Feature: July Fab 5
Topic 1:There’s been a lot of talk about ovals in IndyCar and that the current formula is not working. Fans are not showing up and with the downforce changes to get away from pack racing, some of the oval races have turned into snoozefests. Does IndyCar really want to race on ovals and adjust the current model or will they allow ovals to die off and have the Indy 500 be the only oval on the schedule by 2016?
TonyD: I think oval racing this season has been awesome! The Indy 500 was a hell of a race and super competitive and I thought Texas was great. I attended Iowa and the racing was great, especially with that last restart when RHR stormed to the front. I want to see more ovals on the schedule, Richmond and Michigan would be awesome additions, but it’s unlikely that either will have an Indy Car race again.
Tomas: Tough question. I liked ovals and did not mind certain type of pack racing. 4 deep 3 rows back in pack racing is crazy! 2 by 2 every now and then is fine. It would be a shame to not have that sort of racing and I’m not sure Indycar or it’s fans are just pointing another finger at a possible problem. Like I said and have been saying, it needs stability and not knee jerk reactions when it comes to making changes.
Rick: I have not thought the ovals were “snoozefests”, but then I am probably jaded by NASCAR. I have little thought of ovals dying off and the Series not returning to them. The product on track is not the issue as much as the lack of promotion. I would be very surprised if the 500 was the only oval on the schedule in 2016.
Nancy: I’m an oval person and have never snoozed at an oval, I have however snoozed at mid-Ohio during the race. With that being said, I read were there wasn’t much passing at Iowa, according to TV viewers. I was at Iowa and there was great passing all race long, there also was a better crowd than last year. TV does not do these races justice as they need to show the racing mid-pack. They always seem to concentrate on one driver or the front so the TV fan does not get the real view. If ovals die I can say I won’t attend any more races except the 500 and St. Pete. I think the reason the RC’s get more fans is the party/concert atmosphere and there seems to be a lot more “fun” things to keep a fan busy. At ovals if you don’t have a support race, there is a lot of lag time between races and really nothing to do as activities seem to stop. Unless you have a pit/garage pass you are just sitting there. Maybe if they would have sprint/midgets on the ovals that have short tracks with them and other forms of racing, it would generate fan interests.
Topic 2: IndyCar would like to have a 20 race schedule for 2015. Many fans and some in the media are pushing the season to start earlier and end later. The shortened schedule is not a hit with anyone. Will Mark Miles continue to listen to the Boston Consulting Group or make adjustments and listen to those who know racing?
TonyD: I think starting early is fine, but ending in August is perfect. You don’t want to go against the NFL. IndyCar would be awesome to have a Wednesday night race in the fall therefore not having to compete with football on the weekends. End the championship in primetime on a Wednesday would be great for TV ratings I believe.
Tomas: I don’t know. Whoever is in charge needs to always listen to the fans but it does not mean you have to react. It’s not an easy job being in charge of the series.
Nancy: I would have never hired a consulting group that really knows nothing about racing or the fans, what a waste of money! I have said this many times: have a longer season and have staycation/vacation packages where you team up with the NFL and plan around the hometown schedule with the race and have two for ones, including hotel. If you are in a town where football isn’t a factor, team up with museums etc… make it a weekend getaway of fun. This goes for ovals too./span>
Rick: Depends. Who are the “those who know racing”? The shortened season is a joke. Fearing the NFL to the point of hurting your own product to avoid them is hard to comprehend. The start may be timed right, but the season ends too soon this year. The off-season is too long for fans and for crews who need income.
Topic 3: Are rivalries in IndyCar starting to heat up? Will Power has become a polarizing driver, either you love him or hate him. JPM calls Carpenter a douchebag on television, Bourdais and Aleshin don’t care for each other and AJ Foyt has had words about Aleshin.
TonyD: LOVE IT! Let these dudes fight it out, off the track. The problem is, unlike NASCAR, IndyCar guys can’t wreck each other because A. It ruins both drivers day B. You are risking injury. But if AJ wants to go down and slap Aleshin or Will Power wants to punch someone, let them, they would wind up all over SportsCenter. Americans love action and violence, let it happen, rivalries are good!
Tomas: You need rivalries in sport to make people come and watch. The only reason why I switch on tv to watch the Mercedes F1 show is to watch Hamilton and Rosberg. If it were not for those 2 there would not be much of a point. IndyCar needs the same.
Nancy: Yes and I think it’s great! It gets the fans talking and then it may make people want to see what all the fuss is about.
Rick: It’s that time of the year. Yes, rivalries are developing, heating up, becoming interesting. With the way the events have fallen, having a number of events so closely timed, familiarity is producing some pretty intense racing.
Topic 4:It seems the IndyCar championship is coming down to four drivers: Castroneves, Power, RHR and Pagenaud. Who do you think pulls this out? RHR and Pagenaud look great one week and the next they cough up points. Is this the year Penske claims their first championship since 2006?
TonyD:Helio’s championship to lose, I don’t trust Will Power at California or Milwaukee, same with Pagenaud. RHR has been to up and down as pointed out. I think Helio takes his first title!
Nancy:I would like to see Pagenaud win, I am always for the underdog and don’t think anyone expected that.
Rick:My money is on the Penske crew and its a toss up which one ends up on top.
Topic 5:The Toronto race exposed some flaws in the IndyCar Series. There were communication issues between race control and the teams, can you work on cars or not and are they making rules up to use the red flag. What is your take on using the red flag and does the rulebook need to be updated so that teams know what to expect?
TonyD:Saturday was confusing for anyone. I however did like the red flag in race 2 on Sunday, giving the fans a chance to watch the race finish under green after all the crap they had already endured.
Tomas: The rule book is in writing and teams should know and understand what is in them. At the same time, if there is any query the pit marshal or race control need to respond asap if teams have any questions.
Nancy: Consistent decisions. Apparently Dale Coyne knew more about the red flag rule than most everybody. Dale said that the red flag rule changed after Indy, who knew? It seems like IC continually flies by the seat of their pants or goes to social media to gauge what people want. They need to use the KISS method Keep It Simple Stupid. It also seems like some get preferred treatment, they said the race hadn’t started in one breath that’s why they let teams work on cars, then they say they aren’t running tires as it was decided in the race the day before. Which is it: you had a race or you didn’t race? Many inconsistencies and it showed.
Rick: The rule book is interesting, but not very meaningful if you don’t follow it. If the series is going outside the rules, then the phone book has as much meaning. The series has to make sure everyone has an understanding of the rules before an event. If changes have been made, then make sure everyone understands them before you start an event. Having teams making decisions based on an old set of rules makes the entire league look silly. Communicate clearly, speak slowly, give written tests if you have to, but make sure everyone understands things before they start making decisions that cost everyone money.