Fab 5: May part 1
Topic 1: Honda it still behind Chevy, even after IndyCar allowed changes in the offseason. Does Chevy have more driver talent, engineer talent, etc.? What gives?
TonyD:Can’t speak on the talent, obviously Chevy does have the top two teams in the series. I’m looking forward to seeing the new engines for Honda coming up at the Angie’s List Grand Prix.
Ashley:I just wonder if Honda teams are receiving as much support from Honda as the Chevy teams are from Chevy. Graham has been strong so far this season and A.J. Foyt drivers had a strong showing in various sessions at Barber. I don’t think it’s a question of the level of talent, so something else must be going on.
Nancy: I think Honda originally underestimated Chevy and how the aerokits work with their package, now it is hard to play catch up. It seems like the engineering side doesn’t know how to fix this issue.
Rick: Chevy may have had a leg up on the amount of testing that was done in the off season. It looks like more money was spent on the Chevy development, but otherwise I have no idea. I really doubt the gap is that great between driver talent, engineering, etc.
Topic 2: The first 4 races this year have been rather mundane. IndyCar
marketed itself as having the best racing in the world but aerokits have caused a big divide. Do you see IndyCar going back to a spec series? Fans won’t put up with Honda drivers/teams not having a chance to win. In maybe
the most important year of IndyCar when they needed to hit a home run, they have laid an egg on track. How do you assess the season so far?
Tony: The season has been ok, so I guess that answer tells you. Long Beach was a dud, as was St Pete. I enjoyed the racing at Barber and would love to see a 2nd race there during the season. I think the aero kits are causing plenty of problems. I could see them going back to the normal DW 12 with the aero kits.
Ashley: It was great to see such a close finish at the end of the Barber race, especially seeing Chevy v. Honda. I think the racing is still exciting, but I do think the downforce levels have taken away from the racing a bit. The month of May will tell a lot. There is a lot of hype around the 100th running and I am still anxious to see how the two manufacturers will stack up against each other at that track.
Nancy: I don’t think the excitement is quite there yet, the Indy 500 should be the turning point. I don’t think anyone is a fan of spec racing so I would like to see cars that teams can open the engines and work on them. That seems to be why so many are watching and going to SVRA events because they want to go back to a time when they could work and develop their own engines etc. I have said this before fans want to say “did you hear that” as a car goes by, or ” what was that” …
Rick: This is racing! If you are expecting that there is a puppet master somewhere keeping things close and even, then watch NASCAR. There may not have been a last lap, wheel to wheel battle for the win at each race, but to call them mundane is like calling the Sistine Chapel another church. While these races may not have been instant classics, it was not that bad. There are things that need to be worked on, the aerokits being one of several, but even among the Chevy teams it was still interesting. I think the season has been interesting, engaging. Nothing so amazing that we are all going to be discussing the implications for years to come, but my expectations were a little more realistic. When men strap themselves into machines that are built for speed and handling, I am not sure how we can really call that mundane.
Topic 3: It has now been confirmed that the GP of Boston has been cancelled and removed from this year’s schedule. This brings back bad memories like Baltimore and Brasilia. It seems that IndyCar puts the cart before the horse and pushes these events through before knowing if they can actually occur. What is your take on this development?
TonyD: It’s unfortunate that this happened. Not sure the exact details as I love having a new race on the schedule, but can’t announce anything until it’s locked in stone. Hopefully this allows Gateway or Milwaukee to have a race!
Ashley: It’s definitely unfortunate to see Boston fall through. I know there was a lot of speculation from the beginning as to whether it would happen, but I think most of that was just negative press by the local media. While it does make the series look bad overall, it doesn’t seem to be IndyCar’s fault that it fell through. I do still think IndyCar could announce each season’s schedule earlier in the year, which would leave more time to work some kinks out.
Nancy: The warning signs were there from the get go and like usual no one wanted to plan for this. Not getting on the phone with tracks is stupid! I would’ve been on the phone discussing this and trying to rent Milwaukee if still up or even trying to get Louden interested. This shows the unprofessionalism of a series for the third time. When I was part of the fan club, I always tried to get us to do a five year, one year plan, where we want to be, what we need to do to accomplish the goal. I also wanted meetings of “whats working, whats not, what could’ve worked etc… it always fell on deaf ears. My main goal was always wanting a PLAN B, for rainouts if we were doing something with fans, never happened. They never have a Plan B for anything.
Rick: Again, I am shocked that anyone is shocked. This is, and has been status quo for years now. Business as usual. There needs to be a second race at Iowa or somewhere and we call it even.
Topic 4:It’s great to see a more robust Indy Lights field this year. The top 9 positions are separated by 38 points so it’s really anyone’s championship. What excites you about the Mazda Road to Indy and who are you picking for the Indy Lights championship?
TonyD:Tough to say. Not sure people have the attention span to watch Lights races anymore, most of these kids don’t graduate into Indy Car and have success. Some do, but most become mediocre IndyCar drivers. Give me Felix Serralles.
Ashley:It’s really great to see more drivers in the field. I loved seeing them all make a run for it on the first lap in Barber! I think Kyle Kaiser has a good chance at the championship because Juncos has proven to be a strong team in the past, but it’s really still anyone’s game at this point.
Nancy: Ed Jones seems to be the one to beat and I pick him to win the championship. The fact that their are more entries yearly excites me as this in a way helps grow the sport.
Rick:The field is growing and talented. Good for Lights! The best cars, with some interesting learning on track happening, that no one is seeing. I am seriously rooting for Dean Stoneman. What a great story! I have been following his career for several years and can think of few who are more or equally deserving of a good season. I am so very thankful he is getting his chance.
Topic 5: It seems as though the IndyCar championship is between Penske and Ganassi. Andretti’s struggles run deeper than Honda as they have lost some key people the last two years and it’s showing now. Graham could mix things up but who has the edge?
Tony: I think Graham will get hot over the summer months as he did last year. Indy is always a crap shoot, and he had a hell of a month a year ago. RHR is still going to contend at most races, especially Iowa, where he seems to come alive every year. Wouldn’t be surprised if Hinchcliffe stole a win somewhere as well, anything can happen on a street or road course with fuel mileage.
Ashley: Penske will do everything that they can to win the championship, but it’s too early in the season to tell! We saw what happened last season with Juan leading in points for the majority of the season and then double points in Sonoma changing things altogether.
Nancy: This is a tough one, I think Penske has the edge with Pagenaud, Montoya and Castroneves in the top 4 in points.
Rick: Not sure anyone has an edge. It will be good for IndyCar if Graham can remain relevant through until the end. It is too early to tell which team has the advantage. Let’s see what happens at Indy.