Iowa IndyCar Musings

Photo: Series

Lots of things to ponder after Sunday’s Hinchtown Beatdown in Iowa.

*** First and foremost should be when and how to run the most exciting oval on the IZOD IndyCar schedule.

Iowa Speedway has always drawn big crowds when the IndyCar race was held on Saturday night but Sunday’s turnout was disappointing (half full) to say the least. Yes, it rained hard Sunday morning and that certainly didn’t help the walk-up but everything about a night race is better.

After meeting the press with Hulman & Company CEO Mark Miles to confirm that IndyCar is definitely returning in 2014, principal owner Conrad Clement was asked why Sunday instead of Saturday night this year?

“We wanted to be on ABC,” he replied.

And that’s understandable but not if it costs you paying customers.

It seems like the most sensible thing to do with Iowa and Milwaukee is make them one-day shows. Practice in the morning, qualify in the afternoon and race at 6 p.m. Saves everybody money and ramps up the intensity.

Also gives the ticket buyers more than 90 minutes of action on Race Day. Heard some fans grumbling that the race was too short or the day was too short so packing everything in one day alleviates that problem.

But Clement didn’t like that idea and said he needed two days so if that’s the case then bring back USAC’s midgets and Silver Crown cars because they drew a lot more folks than the three heat races.

*** The great heat race experiment needs to go away.

True, it did pay points this year and Graham Rahal’s charge from seventh to first was entertaining but the risk isn’t worth the reward. Unless Iowa could find sponsorship and pay $50,000 to win each preliminary and then $100,000 for the 50-lap finale, it makes no sense.

Helio Castroneves getting nine points was way too many (Ed Carpenter won the pole at Indy and got nothing) and hardly measures up to winning the Fast 6 on a street circuit.

The only reason to have heats was to grow the crowd and it didn’t.

It was worth a try but I’d rather see conventional qualifying followed by a USAC doubleheader.

*** James Hinchcliffe’s honesty is as refreshing as his personality.

After leading 226 of the 250 laps in the Iowa Corn 250 for his third victory of 2013 and his first-ever on an oval, the Mayor of Hinchtown proclaimed: “I’ve watched guys win like this on TV my whole career and I thought: ‘I don’t know how they do that.’ I’d never been in that position before and now I have.

“It’s an amazing feeling, trust me.”

The last time anybody was that dominant on a short oval was Hinch’s teammate, Ryan Hunter-Reay, who led all 250 laps in the 2004 Champ Car show at The Milwaukee Mile.

“I love short track racing,” said RHR, whose charge from 21st to second moved him within nine points of Castroneves in his quest for a second straight title. “It’s nuts out there, it wears you out and you really get frustrated with traffic sometimes but what a show.”

*** Give the mechanics a break in 2014.

Derrick Walker started out his career as a mechanic in Formula One and he knows it can be a grind so that’s why I’m hoping he’s got some influence in next year’s schedule.

Eight straight weekends from Brazil to Indy to Detroit to Texas to Milwaukee to Iowa and now teams are testing today in Pocono, Sebring and Mid-Ohio. That is lunacy and needs to be rectified.

The mechanics get hosed by six months of inactivity and many of them get laid off, which stinks as badly as the purses.

Ideally, there would be a race every other weekend and that may not be possible but Milwaukee needs to be the Sunday after Indianapolis, Road America needs to be in the fall and Fontana needs to stay in October.
Start the season in February – a week before Daytona.

*** Notes and gossip.

Keep hearing ChicagoLand is making a big push to bring IndyCar back but I’d much rather see MIS instead – it would draw better than Joliet….

Ten races into the season and the Target/Ganassi boys have led 28 laps (Scott Dixon only one) with two poles by Dario Franchitti, one podium (Dixie at “Bama) and not a sniff of victory lane. “I don’t know what the problem is but, trust me, it’s not the drivers,” said one veteran prior to Sunday’s race…..

A.J. Foyt can’t have hip surgery until he loses 30 pounds, that’s what the doctors told him according to pal Jack Housby. But Tex lost about 25 pounds a couple years ago so he can do it. Just hide the Blue Bell.