Sunday, July 13, 2008

Tale Of The Tape Through 11 Sessions – No Top 10

ORIOL SERVIA In The Pits (No. 5 KV Racing Technology): Quoted after the FIRESTONE INDY 200 at Nashville Superspeedway - "It was not really a great finish for the No. 5 KV Racing Technology car. Placing 16th is not what we were hoping for, but we definitely wanted to bring the car home. We had a little misfortune with our first pit stop, a gun failure, and lost any chance we had to do anything. I am looking forward to the next round of road courses where, hopefully, we will be performing up front again." Servia is in the lead on Championship points for the season – out of the top ten, in eleventh place with seven races remaining. Image Credit: Dana Garrett - IRL (2008)

Tale Of The Tape Through 11 Sessions – No Top 10

Nashville showed the weakness of the way the merger between ChampCar and IndyCar has been handled. It’s racing but not at its best primarily because the playing field has not been leveled enough to allow ANY of the former ChampCar teams to be competitive … not even where these teams would normally shine.

It all comes down to timing, equipment transition, and the desire to have a truly competitive series. What with the series through eleven races having primarily small ovals and little variance in the level of support (few aero parts for ovals early on, equipment settings for consistent and progressive speed runs) the very best the T-Teams can muster as it relates to the points championship is 11th .

Nashville was especially disheartening. Poor qualifying and only eight drivers competing with the best showing put in by Mario Moraes (Dale Coyne Racing) at tenth (his best oval race so far), one lap down in a rain shortened race on ESPN was anything but exciting for a longtime CART/CCWS fan. The “Elite Eight” were anything but elite.

Yes, there was some pretty decent driving and risky passes by the established team drivers … but this is to be expected when nothing has changed much in seven years in terms of tracks, top teams, and equipment. The winner did not listen to the radio communications from the team pit captain and won by rain default. The ESPN broadcast announcing team thought that the reason Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi Racing) won at Nashville for the third time (yawn) was due to great pit strategy, but the truth came out making the whole affaire just another “round-and-round” IRL small oval production.

The IRL had a chance to invigorate the BRAND … but through 11 races has done little to get the maximum benefit from the situation. If I were a driver from a T-Team, I would have wished I had the mumps like EJ Viso (HVM Racing) and pulled out, or had the guts not to show up at all as did Mario Dominguez (Pacific Coast Motorsports) if it meant going around in small circles while being placed at a disadvantage as it relates to having an improvement on the increase of speed (and limited set-up options) in the existing equipment. In this first transition year, there doesn’t seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel (on small ovals anyway).

Honestly, small ovals can be exciting … but NOT as a steady diet. Here is hoping that the final seven races get a little better for the T-Team Ten and that they are able to creep back into the top ten in the point standings by years end. Mid-Ohio can not get here fast enough.

MARIO MORAES (No. 19 Sonny's Bar-B-Q, 10th): Dale Coyne Racing also kept Moraes on track during the final yellow, allowing the improving rookie to leap ahead of the rest of the midfield and take 10th after his best oval race so far. Said Mario of the race, "I'm very happy with a 10th-place finish tonight. The car was great, and the team did an excellent job. I was able to improve 12 positions in the race, which shows how good we did tonight. This is my best oval finish of my career. It would have been interesting to see if the race wasn't ended early because I really think I could have passed a few more cars." Image Credit: Andy Sallee (2008)

How the Elite Eight Fared:

Pos. Driver>Team +Time

10. Mario Moraes>Dale Coyne +1 lap

11. Will Power>KV +1 lap

12. Graham Rahal>Newman/Haas/Lanigan +1 lap

15. Bruno Junqueira>Dale Coyne +2 laps

16. Oriol Servia>KV +2 laps

18. Justin Wilson>Newman/Haas/Lanigan +28 laps

20. Enrique Bernoldi>Conquest +105 laps

21. Jaime Camara>Conquest +121 laps

T-Team Ten Point Standings Through 11 of 18 Races

Pos. Driver - - - - - - Points –Points Behind Leader

11. Oriol Servia - - - - - - 220 -200

13. Will Power - - - - - - 213 -207

16. Graham Rahal - - - - - - 201 -219

17. E.J. Viso - - - - - - - 190 -230

19. Justin Wilson - - - - - - 183 -237

20. Enrique Bernoldi - - - - - - 172 -248

21. Mario Moraes - - - - - - 160 -260

22. Bruno Junqueira - - - - - - 156 -264

24. Jaime Camara - - - - - - 98 -322

27. Mario Dominguez - - - - - - - 74 -346

... notes from The EDJE

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