Friday, August 30, 2013

Baltimore Preview -- And a Scoring Indy Schedule Update

Hello Internet! Guido here, back with the Scoring Indy preview of the Grand Prix of Baltimore. We'll do all the Baltimore stuff first, then I'll let you know when you can see, you know, Race Scores start showing up again on our humble little blog.

2012 Baltimore

Here's what things looked like at the end of last year's Baltimore chicane-fest:

Finish Driver Qualifying Grid Laps Led Completed A.R.S.
1 Hunter-Reay 13 10 13 75 79.67
2 Briscoe 14 11 11 75 76.33
3 Pagenaud 12 9 14 75 70.33
4 Dixon 3 2 0 75 41.00
5 Barrichello 17 15 0 75 64.00
6 Power 1 1 22 75 44.67
7 Servia 18 16 0 75 58.00
8 Tagliani 15 13 1 75 48.67
9 Viso 24 22 0 75 62.00
10 Castroneves 16 14 0 75 42.00
11 Rahal 23 21 0 75 52.00
12 Hildebrand 25 23 0 75 52.00
13 Franchitti 5 4 0 74 9.23
14 Andretti 20 18 0 74 33.87
15 Hinchcliffe 6 5 2 73 4.80
16 Conway 2 12 0 73 2.48
17 Wilson 9 7 0 72 0.72
18 Kimball 7 17 0 65 5.60
19 Junqueira 10 20 0 64 7.17
20 Kanaan 8 6 0 52 -6.03
21 Sato 19 24 12 50 16.00
22 de Silvestro 21 25 0 38 9.01
23 Bourdais 4 3 0 32 -10.64
24 Jakes 22 19 0 31 1.11
25 Carpenter 11 8 0 7 -0.89

Drivers in this Round

Here's the look at who's in where for Baltimore and how I think it will affect the racing:

- Oriol Servia in at Panther Racing -- I am on record as an Oriol Servia supporter. I hope he has a ride next year. And, I hope a good showing in the National Guard car at the rest of the races this year gets him one somewhere. Also, I love making Oriol / Oriole jokes when the IndyCar Series visits Baltimore.

- Stefan Wilson in at Dale Coyne Racing -- I thought Stefan was going to get more drives than this in the 2013 IndyCar Series. I hope he gets to drive more in the future. He ran Baltimore once in Indy Lights and finished in P5. Here's to him bringing it home in one piece and hopefully on the lead lap.

- Josef Newgarden in at Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing -- Not a "new" driver per se, but Newgarden didn't run Baltimore last year. It will be interesting to see how he does. This is a team that could use a couple of big results down the stretch here, and I think that Newgarden's capable of delivering them. Let's see how the #67 looks on Baltimore's streets.

- Luca Filippi in at Barracuda Racing -- This is easily the "Driver in this Round" that I'm most excited about. Filippi had an impressive run (even from my point of view on television) at Mid-Ohio, and I'd love to see him with a full-time IndyCar ride in the future. Of course, I'm terribly partial to Italian drivers and drivers with Italian names (but I'm not a Scuderia Ferrari fan, go figure), but I think Filippi is the genuine article. I may be wrong, but I did say that about Charlie Kimball. And, yes, I will go to the "I Called Kimball after Toronto Last Year" Well as often as I can, because it's more fruitful than the "I Called Graham Rahal after Texas Last Year" Well.

Some Thoughts

- Based on last year's scoring, we could see a shake-up in the IndyCar Series standings after this round. I'm not saying Dixon can catch Helio in one fell swoop, but he can make it so that whoever has Houston figured out (other than Mike Conway) will be in excellent championship position.

- I'm excited for real pit box lines. I agree that you have to call the penalty that was called last week, even as an avowed Ganassi supporter. You can't skimp on protecting the crew members, who go over the wall. But, clearly defined pit stalls/boxes will make the call MUCH clearer to Race Control.

Schedule Update

- My sister's getting married on Saturday. Saturday is also my birthday. There will be no Twitter predictions this week.

- Owing to all the things above, and the goofiness of having to help get everything ready for this wedding, I haven't gotten scores done for Sonoma yet. I'll put up Sonoma and Batimore scores together, probably on next Friday's regularly scheduled time slot. That should give us a lot to talk about, and a fun, long post for me to write.

Stay Tuned

I'm off to wedding land. Hopefully I'll catch some of the race. See you on Friday!

-- Guido

Friday, August 23, 2013

IndyCar Race Preview -- Sonoma

Hello Internet! It's Guido, here with your Scoring Indy race preview for the GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma! It's been fun over this last month to take a look at our little experiment with the Race Score World Championship, but boy oh boy am I ready to see cars back on track.

A disclaimer: the Sonoma recap as well as the Baltimore preview and recap are going to be a little truncated. My sister is getting married next weekend, yay! However, as a big brother (and to a lesser degree, as a pastor) I'm going to have a lot on my plate. So, I'm hoping that I'll be able to post and watch with some regularity, but it may be difficult.

Onward, in to the Cave of Wonders, er... Numbers

Sonoma 2012

Here's how things shook out last year in wine country:

Race Finish Driver Qualifying Grid Laps Led Completed A.R.S
1 Briscoe 2 2 27 85 67.73
2 Power 1 1 57 85 79.83
3 Franchitti 6 6 0 85 51.85
4 Barrichello 12 11 0 85 58.33
5 Rahal 15 13 0 85 59.26
6 Castroneves 4 4 0 85 37.04
7 Pagenaud 9 9 0 85 42.59
8 Hilldebrand 17 15 0 85 51.85
9 Tagliani 8 8 0 85 33.33
10 Kanaan 18 16 0 84 46.14
11 Wilson 10 20 0 84 38.80
12 Jakes 26 24 0 84 53.42
13 Dixon 5 5 0 84 13.14
14 Conway 16 14 0 84 27.76
15 Saavadra 13 23 0 84 29.56
16 Viso 19 17 0 84 25.88
17 de Silvestro 25 27 0 84 36.84
18 Hunter-Reay 7 7 1 84 -1.03
19 Servia 20 18 0 84 16.67
20 Carpenter 27 25 0 84 25.80
21 Kimball 22 21 0 82 13.86
22 Bourdais 3 3 0 63 -14.97
23 Newgarden 23 22 0 62 8.58
24 Legge 21 19 0 48 3.22
25 Andretti 14 12 0 46 -6.47
26 Hinchcliffe 11 10 0 35 -8.12
27 Sato 24 26 0 2 1.76

Things I said after this race last year:

- Well, that pretty much wraps the championship up for Will Power

- I knew Barrichello could compete. Can't wait to see him back in '13.

- With performances like this and Texas, Graham Rahal's going places as soon as he gets out of that dead-end third Ganassi car.

- Well, that secure's Briscoe's ride for next year.

And, this is why my race predictions border on terrible.

Drivers in this week

- James Davison at Dale Coyne Racing -- Good! I'm glad that Davison's back in the cockpit after a good showing at Mid-Ohio. Luca Filippi was able to parlay a good run at Mid-Ohio into more drives at Barracuda, and it's good to see Davison getting the same. Anybody got an extra seat for this guy in '14? Maybe an expanded program with new-look Indy Lights (now, with Cooper Tires)?

- Lucas Luhr at RW Motorsports w/ SFHR -- I like Lucas Luhr. I like ALMS racing. I'm going to miss LMP1. I really, really hope that Muscle Milk and Pickett wind up in the IndyCar Series next year. I had expected a little more from Luhr in Wednesday's test. Here's hoping he can shake that and put up a respectable run on race day.

- JR Hildebrand at Barracuda -- JR runs well in California. I suppose that makes sense, given he's Californian. But, he had a good run each of the last two years in Long Beach, and he moved up 7 grid spots from start to finish at Sonoma in 2012. I expect him to be strong.

- Ryan Briscoe at Panther -- We've known this one for a while, but it's good to see Ryan back from his wrist injury. I'm happy to see him with a chance to defend his race win.

Stay Tuned

As always, follow @ScoringIndy on Twitter for race predictions after qualifying. We'll also post blog updates, and jump in whenever the IndyCar discussion gets juicy.

Let's go racing!

-- Guido

Friday, August 16, 2013

Season Snapshots

Hello Internet! Guido here, and this week at Scoring Indy, we'll be taking a look at a few seasons-to-this-point. Now, to make sure that I don't just pick and choose the season snapshots that I think are interesting, I'll be pulling up 4 random numbers at, and I'll tell the stories of the drivers in those rows on the RSWC points table. So, here we go, the numbers are: 15, 22, 12, and 4. And, checking my table, that means we'll be hearing about E.J. Viso; James Jakes; Justin Wilson; and Marco Andretti. Let's get to it!

E.J. Viso


RSWC Standings: 15                                               IndyCar Standings: 12
Best Qualifying: 2 (Sao Paulo / Belle Isle 1)             Best Finish: 4 (Milwaukee)
Best RSWC Points: 15 (St. Pete)

- I must say that I haven't given that much thought to the #5 (nominally) Andretti Autosport car of Viso this season. I think the most that I've mentioned his name while watching a race was during the Mid-Ohio race, when I feared that he would hold up Charlie Kimball enough to secure a win for Simon Pagenaud. This is, it seems, not totally fair of me. E.J. has had an entirely respectable year. Here are the things that stand out to me about this season for Viso:
  • Through just 15 rounds, Viso has more Top 10 finishes than he has in any complete IndyCar season, with 6.
  • Through just 15 rounds, Viso has more Top 5 finishes than he has in any complete IndyCar season, with 2.
  • Viso has qualified second twice.
- So, I'll be keeping my eyes on E.J. Viso the rest of the year. If the AA crew has the setup for Houston figured out, he might just surprise me again. And, on top of all that, Viso has two career Top 10s at Sonoma. I don't think we've seen that last of him.

James Jakes


RSWC Standings: 22                                               IndyCar Standings: 18
Best Qualifying: 2 (Belle Isle 2)                                Best Finish: 2 (Belle Isle 2)
Best RSWC Points: 8 (Belle Isle 2)

I feel like James Jakes has had a better year than the numbers say. No, I take that back. I feel like I feel like James Jakes should be having a better year than these numbers say (I hope that made sense...) But, here's the thing, even though Jakes' numbers are atrocious, this is arguably his best season. Let's examine:
  • Jakes has fewer finishes of P20+ so far this season than in any other IndyCar season, with 3 (one of which is at Indianapolis, where over a third of the field is worse than P20).
  • Jakes has a podium this season.
  • Jakes is by far the better qualifier at RLL, starting, on average, almost 5 whole positions ahead of Graham Rahal.
- So, Jakesy has only tallied RSWC points at one race this year. I'm not going to let that deter me. I think he's a driver on the up up-swing. I fully expect him to take a step forward again next year, and if RLL get Graham Rahal figured out, I expect that the two of them might just form a contender.

Justin Wilson


RSWC Standings: 12                                                IndyCar Standings: 9
Best Qualifying: 7 (Mid-Ohio)                                  Best Finish: 3 (Long Beach / Belle Isle 1)
Best RSWC Points: 18 (Long Beach)

- I think I've talked about Justin Wilson only slightly more than I've talked about E.J. Viso this year (and I've talked about them both WAY less than James Jakes). My reactions to Wilson have mostly been: "Well, he was right there at the end at Indy" and "Is he really getting torched this bad by Mike Conway?" I think the reason for my lack of attention to Wilson can be attributed to his poor qualifying efforts this season. To put this in perspective, Wilson has the same average starting position as James Jakes. The problem is that Wilson has won three IndyCar races (plus four more in Champ Car) in his career and Jakes just has the one podium.

- I'm not going to throw down a lot of numbers for Wilson, but I will note this before moving on: this is easily one of Wilson's most consistent IndyCar series seasons (his last three Champ Car seasons might be better). If he can snag RSWC points (and the Top 10 finishes that usually accompany my made-up scoring system) in the remaining races, he might eclipse anything he's done since reunification. This Coyne team is in a good position.

Marco Andretti


RSWC Standings: 4                                                 IndyCar Standings: 4
Best Qualifying: 1 (Milwaukee / Pocono)                 Best Finish: 3 (St. Pete / Sao Paulo)
Best RSWC Points: 15 (Long Beach / Sao Paulo / Indianapolis)

- What can I say about Marco Andretti? This has been a very Andretti season for the third-generation driver. I mean, it just feels cursed, Chicago Cubs-like, even. He has a ton of potential; a ton of pace; and yet a dearth of performance. Now, I want to be clear, when I say "dearth of performance" I mean that I always seem to be expecting more from the #25. I've watched Marco qualify, I've watched Marco race, and I'm astonished that he only has a pair of P3 finishes to show for the season (in terms of best finishes).

- Now, having said what I've said about wanting more from Marco, I will say this. This season is the first time in his career that I can say that I feel like Marco Andretti is a threat on any sort of track. In years previous, I felt like I had to wait for Texas, Iowa, or Indy to see fireworks from my fellow Italian-American. Now, I feel like Marco can win on any given weekend, and his low number of truly bad finishes (he's only been outside the Top 10 twice) bears me out. And, if Marco keeps this year's pace and maintains his ability to strike on any type of circuit, the future really ought to hold an Astor Cup for the young driver with the enviable pedigree.

Stay Tuned

So, there's a look at four seasons-at-a-glance. Did we cover your favorite driver? Did you agree or disagree with what I saw? How will these four drivers' fortunes change after the last 5 rounds? One thing's for sure, you'll hear about it all here at Scoring Indy.

Next week we'll get ready for Sonoma. See you then!

-- Guido