Thursday, April 21, 2016

LIGHTS: New Season begins for IndyCar Feeder Series

Now if they'd only show the races "live" upon Peacock-lite, nee NBCSN like they did previously, as Y'all caught the action from Long Beach this past weekend, right?

Way too G-O Starship HC for inserting Anderson Promotions as Indy Lights series director! As Dan Anderson's company was already running the USF2000 and Pro Mazda ladder series and Wallah!

As noted previously, Indy Lights seemingly has now turned the corner most triumphantly in its sophomore campaign with its modern era Dallara-Mazda/AER single seater racing car. Even with longtime title sponsor Firestone walking away from Lights, with Cooper tyres replacing them, who after all previously were the Presenting Sponsor of the Champ Car Atlantics. As the series once on life support can now definitely put away the defibulator paddles as a firm Heartbeat has returned!

Surely the introduction of last year's brand new Dallara IL15 chassis powered by the Mazda MZRR two liter '4-banger turbo, with "P2P" (Push-to-Pass added turbo boost) and Paddle Shifting technology  definitely revived interest in the final Mazda Road To Indy (MRTI) rung.

Having learned during the St Pete weekend that the cockpit is identical to its B-I-G' Brother, the Dallara  DW 12 IndyCar. Whilst next year's two new lower Feeder Series chassis, i.e.; USF2000 and Pro Mazda will enable the usage of a common driver compartment/tub enabling teams to use it in both series, intending to reduce costs...

Alas,  awakening from my winter's HORRIFICLY over-longish Off Season slumber, as SHIT Mark Miles, August 30th seems an  infinity ago - with 'Ol Graveley dryly denoting that it had been an excruciating 195-Days since IndyCar racing had last occurred; during this year's first Fast Six Qualie' Shootout;  SHEISA!

Hence, I was totally surprised, and now very Jazzed! Over the unknown to Mwah late arrivals to the series, upon logging onto for the day's final practice session Friday. As Eureka! It initially looked like they'd addressed my request for Screen-reader friendly access to the live streaming, WRONG!


As obviously does NOT give a SHIT about the difficulties incurred by a visually impaired, nee Blind Fan's ability to access their site using a Screen-reader - since it's NOT Screen-reader Friendly! Having missed nearly half of the Phoenix Oval race 'cause I couldn't SEE where to click to make the broadcast play; URGH!

But I was overly happy to hear of the increase in participants - bumping UP to 16 quality entrants for St Pete, with whispers of Carlin having a fourth car in its stable, along with Davey Hamilton, Jr. rumoured to be driving for McCormick Racing sometime this season.

Hence, on March 11th, listening to Mark Graveley' James and Nicky Salt' Yeoman calling the On-track action, when the latter wasn't ensconced in an infatuating debate over his Klug, Krug; Uhm Me Thinks that's some sorta champagne? Err, 'Dem Boyz were apparently discussing Clogs; Err high fashion footwear with Jake 'Duh Riddler Query asking this riveting Questione - As Yuhs Boyz' are doing Yeoman-like work indeedy during Friday's return to motor racing; Hooah!

Amazingly, in this world of 'O Uber nauseating 24/7 NONSTOP Commercialism... You'd think I'd be able to find who Zachery Claman DeMelo's Footwear sponsor is? Not to mention him not even having a current website...

Alas, I was 'Uber surprised to hear the names Stoneman and Hargrove taking part in  the season's Kickoff race, Round-1 of the St Pete Double Header; where 16-drivers aboard the  six teams entered for the weekend's action - with nearly half the field comprising of "True Blue" rookies, with seven set to make their debutant Lights start.

Whilst not sure if Scott Hargrove counts as a rookie?  Since the KuhNuck's competed briefly last year before falling afoul of the nebulous scarcity 'O Sponsorship Dinero! As this makes me think of the Conor Daly affair, like when's a rookie not a rookie; Oh Never Mind!

Since Hargrove's apparently only competed twice in last year's season opening Double Header, we'll consider him a rookie, therefore making half the grid rookies...

Andretti Autosport, (3) Belardi Auto Racing, (2) Carlin, (3) Juncos Racing, (2) Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (4) and Team Pelfrey. (2)

Interestingly, of the current six participating teams, four have won championships with Andretti sweeping the unified Indy Lights 2.0 crown between 2008-09 under the guise of Andretti Green Racing.

Then the series most successful competitor Sam Schmidt went on a tear winning four years in-a-row (2010-13) before being supplanted by two new upstarts, with Belardi Auto Racing stopping the Schmidt Stranglehold in 2014 before series newcomer Juncos Racing succeeded them last year.

this season features the brand new Lights outfit Team Pelfrey whom took over the assets of 8 Star Motorsports, albeit they're not new to the lower MRTI  ladder rungs, as simply the competition to keep Schmidt Peterson Motorsports off the podium's top step has only intensified this season...

And the drivers themselves are NO Slouches either, as I'm immediately torn between four drivers being successful, which makes the series more interesting to Mwah than its Big Brother, perhaps?

As how can you not root for Zachery "Moose" Veach who after a season on the sidelines has willingly dove back-in with the capable Belardi outfit, as Veach is a former series winner.

Dean Stoneman's story of testicular cancer survival is impressive enough, not to mention rebounding to become GP3 series runner-up, as Stoneman is driving for Mikey A's beefed up three car squad this season - whilst surely Dean would tell Yuhs there's NO charity cases on the Lights grid this year.

Had never heard of him before Friday's first practice of the 2016 season, but something in his demeanor just exudes confidence when I heard the Swede being interviewed. As the young reigning Euro F3 champion Felix Rosenqvist made me think of another Swede who did alright in Indy Cars, a one Mr. Kenneth Brack Ya Sure Yuhs Betcha!

As that was before Rosenqvist "Schooled" everyone in only his second ever Lights race by leading wire-to-wire in Sunday's ST Pete feature race, which was longer than Saturday's event...

And then there's the driver residing closest to Mwah, albeit  Up North Eh! Across Thy Border in Surrey, BC. As Scott Hargrove's a BAD ARSE Hombre multiple Karting champion, not to mention having Porsche Supercup Platinum GT3 and USF2000 titles on his CV - who just hasn't had the funding so far to go the distance, for which hopefully he'll get to run the full Lights campaign this year.

And that's just Thy tip of the Iceberg, as the whole field seems stacked with talent, as Carlin's drivers shouldn't be overlooked either with Felix Serrall├ęs having won the season opener after Veach who was leading convincingly had a mechanical failure end his sure victory upon his return to Lights!

With Veach coming back nicely to give Belardi a 1-3 finish in Sunday's race - as surely he's got to be one of the favourites for victory in the Freedom 100, since many of the new drivers are lacking in Oval-track experience...

And in another nod to how diverse the plethora of good racing drivers has become in the series, Kyle Kiser "Broke-his-Duck" in a dominating victory upon the Phoenix International Raceway's one-mile Oval, en route to his maiden Lights victory by leading wire-to-wire for Juncos Racing.

Whilst most likely we'll have our fourth or may be even fifth different Lights winner this weekend at the Oh, So Beautimous' Barber's, eh?

Hence, the Indy Lights championship future now seems very bright, with about the only thing needing tweaking by my estimation being the series season finale currently not concluding at an IndyCar weekend, nee Laguna Seca's Pirelli World Challenge Headliner in September  instead.

Since this doesn't give the series the true exposure it needs, as I can still recall fondly the sheer excitement of Belardi Auto Racing winning the title on a tie-breaker at Sonoma in 2014 where the team could be audibly heard  celebrating amidst the din of racing lumps. While  hopefully the car count and new teams influx will continue growing...