Monday, April 27, 2015

Winners and Losers: Barber

Here are the winners, losers, and Cone of Shame winner following the 2015 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama:

Winners

Josef Newgarden
HE WON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Josef Newgarden, who was the second driver to ever follow me on Twitter (first was Martin Plowman, both did so back in 2011), won his first career race with CFH Racing. He drove a great race and won it on his talent and not from some bullshit strategy or caution. He had some great overtakes, especially on the first lap, and was clearly the class of the field. So happy for him and the team. Hopefully Josef can keep this up because he's fourth in the points at the moment. So happy for Josef!


Graham Rahal
Graham Rahal haters have some pondering to do. Through the first four races, Graham has finished 11th, 8th, 11th, and 2nd. Last year, the first four races were 14th, 13th, 17th, and 21st. RLL Racing and Graham clearly found speed or benefited from the increased grip from the aerokits. Any way you slice it, Graham should be a force to be reckon with (at least on road courses).


Scott Dixon
Scott Dixon has managed to finish on the podium for all six races at Barber. *drops mic*


Andretti Autosport
It was staggering that Andretti Autosport did not place any drivers out of the first group of qualifying. Indycar.com has the qualifying results of every race since 2010. Since 2010, Andretti Autosport has put at least one driver into the Fast 12 under the standard qualifying format. That streak ended when Carlos Munoz, Marco Andretti, and Ryan Hunter-Reay failed to make it out of round one. Fortunately, the team did great in the race. RHR finished 5th, Munoz 6th, and Andretti 10th. Really impressive race from a team that has struggled so far this season.



Losers

Team Penske
Every Team Penske car faced some adversity at some point during the race. Will Power made contact and got a penalty. Helio Castroneves ran out of fuel on the last lap and was forced to pit. Juan Pablo Montoya sucked all weekend. And Simon Pagenaud got caught out on strategy. A weekend to forget for the team has been dominant as far as speed goes.


Tony Kanaan
Tony Kanaan was running in the top-ten all day. I'm not sure what happened but Kanaan fell to finish P13. First bad result for the him and the team, but hopefully they rebound for the Month of May.


Sage Karam
Sage Karam had three of the most underwhelming races that a rookie with the persona that he has could ever have. It would be one thing if he was some no-name guy, but Karam has been getting hyped by fans and Chip Ganassi all offseason. Then he came out and gave us three performances? Unimpressed.


Francesco Dracone
The bad news: Francesco Dracone found a way to be a nuisance. In his defense, myself and many others overreacted when leaders were trying to get around him, but that was for position (we are all just used to him being several laps down). The good news: Barber was his last signed race with Dale Coyne, so hopefully this means good riddance to him.



Cone of Shame



Will Power
Will Power is once again adorned the Cone of Shame. Early in the race, Power came out of the pits and merged right into Takuma Sato. Both cars lost time but continued, and Power was issued an avoidable contact penalty. Now, up until this point, nothing here is out of order. Yeah, mistakes happen and I get that. But, Power came into the pits and his radio was put on air. He asked what he was getting penalized for... Umm well let's see here, you just took out a car that had the corner and was faster... Then he said, "Typical." Typical? The only thing typical about the penalty is that it centered around another one of your brainfades. Just when you start liking the guy, he says something like that. Makes it hard to like him at times.


Three weeks of interesting races! Time for a week off then a great Month of May!

-Matthew Hickey

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Fantasy Indycar Picks: Barber

Before I get to the Barber picks, I would like to review the rules for a hectic Month of May:

  • Picks for the Angie's List Grand Prix of Indianapolis are due before first practice on Thursday, May 7th. The race takes place on Saturday, May 9th.
  • Closely after that, picks for the 99th Indianapolis 500 are due Monday, May 11th before the first practice takes place. The race takes place Sunday, May 24th.
  • Adhering to past traditions, the Indianapolis 500 have two special features that other Fantasy Indycar rounds don't have: 1) Along with your five picks, participants will submit a 6th separate pick as to who you think will win the pole. This sixth pick will not count towards your cumulative picks, and it can be someone you've selected in your five picks for the race or anyone else. If you correctly guess the pole-sitter, you earn 25 bonus points. It will not count against you if you guess incorrectly. 2) There will also be a 25 point bonus that will involve posting a picture on Twitter. This is voluntary, so it's not required. It's just meant to be social and getting in the spirit of Fantasy Indycar! Requirements for the bonus are TBA.
  • There is the potential for bumping this year. If you select someone who gets bumped, then, well, too bad. Also, the bonus points (through the pole and optional picture) plus the points earned by your drivers in qualifying will be counted as a separate round. The points your driver earns in the race will be separate.
  • The qualifying and bonuses will be scored in a separate category from the points you get for the race at Indianapolis. Whatever your driver gets on Pole Day + if you get guess the polesitter correctly + optional pic bonus = your total points for Qualifying and Bonus (Q+B)
  • Announcement: The Fantasy Indycar waiting list for 2016 opens on June 1st! Anyone not in Fantasy Indycar who wants a chance to get into the league next season just has to contact me on Twitter and I will put you on the waiting list! There will be at least three spots open for next season.

Let me know if you have any questions! Here are the picks for the 2015 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama (leader highlighted in blue):

Name Twitter Handle
Alan Stewart _alanstewart Power Dixon Andretti RHR Kimball
Amy Woedl OpenWheelMom RHR Kanaan JPM Newg Bourdais
Andy Nagel Gabbahey75 Power RHR Helio Dixon JPM
Chris Blackburn  chblackburn23 Munoz Bourdais Dixon Pagenaud Coletti
Chris Mienaltowski CPMski Dixon Power Newg RHR Bourdais
Conor Daly conordaly22 Power Munoz Bourdais Rahal Coletti
David Leiting Jr. Dlite_47 Rahal Helio Coletti JPM Bourdais
David Redner IndyCART Kanaan Bourdais Newg Munoz Hawk
DJ Jordan djordan3223 Andretti Munoz Jakes Kanaan Sato
Eric Hall Erock_in_Indy Helio Dixon Bourdais Kimball Andretti
Gina Navarra  gmnavarra Rahal Newg Andretti JPM Pagenaud
Jake Neely indycarfan25 Helio JPM Dixon Karam Coletti
James Alban TheKing0fSwing Newg Rahal Andretti Filippi Sato
James Sedlmayr dfd827 Dixon Rahal Power Hawk Bourdais
Jason McVeigh jasekm RHR Andretti Power Pagenaud Dixon
Jerry Cruz Indycar_Raider Andretti Rahal JPM Pagenaud Newg
Jessica Baker bakerjm13 Rahal JPM Jakes Sato Power
Johanna Husband writebend Dixon Power RHR Filippi Andretti
Justin Mann mannbeast Andretti Hinch Power RHR Dixon
Kieran Brughelli  kieranbrughelli RHR Bourdais Kimball Kanaan Pagenaud
Kyle Lewis kylelewis1 Newg Dixon Power Helio RHR
Lynn Weinberg lynnweinberg Power JPM Helio Dixon Pagenaud
Mathew Gruenholz IndycarSTIG RHR Andretti Newg Kimball Kanaan
Matthew Hickey Indycar_MN Power Dixon RHR Andretti Pagenaud
Mike Crawford 7BigMike Kimball Pagenaud Power Sato Kanaan
Mitch Robinson mitchrobinson_ Andretti Helio Hinch Filippi Bourdais
Paige Hill paigehilll Karam Kimball Munoz Filippi Hinch
Rick Snodie  rickfromwi Hinch Rahal Newg JPM Bourdais
Sam Klein sklein31 Power Dixon JPM Helio RHR
Sandy Lamparello npssandy RHR Hinch JPM Kanaan Andretti
Sarah Hall flywheel011 Andretti Dixon Chaves Rahal Munoz
Sophie Hanson Sophie_Hansons3 RHR Hawk Dixon Kanaan Rahal
Steven Jenkins ukindyfan Dixon Bourdais Andretti RHR JPM

Penalties: David Leiting Jr.

Top 3 most picked: 1) Dixon - 17 2) RHR and Andretti - 15 3) Power - 14
Not picked: Dale Coyne Racing

Let me know if you have any questions regarding May rules!

-Matthew Hickey

Friday, April 24, 2015

Interview: Max Papis

It is with great happiness that I bring to you an interview with one of the drivers from my favorite eras of racing: CART 1996-2001. That driver is Max Papis! Papis made his debut in America in 1996 with Team Arciero-Wells. After a couple years of uncompetitive equipment, Papis moved to Team Rahal, where he had much more success. The talent he showed during his years at Team Rahal were awesome. I enjoyed watching him fight it out with the big names of the sport. He was also a very likable guy off the track, and I miss the personality and the skills that Max showed.

I've now done 20 interviews on my website. The usual protocal is for me to get in contact with the driver, email the questions, and get their answers and format it to the website. For the first time in my website's history, I was submitted the answers through audio! I'm not sure why this was so cool, but it almost felt like I was listening to Max tell his story about CART. It was a pleasent surprise and I really enjoyed listening to all of the things he had to share. So, here's the transcribed interview that I did with Max Papis! Enjoy:


1) When I think back to an era of racing I like the most, CART 1996-2001 immediately comes to mind. So many great drivers, teams, cars, tracks, and fans. What is your favorite memory from the times you drove in CART? 

MP: When I think back to an era of racing that I like the most, CART 1996-2001 immediately comes to mind. So many great drivers, teams, tracks, cars, and fans.

There are so many great memories that I have from CART. One of the main things is the comradery. I am really proud of the fact that I was a part of an era that was maybe considered the best era of the sport and to drive amazing cars. One of the things I remember with a lot of pleasure were the trips to Australia where me, Dario (Franchitti), and Greg Moore would always hang out together before and after the race. It was an amazing opportunity to get to know each other and to enjoy the free life spirit of being young guys.


2) You've driven in CART, IRL, Formula 1, Le Mans, NASCAR, V8 Supercars, and many more types of cars. Is there one car that you consider your favorite to drive (and why)? 

MP: Absolutely. If you talk about pure driving, I would definitely say the Miller Lite car with a Ford Cosworth engine that I drove in CART was the most satisfying car to drive. It had the best power-to-weight ratio. It stuck to the track but not too much to take away from the driving; you still had to drive the car a lot, even on an oval. You were basically never wide-open except for the one lap in qualifying at Michigan and Fontana. There, you really had to hold your breath! Defintiely that car was the best product of the sport that I've ever been involved in.

2000 CART FedEx Championship Series - #7 Miller Lite Ford Cosworth-Reynard - Team Rahal
Max Papis is the Team Rahal Reynard Ford Cosworth sponsored by Miller Lite (Photo from Max's website)

3) From my point of view, you stood out to me because you seemed to show great passion for racing as well as for your fellow drivers. As documented, you've raced in so many different racing series. Is there any one driver (or drivers) you loved racing against? 

MP: You really don't love to race against anyone in particular! Obviously, despite the fact that I love my sport and I've always been a very passionate guy, when I'm out there I'm a very determined person. I actually have no friends when I'm out there.

The people I was most satisfied and most honored to race with were for sure guys like Michael Andretti, because he was a legend of the sport, and my friend Dario Franchitti, my friend Greg Moore because he was one of the bravest guys I've ever raced against, and Alex Zanardi. I was really proud to compete with all of these guys finally with my Miller Lite car at par with them because throughout my career, they were in better equipment, or I was younger, or I was not at the same level of experience. The greatest satisfaction was the I was really able to show my hand and compete with them head-to-head, and that's a great satisfaction for me. Obviously, that's in CART. If you want to talk about NASCAR or Sports Cars, the names would be infinite. But I would definitely say that regarding, that was my number one pick.


4) Do you continue to watch Indycar? (If yes, what do you think about the series today?) (If not, why do you not watch it?) 

MP: Yes, I still watch Indycar races on-and-off. Obviously since my friend Dario Franchitti is not involved in them anymore, I lost a little bit of interest. The races are still quite competitive, but when you know how special things could be, sometimes you want to turn the TV off.

Max in 2000 (Photo from Max's website)

5) The staple question of these interviews on my site is have you ever done anything weird while driving a race car, like sneeze, cough, throw up, hum a song, or anything else that could be considered weird?

MP: It's difficult to answer this question! I mean, when I'm in the car I'm so focused that I might have done it all but I don't even remember. The most weird things I definitely say would be this: in our first 24 Hour of Daytona for (Chip) Ganassi in 2004, there was so much moisture inside the car that I ended up driving with a squeegee attached to a post and driving down the straight at 200 MPH in Daytona while cleaning the inside of the window to be able to see outside. I would definitely say that's one of the most uncharacteristic things I've ever done.


Thanks to Max for taking the time to be interviewed! Thoroughly enjoyed sitting in class and listening to what he had to say. Definitely one of my more enjoyable and satisfying interviews. Let us both know what you think!

-Matthew Hickey

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Five Favorite Mentions: Long Beach

Back for a second edition is my five favorite mentions that I received on the race day of the 40th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Sorry for not posting after NOLA, as I was rather salty and unpleasant on Twitter thanks to the awful showing we all got to witness. This post is meant to highlight and give a shoutout to all of my followers who respond to me during race day, but specifically the ones I enjoyed the most. Here are the five from Long Beach, and thanks again everyone!













Thanks again everyone! There's was a lot of laughs this weekend, and there were some ones that I left off that I loved! Hoping for another fun weekend on Twitter for Barber.

-Matthew Hickey 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Winners and Losers: Long Beach

Here are your winners, losers, and Cone of Shame winner following the 40th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach:

Winners

Scott Dixon
Scott Dixon finally got a win at Long Beach after several years of despair. Not only did he get a win, but Dixon has vaulted himself right into the championship hunt. Plus, he has now moved into sole possession for fifth all-time on the Indycar wins list. Way to go Dixon, hopefully he does more to break up the Penske party.


Team Penske (minus Power)
Helio Castroneves, Juan Pablo Montoya, and Simon Pagenaud all had very solid weekends, and it looks as if they're setting up their own private championship battle. Their pace, race craft, and aggressiveness have been on point this season. Thoroughly impressed with Team Penske so far.


Josef Newgarden
Josef Newgarden has gotten off to a very solid start to the 2015 season. In fact, I feel as if he's a couple podiums away from making a serious championship run. Newgarden has shown great pace all year, and now has two top-tens and a decent finish at St. Pete. He keeps poking his head in the middle of the Ganassi-Penske fight. Some bad luck in the pit sequence get Josef from snatching a top-five finish, but that doesn't take away from the race he ran. Is this the year that Newgarden breaks through and gets a win? So far, it's not out of the question.


Sebastian Saavedra
Sebastian Saavedra, who is now splitting the #8 Chip Ganassi ride with Sage Karam, took over the car and put it in the top-ten. It was a great effort by him and the whole team. Even more scary is that Saavedra consistently outpaced veteran Ganassi teammate Charlie Kimball. Did Saavedra finally find somewhere where he can show off his pace?



Losers

Will Power
Will Power stalled early after avoiding a stalled car in the pits, and the rest is history. Power got bogged down in qualifying, after he didn't get to put in a flying lap in. This defined his weekend, as he never got a chance to race. Power is still in the championship hunt, but results like this can't continue if he wants to repeat as the Indycar champion.


Francesco Dracone
The DraCone of Shame, Francesco Dracone, will have one more chance to live up to his name to get back to the Cone of Shame. Dracone was outpaced by Rocky Moran Jr., who hadn't raced a single seater for a decade, and then Conor Daly. He also made life very difficult for drivers trying to get past him (aka EVERY DRIVER IN THE FIELD). Dracone is putting himself in a category of rare names like Milka Duno and Hiro Matsushita. One more race... Hopefully. He was too easy of a choice for the Cone this week though.


Luca Filippi
Luca Filippi ran out of luck on Sunday. Coming into the pits after an early caution, Filippi stalled or lost a gear or something. He lost two laps and effectively ruined his race. Many people were expecting big things from him after Mike Conway's win in the same car last year at Long Beach. Filippi will need to turn it around at future road course races, as JR Hildebrand is breathing down the barrel to get into that car.


Stefano Coletti
It has been a very rough start to the season for Stefano Coletti. Coletti had a good run going at St. Pete before encountering a problem. In NOLA, he crashed on a restart. At Long Beach, he crashed several times throughout the weekend and suffered gear box issues during the race. If Coletti doesn't turn it around quick, people will start to brand him as a failure.



Cone of Shame



David Ragan
Yes, everyone is allowed an opinion, but David Ragan got a lot of flack for tweeting this yesterday:


I don't even know where to start with this tweet. First off, David Ragan is one of the most average NASCAR drivers in the history of the sport. He's collected two wins in his career, and both were at restrictor plate tracks, which is basically to say he kept his foot on the gas for three hours, put himself in a good position with two laps to go, and didn't crash. Second, 2014 paints a picture as to competition. In 36 races, NASCAR had 14 different winners. 14 out of 36 is 38.8% variability. In 18 races, Indycar had 11 different winners, a variability of 61.1%. Competition my ass, Indycar is one of the most competitive forms of motorsports in the world. Third, Indycar had lots of on-track battles yesterday, especially for third place late in the race. This was all occuring with only one caution (and thus the field had a chance to seperate). In NASCAR, if there's a boring stretch of racing, the officials throw a caution if they find any sort of debris on the track. This could be sheet metal, hot dog wrapper, or a piece of grass. NASCAR has to manufacture their competition. NASCAR has to be one of the least exciting things I've ever seen. I'd rather listen to Barry Manilow for four hours. Fourth, David Ragan is a professional driver. If a troll who dwells in their mother's basement or some other low-life says this, I let it slide. But when a professional says this about a rival sport, it makes them look like a fool, especially when you present an opinion as a fact. Finally, Indycar's response on Twitter was perfection, and I almost classified them as a winner:




Let me know what you think!

-Matthew Hickey