Tuesday, March 24, 2009

IRL Tests Barber - 42 Days to Indy

By all accounts, the two-day Indycar test that ended yesterday at Barber Motorsports Park near Birmingham, Alabama was a huge success with several thousand fans paying their way in to watch. Let the lobbying begin folks! Racing here in 2010 seems like it might happen, although the track probably needs some work to create some passing areas. It can't be any worse than Belle Isle! Dixon topped the charts the first day and Power was quick on Day 2 so it's the usual suspects on top heading to St. Pete next weekend. And don't forget Master Rahal who was strong in the test and would love to duplicate his race winning run of a year ago in his very first IRL event! Everyone ran faster the second day and it was disappointing to see Dan Wheldon so far down the charts. He was very entertaining on Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain Sunday night (no surprise there) and he was quite convincing about his desire to bring Panther Racing back to its glory days when my man Sam Hornish was ripping up the league. Maybe they will fare better in FLA.

The ALMS had their annual 12 hour blast at Sebring this past Saturday and I'm concerned about the car count. The almighty Audi's ruled the roost once again but they didn't have much competition in LMP1 and the LMP2 class appears to have lost just about everyone! Since Acura is in LMP1 now and Penske took his Porsche power to Grand Am, the ALMS series as a whole could be suffering this year, since the fields would be made up primarily of GT sports cars which are nice but not nearly as sexy as the big prototypes. Maybe everyone is playing it close to the vest until LeMans in June but I don't think so. Don't tell me - I know: "It's the economy, stupid!" But that doesn't make it OK and who knows what the series will look like by the time I get to see them at Mid Ohio with the IRL in August. I wonder if the pursuit of technology and the reliance on manufacturer support has burnt the teams in ALMS. It's beginning to look like the Rolex Grand Am series may have the right formula. I've said it before and I'll repeat myself today: these guys need to merge worse than the IRL and Champ Car did! Why not now! IMSA did a great job with equivalency formulas back in the 80's so I'm sure it could be done now without too much wrangling.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, Kenny Schrader has entered a car for the Salem ARCA show which runs April 5th. His biggest challenge will be Frank Kimmel who practically owns this track, and I'm curious to see what kind of young talent Eddie Sharp Racing will bring to these famous high banks. Three rookies for ESR looks like a lot to handle and there could be some mangled sheet metal (as usual) by the time the 200-lapper is done. Even the ARCA bunch is having car count troubles, since when I checked this weekend, there were only about 25 cars entered and several of those had driver "tba" listed, which usually translates to lack of funds. A shorter field for Salem isn't necessarily a bad thing, however, since the ARCA race usually has 6 or 8 guys that are clearly just field fillers and pull in the pits after a handful of laps with "handling" problems, aka, "I can't drive with the big boys and I just came for the starting points and appearance money so I could get out of the house for the weekend." Just kidding!
See you at Salem!

No comments: