April: Fab 5
Topic 1: 1. Team Penske has started the season off strong. Dixon wins at Long Beach which puts Penske 1-2 in points and TCGR 3-4 in points. Is this what IndyCar fans can expect all season or is there another driver/team that can spoil their party??
TonyD: I think the championship will come down to Penske vs. Ganassi. TK has been rather impressive and so has Helio. Obviously Montoya and Dixon, with wins are contenders to win every weekend and contend for the title. It is so tight at the top, that one bad weekend, like Will Power had at Long Beach, will put you way behind the 8 ball trying to catch up. I think other teams and drivers will contend for wins, but Penske or Ganassi for the title.
Ashley: I am hoping we will see a variety of winners this season. There is no doubt about it that Penske & Ganassi are off to a strong start, but three different winners in the first three races is also nice to see! I think we will see multiple teams with strong showings. Josef and CFH Racing being as quick as they were at Long Beach is a great start. Carpenter will also be quick once we get going on ovals, especially at Indy.
Tomas: I think you are seeing where teams belong and Penske and Ganassi belong up front.
Nancy: I really hope it’s not the same team/driver winning most races. I would like to see some of the underdogs like Josef Newgarden win and this could happen, as he seems to be stronger every year. The spoiler may be CFH Racing.
Rick: I think you can expect the Penske and Ganassi teams to be in contention for the Championship all season. I do not see another team stepping up and making a serious challenge to either this season. There will be other teams that will win a race here and there, but these are the two teams that will be in the hunt all season.
Topic 2: The big news before the season started was the Honda/Chevy aero-kits. Chevy’s kit has been much better so far and track records are falling at each venue. Can Honda catch up and how do you see this playing out?
TonyD: I think Honda will catch up. It will be fun to see the speeds at Indy in May. I think Honda will be contenders, they have to be! I hope to see the pole speed approach 235 for Pole Day.
Ashley: I feel teams on both sides still have a lot they can learn and play with when it comes to the aero kits. I think Honda got behind the eight ball by changing their aero kit at the last minute, which has made it difficult for all of their parts to be produced quickly. It will be interesting to see how things play out on ovals.
Nancy: Honda should have been better prepared and the fact that they weren’t is disappointing. I think it will take Honda a bit to catch up but once they do watch out.
Tomas: It depends on the road course and ovals. So far there have only been road courses but we know that Indy is what’s important.
Rick: It is disappointing that Honda has started so far behind the curve. I am surprised. I really thought they would be performing better than we have seen so far. Let’s see how they run on the ovals.
Topic 3: Is Dale Coyne serious about winning? Dracone’s deal is for four races but the guy is several seconds behind the next slowest driver. It was great to see Conor Daly get to drive but that was only after Moran, a guy everyone had forgotten, was supposed to race at Long Beach. What is going on at DCR?
TonyD: Moran should have never been in that car. I have no clue what Dale Coyne was thinking or has been thinking. I get having Dracone in the car for the first 4 races, to pay for the aero kit for that car, but he needs to have Conor in the next 2 races at Alabama and GP of Indy. I am sure he will have another ride buyer to go along with Pippa for Indy, but Daly needs to be in that ride for every race outside of the Indy 500. I think Conor lands at a bigger team for the 500.
Ashley: It all comes down to money – whoever can bring it will get a ride. Anyone in the field wants to win. It was great to see Conor get some seat time since he had all of his gear ready to go at the track and show what he is capable of. He was the second fastest Honda at Long Beach and proved that he was able to hang with the pack. I think had he started farther up, he would have put on an even better show.
Nancy: In my opinion DCR might as well hang out a sign or put something out on eBay, ride to the highest bidder. I don’t know how any sponsor can take a team serious with Dracone and someone new every other week. Dracone doesn’t only drive bad but then gets very defensive with the fans. Dracone is a backmarker and could cause a serious wreck. I would park him because no amount of money is worth putting another driver’s life in danger.
Tomas: I’m not sure what is happening at Dale Coyne. He might be in a position where he has to take drivers with money and can not pick drivers like he did in the past. Dale always one way or another ends up figuring it out.
Rick: Not sure why we are so excited about what is happening at Coyne. Justin Wilson is a very talented and capable driver. Not sure if the lack of success is the fault of the team, the car, or something else. We will see how he performs in someone else’s car. But this is nothing new, and Coyne is not alone in this conversation.
Topic 4:Ed Jones of Carlin Racing has won the first three races in Indy Lights. The new car seems to have generated energy and excitement. What are your thoughts on the new car and can anyone challenge Ed for the championship?
TonyD: I think Jack Harvey will contend as well as Pigot. Carlin Racing is very professional and has a great resume in other series. I fully expect them to be in IndyCar in 2 years.
Ashley:Carlin Racing entered the series with the best of the best (both people & equipment) and showed that they are ready to win. However, Spencer Pigot is a beast, so I also have my bets on him & Juncos Racing for the season!
Nancy: I think Jack Harvey is a good pick and there are still many races to go. I think that Anderson Promotions has done a great job with the new car, it kind of reminds me of the old IndyCar. I think the excitement comes from being new cars, teams and drivers, hopefully this starts a trend of teams in IndyLights looking to expand to IndyCar.
Tomas:I never knew Carlin Motorsport was in Indy lights. If it’s the same Carlin that was in Europe I would say the championship is over with. Carlin is a professional team with good people that do it right. This is a team that could compete in the Indycar Series.
Rick: I think there will be plenty of challenges to Jones. Pigot showed well at Barber. I really expected Blackstock to be running better than what we have seen so far and expect they will get things together before the end of the season. The new car looks great and races fine. I am not sure what you mean about energy and excitement as the crowds for the Lights races have not appreciably changed.
Topic 5: It appears that there will be at least 34 drivers going for 33 spots at the Indy 500 this year. It’s been several years since we have had a real bump day. What do you think of the added intrigue and what are your initial thoughts on which driver/team could be bumped?
TonyD: I would rather not have a bump, then just have one. I want to see 3-4 bumps, make it exciting, but if the driver in 34th is 5 mph off the pace, that won’t be fun or lead to any drama. Plus, the Fast 6 wraps up qualifying that Sunday afternoon at 3pm I believe.
Ashley: Having a real bump day is always a good thing! That is exactly how it should be at Indy. As for who will get bumped? It is hard to say, but I’m going to go with one of the Coyne drivers.
Nancy: Dale Coyne Racing, “whomever is the ride buyer of the week” will be bumped. If they make the field and a surprise is bumped, it will be interesting to see if that driver will still get bumped due to a team buying that ride for someone else. That’s a rule I wish would change: you get bumped your bumped.
Tomas: No driver wants to be bumped and the pressure is intense. It creates great drama for the fans and it’s what makes Indy special.
Rick: Having some drama on Bump Day is always good for business. Let’s just hope there is true drama and not manufactured excitement.