IZOD Indycar Series Round 15 of 15: the MAVTV 500
Auto Club Speedway, Fontana, CA
This is it. The end. When this thread's post count climbs towards the 200 mark, we'll know the championship outcome and presumably the winner of this inaugural IRL California 500. Incidentally, it's the first 500-mile (or 804km) race the series has ever run outside of Indianapolis. We didn't win the Split to see the Speedway's special status defiled in such a manner. It'll end in mayhem I tell you, mayhem.
Facts you need to know: now incorporating the track schedule
It's an oval. Ed Carpenter's probably kicking himself about being out of the title chase now.
Track length: 2 miles
Race Length: 250 laps/500 miles
Lap Record: Fast. Silly fast.
Previous Winner: Dario Franchitti, Dallara-Honda (waaaay back in 2005)
Advance warning: this is going to be an evil night for those of us in Euro land. Sky Sports 1's coverage starts at 1am. The other way of looking at it is that this is the most mainstream channel live Indycar racing has ever been near in the UK. On with the times. They're all local and Californiacentric.
Friday, 14th September
9.45-10.30: Indy Lights practice one
10.45-12.15: Indycar practice one
13.00-14.00: Indy Lights qualifying
14.15-15-45: Indycar qualifying
16.45-17.30: Indy Lights practice two
17.45-18.30: Indycar practice two
Saturday, 15th September
15.00: Indy Lights race (50 laps)
16.30: Indycar pre-race show begins, if you're an NBC Sports person
17.45: Alright youse goons, start your engines
17.50: Spectrum is green. Go go go.
Rumours concerning a Ryan Hunter-Reay/Will Power merger are wildly far from the truth
News of the ALMS/Grand-Am merger has pretty well dominated the space between Baltimore and Fontana. But if you can resist the temptation to strain your ears trying to overhear Chip Ganassi ordering a new fleet of Daytona Prototypes/looking up the phone number for the World's Ugliest Car Museum, there's a race on between two Chevy-mounted 31-year-olds who've been pretty super in 2012. Power's undoubtedly been the man to beat for most of this season, so it's strange that Ryan Hunter-Reay's racked up more wins. Including a colossal one last time out in Baltimore, courtesy of a cheeky move on another Penske driver on a late restart. If you tune your championship skulduggery receptors to a high enough frequency, you'll even hear word that the Captain wanted Briscoe to be jumped (illegally, of course) to the green flag. Unsubstantiated, and unsubstantiatable, rumour.
But it illustrates the point that RHR's not just facing off against Power, he'll have Briscoe and Castroneves as special opponents in the fight. And Power'll have Hinch, Marco and Saavedra to contend with, for that matter. And best not forget Honda, who pretty much handed Chevrolet's wastegates to them at Indy and Texas. It would nearly count as unexpected if the two title challengers were also battling for the race victory.
Strake, rattle and roll
All this race-speculation brings us nicely to what's likely going to be a main part of the story of the event: the track itself. Ever since June, when the Indycars showed up at Texas Motor Speedway and unexpectedly put on a motor race, series media have been shouting "Texas" with the tiredness and faint desperation of parents shouting "McDonalds" in the general direction of their no good kids. The Fontana-is-Texas meme has some sense behind it, though. They're both bumpy. They're both racing far into the night. And Indycar's technical man, Will Phillips (whose name we've heard as often as Beaux Barfield's -- take note Charlie Whiting, consider dividing yourself in two), is trying to tweak the Dallara's aero specs to reproduce the sort of not-quite-flat-out cornering they had at Texas. Tim Cindric's even gone as far as labelling Fontana "a handling race".
Series mandarins and drivers are now focusing on the DW12's underwing: tunnel strake on, or off? Marshall Pruett reports that Franchitti and Power want the lower-downforce (and more dirty filthy air), strake-off option. Hunter-Reay wants to see them kept on. It's a shame this is such a technical issue, because it has the makings of a good spurious CHAMPIONSHIP SKULDUGGERY storyline. We'll find out after the big test on Wednesday. One piece of technical reassurance news that has been reported though, is that a solution's been found for those worrying 90-degree cockpit-first roll-toward-the-wall wrecks that the DW12 seems to specialize in. Apparently the floor's mounts weren't collapsing like they should. Marshall Pruett, you're a hero.
Josef Newgarden tells it like it is
"I would say it's been a year of huge potential, but horrendous results." The only thing you missed was the broken finger, Joe. Reminds me a little of Dario's 1997 debut season, really. Hope Joe continues the parallel into Years Two and Three.
Title showdowns are boring. Tell me about 2013!
Oh, there's so much to talk about, although most of it's already been talked about. Simon Pagenaud was approached about filling the third Penske seat, but he can't get out of his Schmidt contract. He'll probably be joined there by Rubens Barrichello. The Captain's instead turns his beady, covetous eyes across the paddock to Michael Andretti's big caravan of love and nepotism, and beckons forth current nemesis Ryan Hunter-Reay. Curt Cavin rates the deal as likely. Odd man out Ryan Briscoe will, however, be given a good home. Possibly with Honda. E.J. Viso's taking his game of one-upmanship with Pastor Maldonado to dangerous new levels, and is considering starting his own Indycar team. Some events may become double headers (personal opinion: so long as they don't half the individual race lengths, and don't faff around with any sort of aggregate scoring, this idea's a goer). Indycar's looking to return to the New England market with a race in Rhode Island. At least they're original.
Do that thing you do when you write in the thread, below. Bonus points for posts related to CHAMPIONSHIP SKULDUGGERY.
Edited by Risil, 12 September 2012 - 21:04.