Tuesday Talk is a segment where we discuss news bites from around the world of IndyCar. All opinions expressed within are those of the writer, and should be taken as the exact opinion of absolutely everyone involved with OpenPaddock, because Kevin Neely is an amazing, insightful writer.
So it looks like Andretti Autosport has roughly half the funding needed to run Juan Montoya in the 2014 season. Michael is working hard to make the Montoya ride happen. This leads to some questions, though. If Andretti digs up the cash to run Montoya, where does that leave Carlos Munoz? Does Andretti run six cars in 2014? While not unprecedented (see Dick Simon Racing back in the CART days) it’s highly unlikely. So who’s the odd man out then? If Hinchcliffe leaves (which I don’t think will happen) then it’s not such a big deal. If Hinch stays, does Viso completely separate and start Team Viso finally? Let’s not forget that Viso’s entry at Andretti is actually a partnership with HVM Racing. Is it possible that Montoya takes Viso’s place at Andretti, Viso starts Team Viso as he’s talked about in the past, and Viso runs Munoz in a technical alliance with Andretti? Maybe I’m stretching a bit much, but it is a possibility.
Scott Dixon has been fined $30,000 and placed on probation for the rest of the season after violating rule 126.96.36.199 and 9.3.7
188.8.131.52. Using improper, profane or disparaging language or gestures in reference to Officials, Members or action or situations connected with INDYCAR, the IZOD IndyCar Series, or any Event.
9.3.7. If any Member uses improper, profane or disparaging language or gestures and references a specific Official by his/her name, such Member may be fined a minimum of $25,000 and may be subject to additional penalties based upon the particular circumstances.
Dixon told reporters at Baltimore that Race Director Beaux Barfield should be fired amongst his red mist enhanced rantings. I completely understand Scott’s frustrations, given the incident at Sonoma and then more herp derp at Baltimore. Drivers just can’t go spouting off things like that, however. Dixon knows it, too. He said later in the week that he expected to be fined. Dixon’s a stand-up kinda guy. This is just a mere anomaly given his past track record.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing plans to test Firestone Indy Lights driver Jack Hawksworth at Sebring later this month. Hawksworth is the defending Pro Mazda Series Champion and has three wins this year in FIL competition. He had a bit of a mid season struggle during the oval portion of the schedule, but has since regained his early season form with wins at Toronto and Baltimore. The Hawksworth test has brought about questions of James Jakes returning to RLLR for a second season and the possibility of the team running a third entry. Hawksworth’s people have stated that he plans to run in the IndyCar Series beginning in 2014, but it’s also possible he simply paid RLLR to test an IndyCar Series car as an audition for another ride. From where I stand, Hawksworth could use a second year of Indy Lights competition to work out his consistency issues.
Graham Rahal and Ryan Briscoe recently tested the IR-12 racer on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course for the first time since Dan Wheldon’s initial tests back in 2011. This test, put together by IMS and INDYCAR, was to test the feasability of hosting an IndyCar Series race on the infield course, most likely during the month of May. By all reports, the drivers said the facility would make for a fine event with a few minor tweaks to the track. Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Co, has stated the speedway is open to making changes to create better racing. I’m perfectly okay with a road course event at IMS, but the disturbing thing has to do with talk of when the event would occur. I’ve heard the race might happen on Bump Day, after qualifying. I’ve heard the monday after the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. The most intelligent scenario puts the event on the weekend before opening weekend. If done correctly, a second event during May at IMS could be a great thing. Let’s just hope IMS uses their collective brains on this one.
There’s been talk of Sebastien Bourdais leaving Dragon Racing after the season. Personally, I don’t think there’s much traction to this. Bourdais only wants a paying ride. Currently, there are only nine paying rides I can think of off the top of my head.
The two Penske seats
The two Target Chip Ganassi Racing seats
The #27 seat at Andretti Autosport
The A.J. Foyt Racing #14 seat
The #19 seat at Dale Coyne Racing
The Panther Racing seat
The #7 Dragon Racing seat
The Schmidt Hamilton/Schmidt Peterson seats are heavily funded by HP and Oculus Trucking, but Pagenaud still brings a significant amount of money to the table with Honda, and Vautier has significant funding on his own. If not for Charlie Kimball’s relationship with NovoNordisk, he’s not in that car. Of all the possible paying rides, only two of them are potentially open, with only one being open as the more likely scenario. I don’t see Bourdais as the answer at Panther or in the #27 should Hinch leave. Dragon has made big strides forward this season anyway, so expect to see Bourdais return for a third season.
Speaking of paid rides, Tony Kanaan would like one as well. The 2013 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race Champion has already said he’s checking out his options for 2014, but everyone he’s spoken with requires some level of funding. Recently it was revealed that Kanaan had discussions with Joe Gibbs Racing about a Nationwide Series ride, but that was quickly cleared up by JGR’s Chris Helein as being just a discussion and nothing serious. TK remains frustrated that despite all he’s accomplished, he can’t find a paying ride. In today’s racing climate, drivers in different series around the world are required to bring some sort of funding to the table. Sometimes it’s simply being chosen by a sponsor. Sometimes it’s actively pursuing the sponsor. Sometimes it’s a family check. Very rare are paid rides. Kanaan isn’t facing anything Jeff Gordon and Kimi Raikkonen aren’t facing. It’s just the way things are now.
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