Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Naughty Or Nice For 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Placed Under The Tree

Scott Dixon on 'pit-out' at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach ... a race he finally won for the first time in his IndyCar career. This race win helped Dixon to achieve his fourth American Open-Wheel Racing championship secured on lap 51 by never giving up the lead for the win of the final race, GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma held at Sonoma Raceway. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

Naughty Or Nice For 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Placed Under The Tree

To many who have followed professional American open-wheel automobile racing over these last fifty plus years, in terms of talent in the paddocks on both teams and drivers, the 2015 season would easily rank in the top five all-time seasons.

The 2015 season was the first season that featured the new rules governing aerodynamic body panels manufactured by Dallara but utilizing input and designs dictated/negotiated by the manufacturer of the engines used by each team - Chevrolet or Honda. Once each team was given the solution of body and wing parts to use on the racing platform, within limits, the teams could decide upon the configurations and settings allowed.

One million possible adjustment combinations with the Honda/Dallara aero-package. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

Early in the season, the cars that ran Honda seemed to be a bit behind Chevrolet on in and out cornering speed ... to wit Honda put forth, (paraphrased) our wing and body panels can be configured in about a million different ways given all of the options available. The problem with this potential breadth of choice options, once a proper engineering set up has become competitive with the more simple approach settled on by Chevrolet, about 999,000 options for adjustment become useless or irrelevant.

So on this issue ... who's Nice or Naughty?

The manufacturer, the engineering staff who figured out the best set-ups?, or the overall rules package crafted by the Verizon IndyCar Management?

In an effort to place the gifts of this season under the tree, Josh Farmer's Championship Racing Radio in show #4, with Edmund Jenks, seeks to discuss the Best (Nice) and Worst (Naughty) of this 2015 breakout season that began with an out of country race cancellation in Brazil without having a make-up race be run at any time for the balance of the season.

The discussion in show #4, however, will not focus on Verizon IndyCar Management but, rather, the races run, teams, and drivers.

Management, for the most part, may qualify for a lump of coal beginning with their policy of "Race Control By Committee" which had the person who was in charge of this policy - Derrick Walker - resign from the position after 2/3ds of the season had been put to bed ... with cookies and milk.

Championship Racing Radio 4: Naughty or Nice?

Time of show: (45 minutes at the maximum)
Intro: (Less than 5 minutes) introduce ourselves.
Rest of show: Best/worst of the 2015 IndyCar season in the theme of Naughty or Nice list. We both talk about who we think is the best driver

●    Nice List

○    Best Driver – Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon - The driver from Auckland, New Zealand kept his cool and capitalized on an unbelievable mistake by Team Penske midway through the race. That allowed Dixon to win his fourth Verizon IndyCar Series championship with a victory in season finale's Go Pro Grand Prix of Sonoma race (ht: Bruce Martin)

○    Best Race – Farmer - MAVTv500, Auto Club Speedway | Jenks - Honda Indy Grand Prix Of Alabama, Barber Motorsports Park (road/street course) - MAVTv500, Auto Club Speedway (superspeedway, oval course)

○    Best Rookie – Farmer - Bryan Herta Autosport's Gabby Chaves | Jenks - Bryan Herta Autosport's Gabby Chaves – Total Laps was 2nd best after Ryan Hunter Reay (2211 – RHR 2218) - Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Sage Karam - Honorable Mention 12 races – 2 Top 5 / 2 top 10 – excitement generated – No ride this season with 3 seats open – SPM / KV Racing / Dale Coyne

○    Best Move –  Penske Racing's Will Power – Sonoma for the Verizon P1 Pole Award - Will Power saw the performance CFH Racing's Josef Newgarden was able to do by placing Black sidewall tires on his Dallara so Will ordered up a set be placed on his Chevy and with the last seconds of qualifications winding down, snatched the Verizon P1 Pole Award away from Newgarden.

○    Most Improved driver – Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing's Graham Rahal – He improved so much as a driver, it made him marriageable – Courtney Force and Graham got married Nov. 21, 2015 and are honeymooning in Fiji and New Zealand.

Ryan Briscoe before he took to the track at the MAVTv500, Auto Club Speedway. Image Credit: Ken Manfred (2015)

○    Best underdog – Farmer - Schmidt Peterson Motorsports' Conor Daly (points for Detroit) - Dale Coyne Racing's Tristan Vautier (showed great promise behind substitution runs) | Jenks - Schmidt Peterson Motorsports' Ryan Briscoe – 8 Races – ½ season – 1 Top 5 / 4 Top 10 / 2 DNF … one DNF at ACS on last lap caused by Ryan Hunter Reay

●    Naughty List

○    Worst Driver – Farmer - Dale Coyne Racing's Francesco Dracone (never finished in the Top 20) | Jenks - KV Racing Technology's Stefano Colitti – 16 Races with 5 DNF / Dale Coyne Racing's Francesco Dracone – 5 Races with 2 DNF - Josh Farmer compared Francesco Dracone as being "as slow as Milka Duno." Edmund Jenks asked Josh, "So you believe that Dracone is Milka Duno without the mascara? ... as far as we know, right?

○    Worst Race – Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana "NOLA"

Penske Racing's Simon Pagenaud leaves the track after contesting space with Ryan Hunter-Reay and take a mud ride. This image, with Andretti Autosport's Marco Andretti in the foreground, was taken at the beginning of an accident that colored the late stages of the shortened race at NOLA. Image Credit: Bret Kelley - VICS (2015)

○    Worst Move - Farmer - Andretti Autosport's Ryan Hunter-Reay (2015 P6) - The final full course YELLOW Flag came from a massive incident between Sebastien Bourdais, Ryan Hunter-Reay (RHR), and Simon Pageneud (on the outside) as the drivers attempted to go three-wide in turn 3. RHR ended up pushing Pagenaud off of the track | Jenks - Penske Racing's Will Power - Diving move in Turn 10 at St. Petersburg on teammate Juan Pablo Montoya with many laps remaining in the race. It turns out that these two drivers got together during the final race of the season at Sonoma Raceway. Given that both drivers were in the hunt for the championship, one wonders if these points were able to be retained, would Scott Dixon have his 4th IndyCar crown.

Pageneud slid off the track into the mud, and then back on the track in the next right-hand corner 4, collecting Hunter-Reay and Bourdais sending all three cars across the grass.

Bourdais slides to the tire wall and hits broadsides cracking the hull of his No. 11 Dallara (all preceding crash images by Bret Kelley for IndyCar)

Penske Racing's Helio Castroneves in the pits at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Qualified well at many 2015 venues but just could not make the performances stick. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

○    Most disappointing driver - Farmer - Penske Racing's Simon Pagenaud (high hopes not realized - 2015 P11) - CFH Racing's Ed Carpenter (better set up with Conway last year - 2015 P27) | Jenks - Penske Racing's Helio Castroneves (2015 P5) - What was more surprising: Helio going without a win for only the second time in the past 16 IndyCar seasons, or his comparative disappearance at Indianapolis, where he's always expected to vie for the win? It's probably his not visiting Victory Lane, especially considering it was one of Helio's best-ever seasons in terms of qualifying. His four poles were complemented by the fact he never started worse than fifth through the first 11 races and his average starting spot was a dazzling fourth for 16 races. He lost Long Beach only because of a long pit stop to avoid contact. As for Indianapolis, other than his thrilling duel with RHR in 2014, the three-time winner has not been a factor at IMS the past few Mays but this year was more puzzling because of Chevy's obvious advantage. Finishing seventh and leading only two laps is not what three-time Indy kings are made of and it was the only oval he never really looked like a factor (ht: Racer, Robin Miller)

●    Anything else that we might want to cover - If anyone finds themselves in the Los Angeles area over the holidays, make a special trip to the newly renovated and re-opened Petersen Automotive Museum which resumed operations December 7, 2015.

Named 10 best automotive museums in the world by CNN.

Precious Metal display room at the Petersen Museum. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2015)

The Petersen Automotive Museum



(323) 930-CARS (2277)

Here's hoping that all who happen to follow Verizon IndyCar Series never see a lump of coal and are always thought of by Santa Claus as ... Nice!

Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good night.

... notes from The EDJE

TAGS: Verizon IndyCar Series, Graham Rahal, Scott Dixon, Helio Castroneves, Stefano Colitti, Francesco Dracone, Will Power, Verizon P1 Pole Award, Barber Motorsports Park, Auto Club Speedway, Derrick Walker, Josh Farmer, Championship Racing Radio, Edmund Jenks, Petersen Automotive Museum, 

No comments: