Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Driver-Team Update: November 2015

Here is the updated driver-team lineup for the 2016 Verizon Indycar Season:


#2 Juan Pablo Montoya - Team Penske
Juan Pablo Montoya, the two-time Indianapolis 500 entry, overcame speculation that a FIAWEC switch may be in the cards, and will be back with Team Penske for the 2016 season. This will be the third year for Juan driving with the team.

#3 Helio Castroneves - Team Penske
Helio Castroneves will once again be back with the Team Penske outfit for the 2016 year. Castroneves, who has never won a championship in his sixteen years at Penske, will hope year seventeen will be the lucky season.

#5 James Hinchcliffe - Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
After being sidelined by injury for the majority of 2015, James Hinchcliffe will return to Schmidt Peterson Motorsports in 2016. Hinch suffered an injury as a result of his practice crash at Indianapolis. He was replaced by Conor Daly and Ryan Briscoe for the remainder of the year, but Sam Schmidt assured everyone that once Hinch was ready to race, the seat was his. It's also worth noting that Arrow, the primary sponsor of the #5 car, signed a three year extension with the team that will see the electronics company sponsor the car through 2018. This will be Hinch's second year with the team and sixth in Indycar.

Hinch will be back in Indycar in 2016 (Photo: Chris Owens / Indycar Media)

#9 Scott Dixon - Chip Ganassi Racing
Three-time Indycar champion Scott Dixon will return to Chip Ganassi Racing in 2016 with the sponsorship from Target. This will be Dixon's fifteenth year for the team.

#10 Tony Kanaan - Chip Ganassi Racing
Despite speculation that Tony Kanaan's seat was in jeopardy, Kanaan and NTT Data will both be back for the #10 car under Chip Ganassi in 2016. This will be Kanaan's third year with the team.

#12 Will Power - Team Penske
Former Indycar champion Will Power will be back with Team Penske, racing for the squad since 2009.

#15 Graham Rahal - Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
After a breakout year, Graham Rahal looks poised to build on a solid foundation at his father's team Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. They should be adding a car for several races this year in the hopes of expanding back to two cars in future years. We have seen in the past that two cars hasn't always made for the best formula for Graham. so hopefully the second car does not interfere with Graham's abilities. This will Graham's fourth full-time season with the team.

#20 Ed Carpenter - Carpenter Fisher Hartman Racing
Ed Carpenter has retained the services of Ed Carpenter at Carpenter Fisher Hartman Racing for the ovals in 2016. This is Ed's fifth season driving for Ed.

#22 Simon Pagenaud - Team Penske
Simon Pagenaud had a tough first year at Team Penske. Despite that, Pagenaud did enough to earn a ride back for the 2016 season.

#26 Carlos Munoz - Andretti Autosport
Carlos Munoz has just been confirmed back for another season with Andretti Autosport. This will make for his third full-time season under Michael Andretti. The very talented Colombian won his first race last year in Detroit, and more wins should be on the horizon in 2016.

#27 Marco Andretti - Andretti Autosport
Like Munoz, Marco Andretti has also been confirmed for another season with Andretti Autosport in 2016. Many think Marco is due for a Rahal-like breakout in 2016, but with only two wins in his ten years with the team, it's hard to determine if a great season is in the cards for Andretti.

Andretti in for a breakout year in 2016? (Photo: John Cote / Indycar Media)

#28 Ryan Hunter-Reay - Andretti Autosport
Ryan Hunter-Reay will be back for another year with Andretti Autosport and DHL. RHR joined the team in 2010 and it has blossomed into one of the best driver-team combinations in racing. Despite a sluggish first-half of last year, RHR finished strong.

#67 Josef Newgarden - Carpenter Fisher Hartman Racing
The most sought after free agent of the Indycar offseason stayed put. Josef Newgarden, who broke out in his fourth season capturing two wins and constantly being in contention for a win, decided it was in his best interest to stay with the team that has groomed him. In another contract year, look for Newgarden to prove his worth so he can catapult himself into a top ride at Team Penske or Chip Ganassi Racing.

#83 Charlie Kimball - Chip Ganassi Racing
Charlie Kimball will be back for a sixth year with Chip Ganassi Racing. In the six years, Kimball has captured one win. Many are trying to determine if Charlie will ever become a serious championship contender. Hard to tell if that will be next year. Also hard to tell if Ganassi will hard ball him into leaving the team.

#88 Bryan Clauson - Jonathan Byrd's Racing
USAC ace and Indy 500 starter Bryan Clauson will return for a second season to race for Jonathan Byrd's Racing in May. Clauson struggled mightily last year, barely making the field and crashing in the race.

#TBA Spencer Pigot - Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Firestone Indy Lights champion Spencer Pigot has secured a deal with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing for the opening round of the season at St. Petersburg and both races at Indianapolis in May. Pigot has landed himself in a good situation. Hopefully he can be a positive influence to an RLL team that is on the rise.


AJ Foyt Enterprises #14 and #41 
Takuma Sato and Jack Hawksworth are expected to return back with AJ Foyt Enterprises, but no official announcement has been made. Also, Alex Tagliani made a one-off with the team in Indianapolis, so the team could field three entries for Indianapolis.

Andretti Autosport #25 
The Andretti Autosport entry that looked to be Justin Wilson's for 2016 and beyond is now in question altogether. Simona de Silvestro and Oriol Servia also occupied the #25 seat in 2015. A name that has been mentioned with the seat is former Pro Mazda champion in Matthew Brabham. Brabham tested for the team a couple times last year and has a history with the Andretti team, so if the money came together, he would be a good fit for the team. Overall, this entry will likely be one-offs.

Bryan Herta Autosport #98 
Gabby Chaves is fully expected to return to Bryan Herta Autosport in 2016 after a strong (albeit conservative) rookie campaign.

Gabby Chaves had a memorable year, including the hero that he didn't deserve
but the one he needed at NOLA (Photo credit not given)

Carpenter Fisher Hartman Racing #6 and #20 
Ed Carpenter is confirmed to continue the oval duties, but Luca Filippi has not been confirmed yet. Filippi was well-received by his team in 2015, and there are no indications that he won't be back in 2016. JR Hildebrand also ran in May with the team. Look for Hildebrand to be back for 2016 with the team.

Chip Ganassi Racing #8 
Sage Karam had some standout performances in his rookie season with Chip Ganassi Racing. Despite this, Ganassi and Karam just announced that they have parted ways. It's an unfortunate ending to a lineup that could have produced great things if both sides could have clicked. This entry doesn't look like it will be full-time next season, but we may see a one-off or two from some drivers. Sebastian Saavedra drove a couple races for the team last year with AFS Racing backing.

Dale Coyne Racing #18 and #19 
Tristan Vautier, who came in at Indianapolis for Dale Coyne Racing and for the remainder of the season and had some solid performances, was chosen by the team to test at Road America. All indications are that Vautier will have some roll with the team next year, either full-time or a limited schedule. Other drivers like Rodolfo Gonzalez, Pippa Mann, and Rocky Moran Jr. will likely factor into DCR lineup at some point in 2016. But per DCR protocol, we won't know until late February.

Carlos Huertas behind the wheel of a Dale Coyne machine. Huertas has likely seen his last
days in Indycar (Photo: Mike Young / Indycar Media)

Dreyer and Reinbold Racing #TBA 
Dreyer and Reinbold Racing fielded a one-off entry at Indianapolis with Townsend Bell. Bell, who journys from team-to-team every May at Indianapolis, could return with the team if they choose to race, but nothing has materialized yet. DRR, a former full-time team, scaled back their operations after 2013. There hope is to get back to full-time some day, but it's tough to see if 2016 will be that year.

KV Racing Technology #11 and #TBA 
KV Racing is definitely looking forward to retaining the services of Indycar veteran and championship contender Sebastien Bourdais, who had a fantastic 2015 season. However, their second entry driven by rookie Stefano Coletti was a complete and utter bust. The entry did not qualify for the Leader's Circle money (which helps teams field an entry for the whole season), so the second entry, if there is one, will in all likelihood need financial backing from a new sponsor or from a driver's purse.

Lazier Partners Racing #91
Lazier Partners Racing and Buddy Lazier failed to qualify for the 2015 Indianapolis 500, bringing into question whether the team would be back in 2016. Despite this, Buddy assured people that they would be attempting to qualify again next year. At this point, the biggest question isn't if they'll be there. The biggest question is who will be driving. Though, to Buddy's defense, a short engine lease program does not help the team's chances of making the field every year.

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports #TBA and #TBA
SPM got to rotate in several drivers last year, and that gives them options moving forward. James Jakes, Mikhail Aleshin, Ryan Briscoe, and Conor Daly. Mikhail Aleshin seems the obvious choice given his talent and financial backing from SMP Bank. If the Russian bank can continue to fund Aleshin, the seat could be taken. The team will also likely field a third entry for Indianapolis again. Last year it was Daly, who knows who it will be next year.

Daly drove the third entry for Schmidt in 2015 at Indianapolis (Photo: Walter Kuhn / Indycar Media)


Carlin Racing 
The giant of feeder series team, Carlin Racing, expanded to America in 2015 in the form of two entries in Firestone Indy Lights. The team has their eyes set on Indycar, but it does not look like the team is ready to make that jump for 2016.

Grace Autosport 
The all-female led Grace Autosport had their eyes squarely on fielding an entry for the 2016 Indianapolis 500 with Katherine Legge. The team has some things to work out, like partnering with a team for the month, but of the five teams listed here, this is one that I'm most confident we will see this year.

Juncos Racing
Juncos Racing, a long-time Mazda Road to Indy feeder team, is building a new shop and has their eyes on Indycar for the future. This likely won't happen next year, but a potential one-off in 2016 has not been ruled out.

Juncos has had a strong presence in MRTI for years now. Pictured
here is Connor De Phillippi (Photo: Indycar Media)

Marotti Racing 
Straight out of left field, Marotti Racing announced they are planning to field a team for the 2016 Indianapolis 500. Will Marotti says he's been wanting to field a team for the Indianapolis 500 all of his life, and the timing is right. He's looking to partner with an existing entrant in order to get a leg up. Right now, he says he's 80% there. As far as a driver for the team goes, it's too early to tell.

Racing Engineering 
The GP2 standout team Racing Engineering has declared that they want to expand their operations to America with an eye on Indycar. Though the team concedes that 2016 isn't likely at all, but keep an eye on this team for the future.


Here's drivers who haven't been signed yet (officially) that we should keep an eye on for the rest of Silly Season:

  • Alex Tagliani
  • Alexander Rossi
  • Buddy Lazier
  • Conor Daly
  • Gabby Chaves
  • Jack Harvey
  • Jack Hawksworth
  • James Davison
  • James Jakes
  • JR Hildebrand
  • Katherine Legge
  • Kevin Magnussen
  • Luca Filippi
  • Matthew Brabham
  • Mikhail Aleshin
  • Nelson Piquet Jr.
  • Oriol Servia
  • Pippa Mann
  • Rocky Moran Jr.
  • Rodolfo Gonzalez
  • Ryan Briscoe
  • Ryan Phinny
  • Sage Karam
  • Sebastian Saavedra
  • Sebastien Bourdais
  • Simona de Silvestro
  • Stefan Wilson
  • Townsend Bell
  • Tristan Vautier



Thanks for reading!

-Matthew Hickey

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Top 10 Things We Will Remember From 2015

2015, like most years, was an eventful year for the Verizon Indycar Season. There were lots of ups and downs, gaffs and triumphs, winners and losers (and cone of shame winners). Here are the Top 10 things that I think we will be remembering most from the 2015 Indycar Season:

10. Josef Newgarden's first win / Barber
Josef Newgarden's first win was an absolute treat to anyone who watched it. The young American who has been battling with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing for years to be relevant had a breakthrough race, sticking it to the big dogs of Indycar on his way to his first career win. It was an easy win to celebrate for fans across Indycar, as Josef is one of the most likable guys in Indycar. But again, the whole Barber race was an absolute fire cracker of a race. A track that has hosted some snoozers in the past sure put on one hell of a show in 2015.

NOLA is on this list for all of the wrong reasons. It probably goes down in my books as one of the worst races in the history of Indycar (or even racing). The start of the race was calm on the soaked track in Louisiana. The calmness was followed by caution after caution, making for a terribly boring and uneventful race. The checkers were thrown after it became a timed race, and James Hinchcliffe was declared the winner. Icing on the cake? NOLA turned out to be screwed from the get go, as corruption and financial issues wound up booting NOLA off the schedule for next year. What a joke.

Kanaan gets stuck in the race. I was too lazy to make a metaphor about this spin at NOLA in comparison
 to NOLA no longer being on the schedule for 2016 (Photo: Indycar Media)

8. Graham Rahal makes an epic run
Many will look back at 2015 and smile at the fantastic run Graham Rahal made. He came very close to winning the championship despite many critics who said he wouldn't have a chance. With two terrible years behind him, he and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing completed their complete 180 of a season by finishing fourth in the championship with two wins. I really do hope this is a sign of things to come because Graham can be a fan-favorite if he is known more as a champion rather than Bobby's son.

7. Penske throws away title hopes
In heroic fashion, Team Penske came into the final race with three legitimate chances (Juan Pablo Montoya, Will Power, and Helio Castroneves) to win the championship, and all three left with nothing. Power was even generous enough to take out his teammate Montoya, who had the best chance of all of them, along the way. Helio was a non-factor from the start of the race, which lines up perfectly with his championship clinching performances in years past. The fact that neither of them were fast enough to stop Scott Dixon and the well oiled machine over there at Chip Ganassi Racing was frankly embarrassing for Roger Penske. Look for the captain's revenge in 2016.

6. Sage Karam vs. Ed Carpenter
In one corner, you have the willy, seasoned, stubborn, 'I'm never wrong,' team-owner/driver Ed Carpenter. In the other corner, you have rookie, young gun, fast, and correagoues rookie Sage Karam. Karam, who was becoming known more for his off the track antics than on track maneuvers (deleting tweets, referring to Takuma Sato's crash at Indy as 'Japanese takeout,' posing without shirts on Instagram, etc.) needed a result to point at as a highlight of his season. This would eventually come at the expsense of Ed, who was being raced hard, and dirty in his mind, in the late stages at the race in Iowa. Karam came home with a podium, while Ed was left angry. The two exchanged words after the race, and they continue to poke fun at each other to this day.


5. Indianapolis 500
Per usual, the Indianapolis 500 was a phenomenal race that many people will look back on as being epic. Great action, drama, and a fantastic finish all made the event great. In the end, Juan Pablo Montoya carved through the field after facing early issues to hold off Will Power for the win. It was an epic dual between two amazing drivers. Both were aggressive, yet knew when to back off. Just add it to the list of great Indianapolis 500s, especially in recent memory.

4. Goodbye Fontana
This one hurts. The 2015 MAVTV 500 may be the most exhilarating race I have ever seen. Many drivers and fans clamored over the returning of pack racing on a fast track. However unintentional it was, Indycar produced a product that got everyone talking about this race. There were media posts about the race weeks after it concluded. Constant two, three, even four-wide racing was seen throughout the race. While the pack would eventually sprawl out through long green-flag runs, many still considered the race unskillful and unnecessary. I think it is one of the best races of all-time. Graham Rahal won, and it will also be remembered for the huge crash we sat at the end between Ryan Hunter-Reay and Ryan Briscoe. I will miss this type of racing so much, as we probably won't see a race like it for another five years.

Photo: Indycar Media

3. Aerokits
The aerokits that Randy Bernard had envisioned for the DW12 ever since it was selected way-back-when was FINALLY put to use in 2015 to the joy and dismay of many. The pros of the aerokits were they: gave the cars more grip thus making them faster, they gave a chance for Chevrolet and Honda to flex their creative muscles, and it attracted attention from leading engineers and aerodynamicists (and fans who liked innovation) to Indycar. The cons of the aerokits: they cost too much, they can create huge performance gaps between Honda and Chevy, the winglets were too fragile, and they made the cars seem bulky and uneasy on the eyes (if you know what I mean), While I myself am not offering a stance on aerokits here, I am noting that 2015 will be remembered as the year aerokits were introduced to Indycar.

2. Carnage leading up to the Indianapolis 500
The buildup to the 2015 Indianapolis 500 was marred by a series of frightening and nearly fatal accidents. Helio Castroneves, Josef Newgarden, and Ed Carpenter all flipped their cars during practice and qualifying week. All three walked away unhurt. Pippa Mann had a nasty run in with the pit divider wall. While at first it seemed like all she suffered was a limp. it later became apparent that her leg injury was a fracture. She was able to race on. James Hinchcliffe suffered a fluke mechanical failure that saw him crush the wall, causing a piece of suspension to pierce his leg. Hinch almost bled out in the car but was saved by the safety workers. He would not race for the rest of the season. All-in-all, it was a terrible week for Indycar, one that the national media skewered the series for.

1. The loss of Justin Wilson
The death of a driver, as tragic as it is, seems to overshadow the events of a season. Justin Wilson, a veteran to Indycar and one of the most liked guys in the paddock, died in the second-to-last race at Pocono after his head was struck by debris from a crash. His death put a bitter taste if the mouths of everyone as the season concluded. Wilson's death came at the end of the season and began to be overshadow the season, just like Greg Moore's death in 1999 and Dan Wheldon's death in 2011. It leaves a black cloud over the season just like those other two examples because like Greg and Dan, Justin was an amazing driver and an amazing person. It's hard to imagine Indycar without certain people racing in it. As tragic as Justin's death is, Indycar must do their best to learn from the accident and move forward. Sadly, the 2015 Indycar Season will likely be remembered as Justin's final season as a driver, one that many will look back on with sadness.

Photo: Indycar Media

Sunday, November 1, 2015

2016 Fantasy Indycar Field

The field for the fifth season of Fantasy Indycar is set! Among the 33 competitors include four rookies, three former champions, two professional drivers, two former FI Rookie of the Year winners, and one future champion (or two-time champion).

If you aren't aware of what Fantasy Indycar is, check out the page on the top of my website. Unfortunately, it is a closed field, as I do all of the work by hand, but feel free to follow everyone in the field and use #FantasyIndycar to catch all of the action. Here is the field!

Name Twitter Handle
Alan Stewart _alanstewart
Andy Nagel Gabbahey75
Chris Blackburn  chblackburn23
Chris Mienaltowski CPMski
Conor Daly conordaly22
David Leiting Jr. Dlite_47
David Redner IndyCART
DJ Jordan djordan3223
Eric Hall Erock_in_Indy
Jake Neely indycarfan25
James Alban TheKing0fSwing
James Sedlmayr dfd827
Jerry Cruz Indycar_Raider
Jessica Baker bakerjm13
Johanna Husband writebend
Kieran Brughelli  kieranbrughelli
Kyle Lewis kylelewis1
Lynn Weinberg lynnweinberg
Martin Plowman plowey
Mathew Gruenholz IndycarSTIG
Matthew Hickey Indycar_MN
Michael Friedman mfriedman_63
Mike Crawford 7BigMike
Mitch Robinson mitchrobinson_
Morgan Polizzi morganpolizzi
Paige Hill paigehilll
Rick Snodie  rickfromwi
Sam Klein sklein31
Sandy Lamparello npssandy
Sarah Hall flywheel011
Sean Kennedy _6thgear_
Sophie Hanson Sophie_Hansons3
Steven Jenkins ukindyfan

Welcome the four rookies to the field (Martin Plowman, Michael Friedman, Morgan Polizzi, and Sean Kennedy) and the others as well! Make sure to follow everyone and let's have a fun year!

-Matthew Hickey

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Fantasy Indycar Awards

It was another fantastic season of Fantasy Indycar. A new twist was added on this season with the introduction of the Elimination Zone. After the last race of the season, the competitors who finished P31-33 were knocked out of the field for the following season. This meant that a lot of the field hunkered down and got serious. Mike Crawford won the championship, and 29 others survived to see their name on the list for 2016. Here are the 2015 Fantasy Indycar Awards:

Mike Crawford

The Rest of the Top-Five, P2-5
2) David Redner
3) James Sedlmayr
4) David Leiting Jr.
5) James Alban

Michael Tressler Rookie of the Year
Paige Hill

Driver who was picked the most (all drivers, maximum of 165)
1) Tony Kanaan - 164
2) Scott Dixon - 163
2) Juan Pablo Montoya - 163
2) Will Power - 163
2) Graham Rahal - 163
6) Helio Castroneves - 162
7) Sebastien Bourdais - 158
8) Simon Pagenaud - 158
9) Marco Andretti - 153
9) Josef Newgarden - 153

Highest average times being picked per race
1) Ed Carpenter - 18.8
2) Scott Dixon - 10.3
3) Four way tie for third - 10.2

Lowest average times being picked per race (minimum 10 races)
1) Tristan Vautier - 0.45
2) Gabby Chaves - 0.68
3) Stefano Coletti - 1.12
4) James Jakes - 1.43
5) Jack Hawksworth - 3.37

Drivers who were picked in every race
Tony Kanaan
Scott Dixon
Juan Pablo Montoya
Will Power
Graham Rahal
Helio Castroneves
Marco Andretti
Josef Newgarden
Ryan Hunter-Reay
Carlos Munoz

Most improved from last year
1) James Alban - +25
2) James Sedlmayr - +23
3) David Redner - +22
4) David Leiting Jr. - +19
5) Mike Crawford - +17

Biggest losers from last year
1) Jason McVeigh - -28
2) Lynn Weinberg - -20
3) Jessica Baker - -19
4) Jake Neely - -17
4) Eric Hall - -17

Most Wins
1) Chris Mienaltowski - 3
2) Chris Blackburn - 2
3) 11 others collected one win

Most podiums
1) Mike Crawford - 4
2) David Redner - 3
2) David Leiting Jr. - 3
2) Chris Mienaltowski - 3
2) Kieran Brughelli - 3
2) Conor Daly - 3

Most top-fives
1) David Redner - 6
2) Gina Navarra - 5
3) Mike Crawford - 4
3) James Sedlmayr - 4
3) Kieran Brughelli - 4

Least top-fives
1) Matthew Hickey - 0
1) Amy Woedl - 0
3) James Alban - 1
3) Jessica Baker - 1
3) Lynn Weinberg - 1
3) Jason McVeigh - 1

Best single race performance - Double Points Races
1) Mike Crawford - 326 (Sonoma)
2) James Sedlmayr - 307 (Indianapolis)
3) Alan Stewart - 298 (Indianapolis)
4) Paige Hill - 292 (Sonoma)
5) Lynn Weinberg - 291 (Indianapolis)

Worst single race performance - Double Points Races (excludes penalties)
1) Justin Mann - 122 (Indianapolis)
2) Justin Mann - 126 (Sonoma)
2) Chris Blackburn - 126 (Sonoma)
4) DJ Jordan - 135 (Indianapolis)
5) Jason McVeigh - 136 (Indianapolis)

Best single race performance - Normal Points Races
1) Andy Nagel - 187 (St. Petersburg)
2) Sam Klein - 178 (Iowa)
2) Chris Blackburn - 178 (Iowa)
4) Chris Mienaltowski - 176 (Barber)
5) Johanna Husband - 175 (Toronto)

Worst single race performance - Normal Points Races (excludes penalties)
1) Mitch Robinson - 58 (Grand Prix of Indy)
2) Kieran Brughelli - 60 (Grand Prix of Indy)
3) Jerry Cruz - 62 (NOLA)
4) Stevin Jenkins - 63 (Long Beach)
5) Jessica Baker - 67 (Grand Prix of Indy)

Best proffesional driver in Fantasy Indycar
1) Conor Daly
2) No one else is eligible for this award

Participant who maxed out the most drivers
1) Sophie Hanson - 15
2) Gina Navarra - 14
2) Mike Crawford - 14
4) Alan Stewart - 13
4) Chris Mienaltowski - 13

Particpant who maxed out the least amount of drivers
1) James Alban - 6
1) Amy Woedl - 6
3) David Redner - 7
4) Sam Klein - 8
4) Mitch Robinson - 8
4) Eric Hall - 8
4) Conor Daly - 8

Best average points haul by race (excluding double points races)
1) Iowa - 137.1
2) Texas - 129.5
3) Barber - 129.3
4) St. Petersburg - 127
5) Fontana - 118.9

Worst average points haul by race (excluding double points races)
1) Grand Prix of Indy - 95.7
2) Milwaukee - 101.8
3) Detroit #1 - 102.6
4) NOLA - 106.5
5) Detroit #2 - 106.8

Skin of your teeth award (awarded to the five people finishing just above the EZ)
1) Lynn Weinberg - +17
2) Mitch Robinson - +33
3) Eric Hall - +50
4) Chris Blackburn - +75
5) Jake Neely - +85

The Marty Roth Award (Bottom Three)
1) Amy Woedl
2) Jason McVeigh
3) Justin Mann

Best trash talkers
1) David Redner
2) Mike Crawford
3) James Sedlmayr
4) Lynn Weinberg
5) Jerry Cruz

Thanks for a very entertaining season! The Elimination Zone really helped make thinks ultra competitive! Next on the #FantasyIndycar docket is to ask the 30 people who survived elimination if they would like to return for 2016. If anyone says no, then their spots along with the 3 vacated spots will be up for grabs with the people on the waiting list. The new field will be announced on November, 1st. If you want to be added to the wait list, please let me know!

-Matthew Hickey 

Monday, August 31, 2015

Winners and Losers: Sonoma

Here are your winners, losers, and Cone of Shame winner following the 2015 Go Pro Grand Prix of Sonoma:


Scott Dixon
Scott Dixon solidified his legend status on Sunday, not that it was ever in question. His come-from-behind championship win gives him four titles in his career. He also secured Chip Ganassi Racing's 100th career win. Really happy for Dixon, who did everything right (win, clean nose, bonus points, etc.) on his way to a title.

Chip Ganassi Racing
Chip Ganassi Racing took Team Penske to school yesterday. While Team Penske looked like a team divided, CGR looked like a well-oiled machine. Dixon was supported very well by Charlie Kimball, Tony Kanaan, and Sebastian Saavedra. They all did a great job in the last 20 laps (and all racing) at being buffers/supporting cast for Dixon. After the race, all the teammates, including spectator Sage Karam, immediately came and mobbed Dixon with cheerful congratulations. It was a great sight to see a bunch of drivers succeed as one.

Ryan Hunter-Reay
Ryan Hunter-Reay finished out a spectacular second-half of the season with another podium and a large points haul. RHR vaulted past many of his competitors on his way to a P6 finish in the championship. I'm pretty sure at one point this season, RHR was P14 in the championship. What a great comeback for RHR.

Rodolfo Gonzalez
A serious tip of the cap goes to Rodolfo Gonzalez. The often mocked Venezuelan, nicknamed Speedy, came in and saved the day for the #18 Dale Coyne Racing team. His P8 finish vaulted the #18 entry into the Leaders Circle Group, ensuring that Dale will likely be back with two cars next season if more funding his found. While Gonzalez had a lot of help getting in from other drivers of the #18 car this season, his late effort made the key difference. A well deserved shoutout to Gonzo.


Graham Rahal
The fairy tail ending wasn't to be for Graham Rahal. The embattled American who hasn't had a good season since 2012 had a pretty poor handling car. A late incident put a nail in the coffin, though with Dixon running up front all day, he was virtually eliminated from the get-go. Still, plenty for Graham and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing to build on for 2016.

Sebastien Bourdais
Sebasiten Bourdais was given the full Rahal treatment after the race. With under a dozen laps left in the season, Bourdais spun Rahal after a miscommunication heading into a turn. Graham was shot walking past Bourdais after the race. Bourdais began to apologize, but Graham quickly rebuffed him, saying, "You drove like a fuck." Earlier today, Bobby Rahal suggested that the next drivers meeting should be read in French (a slide at Bourdais and fellow Frenchman Tristan Vautier, who took out Graham last week). It was a disappointing end to a pretty good season for Bourdais.

James Jakes
James Jakes finished his anonymous year with a last place finish after a pretty substantial accident. While I have the utmost respect for Jakes as a driver, a disappointing season on the back of three other disappointing seasons means that Jakes street cred' isn't the best among fans and the paddock.

Luca Filippi
Luca Filippi ends a fast yet unlucky year with Carpenter Fisher Hartman Racing with a P24 finish. There was some sort of throttle issue with his car, and it ruined his day. He looked fast all year, but random incidents like this derailed his chances at a good result.

Cone of Shame

Team Penske
I had a lot of people tell me that the Cone of Shame should go to Juan Pablo Montoya or Simon Pagenaud or Will Power. Why not the whole team?

Juan Pablo Montoya held the championship lead all season and still could not win in the last race. So, nothing wrong with the race he put in. He kept his nose clean, brought home a P6, and showed skill all season. But Montoya's comments after the race were shocking. He said that, "Dixon had a shit season and one good race." Montoya forgets how much his Indy win, which like Sonoma was also double points, vaulter him into the championship lead. He just acted like a straight douche after the race. Accept the loss with some grace.

Will Power put Montoya in a piss poor position yesterday. While attempting to undercut Josef Newgarden, Power clipped Montoya, damaging both cars and sending them both to the rear of the field. It wasn't intentional nor was it the most disastrous incident Power has committed, but he did make things very tough for the both of them to pass Dixon.

Helio Castroneves once again was absent in the season finale and has once again failed to get a title. Outside the first five laps, Helio's name wasn't even mentioned.

Simon Pagenaud made a serious cock up in the pits. With Pagenaud pitting in front of Power and Newgarden, who were both being serviced, Pagenaud kinda just stopped and impeded Newgarden from exiting. Power gained a small but noticeable track advantage on Newgarden. In my years of watching racing, the guy coming into the pits has the right of way over the guys being serviced. Why Pagenaud just stopped is it a bit appalling.

All-in-all, Penske Perfect was more Penske Implosion on Sunday. They had three out of the five major chances to win the title, and they didn't win it. You could just see the team unity at Ganassi. All Ganassi guys were working to help Dixon. While Dixon was the only Ganassi driver eligible to take the title, Team Penske seems to have this unofficial mantra of "driver first, team second." While it is admirable, they once again fell short to take a title they had squarely in the palm of their hands.

Let me know what you think!

-Matthew Hickey