Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Firestone Complex

Indycar and its fans should be eternally grateful that Firestone is the tire supplier for its series. They produce magic rings that guide Indycars on the track and commercial vehicles off of it.

But I noticed a problem after the race weekend in Toronto. Despite producing great tires for ovals and dry tires for road courses, Firestone produces inferior tires for the rain. They do nothing to enhance the racing. Drivers cannot push the limits in the rain, which is a damn shame. Here's an alarming tweet from IndyStar ace Curt Cavin:

For one, I think Firestone needs to develop a better rain tire. I'm not knowledgeable in that area. I have no idea how long it takes or how much it costs to develop a new tire, but a new rain tire  is needed to make racing in the rain better for both drivers and fans.

And not to get greedy, but after they fix the wet tire compound, they should develop an intermediate compound that's for a damp track but not fully drenched. This would make it easier to transition from dry tires to wet tires.

Helio Castroneves of Brazil driver of the #3 Team Penske Dallara Chevrolet leads a pack of cars during parade laps of race 1 of the Verizon IndyCar Series Honda Indy Toronto on the streets of Toronto on July 19, 2014, in Toronto, Canada.
Photo: Robert Laberge / Getty Images North America

Let me know if you have an opinion on the manner!

-Matthew Hickey

Monday, July 21, 2014

Winners and Losers: Toronto

Here are your winners, losers, and Cone of Shame winner following the 2014 Honda Indy Toronto 2inTO:


Sebastien Bourdais
Finally, Sebastien Bourdais wins a race. It's been 2,443 days since Bourdais won the 2007 Champ Car season finale in Mexico City. Bourdais dominated the first race in Toronto on his way to winning the for Jimmy Vasser and KV Racing. Hopefully more to come from this man.

Mike Conway
Mike Conway stole another one this season. Conway is almost as good of a strategist as he is a driver. Deciding to put on the slicks in a still damp track is what won him the second race. Conway and Ed Carpenter Racing have proven to be a great combination.

Tony Kanaan
Double podium for Tony Kanaan, his third in three races, is showing us why Chip Ganassi chose to put Kanaan in the seat in the offseason. It's a sad case of too little too late to make a championship run though.

Will Power
Will Power had a very good, and more importantly, a very clean weekend in Toronto, including some very hard but very fair racing in race two with Helio Castroneves. Despite losing four points on Helio in the championship battle, Power is still well within range to take back the lead heading into Milwaukee.


Ryan Hunter-Reay
For the second straight season, Ryan Hunter-Reay has shit the bed in Toronto. In race one, Hunter-Reay got into a collision in turn three with Tony Kanaan. In race two, RHR limped home after getting caught up in a mess, once again in turn three. Championship hopes are still alive, but he needs to nail the next couple of races.

Juan Pablo Montoya
Juan Pablo Montoya will want to get out of Toronto as soon as possible, as a P18 and P19 finish was all that he could manage. Time is running out for him to make a championship run. Can he rebound in Mid-Ohio?

Carlos Munoz
Not sure what happened to Carlos Munoz this weekend, but it is one to forget for sure. He remained consistent though, finishing P17 in both races. Still, a weekend to forget for Rookie of the Year frontrunner Munoz.

Luca Filippi
Luca Filippi, who has been so quick in his four races this season, always has something go wrong in the race, like a crash or a spin. This weekend, he had two solid results going and then once again biffed both races. That's no way to maintain a ride.

Cone of Shame

Indycar Officials
For the record, I applaud Indycar for stopping the race on Saturday and deciding not to go through with the race. It would have been the world's biggest shit show. It was the lack of communication and the lack of established rules that got my blood boiling. Also, I'm a bit confused as to why Will Power didn't get a penalty for hitting pit equipment. And don't give me that bullshit that the gun was in the way, because Scott Dixon will remind you of a time when pit equipment was in his way (Sonoma 2013). Then, in race two, the red flag was thrown with five minutes left in the race. Again, totally cool with that. I applaud the decision. But once again, what's the established rule for these procedures? Does anyone know? Do we just shoot first and aim later or...?

Let me know what you think!

-Matthew Hickey

Friday, July 18, 2014

Fantasy Indycar Picks: Toronto

Here are the Fantasy Indycar picks for the 2014 Honda Indy Toronto 2 in TO (current points leader highlighted in red):

Name Twitter Handle                            Toronto Race 1
Alan Stewart _alanstewart Andretti Wilson Kanaan Conway Briscoe
Alana Jolly alanajolly Munoz Wilson Sato Hawk Bourdais
Amy Woedl OpenWheelMom Dixon Helio Aleshin Huertas Power
Andy Nagel Gabbahey75 Briscoe Bourdais Kimball JPM Josef
Chris Blackburn  chblackburn23 Pagenaud Hinch Sato Wilson Hawk
Chris Mienaltowski CPMski Hawk Bourdais Briscoe Pagenaud Josef
Conor Daly conordaly22 Hinch Josef Conway Rahal Bourdais
David Leiting Jr. Dlite_47 Power Conway Bourdais Rahal Josef
David Redner IndyCART Conway Saavedra Wilson RHR Aleshin
DJ Jordan djordan3223 Conway Power Pagenaud Bourdais Josef
Emily Mugan emyrmalee RHR Hawk Bourdais Josef Munoz
Eric Hall Erock_in_Indy Conway Pagenaud Wilson Munoz Sato
Gina Navarra  gmnavarra RHR Dixon Josef Briscoe Munoz
Jake Neely indycarfan25 Bourdais Wilson Hawk Dixon Briscoe
James Alban TheKing0fSwing Conway Saavedra Bourdais Huertas Josef
James Sedlmayr dfd827 Power Wilson JPM Josef Rahal
Jason McVeigh jasekm Helio Bourdais Conway Pagenaud Rahal
Jerry Cruz Indycar_Raider Dixon Bourdais Kimball Conway Aleshin
Jessica Baker bakerjm13 Briscoe Kimball Helio Pagenaud Saavedra
Justin Mann mannbeast Helio Wilson Briscoe Hawk Power
Kieran Brughelli  kieranbrughelli Helio Bourdais Wilson Briscoe Dixon
Kyle Lewis kylelewis1 Bourdais Rahal Hinch Conway Wilson
Lynn Weinberg lynnweinberg Helio Kanaan Bourdais Conway Josef
Mathew Gruenholz IndycarSTIG Power Pagenaud Conway Wilson Kanaan
Matthew Hickey Indycar_MN JPM Rahal Dixon Conway Munoz
Mike Crawford 7BigMike Briscoe Conway Aleshin Rahal JPM
Rick Snodie  rickfromwi Aleshin Hawk Kimball JPM Munoz
Sam Klein sklein31 Hinch Power Conway Wilson Filippi
Sophie Hanson Sophie_Hansons3 Power Munoz Aleshin Conway Bourdais
Steven Jenkins ukindyfan Conway Filippi JPM Hinch Dixon

Name Twitter Handle                       Toronto Race 2
Alan Stewart _alanstewart Dixon Bourdais Briscoe Aleshin Josef
Alana Jolly alanajolly Briscoe Josef Rahal Kimball Conway
Amy Woedl OpenWheelMom Pagenaud Munoz Josef Kanaan Wilson
Andy Nagel Gabbahey75 Briscoe Bourdais Kimball JPM Josef
Chris Blackburn  chblackburn23 RHR Huertas Power Kimball Rahal
Chris Mienaltowski CPMski Kimball Bourdais Briscoe Hinch Josef
Conor Daly conordaly22 Saavedra Filippi Conway Aleshin Pagenaud
David Leiting Jr. Dlite_47 Dixon Wilson Pagenaud Hawk Rahal
David Redner IndyCART Power Bourdais Hinch Sato Pagenaud
DJ Jordan djordan3223 Dixon Power Wilson Bourdais Aleshin
Emily Mugan emyrmalee RHR Hawk Bourdais Josef Munoz
Eric Hall Erock_in_Indy Conway Helio Kimball Aleshin Bourdais
Gina Navarra  gmnavarra JPM Kanaan Rahal Huertas Pagenaud
Jake Neely indycarfan25 Josef Sato Aleshin Filippi Power
James Alban TheKing0fSwing Bourdais Sato Filippi JPM Hinch
James Sedlmayr dfd827 Bourdais Conway Aleshin Sato Pagenaud
Jason McVeigh jasekm Power Bourdais Conway Josef Rahal
Jerry Cruz Indycar_Raider Pagenaud Sato Power Andretti Josef
Jessica Baker bakerjm13 Power Conway Pagenaud Josef Huertas
Justin Mann mannbeast JPM Munoz Josef Kanaan Bourdais
Kieran Brughelli  kieranbrughelli Hinch Wilson Hawk Dixon Pagenaud
Kyle Lewis kylelewis1 Bourdais Hawk Conway Kimball Aleshin
Lynn Weinberg lynnweinberg Dixon Power Wilson RHR Kimball
Mathew Gruenholz IndycarSTIG Helio Rahal Sato Kimball JPM
Matthew Hickey Indycar_MN Conway Rahal Munoz Hawk Bourdais
Mike Crawford 7BigMike Pagenaud Kanaan Kimball Hinch Andretti
Rick Snodie  rickfromwi Huertas Munoz Briscoe Hinch Hawk
Sam Klein sklein31 Pagenaud Bourdais Conway Filippi Josef
Sophie Hanson Sophie_Hansons3 Hawk Briscoe Pagenaud Aleshin Bourdais
Steven Jenkins ukindyfan Conway Filippi Power Wilson Huertas

Penalties: James Sedlmayr

Top 3 most picked for the weekend: 1) Sebastien Bourdais - 30 2) Mike Conway - 27 3) Josef Newgarden - 22

Not picked: N/A for both races!

After this weekend, there's only four races left! Let's go!!

-Matthew Hickey

Thursday, July 17, 2014

My Shortlist

It's that time of year again! Mark Miles will inevitably tell us the schedule for the 2015 Indycar season will be released on August 30th (which really means September 30th), meaning that chatter among fans about what tracks they'll want to see on the schedule next year will increase. Here are 17 tracks (in order) in North America that I want to see Indycars at! I would love to see at least 1-3 of these tracks host an Indycar race next year, but I know that it probably won't happen ever. Anyways, here's the list and let me know what you think of it!

17. Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (Mosport)
Details: 2.459 mile, 10 turn natural road course
Maximum Capacity: No measured limit, open seating to public
Location: Bowmanville, Ontario

Mosport is a track that separates the men from the boys. It is a great track in Canada that currently hosts the United Sports Car Series, Craftsmen Truck Series, and the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series. It hosted Indycar way back in the day, with the last year being in 1979. It would be a great track for the series, but it would need some serious safety renovations. Indycars could be dangerous there, yet very entertaining.

Ricky Taylor The #10 Corvette DP of Ricky Taylor and Jordan Taylor during practice for the Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix at Canadian Tire Mosport Park on July 11, 2014 in Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada.
Photo: Brian Cleary / Getty Images North America

16. New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Track: 1.058 mile oval
Maximum Capacity: 96,000
Location: Loudon, New Hampshire

New Hampshire hosted Indycar in 2011 and did not return in 2012. It's just bad faith, political bullshit. Indycar put on hell of a show. There was great racing, passing everywhere, and a whole lot of drama. Those are three things that Indycar longs for. Better attendance would be required, but I think that starts with better marketing. Unfortunately, I don't see Indycar coming back, but it would be a great sight.

LOUDON, NH- AUGUST 14:   Oriol Servia, driver of the #2 Telemundo Newman Haas Racing Dallara Honda, on track during the IZOD IndyCar Series MoveThatBlock.com Indy 225 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on August 14, 2011 in Loudon, New Hampshire.
Photo: Donald Miralle / Getty Images North America

15. Providence
Track: Unknown specifications, street circuit
Maximum Capacity: Unknown
Location: Providence, Rhode Island

The only two tracks on my list to have never hosted a race is Providence and Canadian Motor Speedway (still under construction). Political figures in Providence have been in serious talks with Mark Miles and Indycar officials about hosting a race in 2015. The deal has been in the works since 2013, but will it come through? I want it because it is a chance for Indycar to race on a new venue in front of a new audience, which means expanding its reach. Hopefully the race comes through and the layout is sexy.

No photo credit listed

14. Nashville Superspeedway
Track: 1.333 mile oval
Maximum Capacity: 50,000
Location: Lebanon, Tennessee

I'm not sure what Nashville is being used for nowadays. Indycar stopped racing there in 2008. NASCAR Nationwide and Craftsmen Truck Series both stopped in 2011. Now it's just sitting empty. The track might be up for sale soon. I don't care what happens to the track, so long as it gets back up on its feet and starts hosting something against. NASCAR, Indycar, cycling, an egg-and-spoon race for three year olds, it doesn't matter. The track is great and I hate seeing it like this.

Scott Dixon - Firestone Indy 200
Photo: Gavin Lawrence / Getty Images Sport)

13. Gateway International Speedway
Track: 1.25 mile oval
Maximum Capacity: 78,000
Location: Madison, Illinois

Indycar and Gateway have a short history. CART raced there from 1997-2000, and IRL 2001-2003, and.... Well that's it. A real shame too because the track has unique layout. Turns one and two and turns three and four are different by two degrees (doesn't sound like much. but it creates havoc with setups and drivers). The backstretch is also angled to create the difference in turns. While this is one of the few tracks that have 0% chance of ending up on the schedule, I would really love to see it back.

lots of room
Photo: Peter Burke

12. Kentucky Speedway
Track: 1.5 mile oval
Maximum Capacity: 107,000
Location: Sparta, Kentucky

Some of the Indycar oval races I have ever seen have happened at Kentucky. Unfortunately, it all came to an end after 2011. I can't really blame whoever pulled the plug. The 2011 attendance was awful. Well, awful isn't the right word. The attendance is an insult to the word awful. Any chance for Indycar to return would need a sizeable improvement. However, Indycar produced some fantastic racing there. Hopefully it comes back soon!

Dario Franchitti - Kentucky Indy 300 - Day 3
Photo: Jonathan Ferrey / Getty Images North America

11. Chicagoland Speedway
Track: 1.5 mile oval
Maximum Capacity: 75,000
Location: Joliet, Illinois

Indycar put on some great shows at Chicagoland. After the 2010 season, the relationship ended. Since then, 1.5 mile ovals have become a stigma in the Indycar world (rightfully so after Las Vegas). But the DW12 has proven that pack racing is a thing of the past. I think Indycar coming back to Chicagoland would be safe for drivers and fans. Getting it to work on paper would be tough though, as politics and finances would have to go through. Hopefully it happens! Chicagoland is right in the heart of Indycar country.

Ryan Briscoe, driver of the #6 Team Penske Dallara Honda,  leads Marco Andretti, driver of the #26 Team Venom Energy Andretti Autosport Dallara Honda, during the IndyCar Series PEAK Antifreeze and Motor Oil Indy 300 at Chicagoland Speedway on August 28, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois.
Photo: Streeter Lecka / Getty Images North America

10. Circuit of the Americas
Track: 3.427, 20 turn natural road course
Maximum Capacity: 120,000
Location: Austin, Texas

COTA is one hell of a venue. It makes for a perfect spot for Indycar to race at. Unfortunately, (the state of) Texas already hosts two races (three if you can both races of the Houston doubleheader, two total venues), and adding a third venue would oversaturate the market. That's the only thing I see holding this up. Indycar would love to race at COTA, and COTA would love to have us. The brand new, state of the art facility launched into the public eye thanks to Formula 1. I wonder if Indycar can help capture more domestic attention to the venue.

Jenson Button of Great Britain and McLaren drives during the final practice session prior to qualifying for the United States Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas on November 16, 2013 in Austin, United States.
Photo: Mark Thompson / Getty Images North America

9. Canadian Motor Speedway
Track: 0.75 mile oval
Maximum Capacity: 65,000
Location: Fort Erie, Ontario

The other track on this list that has never been raced at is Canadian Motor Speedway. It has all the makings to be a track much like Iowa. And Canadians do love their racing! I think it is a great venue in a great location with the potential to put on one hell of a show. Once it is completed, the track should be hosting a handful of races. Hope Indycar makes the shortlist!

Photo courtesy of the CMS website

8. Portland International Raceway
Track: 1.967 mile, 12 turn asphalt-concrete road course
Maximum Capacity: 86,000
Location: Portland, Oregon

A track that is full of Indycar history is Portland. They hosted Indycar between the years 1984-2007, and some thrilling ones at that. It's not too often that you hear of photo finishes on a road course, but in 1997, Mark Blundell beat out Gil de Ferran by 0.027 seconds, making it the closest finish in Indycar history on a road course. To make this event even more exciting, Raul Boesel finished 0.055 seconds behind Mark for a thrilling three-wide finish. All-in-all, this track needs to be back on the schedule. A lot of loyal, passionate fans would flock back to this event.

two down
Photo: Peter Burke

7. Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
Track: 2.238 mile, 11 turn road course
Maximum Capacity: 11,000
Location: Monterey, California

The race makes sense in a lot of ways. For one, an Indycar race there would be an easy sellout given the small amount of seat available. Second, Mazda is a proud sponsor of the Mazda Road to Indy, which is heavily affiliated with Indycar. If Indycar came, then all of the MRTI series could come too. Third, Indycar has a rich history at Laguna Seca. The track is synonymous with Indycar. A comeback to the track, which hasn't hosted Indycar since 2004. Hopefully this changes soon.

Photo: Peter Burke

6. Phoenix International Raceway
Track: 1 mile oval
Maximum Capacity: 67,000
Location: Avondale, Arizona

Phoenix would put on some great racing if Indycars hit the track. The 1 mile short track is a uniquely shaped oval. The D-shaped tri-oval separates Phoenix from other ovals. Seeing Indycars pedal their way around the track would be amazing. Indycar raced there from 1964-2005, and then like most tracks on this list, it just disappeared. Sad. I think a lot of fans would be behind Phoenix returning.

Jacques Villeneuve, Emerson Fittipaldi, Scott Pruett, Phoenix, 1995
Photo credit: Ford

5. Watkins Glen International
Track: 3.4 mile, 11 turn road course
Maximum Capacity: 41,000
Location: Watkins Glen, New York

Indycar did not return to Watkins Glen in 2011, after six years at the track between 2005-2010. It not returning in 2011 angered many people, including myself. Given that it is one of the gems of North America, Indycar should be heavily pursuing Watkins Glen to get a race back on track. The only change that I would make is using the short, 8-turn road course configuration  that NASCAR uses versus the 11-turn configuration that has "the boot." Using the other layout would increase the number of laps and make turn 7 one wicked passing zone. Still, I would just love to see the track back.

Ryan Briscoe driving the #6 Team Penske Dallara Honda and Scott Dixon in the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara Honda lead at the start of the IRL IndyCar Series Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen on July 6, 2008 at the Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, New York.
Photo: Darrell Ingham / Getty Images North America

4. Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
Track: 2.71 mile, 13 turn road course
Maximum Capacity: 100,000
Location: Montreal, Quebec

The Wall of Champions is hungry for a new crop of champions that have never raced at the track. It can choose from a host of drivers, like Scott DixonRyan Hunter-ReayTony Kanaan, or Juan Pablo Montoya. The track hosts a Formula 1 race, and gets a great turnout. The track used to host NASCAR Nationwide Series, but they have since parted ways. I see the potential for Indycar to fill the void that NASCAR left. A man can dream, right?

No photo credit given

3. Michigan International Speedway
Track: 2 mile oval
Maximum Capacity: 72,000
Location: Brooklyn, Michigan

Michigan is the best oval not on the Indycar schedule at the moment. It produced some fantastic racing given its high speeds and big banking. I love this track so much that I would go as far to see it replace Pocono on the schedule. The problem is that Pocono is loved by many, and Indycar already has two races in Detroit, thus the market is a bit saturated. I'm not sure the track would get good attendance for the race. Still, this oval needs to make a comeback.

Photo: Geoff Miller

2. Grand Prix of Baltimore
Track: 2.04 mile, 12 turn street course
Maximum Capacity: 130,000-160,000
Location: Baltimore, Maryland

Go ahead and call me crazy, but I miss the hell out of Baltimore. Three years. That's all we had to enjoy Indycar in Baltimore. The races' tenure was more dramatic than a Sean Bean death scene in a movie. Financial turmoil and negotiations over the future of the race were always present. However, the course is fantastic, the city is amazing, and the fan turnout was unbelievable. People came in hoards to watch the cars race. Three straight years of high attendance shows that the race can be a long term success. Unfortunately, the race was cancelled in 2014 and 2015. Fingers crossed for 2016. The only change I would make is trying to find a solution for the bump on the front stretch, but other than that I wouldn't change a thing. A stunning course in a perfect location.

A general view of the track during the IZOD IndyCar Series Baltimore Grand Prix on September 1, 2013 in Baltimore, Maryland.
Photo: Rob Carr / Getty Images North America

1. Road America
Track: 4.048 mile, 14 turn road course
Maximum Capacity: No fixed number
Location: Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

No brainer. The number one track in my list (and just about everyone's list) is Road America. The best road course in the Western Hemisphere is time and time again left off of the Indycar calendar, and it is a joke. Indycar and Road America can't agree on the finances to get a race back. I think it is time to make something happen. The fans would rejoice and flock to the venue if Indycar returned, as Indycar raced there from 1982-2007 (excluding 2005). CAN WE GET THIS TRACK BACK ALREADY?!

Photo: Peter Burke

Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think of my list! Which tracks (in North America) am I missing?! Let me know what you think!

-Matthew Hickey

Winners and Losers: 2006 Indianapolis 500

Here's a throwback Winners and Losers for your viewing pleasure! Here are you winners, losers, and Cone of Shame winner following the 2006 Indianapolis 500:


Sam Hornish Jr.
Sam Hornish Jr. did the unthinkable, battling back from impossible odds to win the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. I don't even think he knows how he won that. Everyone thought that Marco Andretti had it with two laps to go. Somehow, Hornish came through. Will he follow in the footsteps from Dan Wheldon in 2005 to win the Indy 500 and then the Indycar Championship later in the season?

Michael Andretti
How epic would it have been that one of the most snakebitten drivers in Indianapolis 500 history, Michael Andretti, who made a comeback to the 500 this season, went on to win the race?! I don't think there would have been a dry eye in the stands (except for those who have an irrational hatred of the Andrettis). Close, but no cigar.

Andretti Green Racing
Marco and Michael Andretti put on quite the show there at the end of the race. I thought they had a dream 1-2 finish shaping up! Even though that didn't happen, 2, 3, 5, 7, and 20 are great results for this powerhouse team with drivers Marco Andretti, Michael Andretti, Tony Kanaan, Dario Franchitti, and Bryan Herta respectively.

Indycar once again found a way to put on a great show on its finest day for the world to see. The racing was fantastic (even though it was a bit dominated by Dan Wheldon), but the finish was gripping and unbelievable. Well done Indycar! An American winning the race is also good for the domestic audience.


Marco Andretti
Sure Marco Andretti, a 19 year old rookie, finished second in his very first Indianapolis 500, but damn Marco, you were so close!! I, and 300,000 people were screaming our lungs out for you and we thought that you had it! If this is a sign of things to come, then watch out rest of the field.

Helio Castroneves
Helio Castroneves got into a nasty crash with Buddy Rice, ending both of their races. Two wins and a second place finish in the first three races led many to believe that this was Helio's year to win his first Indycar championship. This puts a damper in his plans. Can Helio, who had completed every lap at Indy up to this year, rebound and save his season?

Tomas Scheckter
Tomas Scheckter crashed coming out of turn four, not that that is anything new. It was a pretty big hit, glad he walked away. Will Scheckter get his season, and frankly, his career back on path? Two DNFs in four starts is not the best start to his tenure at Vision Racing.

Jeff Bucknum and PJ Chesson
The biggest fear of any driver racing in the Indianapolis came true for Jeff Bucknum and PJ Chesson, and that is crashing on lap one. But hey, at least they got through one turn...

Cone of Shame

Scott Dixon
Scott Dixon had the race within reach (or at the very least, a great scrap with his teammate Dan Wheldon in store) before blocking Tony Kanaan, throwing his race away. This culminated a serious let down performance by Chip Ganassi Racing. Hopefully they can bounce back and take down Team Penske for the remainder of the season. Not the result that Dixon, and Wheldon for that matter, that they were looking for.

Let me know if there are any classic races that you want to see me do a Winners and Losers for!

-Matthew Hickey