Some Much-Needed New Year’s Resolutions
As we head into the New Year this weekend, many of us are thinking about New Year’s resolutions. Of course, the ones I’m thinking of don’t apply to me. Instead, they apply to many in the Izod IndyCar Series that need to turn over a few new leaves. So, in no particular order, here are some resolutions that need to be tackled by some in the IndyCar community…
AJ Foyt: While I grew up a huge Foyt fan, the man needs to make a couple of promises to himself. After promising to push away from the Bluebell Ice Cream, he needs to push away from some of the day-to-day running of his team. His son, Larry Foyt, is much better equipped to decide what is best for the struggling team. Let AJ maintain his presence on race day at most races. Then turn the reins over to him in the Month of May. The man still knows a thing or two about setting up a car to find the quick way around the Speedway. If Foyt could learn to stop meddling with the team and let Larry do his job, I think their race results would improve significantly.
Dan Wheldon & Panther Racing: I think that the poor results for Panther in 2009 were the fault of both sides. I think Wheldon over-estimated the capabilities of the underfunded team when he joined them a year ago. When it became apparent that they weren’t at the level of his two previous teams, AGR and Ganassi – he seemed to pout and give up. There was plenty of blame on Panther’s side as well. They appeared lost on some tracks as they seemed to chase the setup all weekend. When Wheldon would perform on the track, the team would fumble away track position in the pits. By late July, the only question was which team Wheldon would be moving to for 2010.
Now that they are back together by default, they need to figure out how to coexist and make it happen on the track. Both sides need to make an effort to bring better chemistry on a weekly basis.
Tomas Scheckter: The 2009 season began with Tomas Scheckter on the sidelines. He at first thought that he had the second seat nailed down at Team-3G. Mercifully, that fell through. It wasn’t until the Indianapolis 500 that he secured a ride with Dale Coyne’s second car with sponsorship from Mona-Vie. After Indy, he took the Mona-Vie sponsorship to Dreyer & Reinbold where he ran in selected races for that team.
As we approach January, Scheckter still has nothing secured for 2010. This is a driver who needs to be in a competitive ride in every race this season. There is no questioning his speed, talent and bravado. There does, however, seem to be a disconnect with Scheckter that seems to make teams steer clear of him. He has torn up his share of cars and drive shafts, but he seemed to be easier on his equipment this year. He also seemed to have mediocre finishes for the first time in his career. It could be that there was no week-to-week consistency or that the motivation simply wasn’t there since he didn’t drive until Indy.
Whatever the reason, Scheckter needs to get busy and put something together before the season starts – not only for the fan’s sake, but also for his career’s.
Tony Kanaan: Although some of Tony Kanaan’s woes in 2009 were beyond his control, a few were self-inflicted. His crew set him on fire more than once and a toe-link broke at Indianapolis, sending into a frightening shunt into the wall. He and his Andretti Autosport team both need to focus more on the job at hand in 2010 in order to improve the team’s finishes. I think that for the past few years, Kanaan has been devoting more time to mentoring his teammates than worrying about his own career. It’s now time for Kanaan to become selfish and focus more on the 7-Eleven car and less on Danica and Marco.
Marco Andretti: Another Andretti Autosport team-member needs to improve in a couple of different areas in order to have a successful 2010 campaign. Like Kanaan, Marco Andretti needs to improve his focus on the job in front of him. It no longer seems that his name is being mentioned for the USF1 seat, so that distraction has been removed. With a four-year commitment from Venom Energy Drink, Marco has run out of excuses. He has the talent, now he needs to show that he has the maturity and the focus to not only perform on the track, but also become more of a team player.
Jeff Belskus: With all due respect to Jeff Belskus and his ability to streamline the budget at IMS, his interpersonal skills seem to be lacking. As much as one of his predecessors, Joie Chitwood, seemed to love the spotlight; Jeff Belskus seems to abhor it. That’s OK, because not everyone is comfortable behind a microphone and in front of a camera. But Jeff Belskus should make a resolution to find someone who is, and make them the "face” of the Speedway and the league. With Belskus’s current reluctance to make himself public, the Speedway is suffering from the perception that there is no voice for the public to hear from, on important matters as they relate to the Speedway and the league.
Dreyer & Reinbold: After selling their rides to the highest bidder with Milka Duno and Tomas Scheckter, along with John Andretti and Davey Hamilton at Indy; it’s time for this team to get serious. Mike Conway stumbled through the first half of the season and was quite familiar with the wall, as well as the Delphi Safety Crew, by mid-season. However, he seemed to improve greatly in the second half of his rookie season. Hopefully, he can carry that momentum through 2010 and get a permanent teammate who is there to race, instead of bringing a check to help pay bills.
Team 3G: Where do I begin? Perhaps they should just take a page from the George Costanza playbook and make a resolution to do the complete opposite of what they did in 2009. The results are bound to be better.
KV Racing Technology: Do what it takes to find the necessary funding to get Paul Tracy in a ride for the full season. Yes, PT is a little overweight and probably past his prime. But he still adds a ton of excitement both on and off the track, and his presence is good for the series.
Rahal-Letterman Racing: Ditto for this once-proud team to find funding for a full-time ride for Oriol Servia. They seemed to gel pretty nicely at Indy last year. He is a talented driver who deserves to be in the series and RLR needs to get back to full-time status this year or I think you can kiss them goodbye for good.
I’m sure there are more, but these are just a few people/teams that need to take some needed steps in order to have an improved 2010. Some will and some won’t, but that’s why we keep following this sport – to see who steps up and who doesn’t.
* – Please note: There will be no blog this Friday Jan 1. I will be in Atlanta cheering on my Tennessee Volunteers in the Chik-Fil-A bowl on New Year’s Eve night. I hope everyone has a safe New Year’s celebration and a prosperous 2010. I’ll return here on Monday Jan 4.
Happy New Year!