Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Winners and Losers: Milwaukee

Here are your winners, losers, and Cone of Shame "winner" following the 2014 ABC Supply Wisconsin 250:


Will Power 
I hear Happy Gilmore in my head, but instead of saying, "Someone learned how to putt. Uh-oh...", I imagine him saying, "Someone learned how to race on ovals. Uh-oh..." in reference to Will Power's new found speed on ovals. Power, who takes a strangle hold on the championship, won at Sonoma and Fontana last year. Can he finally close out that elusive championship?

Juan Pablo Montoya
Juan Pablo Montoya has found his comfort zone. The man has found his stride in Indycar. He looks like the JPM that was aggressive and fast in 1999. He still has an outside chance at winning the championship. Can he do the unthinkable?

Tony Kanaan
The Tony Kanaan in the second half of the season is the Tony Kanaan that we have all been expecting. Speed in the races, running up front consistently, and great results are the kind of things that Tony Kanaan was expected to do when he was signed. Hopefully Kanaan can carry this momentum into the last two races and into 2015.

Josef Newgarden
Josef Newgarden was caught out by late strategy that almost won him the race, but he still managed to finish P5 which was a miracle. The results keep coming his way, but not the result that he and Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing have been looking for: a win.


Helio Castroneves
Helio Castroneves had an average race, but a person like Helio is not in any position to be having average races at this point in the season. Coming into the race, Helio was down three points to teammate Will Power. Now he's down 37. While a championship is certainly not out of the question, it just became that much tougher for Helio.

Charlie Kimball
Well, Charlie Kimball did not have a good race. But it's not his bad race that put him on the list. It is the fact that his teammates, Tony Kanaan, Scott Dixon, and Ryan Brisoce all finished 3rd, 4th, and 6th respectively. One would expect Kimball to run at the same pace as his mates, yet Kimball could only manage P16. That's not good enough.

Takuma Sato
Well, in front of all of his sponsors in the team's home race, Takuma Sato did what he's done all season. That is, finish in a below average fashion. This, coupled with the fact that Sato almost spun on the first drop of the green flag, and you get what I think is a recipe for a pink slip. This team has to start fresh.

Dale Coyne Racing
Dale Coyne Racing is having a very troublesome year when it comes to the ovals. Early on in the race, rookie Carlos Huertas and veteran Justin Wilson were scrapping with one another just to stay on the lead lap. It's a shame to see a great organization like Dale Coyne Racing suffer with poor results on ovals. Wilson managed only P17 and Huertas P20. Hopefully they can finish out the season strong.

Cone of Shame

Andretti Autosport
How terrible of a weekend did Andretti Autosport have? Marco Andretti was the best finisher from the four car team, and all he could manage was P13. His race was derailed after the fueler dropped the hose on a pit stop. Still, P13 is a breeze compared to his teammates. James Hinchcliffe had pit equipment issues all day, forcing him to finish P19. Championship contender Ryan Hunter-Reay suffered a broken suspension and finished P21. And rookie Carlos Munoz finished P22 after making contact with the wall.

Let me know what you think!

-Matthew Hickey

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Fantasy Indycar Picks: Milwaukee

Here are the Fantasy Indycar Picks for the 2014 ABC Supply IndyFest at the Milwaukee Mile (current points leader highlighted in red):

NameTwitter Handle                             Milwaukee
Alan Stewart_alanstewartKanaanRahalWilsonHinchJPM
Alana JollyalanajollyHawkBourdaisBriscoeJosefRahal
Amy WoedlOpenWheelMomHelioRHRBriscoeCarpenterHinch
Andy NagelGabbahey75RHRAndrettiHinchMunozKanaan
Chris Blackburn chblackburn23HelioHinchPagenaudBriscoeKanaan
Chris MienaltowskiCPMskiCarpenterKanaanWilsonRHRJosef
Conor Dalyconordaly22RHRHinchAndrettiKanaanJosef
David Leiting Jr.Dlite_47RHRHelioBriscoeJPMMunoz
David RednerIndyCARTAndrettiBriscoeHelioKimballCarpenter
DJ Jordandjordan3223KanaanHelioRHRHinchAndretti
Emily Muganemyrmalee
Eric HallErock_in_IndyRHRJPMHinchHelioAleshin
Gina Navarra gmnavarraKanaanCarpenterAleshinSatoPower
Jake Neelyindycarfan25RHRHinchMunozKanaanSato
James AlbanTheKing0fSwingRHRHelioDixonJosefCarpenter
James Sedlmayrdfd827KanaanCarpenterAndrettiHelioRHR
Jason McVeighjasekmRHRAndrettiHinchMunozCarpenter
Jerry CruzIndycar_RaiderMunozAleshinJosefHinchRahal
Jessica Bakerbakerjm13DixonCarpenterRHRRahalHinch
Justin MannmannbeastRHRHinchRahalMunozHelio
Kieran Brughelli kieranbrughelliBriscoeRHRMunozHelioJPM
Kyle Lewiskylelewis1JPMRHRCarpenterKanaanAndretti
Lynn WeinberglynnweinbergBriscoeJPMKanaanRHRHinch
Mathew GruenholzIndycarSTIGJosefRHRAndrettiMunozBourdais
Matthew HickeyIndycar_MNAndrettiHinchSatoRHRHelio
Mike Crawford7BigMikeCarpenterKanaanAndrettiMunozSato
Rick Snodie rickfromwiRHRDixonCarpenterMunozBriscoe
Sam Kleinsklein31RHRHinchKanaanJPMJosef
Sophie HansonSophie_Hansons3JPMAndrettiWilsonRHRSato
Steven JenkinsukindyfanRHRAndrettiHinchKanaanDixon

Penalties: Emily Mugen

Most Picked: 1) Ryan Hunter-Reay - 22 2) James Hinchcliffe - 16 3) Tony Kaanan - 14
Not Picked: Carlos Huertas and Sebastian Saavedra

Who's going to win the championship?!

-Matthew Hickey

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Indycar Drinking Game

First off, I'll start by saying I don't condone the idea of drinking large sums of alcohol at a time. This article, which is meant for two reasons: 1) Humor 2) To point out things that happen in great occurrence or that are really rare in Indycar, and thus you should always make sure to please drink responsibly and never drive a vehicle whilst under the influence.

Having said that, I hope you get a laugh out of the list I've compiled here. Enjoy!

  • If Scott Dixon says the word 'fantastic,' take a drink
  • If Juan Pablo Montoya and 'side-horn' or 'chrome-horn' get put in the same sentence, take a drink
  • If AJ Foyt swears, take a drink
  • If Charlie Kimball gets identified as having diabetes during the broadcast, take a drink
  • If Townsend Bell either refers to his driving experience or his desire for Indycars to have more horsepower, take a drink
  • If Tony Kanaan passes three or more cars on a start/restart, take a drink
  • If Sebastian Saavedra suffers a mechanical failure, take a drink
  • If Carlos Munoz finishes in the same place that he started, take a drink
  • If  Graham or Bobby Rahal says the words 'grip' or 'babe' on the radio, take a drink
  • If Will Power gets a penalty or causes an accident, take a drink
  • If there's an Indycar fan bitching on Twitter, take a dri.... Actually the world does not have enough alcohol for that
  • If Ed Carpenter whines about something, take a drink
  • If Mike Hull goes on a strategical rant, take a drink
  • If Ryan Hunter-Reay gets mentioned as the reigning Indy 500 winner, take a drink
  • If someone refers to James Hinchcliffe as the Mayor of Hinchtown, take a drink
  • If Takuma Sato DNFs, take a drink
  • If Leigh Diffey adds an "r" to a word that ends in a vowel, take a drink
  • If Helio Castroneves referred to through a dancing metaphor, take a drink
  • If Helio Castroneves says 'helluva job', take a drink
  • If Mikhail Aleshin wins a race, finish your drink
  • If Marco Andretti smiles, finish your drink

Please drink responsibly!!

-Matthew Hickey

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Top Five Drivers in Indycar

Using statistics, analysis of driver ability, and many more factors, I have created a list of the five best Indycar drivers who are currently in the 2014 championship. Here it is (statistics are current as of 8-5-14):

5) James Hinchcliffe
      Starts: 65
      Wins: 3
      Podiums: 7
      Championships: 0
      Poles: 0

James Hinchcliffe - Chevrolet Indy Dual In Detroit - Dual I
Photo: Robert Laberge / Getty Images North America

I know what you're thinking. "Oh this Hickey kid is full of shit. Ain't no way James Hinchcliffe is better than the likes of Helio Castroneves, Tony KanaanJuan Pablo Montoya, Sebastien Bourdais, Justin Wilson, and several others." I can see where you would be coming from, but James Hinchcliffe is an abolsutely fantastic driver. Many fans love him for his great personality, and I like that too. But he's a favorite of mine because he is an even better driver. His main focus is on winning. There have been several times where I've seen Hinch absolutely pissed off and I thought, "that's my kind of driver." Detroit 2012, Houston 2013, Long Beach 2014. Whatever the case may be, Hinch wants to win.

Although 2014 hasn't gone quite to plan (lots of rotten luck if you ask me), I still believe that Hinch is one of the best drivers in Indycar. He shows speed at every track he goes to. If he doesn't finish in the top-ten, then I'm going to go ahead and assume that some circumstance came up in the form of a mechanical issue or contact from another driver that caused the result. Call me crazy, but I think Hinch has earned a spot on this list. Statistics don't favor him, but believe me, at age 27, he still has many years to go. 

4) Simon Pagenaud
      Starts: 66
      Wins: 4
      Podiums: 9
      Championships: 0
      Poles: 1

Simon Pagenaud - Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio: Day 1
Photo: Chris Trotman / Getty Images North America

Who knew when Simon Pagenaud came to Indycar full-time in 2012 with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports that it would blossom into one of the best driver-team combinations in Indycar at the moment. Pagenaud is one of the most consistently quick and aggressive drivers in Indycar. I love the passes he makes and results he get.

One of the things that impresses me the most about Pagenaud is his ability to make championship runs. At the rate he's going, Pagenaud will win a championship soon. P5 in 2012, P3 in 2013, and being in the top-five all season in 2014 shows that Simon can win a championship if a couple things go his way. Another thing that Pagenaud does amazingly well is ovals. Pagenaud, who hails from France and grew up in the European ranks, has adapted to ovals very well. Overall, Simon Pagenaud is an absolute boss.

3) Will Power
      Starts: 136
      Wins: 23
      Podiums: 44
      Championships: 0
      Poles: 35

Will Power - Honda Indy Toronto - Day 2
Photo: Robert Laberge / Getty Images North America

Will Power is easily the best driver in Indycar to have never won a championship. I don't reckon ever seeing a driver as bluntly fast on a road course as Power. He carries so much speed through the corners, and he is so good under breaking. But Power has always been thought of as a one-dimensional driver, only being successful on road courses. That is quickly changing. Power has shown a dramatic increase in skill on ovals, highlighted by a win at Fontana last season. 

The unfortunate part about Will Power is that he is his own worst enemy. He gets into so many incidents and crashes that could be avoided. I would mention some, but there are way too many to name that I wouldn't even no where to start. Will Power is the only thing preventing Will Power from being #1 on this list. I think he's that talented. Maybe with some years, Power can mature a little bit and realize the big picture. He is in a serious position to win the championship this season despite some obstacles. Let's see if he can pull it off.

2) Ryan Hunter-Reay
      Starts: 166
      Wins: 14
      Podiums: 28
      Championships: 1
      Poles: 6

Ryan Hunter-Reay - Raceway on Belle Isle: Day 1
Photo: Robert Laberge / Getty Images North America

No driver has had quite the up-and-down career like Ryan Hunter-Reay. At one point, his career in Indycar seemed to be over. Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing gave RHR a chance to shine in 2007, and in 2008, Hunter-Reay won at Watkins Glen. Michael Andretti saw the potential for greatness, and hired Hunter-Reay in 2010. The rest is history.

Since joining Andretti Autosport, RHR has collected 11 wins, including a superhuman drive on his way to winning the 2014 Indianapolis 500. Ryan also won the 2012 Championship against all odds. He was out of it halfway through the season before winning three straight races leading up to finale, where he gained enough points on Will Power  to capture the title. It seems like every weekend, Ryan is fast. He drives insanely quick on road courses, street courses, and ovals. Ryan also has 5-10 years left to race. He could end up solidifying himself as an Indycar legend here soon! USA-USA-USA!

1) Scott Dixon
      Starts: 235
      Wins: 34
      Podiums: 79
      Championships: 3
      Poles: 23

Scott Dixon - Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
Photo: Chris Trotman / Getty Images North America

There is no driver in Indycar that is better than Scott Dixon. They guy is an absolute legend. His statistics are mind boggling. 34 career Indycar wins puts Dixon tied for 7th on the all-time wins list. The only drivers in front have the last names Foyt, Andretti, and Unser. That is not bad company to be in. Dixon also has three Indycar championships, making him one of 16 drivers who have won three or more championships.

Dixon may not seem like a legend to many people because he is a quiet guy, who wins his races methodically and tactically. That doesn't matter. No driver has schooled other drivers in the last decade quite like Scott Dixon. His forte is the ability to go insanely quick while saving a lot of fuel. This, plus his ability to setup and execute passes is the reason Scott Dixon is the best driver, and one of the greatest drivers (ever), in Indycar.

If you want to know why a driver wasn't included on the list, let me know and I'll explain. If you have a different combination of drivers or think my order is incorrect, let me know! Don't be shy!

-Matthew Hickey

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em

Tobacco is a nasty thing that does terrible things to people. No one can deny that.

But I see a problem with the higher authorities not allowing tobacco companies to sponsor race cars. I know this slightly hinges on political views, but my personal view is the government or ruling bodies should have no business telling us who and who can't sponsor a car.

Again, that hinges on political views. People are going to do what they are going to do. I don't think a cigarette company sponsoring a car is the worlds most inhumane thing. In fact, I see nothing wrong with it. Seeing a KOOL car race on the track has literally no impact on my wanting to smoke a cigarette. Anti-tobacco campaigns are so good and offer such vast amounts of information to the extent that a consumer should be able to make their own decision on if they smoke or not. An advertisement on a racing car shouldn't have an impact on this.

While I see why the rule, which has been adapted by Formula 1, NASCAR, and Indycar around the same time, was implemented, I don't agree with it. Sure, having tobacco exposure to kids and adolescents who are watching the race is a terrible thing, but I don't see the need for it really. It's not like a five year old sees a KOOL car driving by and going, 'Wow, time to smoke up.' That's just not how it works...

Paul Tracy in the KOOL car (Photo credit not given)

And before you all start, yes tobacco sponsored cars do tend to have the best liveries, but that is not what this is about. In this day and age, sponsorship money is hard to come by. Companies like Marlboro, Players, KOOL, and Hollywood shelled mountains of money into racing back in the 1990s and 2000s, fielding drivers that developed and turned into legends. Dario Franchitti, Greg Moore, Paul Tracy, Helio Castroneves, Gil de Ferran, and many, many more Indycar drivers benefited from having money from tobacco companies. When it comes down to it, I'd rather see money coming from these companies rather than it sit idle on the sidelines.

One more frustrating bit is the new wave of tobacco products, eCigs, are not banned to sponsor cars. ble eCigs sponsored Graham Rahal and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing last season, and now Mistic sponsors Sebastien Bourdais and KV Racing this season. So, just so we are clear, cigarettes are BAD, but eCigs are fine. The logic is real.

Graham Rahal's blu eCigs car from Houston last season (Photo: Chris Owens / Indycar Media)

Do you have an opinion on the manner?! Let me know what you think!

-Matthew Hickey