This week we are back with IndyCar All-Access, if you forgot who are participants are: here they are:
- John Oreovicz (JO)
- Matt Hickey (MH)
- Matt Bauer (MB)
- Tony Tellez (TT)
- John Hetrick (JH)
- Jerry Cruz (JC)
- Kent Mueller (KM)
This week we discuss, MSR and Conquest, Barrichello, races, and where standing starts should take place.
Photo Credit: IndyCar.com
Q: Now that it is official, what are your reactions to Rubens getting a one-year deal? Does he get any wins? And will a KV driver win the championship?
JO: It’s basically good for Indy car racing, mostly from an international perspective. Rubens is popular and everyone loves to cite those 1.47 million Twitter followers. He’s a great guy and a proven, successful racer. But I think INDYCAR is kidding itself if they think he will have the same impact as Emerson Fittipaldi and Nigel Mansell. Those guys were true world champions, among the very best of their era. Barrichello is basically the seventh or eighth best driver of the last 20 years. That said, with the great number of full course cautions and opportunities to utilize strategy, I think that Barrichello has a pretty solid chance of winning an IndyCar Series race this year. I can’t see a KV driver winning the championship, but I can see Barrichello’s experience helping the team take the next step toward being a championship contender.
MH: World class talent, and he has a ton of support back in Brazil and will soon gain a lot of fans here in America.
MB: I think Rubens will be great for Indycar with 1.5 million followers he will bring a lot of new fans. I do think he will get a win this year it’s a new car drivers haven’t mastered yet, the schedule is mostly road & street courses & he’s been using carbon brakes for years. I don’t think a KV driver will win a championship but they will be very competitive.
TT: Rubens entering the league right now is a great thing for both KV Racing, and the series. He ALONE brings a fan base of 1.5 million twitter followers, and even MORE brazilian fans. Even better, if he wins. I think if there is a KV driver in the championship chase it will be TK, and probably because of the game raising that Rubens will bring to the team, and the league.
JH: I only wish it was a longer deal. I think Rubens will be a contender. There is no reason why he can’t win a race. I don’t see a KV driver winning the championship but I guess stranger things have happened.
JC: I will say Rubens will inject more international attention to the sport. It is a very good opportunity for IndyCar and for Rubens to prolonge his HOF career. The impact may not be as Nigel Mansell’s crossover but it is very close in my book. He could get 1 win this year but all the tracks are new to him. No KV driver will win the championship but they should get in victory lane at least 2 times.
KM: I think that Rubens got a fair deal, Tony Kanaan got what he wanted plus an incentive (a two year deal). Sure he’ll definitely out run Viso but can he out run Penske, Ganassi, Andretti and Tony Kanaan week in and week out. I think I could see Rubens pulling a Mansell all over again, I’m not saying he wins the first race but by Long Beach, he’ll have a good understanding of the road and street circuits. Everyone is saying oh well, he’s going to have to learn the ovals but what’s the difference, Iowa and Milwaukee are like a road course in essience because of lifting and braking in the corners, as for Indy, Texas and Fontana I see him doing great because its just get it in gear and pedal down, just like an F1 driver (go fast) As for a KV driver winning the championship, I see him and TK doing great, Viso struggles but what else is new?
Q: Will Milwaukee, Belle Isle, Baltimore and Auto Club Speedway be successful, why or why not? Out of these races which one gets axed in 2013?
JO: I have a good feeling about Milwaukee, though maybe that is just me being a hopeless optimist. I understand why Michael Andretti loves the place. He won there a lot of times and was just spectacular to watch there in the ’80s and early ’90s. Michael is smart enough to drop ticket prices to help the event rebuild itself. I was crushed to see the infield empty for last year’s race. If you’re an Indy car fan, you owe it to yourself to stand on the inside fence at Milwaukee and take in the action. I thought last year’s Baltimore event was fantastic. Ahead of time, my prediction was a home run or a strikeout, and for the most part, it was a home run. But it was a strikeout financially – as the early years always are for street races. If the new promoter can find some sponsors and not cheapen the event too much, it should have staying power. I’m not nearly as confident about Fontana. Indy car oval races in general have really struggled for attendance the last five years or so and that’s not really a market that has embraced open-wheelers. And let’s be clear: Fontana is NOT the Los Angeles market. It’s more than an hour away, and as a spectator experience, it’s not enough to entice people to make the long drive from LA or Orange County. Sad, because I remember when the grandstands were packed for the first couple of CART races in 1997-98.
MH: I don’t see why they wont succeed, the only one in that group that I have my doubts on is Fontana. Attendance in ’04 and ’05 was poor to say the least.
MB: Baltimore drew 150,000 plus fans last year that’s outstanding, I don’t know how the money got so messed up. The racing is great & I think the fans will return. Belle Isle is boring racing in a depressed area financially & I don’t think even The Captain can save it. Milwaukee HAS to be successful & I think it will be. Milwaukee has great racing & is one of the few ovals left, I think Michael Andretti, Randy Bernard & the rest of Indycar know this & will do everything they can. Auto Club Speedway is unique because of it’s size of 2 miles & has a few race lines that I think will make for exciting racing. I think it will draw good TV ratings but I’m not very confident in the attendance. I hope they all make it & without knowing the contract situations I think Detroit will be left off next year.
TT: Baltimore will be a success, and I hope that Milwaukee is as well. Baltimore was a huge event in 2011, just mismanaged. With the right group handling this we should see another huge turnout for this years event, and hopefully a profitable turn of events. Andretti Sports Management taking on the promotion of the Milwaukee event is HUGE. This shows that the series teams want to race there, and a fan base should follow. I was at MKE last year, and while it was a great show, there was no one there, but there was also no promotion. Three days, not one commercial, not one sign. This has to change for the event to be a success.
JH: I see Auto Club Speedway being the least successful of these. I hope I am wrong but I don’t see the excitement and promotion about this race like I do the other three.
JC: I have a gut feeling all tracks will do fine with probably AutoClub Fontana being the one slightly behind (unless all IndyCar fans unite and come full force in California). It is my believe that for these venues to work and be successful, you need to give them 3-year contracts to create fan equity. I would not axe any of them.
KM: On the racing side, I see Fontana, Milwaukee and Baltimore being huge successes. I think the new promoters at Milwaukee and Baltimore will do a way better job in trying to get ticket sales. As for Belle Isle, I see a huge disaster in the making, racing will be terrible and so will the attendance, I think. Fontana will do good because of the ticket package with NASCAR.
Q: Should Rubens Barrichello be considered a rookie, since Montoya, Zanardi and Mansell were considered rookies when they came over?
JO: Yes, because Indy car racing is significantly different from F1 – more yellows, oval races etc. It’s his first year in the series, therefore yes.
MH: I think he should. A rookie defined as someone who is the new to the series. Last time I checked, Rubens has never raced in Indycar before.
MB: If Scott Dixon wasn’t considered a rookie in 2003 after 2 years in CART I don’t think Rubens should be, yes he’s never raced on an oval but he has the most career starts in the history of F1 racing. If I would have known Simon Pagenaud would be considered a rookie I would have picked him as my ROY.
TT: 19 years of experience in an open wheel car? nah.
JH: I was very surprised to see that Barrichello is not being considered as a rookie. He is a great driver with a lot of experience but he is a rookie to our series. I think he definitely should be considered a rookie but I understand why he is not.
JC: This one have me baffled since, as you pointed out, historically all racers were considered rookies coming into IndyCar. Rubens may be a 19-year F1 veteran but he IS a rookie in the IICS. There are 5 ovals (a third of the schedule) which he has NEVER raced. Another matter is that he has no track experience in ANY venues IndyCar is racing. He is a rookie in my book.
KM: He’s never ran an IndyCar before, he’s a rookie no doubt, please re-think this Mr. Beaux Barfield. If Zanardi, Montoya, and Villenueve are rookies when they came over it’s not fair to give Rubens “special treatment”.
Q: What are your reactions on standing starts? Should they be implemented at certain tracks? What tracks wouldn’t work for standing starts?
JO: I’m not losing sleep over where or when they take place. I think the obvious place to implement them is Toronto. They might have a hard time doing them at Baltimore because there’s not a long straight. If they really wanted to shake things up, they should try a standing start for an oval.
MH: They need to be implemented at tracks in which the turn before the start doesn’t produce nice defined rows of two. I would love to see them.
MB: I love standing starts & don’t see why they couldn’t work on all tracks as long as driver safety isn’t compromised.
TT: I would have to say I am of the opinion that I don’t really care either way. Perhaps a standing start at Baltimore might be a cool option, especially with the hairpin where everyone got bottled up last year. Could spread the field out a bit better. MAYBE Mid Ohio.
JH: I do not really have an opinion about standing starts. I will have to see how it works before I make an opinion.
JC: For a “Show Entertainment” point of view I would adopt standing starts in ALL Road and Street Courses venues. I will also tell Beaux Barfield to go back to double-file restarts in ALL ovals. Enough of the drivers complaining about everything. They are professionals…deal with it!
KM: As a Formula One fan, I think this is great, you can’t do it at Infineon or Barber but all the other tracks (pending China’s layout) it should work great at. As Oreo said, a standing start on the ovals would be great maybe at Milwaukee.
Q: Will Conquest Racing and/or Michael Shank Racing get an engine before St. Petersburg?
JO: No. Paul Tracy’s deal is contingent upon getting a Honda and he’s pretty frustrated that it isn’t happening.
MH: Negative ghost rider.
MB: I think there is zero chance that either team get a an engine before St. Pete & probably not until the Indy 500.
TT: Conquest will not be competing before Indy, and I’ll be surprised if Shank does too. I’d say Indy on for Shank, and maybe just a one off for Conquest.
JH: I am pretty sure that if a team wants an engine bad enough they will get one. I just can’t imagine a team wanting to run and the manufacturer not making darn sure they will get an engine. I don’t see Shank on the grid at St Pete. Probably just Indy on…
JC: Sadly, this 2 teams if they make it I think it will be at Long Beach. There is enough time to get it done by then and the sponsors would love to hit that market and historic venue.
KM: No way, not even possible probably for Indianapolis, go back to Grand Sham Mike Shank, I’m sorry but you committed to IndyCar, its your responsibility to get a driver and an engine, it’s not Randy Bernard’s fault, quite crying to IndyCar to get an engine, seriously. Same thing to you Eric Bachelart.