Friday, February 22, 2013

Friday Notebook: Getting Ready, Scheckter, Prospects

-I don't know about you, but the IndyCar testing at Sebring this week made me even more impatient for this season to start, if that's at all possible. I believe my kids are gearing up, too--conversation in the house is growing ever more IndyCar-related, if I'm any judge. Soon, our family's Pick-A-Driver contest will start again, and you can believe my 5 year-old daughter (and our family's defending champ) has a target on her back. I love this field, I love some of the pairing we're seeing this year, and think we're in for another Grade-A dose of Awesome.

The "plugged-in" IndyCar fan on social media has to listen to a lot of diatribes, as well as a lot of well-intentioned talk about this or that being wrong in the Series or not "moving the ratings". I respect that. But by this point in the season, that's all drowned out in my head by the rising, growing roar of engines coming to life. All that matters is bad-ass drivers driving the wheels off a DW12. After this long of a wait, to have photos and videos and news of cars actually on track? Yeah, I'm celebrating sorta like this. Don't judge me. Damn the torpor, full speed ahead.

-Seriously, even from testing there's a lot to get excited about. There's the A.J. Allmendinger test with Penske, which lit up the Twitterati and social media like none other, and the at least momentary satisfaction of seeing Takuma Sato and Foyt Racing at the top of the test leaderboard. Tristan Vautier's lap times continue to impress, as he prepares to make what could be a thrilling rookie campaign. Sebastian Saavedra is working on his comeback year. Simona de Silvestro got to test a car with a competitive engine. That doesn't even touch on Round 2 of the Honda/Chevy battle, another shot for Will Power at the elusive title, or the drivers trying to joining the ranks of best of the best at Indy. You can't throw a rock without hitting a driver or team with something to prove, a title to defend, or a legacy to cement. If I sleep between now and St. Pete, it'll be a bloody miracle.

-If you haven't checked out Tomas Scheckter's guest post over at Open Wheels, you'll definitely want to do so. It seems as if TScheck's chances at returning to the 500 or IndyCar are always the source of much speculation during silly season, and I have no clue whether or not anything he might be working on will materialize in time for May. Scheckter doesn't always endear himself to all the fans out there, but I also know that he remains one of the most exciting and entertainingly aggressive drivers in open wheel oval racing today. I'd be happy indeed to see him race at Indy this year, not to mention Pocono, or Milwaukee, or Iowa...

-There's been a nice amount of discussion about the Mazda Road to Indy this past week, which always makes me happy. However, there is a point I want to come back to: I do think sometimes we fans want our favorite drivers to rush through the Mazda Road to Indy as quickly as possible, but that's not always the smart or right thing to do. As I mentioned when discussing the Saavedra signing last week, there are some excellent drivers who simply would benefit from a bit of additional seasoning in one of the development series. I know the push for funding and scholarships doesn't always let that pan out, but a guy isn't a dud or some remedial student simply because he spends an extra year in Pro Mazda or Firestone Indy Lights. There is nothing that says you have to have it all in place by the time you're 21 or 22. With that, I'll let the dead horse go to its Maker quietly now...

-I won't be at the Winter Indy Tweetup this weekend, but best wishes to everyone headed out that way. I'm sure you have some wonderful surprises in store...

Have a wonderful weekend!

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