Feature: June Fab 5
Topic 1: 1. Honda has been the subject of many discussions ranging from implementing Rule 9.3 which would allow IndyCar to step in and allow Honda to make major changes to their aero-kits because of it being non-competitive, to Honda leaving the Series because they want a one year extension and IndyCar wants a 3 year extension. What do you make of all of this?
TonyD: I don’t blame Honda for not wanting more than a one year contract. Some rules have to be changed to level the playing field. Honda has only had chances in fuel mileage races involving the rain as they have seen. It’ll be interesting to see how far off they are in Fontana.
Ashley: The Series needs to have Honda in the mix. It would be even better to have three manufacturers in the future. I think that Honda & Chevy alike should get to continue to test their aero kits and setups with wind tunnel tests, etc. (granted, it is tough to do that with the condensed schedule).
Tomas: It’s a tough situation. Honda is obviously not confident where the Series is and does not have confidence what their plans are. They don’t want to commit 3 years when they get no benefit from it. Also, to change the rules to make Honda competitive does not make sense, what’s the point of having rules?
Nancy: IndyCar can’t afford to lose Honda, I believe they should give a one year extension. I do however think Honda dropped the ball with their aero kit, they had an advantage being with the series longer and did not do the right amount of testing and weren’t ready at the start of the season.
Rick: This is an interesting situation. IndyCar has painted a pretty deep corner here. If they allow Honda to make changes, it won’t look good. However, if they don’t they could potentially lose a manufacturer which won’t be good either. Could be exciting.
Topic 2: 2. The championship battle has narrowed to four drivers with Juan Pablo leading the way, followed by Will Power, Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves. With just 6 races left, is it JPM’s to lose or will one of the other three outperform him and take the championship? Who do you think pulls out the championship?
Tony: Dixon seems to come alive at this time. We know he will be good at Fontana and Mid Ohio. JPM could struggle down the stretch, but unlikely he loses the championship.
Ashley: There is no doubt about it that JPM is doing very well this season. I think he will continue to be a top contender in the remaining races, but I still think there is room for things to change with six races left. Dixon has been hot this season, so I wouldn’t count him out yet.
Nancy: I think Juan Montoya will pull it off. Juan is a great driver and I think if we are going international this may bring more fans to the series!
Tomas: I go with Dixon. He is rock solid, knows how to win and does not get effected by pressure.
Rick: So three Penske and a Ganassi driver. OK, I think it is JPM’s to lose, so I will go with him.
Topic 3: There are only 6 races left and we are still in June. It seems like the season just started, and yet it’s almost done. The GP of Boston has been announced as a new venue and the season ending race on Labor Day weekend. How does the Series stay relevant ending this year in August? Do you think there will be more races next season and will the season start in February?
TonyD: They need to expand the series. Sponsors really don’t get much out of running only 6 months of the year. Boston will be a good addition and hopefully a few more races can be added. I hope Toronto moves back to it’s regular weekend and becomes a dual race as it’s been in the past. The schedule honestly is very poor this year. Milwaukee starts at 530 EST on a Sunday evening. The core fans living in the midwest, especially around Indy, wouldn’t leave Milwaukee until almost 9 pm, then you lose an hour and have to get around Chicago. Fontana next week starts at 1:30 local on a Saturday. Fontana should be ran at night, starting at about 6:30 local time, 9:30 EST. It’ll be upward of 130 degrees track temp at the start of the race. Hopefully the season starts at Dubai in Feb.
Ashley: A lot can happen in six races. Although, I do wish the season wasn’t ending so early. The crew members deserve to have more of a season than that, as I have heard from a few people that there are concerns over job security once the season is done. Those guys and girls are busting their butts with the condensed schedule, just to have it end so early in the year. I am hopeful that next season will start in February and having the season pushed back to Labor Day weekend would definitely help things a bit.
Nancy: The series won’t stay relevant in the off season until they start marketing themselves, including going to indoor races and having schedules ready before the start. Drivers go to indoor races to watch why not use them to sign autographs and meet and greets.
Tomas: The season needs to be longer for everyone: mechanics, drivers and fans.
Rick: It doesn’t. I’m not sure it has been relevant for awhile. Outside of the 500, few people even realize there is a series here. The schedule does nothing to help this. I hope there will be races earlier in the year, but I am not going to hold my breathe.
Topic 4:Indy Lights has a new car this year and has put together some impressive performances. Jack Harvey, Spencer Pigot and Ed Jones are vying for the championship. What are your thoughts on the new car and which one of these young guns has been most impressive so far this season?
TonyD:I like the car and its been racy, yet safe as we saw with RC Enerson’s wreck at Toronto. It’s cool to watch these young guns battle it out, knowing a championship will equal an Indy Car ride for 2015. I like Jack Harvey to win the title.
Ashley:I have really enjoyed seeing the new Indy Lights car this season. It has also been nice to see a few more cars in the mix and I hope their numbers continue to grow in the next couple seasons. What would be awesome to see is a couple of IndyCar drivers continuing to do one-off races in the new Indy Lights car. I have always been impressed with Spencer Pigot’s driving ability, so my bets are on him for the championship this season.
Nancy: I really like Spencer Pigot and think he will do well in any series he races. As far as the car it reminds me of the older style IndyCar.
Tomas:I don’t know as I have not been able to watch Indy Lights.
Rick:The new car has shown itself well. There are some talented drivers as well. I really like Spencer Pigot, but it is hard to go wrong on any of the three for the Lights Championship. I would hope the winner gets some opportunity at the next level, but again the chances seem dim.
Topic 5:Will Texas be back on the 2016 schedule and if so, do the rules need to be tweaked? Many fans on social media thought it was a snoozer with only 5 cars finishing on the lead lap. Marco, who finished 5th, made 1 less pit stop and was almost lapped by Dixon at the end. Pack racing is not the answer but if the Indy 500 can be so competitive, why can’t Texas?
TonyD:Texas has been the only race it seems to lack excitement since the new car started in 2012. Not sure what can be done, but the crowds were again down.
Ashley: I hope Texas is back on the 2016 schedule. We keep adding road course races to the schedule, but it would also be nice to add a couple more ovals in addition to the ones we currently have. I don’t think Texas was a snoozer in the least bit. In my opinion, that’s what makes racing fun. Indycars are fast cars and Texas is a place that truly shows that. Just because there weren’t many cars that finished on the lead lap, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t a competitive race. It just showed that the teams and drivers that were well prepared with good cars, did well. You can’t watch those guys and girls go that fast around that track and not respect what they do!
Nancy: Texas will be back. I think the banking at Texas has a lot to do with the racing, once the teams figure out the aero kits the racing will get better.
Tomas: It was a freak race with no yellows. I only watched the last half of the race and leaders like Dixon that got it right, that’s what you get. Pack racing was fun, it was dangerous, but it was fun! Danger and fun is what brings in the crowds. Maybe they could spread it out a bit, but not leader lapping 5th position.
Rick: I think Texas will be on the schedule, but I don’t see there being any major changes. Some folks found the setup, others didn’t. Not sure how that is the fault of the track, promoter or the fans. It may be hard to draw much of a crowd next year. Perhaps the testing that was done earlier in the year got everyone all confused. Perhaps we needed a little more time between races to get things put together. In any event, it appears to have been an egg laid from the perspective of the fans.