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Open Wheel Wednesday

Start Times, Consistent Schedule Keys to INDYCAR Success

Start Times, Consistent Schedule Keys to INDYCAR Success

Prior to the Mid-Ohio IZOD IndyCar Series race on August 5, Randy Bernard, the CEO of the series, stated that more races are needed for the series to be successful. He intimated that 15, the number on the schedule this year, is not enough and that he’d feel better if the number of races totaled about 20. Fair enough. That seems like a smart, if not obvious, comment. To keep fan interest up, there must be enough of a product to, in essence, keep them reminded that it’s still out there. That only 15 races grace the schedule this year is problematic, and the swift reaction to reconsider fast oval tracks due to Dan Wheldon’s on-track death last year is a large factor. But it also seems that INDYCAR was caught without contingency plans, and that’s when an organization gives a sense, whether it's true or not, that it is floundering. Read More »

Open Wheel Wednesday: Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind

Open Wheel Wednesday: Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind

The IndyCar series had this past weekend off. And with that break, a couple of questions come to mind: Did anyone really notice? Was it even missed? The Olympic Games have attracted much of the sporting media’s coverage, but that didn’t stop other motorsports. Formula 1 continued as they would, and NASCAR held one of the bigger races of the season, and with coverage of that series switching to ESPN, the race was a showcase event for the network. Heck, even the NBC Sports channel, home of some of the Olympics coverage, took time out to show Major League Soccer – so yes, the show must go on. Read More »

IndyCar Round Table: Push to Pass, More Ovals, and Ending Under Yellow

IndyCar Round Table: Push to Pass, More Ovals, and Ending Under Yellow

*The push to pass feature has returned. What are your thoughts on it--happy to see it, didn't miss it? And also do you like the way they have been doing it this time around, giving a total number of seconds a driver can use?* Toni: I actually got on my soap box on this a few weeks ago. I don't like it. I think it's too gimmicky and didn't really miss it when we didn't have it. It also particularly annoyed me when I was watching the end of the Edmonton race and it came down to who had more push to pass left, Castroneves or Sato. I also thought it was kind of pointless; so they would both lay on the button and it renders itself useless. Huston: Ha. You used my word, gimmicky. I thought it was too much like a video-game feature. Kind of like getting added powers or the like, but I've changed my stance on this one. After watching the F1 races, and their DRS (drag reduction system), I think it adds a different element of strategy. Read More »

The Comeback of the American Driver: Ryan Hunter-Reay

The Comeback of the American Driver: Ryan Hunter-Reay

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. Here’s an encouraging stat: of the 21 drivers to win three races in a row from 1979 to 2011, only three (Paul Tracy, 1997; AJ Allmendinger, 2006; Scott Dixon, 2007) failed to win an Indy car title in the same year. In defense of Tracy and Allmendinger, it might be worth noting that in 1997, Alex Zanardi, who also won three in a row, took the title and in 2006 it went to Sebastien Bourdais who won the first four in a row. Read More »

IndyCar In 2013: A Look Ahead

IndyCar In 2013: A Look Ahead

I hear a lot of questions from IndyCar fans on a regular basis. I often field simple questions such as “Is (insert driver here) going to win this week?” or “What is wrong with (insert team or driver, your choice)?” However, the question I hear the most from fans these days is “What is going on with the schedule for next year?” And it is a fair question indeed. After last off-season’s scheduling nightmare, in which race dates were lost and events weren’t finalized until the very last minute, it’s not hard to understand why IZOD IndyCar Series fans are anxious to know what is in store for next season. There have been plenty of rumors, and everything from stops in Phoenix and Richmond to the return of the Michigan 500 have been suggested. Read More »

The Return of IndyCar’s Magic Button

The Return of IndyCar’s Magic Button

INDYCAR has announced that the push to pass feature will return to the IZOD IndyCar Series for the five remaining road / street course events on the 2012 schedule, beginning this weekend in Toronto. The big question I want to ask about this announcement is why? No, not just why, more like why on earth did anyone think it was a good idea to monkey with what has been a really good season with happy fans so far by bringing back a completely unnecessary and totally contrived bit of fakery like push to pass? Read More »

Dictatorship: The Real Reason NASCAR Is More Popular Than IndyCar Today

Dictatorship: The Real Reason NASCAR Is More Popular Than IndyCar Today

We mostly learn in history class that a dictatorship is a bad thing. Stalin, Castro, Hitler, Mao Tse-Tung, Ecclestone. Wait, I got ahead of myself on that last one. Anyway, we’re taught that dictators are evil and they bring nothing but ruin to their realms. Unless that realm happens to be NASCAR, in which case, if your name is Big Bill France, you built an empire that was strong and good and you passed it along to your son Bill, Jr. who continued to grow and strengthen it, so much so in fact that even your idiot grandson hasn’t been able to destroy it completely in the nine years he’s been in charge ... but again, I digress. Read More »

Pack Perfection: IndyCar Officials Make Right Call in the Interest of Safety

Pack Perfection: IndyCar Officials Make Right Call in the Interest of Safety

Score one for the drivers. Last Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway, the IZOD IndyCar Series drivers finally got their wish and were granted an aero package that at last broke up the much maligned (by drivers at least) “pack-style” of racing that has been a staple of races on the high banked 1.5 milers over the last few years. IndyCar officials settled on a new package that featured less downforce and less wing angle. This obviously led to higher speeds but also less grip, meaning the drivers were forced to lift entering the corners and thus put a greater emphasis on a driver’s ability to find grip through the corners. In short, IndyCar broke up the packs. Read More »

NASCAR And IndyCar: How A Pothole Can Unite Two Series

NASCAR And IndyCar: How A Pothole Can Unite Two Series

_Editor's Note: This column is the first in a new weekly commentary series focused on IndyCar. Let us know what you think of our new "open-wheel" Wednesday coverage in the comments section below!_ In case you haven't noticed yet, Frontstretch has expanded its reach into the open-wheel world with new coverage of the IZOD IndyCar Series and Formula 1. Scary territory, right? After all, those series are so different from NASCAR, Frontstretch's main area of focus. How could the readers of a NASCAR site possibly hope to relate to those odd, pointy cars? Read More »