Topic 1: 1. Do you like the Honda or Chevy aerokit better? Any predictions on who will have the advantage or will there be no clear advantage for either manufacturer?
TonyD: It is too tough to tell. I think Chevy, based off what I have heard, seems to have the upper hand right now. We have seen Honda fall behind the eight ball as well before, but will come back strong. I am excited for Indy in May to see where the speeds can get to.
Ashley: When it comes to looks, I prefer the Chevy aero kit. Either way, we know it is all about performance. I think downforce for both aero kits is going to be a big factor and demanding on the drivers. If I had to guess & based off of the early testing times at Barber, I would say the Chevy kits might perform a little better than Honda, but it is too early in the game to really tell.
Rick:There are things I like about both and things I dislike about both. The real test will be how they race. If I had to choose one, I would choose the Chevy kit.
Nancy:I like the Chevy Aerokit better as it seems it was better thought out regarding downforce. I believe I read where Honda is already making changes to increase downforce. They should have had this figured out already.
Topic 2: IndyCar would like to start the first Sunday after the Super bowl in 2016. They were not able to add any international races for 2015. Is it possible to add races to the front of the schedule, which ones, does it include international?
TonyD: I am sure they would want to go international, but I would love to see Phoenix back on the schedule. Not sure that will happen early because of the Nascar date. You are limited a bit in January because of weather, would that be a good spot for Circuit of the Americas in the future?
Ashley: It is absolutely possible and should be done! This off-season has been FAR too long. Granted, teams have been busy getting the new aero kits in and predicting how those will do. But from a fan perspective, the series needs to start the season earlier. I think a couple of international races early on would be great, or even a US race such as Phoenix.
Nancy: They could add Homestead, Fontana, Texas, Long Beach even Nola and Birmingham. I would rather our fan base be built up in the US, yet I understand that the money needed could come from outside of the US. If that’s the case I wish Surfer’s Paradise was brought back.
Rick: Anything is possible. It would make sense to start internationally at that time of the year, but time will tell. Money the big factor in determining the schedule.
Topic 3: Justin Wilson, Conor Daly, Stefan Wilson, Zach Veach, Sebastian Saavedra and JR Hildebrand are a few drivers without rides to start the 2015 season. These drivers couldn’t bring enough money to land one of the available rides. Is there anything IndyCar to do to let the drivers drive and teams acquire the necessary sponsorship thus hiring the best drivers?
TonyD: It’s tough. A lot of these guys have a certain amount of money from one side and another from another side but until one side steps up, they have nothing. Unfortunate for Justin Wilson, but as great of a driver that people say he is, he hasn’t been very good in Coyne equiptment, when Carlos Hertas and Mike Conway have won races in that 2nd car. Be interesting to see what rides get sorted for the 500.
Ashley: To be honest, each one of these names are drivers that I would like to see with a ride. The fact that Justin Wilson doesn’t have a ride at the moment absolutely baffles me. Not only is he extremely talented on-track, but he is a PR person’s dream off-track. He is poised, down-to-earth and great with the fans. While I would LOVE for teams to recruit more of their own sponsorship so they could hire other drivers, I just am not sure I see that happening within IndyCar anytime soon.
Nancy: It would be nice if they could include more money in the “Winners Circle Payout” to include some funding for some of these drivers. The teams that hired drivers without enough funding would get a bonus to help fund the driver. I’ve always said “we have the best drivers money can buy, not necessarily the best drivers.” I think many drivers have all proven that they deserve a spot in IndyCar, yet won’t get the chance.
Rick: Wow, the million dollar question. There is plenty IndyCar could do, but don’t hold your breath. It is a real shame so many talented drivers are not included in the series. But as we slip further away from being relevant, this will only get worse.
Topic 4:Indy Lights has a new car and new teams bringing life to a dying series. What can IndyCar learn, if anything, from Lights to attract new teams and new manufacturers to the Series?
TonyD:Gotta see how the races go. Freedom 100 the last 3 year has been pretty awesome, hope that continues.
Ashley:Indy Lights has made leaps and bounds in a positive direction with the new car. I can’t wait to see more of the competition that emerges from that series! I think IndyCar unveiling the new aero kits is a big step. It will create some variation within the series and make things a bit less predictable. One thing from the Barber test that I am a big advocate for is the LED display showing which position the car is on-track. That was one of the most brilliant things I saw in sports car racing that really helps the fans follow their favorite driver.
Nancy:I’m on that old horse again, I’ve seen more marketing from the Lights series than I have IndyCar. I am sure manufacturers know about the series but now they need to bring them to the track as a “have you seen me lately” campaign. We have the best ontrack racing and need to showcase it.
Rick:Well, let’s see how many new teams there are on the track. The new Lights car looks awesome and from reports from driver’s is fun and racy. I don’t think there is much to glean from the Lights way that is applicable to IndyCar. The culture and mindset are too divergent.
Topic 5: Who’s your pick to win St. Pete? What’s the biggest story line from the St. Pete weekend? Crash, aerokits, Honda vs Chevy, rivalries?
TonyD:Should be fun. I hate to say this, but I want to see a couple crashes (everyone uninjured) just to see how long the clean up takes with parts scattered everywhere. I will take Simon Pagenaud to win in his first race for Penske. The first of 5 wins this season for him!
Ashley: Simon Pagenaud is my pick to win St. Pete. He has always been a great driver, but now that he is at Penske, I can’t wait to see all that he will accomplish there! I also think Sage Karam will be a great contender for the win. I don’t think he has even scratched the surface on what he will be able to do in a race car, especially with the backing of a strong team like Ganassi. I anticipate aero kits being the talk of the town for the first couple of races, as we see how both manufacturers play out.
Nancy: Aerokits will be the biggest story as fans will be talking about them and watching the advantages each one has. I pick Ryan Hunter-Reay to win.
Rick: Biggest story is the return of Simona. I hope she does well. I will take Dixon for the win.