Friday, August 13, 2021

Under the Nashville Big Top, IndyCar Debut puts on Circus Show

As perhaps Colton Herta described the Atmosphere best by proclaiming it a Zoo Out Thar! With Lions, Tigers, Giraffes, Zebras and All sorts of Other Animals on Hand, Mooh, Mooh!


After a 35-day layoff, Indy Cars returned to action on it’s first new temporary Street Circuit event in Downtown Nashville, Tennessee last weekend, as Y’all can look elsewhere for the details on the last previous Brand New IndyCar Temporary Street circuit race, which I believe was the 2011 Baltimore GP.


Although I don’t really wanna type this, since we’re returning to the second half of the season, with another Madcap Dash to the Long Beach Finale, here’s what the typical grid will look like, albeit switching Twisties’ Only Drivers at Gateway.


(2) A.J. foyt: Sebastian Bourdais and Dalton Kellett; (3) Andretti Autosport: Colton Herta, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi; (1) Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport: James Hinchcliffe; (1) Carlin: Max Chilton; (4) Chip Ganassi Racing: Scott Dixon, Marcus ericsson, Jimmie Johnson and Alex Palou; (1) Dale Coyne Racing wit Vasser Sullivan: Ed Jones; (1) Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing: Romain Grosjean; (2) Ed Carpenter Racing: Conor Daly and Rinus VeeKay; (1) Meyer shank Racing: Jack Harvey; (2) Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing: Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato; (4) Team Penske: Josef Newgarden, Scott McLaughlin, Simon Pagenaud and Will Power.


As that’s the typical 24 entries we’ve seen contesting the first half of the season. Which didn’t include Castroneves who’ll be racing the second MSR entry the rest of the season, with the exception of Gateway, Err Wide World Technology Raceway’s (WWTR) Short Oval, where Grosjean will make his Oval Debut. Tony Kanaan and Ed Carpenter will substitute for Johnson and Daly at their respective teams, while Daly substitutes for Chilton, all at WWTR.


Top Gun Racing will make it’s IndyCar Series Debut at the forthcoming second IMS road Course race and Juncos Hollinger Racing will contest the last three rounds in preparation for it’s 2022 Full Season campaign.


Nashville saw an additional three cars on the entry list with the inclusion of MSR’s #06 second entry for Castroneves, IndyCar rookie Cody Ware making his second race in the second Coyne Ware Racing #52 entry. And Santino Ferrucci driving the third RLLR #45 entry, giving us a Mega 27 Cars on the Grid, which reportedly hasn’t occurred since Long Beach, 2013! And that’s just before we even take the Green Flag, WHEW!


TV Noise

While I’m Happy that ‘Ol sugar Ray Tracy’s (Paul Tracy) back in the Booth, this Bullshit over Thar being No room to show IndyCar’s Saturday Qualifying in it’s typical One Hour format with 43 commercial Breaks is Blasphemy! As I literally Blew A Gasket over this Bullshit!


Hmm, CNBC managed to find three hours for the RASSCAR’ cup Lite race from 12:30-3:30PM (Pacific) before airing 90 minutes of Shark Tank, BARF! Before needing to cut away to the Tokyo Olympics at 5PM Pacific. And it’s just absolutely Cockamamy that NBC couldn’t manage to find a One Hour Time Slot on one of it’s multiple Cable TV Channels, since this is just one more sign of how Marginalized Indy Cars has become.


And to think how roger says it needs “Eyeballs” on it! And what better way to get everybody Amped Up after a five week layoff, Uhm Crickets, Crickets, Beuller?


So Cry Me A River if your Ballyhooed TV Ratings Tank this weekend IndyCar, because you Deserve It, Buggers!


Pre-Race Banter

Whilst Nashville’s Geo Phillips of Oilpressure Fame, Ye Oldest IndyCar Blogger noted on Friday that Dario REO Speedwagon’ Franchitti drove the track’s first celebratory lap in the Corvette Pace Car with Josef Newgarden and Scott Dixon following him, it wasn’t All Smiles for  fellow Chip Ganassi Racing Driver and current IndyCar Points leader Alex Palou. As the Affable Spaniard would start six positions behind wherever he Qualified due to the team having to make an unapproved engine change following the private Portland IndyCar test.


Worst yet is that IndyCar Rules also preclude any team switching to an unapproved fifth engine in the first ten races from scoring any points in the vaunted Engine Manufacturers Championship. As this will definitely affect Honda since Palou’s been their most consistent points scorer.


Also according to Messer Phillips comes word that The Pit Window’s Mike Silver had told him how his Grandstand wasn’t even constructed on Friday! Not to mention George noting the total lack of Trash Cans on the premises or the lack of Pedestrian Foot Bridges. Not to mention the exorbitant concession Prices! And that doesn’t even bring up the typical issues of city streets vs. IndyCar’s, i.e.; Can Y’all Say Bumbs! Or as I prefer calling ‘em Yumps, Yeehaw! With racecars getting Airborne!


 Before the Race…

Friday’s first 75mins IndyCar practice predictably saw the lap times steadily decrease, and at the end of the session it was Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta leading the way, with the first six cars all being Honda’s, whilst P7-10 were Chevy’s. Herta was followed by Scott Dixon, Romain Grosjean, Alexander Rossi, Marcus Ericsson and Alex Palou. Arrow McLaren SP’s Felix Rosenqvist was the fastest Bowtie’ runner followed by Will Power, Scott McLaughlin and Simon Pagenaud.


There were two Ref Flag periods, the first for Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward who clouted the Turn-3 Wall and Crumpled his Front suspension! As Messer Silver notes Thars a Narly Bump in Turn-3, coInky-dense?


Whilst ECR’s Conor Daly Smacked the Turn-9 Wall BassAckwards, ending the session 4mins early…


This gave us two Andretti Autosport, three Chip Ganassi, one Coyne-Ware, one AMSP and three Penske’s in the Top 10 on Day-1, as I always enjoy seeing how the field progresses over the weekend, even if I can No longer follow it live on TV, Jackarses!


Saturday’s Practice-2 saw Colton Herta remain Atop the Time Sheets followed by Alexander Rossi, Scott Dixon, Alex Palou and Sebastien Bourdais rounding out the Top 5.


As Thar wwere plenty of Bumps ‘n Bruises during the 45mins session, beginning with Scott Dixon Spinning and Stalling his No. 9 Dallara Honda, bringing out a Ref Flag just a few minutes after going Green!


Graham Rahal clipped the wall during the session and ended practice on the Sidelines. Then Rookie Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin brought out the second Red Flag when he spun into the Barriers and damaged his rear wing. But the most spectacular incident came when Rossi bolted on some Flinstone’ Alternate Red Rubber and summarily Clouted the Wall, crumpling his front suspension and ripping his front wing off in the process!


Then adding Insult to Injury, Dixon looped his Chip Ganassi Racing ride at the same corner he’d previously Spun in, but this time when trying to whip his racecar around, he hit the barriers and  ripped his rear wing off in the process!


The Invisible Qualifying Session!

Yeah, I tried Not spending the day Fuming at those NBC Clowns! Yuhs know, Clowns to the Left of Me, Jokers to the Right, Here I am Stuck in The Middle Again, Bastardos!


Oh? Actually Qualie’ wasn’t shown on Tape Delayed basis because of the Olympics, but instead the NBC Sports Camera Crews were busy helping erect the Turn-6 Grandstands, since they still Didn’t have a place to mount Thar Cameras on Saturday! Not to mention they couldn’t access their mandatory Grandstand Credentials on the Tennessee Titans Mobile App, Hut Hut, Omaha!


But even bigger than the Grandstands still being Under Construction Saturday, had to be the news of Josef Newgarden Clouting the Wall during the Fast 12 Qualie’ session when on the Bubble in P6, triggering a local yellow Flag which caused the Hometown Boy to lose his Fastest lap and wind up P12 instead! As this would elevate Romain Grosjean into the Fast Six Shootout.


And Nary a Peep about my Numero Uno IndyCar Driver Pato O’Ward who seems to have been Outshone for once by Arrow McLaren SP team-mate Felix rosenqvist. As the Swede made the Fast Six Shootout, his first time this season Me Thinks, while Pato finished 9th.


Whilst I’m Uber Cornfused over why Rinus VeeKay was walloping down in 22nd? Starting behind the likes of Dalton Kellett (19th) and Max Chilton. (21st)


Amazingly, No Penske’s made it into the Fast Six Shootout, with two Andretti Autosport, two Chip Ganassi entries and solitary efforts from Arrow McLaren SP and Coyne-Ware Racing instead.


As it was Colton Herta continuing his weekend’s Domination by capturing Pole by a “large,” nearly 0.6 second margin over Scott Dixon. Alex Palou finished third but would start P9 due to his engine penalty.


Alexander Rossi was fourth, with Felix rosenqvist fifth and Romain Grosjean sixth, who’ll all move one place forward due to Palou’s six Grid Spot penalty, thus starting one position behind second place IndyCar Points sitter Pato O’Ward who moved up to P8.


With Jack Harvey presumably claiming his best Qualie’ result in P7, who rolled off sixth Sunday. And Simon Pagenaud the highest Team Penske driver qualifying 8th, started from the inside of Row 4 in P7 alongside O’Ward. Hmm, where’s that Dancin’ fool Hulio’, eh?


And that’s just a flavour of the Nashville weekend before the Green flag Dropped on Sunday, with everybody Ah-Holdin’ Thar Breaths over what would happen on Lap 1 and would it stay green, go Yellow or gulp see another Red flag Fly?