Sunday, August 30, 2009

Some Post Chicago Thoughts

But not many – it’s LATE!

Briscoe seizes the moment…

I mentioned in last week’s post that if Briscoe could get a 53 point play in one of the last three races, he would have a strangle hold on the championship as that would put Dixon 33 points behind. Ryan managed to accomplish that in the first race. The race for the championship is not over but Ryan has staked his claim. If he can keep his car off the wall, Ryan has pretty much forced Scott to win the next two races. I would be more bullish on Dario if at least one of the last two races were on a road or street circuit.

While both Motegi and Homestead are mile and a half they are not the same cookie cutter D shaped tracks as Kan, TX, Chi and KY. Motegi is a more like a larger version of Milwaukee with one end tighter than the other. Homestead is like a longer Milwaukee with higher banking in the corners. So the point is that both are unique to the series and getting the setups right will be a factor in both of these races.

Other teams are getting closer…

Yes the red cars won, but Rahal and Moraes were tight there at the end. It may not happen this year but the Transition teams are closing in on their first oval win in the IRL. Some sponsorship cash for both to fuel improvement and we could have a “big four” soon which would be a welcome sight.

Boy that place looked empty…

The night race might look good on TV but a cool spell and a very late start appeared to kill the attendance. IndyCar really needs to think about pressuring ISC to de- couple the IndyCar race from the nascar season ticket. Even though more tickets may be sold as part of a package, a house that empty is a problem. In large part, that speedway and race exist so many of the Chicago based sponsors can have a home race, but I am not sure those empty seats do much to impress the sponsors.

If in future years that race avoids MotoGP weekend, enough Indianapolis fans and those displaced by the loss of Milwaukee would likely bring a bigger crowd than we saw today. If ISC is worried about gate revenue from the loss of “forced” ticket sales to the nascar faithful then they simply need to up the prices on the cup dates. For the nascar faithful the IndyCar race is like an NFL pre season game – some thing that they don’t want to pay for but are forced to pay for to get the races they actually want. The tickets then become scrap paper for the nascar fans and tedious to obtain for the IndyCar fans that really want to attend the event.

When the race lineup is prettier than the start.

Struck me on more than one occasion that during the race, cars were lining up 2 by 2 formation much better than they actually do to start the race. Perhaps Mr Barnhart can figure out how that happens it and bottle it for the beginnings of races.

Was this a rerun??

I don't mean this next thought to indicate that this evening's race was not enjoyable nor marketable to a viewership audience. Rather read it to mean that I like the variety of racing that comes with oval courses of different shapes and sizes and the road courses and street circuits that deliver a compelling race on a given Sunday...

I may have my head handed to me here by some of my readers, and I hate to go Robin Miller on you, but it strikes me that I have seen this race before. In many ways the race this evening might have well been the Kentucky race from earlier this season. Taking this one step further, it seemed to be a carbon copy of most of the previous Chicago races from years past.

The races at the cookie cutter mile and halfs certainly create close racing and finishes, but sometimes I struggle with the idea that the final finishing order depends on who gets a draft at the right moment or who gets an aero bump from behind. Starts seeming too much like nascar - Drivers in identical cars running flat out hoping to catch a tow. To me races should test the skills of the driver and involve driver skills of shifting and lifting. Of course, races on those types of ovals tend to separate the men from the boys (and yes women from girls) and the racing doesn’t seem so competitive or compelling on TV.

I remember a race from many years ago that involved Paul Tracy and Nigel Mansell at Phoenix. Still today it sits in my memory as the best race I have ever seen. The two traded the lead over and over, not running side by side with one guy edging forward on one part of the track and the other on another part, but actually having lead changes where one guy fell behind and got behind the other only to come back the next lap and take the lead back.

Perhaps I just miss Phoenix, Nazareth and soon to be Milwaukee – bear with me please…

Chris Estrada has a Post on this issue at his site. View Post

Congratulations JR!!!

JR Hildebrand closed out the Firestone Indy Lights championship today with one race to spare. After a bad qualification run and only needing to finish 13th to close the championship, he steadily worked his way through the field showing maturity and avoiding mishap to finish fifth and claim the crown.

As with other Lights champions of years gone by, It seems landing a ride in the big cars next year might be a challenge for JR. Michael and Gary – If you can’t take him on in the IndyCar series next year – give the kid a reward for his work and success – Run a Fifth car at Homestead with the AFS livery. Let JR have the chance to show his prowess to the rest of the paddock and to potential sponsors. In theory, the Atlantics champ is getting a Million dollar prize to take to a ride at the next level – A ride at Homestead would be a great reward for a guy who out classed his competition this year…

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