Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Changing Drivers

Generally I love reporting and commenting on news from INDYCAR, but every once in a while you get a bit of potential news that's tough to take. That's sort of how I feel with the news currently surrounding Alex Tagliani.

Let's be upfront: Curt Cavin, among others, is saying Tag will be out of the Team Barracuda Bryan Herta Autosport #98 for Mid-Ohio. Obviously, it's been a disastrous season for the team. They're out of the Top 20 in points, and it's been a depressing mix of poor luck and errors all season long. Quite often, they've looked nothing like the team we saw after they changed to Honda power next year. When a team struggles, either engineers or drivers are often nudged towards the exit, and for at least one race, that may well be the case for Tag.

Hey, if it happens, I understand. For all we love and sympathize as fans, it's a business. When the results aren't there, changes are going to be considered.

And yet...

I think of every time Tag has stopped to have a real conversation with my daughter. I remember his passion when I interviewed him, where a Q&A that was supposed to be 10 minutes long turned into the better part of an hour, as he spoke about how much he loved this sport, his opportunities, and every time he got to drive. I think of him taking the time to sign each and every autograph when he won the pole at Indy two years ago, and how he's one of the guys, along with Ed Carpenter, that seems to make it to almost every fan event in Indy and at other races. Even online, Tag is more than happy to chat it up with the fans. To put it another way, he wears IndyCar on his sleeve, 24/7/365.

Tag has never had a long run with a top-rank team, and his year-to-year results haven't always been consistently great. He was a journeyman for most of his career, and that's probably how it will end, too. But if I had the funds, yeah, I'd put him in a car for Indy. He's not afraid of doing every tiny little thing possible to coax as much speed as possible, and I'd know I'd have a guy who'd have no shortage of fire and passion--and be a great ambassador with the fans.

I understand some tough choices have to be faced by guys like Bryan Herta and Steve Newey this season and in the offseason, and it may well be that it means Alex Tagliani is on the sidelines. But I'll sure pull for him to get one more good opportunity before it's all said and done.

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