We want to extend our deepest sympathies to the Wilson family. Our hearts break for all of them and all of our thoughts and prayers are for them through this difficult time. Justin will be sorely missed, not only on the track, but in life. The best way to honor Justin is to put a smile on each person’s face that we come in contact with, to treat each person with dignity and respect. Instead of putting people down, let’s strive to build them up. We may be different and have opposing views, but we can still be cordial and civil. May each one of us leave a lasting legacy of putting other’s first just like Justin did. (David Bolton)
Now enjoy this month’s Fab 5!
Topic 1: Awesome news to hear Road America is back on the schedule and that talks are progressing with the oval at Pheonix. We have known for awhile now that NOLA was axed but that a new race in Boston was added. Then the announcement that Fontana would not be on the 2016 schedule and there are questions regarding Milwaukee and Pocono. Miles has promised more races and a longer season so how do you see the 2016 schedule playing out? Specifically, do you see any current races being cut and what additional races do you think will be added?
TonyD:I think they go back to 2 Races in Toronto. Seemed this year, with the date being changed back to the original, hopefully Indy Car puts 2 races on the schedule at TO. I would imagine Pocono will be back, but Milwaukee is still that Wild Card.
Ashley: I think there may still be the possibility of adding an international race to kick the season off. I’m hopeful that we can try and keep Milwaukee and Pocono on the schedule. Should be interesting to see how it all shakes out.
Tomas:I’m not sure, but they need to race for more than 6 months. Part time racing equals part time fans.
Rick:I am so very excited Road America is back on the schedule. However, I think it will come at the expense of the Milwaukee race. Phoenix is another good add, but it will come at the expense of Fontana. Boston is a great add, but will come at the expense of NOLA. Are we seeing a pattern here? Fans have been asking for an expanded schedule, and there are plenty of additions, but each addition seems to precede a subtraction. I think it may be hard for the Series leadership to produce an expanded schedule. As crazy as it sounds, they may be running out of viable options.
Topic 2: Everyone was caught off guard when Andretti Sports Marketing sued Andretti Autosport. A couple days later, a settlement was reached with Michael giving up ownership to ASM Rumors are circulating that AA along with many other teams are having financial woes. How would you assess the financial health of the teams and do you see any teams closing shop or scaling back next year?
Tony: Bad. It’s bad. What happens if Target leaves the #9 car? That would start a spiral effect. The TV Ratings have to continue to go up to attract new sponsors. Also, only 6 races on ABC hurts. If you could get out from underneath ABC, and if NBC was willing to put 10-12 races on NBC, that would help.
Ashley: There is no doubt about it that money in IndyCar in general is tight right now. The cars are so expensive, especially when we have so many wrecks and teams have to go back and rebuild the cars with the parts they have. I am sure some teams will unfortunately be letting some guys go during the long off-season, but sure hope no one has to close up shop completely.
Tomas: I hear it’s not easy for teams and drivers in IndyCar.
Rick: I’m not sure this is a revelation. Teams have been struggling financially for some time. Gnassi just sold a good chunk of his operations. Everybody is scraping by. The more interesting conversation is which teams are not having financial trouble. I think many teams will be scaling back, and maybe one or two shutters.
Topic 3: Graham Rahal continues to make this championship battle intriguing by winning at Mid-Ohio. He was taken out at Pocono and slipped in the points. Sonoma is double points, who has the edge: JPM, Graham, Dixie or Power? How would you describe each of these driver’s season?
TonyD: Graham has nothing to lose, JPM is too damn good on 500 mile races and Dixon could win both of the final two races. My pick to win is JPM.
Ashley: It was unfortunate to see Graham get caught up in some bad luck at Pocono. The championship battle still isn’t over, since we will have double points at Sonoma. It’s really still anyone’s game. So tough to look ahead, however, given Justin’s situation. My continued thoughts and prayers are with his family and the IndyCar community.
Tomas: Dixon and Power have got the advantage in the last race, although you can never exclude Montoya. He is a fighter and that’s the type of driving style you need at Sonoma.
Rick: JPM clearly has the edge. The Championship is his to lose. But Graham, Dixon and Power will keep it interesting. For the season, JPM has been resurgent and consistent; Graham reinvigorated, exciting. There is a noticeable bounce in his step. Dixon is the model of consistency, steady, relentless; Power is producing another quality season, deceptive like where did he come from?
Topic 4:Josef Newgarden is the coveted free agent driver for 2016. He’s not revealed his plans but seems to be having fun by fueling the rumors. He bought a car from a Rahal dealership and was a guest at a Big Machine concert via Ganassi Racing. If you were his personal advisor, do you have Josef stay at CFH Racing or sign with Rahal or Ganassi and explain why?
TonyD:Stay with CFH and be the #1 car on that team as to moving over to Ganassi and being a #3 or #4 car at the stable. The Grass may seem greener on the other side, but it still needs to be cut.
Ashley:It has been fun watching him play all sides, so to speak. If he is no longer with CHF Racing next year, it will be a shame since they (in my opinion) really have helped to tremendously advance his IndyCar career. But, at the end of the day, he will ultimately have to make the decision he feels is best for him down the road.
Tomas:I would say Ganassi. He has an eye for talent and he will make sure he is getting paid.
Rick:I would advise young Josef to bide his time and not make any decision too quickly. With the possibility of Haas opening an F1 operation, that may be an interesting landing spot (if Josef has or could get a super license). Either way, I would hold back until the landscape clears (see Question 2). I hope he stays at CFH, but am sure he will do what is best for himself and his future.
Topic 5:Derrick Walker resigning at the beginning of the month was a blow to the Series and caught some off guard. Internal politics seems to be the main reason he’s leaving and it’s not the first time it’s sunk a leadership position in IndyCar. Is it possible to get leadership, teams and drivers all on the same page doing what’s best for the sport instead of tearing it apart from the inside? What makes the NFL and NASCAR so successful that IndyCar could implement?
TonyD:It’s tough. The NFL is king and can do no wrong right now, people love it. IndyCar needs more races and to race deep into the fall. 2 weeks from now it will be off everyone’s minds until February.
Ashley: I like Derrick Walker and think he has had some positive influences on the sport. Sometimes, positions just aren’t a fit, so I wish him the best of luck in what he does after IndyCar. It is sometimes difficult to get leadership on the same page, but I do think it is possible with respect and in fighting for the same goals. I am hopeful that IndyCar will have positive leadership in the future.
Tomas: Consistency in races, teams and drivers. It takes time once they find the right recipe.
Rick: Is it possible? Yes it’s possible, just not likely. And there is nothing I can see from the NFL or NASCAR that is replaceable in this situation, without a total major overhaul. There is no major pill or secret savior. This may well get much worse before it can get better.