Ground(ed) Effects

Indycar and general autosport opinion

It’s Tuesday already?!  

I thought I just posted a few days ago and here I go again?

This dubious self-imposed return to blogging has brought with it a dubious self-imposed schedule for posting every Tuesday. Me and my big mouth will surely run out of new Indycar things to discuss before April is out.

One new development I’d like to highlight was an opportunity with which to be involved, that came along right before the start of the aerokit-era – The Indycar Power Poll.

In similar fashion as many sports, This Indycar Power Poll is to be a basic guide for understanding the current and past performance climate of the participants of the particular sport. I happily joined this band of miscreants these esteemed colleagues who with nothing better to do than to weigh in on the drivers performances directed their creative talents to provide fodder for words add value to our collective readerships. Those aformentioned colleagues, each with writers all and with a dedicated interest in the sport of Indycar are:

Dylan Reynolds openwheel33.com @openwh33l

For other insight into the Indycar Power Poll, please visit those folks for their individual takes on this informal data and Indycar in general.

So just prior to the St. Pete race, we scrambled together a Pre-season Power Poll which, when our individual polls were compiled into an aggregate, looked something like this:

Preseason Rankings
Pos.
Driver
Points
1
Will Power
480
2
Scott Dixon
370
3
Simon Pagenaud
364
4
Juan Montoya
313
5
Tony Kanaan
299
6
Helio Castroneves
297
7
Ryan Hunter-Reay
283
8
Sebastien Bourdais
245
9
James Hinchcliffe
234
10
Josef Newgarden
198
11
Carlos Munoz
178
12
Marco Andretti
172
13
Graham Rahal
156
14
Charlie Kimball
148
15
Takuma Sato
146
16
Luca Filippi/Ed Carpenter
145
17
Stefano Coletti
143
18
Sage Karam
131
19
Jack Hawksworth
130
20
Simona De Silvestro
116
21
Gabby Chaves
90
22
James Jakes
89
23
Carlos Huertas
86
24
Francesco Dracone
62


As expected, we see some collective change following the Firestone GP at St. Pete

After Round 1 – The Firestone GP – St. Petersburg, FL – @GPSTPETE

Pos. Driver Points Pos. Change
1 Will Power
900
2 Juan Montoya
703
Up 2
3 Simon Pagenaud
640
4 Tony Kanaan
599
Up 1
5 Scott Dixon
596
Down 3
6 Helio Castroneves
577
7 Ryan Hunter-Reay
497
8 Sebastien Bourdais
466
9 Josef Newgarden
372
Up 1
10 James Hinchcliffe
372
Down 1
11 Marco Andretti
343
Up 1
12 Graham Rahal
322
Up 1
13 Jack Hawksworth
319
Up 6
14 Luca Filippi/Ed Carpenter
299
Up 2
15 Takuma Sato
297
16 Carlos Munoz
295
Down 5
17 Charlie Kimball
281
Down 3
18 Stefano Coletti
280
Down 1
19 Sage Karam
230
Down 1
20 Simona De Silvestro
213
21 Gabby Chaves
182
22 James Jakes
165
23 Carlos Huertas
148
24 Francesco Dracone
117

Perhaps, I was expecting to see Will Power fall from the top spot which would have been harsh in my view.  His dominance over the entirety of the weekend was reduced only slightly by a minor bobble in the pits which cost him the top spot on the podium in my view.  Montoya had an impressive and inspired drive which now invites more attention to his position compared with a year ago.  Scott Dixon took a tumble down the ranking but much like Power’s not really due to anything in his control.  Munoz, who had a very pedestrian day, tumbled the most from 11th to 16th.  Jack Hawksworth was a pleasant surprise for the Honda contingent, battling to 8th after falling to the back early for Lap 1 wing damage. Personally, I had Simon Pagenaud tumbling a bit more than the aggregate and Helio a bit higher here as well, largely due to the dominance of the Penske machines.


And a old, early-blog item is also returning as a regular feature – The Flags of Opinion.

Red Flags
– The Dumbest Question That Could Be Asked On Raceday: Please retire immediately the most tiresome and unnecessary part of the raceday experience just prior to the command, “Racefans, ARE YOU READY?”. As noted on other blogs, this most tiresome and rhetorical of questions is more than overdue to disappear form the raceday experience.  Please, please, make it go away. 
The Flying Debris: Yes, I am aware that on the ticket stub that I printed out (on my home printer at my own cost), there is a disclaimer that spectators assume all risks of being at such an event where things can and will go wrong and potentially become injurious to spectators. Thanks liability lawyers and insurance plans, we are aware, however if the object is to bring more people to your event and not less, containing race debris is of serious concern. Racing in America is already becoming marginalized and getting a skull fracture (or much worse) should be the least of our concerns.

Yellow Flags
Driving judgement: More of it please. I understand you drivers are all eager to impress/do your best. Sometimes less is more. Cars that minimized contact generally finished higher than those that didn’t. Mid-pack back is without question going to be a real scrap this season, with many drivers desperate to retain their driving privileges. Even 2nd place Will Power could have waited a handful of laps to better set-up his pass and possibly recover his only lost position of the weekend. 
Confirmation Bias: Cheever has proclivities to opinions and will look for any shred of evidence to support his sometimes tone-deaf claims. Hearing his praise for Marco’s driving was particularly off immediately following young Andretti’s attempt to pass where there was no room. If we’re one of the 400,000 worldwide TV viewers, we’re already pretty astute to the Indycar environment already. Don’t need additional opinion and commentary to help me interpret what I’m seeing, thank you.

Green Flags
Aerokits: Yes, the certain scapegoat in each and every yellow flag situation this season that causes more than a two-lap delay in restart. Folks, it’s like this, if drivers don’t bang their cars together, there will be no yellows for contact or debris. The aerokits provide more driving and technical intrigue to this sport than we’ve seen in a very long time. I want to see how this season plays out. I’m a very strong proponent of the aerokit plan because it will force some much needed uncertainty in each event. Let’s watch it playout over a season, not judge it based on one half of the first race.
Intrigue: Oh, this word is an early contender to the be the most used noun in my blog this season. How will the aerokits perform? Can Honda beat Chevy? Can Penske be stopped? Will Simona survive in Indycar? Who will be a surprise winner this season? Will Honda dominate ovals the way Chevy dominates the streets? So much newness to it all and I’m more excited than I’ve been in many years. Lots of interesting bits to consider when everything isn’t the same from garage to garage. Instead of marking time between my select few favorite races, I already can’t wait for the next race. Hurray for excitement!

Yes, I’ll say it again..

HURRAY FOR EXCITEMENT!

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