Thursday, April 3, 2008

IndyCar season preview-part VI

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.)

Ed. note: Ridebuyer is the first to admit it may not be fair to finish a "season preview," after the season has started. After seeing a race we could, theoretically, be more in tuned with what will transpire this season. We have seen the drivers, cars and teams in action and can adjust our "preview" accordingly. Some may cry shenanigans, some may call this a cop out. Fortunately, we are not those kind of people. So, if you are, go to hell. It is not our fault that procrastination has prevented timely-posting. In fact, we blame you. Yes, you. Bastards.

In this post... Mediocrity: Rahal Letterman Racing, Roth Racing and Vision Racing.

Rahal Letterman Racing:

What to Know:

RLR is fielding a single-car this season for Ryan Hunter-Reay. The American has shown the ability to run at or near the front in his short tenure in the IndyCar Series. He took Rookie of the Year honors last season despite running an abbreviated schedule (after Rahal's ouster of Jeff Simmons). Hunter-Reay had victories in Champ Cars, showed some speed in sportscars and even completed some NASCAR testing. The guy is good enough to win races, exceeding the potential of his equipment. The team has downsized to a single car, went through a messy split with former driver Scott Sharp, lost Sharp's tequila deal, and seem to be left with nothing more than Hunter-Reay and his occasional ethanol-farming commercials. The team is also branching out into sportscar racing for 2009 (running GT-2 BMW's in the ALMS), plus team owner Bobby Rahal is likely more concerned with his son running an IndyCar (at Newman/Haas/Lanigan, mind you) than he lets on. The point is, the team has a lot of things going on, and this comes at the detriment of Hunter-Reay.


The team is only a handful of years removed from taking Buddy Rice to victory lane at Indy, but things have changed. Dramatically. Expect Hunter-Reay to show consistent speed on road and street courses (see: Mid-Ohio last season), but nothing more.

Roth Racing:

What to Know:

The juggernaut known as Roth Racing is back, and team owner Marty Roth is still in the cockpit. Gasp. This guy takes shit from almost everyone concerning his driving ability, his team and his general attendance at IndyCar events. Marty Roth would probably get stoned from fans for just showing up at a race and sitting in the stands. That is, if anyone would recognize him from the pretzel vendor walking the aisles of the nose bleed seats at Homestead (not likely). To all those folks who shit on Marty, Ridebuyer says relax. When you become a millionaire businessman, you have earned the right to blow your cash on whatever you damn well please. Some guys choose airplanes, boats, or call girls, but Marty likes him some racing. Roth is a Ridebuyer in every sense of the word, and we like that. Sure, he wads a few cars up and is a habitual back marker. But he is doing it. Keep on keeping on, Marty. Oh, and he hired a pretty damn good teammate for this season in Jay Howard.


Brace for a racing cliche:

A top-10 for this team would be like a win... Thinking in those terms: will Roth Racing win a race this year? Yes.

Vision Racing:

What to Know:

Tony George's team has progressed from also ran status, to a contender for podiums. Let that sink in for a moment... The team whose genesis came from George's stepson being left rideless is now not a joke. Ed Carpenter has become quite the little racing driver. He and teammate ( A.J. Foyt IV) are the only remaining IndyCar drivers to progress from the USAC ranks, and both are pretty seasoned in oval racing. The team was quick at Homestead (though failing post-qualifying tech was a bit of a setback), as both drivers finished in the top-10. Carpenter's car sports a new sponsor in Menards, and the last season addition of Larry Curry has been nothing but positive. (Here is some info on Curry's, um, past legal issues, which oddly stem from his time with John Menard, the aforementioned new sponsor. Glad to see they buried the hatchet.) The team also has a certain Hollywood big-deal on their side, as Patrick Dempsey is a co-owner. He is most well known from his timeless depiction of 'Rudy' in Meatballs III: Summer Job, the role that defined a generation.


The team will struggle on circuits that feature right and left turns. Expect speed on ovals, especially of the 1.5 mile variety. Podiums are very possible for both Foyt and Carpenter on these tracks. Expect no wins, but competitiveness (barring further technical foul-ups). Also, look for Vision to run a car at Indy for Paul Tracy. You heard it here last.

-Ed. note: Hey, the season preview is done! Jesus, thank Christ. And just in time for race #2 at St. Pete. Haha. #2....

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