Thursday, February 26, 2009

Camaro Set to Pace Indy 500; Young Guns to USF1?

The IRL and the Indy 500 are finally getting some press! That means May can't be too far away, as the Speedway opens for practice in just 68 days. On a week when the season's first open test got underway at Homestead in Florida, the Indy 500 pace car was unveiled today and it is a gorgeous Chevy Camaro. Old Johnny Rutherford will surely enjoy that this May. For more information on the pace car unveiling, follow this link to the IMS site. They can tell you all about it. While I love the Corvette pace cars, this should be a great shot in the arm for the Chevy brand and the new (old) style Camaro.

I'm glad for that news but there's been much more than eye candy for the IRL this week. The least surprising news was that Briscoe and Dixon led the speed charts at the Homestead test, with Briscoe fastest over the two day affair and Dixon quickest the first day and second to Briscoe on Day 2.

So the boys in the red and white cars are likely to be leading the field again this year. If Will Power can get comfortable with Penske, he should be a more than able complement to Briscoe and of course Dixon's teammate in 2009 needs no introduction: Dario Franchitti.

The other news is perhaps more smoke than reality as the new USF1 formula one team was announced this past week as an entry for 2010 headed by Peter Windsor - I find it hard to believe that anyone can come up with the funding for a new grand prix team right now but maybe they are banking on a global economic turnaround that will help them hit the grid next season. From the IRL's perspective, the talk of Danica Patrick and Marco Andretti being considered (or is it that they are just interested in being considered?) for a seat with USF1 has to be good news. There's an old adage that any publicity is good publicity and the IRL needs all the ink it can get these days. I'm skeptical that either Marco or Danica could have a serious shot at Formula One since they don't have the European experience that seems to benefit the rest of the field, plus the cars are so totally different. Never mind test opportunities with Honda. They're history and it's hard to believe that anyone would take IRL drivers seriously. Coming from me that sounds like blasphemy but can anyone really believe that a series led by a man who thinks women belong in the kitchen will give Danica a fair trial? And will Marco be bludgeoned by the mixed history of his father and grandfather as F1 drivers? Michael's time over there was a dismal crashfest with no testing time available and is Marco really ready to just jump in one of their cars and go fast without proper testing?

I hope they prove me wrong. But either it's all a PR circus orchestrated by Chitwood and Windsor to drum up money and interest for the IRL and USF1 respectively, or there's a grain of truth somewhere behind the soundbites and pretty photos. Nevermind the fact that Danica is in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue once again! St. Pete should be awesome come April 5th, and don't forget to check the pre-season coverage on VERSUS every Saturday in March. See you at the track!

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