Thursday, October 20, 2011

Looking To The INDYCAR Offseason: 25+ Questions

Before Las Vegas, I was thinking ahead to my columns I wanted to write this week, and at the top of the list were questions going into the offseason. Obviously, in the last couple days, that’s been the furthest thing from my mind. On Sunday, I am going to Conseco Fieldhouse, and I am going to pay tribute to a great man and a true racer. And we’re not done remembering Dan; there are plenty more memories to share, tears to shed, and an entire legacy to celebrate.

But that legacy ties into INDYCAR, and as part of that, we carry on. We don’t stop loving this sport and community, we press forward, and value what we have that much more. And it might just help some of us from going crazy.

I’m not going to expand on any of these topics this week, but here are 25 or so big questions we have going into this offseason:

1) What sort of tweaks and considerations do we see as the 2012 car (hopefully with a DW-01/Lionheart tribute name) is delivered to the teams?

2) Will the new car and expected performance variations therein be enough to stop the pack racing at places like Las Vegas? Speaking of Las Vegas, does the series return there in 2012?

3) Who ends up in the sponsored GoDaddy seat at Andretti Autosport that would have been Wheldon’s? How do they cope with that situation and expectations?

4) Do the drivers step up their efforts to form an effective advisory body for 2012 and beyond?

5) Will Penske Racing reduce their team from 3 to 2 cars as anticipated, and if so, what happens with Ryan Briscoe?

6) Who will drive for Michael Shank Racing?

7) Will Sam Schmidt Motorsports continue in the Series next year?

8) What will the final schedule look like?

9) Where will the engine carousel stop for the teams not already with an engine deal in place? Will Lotus be an also-ran or a David amongst Goliaths?

10) What efforts will be taken towards changing some of the perceived issues in Race Control this year?

11) How will the situation at Dreyer and Reinbold play out? Is Ana Beatriz one-and-done? Where does Justin Wilson land??

Wilson's return in 2012 could be as a big free agent.
(Courtesy IndyCar Media)

12) What sort of deal does Alex Tagliani have in place for 2012?

13) Who becomes the next driver at Foyt Racing, and where does Vitor Meira go from here?

14) Does Davey Hamilton return for one more Indy 500?

15) What sort of sponsorship will Sarah Fisher Racing be able to put together for next year? Will Ed Carpenter return with the team?

16) Will Firestone Indy Lights Champion Josef Newgarden get a full-time ride on a decent team?

17) Can Newman/Haas Racing bring back both drivers and be as competitive as they were this year?

18) Will Sèbastien Bourdais return to the Series and Dale Coyne Racing?

19) Will veterans such as Alex Lloyd and Tomas Scheckter get full-time rides?

20) Does Paul Tracy return for one more year behind the wheel, or retire to perhaps a position in the booth or something otherwise involved in the Series?

21) Did part-time drivers such as Simon Pagenaud, Martin Plowman, Bertrand Baguette, Jay Howard, and Wade Cunningham do enough (and/or get enough funding) to get another shot in 2012?

22) How often will commentators still discuss Danica Patrick, even though she’s changed racing series? How will the Series market their 2012 drivers?

23) How does Simona de Silvestro bounce back from an emotionally and physically draining year?

24) Will the same coverage teams return for VERSUS (NBC Sports) and ABC next year?

25) How does the Indianapolis Motor Speedway handle the transition out of its Centennial Celebration Era and onto the next 100 years?

Those are just a few of the offseason questions we’ll explore in the upcoming weeks and months. Just a reminder, there is still racing past this current pain. Maybe it’s too soon for some of us, but eventually, we’ll deal with it together, find a way forward, and start to look at some of these topics. For me, I think it's cathartic just to start asking them.


  1. 1. dunno
    2. YES and NO
    3. pass
    4. They will.
    5. 3 cars remain, Briscoe out
    6. Briscoe or Wilson
    7. No
    8. worse than expected..
    9. Lotus will kick ass.
    10. The whole race control will be fired soon. (Tommy Kendall for pres.)
    11. Bia done, Wilson to Shank, or Foyt.
    12. Tag will be at BHA
    13. Clauson, Briscoe, Wilson
    14. No
    15. Miracle gonna happen, they will run Carpenter full time, plus one car on ovals only.
    16. Yes. if Schmidt OFF, No.
    17. Yes. Third car possible.
    18. He will and he will kick ass too.
    19. Lloyd no, Tomas yes.
    20. He MUST return.
    21. If they not run full time, I will be sad.
    22. NBC staff gonna forgive her, ABC not.
    23. She is out. :(
    24. Wally out, ABC will be the same.
    25. Who knows...

  2. @Matthew: Man, you've just exhausted all my offseason chatter! :)

    Seriously, though, fun to read your answers. Thanks! :)

  3. Haha short answers FTW. :)