Friday, March 28, 2008

IndyCar season preview-part IV

Taking it team-by-team (must be read and hummed aloud to the cadence of the Micheal McDonald hit of the similar name).

Ridebuyer is happy to present the following team-by-team look into the 2008 IRL IndyCar season. Feel free to print the subsequent posts and compile your own personal Ridebuyer media guide. (Seriously, if anyone does this, DUI yourself into the nearest pond. Immediately.)

In this post, the ex-pats!: KV Racing Technology and Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing.

KV Racing Technology:

What to Know:

We'll call KV the second-best Champ Car ex-pats making a go of it this IndyCar season. They are well-funded, have bright guys running the program and have a veteran driver with oval experience. They come to the fray sporting the cockpit services of Oriol Servia (the vet) and Will Power. Of course, Newman/Haas/Lanigan would have to be considered the cream of the newbie-crop, but the gap between the movie star's team and KV may not be as expansive as some think. For starters, the driver lineup for KV may be stronger than what NHLR has. Servia is a known quantity. While never competing in an IRL event, he did attempt a qualifying run at Indy in 2002 for Walker, and showed speed on ovals in the CART days. As for Will Power, well, he is a beast in the making. Without the merger, Power would be battling for a Champ Car title this season. He had victories at Toronto and Vegas in 2007 and if he can figure out how to run an oval in traffic he will compete with anyone.

This team was formed so recently, they have no website. That makes finding info on crew members a tad challenging. (Sorry, Ridebuyer does not have a Rolodex filled with the bios of tire changers. Though it would have helped when we blew a Goodyear on I95 last year.) But, we are confidant that all of the crew guys are not only experienced, but professional and have a savant-type knowledge of Honda engines and Dallara chassis. Why wouldn't they? Jimmy Vasser wouldn't hire slack-jawed mules.

The only possible sticking point Ridebuyer sees in future of KV revolves around their new funding-buddy, Australian wine mogul Graig Gore. Robin Miller questions his integrity. That means we must also. To be fair, Gore screwed Darrick Walker. That means Miller can call him whatever he pleases. No questions asked. Scroll to 1:40 in the clip to hear Vasser's comments on his new partner and his shady-past.

*We wanted to show the Windtunnel clip that featured the entire Robin Miller interview from last week (where he called Craig Gore a criminal), but it was mysteriously removed from Could the slander police have paid a visit?


KV is no joke. They have two drivers who should be up to speed on ovals quickly and will be competitive on road/street courses immediately. Jimmy Vasser is bright racing guy and is proving that in his ownership role. His partner (Kevin Kalkhoven) seems to know, well, software. (Oh, and how to merge two racing series'). So long as Gore doesn't flake out on the vineyard money, they will be alright.


What to know:

This team is the ex-Champ Car equivalent of current-day Penske or Ganassi. They are the all-stars, the studs and the girl everyone wants to fuck in high school, all wrapped in one. They were the perennial championship favorites in Champ Car, and had the series not dissolved, likely would have secured another title with Justin Wilson this year. NHLR brings Wilson and Graham Rahal to the IndyCar Series for the merge-year, both accomplished; one came from F1, another is on his way. The transition for the team to the IndyCar Series has not been easy. The team missed the Sebring test (the team cited a lack of parts), and Rahal wadded a car in the Homestead oval test, forcing his entry to be withdrawal from the race, the team again citing a lack of chassis parts. (Irony. Team owner Carl Haas has said on many occasions that he has $2 million worth of new -now useless- chassis parts for the Panoz DP01 in storage. And, during his time as the distributor of Lola parts in America, Champ Car teams complained Haas never had the innovatory of parts they needed. Full circle.)


This team should be competing for race wins on road/street courses. Wilson will get up to speed faster on ovals than Rahal (We think he'll be in F1 in two seasons, so don't fret). Rahal wont need too much time to find his feet. (You'd expect this from the most talented American-born racing driver in 20 years. How's that for a Ridebuyer endorsement?) To put his age into perspective, Rahal graduated from high school last year, and was born three years after his Pop won Indy. Holy shit, everyone in the world (minus Rahal, of course) is old as dirt.

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