Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Hornish in 2009: Will He Stay or Will He Go?

Queue The Clash, it's time to ask the same question we did one year ago: Will Hornish stay or will he go? With Helio's legal problems making his availablity uncertain, there's been talk over at TrackForum of bringing Hornish back to Indycars.

It makes some sense: If Helio is out, why put someone new in the seat when you have the 2006 Indy 500 Champion and 2006 Season Champion right there in the garage?

I have absolutely no inside info on this one -- darn those water-tight Penske garages -- but I imagine that Roger will give Hornish the opportunity to voice a preference, and then Roger will make the final call. Penske isn't going to worry about, as one TrackForum poster put it, Hornish getting "blown away half the season" on the road courses; Hornish notched a 2nd at Watkins Glen and a 5th at Infineon in 2007.

Alas, as much as I would like to see Hornish in Indycars, it makes sense for him to give the tintops one more season to see if he can break through with some success.

Monday, December 15, 2008

With or Without Honda

When the economy goes sour and your racing series has exactly *one* supplier of something, folks start to worry. Especially when that something is the engine.

Trackforum poster "TheDJ" from speedfreaks.tv posted their concern about Honda, based on comments made by Jay Howard:

"OK guys, so I've been worried as Honda not only pulled from F1, but also AMA Superbikes... but then Joie Chitwood left the PRI show on Day One and said it was because of bad news that needed to be released this week..."

I'm actually not worried about losing Honda. From the first race back in 1996, the Indycar Series has always had a source of engines, and if Honda withdrew (with adequate notice of course), builders would emerge from the woodwork. Where there is a funded series with funded teams that are ready to write a check, I'm sure some engine brand would love to have their name in the Indy 500 Winner's Circle.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Wrapping Up 2008

The 2008 Indycar season was probably the most important season since the first IRL race back in 1996. Loaded with firsts -- first Long Beach GP, first win by a female, first win for Graham Rahal in his first race -- this season will always be remembered for The Merge of the Indycar Series and the CCWS series.

My personal feelings are mixed. It was great to see Danica make headlines, although I'd prefer if she won with competitive passing (as I detailed here). And while the races up to Texas set the table for nail-biting competition, the second half of the season was a bit of a yawn -- not unusal when one driver takes an early points lead.

Predictions for 2009? At the moment, I don't have any. The recession is really the only topic of conversation in Indycar garages this winter, and my usual sources of info are giving me little more than a shrug.

We can all hope for another Danica v. Milka showdown, as there's nothing like a catfight to keep the motors running. And I *do* hope for a series return to Australia, if for no other reason than to support the traditions shown in this photo.

So now my attention turns almost exclusively to sportscars as we gear up for the Rolex 24 in February.