At the risk of sounding like a member of The Sunshine Squad as we head into Thanksgiving, I did want to take a moment to consider the things that we IndyCar fans have to be thankful for. The IndyCar Series is not a perfect series – far from it. But things could be worse – a lot worse. Here are a few things to remember as we head into this weekend.
Last month, I received an interesting e-mail from longtime reader and commenter, Steve Kormanik (Steve K). Like many of us, Steve is an IndyCar fan – but he is also a football fan of the Ohio State Buckeyes. To many that live in the Midwest, that is probably blasphemous – but since the only meeting between Tennessee and Ohio State I can recall, resulted in a 20-14 Vol victory that featured Peyton Manning against Eddie George – I harbor no resentment toward the Buckeyes. Hiring former Florida coach Urban Meyer did nothing to make me pull for them, but other than that – no hard feelings, but I digress.
This past weekend during the US Grand Prix, Mario Andretti sounded off on a couple of subjects regarding the IndyCar Series. Regardless of your allegiance to Mario in the sixties, he has earned the position over time that whenever he opens his mouth on a subject – you would do well to take note, shut up and listen. You can decide later on whether or not you agree with him, but one would be foolish to not listen to what the man has to say. After all, he is one of the legendary names of all time and at the age of seventy-three – he is still extremely active in the sport. So you can’t write off anything he says by saying he is out of touch.
Now that we’ve had almost a week to digest the significance of Dario Franchitti’s retirement and the effects of his departure on the IndyCar Series, speculation is rampant on who might fill his seat. Chip Ganassi held a press conference last Friday, where he indicated he isn’t ruling out the possibility of moving newly signed Tony Kanaan into the No.10 Target seat vacated by his friend. That would leave the No.8 NTT Data car with a driver to be named.
With all of the talk of Dario Franchitti’s retirement, new qualifying procedures for next year’s Indianapolis 500 and new radio and TV voices for the IndyCar series next season, there is one little tidbit that has flown under the radar that I think needs mentioning. That is that unless Tony Kanaan slides into Dario’s vacated No.10 Target ride, he will pilot the No.8 NTT Data Dallara for Chip Ganassi next season. Most of that is old news except for the car number – No.8.
Shortly after it was apparent that Dario Franchitti had survived the frightening crash we all witnessed during the Grand Prix of Houston; speculation began as to whether or not Franchitti would resume his legendary driving career next spring. Those close to the situation were surmising that he would probably retire. The general feeling was that he had attained every possible goal anyone could have in racing. He was over forty and common sense said the crash had spooked him enough that he would step away.
Ever since IZOD confirmed their long-suspected departure as title sponsor of the IndyCar Series, the general consensus has been that there would be no title sponsor for the series for next season and possibly longer. That’s why I was surprised to hear Mark Miles say that the series may be receiving a “Christmas present” in the way of a title sponsor very soon. Really?