Mid-Ohio Preview

Posted in IndyCar on August 1, 2014 by Oilpressure

After a well-earned one week sabbatical, the Verizon IndyCar Series returns to action this weekend – this time at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course near Lexington, Ohio. One of the many things I like about this series is the variety of tracks the series runs on. Two weeks ago, the series was on a temporary street circuit in Toronto, surrounded by concrete barriers on both sides. This weekend, there will be a lot more room for error as the IndyCars will be on a natural terrain road course with plenty of run-off areas.

If you are a road course purist, you love Mid-Ohio. I’ve never been there, but from what I hear; it’s like a trip to Wrigley Field or Fenway Park. Supposedly, it’s like taking a step back into time. If you want all of the amenities found in the corporate suites at most sporting venues – Mid-Ohio is probably not your kind of place. You probably won’t find Club Level seating serving Chardonnay and Lobster Rolls as you watch racing on several HD Jumbotrons. What you will find is ample room for camping and a multitude of open seating areas for folding chairs that offer outstanding sight lines – and the ability to move around as you wish.

In terms of age, there are several tracks that are older than Mid-Ohio. Milwaukee and Indianapolis are both more than twice the age of Mid-Ohio. Road America has been around a decade longer. But Mid-Ohio is the one that has maintained the quaintness and feel of an intimate facility from yesteryear. With my love of everything that is traditional, something tells me I would love the setting at Mid-Ohio. From the small grandstands to the starting line on the backstretch and the finish line on the front-stretch; this place oozes with uniqueness.

As far as the actual racing goes, I’ll be honest – lately, it hasn’t been that great. It may look spectacular in person, but it doesn’t always translate well to TV. The last two races have been run under green flag conditions, flag-to-flag. Last year’s race distance was scheduled with five additional laps, to try and avoid the dreaded fuel-mileage race. Still, most teams tried to make it in two stops. Charlie Kimball was on a three-stop strategy that worked to perfection, leading to his first and only IndyCar win, to date.

Since the IndyCar Series started running there in 2007, this has pretty much been the playground for Chip Ganassi Racing. Since then, a Ganassi driver has failed to win only once – in 2008, when Ryan Briscoe won for Team Penske. Other than that win, Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti and Charlie Kimball have all scored wins for Ganassi, with Scott Dixon picking up four of those wins. Current drivers with Mid-Ohio wins from the CART days are Team Penske drivers Juan Montoya and Helio Castroneves.

This season’s championship is shaping up to be a strange one. It’s almost as if no one really wants it. Whoever wins it, I think they will essentially back into it instead of taking it. Each contender seems to have his flaws this season. Helio Castroneves has been the most consistent over the course of the season and probably deserves to be leading at this point. Will Power has been erratic, but not as much as Ryan Hunter-Reay in third. Simon Pagenaud has had some good races with a couple of wins, but has mixed in a couple of clunkers as well. Power, Hunter-Reay and Pagenaud are all within seventy-one points of Castroneves. Currently, I consider them the only championship contenders. Right now, Montoya is over one-hundred points behind with four races remaining. He is not mathematically out of it, but I’d consider him a longshot at this point.

The only two teams that are currently running in the Verizon IndyCar Series that have won at Mid-Ohio are Chip Ganassi Racing and Team Penske. Will Ganassi continue his dominance at Mid-Ohio, even though his team has yet to win this season? Will Team Penske strengthen their lead in the championship with a winning performance? Maybe a new team will break through and get their first win at Mid-Ohio.

The smart money would be on Scott Dixon to win this race. He’s won two of the last three and four of the last seven. Two other Ganassi drivers have wins there – Ryan Briscoe in 2008 (with Penske) and last year’s winner, Charlie Kimball. The only Ganassi driver to not win at Mid-Ohio is Tony Kanaan. Conversely, Will Power is the only Penske driver to never win there.

Who is my pick to win this weekend? Simon Pagenaud; which would really tighten up this championship. We’ll see.

George Phillips

Getting The Facts Straight

Posted in IndyCar on July 30, 2014 by Oilpressure

For the entire time I have had this site, I’ve always maintained that I am not a journalist. There’s a reason for that. I’m not. I am a blogger, in probably the truest sense of the word. My definition of a blogger is someone who feels like they have a lot to say about a particular subject; so they go out and start their own website and post regularly about the subject for little or no money (for me, it’s the latter). That’s what I do – nothing more.

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About That New IMS Scoring Pylon…

Posted in IndyCar on July 25, 2014 by Oilpressure

For many years, make that decades; I’ve been going to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway – since 1965, to be exact. In that near half-century, I’ve witnessed a lot of changes. The first race I attended there still had some roadsters powered by Offenhausers and Novis. There were no Turn Two Suites and not near as many stands in the north-end as there are now. Infield parking was allowed in all four turns and the Snake Pit was not a corporate sponsored organized party event. It just spontaneously erupted each year inside Turn one.

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Should Double-Headers Stay Or Go?

Posted in IndyCar on July 23, 2014 by Oilpressure

The Verizon IndyCar Series just held their final double-header weekend of the season, with the Honda Indy Toronto. That’s now six in the past two seasons. After last season, I think most would agree that the jury was still out on the double-header concept but there seemed to be some optimism surrounding the idea of running two complete races in two days at a few events. After two full seasons of double-headers, I would say that the optimism from a year ago has waned.

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Random Thoughts On Toronto

Posted in IndyCar on July 21, 2014 by Oilpressure

Quite honestly, I’m not sure where to begin. But if you’re smart, you’ll fill up your coffee cup before you begin reading. This may take a while.

If I had to sum up the Honda Indy Toronto this past weekend in one word, it would be – “exhausting”. It had to be exhausting for the teams and crewmembers. I’m sure it was exhausting for the drivers. I’m also quite certain that those brave and devoted fans that sat out in rain are exhausted this morning. It was even exhausting for those of us at home that had the luxury to come and go at our leisure.

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Toronto Preview

Posted in IndyCar on July 18, 2014 by Oilpressure

Before discussing the upcoming double-header at Toronto this weekend, I would like to acknowledge the loss within the IndyCar community this week. Famed broadcaster Gary Lee passed away Monday at the age of 63. Gary was a regular on the old Saturday Night Thunder USAC shows on ESPN in the late eighties and early nineties. I most remember him for his melodious voice and how he used that voice to make some very memorable calls on the IMS Radio Network from Turn Two during the Indianapolis 500. I would like to send my condolences to the friends and family of Gary Lee.

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A Very Special Day

Posted in IndyCar on July 16, 2014 by Oilpressure

When the 1964 Indianapolis 500 was held, I was five years old. No one in my family had ever been to the race before, but my father had always been fascinated by it. He considered a five year-old much too young to take to a race. So he left me with my mother, while he took my two older brothers. I was not pleased.

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