Wednesday, August 22, 2012

How I Spent My IndyCar Vacation

Three weeks.

That’s three weeks of no IndyCar, enabled by a rather large, China-shaped hole in the schedule.

I’m sure there’s some parallel here between negotiating a race with China and getting involved in a land war in Asia, but I’ll pass on that for now. What matters is, after what seems like a really, really long break, IndyCar is back at Sonoma this weekend.

So what did we miss between Mid-Ohio and Sonoma, and how did we spend our time?

-Some of us spent our time being taken out by Jacques Villeneuve in an extremely winnable NASCAR Nationwide race in Montreal. It could have been worse for Tag, of course. He could have had a really embarrassing day, such as throwing a shoe on the course, trying to defend the tattered remnants of Villeneuve’s driving reputation (still want to trash IndyCar, there, pal?), or being spotted as having paid admission for what was little more than largely a wretched display of semi-skilled bumper cars.

-Others watched various types of racing to try and bridge the gap. Of course, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway hosted MotoGP, Bryan Clauson won in some USAC action, and ALMS had an absolutely amazing race at Road America (someone please nab Martin Plowman a ride back in IndyCar). USF2000 also had their Road America event, which will be tape-delayed on Velocity. Watching and tracking these last two events, respectively, was a motivator in me praying once again that IndyCar figures out a way back to RA sooner rather than later.

-More recently, some of us spent our time panicking, processing, approving, or denouncing the possibility a group of owners might be trying to purchase IndyCar. Honestly, though, it doesn’t sound as if anything concrete will come of it. I’m ok with that. I don’t mind the right owners talking about it, but this isn’t exactly a time where we need more turbulence or a leadership shakeup, in my opinion.

-Still others began our dark mutterings and musings on the 2013 IndyCar silly season. Rahal, Sato, Barrichello….if you think negotiations and discussions haven’t already begun, you’re fooling yourself. We can expect 3-4 big moves, I’m thinking, but we’ve got a ways before any of that is announced.

-Yet another group of fans (and I include myself here) began to experience severe withdrawal symptoms. Last weekend, I drove my son to Target to get a Pop-Tarts box with Scott Dixon’s picture on it (his favorite driver), and considered it a pretty big event. I was about a week away from painting faces on my IndyCar crash parts and holding a tea party with them.

Welcome back, guys.
Used with permission. Courtesy TrackSideOnline.com
However you spent the IndyCar “summer vacation”, thank goodness IndyCar is back on track in just a couple of days! Part of the problem was this layoff took the attention away from a tremendous 3-race battle for the IndyCar championship. Now, fans need to get geared back up, and see where we left off. In case you need a refresher:

-Will Power, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Helio Castroneves, and Scott Dixon are in the thick of a very, very close battle for the IZOD IndyCar Series title.

-KV Racing’s relationship with Rubens Barrichello seems a wee bit strained at the moment. The same could be said with Graham Rahal and Chip Ganassi.

-A veritable host of different drivers and teams keep racking up podiums and Top 5s, but we’re still waiting to see if any of the smaller teams can pull a Coyne and win again this year.

-USF2000, Star Mazda, and Indy Lights all have major title fights on their hands, which will all come into clearer focus in just a few weeks at Baltimore.

-Charlie Kimball is ready to return to the track after the injury from his Mid-Ohio test.

So, tanned, rested, and ready for action, the IndyCar faithful prepare to jump back into the culmination of an unpredictable season. If it’s all the same to you, if we can just cut out the summer break next year, that’d be awesome.

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