Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Hump Day Musings

Oh get your minds out of the gutter! It's Wednesday for crying out loud! Here are a few items from the IndyCar world that caught my attention this week.

*BHA and DDR move on from Lotus. The IndyCar community is small, and one thing I am learning is that if a rumor is going around, it is more than likely true. There had been rumblings that a couple of teams were looking to get out of their Lotus engine contract, and Bryan Herta Autosport and Dryer & Reinbold Racing did just that this week. BHA and Alex Tagliani had been dreadful with the Lotus, so much so that they aren't even making the trip to Brazil this week. Frustrations are high and you have to figure that if there are more than 33 cars at Indy next month, it would be a Lotus that would be heading home. Given they are the defending Indy 500 champions, that is a prospect BHA didn't want to face. Lots of other things went into their decision I'm sure, but that had to be in the back of their minds too. As far as DRR is concerned, Oriol Servia's talents are being wasted, so it was a good choice. If either two get into a Chevy for May, watch out.

Lotus carries on now with three cars: Simona de Silvestro at HVM and the Dragon Racing machines of Sebastien Bourdais and Kat Legge.

*What's old is new at Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing. The last time we saw SFHR and Dollar General together (officially) was in Victory Lane at Kentucky last October. The two are pairing up again for the 500 as Dollar General will be on the side of Josef Newgarden's car. It looks to be a one-off deal, but keeping sponsors on the IndyCar radar is a good thing. Dollar General is a really good fit for that team, and of course has a connection with Newgarden, who is a native Tennessean and grew up just a ways down the road from their headquarters.

*Jourdain and Howard find rides. As expected, Michel Jourdain will be driving for Rahal Letterman and it was announced recently that Jay Howard has hooked up with Michael Shank Racing for the month of May. Jourdian made over 150 starts in the IRL and Champ Car from 1996-2004, and finished 13th in his only 500 start in 1996. Howard failed to make the field in 2010 but returned last year and completed 60 laps before losing a tire after a pit stop and making contact with the inside short chute wall.

*Once controversy will be avoided (or postponed) at Indy. IndyCar made a VERY smart decision to delay any engine grid penalties until the team's next event after the 500. So that means anyone that has an engine issue at the Speedway will not serve a grid penalty at the 500, but instead at Belle Isle the next weekend. All teams will get a fresh motor for the race. I think that is a good thing on two levels -- 1) it gets teams all the time they want and need on the track to further develop the car and 2) and most important, it is what is best for the FANS. Indy has the longest practice and qualifying schedules of the year, and for most of us Indy is the pinnacle of the season. People who come to the track want to see the cars, and if the teams were forced to go conservative because of the fear of an engine penalty it would, well, it would suck. If you asked anybody, the guess here is anyone would trade a pole or a win for a grid penalty at Belle Isle.

*It's a race week! The cars and drivers are embarking on a 4,000-plus mile journey to South America for this weeken's race in Sao Paulo, Brazil on an 11-turn, 2.6-mile temporary course. Word is that the buzz for the race is insane, tickets are nearing a sellout and it should be a wild atmosphere as the Brazilians do it up right. Hopefully the weather is better than last year when the cars started the race in a deluge of rain before the event was postponed and completed the next day while dancing around a few more raindrops. Will Power won last year's event and no doubt is the favorite again. However, the guys (and ladies) from Brazil: Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan, Rubens Barrichello and Ana Beatriz (in her first ride of the year for Andretti Autosport) would want nothing more than to win their lone shot at a home game.

I'll have more on Sao Paulo as the week goes along.Then we know what comes next!

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