It's Finally Official: Rice And Fisher

Posted by Iannucci | 1/30/2007 | 5 comments »
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IndyStar is breaking the news and it's the best case scenario. It will be two cars for Dreyer & Reinbold in 2007.

The #5 will be driven by Sarah Fisher.

The #15 will be driven by Buddy Rice (which is the same number he had with Rahal Letterman Racing).

No word yet on sponsorship for their dynamic duo.

Sure Rice had it pretty rough the last few years, but Fisher has to be encouraged at how well his last female teammate fared. Can this be the year of Fishermania?

UPDATE: Courtesy of

Buddy is slated to race all 17 races while Sarah will be driving only at the 12 ovals.

“We are very excited to add Buddy Rice to our team with all the changes we have made during the off-season,” Reinbold said. “We have made a commitment to focus on the future and with Buddy joining our team we can continue to strive to meet our goals for 2007 and beyond.

“Sarah really showed us she had matured as a racer and we were eager to sign her to the team for 2007. Sarah is very professional and will represent our sponsors well both on and off the track.”

Returning for its fourth sponsorship season is Roll Coater, which coats steel for multiple industrial uses. Joining the team will be EurUp Energy Drink on Fisher’s car and Bitburger on Rice’s car. The 106th St. Grill will also celebrate its seventh season with the team. Racing for Kids, for whom Buhl has served as national spokesman since 1989, also will partner with the team.

“We are still working to fill out the rest of our sponsorship budget for the 2007 season, but thankfully we were far enough along at this point to be able to go forward with a two-car program,” Buhl said. “We’ve been very busy getting ready for this season and are energized about our preparation. Though we still have plenty of work to do before Homestead, we are confident we will be ready.”

Jumping the Gun on Foyt IV

Posted by Iannucci | 1/30/2007 | 1 comments »
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Perhaps you have been wondering why Vision Racing hasn’t officially announced any of there drivers yet. Perhaps you think Tony George is just mysterious and weird about his team. Perhaps you don’t care. Regardless, if you go to their new Vision Racing web site you can plainly see three drivers listed. AJ Foyt IV has never driven in an IndyCar for Vision, but he’s listed as one of the three.

And while everyone (present company included) has been reporting that Quattro has landed a deal with Vision, Dave Lewandowski of has a different story.

Foyt, who competed with Vision Racing in the 45th Rolex 24 At Daytona, will be behind the wheel of the No. 22 Honda-powered Dallara Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 on a 2.73-mile, 10-turn road course.

Foyt, 22, said he hopes a deal can be worked out with team co-owners Tony and Laura George and Patrick Dempsey to run the 17-race IndyCar Series season that begins March 24 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. That 1.5-mile oval will host an Open Test on Feb. 21-22.
In other words, he’s slated to drive a car if he can manage to gain some sponsorship dollars. The tone of the article mentions that he may be trying to prove some success on during testing at the Daytona road course this week, since he doesn’t have much non-oval experience in recent years. With five road/street courses on the docket this season it will be crucial for all drivers to prove their proficiency with right turns.

So Quattro’s in...but not quite. Silly Season, indeed.

Miller: Rice Set for D&R

Posted by Iannucci | 1/30/2007 | 0 comments »
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OK, quick head count for 2007 IndyCar series:

Andretti - 4
Foyt - 1
Ganassi - 2
Panther - 2
Penske - 2
Rahal - 2
Vision - 3

Confirmed drivers (more or less): 16.

Still waiting on the Fernandez/Chesson deal, the Cahill/Duno/Matrisin deal, the Herb team, the Roth team. However, today should end the speculation for Dreyer & Reinbold.

He’s been wrong before, but this time he’s basically saying what everyone else is. Robin Miller of SpeedTV is writing that Buddy Rice will be introduced today by Dreyer & Reinbold as their new driver of the #5. You can read the quotes, of which Buddy expresses his enthusiasm over the Fernandez engineers that have jumped over to D&R and his expectation of running sixth or seventh. No seriously, Buddy said that.

He also said this:

“I have to thank Robbie and Dennis for this opportunity and I also want to thank the IRL for helping put this deal together...Nowadays it’s good to find a seat and get paid in open-wheel racing, and I’m thankful.”
Whether this is a result of Tony Bucks or Gene Simmons or those new marketing gurus the league has hired is unknown, but it’s nice to see someone assist in facilitating this deal. Buddy’s a great guy and will have plenty of fans cheering for him. He’s won The 500, he’s not surly, and he’s always helping the league. This is a guy you keep, and thankfully the league had both the will and the means to do it this time.

Oh, by the way:

Sarah Fisher appears to have the inside line on the second seat at Dreyer & Reinbold.
Hopefully more details will be announced at the press conference later today.

The Ongoing Ballad of Little Al

Posted by Iannucci | 1/26/2007 | 0 comments »
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This is just sad. Everytime you think he's gotten things straightened out...

LAS VEGAS -- Two-time Indy 500 winner Al Unser Jr. faces a charge of driving under the influence after leaving the scene of a crash on a Nevada freeway.

The 44-year-old Unser was arrested after he was identified as the driver of a car that sideswiped another on the Las Vegas Beltway shortly before 11 a.m. Thursday, Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Kevin Honea said.

Unser's vehicle had little damage, but the other car crashed into a cement center median. The driver reported no injuries at the scene, Honea said Friday.

Honea said Unser failed several field sobriety tests before being taken into custody. Unser was charged with driving under the influence, misdemeanor hit and run, failure to render aid in an accident and failure to report an accident.(MORE)

Rice and Fish - the D&R Diet

Posted by Iannucci | 1/26/2007 | 3 comments »
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Sorry, but I couldn't resist the tacky headline.

After breaking the news that Dreyer & Reinbold have their #5 car listed for testing at Homestead next week (as opposed to a Champ Car testing circuit like Sebring) the good folks at TrackSide Online are now relaying the following:

TSO has learned that as expected, Dreyer and Reinbold Racing will hire Buddy Rice to drive the number 5 car. This deal is not finalized, though it's reportedly very close and could be completed as soon as today. If everything goes as planned (and this being racing we don't have such an expectation), the deal should be announced prior to the open test on Wednesday and Thursday in Daytona.

(A Tuesday press conference would seem to be the most logical thing since that is media day in Homestead).

In addition, we are now moving the second DRR car up to the 90% category as the team works to complete the deals that will make Sarah Fisher the driver of that machine.
Huge, huge, huge. Or at least big, big, big.

Not only are these two both talented drivers, but they can sell the series. They don't have the flash and panache of Danica!, Well Done or Spiderman, but over the years Buddy and Sarah always seem to be at public events promoting the series with a smile and more than a few kind words.

Continuity is key for any racing series - heck any form of entertainment - and these two have show over much of this decade to be true ambassadors of IndyCar entertainment. Oh, and one of them actually one the Indy 500, you know.

The Rusty Wheel Gets the Grease

Posted by Iannucci | 1/25/2007 | 2 comments »
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This week the Indy Racing League announced several “technical and administrative rule changes” for the upcoming season, of which many related to the switch to running all cars on 100% fuel-grade Ethanol. Larger engines running at lower RPMs will result in better mileage, and consequently the fuel cell will be reduced to 22 gallons. (Unfortunately for Dan Wheldon, there didn’t appear to be any increase in the length of the hose used to fill up the fuel cell.)

Also, the league has decided they will deem who is a rookie and who is not. I’m going out on a limb here, but this is probably to make sure Marty Roth has extra orientation at any event he decides to participate.

There are other changes as well, but the one that jumped out at me was this one: ** Final practice sessions have been eliminated at all oval events but in order to maintain on-track time pre-qualifying sessions have been extended by 15 minutes.

I read that and I thought of one man: No, not Paul Dana – I’m talking about Russell William "Rusty" Wallace.

Although he spent all of one season following the IndyCar series Old No. 2 got the wish he bantered about all season long, which was to eliminate Final Practice on race day. I’m sure Dana’s tragic collision with Ed Carpenter at Homestead had some influence on this decision, as did Vitor Meira’s hello-and-how-do-you-do with Danica Patrick at Kentucky. I suppose teams were informally asked about the elimination of Final Practice on race day, but when it comes right down to it the catalyst was most likely Rusty’s rants.

Personally, I don’t care either way about final practice. Presumably it was created to allow teams to make last minute changes to cars based on changes in weather or time of day or moon cycles or whatever. It would stand to reason that if a team felt it wasn’t a good idea to practice just that much before a race then they wouldn’t be sending out their drivers. But they all did, which says there was at least some benefit towards competitive racing.

Consider the following quote from Sarah Fisher after starting and finishing in 16th at last season’s Chicagoland finale, where Final Practice was cancelled due to rain.

“We had a decent day in the end. The first third of the race we were really struggling in traffic. We were planning on doing all our in traffic stuff this morning. That was our plan for this morning’s warm-up. Not having that warm-up really hurt us. At the end of the race we were racing Tony Kannan and Bryan Herta; basically all the Andretti Green cars. In the end, not having the morning warm up really killed us. We had planned on working on our in-traffic stuff this morning. We ran some different pieces that made it a little harder for being in traffic. Overall, we did a really good job. We just needed that extra 30 minutes this morning.”
I know she’s just one driver, but her words underscore how important the extra time can be for teams not named Penske or Ganassi.
Sorry, Sarah, but now you get your warm-up on Friday or Saturday. Good luck with that!

If teams had come to Brian Barnhart and said “let’s get rid of this” then I have no problem with this announcement, but I’ve never noticed anyone – driver, owner, whoever – making a big deal out of this other than Wallace. His argument was built on the premise “we don’t have final practice in NASCAR”, which is a really silly comparison considering how many other practices they actually have in NASCAR. With 30-some races and 3 or 4 practice sessions each weekend, those tin tops get a lot more track time then an IndyCar does over the course of a year. All series are not created equal.

And as a fan, it’s equality that concerns me. As close as the final four drivers were in the championship standings going into last season’s conclusion, I doubt anyone wants to see those four so far ahead of everyone else in 2007. For the series to be more interesting other teams need to be able to elevate their level of competition, and one way of doing that is by allowing them sufficient time at the track to optimize their vehicles. This new rule seems to do just the opposite.

Maybe I’m totally off on this and it wasn’t just Rusty pushing for this and this rule change will prove to have little or no effect on competition in the future, but if this is indeed due to Wallace’s wailing then it’s really mind-boggling how someone with so little history or affiliation to the league can affect league policy.

I guess we are all fortunate (for many reasons) there were no tragic accidents during the Month of May this year, or else Rusty would have pushed to condense that down to a weekend.

Tony George Foreman

Posted by Iannucci | 1/23/2007 | 1 comments »
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Incredibly, there is more Tony George-related news. From IndyStar superstar Curt Cavin:

Question: Any word on who will be Foyt IV's sponsor for 2007? (Cleveland, Ohio).

Answer: Yes. In some fashion, former boxer George Foreman. Details have not been released.

Question: Why in the world would Tony G hire AJ IV to drive his third car? There are numerous more qualified drivers with a lot better records that have a lot more to offer IRL, such as Sarah Fisher. What gives? (Mike, Colorado Springs, Colo.)

Answer: First of all, remember that Tony, like any other team owner, has the right to pick his driver(s). Remember, too, that the Hulman-George family and the Foyt family have been tight for the past three decades. Remember, too, that Sarah likely is going to be in the second car of Dreyer & Reinbold Racing alongside Buddy Rice. So she was taken. We could debate the merits of other drivers for hours, but it was Tony’s choice.
Hold up a minute. You mean all that Foreman news at Infineon might actually result in a sponsored ride for a driver? You mean it’s for Vision? You mean it’s a Foyt? So Quattro will be powered by Foreman Grills? My head is spinning so fast I might not be able to properly respond with a “leaking grease on the track” pun.

And another oh, by the way, Rice and Fisher will be dueling for D&R.

OK, these aren’t official announcements, and we have no idea when official announcements may arrive. But it is curious that Vision would be able to gain sponsorship for a third car while struggling to have anything on the sidepods of their other two entries in 2006. But if good fortune has come their way then more power to them.

Meanwhile, we are still awaiting on D&R for any news. Cavin says he has “seen signs” they will improve significantly, although could mean he’s seen signings. Again, improve means staying in the IRL, right?

Real Headline: "Haas, George join forces"

Posted by Iannucci | 1/22/2007 | 1 comments »
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OK, it's not in open-wheel but it's unexpected to say the least. Considering all the vitriol Paul Newman holds towards Tony George, it's truly stunning to see his cigar-chomping business parter enter into any kind of arrangement with the George family. And yet, this is what we have reported from the IndyStar.

Carl Haas, co-owner of three-time defending Champ Car World Series champion Newman-Haas Racing, is partnering with Mari Hulman George, chairman of the board of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, on a Busch Series team.

The car will be driven by Kyle Krisiloff, 20, George's grandson. Running the program are Jim McGee, a longtime open-wheel chief mechanic, and Larry Carter, Haas' partner in a previous NASCAR operation.
That's one more drop of love in the merger bucket.

Hell Freezes Over

Posted by Iannucci | 1/18/2007 | 2 comments »
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Vision Racing finally has a site up at

Welcome to the 21st century! Sarcasm aside, it would appear that ECG, Wrecker and AJ4 are indeed the official three-car lineup for 2007. Hey, who needs press releases or teleconferences?


Posted by Iannucci | 1/17/2007 | 4 comments »
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No, the site isn’t down and I’m not on hiatus or sabbatical or anything. The truth is there just hasn’t been too much news over the past week. OK, Sammy Hagar announced he will be part-owner of an Indy Pro team, but that team currently has no driver. Cahill Racing postponed their announcement to introduce a new team, but that is now until some future unknown point in time.

NASCAR driver/commentator Benny Parsons died after a battle with lung cancer, and although he had nothing to do with Indy Racing he was always a solid guy to have talking while attempting to endure the six-hour races. BP is a racing legend and respect is due for his loss.

At any rate, with so little news I decided to troll around the message boards to see what people were talking about. It turns out there is some big fuss going on because former Indy Pro champion Wade Cunningham decided to get silly by posting pictures of himself on his MySpace site that included his, umm, unmentionables. No, I don’t have a link.

Now I understand young men are apt to do foolish things and I personally don’t care what the heck he wants to do with his web page. If this is his idea of entertainment, or communication or whatever then, well, whatever. But it should be noted that Wade does not live in a vacuum, and if you want to play the game then you have to play by the rules. And the rules are if you don’t have a boatload of cash then you need to make yourself appealing to potential sponsors who DO have boatloads of cash to help pay for your shiny weekend rides.

Everyone knows how Danica! polarized fans with her FHM photos, but note that she was still keeping the tone at PG-13. Say what you want about how people react to certain parts of the anatomy, but public acceptance of these things is what it is. By not “Crossing the Line” of what is socially unacceptable, Mrs. Hospenthal has kept herself appealing as a spokesperson and has garnered quite the cache of sponsorships.

On the other hand, Wade is risking the appearance of some sort of 21st century flasher. If he ever wants to drive a single lap of an IndyCar race then he’s going about this the wrong way, because aside from Viagra or Cialis I really don’t see any sponsors that would approve of this kind of behavior. I’m sure he’s bored during the winter, but he should take a moment, put down the camera (and the adult beverage) and ask himself what he really wants to do with his life.

Clearly Cunningham has as much driving talent as any other driver attempting break into the IndyCar series, and from what I’ve seen he may be more talented then half the folks currently in the series. Having a personality is one thing, but if he gains a reputation for being some sort of self-indulgent pervert then sponsors will go with someone else. It’s just the way the game is played.

Michael Says Marco Stays Until 2009

Posted by Iannucci | 1/10/2007 | 0 comments »
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Former driver Michael Andretti has said that his son Marco will be ready for a move to Formula One in 2009.

Andretti Senior believes that Marco needs two more years in IRL before a move to motorsport's most elite formula.

"With this learning process, I'm convinced that in 2009 Marco will be ready to race in F1 and fight with the best," Andretti Sr told Autosport.

The 21-yeal old Andretti Jr has tested for the Honda F1 team but has a contract with Andretti Green Racing that ends in 2008. (MORE)

Dreyer & Reinbold Update...Almost

Posted by Iannucci | 1/10/2007 | 2 comments »
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Curt Cavin has an update today on Tony George determination to race at the 24 Hours at Daytona later this month - despite crashing and bruising his ribs during practice.

OK, but forgive me for saying "yeah, whatever" because later in the article Cavin happened to drop these little nuggets.

Sports car driver Milka Duno passed her Indy Racing League physical Tuesday.

If Sarah Fisher lands a ride with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, as seems possible, the IndyCar Series will have three female drivers. Danica Patrick will drive for Andretti Green Racing.

Cahill's two drivers push the series total to 18 confirmed participants with at least two more expected, including Buddy Rice at D&R and P.J. Chesson at Fernandez Racing. The first race is March 24 in Homestead, Fla.
Hello! We haven't heard a peep about D&R for months amid speculation they maybe, possibly, could be, perhaps, going to Champ Car. Now all of a sudden it appears they are:

1. Staying in the IRL
2. Expanding to a two-car team
3. Signing Buddy Rice
4. Re-signing Sarah Fisher

Now Cavin does a fine job of giving himself some wiggle room, but if this is true then this is fantastic news. Although no one would expect this team to dominate by any stretch, the two-car testing would likely assist in making D&R more competitive in 2007. More importantly, it would retain two of most fan-friendly drivers the league has known.

I won't say any more unless an until this actually is announced, but if D&R returns in 2007 with sponsorship for both of these drivers then this is certainly a reason for excitement for both the league and its fans.

...and yes, I am intentionally avoiding any salacious comments relating to Milka's physical.

While We Wait

Posted by Iannucci | 1/10/2007 | 1 comments »
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After being told to expect a press conference today introducing the Cahill Racing rookie duo of Milka and Mitrisin, TrackSide Online has informed it’s esteemed readers of a last minute “family-related” postponement.


In the meantime there’s always Danica! ready and willing to scare up some news. (Uncle Sam and Spiderman could be off attacking terrorists in Somalia but we’d never hear of it...OK, maybe we would, but you know what I mean.)

The Arizona Republic is giving an update to those of us wondering what the GoDaddy Super Bowl ad (featuring Danica!) is containing since it has allegedly thrice failed to pass network censors. If nothing else, there should be a lot of folks in “the ad”, which may in fact be a series of ads since GoDaddy has purchased three different slots.

The Go Daddy cast includes Scottsdale residents Patrick and Valerie Thompson, a motorcycle drag-racer who set a world record at the 2006 International Motorcycle Speed Trials.

Also scheduled to appear on behalf of the domain-name registrar are the motorcycle-building family featured on cable television's American Chopper show. Paul Teutul Sr. and sons Paul Jr. and Michael are known for their custom designs and comic family battles.
The mind boggles. You know, considering the general "wow, she's hot!" response many race fans express when catching a glimpse of Mrs. Duno, it might stand to reason that she should be in these ads.

Only time will tell if Milka becomes a GoDaddy Girl, but contrary to the evidence I'd rather be discussing racing than racy photos. Someone please hit the override and zoom us into March.

DWT - Driving While Tony

Posted by Iannucci | 1/05/2007 | 0 comments »
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"It's been quite a while - in fact, it's been so long I can't really remember. It was 2001, I think, driving a USAC midget, and then I raced in the Chili Bowl a couple of times. That was probably the last time I ran. The last time I really did road racing was when I did the IMSA Firehawk Series back in '93 or something like that. I can't really remember." - Tony George

Earlier today reported that Tony George's Vision Racing team was planning an entry in the upcoming Rolex 24 at Daytona - an entry that listed George himself as one of the possible drivers.

This shouldn't be a total surprise since George raced in the Indy Lights series way back when (think late 80s), but as the quote above shows it's been many moons he's actually raced. Still, if you got the cash and the motivation then it's your proverbial funeral.

It seems likely this kind of endeavor holds a higher probability of embarassment for George than it does for his success...assuming he cares about that kind of thing.

UPDATE: The IndyStar is reporting that George did test today at Daytona but crashed. He was uninjured. Gentlemen, start your punchlines.

Quite A Few Questions: Robin Miller

Posted by Iannucci | 1/05/2007 | 0 comments »
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In case you haven't seen it our buddy Pressdog has posted an extensive Q & A with famed open-wheel reporter Robin Miller. Miller is passionate about motorsports and has been covering them for so long his name is probably better known than most drivers.

And while I appreciate both Miller's candor and his career full of contributions, I point out this interview as a clear demonstration of the blinding hatred some folks have for the IRL. Several times he mentions his bitterness towards Tony George, which is likely considering Miller's stand against the split since 1996. But Miller would be wise to accept that there are a lot of "Jethros" like me who find IndyCar races are a lot more exciting than CCWS parades, the Indy 500 light years more compelling than any Champ Car race, and the quality of driver (both in ability and level of interst) higher in the IRL.

He'd also be wise to double-check his facts occasionally, but I don't want to beat that horse.

Hey Look – More Backmarkers

Posted by Iannucci | 1/04/2007 | 1 comments »
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"It's unfortunate that backmarkers kind of screwed up the championship battle." -- Helio Castroneves
Last season the oval races in the IndyCar series often appeared divided among four distinct groups: P1-P4 were almost always the Ganassi and Penske entries, the second group of cars from Andretti and Panther, the third group of backmarkers from D&R Fernandez, Foyt, Rahal and Vision entries (although the Rahal and Vision cars moved up late in the season), and at the back was Marty Roth in what can only be described as P-Roth (“He’s going the distance, he’s going for speed”.)

Perhaps this unintentional segregation is what contributed to the record number of green flag laps, as having only a few cars in defined group made the races more hardware friendly. With but a few exceptions (think Carpenter v. Castroneves) it wasn’t too often that someone from the second or third group found themselves competing outside of their general group on an oval and trying crazy maneuvers that would result in a crash. This made for many exciting race with predictable contenders.

The predictability seemed a precursor to even less cars until there were only three or four teems running crazy mad races of eight furious entries. So all winter fans like yours truly have been lamenting that we are heading in the wrong direction with car counts and that clearly there is no reasonable ROI to attract new owners to the IndyCar series. That costs need to be lowered and existing assets need to be marketed with more enthusiasm in order to attract more cars and have better racing.

Well, I and others like me may in fact be wrong. It just may be that costs are low enough, that sponsors are out there (maybe even a series sponsor), and that car counts are instead be on the rise. First, Curt Cavin is reporting that Vision Racing will be fielding a three car entry next season featuring ECG, The Wrecker and AJ4. Plus, if the intrepid folks at TrackSide Online are correct in their reports then there are several more entries on the way come opening day in Miami in the form of a return of Jon Herb, a two-car Cahill entry and possible second cars for Foyt and D&R (although the latter of which may also leave the series entirely).

If all this comes to pass then that makes 23 cars, and that doesn’t even include any possible rides for series regulars like Buddy Rice, Buddy Lazier, Sarah Fisher and Ryan Briscoe or Indy Pro champions Jay Howard or Wade Cunningham.

So if it comes to pass that we as IndyCar fans are getting what we want (more cars on the tracks) then we will also be inadvertently be getting the other thing we want (more competition). Am I saying that Jon Herb is going to bust out a run of podiums? Hardly. I’m saying that we’re going to have more random acts of unkindness on the track resulting in less predictability.

The fact is that nearly all of these additional entries have two things in common: lower budget entries and drivers with very little recent IndyCar-level experience. By the end of last season the races were run with such comparative professionalism that even rookies like Andretti 3.0 and Jeff Simmons were avoiding brain farts and driving safely, but if you take the majority of last season’s cars and now add Jon Herb, PJ Chesson, Milka Duno, Jeff Mitrisin, Darren Manning, AJ4 and reportedly Jaime Camara then you have a whole lot of possibility for crashing during the learning (or re-learning) curve.

And with crashes you never know who will get collected, but at some point the odds are that your favorite driver will be affected. Next thing you know you have a change in the points standings, a trip to the infield medical center, and an angry interview with Jack Arute about “backmarkers”.

Now, I’m still very excited about more cars and more drivers because the odds are one of those drivers may rise to take the mantle from Hornish, Wheldon, et al some day. At the same time the introduction of so many exuberant but inexperienced drivers could make for a long season for the guys at the front of the pack. Just ask Spiderman about his games of tag with ECG last season.

It's Official: Dario Back With AGR

Posted by Iannucci | 1/03/2007 | 3 comments »
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The worst kept secret in the IRL is now official. Says Mr Judd:

"I haven't been this excited to get back into a race car in quite a long time. We had some very good race cars last season and I expect to be contending for race wins when we return to the track in March."
No one has said what caused the delay in announcing this, but note that nowhere in this press release do you see the words "Klein Tools".

Marco AND MARIO To Test F1

Posted by Iannucci | 1/03/2007 | 1 comments »
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On first glance it would appear there are typos in the newswire today, but upon further inspection the stories are actually accurate. Sport Network is reporting both Marco and Mario Andretti will be returning to test Formula One vehicles for Honda in the near future. Yes, Mario – who was last seen demonstrating aerobatic maneuvers at IMS in 2004 – will be hopping back into a Formula One car.

As Derek Daly would say, “Hold on to your hollyhocks.”

"I would like to try out a modern F1 car myself," Andretti told Gazzetta dello Sport. "Yes, the cockpits are tighter nowadays, but I haven't become too wide..."
No word on what circuit Mario will be navigating in his first venture in Formula One since 1982. Mario also said that Andretti 3.0 would be along for the trip and anticipates a little more Honda testing for his grandson. You may recall Marco had a test with Honda a few weeks ago, no doubt to gauge the young man’s abilities towards a future departure from the IRL. I am gradually coming to accept this reality, but I hope we have a few successful years in the IndyCar series before this actually happens.

As for the F1 test, I hope Mario can keep it safe and enjoy the ride. I know Mario isn't exactly auditioning for a job, but it would be pretty funny if his time was anywhere near Marco's.

In case you were wondering, they do have a Senior’s Circuit for, uh, seasoned Formula One drivers. It’s called Grand Prix Masters, and Old Man Cheever managed to scare up a vicvtory at Silverstone last August. Former CART driver Nigel Mansell scored some wins as well.

IndyCar Drivers In Autosport's Top 50

Posted by Iannucci | 1/02/2007 | 0 comments »
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Britain’s Autosport magazine has started the New Year (or ended the old year) with a list of the Top 50 drivers in the world. As you can guess the list is comprised of mostly Formula One drivers, but there are a few gentlemen here who race more than one weekend a year on the North American continent.

1. Fernando Alonso
2. Michael Schumacher
3. Sebastien Loeb
4. Kimi Raikkonen
5. Jenson Button

Now, if I was to ask you who was the best driver in the IRL you would probably have a 5-way argument of Hornish, Castroneves, Wheldon, Dixon and Kanaan. That list includes the last four series champions and perennial runner-up who has two wins and a second place at Indy. Autosport was kind enough to give the nod to all of them, although the Iceman was the highest ranked at #13.

13. Scott Dixon
16. Dan Wheldon
19. Sam Hornish Jr
30. Tony Kanaan
32. Helio Castroneves

Bully for Chip Ganassi, who not only employs #13 and #16, but also #22 Juan Pablo Montoya. Also, one other surprise Indycar driver was #34: Marco Andretti! What? I mean, he’s very, very good but I think this is ranking may be involving a heavy dose of potential.

For you Champ Car afficianados, there were only three drivers from the parade series.

17. Sebastien Bourdais
24. AJ Allmendinger
26. Justin Wilson

And for the NASCAR fans out there, the Brits even showed a little love – although it was very little.

29. Jimmie Johnson
35. Tony Stewart
42. Matt Kenseth

These lists are always kinda silly and made for discussion purposes, but it is what it is. I will say that considering all the current to-do about Hornish leaving for NASCAR and Wheldon or Marco going to F1, I wouldn’t be surprised if Dixon was the next IRL driver to make the jump. This list isn’t perfect, but it would appear that Dixon is given top credit because of his near dominance of the few road courses in the IndyCar series. Adding two more road courses in 2007 at Mid-Ohio and Belle Isle, possibly having a third in Biloxi and another in Daytona in 2008 make the Iceman’s future Indycar series championship hopes that much brighter.