Unfiltered Race Notes: Fontana 2014 Championship Edition

Alright… 500 miles to go…

—Prerace—

The Astor Cup is a good looking piece of silverware

For the record; I am for double points for 500 mile races. In an ideal world I would be for a Simon Pagenaud championship, but realistically I’m rooting for Helio. I want to see him cement his legacy in American open-wheel racing

Ed, Marco, Josef, Kanaan, JPM, Dixon, RHR. There are quite a few dudes out there that are going to play spoilers tonight

Ok!! There are a few people in the stands! Thank you to everyone who attended the IndyCar season finale on the surface of the sun!

Cindric: Power is really resilient. Riiiight… Tonight will really test that statement

Aleshin video. Such a big hit; lucky kid. Thanks Dallara

JPM is a cool cat tonight. Good things should happen for him tonight

Newgarden: I didn’t know how to adjust with wind direction on the second lap. Exactly why he’s needed a veteran teammate

Fontana… a dirty race track for a dirty town

Power big oval retrospective. I have no idea what he is going to do on lap 1, let alone lap 250

Interviews interviews interviews… everyone seem s pretty cool tonight

Penske and Tracy interview was cool. Not as hard hitting as I would have liked considering who was asking the questions

2014 season review. Nuts, just nuts. This season has been described as the championship no one wants to win. I say the competition is so close that any bobble has much greater championship implications than in the past

The firechicken has got to be roasting inside that ridiculous helmet

All of this pumping up of the best never to win a championship between Power and Helio makes me wonder what this year would have looked like if Franchitti was still around

Power is starting to look a bit more apprehensive about what is about to go down

Prerace ceremonies… finally,,,

Excellent Penske championship review. IMSP knocks it out again. 8 years is an eternity in Penske years

Forgot to turn the mic on for the dude giving the command… that’s so IndyCar. On the plus side, we finally heard the engines actually fire

Let’s do this

3-wide baby! Exactly how it should be here

—Race—

GREEN

Power falling back. Playing it conservativ3

4

Nutty 3 wide action early. Excellent

Field still looks pretty close, usually we get quite stung out rather quickly here

8

Marco struggling on the lowside trying to get around Rahal. Considering how wide this place is it’s always surprising how hard it is to pass

11

Montoya Jetting away

17

Clearly settling in for a long race. I can’t image there will be that much fuel savings going on tonight. Stint lengths could very well be limited by tire degradation

21

The bumps heading into T3 are very apparent tonight. Cars are definitely sprung light

23

Pagenaud already in and has a slow stop to boot. 2 laps down

25

Dixon stalking…

32

Hinch is on the move. Already up to P4 and gapping

The painted clouds from the setting California sun looks beautiful

35

JPM in

Both front tire changers went for the wing adjustment for Newgarden. Clearly the team is still lacking all the systems it needs in place to truly fight for the win from pitlane.

37

The rest of the field is in

40

Hinch to P3 on the pit exchange

41

Dixon. The forgotten champion. I remember him telling INDYCAR he would do whatever they want to help pump up the series. This year may have been worse in terms of pumping up the defending champion than 2013 was

48

First points as they run sighting

51

Hinch to P2. Ridiculous

Power getting raced very hard by Rahal. That’s what I like to see

53

WOW! Hinch fighting for the lead! Where have you been all year?!

Dixon is right there as well

55

Great racing through the field so far.

57

Hinch finally makes it stick. P1

Baby blue car driven by a Canadian with red gloves at ACS

Huertas pulled off. “not feeling well” I’m sure…

67

JPM in really early

69

Power up ten positions. Positive he has control of the championship

74

Lots of talk about tear offs and windscreens. Still haven’t seen the shop vacs make an appearance yet

82

We’re starting to see glowing headers and turbos during the onboards

JPM and Helio are P1 and P2 after the pit exchange. Montoya may be slightly off strategy and may fall farther away as the race wears on

90

Yummy, talk of 2015 aerokits

91

The laps are really clicking off tonight

93

Pagenaud is junk… shocking… and he almost loses it on pit out

100

Carpenter has been slowly sneaking up all night.

All the while, Power has been playing it cool. He should have this in the bag

104

Ed in. His crew is one of the best on pitlane

107

Speed penalty for ed. Doh!!

Poor Ed, he only gets a handful of races a year yet you throw it away so early. Would suck to ride around the rest of the night

116

Through the field. Not bad at all

Ok, there has been good racing all night long and this is clearly not a fuel race, yet it hasn’t been all that exciting. Odd evening or something. Maybe it’s the lack of focus on the championship battle. It feels like another race, not the final championship double points paying 500 mile race of the year

120

RHR to P1

A night of comers and goers for sure

122

Points as they run with no mention from the booth

125

Halfway home

No idea who is going to win. Cars have looked unbeatable for as few as 5 laps. JPM is the only constant

Power to P7. Could he really win this?

135

Kimball kisses the wall. Surprised there was no yellow. Actually, I’m glad we stay green. The race up front has been pretty hot.

140

Andretti into the wall exactly like Kimball, still green

141

JPM back in.

143

Still no shop vac sightings

144

If all else, the cars always look dmn good under the lights

Now Hinch with a speeding penalty. Wow. Two strong guys throwing their races away

145

As they run… Castroneves -1. SO CLOSE

The race up front has been really good all night long

146

RHR continues his march to the front

148

The booth notes the lack of attrition. After all the winging about it earlier in the week, I really thought it would be a more important storyline by this point in the race

During the commercial break the racing was side by side the entire time

155

I don’t care what you say, these cars look good in speedway trim

Montoya slipping back; still a long way to go.

Second comparison of Power to Jimmie Johnson by Tracy. Why?

Still 14 cars on the lead lap

163

Helio has really taken control of this race. It looks like it could be all in Powers hands at this point

171

Replay of Dixon/RHR/Kimball incident. The racing is definitely picking up

I see Newgardens outside front changer has a neon yellow helmet. Why don’t all the guys have them just because? Would be much safer I would think

176

YELLOW

RHR around into the front straight grass. Stalled but car’s ok.

Can you see tire smoke coming from Bourdais saving it right before RHR loses it?

Looks like Carpenter has fought his way back onto the lead lap

This restart is going to be crazy

Power won’t be able to just sit back like he did at the start. Going to have to properly race from here on out

185

Long caution. The sweepers are doing a very thorough job. 100 percent ok with that

Tracy: yellows breed yellows. No doubt. Be safe boys

188

GREEN

Power with two decisive low side passes to take the lead. THAT is what championships are made of!

192

Carpenter slowly marching back to the front

Powers woman looks nervous as hell

194

WE are racing as fast as the cars will handle right now. This is most excellent

Hmm. Bourdais out and back into the pits after mixing it up with the leaders

Stop and hold penalty

Power starting to slip back, but it doesn’t matter if Helio can’t find his way back to the front

205

HCN and Power have found each other on track

Also, probably one more stop?

Interesting that there is so much focus on the Power family. Where are the shots of the Castroneves family?

Pulling for Helio

210

Although I would really dig a TK win

9 cars left on the lead lap

We’ve been tracking through the field for the past few laps, It would be nice to know what’s going on up front

214

Hinch first in for his last stop. Still a lap down though from his penalty

217

Alright. HCN in and out. Final run to the checkers

Power as well. Let’s do this

220

NOOOOOO… HCN pit entry speed violation. Game over. The race turns to the lead

Mr. Penske does not look impressed

223

Power got a ¼ turn of wing in when he wanted a ¼ turn of wing out and he is having trouble dealing with the mistake. Flirting with the wall on corner exit lap after lap

Side note: I’m really glad this race is 500 miles long

Radio: Power is struggling

232

Dude. HCN could have won this championship…

239

Oddly enough, the race at the front has cooled off. This should be TK’s race. The leaders are very strung out

242

Starting to see Power right up against the wall. Down to P9. I feel sick for Helio

245

Power looking sluggish on the track. Car is a piece of junk right now. Another miscommunication could have thrown the championship away for him. So damn lucky

248

Quiet end to a crazy race. The caution almost ruined the flow of the race

250

CHECKERS

TK

Very nice. I feel awful for Helio, but he made a more detrimental mistake to his race than Power. That’s how it goes. Absolutely excellent race. I was really hoping the see the entire thing go caution free, I think that could have made for an even more exciting finish.

I don’t think the cars are too easy to drive, I think the field is just that good

Power looks exhausted, and rightfully so. Congratulations Will

He admits to be stressed and getting awful sleep all week long. Not surprising; I bet Helio slept like a baby

Helio looks dejected, but he clearly has learned how to handle this kind of disappointment

TK baby

Great season everyone. This should be a good offseason over here on anotherindycarblog, look for fun features and more walks down memory lane. Thank you thank you thank you for reading a different kind of coverage this year, it’s been too fun!

Happy 2014 IndyCar season!

Eric Hall

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2 Responses to Unfiltered Race Notes: Fontana 2014 Championship Edition

  1. dylanpt24 says:

    Fontana was probably the 3rd best race of the season, behind Indy and Iowa. Certainly a much better race than Texas or Milwaukee or Sonoma.

    You are not going to like this opinion, but I was a bit disappointed with Fontana. There was good racing at times, but in the end it was pretty spread out and very, very anti-climatic. Within the last ten laps there really was no drama or excitement, and the margin of victory was street course esque. I really think a few more cautions would have helped; after all the best two oval races had more cautions than the other 4 ovals. The best racing we saw all night was right after the only caution. While I get that fewer cautions is safer, and it is different from NASCAR, I don’t really think no caution races are a good thing for Indycar.

    Another opinion you’re not going to like is that I think there was no really good reason for this to be a 500 mile race. Same with Pocono. What did those extra miles really bring? A little more strategy? I really liked Indycar’s 300 mile oval races because they were quick and action packed. Perhaps if we had 26-30 cars like in 08 and 11 the 500 milers would work better. Also if we had a few more ovals I’d be more interested in the 500 milers, but to be honest 300 mile oval races were what got me into Indycar, and I miss them a lot. I also think in some ways 500 miles does make sense for a season finale, and I will say I like double points. If you’ve got double points though, the season really needs to end with a double points race.

    Overall I was unimpressed with this season. The parity was fairly good; 11 drivers won. But they mostly weren’t drivers I actually liked. Hinchcliffe, Newgarden, Rahal, Andretti, ect. all had awful season and awful things happen to them. I really hope Sarah and Ed fire every single person on Newgarden’s pit crew, and I wouldn’t mind it being posted online. They screwed him out of at least one win, if not more. I’m still watching next year, btw, to see if Hinchcliffe can recover and if Newgarden can become a consistent contender with better equipment, and more importantly a better pit crew. As you said, Ed’s team is much more successful at things like pitting than Sarah’s. Though it was a rough mid-summer for Newgarden he has shown good speed at all types of tracks, from street courses to Indy to banked ovals and flat ovals and natural terrain road courses. In that sense he’s going to compensate for Ed’s weakness at Milwaukee/Pocono and Conway’s weakness at most natural terrain road courses. And maybe Karam will get Briscoe’s ride? One can only hope.

    But for me this year was a year of strategy and technical racing. If that’s what you like then its been an excellent year, but if you are looking for close, exciting racing and passing it was a rather long year, which is ironic for a season that started mid March and ended in August. I hope next year will be better, we will see what Aero Kits bring. I fear the worst, but they should look better and be faster. What that will mean for parity and the on track racing is more worrying. Especially Indy. Will the draft and pass go away? After that we’ve got Cosworth and an unknown auto maker joining hopefully for 16 so that should improve car count. And honestly, a number of smart people say that what the ovals were lacking was more car count related than anything, so that might be enough to fix it. Ratings were up this season, hopefully that will translate to good things next year, and if not hopefully next year will see a greater rise in ratings and that will maybe translate to something tangible (more cars, more/better tracks). MAV TV also signed up to sponsor Fontana for two more years which hopefully means the race is secure.

    I will say, even for not being 100% impressed with this year’s Fontana race, I’d much rather see the season end here than anywhere else other than Chicagoland, or the AR1 idea of a 2nd Indy oval race. Good racing and its sort of near a major city even if no one shows up. If next year ends in Sonoma, that will be sad and disappointing

  2. WingSideUp says:

    We listened and watched on the IndyCar app while quaffing copious amounts of Pabst Blue Ribbon, cooking a few wicked pissahs, and garlic and cheese sausage in the parking lot of Oswego Speedway. With great conversation among racers and fans alike, cold beer, hot food and the backdrop of Lake Ontario on one side and one of the best oval short tracks in the country on the other, we were well satisfied with this race.

    I think the season certainly was entertaining. It had it’s low points, and it’s high points. I think it can be built upon for more entertainment next year, but let the racing be the racing whether it’s the technical, fuel mileage based, or katie-bar-the-door wheel banging type. At the end of the day not every race is a knock down drag out side by side, swap for the lead in the last corner show.

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