As it's been well documented, qualifying isn't the show it used to be. It was time for a change.

SL: First, it's all PROPOSED, so nothing is decided yet.  I'm a pretty big traditionalist, but I want IndyCar to grow and become more successful than ever more than I want everything to stay the same, so I'm happy to see the powers-that-be considering ways to do that.  As long as they're not considering moving the race or something equally huge, I'm in favor of trying something new to generate interest.

AR: Anything to try and improve the qualifying weekend is good in my eyes. Having attended in 2012 the Sunday felt like a glorified practice day so making both days competitive can only help. I have heard concerns about travelling fans, rain, etc but if you want to be there, you will, and rain is always a threat no matter what day it falls on. Car count is the biggest factor in making a 'bump day' valid.

MT: Not sure how well it will work. However the current format has been stale the last couple of years so I'm all for shaking things up. Sometimes change is good and I'm willing to give it a chance before striking it down.

PM: From a driver's point of view, it could make things very interesting and it will make both days a lot more tense for everyone. The bottom line is, one mistake that hurts the car or one issue with an engine too late in the day, and you could now miss the show altogether, instead of having a chance to bump your way in the next day. Ultimately, more tension and surrounding both days of qualifying again could be just what Indycar needs to capture the fans imaginations again

STIG: I'm surprisingly kind of for it.  It's not overly outrageous and it makes sense, I was worried they'd go completely bonkers with the format, but It's straight forward and doesn't stray too far from traditional Indy qualifying.

JA:  It's interesting...I cannot blame Mark Miles and IMS for wanting to try something new.  We all know the die hard fans will be there, I think this is a possible way to attract new fans and spice things up a bit...

MH: Well it's no secret that Bump Day has not been anything to get cheerful over lately, so trying something new could be a good thing! Sunday has been a glorified practice day in the new format.  

2) Buy or Sell (buy = agree, sell = disagree)

Juan Pablo Montoya will have a successful return to Indycar for Team Penske in 2014.

Juan Pablo Montoya in CART 2000 (Photo: Alexander Stannigel / Getty Images)

RF: Sell: I sure hope he proves me wrong, but I don't see this going the way the Captain is banking on.

SL: Buy, but I think you have to be careful how you define "successful."  Montoya is a talented driver (though I've seen admittedly little of him in years) and he's with a top-notch team.  I think he will be in contention for a podium more often than not, and for someone who's been away from IndyCars for so long, I would call that a successful season.

AR: Buy - as long as this tax issue doesn't get in the way! Feisty character on and off track can also be a benefit to Indycar in general, he has had some time out of an open wheel car so maybe a few races to re-adjust but will be OK in the end, wins probably, championship not likely.

MT: I'm buying this one. He will be on a good team and with the DW12 still being fairly new he shouldn't be too far behind a lot of the other drivers.

PM: Buy. Hugely talented driver, back in open wheel where he made his name, and with a great team. He's already lost nearly 30lbs, and he's taking his return to open wheel seriously. So should we!

STIG: Buying... but I'm keeping my receipt.  He is very talented in open wheels and is making a commitment to returning to Indy, his career in Nascar staled quite a bit so the tin tops weren't really his forte.  I'm not convinced he'll be great, but he'll do really well.

JA: Buy.  Give Montoya and Team Penske a few races along with ample off season testing and who knows what could happen.  I'm not saying Montoya will success from race 1, but I would expect a good show by Indianapolis..

MH: Sell, but that's because I have high expectations for him. Anything outside of the top-two in the championship would be disappointing. I don't see that happening; I think his aggression will cost him because it'll take time to get his race craft back.  

3) Out of Bounds (Off track Indycar issue that impacts Indycar on the track)

Tell us your reaction to the news of Dragon Racing dropping their Indycar program in favor of Formula E.  

Dragon Racing teammates Sebastien Bourdais and Sebastian Saavedra at Indy in 2013 (Photo: LAT Photographic)

RF: After all the drama and things that surrounded Jay Penske and Dragon Racing......I'm not surprised. When your "ace in the hole" jumps ship that tells you how bad it got. It's sad in a way because Bourdais and Dragon were really getting it together at the end of the season.

SL: I'm sorry, did you ask me a question?  Seriously though, no great loss for the series.  They made headlines for the wrong reasons over the past few seasons, if you ask me.

AR: to a formula that kicks out 20 less dB's than a Motörhead gig? Maybe make more noise there than they did in Indycar barring controversy and the odd podium. A plus side of Formula E is that provides more work for engineers during the off-season period, long term interest lets wait and see...

MT: Bad move. It would have made better sense to run both for at least one season. I just don't see Formula E taking off and being a big money maker.

PM: Formula E is a great concept, and I know all sorts of people have jumped on board.  However much like Jersey's eternally ‘potential’ F1 street race, I will believe it when it actually happens.

STIG: Disappointing, they had great potential in IndyCar with Bourdais, but if Jay Penske wants to transfer completely to a lesser, unknown and potentially  (with respect to Formula E) unsuccessful series, then carry on Jay... "live dangerously." (Remembers Austin Powers playing blackjack and staying with 5 [video])

JA: Its sad.  Anytime a team leaves the series for whatever reason, it hurts a little.  But leaving IndyCar for Formula E?  I believe Dragon Racing deserves this month's  HOP(Hold On Playa).

MH: Haha well I was one of the few who actually supported Jay Penske during the whole Legge fiasco and for doing questionable things, but anyone who ditches Indycar for Formula E is a bit lost. Formula E seems like a great idea on paper, but I'll believe it when I see it.

4) Showdown (concluding question)

Will Helio Castroneves ever win a championship?

Helio congratulating Dixon at Fontana after losing the title in 2013 (Photo: AP Photo) 

RF: He will consistently be the bridesmaid. As personable as Helio is, I enjoy his interviews just so much emotion, I don't think that, that Penske team will put together a Championship.

SL: I am still amazed at how his lead evaporated this season.  I thought for sure this was going to be his year, and what a great story it would have been when combined with TK finally getting his Indy 500 win.  Unfortunately for Helio, I think the growing number of top-notch younger drivers means the competition will be fierce for however much longer he is driving.  I have a feeling 2013 was his best chance to finally capture the elusive Astor Cup, and it just didn't happen.

AR: In this modern age, his age is more of a factor than say thirty to forty years ago, so time is running out, but if this year is anything to go by, he knows he is competitive, was very consistent barring a bad weekend in Houston which all told cost him this years championship. As a fan yes I do think he can win one, in reality, going to be tough with such high competition in the field.

MT: This one is hard. It's still hard to believe he hasn't won one yet. I would love to see Helio win a championship, but it just seems like luck is always him. I do believe he will win it all but it's going to take more consistency and some luck.

PM: Yes. Helio showed amazing patience, and an ability to think of the bigger picture behind the wheel this year. If he carries that forwards, I believe he will win a championship in the next few years.

STIG: I'd like to say YES, though it's a difficult task and I think time is potentially running out for Helio's outstanding career.  I absolutely want him to win, but the competition is wickedly close, he'll have to be near flawless.  If he doesn't win, he'll be the greatest driver to never win the championship.

JA: With as much success as Helio has enjoyed over the years, I'm surprised he hasn't won at least 1 championship.  I believe he has perhaps 2 or 3 more chances to get one.  I think he will win one before his career is over.

MH: I do not think so. Despite his consistency and his "In order to finish first, you must first finish" approach to things did not work. Helio has tried the brute force way too and that hasn't worked. What else can the guy do?

Once again, make sure you tweet your opinions to the respective analyst! Thanks for reading!

-Matthew Hickey