Race Weekend Central

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.

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.

IndyCar Edmonton Race Recap

*In a nutshell:* Helio Castroneves’ #3 team delivered a brilliant pit stop with 23 laps to go to snooker the lead away from Canadian driver Alex Tagliani. From there, Castroneves never looked back, and despite second-place finisher Takuma Sato’s best efforts to wrestle the lead away from Castroneves, Castroneves held firm for the final stint of the race to grab his second win of the season. Will Power delivered a valiant drive to grab the final spot on the podium in 3rd, and Dario Franchitti and Alex Tagliani rounded out the top 5.

IndyCar Edmonton Indy Preview

*Whats News?*

The IZOD IndyCar Series continues it’s trek through Canada this Sunday with the Edmonton Indy. The biggest and perhaps most curious news coming out over the past week was the revelation from IndyCar race director Beaux Barfield that the sanctioning body was heavily considering introducing an “overtime format” to IndyCar racing, similar to that of NASCAR’s Green-White-Checkered finishes. IndyCar officials will make a decision over the off–season as to whether or not GWC’s will make their way to the sport. Another very important piece of IndyCar news this week actually came from Washington DC. The U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of letting the nation’s military branches continue to sponsor sports teams. This is great news for IndyCar’s Panther Racing, who has a very lucrative sponsorship deal with the United States National Guard.

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.