IndyCar – Tuesday Talk

MidOhio-Kimball_sm

Tuesday Talk is a segment featuring random news and notes from the world of IndyCar. All opinions expressed are mine, meaning they are inherently correct. Disagree? Well, I’ll pray for you.

MidOhio-Kimball_smFirst off, congratulations to Charlie Kimball for his first career win. I don’t think anyone has worked harder for a victory in the last few years than Charlie. He came up from the Euro F3 ranks into Lights with PBIR and Andretti. Back in 2011, Charlie got his break into the IZOD IndyCar Series with Chip Ganassi Racing as Graham Rahal’s teammate. He’s shown steady progress in his three years at IndyCar’s top level. Charlie is a cerebral, calculating driver who knows when to hang it out. I can only expect more wins to come.

So James Davison filled in admirably in his first IndyCar outing. He had good pace all weekend and brought the car home in one piece for Dale Coyne. It wasn’t an entirely spot free weekend for James, however. he didn’t have one of the new FIA homologated carbon fibre helmets now required by INDYCAR in the IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights. The injured Ryan Briscoe happend to have one that fit on hand, so the Australians worked out an arrangement for Davison to use Briscoe’s  helmet. I’ve been told by a current IndyCar driver that those helmets aren’t cheap, and the drivers themselves are usually responsible for procuring them. Talk about unintended expenses!

Luca Filippi also had an awesome showing for Bryan Herta Autosport in the #98 Barracuda Networks ride. The GP2 veteran looked to be set to move past Round One of qualifying before having an off in The Esses. Damage to the car was minimal, but because he brought out a caution, Filippi’s top two laps were excluded. Luca started last, but managed a 16th place finish on a track notoriously tough for overtaking.

E.J. Viso. On a personal level, I love this guy. He’s incredibly friendly, easy to talk to, humble and an all around awesome guy. I just have no clue as to what was going on in his head at Mid Ohio. In practice, he got frustrated with his pit crew holding him up, so he just decided to pull on out and get some laps in. Unfortunately, the driver he pull out in front of was teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, who was on a flyer at the time. The two had a rather spirited discussion  after the session. During the race, Viso spent a good portion of the waning laps holding up Charlie Kimball from pursuing Simon Pagenaud, who was the leader. Viso later played a big part of Kimball getting back around Pagenaud. Still, for someone that’s been in the series as long as Viso, you’d think he would move out of the way a bit better.

Now on to Silly Season…..
More people are starting to jump on the Hinch to Ganassi train. I still just don’t see it happening, but I will say Ganassi is closing down on everyone pretty well and the early season advantage Andretti had is clearly gone. I still think head to head, the Ganassi ride is better than the Andretti ride, but here’s a thing to keep in mind… Most of the talk around Hinch to Ganassi has to do with Target entering the Canadian market. The rumored sponsorship for a 4th car at Ganassi is NTT Data. If Target wants Hinch, then either Dixon or Dario would get moved to the NTT car, or Target would have to cough up the cash for a third car, probably moving NTT to an associate role. To me, the more realistic scenario is Hinch signs up with Andretti for 2 or 3 more years with a fully funded GoDaddy ride, taking over at Ganassi when Dario eventually retires in a few years.

Regarding the ALMS LMP1 teams, I’ve been informed that Rebellion is committed to running WEC in 2014. That leaves Dyson and Pickett/Muscle Milk as the two Privateer type teams. Obviously, Pickett is doing the Sonoma race in conjunction with Sarah Fisher for driver Lucas Luhr. Dyson hasn’t made any public statements beyond that of having no intention to run Daytona Prototypes. Budgets for LMP1 and IndyCar are pretty much in line with each other, so it’s very realistic.

Stef Wilson finally gets the deal done! Stef will be in the #18 at Baltimore for Dale Coyne Racing. As many of you know, he’s been working on this pretty much all season. At the Barber Open Test, it was announced that he’d be doing all the road/street courses for Dale Coyne, but his funding vanished. Stef’s a really good driver who happens to be short on funding. It’s nice to see him finally get his break.

Mazda Road To Indy notes….
Biggest deal right now is the (almost) announcement that Cooper Tires is taking over as the supplier to the Indy Lights series. Makes me wonder  if there’s a potential tire change at the top soon. Also makes me a bit sad that the Continental deal fell through for the IndyCar Series. Dan Andersen’s really doing some awesome things in a short amount of time.

Another big thing with Indy Lights right now is the new car, which should be announced soon. de Ferran has put out their design concept now, and I have to say it looks pretty awesome. I’m still in favour of adopting a modified GP3 design for Indy Lights, making the body work more similar to that of the IR-12. Any way around it, everyone’s looking forward to new Indy Lights cars.

Matty Brabs is not human.

Much love to Shelby Blackstock. I honestly thought he’d reached the pinnacle of his open wheel ability, but dude just keeps getting better and better. I think maybe another season in Pro Mazda, and then a jump to Indy Lights in 2015 if the funding’s there. I’ve really been impressed by his progress. The plan of getting in pretty much anything he can drive is really paying off. He’s also having a pretty awesome season in his Continental Tire Series program with Roush.