Friday, April 16, 2021

IndyCar Season Preview: Honda runners’

Let’s Light this Candle! Vroom-Vroom showtime boys!


What better way to Rev U-P IndyCar Fans then with the first Practice Sessions of an overly elongated Gory 175 Days  Offseason, eh? STEE-RIKE!


Nope, Yuhs Won’t be able to See ‘em take to Barber Motorsports Park for both Saturday Practice Session or qualifying live unless you’ve signed up for the newly re-imagined NBC Sports Gold Bricks Paywall, Err NBC Sports Gold Streaming service, now Peacock “TV” Streaming instead, for just $4.99 Extra per month, BARF!


Or you can watch Qualifying Delayed Saturday evening on NBC Sports (NBCSN) and the Race Sunday, April 18th on BIG NBC as Geo Phillips like saying! But Check your local listings as Always.


2021 Honda Team line-ups

Attempting another hypothetically short synopsis of the 14 Honda powered Drivers on this year’s IndyCar Grid. Which at least Thar numbers are spread out over five teams, or six if we’re being technical over Dale Coyne’s fascination with the Alphabet and really long team nomenclature, cymbal Crash please!


Andretti Autosport (3)

(Team/Car No/Drivers)

#26 Colton Herta, USA

#27 Alexander Rossi, USA

#28 Ryan Hunter-Reay, USA


Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport (1)

#29 James Hinchcliffe, Canada


We All know that Zack Veach got Dumped late last year with Thee Mayor ‘O Hinchtown’, aka James Hinchcliffe replacing him in the No. 26 Hondre’ for the final three races. So Hinch’ being added Fulltime this year wasn’t a surprise. But I wasn’t expecting Colton Herta to slide into the #26 this year and George Steinbrenner IV seemingly disappear from the IndyCar Fold? Although this was done mostly to appease sponsor Gainbridge staying at Andretti.


But naturally after I’d written this, I learned via Racer’s Marshall Pruett’s IMS Open Test preview that Hinch’ was now in the Andreti Steinbrenner Autosport chassis formerly driven by Colton Herta. As this means George Steinbrenner IV is still involved with Mikey a’s IndyCar concern…


Meanwhile The Dude! Ryan Hunter-Reay’s been given a one year extension on his contract, with both Oliver Askew and Kyle Kirkwood presumably waiting in the wings. Whilst Hopefully my yearly pick for winning his maiden IndyCar Crown Alexander Rossi will see a much brighter season vs. last’s year’s campaign, although he’ll have to contend with Herta over team Bragging rights.


Chip Ganassi Racing (4)

#8 Marcus Ericsson, Sweden

#9 Scott Dixon, New Zealand

#10 Alex Palou, Spain

#48 (R) Jimmy Johnson, USA (Twisties’ Only)

#48 Tony Kanaan, Brazil (Ovals Only)

(R = Rookie)


Obviously the Biggest News about CGR this year is the arrival of Seven Times NASCAR Champion Jimmy Johnson making his debut as an IndyCar Rookie at Age 45, albeit shunning the Oval tracks, which is a Shame not seeing him race at Mother Speedway. But this decision opened the way for us to have one of our Favourites, i.e.; TK’ Follow your Schnoz! Kanaan race at Indianapolis the next two years, SWEET!


What can I say about Scott Dixon? Other than may be the now Six Times and Reigning IndyCar Champion will surpass SuperMario’s (Andretti) career tally of 52 wins for second most overall this year?


Marcus Ericsson is the most overlooked of this quintet of Ganassi’s drivers, but seems to steadily improve each year in the series and has a totally Sweet sponsor. While Alex Palou is the touted newcomer with big things expected from him. As I just hope it doesn’t go as Pear shaped as it did for Ed Jones here. 

Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan (1)

#18 Ed Jones, UAE


With the Great Santiti’, nee Santino Ferrucci leaving for the Allure of Roundy Round Racin’ in the Xfinity Cup Lite’s series this year, Dale Coye, Top Jimmy’ (Vasser) and James Sully’ Sullivan decided to throw former Coyne (DCR) driver Ed Jones a lifeline and bring him back for a second go. Even after he Stiffed Coyne before when jumping to Ganassi for the 2018 season after a Handshake Deal with Dale to remain with the team. As hopefully Jones results will be markedly better than his time driving both for Ganassi and Ed Carpenter Racing (ECR) were!


Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing (1)

#51 (R) Romain Grosjean, France (Twisties’ Only)

#51 Pietro Fittipaldi, Brazil (Ovals Only)

(R = Rookie)


The other vaunted Rookie in this year’s IndyCar field is former Haas Formula 1 driver Romain Grosjean coming to americre’, also eschewing participating on the Oval tracks on the grounds of Safety concerns for his Family after his Horrific, Fiery Shunt at Bahrain last year! As I’ll be quite curious to see how Romain fairs in IndyCar’s this year.


Grosjean’s skipping of the Ovals opens the way for his former Haas F1 Team-mate Pietro Fittipaldi to return to IndyCar racing on a limited basis  whilst still remaining as the American Formula 1 Team’s Reserve Driver this year. 


Meyer Shank Racing (2)

#06 Helio Castroneves, Brazil (Partial Season, 6 Races)

#60 Jack Harvey, UK

(Technical Partnership with Andretti Autosport)


If you read No Fenders on a regular basis, you’ll know I’ve never been a Fan of Hulio’s, aka Helio Castroneves. And with the Brazilian turning 46 on May 10th, he’s IndyCar’s second Oldest driver. Sandwiching his Buddy Tony Kanaan who’s 130 Days (4 months and 10 days) Older than him. (Dec 31, 1974) And Jimmy Johnson who’s 4 months and a week younger than him. (Sept 17, 1975)


As I totally believe Castroneves is past his prime, but naturally is a big Scoop for MSR, giving it some “Star Power,” especially during the Month of May where he’ll make his MSR debut in the 105th Indianapolis 500.


Helio will continue his season next at the inaugural Nashville Street race before returning to Indianapolis’s Road Course for the August 14th event, and then conclude his six race outing along the West Coast, competing at Portland, Laguna Seca and Long Beach.

Hopefully Castroneves can give the team’s No. 1 Driver Jack, Not Bloody Nige! Harvey some pointers on the Oval tracks and All around race craft, since a Three Times Indy 500 Champion and winner of 30 IndyCar races knows a thing or two about winning. But I’ll admit it still feels Odd for Hulio’ not to be in a Team Penske car…


Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (2)

#15 Graham Rahal, USA

#30 Takuma Sato, Japan


You’d have to Arse-sume that the 2020 season was a disappointment for Ye Grahaminator’, aka Graham Rahal who finished 6th overall. As I think his third place finish at Mother Speedway’ was his best finish of the year? But finishing two places behind team-Mate Takuma Sato, who’s motto is “No attack, No chance!” At the Indianapolis 500 where Taku-san’ became a Two-time Indy 500 winner certainly has to sting!


Actually Graham recorded his best finish of runner-up at the Indy GP held on July 4th, along with a pair of 3rd place finishes, i.e.; Indy 500 & Gateway. (WWT Raceway) And finished one place ahead of Sato with 377 point’s vs. Takuma’s 348. 


But what else can I say about the likeable Japanese Driver? Who came up three corners short in 2012 of becoming an eventual Three-times Indy 500 Champion. Although at 44, surely Sato’s IndyCar career has to be in it’s twilight…