IZOD Indycar Series Round 11 of 15: Edmonton City Centre Airport (note the spelling: we're on Canadian territory)
I'm not going to lie. This season has become quite difficult to call. Okay, the cars are still too slow and expensive, Will Power's scored the most points on road courses, Ganassi cars finished 1-2 at Indianapolis, James Hinchcliffe's reduced the press corps to giggling schoolgirls. But as you may have heard, none of this cast of predictables is leading the points standings with just five rounds left in play. "As you may have heard", because this has been a slow two weeks for news in Indycar-land, and racing headlines have generally followed one of two moulds: 1) Who's this American and what business does he have leading the championship?; and 2) Why isn't Will Power leading the championship?
Both these questions are good news. Obviously.
Further good news can be found by tilting your eyes down the points standings slightly. At this advanced stage of the season, we've still got six drivers within two wins (~80 points) of Hunter-Reay's lead (that would be Castroneves, Dixon, Hinchcliffe, Kanaan and Pagenaud). By this point in the last three seasons, the deeply unscientific "two-win threshold" has only admitted Dario and Dixon plus Leading Penske Driver. This may not mean that Kanaan or Pagenaud or even Helio is going to win the championship, but it does mean that there are a lot of drivers in the midfield who've made plans involving winning races. And when you find yourself amongst them, like Will Power did at Toronto, that points gap don't mean a thing.
And I haven't even mentioned Sebastien Bourdais, who after his rough treatment at Toronto is angry, in that bespectacled, weepy, slightly effeminate way of his. And more relevant than that, he's got a team behind him that's good for a podium finish. Good luck Seabass!
Also known as the "Indy It's-No-Cleveland-But..."
Virtual on-board footage of the track.
Ha ha! It's an airfield course! For some reason St Pete never really feels like one, probably because with its streets, stadium and marina it's more of a Best-Of for CART temporary circuits. None of that variety here! At Edmonton you'll have to get used to acre after acre of flat, featureless, shade-less field. We're using the 2011 configuration again, which with its four-hairpin layout felt like a practical joke aimed in response to the new double-file restart rules. No matter, Wikipedia says that the new course "received rave reviews from several IndyCar drivers". Which is funny, because in this official Youtube video the drivers spend most of their time saying they liked the old one much better. Hey! I did too! You've made some powerful enemies, City of Edmonton.
In the news
It's been a quiet couple of weeks! You'll be pleased to know that Randy Bernard has not resigned, Michael Andretti has not launched a NASCAR team, and J.R. Hildebrand has not lost his National Guard funding. The cost of doing racing is still causing high-level grumbling, as Mark Glendenning explains in Autosport Plus (although Marshall Pruett covered it three weeks ago over on Speed). In a nutshell, the teams are upset at having to buy spares exclusively from Dallara -- the smaller teams want to pay less, Team Penske wants to pay more. But neither of them is happy with the Italians.
Now picture that situation. A close, exciting racing series gradually growing stale amid supplier monopolies, pay drivers and ruinously expensive spare parts. Indycar series, meet GP2. Why Paolo Coloni thinks running an open-wheel team across the Atlantic will be any different, I'm not sure. Although judging by
"So I would like to create a link that can regularly bring European drivers to IndyCar," Coloni explained. "This could be done with my own team, or it could begin bringing a driver to an existing outfit and then evolve in a Coloni IndyCar team later."
he sounds like he hasn't forgotten the handy racing knack of being willing to spend someone else's money.
By the way, if you find yourself wanting to settle down with a long news article, I genuinely recommend Marshall Pruett's six-parter on the career of Jeff Krosnoff, which ended tragically at Toronto in 1996. You may know him as a backmarker who happened to meet an untimely end, but as with Krosnoff's old comrade Roland Ratzenberger, his story was a lot more interesting than that. There's a great book waiting to be written about those Formula Nippon gaijins.
Oh and there's some new rule on the push-to-pass system. Apparently for a few extra seconds the cars will be slightly less underpowered than they are usually.
Friday, 20th July
10.50-11.50 Indycar practice one
14.30-15.30 Indycar practice two
Saturday, 21st July
8.00-8.45 Indy Lights qualifying
9.00-10.00 Indycar practice three
13.00-14.15 Indycar qualifying
14.30-15.10 Star Mazda race 1
15.32-16.35 Indy Lights race
Sunday, 22nd July
8.00-8.30 Indycar warm-up
9.30-10.15 Star Mazda race 2
10.30-11.45 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series race
12.47pm Indycar GREEN FLAG
NBC Sports are on-air from 10 o'clock, which sounds a bit excessive to me. That's in the most excellently named Mountain Daylight Time, btw, which corresponds to UTC -6 hours. In the UK Sky Sports 4 are showing the race at 7pm. If you have Sky Sports 4 I suggest you tune in then.
Edited by Risil, 19 July 2012 - 10:07.