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Open Wheel Wednesday: Score One For The Little Guys … Or Two Or Three

Open Wheel Wednesday: Score One For The Little Guys … Or Two Or Three

Takuma Sato's win last week in Long Beach was a real feel good story for the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series. A.J. Foyt's long-struggling team hadn't won a race since July of 2002, when the team went to Victory Lane with Brazilian driver Airton Dare at Kansas Speedway. For the last road / street course victory for the operation, you have to go all the way back to October of 1978, when Foyt himself won at Silverstone in England. It was also the first IndyCar Series win ever for a Japanese driver. Before I go any further, those are all wonderful things and I don't mean to decrease the significance of any of them in the least. It really was a win that was a long time coming, for both team and driver and it was great to see. (Although I really wish A.J. had been present for the moment; instead, he was at home preparing for back surgery.) It was a David slew Goliath kind of day. Read More »

The Offseason Might Never Be The Same

The offseason. That time when we at first breathe a collective sigh of relief and take a break from devoting our Saturdays or Sundays to races. We all plan things around races on occasion, don’t we? Especially on a certain Sunday in May. No, the winter months are for getting away from that and spending time with our families and friends, especially those poor souls who don’t get the attraction of fast cars and non-stop action. At least the early part of the offseason is like that; toward the end we all get a little bit antsy–just a little anxious. For pity’s sake, can’t we start racing yet? NASCAR types don’t have to endure quite the wait the IndyCar crowd does. They race until mid-November and they are back on track in earnest by February. Well, we last saw cars turn laps in anger in September and we won’t see it again for another three weeks. That’s the end of March, for crying out loud! I’m going to forget what the drivers look like by then! <div style=\"float:right; width:275px; margin: 20px; border: black solid 1px; padding: 3px;\"><img src=\"http://www.frontstretch.com/images/14308.jpg\" width=\"275\" height=\"183\"/><p style=\"margin: 3px; text-align: left; font-weight:bold;\">Who wouldn't want to see this guy (Will Power) chair racing to help waste away the INDYCAR offseason? Photo courtesy INDYCAR LAT USA.</p></div> Ah, but INDYCAR had your back on that front this year. No, there isn’t any racing, but thanks to _The Offseason_, there was a chance to enjoy some of our favorite drivers this year. For those who have not been following, INDYCAR has been running a series of short videos called _The Offseason_ featuring Will Power, James Hinchcliffe, Charlie Kimball and Josef Newgarden that depicts the quartet of bored drivers running amok around INDYCAR headquarters. Sure, it’s fluff, but it’s just the right amount of fluff to give us a “fix†when we don’t have racing to enjoy. It’s also a great move on the part of INDYCAR. The clips range from a few seconds to a couple of minutes long. They probably filmed these in a day or two, but they’ve gotten several months of fresh content to keep their drivers in front of fans. They dole them out one by one each week, right in that period of winter doldrums when fans start itching for the season to start. I’d call that a great return on a minimum investment. They are \"posted on YouTube\":http://www.youtube.com/user/indycars so fans can find any clips they missed simply by searching \"The Offseason IndyCar\" and can enjoy their favorites as many times as they want. And I don’t know about anyone else – maybe I’m just some sort of geek – but I’ve lately found myself eagerly looking forward to the arrival of the newest clip every week. A minimum of effort was needed to keep fans engaged and showcase driver personalities, but it gave them something to follow all winter. Why doesn’t NASCAR do something like this concept? Maybe they just haven’t thought of it. Maybe they don’t think the offseason is long enough to need something fluffy to engage fans, especially since they are back on TV by mid-January with preseason testing. I can think of one other reason but I don’t think putting it out there is going to make me very popular in stock car circles. NASCAR fans would hate it. They don’t want fluff. They don’t want drivers doing silly skits or engaging in staged antics. They make that clear every time one of the networks airs something of this variety. It’s undignified. NASCAR drivers are not clowns, they are here for business and we don’t want silly stuff going on instead. To put it bluntly, they can be sticks in the mud and sometimes take this whole racing thing too seriously. Whatever. Do I really think Will Power \"chair races in the halls\":http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_KIVEdU2HU of INDYCAR headquarters? OK, scratch that one. That might be a bad example because he might do that if given a chance. Do I really think Will Power \"listens to Justin Bieber on his computer\":http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8olE3ERiHg in his cubicle at headquarters? Good Lord, I hope not. My point is, I realize these guys are just goofing around and I don’t think they really spend the winter months running around the office doing silly things while wearing their driver suits. I realize someone put these skits together solely for publicity purposes. I also think it was a great idea because when I can’t watch real racing and be serious, it’s just fun to cut up and watch them act silly when there’s nothing better to do. And it gets fans to engage and look for content when they might not normally even be thinking about INDYCAR. Additionally, serious news is also beginning to flow again. The league has announced a few rule changes for this year aimed at allowing team strategies to become a bigger part of the game. Teams will be able to start the race with any amount of fuel in the tank they choose instead of being required to have it full. Distances in a handful of races have also been changed, and it's all in an effort to allow for more varied fuel strategy and take mileage races out of the equation. Teams will also have more tire strategy at their disposal. Previously, only one set of new tires was allowed during each of the three segments of road/street course qualifying, but now teams will be limited only by their allotment of tires. That means they can decide if they want to use fresh rubber to get a better starting spot, or choose to save it for the race. They will still be required to use both the primary and the alternate tires for at least two laps during each road/street course. For the double-headers, one set of each must be used during each of the two races. Teams have been testing, although \"Hildebrand’s pink Caddy\":http://www.frontstretch.com/tbowles/42488/ provided some light moments there. Driver and car combos have been coming together, some of them harmoniously, some of them dubiously, and some of them contentious on at least some fronts. Katherine Legge isn’t done having her say about Dragon Racing releasing her in favor of Sebastian Saavedra and keeping her sponsor True Car. Either way, the long offseason is almost over with one perk, perhaps; the offseason next year won't be quite as long because we'll be racing until October this year. In the meantime, thanks INDYCAR for coming up with an idea to keep some of our favorite drivers in front of us until the real action begins. I think fluff is fun. Racing is supposed to be a sport. It's supposed to be fun and I think sometimes fans and participants forget that. _The Offseason_ was a good reminder. And if we're honest, who doesn't want to have chair races in the hallway? *Connect with Toni!* <a href=\"http://www.twitter.com/ToniLMontgomery\"><img src=\"http://www.frontstretch.com/images/6502.jpg\"></a><br> \"Contact Toni Montgomery\":http://www.frontstretch.com/contact/14351/ Read More »

Throwback Thursday: The Comeback Of The American Driver, Ryan Hunter-Reay

Throwback Thursday: The Comeback Of The American Driver, Ryan Hunter-Reay

_Attention, NASCAR fans... welcome to Throwback Thursday! Every week, from now until the start of the 2013 season we'll be giving you, our readers the favorite stories we treasure from our writers over the past few seasons. Today we focus on Toni Montgomery, a our open-wheel editor and Nationwide Series expert who shares pieces that have proven meaningful to both her and our fans through the years._ _This article originally ran July 18th, 2012._ Ryan Hunter-Reay is in many ways the poster child for the plight of the American driver in open wheel racing. He currently sits atop the driver standings in the IZOD IndyCar Series and if he can hang on to win the championship, it will not only be the realization at last of the wealth of potential Hunter-Reay has always shown, but perhaps it will also signal the comeback of the American driver. Read More »

Dear Santa…

Dear Santa…

Your kids aren't the only ones wishing for presents this month! During the busy holiday season, our IZOD IndyCar staff sat down and composed letters to Santa. They decided to ask for what they most want for some of the best drivers in the world and for the series as a whole. *From Matt...* Read More »

An IndyCar Season to Be Thankful For…

An IndyCar Season to Be Thankful For…

Thanksgiving is tomorrow and it's a time when we all think back on our lives, and especially the last year and consider all of the people and things we are thankful for. The Frontstretch IndyCar staff decided to look back at the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season and do the same thing. So, here are the IndyCar things each of our writers are thankful for. *From Matt...* * I'm thankful for the fact that IndyCar will finally see the return of the Triple Crown in 2013. Indianapolis, Pocono, and Fontana give IndyCar three major races that will help keep the series in the news throughout the year. Read More »

IndyCar Thanksgiving Special: MATT’S LIST

* I’m thankful for the fact that IndyCar will finally see the return of the Triple Crown in 2013. Indianapolis, Pocono, and Fontana give IndyCar three major races that will help keep the series in the news throughout he year. * I’m thankful to finally have an American IndyCar champion once again in Ryan Hunter-Reay. Apologies to the international drivers who have won the IndyCar crown, but this series is in desperate need of American drivers who can reignite passion ... Read More »

Small Move, Big Gain For IndyCar?

Small Move, Big Gain For IndyCar?

Perhaps you didn’t notice. And really, it’s just a blip, one of those little things that can be easily overlooked or ignored. This little thing, however, might end up being something that helps this enterprise known as IndyCar gain a little more traction. So what is being referenced here? Well, for those of you with DirecTV, it’s the NBC Sports Network’s move from high-channel purgatory into the seemingly safe confines of the sports channel milieu. Say what? To explain, NBC Sports Network moved from channel 603 to 220, placing it amongst the NFL, MLB, NHL, and Tennis networks, and not too far from the ESPN block. In the broadcasting world, this is akin to moving from downtrodden, in need of rehabilitation apartment to the lush confines of a McMansion. Even now, in the digital age, there is still a premium placed with sitting in a specific place on the proverbial dial. By relocating in the channel sphere, NBC Sports Network is like the Jeffersons – moving on up. Read More »

A List For A New Leader: Seeking Hope And Change

A List For A New Leader: Seeking Hope And Change

So (insert name of Randy Bernard’s replacement here), you’ve just been hired to be the new CEO of INDYCAR. First off, let me just congratulate you on getting the job! INDYCAR is one of the most popular and storied forms of motorsport on Earth, and there are millions of fans worldwide who follow this beautiful form of racing. But who am I kidding, I’m sure you already knew that. I mean, come on, surely the man who has been promoted to the position of INDYCAR’s head honcho would have a rich appreciation for both the sport, its fans, and its history, right? Right? Right. OK, good; now that we’ve gotten all of that general stuff out of the way, I should probably give you all the juicy details of the job with which you are being tasked. letter to the future CEO, showing him the path to continued success in Open-Wheel Wednesday." Read More »

Self-Destruction 101: As Taught By INDYCAR

Self-Destruction 101: As Taught By INDYCAR

So after a terrific season of racing for the IZOD IndyCar Series in 2012, with a mostly optimistic outlook for 2013 and even bigger possibilities for 2014, the powers that be at INDYCAR finally decided to do something about the persistent rumors concerning the security of CEO Randy Bernard's job. The decision was the only thing marring a series that finally seemed to gain forward momentum and was slowly but surely winning back some lost fans. Did they finally step up Sunday and offer Bernard their unwavering support, showing strength in unity and their faith in his leadership, while making it clear to restless car owners and delusional family members that Bernard was their man, his plan was their plan, and anyone not on board could find the door? Nope. Instead, they got out their cannon, because they are far beyond just a simple gun, and blew the proverbial foot off of what is supposed to be the premier open-wheel racing series in America. Read More »