Saturday, June 30, 2012

Weekend Five

I'm feeling a bit empty inside knowing that there won't be a race this weekend. It doesn't take long to make something into a habit, and I had quickly gotten into one which entailed starting to get amped up somewhere around noon on Friday for a little racing.

So with no racing this weekend, I figured I'd share a few things that were on my mind this week, in no certain order.

*Push to pass is back! The announcement came down that push to pass will be in play for the road/street portion of the remainder of the season, which is five of the final six races. I don't get this, I really don't. First, most of the fanbase hates it and second, given the racing we have seen so far this year, it's not even necessary. Are they not sure of the quality of the racing at the rest of the venues? If someone can make sense of this please let me know.

*No 16th race. I know, I covered this a couple of days ago, but this time I want to talk about the total lack of communication that existed between IndyCar and the tracks. When the series announced Monday they wouldn't be filling China's spot, a couple of venues came back to say that they had been in talks with IndyCar all the way up to that point and the decision to scrap a 16th race is news to them.

Why does this keep happening? The series continues to create bad blood and makes itself look bad by failing to disclose its plans to everyone involved. I mean, how hard would it have been to get everyone on a conference call and say "look, we think it's in everyone's best interests to not put together a rushed event, but we'd love to start talking about 2013".

Given the interest of several tracks, people are seeing the show that IndyCar is putting on and they want in on it. And that's great! But for now the series is begging for attention, and it's best to keep friends and not piss anyone off.

*Marco Andretti. I've been thinking about the subject of Marco all week long. It's obvious that he is not keeping up with his teammates this year, and the saying "if you aren't part of the solution you are part of the problem" is creeping into my mind. In short, it's time to start growing up. I don't know if he is bending under the pressure of driving for his dad or is upset that two teammates are in the top 5 in points and he has one top-10 finish on the season, but he is 109 races into his IndyCar career and things aren't getting better.

I thought Ryan Hunter-Reay was gracious in deflecting credit to Marco's setup helping him the race, which is what true pros do. I firmly believe RHR and James Hinchcliffe buy into the "if one shines we all shine" philosophy, but Marco, I'm not so sure. He hollers on the radio if his car isn't perfect, he hollers when his teammates race him hard, and he just has a major issue with his attitude.

No doubt he is disappointed with how the season is going, but his performance has been less than stellar since winning Iowa a year ago. At some point he has to do some soul searching because family is family, and business is business. As Hinchcliffe has proven, there are a lot of capable drivers just itching for a good seat, people who could take that equipment and put it in the top 10 most every weekend.

His worst attribute on the track is his complete lack of patience. When things don't go his way, he goes off the deep end. Some drivers can make the most out of bad situations, he cannot. You can blame a lot of it on bad luck, and he has had his moments, but lots of other guys have too. At some point you have to produce, and he isn't doing it. And yes, a lot of it is his own fault.

*Dario Franchitti is up for an ESPY Award in the Best Driver category, joining fellow nominees Tony Stewart, Sebastan Vettel and drag racer Del Worsham. Look for Stewart to win the popularity contest (ahem, sorry, award) as a Cup driver has taken home the hardware every year since 2006. Jimmy Vasser was the last IndyCar driver to win the award in 1997.

Based on his 2011 championship (his third in a row, by the way) and 2012 Indy 500 win, Franchitti is a good choice. However, if you had to pick the best driver in the series, RIGHT NOW, who would it be?

In my mind, it's Scott Dixon.

I posted that same question on Twitter during the Texas race (prior to his crash...ouch) and the the few responses I did receive pretty much agreed with that sentiment. I know I am more and more on his bandwagon, but I feel like it is deserved.

Put it this way: how many drivers walk into the paddock each weekend as a threat to win? Sure, there are lots of guys that COULD win if all went right, but how many run at or near the front week in and week out?

Will Power? He just finished proving that ovals are his kryptonite.

Dario Franchitti? If this list had been put together four months ago, he'd be on it.

James Hinchcliffe? He runs up front but he's never won, so...

Helio Castroneves? He's been the most consistent, but in some races he hasn't been a factor.

Ryan Hunter-Reay? As hot as RHR has been, I could maybe write this post about him in another month if he keeps it up.

Truth is, right here, right now, Dixon is the lone driver I could put on a "he's got a chance to win" list every single weekend. Again, that's a fluid list and it might change between now and the end of the year, but a win, a pole, four podiums, five top five finishes and 405 laps led is about the only argument that needs to be made. Right?

*Six races to go, and the points are tight. Power sits in the lead with 286 points, but the top 5 is separated by just 30. Meaning, one race can shake the standings up immensely. All of the drivers have had at least one "mulligan" of one bad race so from here on out there will be little room for error.

Power made it through the oval portion of the schedule and was able to hold serve, so of course he is the favorite to win his first championship. But it wouldn't surprise me to see four or five drivers still in it when we get to Fontana in September.

What might make things interesting is that there will be a few wildcards in play over the next few races that weren't there the first time around the twisties. Oriol Servia, Alex Tagliani and Sebastien Bourdais are three guys who were saddled with the Lotus the first time around, and in the quick break in the oval schedule for Belle Isle, both Servia and Tags were outstanding. Servia placed fifth while Tags qualified third and even after suffering a mechanical issue when the race started moved up to 10th by the end of the shortened event.

It's safe to say that while the fact there are only six races left in the season is a total bummer, it should be a pretty good show from here on out.

1 comment:

  1. D.J. Jordan (@djordan3223July 1, 2012 at 12:59 AM

    Marco's biggest problem is patience. He runs too hard on fresh tires and then has issues with them before the pit window opens up. I am not necessarily a Marco fan, but I do think he is a very talented driver. Once he learns how to take care of his tires will be the day he starts actually contended for wins. Whether you like him or not, if he contends for wins & championships will help the series grow.