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Start Times, Consistent Schedule Keys to INDYCAR Success

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Prior to the Mid-Ohio IZOD IndyCar Series race on August 5, Randy Bernard, the CEO of the series, stated that more races are needed for the series to be successful. He intimated that 15, the number on the schedule this year, is not enough and that he’d feel better if the number of races totaled about 20.

Fair enough. That seems like a smart, if not obvious, comment. To keep fan interest up, there must be enough of a product to, in essence, keep them reminded that it’s still out there. That only 15 races grace the schedule this year is problematic, and the swift reaction to reconsider fast oval tracks due to Dan Wheldon’s on-track death last year is a large factor. But it also seems that INDYCAR was caught without contingency plans, and that’s when an organization gives a sense, whether it’s true or not, that it is floundering.

IndyCar Mid-Ohio Recap: Caution Free Once Again

*In a nutshell:* Scott Dixon and the No. 9 team won their fourth career race at Mid Ohio Sports Car Course, this time by snookering early leader Will Power on pit road. The race, which went caution-free, was the second straight caution free race of the season. Will Power led much of the early portion of the race but a slow pit stop relegated Power to a second place finish. Simon Pagenaud, Sebastian Bourdais, and James Hinchcliffe rounded out the top 5.

*Key Moment:* Will Power had the field covered for the first 56 laps of the race, but Power’s No. 12 team had a slow pit stop on lap 57 and subsequently were beat off of pit road by Dixon and the No. 9 team. Dixon made it look easy from there on out, and cruised home by leading the rest of the way en route to his second win of the year.

IndyCar In-Depth: A Preview Of Sunday’s Race At Mid-Ohio

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*What’s News?*

It’s been a quiet couple of weeks in the world of the IZOD IndyCar Series since the circuit departed from Edmonton. But the news cycle hasn’t been a total snoozer. The biggest change heading into the race in Mid-Ohio is a rules adjustment being applied to the recently reintroduced “Push-to-Pass” system. According to technical bulletins released by series officials, there will now be a five-second delay from the time the Push-to-Pass button is depressed to the time that the boost is actually deployed. This ought to have all sorts of implications on strategy as teams scramble to figure out the best way to utilize the updated boost.

Open Wheel Wednesday: Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind

The IndyCar series had this past weekend off. And with that break, a couple of questions come to mind: Did anyone really notice? Was it even missed? The Olympic Games have attracted much of the sporting media’s coverage, but that didn’t stop other motorsports. Formula 1 continued as they would, and NASCAR held one of the bigger races of the season, and with coverage of that series switching to ESPN, the race was a showcase event for the network.

Heck, even the NBC Sports channel, home of some of the Olympics coverage, took time out to show Major League Soccer – so yes, the show must go on.

IndyCar Round Table: Push to Pass, More Ovals, and Ending Under Yellow

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*The push to pass feature has returned. What are your thoughts on it–happy to see it, didn’t miss it? And also do you like the way they have been doing it this time around, giving a total number of seconds a driver can use?*

Toni: I actually got on my soap box on this a few weeks ago. I don’t like it. I think it’s too gimmicky and didn’t really miss it when we didn’t have it. It also particularly annoyed me when I was watching the end of the Edmonton race and it came down to who had more push to pass left, Castroneves or Sato. I also thought it was kind of pointless; so they would both lay on the button and it renders itself useless.
Huston: Ha. You used my word, gimmicky. I thought it was too much like a video-game feature. Kind of like getting added powers or the like, but I’ve changed my stance on this one. After watching the F1 races, and their DRS (drag reduction system), I think it adds a different element of strategy.

IndyCar Edmonton Race Recap

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*In a nutshell:* Helio Castroneves’ #3 team delivered a brilliant pit stop with 23 laps to go to snooker the lead away from Canadian driver Alex Tagliani. From there, Castroneves never looked back, and despite second-place finisher Takuma Sato’s best efforts to wrestle the lead away from Castroneves, Castroneves held firm for the final stint of the race to grab his second win of the season. Will Power delivered a valiant drive to grab the final spot on the podium in 3rd, and Dario Franchitti and Alex Tagliani rounded out the top 5.

IndyCar Edmonton Indy Preview

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*Whats News?*

The IZOD IndyCar Series continues it’s trek through Canada this Sunday with the Edmonton Indy. The biggest and perhaps most curious news coming out over the past week was the revelation from IndyCar race director Beaux Barfield that the sanctioning body was heavily considering introducing an “overtime format” to IndyCar racing, similar to that of NASCAR’s Green-White-Checkered finishes. IndyCar officials will make a decision over the off–season as to whether or not GWC’s will make their way to the sport. Another very important piece of IndyCar news this week actually came from Washington DC. The U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of letting the nation’s military branches continue to sponsor sports teams. This is great news for IndyCar’s Panther Racing, who has a very lucrative sponsorship deal with the United States National Guard.

The Comeback of the American Driver: Ryan Hunter-Reay

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Ryan Hunter-Reay is in many ways the poster child for the plight of the American driver in open wheel racing. He currently sits atop the driver standings in the IZOD IndyCar Series and if he can hang on to win the championship, it will not only be the realization at last of the wealth of potential Hunter-Reay has always shown, but perhaps it will also signal the comeback of the American driver.

Here’s an encouraging stat: of the 21 drivers to win three races in a row from 1979 to 2011, only three (Paul Tracy, 1997; AJ Allmendinger, 2006; Scott Dixon, 2007) failed to win an Indy car title in the same year. In defense of Tracy and Allmendinger, it might be worth noting that in 1997, Alex Zanardi, who also won three in a row, took the title and in 2006 it went to Sebastien Bourdais who won the first four in a row.

IndyCar In 2013: A Look Ahead

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I hear a lot of questions from IndyCar fans on a regular basis. I often field simple questions such as “Is (insert driver here) going to win this week?” or “What is wrong with (insert team or driver, your choice)?” However, the question I hear the most from fans these days is “What is going on with the schedule for next year?” And it is a fair question indeed.

After last off-season’s scheduling nightmare, in which race dates were lost and events weren’t finalized until the very last minute, it’s not hard to understand why IZOD IndyCar Series fans are anxious to know what is in store for next season. There have been plenty of rumors, and everything from stops in Phoenix and Richmond to the return of the Michigan 500 have been suggested.

IndyCar Preview: 2012 Honda Indy Toronto

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*What’s News?*

After a spell of five races in five weeks that began with an enthralling 96th running of the Greatest Spectacle in Motorsports, the entire INDYCAR Series had a moment to breathe with the off weekend. But it was only a brief moment, as the action heats up again this Sunday with the first of two trips across the border into Canada in the month of July. Just six races remain before the 2012 champion is crowned and there’s sure to be plenty of action, and much to discuss, prior to the checkered flag waving at Fontana.

The other big news this week is …

The Return of IndyCar’s Magic Button

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INDYCAR has announced that the push to pass feature will return to the IZOD IndyCar Series for the five remaining road / street course events on the 2012 schedule, beginning this weekend in Toronto. The big question I want to ask about this announcement is why?

No, not just why, more like why on earth did anyone think it was a good idea to monkey with what has been a really good season with happy fans so far by bringing back a completely unnecessary and totally contrived bit of fakery like push to pass?

IndyCar Preview: Iowa Corn Indy 250

*Whats News?*

The IZOD IndyCar Series heads to the fan-friendly Iowa Speedway this week for the Iowa Corn Indy 250. Last week, Ryan Hunter-Reay delivered an impressive victory in a race that was promoted by team owner Michael Andretti. Of course, the race was not without controversy as yet another questionable call was made by IndyCar officals, this time a drive through penalty given to Scott Dixon. The incident was just one of many questionable calls made by Beaux Barfield and Co. this season, and one can’t help but wonder when IndyCar will clean up its act on the officiating side of things.

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