Monday, September 9, 2013

Monday Notebook: Road Course, Dixon, TK, Servia, Ladder, and More

-For a September that's supposed to be quiet, there sure is a lot going on. I thought I'd take a minute to chat about some of the items we've seen in the last week.

-The jury still seems out on a race on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and nearly a week after the test (thought it was best to let this one percolate for awhile), I still don't know what I think. On one hand, I could see the race filling a gap and making sense financially. On the other hand, I'm not a huge fan of the current road course at Indy. If anything, having the Brickyard on the road course would make more sense, since NASCAR isn't particularly suited to the oval there. But back to IndyCar, I just don't know on this one. I think it could work, but I think there would need to be a lot of additional activities to draw the fans in. I'd be there, but I think casual fans would need convincing. I think I'll just leave it there for now.

-Scott Dixon's $30,000 fine for his comments at Baltimore is something he'll be able to work off, and I'm glad it sounds as if he's calmed down a bit. Honestly, it's almost a good thing that folks have a month to cool down before Houston. I hate the gap in the schedule, and I love emotion from drivers, but there's a difference between a scrap after a tough hit and seriously going after race officials. There's a right way and a wrong way to lobby for change. I was always told "praise in public, punish in private", and I think that largely applies to criticism, too.

-Congrats to Alex Baron for winning in his USF2000 debut this past weekend. In a season that has been dominated by Cape Motorsports, Afterburner Autosport absolutely cleaned up in that one. Baron was French F4 champ, and if he sticks around stateside, he could be a force to be reckoned with. Mark that name down.

-Speaking of the Mazda Road to Indy, I received a nice email on last week's article on the Lights traffic jam. Because I don't say it enough, thank you to all of you who have taken the time to email, comment, or tweet regarding something I wrote. Blogging can often become an exercise in shouting into the void, and simply hoping it isn't as empty as it seems. So thank you plenty for taking the time to shout out from the aether.

-As much as I hope Tony Kanaan doesn't jump ship for NASCAR (what I wouldn't give to see him at Ganassi for a couple of years!), there's some good Indy 500 news this week, too, with 8Star talking about possibly fielding a 500 team. With the sports car merger, I've been extremely interested to see just what sort of crossover we get for INDYCAR. Nothing sounds concrete yet with 8Star, but goodness, I'd be happy to see a guy like Enzo Potolicchio involved in the 500 as an owner.

-Back to TK for a minute; as I said, I hope he doesn't leave, but I also don't think it's the end of the world if he does. And yes, that's with recognizing him as one of the sport's greats, and definitely one of the best ever at Indy. Believe me, I'm not short-selling what he's done. Still waves of drivers come and go, and personable as he is, there are other great drivers raring at the chance to race. I guess with time comes perspective, and that finds constant alarmism more of a danger than losing a driver.

-If I'm Panther Racing, I would stick with Oriol Servia for next season, too. You're not going to find a driver as consistently competitive on both ovals and street courses, who will stay largely out of trouble and make the best of even the worst cars. Should there be an American in the National Guard car, as I've often heard? Dan Wheldon was a great representative for the NG, so there's that. Plus, even if Oriol only goes 2-3 seasons before getting thrown under the bus, that's more stability then he's usually been able to count on. It also seems like he clicks pretty well with the engineering fellas over there.

-Let me throw this Molotov out there, because I've been kicking this around in my head for a bit now. Based on performance only, which full-time driver would you kick to the curb if it meant making room in 2014 for someone like Carlos Munoz or Stefan Wilson? Sebastian Saavedra is last among points among full-timers, but points aren't everything. Is there someone you've felt has essentially reached their peak, that you'd replace with one of those guys? I'll tell you, I'd certainly like to see Wilson in a full-time ride next year. As much as I've loved the plucky lineup of the Coyne 2nd car, it's been frustrating to only see some of those drivers for 1 or 2 races. Better than nothing though, right?

That's the thing--there are a ton of really good, young drivers right now, and it's easy to see potential everywhere. I really do hope we end up +1 or +2 on seats next season, but that's going to involve seeing what happens at places like Ganassi.

-Fantasy players: ironing out some bugs. I'll have points posted shortly, and Houston up for driver selection. We're doing something a little different for Houston, so thanks for your patience!

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