Topic 1: Will Power is on fire and has really closed the gap to championship leader Simon Pagenaud. Penske has the top 3 spots in the points with Helio in 3rd. So who ends up winning this championship?
TonyD:I still think Pagenaud is the champion. He will be consistent to hold on for the crown. Missing St. Pete for Will Power may be the difference, It will all come down to double points at Sonoma, where I feel Pagenaud will take a conservative approach, while Power may push harder for double points, which makes it more likely to make mistakes, which we have seen him do in the past at Sonoma.
Ashley:I think Will is on a roll and has a good shot at winning the championship. However, I would like to see Simon pull it off. Either way, a championship for Penske for their 50th Anniversary would be great for them!
TScheck:My money is on Will Power.
Rick: I will take Will Power. Too much experience to overcome. But it will be a close race to the end.
Topic 2: IndyCar was testing different aero configurations at Mid Ohio this past week. It seems that changes are in order for the current aero-kits. A picture was taken of ECR’s car without rear bumpers. What do you see happening with aero kits for 2017 and do they go back to a spec aero-kit for 2018 and beyond?
Tony: I would like to see the rear “bumpers” go away on the road courses, but remain on the car for oval races. I think we will see some changes for next year to better the series if possible, not sure 2018 will see a return to spec aero kits.
Ashley: I don’t see a lot changing in 2017 with the aero kit because teams have all gone to the expense of buying the various parts. Honda still seems to be a little bit behind Chevy lately, but I don’t know if that’s due to engines or the aero kit. They’ve closed the gap more, but still haven’t gotten the job done other than at Indy, which was a fuel win.
TScheck: The only thing to do when series is struggling is go to a spec series or honda and chevy will spend until they find what their spending does not equate to what coverage they are getting and one of them will pull out. This has to be controlled well.
Rick: I have no idea what is going to happen. The bumpers look crazy to me, but they’re not there for looks. The ’17 & ’18 car will be a complex compromise of safety, costs, and performance.
Topic 3:What is going on at Andretti Autosport? They look completely lost and are the flagship Honda team. Rossi could be going back to F1 so Munoz is top AA car in the championship in 10th Do you see major changes next season?
TonyD: I believe everyone returns to Andretti Autosport next year. With that said, it depends where the dominoes fall, and with the news of Target leaving Ganassi, I think the 9 car stays in tact, but would be interested to see if there is any trickle down effect. Does Kanaan retire? AND if he does.. does Munoz go there? As of today, I would say all 4 drivers are back at Andretti next year.
Ashley: They have lost a lot of their key people, both on the crew side and the engineering side. I’m hoping a larger sponsor like NAPA will join the team and that will convince Rossi to stay. I don’t see Carlos going anywhere, but you never know what could happen. As far as RHR and Marco, I think they will stay the same.
TScheck: Andretti Autosport is not use to being where they are. They need to make changes. They are involved in many other divisions in motorsports but Indycar is their flagship team. They need to do something.
Rick: Andretti will field as many cars as they get budget for. Marco is a lock. RHR is probably also with DHL. The rest is whomever can put together the money. This question is more interesting when asked at the Ganassi’s camp. Who is going to pony cash for their ride now, or is Chip going to call it a day?
Topic 4:The Indy Lights championship is still up in the air for the top 6 drivers. There are some superb drivers in the Series looking to make the move up to VICS. Do you think a new team could field cars in VICS like Juncos or Carlin? Do you see any current VICS drivers losing their seat or retiring so these young guns can make the jump up? If so, who makes the cut?
TonyD:RC Enerson is going to get a shot this weekend with Dale Coyne. It’s tough because these veterans in big name rides are still getting it done. I could see Carlin moving up to Indy Car in the near future for sure. It’s tough, these guys can spend the same amount to run a full season of lights, or do a 1 off at the Indy 500, so of course you choose the 500, but then you are in a 3rd rate car sometimes and struggle to crack the top 20, I see Brabham and Wilson from the 100th.
Ashley:I would love to see more teams like Carlin and Juncos join IndyCar. I think they would be up for it, but it all comes down to budget and the money a driver can bring a team. I don’t see any of the current drivers retiring and there are still many drivers out there wanting to drive in IndyCar, like JR Hildebrand.
TScheck: I would like to see Carlin run an IndyCar team with the right backing/driver he will run a good car. It’s a solid team that has had a solid performance track record in Europe and America.
Rick: I would love to see Dean Stoneman get a chance. But as with every year, who can put together the budget? They are the ones who will get the chances. No one is going to retire if they can come up with the funding. And it is easier (Although a massive amount of work) for a veteran to get funded vs a rookie, unless they are walking into the end of the season with funding. Carlin or Juncos or anyone would be more than happy to put together a IndyCar team if they were guaranteed funded drivers.
Topic 5: If there is 1 race you could get rid of on the current schedule, what is it? If you could add 2 races for 2017, what are they?
Tony: I really like the schedule, and am not sure I would take any races away, but would love to add Gateway to the schedule and possibly one more oval, Michigan/Kentucky/Fontana would be incredible, but I don’t think any of those 3 are going to happen
Ashley: I wouldn’t want to get rid of any of the races on the current schedule. I am SO happy that IndyCar is back at Road America, but I do still miss the Milwaukee race. We would have both races in the perfect world. I would like to see IndyCar still racing at Fontana, maybe at a different time of the year when it’s not quite as hot out. The turnout was always rough, but the racing was so great. I’d also like to see Portland or Vancouver on the schedule.
TScheck: Look at the lowest tv numbers and get rid of it. Add two more that would increase tv numbers. I am biased to ovals but not sure that would increase numbers, it should not be an emotional decision but rather a tv numbers decision.
Rick: If you want to drop something, drop one race from one of the doubleheaders. Not sure that makes sense either. I would welcome Surfers Paradise, Portland or Gateway. The NASCAR tracks are probably out of the picture.