Tuesday, May 24, 2011

INDY LIGHTS: 2011 Primer...

Otay, I suppose I should leave this to Ryan the Expert – of Junior Open Wheel Talent, albeit I’d originally intended to do a season preview, just ran outta time – like always – as this story, amongst a TON ‘O ‘UTTERS... Has been festerin’ in the NFWHV; (NoFenderz WormHole Vortex...) a somewhat nebulous black hole that appears to be reminiscent of that other place  called the Bermuda Triangle – NOT to be Cornfuzed with another Sand dial-ish instrument known fondly here as an I.U.T. – another measurement ‘O time, being a clever takeoff of the “DAWG’s A.U.T. BUTT! I digress...

Nevertheless, I couldn’t resist, since after all this is where many aspiring drivers seeking to graduate to the INDYCAR BIG BOYZ’ come from. And I really enjoyed my last FIL race, the ’09 Freedom 100. As we’re off to a good start with three different winners in the first three races...

Rd 1: Streets of St Pete, FL
(March 27, 2011)
Since your humble scribe was outta the country – ‘Down Under in OZ, I missed all coverage of the Road to Indy’s final stepping stone, a.k.a. the Firestone Indy Lights Championship. Where I believe 15-cars took part in the season opener? With first blood being drawn by Josef Newgarden winning his inaugural Indy Lights start at St Pete ahead of some Hotschue named Conor Daly... As Newgarden becomes only the ninth driver to win in his series debut...

Rd 2: Barber Motorsports Park, AL
(April 10, 2011)
Victor Garcia led Wire-to-Wire from the Pole to claim his inaugural Indy Lights victory over a tantalizingly close Stefan “STORK JR.” Wilson by scant 0.312-seconds, with Peter Dempsey claiming his second consecutive Podium by finishing P3; whilst not so entertainingly for SSM team owner Sam Schmidt, his drivers Esteban Guerrieri and Josef Newgarden collided with each other early in the event and collected fellow teammate Victor Carbone
 In the aftermath, whilst fourth Hombre Conor Daly had a Dust-up with James Winslow – making it a very long day for perennial FIL Powerhouse Sam Schmidt Motorsports...

Rd 3: Streets of Long Beach, CA
(April 17, 2011)
The weekend started off with Esteban Guerrieri capturing his second Pole position, while Peter Dempsey kept the Sam Schmidt Jugernaught from sweeping the first four grid slots by claiming the outside of Row-1, (P2) with Josef Newgarden and Conor Daly filling out Row-2 respectively.

Yet it was Daly’s countryman Dempsey passingGuerrieri for the lead on lap-1, only to throw it away by overcooking the entry into the Turn 8-9 complex, *which I believe is the second overtaking opportunity just prior to the signature Hairpin Turn-11...) giving the lead to Josef Newgarden, who’d demoted Guerrieri to third previously. Then the Argentine was passed by Daly into Turn-1 with a perfect overtaking move, thus moving into the runner-up slot whilst Sam Schmidt’s Boyz held down the top three positions. As Sam told Jake Query – we just don’t want them taking out each other. (A la Barber Motorsports Park...)

Then the un-Tinkable occurred, as Newgarden effortlessly pulled away from the slip-slidin’ Daly, with just 5-laps remaining, Newgarden suddenly overcooked his entrance into the same Turn 8-9 complex, later commenting he thought he’d caught the drainage ditch there? And wallah! Leader number two was off on the side of the road – thereby gifting Noblesville, Indiana’s 19yr old Conor Daly his first Indy Lights win in just his third start, to which I thought I even, heard Conor saying over his radio: “We’ll Take It Boyz!” SSM teammate Guerrieri was runner-up with Stefan “STORK JR” Wilson taking the podium’s final step, albeit under some controversy from fourth place finisher; “the Yak,” a.k.a. Gustavo Yacaman - ccalling foul upon the Englishman for using the run-off’s too many times...  

Has Anybody Seen PDM Racing?
Having had the good fortune of a very entertaining interview opportunity with Paul Diatlovich, who’s very high upon his latest charge MR – I was disappointed to finally thumb thru the round-1 results and discover his name missing. Adding further insult to injury, PDM Racing has vanished from the 2011 Indy Lights Season WICKEDpedia page...


Sam Schmidt Motorsports
Definitely THEE Team to beat! Proverbially Thee TCGR/Penske ‘O Indy Lights at the moment...

As Obviously (SNAP! O-L-D My Name is IRL joke...) it’ll be interesting to witness reigning USAC National Champion Brian Clauson’s Baptism-under-Fire, as recipient of Indy Cars Road-to-Indy Scholarship program. Where the series will dole out 300-large ($300,000) for Clauson to contest all six Firestone Indy Lights Oval-track events this year, with his debut coming none other then at The Speedway...

No. 3) Victor Carbone; Brazil
Don’t know anything ‘bout this Dude ‘cept he won the 2010 FF2000 Series Championship for Alegra Motorsports...

No. 7) Esteban Guerrieri; Argentina
Heard this aspiring Argentine for the very first time after winning the Pole at Long Beach via Indycar.com’s webcast – where Nick Yeoman interviewed him upon capturing his second Pole of the season. Ex scored his maiden Indy Lights Pole position at the season opener at St Pete and then followed it up with a second place start at the Barber’s, nee Barber Motorsports Park...

No. 11) Josef Newgarden; USA
First heard of this dude when JOWT reported upon his winning the Kent class of the British Formula Ford Festival way back in 2008; then it seems Josef’s name was bantered ‘round during the House ‘O Windsor USF1 potential US-driver candidates... As somehow I’d forgotten that Newgarden went off to contest the GP3 series with Carlin Motorsports last year – whilst I’ve just discovered he’s from Nashville, Tennessee; thus Geo-Phillips should be pullin’ for him at Indy, eh?

No. 77) Road to Indy Car
Conor Daly; USA (Road courses/Street Circuits ONLY)
I’m gonna pass upon scribblin’ anything about the young Conor – other then he appears to be a total “STUD!” And I cannot help thinking how much he makes me think of his father Derek every time I hear him interviewed; as I haven’t looked yet to see how he faired in his GP3 debut in Istanbul – where a very sharp-eyed Leigh Diffey spotted the elder Daly in the Pitlane during the GP2 action...

Wally Dallenbach, Jr.; USA (Edmonton ONLY)
So my initial reaction to hearing this news live on Versus – as Willy T. Ribbs was giving him grief for being an OLD man; saying Yuhs gotta takes what’s Yuhs getz! Was you’ve gotta be joking, right? As I can only surmise this is some sort of payback to ConversNBC (Catchy ‘DAWG! Nee pressdog...) Err Versus’s airing’s of all FIL races in conjunction with it’s ‘BigCarz broadcasts, eh? As when is the last time Wally drove a racecar? Or is this just another way to garner some schmoozy footage for that really pathetic jingle  Wally’s World??? Oh Never Mind! As hopefully the series will reap some benefits from potential Dallenbach exposure...

Bryan Clauson; USA (Ovals ONLY)
I’ve only listened to Bryan on Autosport Radio, where he seemed pretty humble ‘bout making his Indy Lights debut at NO less the Speedway’s Freedom 100 event on Carb Day this May... Thus I was unaware that Clauson was some Cat’s back-up/fill-in for Dario “REO SPeedwagon” Franchitti on Chip Ganassi’s Nationwide No. 40 entry. Then Clauson moved to somebody nicknamed ‘Smoke’s (Tony Stewart) Midget team to capture last year’s Midget Championship enroute to becoming USAC’s very first-ever National Champion... As Bryan will contest all six Indy Lights Oval races as  part of his award for winning the title last year, as Randy Bernard is hopeful of re-creating the Past linkage of USAC drivers competing at the Brickyard...

Team Moore Becomes Bridesmaid?
This is the squad that rand the Mayor ‘O Hinchtown last year – finishing runner-up to J.K. Vernay and Sam Schmidt for the title, as it appears Garcia may be the better of the team’s two drivers?

No. 2) Gustavo Yacamán; Columbia
The ‘Yak needs to quit yacking off ‘bout his competitors and get busy racing, as it seems that Yacaman is getting a bit Long-in-the-Tooth as an aspiring Indy Lights driver, who’s now in his third(?) season without any major results to speak of...

No. 22) Victor Garcia; Spain
Another of the Plethora ‘O “Junior” Drivers I don’t know ‘bout before hearing of his debutant Indy Lights victory at the Barber’s ahead of Stefan Wilson & Co. As I believe Garcia’s already accomplished something his “senior” teammate hasn’t; can you say victory!

O2 Racing Technology
Don’t know anything ‘bout these Catz – other then they seem to have a pretty good Irish driver behind the keyboards of one of their two racecars...

No. 36) Peter Dempsey; Republic of Ireland
The only thing I knew ‘bout this Dude was I could swear he raced alongside John Edwards in the ALMS last year? (As apparently he was another driver looking for a Full-time ride...) As this Irishman has shone so far to date in the Indy Lights car, beginning the year with two back-to-back Podiums, both third places, whilst he appeared to be on his way to a possible victory at Long Beach? Unfortunately Dempsey threw it all away with an unforeseen error upon his part. Yet look for Dempsey to be at the “sharp-end of the Pack” in regards to the rest of the season’s races...


Balardi Auto Racing
A newcomer team to the FIL ranks which I know very little ‘bout...

No. 9) Anders Krohn; Norway
You haveda like some Dude with the Huevos to proudly enjoy calling himself “The Viking,” which is exactly what Messer Krohn  has done. Don’t know how his season’s gone to date, but I LIKE IT!

Don’t Forget Mikey’s Team...
Always a Front-runner, having captured multiple FIL Crowns in association with Gary Peterson’s AFS Racing concern, as I’d enjoy seeing the Red No. 5 in victory lane...

No. 5) Stefan Wilson; United Kingdom
Nice ‘Juan Stefan, as I believe that was somebody named BLOODY NIGE’s car number, eh? As STORK JR was fastest in the Freedom 100 practice session...

No. 26) James Winslow; United Kingdom
This ‘Bloke’s obviously got talent to match his speed, having won four Stepping-stone Championships between 2004-08, along with having driven briefly for Team GBR in the former A1 GP Series. He was also supposedly set to become a Champ Car driver in ’08 after having tested a DP01 at Sebring in ’07 – before becoming another victim of the Mergification. James drove on the Road Courses/Street Circuits for Sam Schmidt in last year’s Indy Lights series before moving to Andretti Autosport this year, as it appears Winslow’s on the Ryan Hunter-Reay “Rent-a-Race” plan and hopefully will continue past the first three races – which was all he was confirmed for...

Davey Hamilton Racing
Henry Clarke back? Whale, it appears not, albeit DHR is running past FIL winner Brandon Wagner again this May at Indianapolis, who was P12 during the Freedom 100 test session.

Yet I’m just somewhat intrigued by Messer Clarke since hearing him last year on Autosport Radio and confessing he’d taken up four wheel racing vs. his ‘Scooterz two wheel regime after having broken way too many bones by the tender age of 17!

And there Yuhs have it, a somewhat brief(?) smattering of some of this year’s Flinstone Indy Lights talent – along with some potential  Freedom 100 competitors, so check it out if you get a chance, eh? As we’re assured of having a new winner with last year’s victor and Pole-sitter both being off to the ‘BigCarz ranks; as you can catch the race live in its entirety on Versus during Carb Day – As I’m looking forward to watching the race in “Living Colour!” (And NOT some PEECOCK colours Yuhs Hear?)

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