Monday, March 7, 2016

Winners and Losers: 2016 Offseason

Here are your winners, losers, and Cone of Shame "winner" from the 2015-16 Verizon Indycar Series offseason:

Winners

Ed Carpenter
Not only did Ed Carpenter get his services retained by boss and team co-owner Ed Carpenter for ovals, but Ed Carpenter took sole ownership of Carpenter Fisher Hartman Racing from Sarah Fisher and Wink Hartman to once again form Ed Carpenter Racing. Ed Carpenter has to be happy that Ed Carpenter will be in control of the #20 car driven by Ed Carpenter. Ed Carpenter. Ed Carpenter. Ed Carpenter.

On a side note, the fact that Ed Carpenter got to absorb Josef Newgarden in this deal is a steal. The blue chip driver is something they can build their team around if he can prevent Penske Racing or Chip Ganassi Racing from stealing him this upcoming offseason.


Conor Daly
The wait is over. Conor Daly has been patiently waiting to be racing full-time anything, and an opprotunity came knocking from Dale Coyne Racing. Daly will pilot the #18 car full-time for Coyne, who he raced for as a injury substitute in Long Beach last year. With all of the hype from fans from Daly, it really will be a critical year for Daly's career, as bad results will make it hard to justify his return in 2017.


Mikhail Aleshin
HE'S BAAAAAAAACK! Mikhail Aleshin, a rookie in 2014 who got sacked for political reasons in the 2014-15 offseason, got rehired back by Schmidt Peterson Racing because those political reasons disappeared. Aleshin will look to build on an impressive showing in Indycar highlighted by aggression and the ability to adapt quickly to new tracks and setups.


Spencer Pigot
The 2015 Indy Lights champion and American stud Spencer Pigot got a part-time deal to race with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing for 2016, which is awesome. Pigot is one of the biggest success stories from the Mazda Road to Indy, as he has succeeded at every level of the program. Now, the young American will look to make a name for himself in the first year of Indycar.



Losers

Gabby Chaves
One of the bright spots of 2015 was Gabby Chaves. Chaves, who showed pace at times, was making a name for himself for being a very consistent, very clean driver, which is something that is not often said about rookies. While a deal with Bryan Herta Autosport to race in 2016 was reported as "90% going to happen", the 10% won. Herta merged with Andretti Autosport, and Chaves was dropped in favor of Alexander Rossi. Chaves did test in place of Mikhail Aleshin for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports at Phoenix, which might have some merit to it if Schmidt goes to three cars for Indianapolis. For now, Chaves may have to sit out 2016 and focus on the next season.


Ryan Briscoe
Indycar veteran and journeyman Ryan Briscoe has once again found himself without a ride. He stepped in for James Hinchcliffe last year and performed admirably, but it was not enough to merit a callback from anyone. It's even in doubt if he'll race at Indianapolis. Bummer for a really nice dude.


Sage Karam
Sage Karam was let go by Chip Ganassi Racing in the offseason, which led me to believe that the fourth Ganassi car would be gone for 2016. Then a month later, the team signed former F1 driver Max Chilton to a deal to race the car full-time. So that was awkward. Granted, Chilton did have sponsors, but I thought Ganassi and Karam would have gotten somewhere on the sponsors front from last year. Karam does have a seat for the Indianapolis 500 with Dreyer and Reinbold Racing, but it will be a shame not seeing him at (nearly) every race like we did last year.


Jack Harvey
The runner-up of Firestone Indy Lights two years in a row, Jack Harvey, might be one of the best Indy Lights drivers not to win the championship. His loss to Spencer Pigot meant Jack could not secure the "easy" way to Indycar next season, and that he would have to find his own sponsorship to find his way. Jack hasn't done so yet, but there is potential for a deal for Indianapolis. Let's hope it happens because he could do some great things if given the chance.



Cone of Shame



Boston's "10 People"
A lot has been made about the new Indycar race coming to Boston on Labor Day weekend. A lot of positive reception has been received from the Indycar community as well as the leaders of the city of Boston about the upcoming race. Yet, there's about "10 people" but who oppose the race for a host of reasons. Traffic, use of taxpayers' dollars (which is actually false), noise, inaccessibility to parts of Boston, the fact that the race is with range of an toxic waste site (which is Indycar's fault), and other lame excuses are all reasons why these folks with nothing better to do clamour about a race coming to their city. This race will bring lots of money to the city and has the potential to be a marquee event on the calendar. Their constant whining has earned them a first class ticket to the Cone.




Honorable mention to anyone mentioning Pastor Maldonado and Indycar in the same sentence. Can we just not.


Let me know what you think!

-Matthew Hickey

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