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lat lepage 150718 Iowa 9109Larry Foyt is optimistic that a reinforced engineering group and the experiences from a tough 2015 campaign will help AJ Foyt Racing to take some strides forward in the coming IndyCar season.

The team went into last year as a newly-expanded two-car operation, with Jack Hawksworth having been signed to partner Takuma Sato. However Sato's second place in the Sunday outing at Detroit represented the team's only top-five finish for the year, and Foyt said that in retrospect the team expansion coupled with the arrival of the new aero kit was too much to absorb at once.

"Obviously last year was a big step with us growing to two cars, and certainly with us being down here in Texas, a lot of people were moving and getting settled down here ... it was probably a tougher growth than I expected," he told RACER.

"But now, after a year of all that getting settled, things are much more in place and so far everything is going smoothly. [Last year] was kind of a perfect storm. Not only were we growing, but when the aero kits came ... the complexity of the aero kit was the hardest part for us, because it took resources away from other parts of the team where we hadn't planned for it."

Foyt maintained that both of his cars showed flashes of competitiveness during the year, but failed to convert that speed into results.

"Last year there were plenty of times where we still had the speed and showed at some events that we were the fastest Honda," he said.

"We just didn't put it all together, and didn't get the results. Obviously the Rahal guys did a fantastic job, and some other Honda teams got wins, and we didn't. But many times it wasn't because we weren't competitive. We had a lot of little gremlins; it was one of those years where when we were running well, it seemed like something [bad] would happen.

"So I don't just sit here and say that we weren't competitive, because it wasn't just that. It was hard for all of the Honda teams last year, and when you add on that we were growing and had some teething issues, it just made it worse for us."

Both Sato and Hawksworth have been retained for 2016, giving Foyt some consistency on the driver front, but a lot has changed behind the scenes. The team announced several weeks ago that Takuma Sato's engineer Don Halliday had been promoted to technical director and George Klotz hired from Andretti as team manager, however additional reinforcements have been added right through the engineering department.

Most notable is the arrival of Dan Hobbs, who most recently engineered Schmidt's No.7 entry and who will now oversee Hawksworth's car, with Hawksworth's 2015 engineer Raul Prado moving across the garage to head up Sato's car.

"Dan is going to be on Jack Hawksworth, and Raul will be on Takuma's with Matt Curry [ex-KVSH] as his assistant engineer," Foyt said. "So there's a lot of experience with Matt as well, and Raul was Takuma's assistant engineer for three years before going over to work with Jack. So far it has been a good fit. There's a good feel around the team right now. Hopefully that will translate."

While the results of the team's work over the winter won't begin to reveal themselves until the Honda and Chevy entries test side-by-side at Phoenix later this month, Foyt said that he is encouraged by what he saw when the team ran at Sebring last week.

"We had a long off-season but the guys were working all the time and had a lot of ideas, and we just concluded our first Sebring test and it was really positive that a lot of their ideas seemed to really correlate with the race track," he said.

"So that was good. I know that everybody is always thinking optimistically as you come into a new season, and I was optimistic and excited going into last year, although obviously when we unloaded for the first test we and the other Honda teams knew pretty quickly that it was going to be a long year. But I'm really impressed by Honda's effort, they've really tried to step up and say 'we're going to make this better', and the teams are trying to do the same. Hopefully all the hard work will pay off."

lat levitt mtv1012 15108NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France joined with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team owners at a press conference in Charlotte to announce a long-term agreement that provides teams with increased business certainty and the ability to work more closely with NASCAR to produce best-in-class racing.

In effect as the 2016 NASCAR season prepares to kick off this weekend, the new Charter system addresses three key areas – participation, governance and economics – to promote a more predictable, sustainable and valuable team business model. The agreement grants NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Charters to 36 teams, establishes a Team Owner Council that will have formal input into decisions, and provides Charter teams with new revenue opportunities including a greater interest in digital operations.

"Today represents a landmark change to the business model of team ownership in NASCAR," France said. "The Charter agreements provide nine years of stability for NASCAR and the teams to focus on growth initiatives together with our track partners, auto manufacturers, drivers and sponsors. The Charters also are transferable, which will aid in the development of long-term enterprise value for Charter members."

The system affords Charter teams that remain in good standing more predictable revenue over the nine years of the agreement. Along with improved financial certainty, the new framework is designed to increase the long-term market value of teams and provide the ability to plan farther ahead with existing, new and prospective partners.

start2Similar to the five-year sanctioning agreements that NASCAR begins with tracks in 2016, team owner Charter agreements allow for longer planning cycles around competition, innovation, digital marketing, governance and research and development.

"The new Charter program strengthens each of our businesses individually and the team model as a whole, which is good for NASCAR, our fans, drivers, sponsors and the thousands of people who we employ," said Rob Kauffman, co-owner of Chip Ganassi Racing. "This will give us more stability and predictability, and it will allow us to take a more progressive, long-term approach to issues.

"NASCAR and the teams share a desire to preserve, promote and grow the sport and ultimately produce great racing for our fans and partners. These common goals served as the foundation for discussions and helped bring us to this unprecedented agreement. This is a great step forward for the entire sport made possible by Brian France setting a new course for the NASCAR industry and the owners coming together on shared issues. Everyone involved then compromised a bit to be able to come up with something that worked for all."

Each Charter team owner has a guaranteed entry into the field of every NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points race. To maintain the historical openness of NASCAR racing, the balance of the field will be open for team owners who do not hold Charters. These Open team owners will compete for the remaining starting spots and positions in the race, as each event in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' starting lineup shifts in 2016 to a 40-car field.

"The new team owner agreements will offer a more appealing environment for both current and prospective team owners at the NASCAR premier series level," France said. "I've always stressed that if we can do things to improve the business of our stakeholders, we will pursue it. I'm very proud of what we've accomplished today with this agreement."

NASCAR Charter teams

(Listed by historical inception of race team entity, then numerical)

2015 Car #

2016 Car #

Organization

43

43

Richard Petty Motorsports

9

44

Richard Petty Motorsports

3

3

Richard Childress Racing

27

27

Richard Childress Racing

31

31

Richard Childress Racing

2

2

Team Penske

22

22

Team Penske

5

5

Hendrick Motorsports

24

24

Hendrick Motorsports

48

48

Hendrick Motorsports

88

88

Hendrick Motorsports

6

6

Roush Fenway Racing

16

16

Roush Fenway Racing

17

17

Roush Fenway Racing

1

1

Chip Ganassi Racing

42

42

Chip Ganassi Racing

11

11

Joe Gibbs Racing

18

18

Joe Gibbs Racing

20

20

Joe Gibbs Racing

15

TBD

Michael Waltrip Racing

55

TBD

Michael Waltrip Racing

4

4

Stewart-Haas Racing

10

10

Stewart-Haas Racing

14

14

Stewart-Haas Racing

78

78

Furniture Row Racing

35

34

Front Row Motorsports

38

38

Front Row Motorsports

47

47

JTG Daugherty Racing

7

7

Tommy Baldwin Racing

13

13

Germain Racing

32

32

Go Fas Racing

23

23

BK Racing

83

83

BK Racing

62

62

Premium Motorsports

33

95

Circle Sport Racing

51

15

HScott Motorsports

 

Source: NASCAR

Felipe Massa, Williams, Abu Dhabi GP 2015

Williams will continue to prioritise spending on development of its Formula 1 car over trying to secure a superstar driver, according to technical director Pat Symonds.

The team, which is understood to have only the fifth-biggest budget in F1, finished third in the constructors' championship for the second successive year last term. Symonds rates Alonso as "the best driver in the sport" following their title success together at Renault in 2005-'06, but has previously suggested the Spaniard would not be the right signing for Williams in its present situation.

Despite Williams having cemented its position back among F1's front-runners, Symonds maintains its budget can be spent in more relevant ways than on a champion driver's wage bill.

"When I've said it in the past, I didn't meant we couldn't exploit what superstar drivers have got, but they cost money," he said. "But at the moment, we are deficient in areas which I would prioritize over a superstar driver.

"So, if Alonso came to drive for us, we would make full use of him and we'd work well with him. We'd give him what we needed, there's no doubt about it, but if we had to pay his salary, we may not eat for a year."

Williams agreed deals with Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa last year to keep the pair as teammates for the third successive season. The duo impressed Symonds to the extent that with a free choice, he would still choose both Massa and Bottas to line up for the team this season.

"I think they are perfect for our team, they work so well together," he said. "They are such team players and they push each other really hard because they are actually very similar in performance. They push each other in a pleasant way and it helps to get the whole team working nicely.

"Honestly, if I had a totally free hand, I'd keep exactly what we have got – and it's not often I would say that."

 

 

Originally on Autosport.com

Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Italian GP 2015, Monza

Ferrari exceeded even its own expectations in the 2015 Formula 1 season, winning three grands prix after setting itself the target of two. On that basis, Ferrari should improve this season and give Mercedes a closer run for its money, right? There are many who will be hoping that is the case.

But, unlike the prelude to last season, to date there have been no statements of intent from Ferrari. President Sergio Marchionne and team principal Maurizio Arrivabene are playing their cards very closely to their chests. You sense Ferrari knows that after being on the receiving end of overwhelming Mercedes dominance the past two years it is within striking distance of making a grab for the German manufacturer's coat-tails and hauling it in.

You only have to listen to the remarks of Marchionne and Arrivabene to realize there is perhaps a sense of anxiety within Maranello. With a concerted effort it can push Mercedes to the wire this year. As encouraging as last year was, resting on laurels now would squander those gains.

"If I was to give a tip to myself and the team colleagues, it is to be extremely afraid of their rivals," said Marchionne in December. "Let's try from now until March to suffer and work very hard because until we will see Mercedes during the test phase in February and then later on, we cannot be calm.

"We have to make the most of this time and the last thing we can do is relax, in spite of the wins and in spite of the podiums."

For Arrivabene, that anxiety would appear to be even more acute, and with good reason as it is eight years now since Ferrari last won a constructors' championship, and nine since one of its men last claimed the drivers' crown. Could 2016 again be Ferrari's year?

"We're working very hard, we're very tense, we're terrified because we're afraid of the future, so we're not relaxed," said Arrivabene. "We were second [in 2015], but we have to ask ourselves what those in first are going to do, especially considering they dominated last season.

"This positive fear is good because it stems from the willingness and excitement of doing new things. In terms of our rivals, Red Bull, Williams, no one can be underestimated and certainly they could be dangerous. McLaren may be a competitor as well."

All eyes will, of course, again be on Sebastian Vettel as it was the four-time champion who led Ferrari out of the mire of its winless 2014 campaign – the team's first season without a victory since 1993.

Marchionne has made clear he is expecting Kimi Raikkonen to have a "phenomenal" year this season after witnessing a different driver over the second half of last season. Now there's pressure for you.

Certainly if Raikkonen can at least haul himself closer to Vettel on a Saturday afternoon, as qualifying continues to be his Achilles heel, then the duo can apply their own pressure on Mercedes pair Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

Going into this season, Vettel knows Mercedes will continue to be the team to beat, but there is confidence he can make further inroads into their dominance.

"The reason Mercedes did so well is not only due to the power unit, but a combination of things," said Vettel. "It was a great car and they were able to improve it significantly from before.

"I don't think it is worth talking about the engine because we know it is strong and we expect them to keep going. Anyone who wants to challenge them needs to make bigger steps, and again that's our target. There are lots of things we are looking into to try and come out with a stronger car.

"Obviously, I don't know what is happening behind other doors, but I know what is happening at Maranello, and it looks very promising."

Inside Mercedes the team has its own concerns about Ferrari, highlighted only recently by Andy Cowell, managing director of the team's AMG High Performance Powertrains department. And if the words of Williams technical director Pat Symonds are anything to go by with regard to the power unit, Cowell has every reason to be worried.

"I honestly don't believe there's any difference between the Ferrari engine and the customer Mercedes engine, I really don't," said Symonds, whose team is powered by Mercedes. "I'm not sure about heat dissipation and things like that, we don't analyse it on that level, but every calculation we do shows them to be on a par, in terms of power."

If true, and Ferrari again makes the gains with the PU that it did in the build up to last season, internal anxiety may yet lead to long-overdue glory.

 

 

Originally on Autosport.com

A drastic lack of snow and ice on what should be the World Rally Championship's winter round has placed Rally Sweden 2016 under threat.

The organizers considered whether to cancel it outright at the start of this week but are pressing ahead with a shortened itinerary and counting on a forecast "big freeze" hitting before the event starts.

Here's how the WRC has found itself in this position and what threats the rally still faces.

How sure is the rally to run now?
Unfortunately, it's not sure at all. If the temperature doesn't drop quite a long way below freezing by Wednesday or Thursday then it remains almost impossible for the rally to go ahead. What the organizers need now is consistent temperatures of minus 10 centigrade (14 degrees F) through the night. With all the melted snow and rain, the roads are so full of water, they'll freeze hard and provide a pretty good ice base.

So, they don't need snow?
No. Ice is far, far more important than snow. Think of snow as the icing on the cake; ice is the sponge, the jammy middle bit and the other sponge. The roads are very different without snow banks and the way the drivers attack the corners will also vary greatly – without snow, there'll be no leaning on the snow banks! With no snow, the key is to keep the car in the middle of the road, no cutting corners and no running wide.

Are the stages all as bad as each other?
Generally, Friday's stages are a bit better – they're further north, slightly higher altitude and generally more snow-sure. Torsby and Rojden stages have a pretty good ice base at the moment. That said, Kirkenaer is more of a swimming pool than a stage.

What's the implication of trying to run the stages without a snow and ice layer?
The roads would be completely destroyed. Each tire has 384 studs fitted; every car means 1,536 metal studs tearing a soft gravel roads which doesn't take long to make deep ruts in braking areas and on the exit of corners. The safety implication of that is two-fold: the studs last about 12 miles before they start to be ripped out and when they're gone, there's nothing to slow the car down when they find the occasional patch of ice. If that car does go into the trees and needs assistance, it will take the First Intervention Vehicle a lot longer to get to the scene because of the rough conditions.

Beyond that, there's the financial implication: the organizers have to pay to fix the roads and running a route with no snow or ice would potentially bankrupt what is already a fairly financially strapped rally.

Torsby is one of the better ice stages at the momentLEFT: Torsby, which is first up on the recce, is one of the stages in better condition.

Could the rally go ahead with gravel rather than studded tires?
No. This is as a snow rally, which means studded or heavily treaded winter tires are fitted. tire companies simply wouldn't bring regular gravel tires because the accepted norm is for snow and ice – where anything other than a studded option would make no sense when studded tire are permitted in the regulations. Besides, the tire companies are already in Sweden with studded tires and there's no time to ship hundreds of gravel tires out to Karlstad.

Do any snow or winter rallies run without studded tires?
Yes. The opening round of Rally America, the SnoDrift Rally in Michigan, runs without studs and there's always loads of snow and ice there. It's very dependent on local traffic regulations – in some places studs aren't permitted on the roads. In Norway, for example rental cars don't come with studs, but across the border in Sweden, they're all fitted with a five-mil "button" stud.

It seems like a lack of snow on this rally is regularly a problem – should the WRC look elsewhere for a snow rally?
There are constant rumors of winter rallies being considered, but there are no concrete discussions – despite the speculation – with Russia, Japan or China. All have very good winter events and, rest assured, WRC Promoter will be talking to them in the near future. Are, a ski resort much further north between Trondheim and Ostersund, is regularly touted as a potential venue for the event. Trouble is, there's no guarantee of regional funding for an event up there and a ski resort in the winter doesn't really have too much trouble filling its hotels. Based in Rovaniemi, just inside the Arctic Circle, the Arctic Rally would be another option. Trouble is, Finland already has a round of the World Rally Championship.

How bad is this situation for Rally Sweden?
It's bad. The economics are really tricky: if they cancel, they'll run into some severe financial strife with money already laid out and if they run and damage the roads, the repair bill could be crippling. On top of that, the organizers aren't exactly on the same page with WRC Promoter regarding a hike in fees needing to be paid for the privilege of running a world championship round...

With ERC Liepaja postponed, is it fair to say this is happening more regularly?
Not really. This event was canceled due to a lack of snow and ice in 1990 and since then it's been hit and miss; some years the conditions have been exceptional: freeze-your-eyes-shut minus 40 on stages lined by monster walls of snow, some years its rained non-stop.

Will things change next season?
Most likely yes. WRC Promoter, not unreasonably, wants some winter in the winter rally it's promoting on television. Politically, the situation is an interesting one at the moment: winter rallies aren't exactly knocking down the promoter's door and Rally Sweden appears increasingly disillusioned with the economics of the championship. The balance of power between Sweden and the promoter is very hard to call right now. It could be we have no winter rally at all next season.

 

 

Originally on Autosport.com

kanaan6Chip Ganassi Racing took to Twitter to reveal a revised look for Tony Kanaan's No. 10 Dallara-Chevy in this year's 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series. Check how it compares with previous years in the tweet, and click on the thumbnails below for larger images.

{igallery id=8079|cid=452|pid=9|type=category|children=0|addlinks=0|tags=|limit=0}

indy adSunday's 50th Super Bowl was pretty forgettable but there was a memorable advertisement for the 100th Indianapolis 500 that was geared to encourage ticket buyers for the May 29th classic. (Watch the commercial below.)

The regional ad featured shots of inaugural winner Ray Harroun, 1920 champ Gaston Chevrolet, four-time kings A.J. Foyt, Rick Mears and Al Unser plus the current drivers whose face appears on the Borg-Warner Trophy – Ryan Hunter-Reay, Scott Dixon, Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan and Juan Montoya.

As the drivers images appeared the narrator talked about "innovators, heroes and dreamers who didn't ask why but why not and pushed boundaries and this year we honor them for the 100th time in the race of the century." It prompted viewers to go to IMS.com for tickets.

Developed by MSK Advertising of Indianapolis and IMS Productions, the 30-second spot was shown in Fort Wayne, Lafayette, Terre Haute, along with Dayton and Columbus, Ohio during Denver's 24-10 victory over Charlotte.

"We don't honestly need to go to television to get the word out but we thought it was important with the 100th Indianapolis 500 and a good opportunity to promote all the events at IMS as well as the Verizon IndyCar series," said C.J. O'Donnell, chief marketing officer for IMS and IndyCar. "We aired an ad during the Rolex 24 in Illinois, Ohio and Indiana and we'll also run Sunday's ad again during the Daytona 500 in Indianapolis, Columbus and Dayton."

O'Donnell was asked if this was an indication that ticket sales weren't going well for the 100th running of the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing"?

"No, ticket sales are up exponentially from last year, as we expect them to be," he replied. "But we want to sell the place out and we're pushing hard."

Indy hasn't been sold out since 1995, the year before the CART/IRL split.

O'Donnell also said a TV ad is already airing in St. Petersburg, Fla. to promote the season opener on March 13 and that will be the policy at other cities on the IndyCar schedule. And there will be a separate ad campaign for the Angie's List Grand Prix on May 14 at IMS.

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lat levitt I500 0515 36448karam1A year ago Sage Karam (LEFT) visited IndyCar's Media Day as a full-time driver on one of the best teams with Dario Franchitti as his coach and he was still a month away from his 20th birthday. The future looked beyond bright for the American kid that had conquered the Mazda Road to Indy.

Last week he gave a few interviews about his plans to run the 100th Indianapolis 500 because that's the only ride he has for 2016.

Such is the reality of IndyCar, where even IRL champ and Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan needs to bring a sponsor. But our video interview with Karam drew some interesting, if not puzzling, reactions.

While many fans said they were sad the kid didn't have a full-time ride for 2016, others seemed happy and claimed he was over his head or just a PR gimmick.

Now I realize Sage is young, cocky and rubbed a few drivers the wrong way last season but it's almost like people have forgotten what it's like to be a rookie in an Indy car. So allow me to refresh your memory:

  • 1963: Johnny Rutherford wound up 10th in the point standings with a fourth (Hoosier Hundred) and a fifth (Springfield) his best showings.
  • 1964: Bobby Unser scored a pair of fourths at Springfield and DuQuoin and placed 14th in the points.
  • 1965: Al Unser finished 19th in the point standings with a best finish of ninth at Indianapolis (although he did win Pikes Peak).
  • 1968: Mike Mosley finished 19th in the points with a best finish of fourth at Langhorne.
  • 1972: Swede Savage earned two Top 10s (sixth and ninth at Milwaukee) and was 25th in points.
  • 1974: Tom Sneva's top run was a fifth at Michigan and a pair if eighth places and took 17th in the points.
  • 1977: Danny Ongais won at Michigan but had eight DNFs (and a couple of big crashes) to finish 12th in the standings.
  • 1985: Arie Luyendyk finished fifth at Cleveland and sixth at Road America to wind up 18th in PPG Cup.
  • 1992: Paul Tracy had a pair of runner-ups, a third and a fourth plus four crashes in 11 of 16 starts to finish 12th in standings.
  • 1993: Robby Gordon rang up a second, third and fourth on his way to No. 10 in standings.
  • 1996: Greg Moore notched a second and two thirds on his way to ninth in the points.
  • 1997: Dario Franchitti had one top 10 (ninth in Australia) and was 22nd in CART standings.
  • 1998: Tony Kanaan scored a pair of thirds (Laguna Seca & Houston) and fourths on his way to ninth in the CART standings while Helio Castroneves ran second at Milwaukee and seventh at Gateway in his 17th place in the standings.
  • 2003: Dan Wheldon scored a third, three fourths and a fifth to place 11th in the IRL standings.
  • 2005: Ryan Briscoe had one top 10 (eighth at Nazareth) and one pole (Sonoma) and wound up 19th in the IRL points.
  • 2006: Will Power had a third, fourth and fifth to take sixth in the Champ Car standings.
  • 2015: Sage Karam finished on the podium at Iowa (third) and fifth at Fontana, competing in 12 of 16 races and winds up 20th in points.

So for all the people shouting that Karam was over his head or fell on his face, I would say his rookie season looked a whole lot like a lot of guys who went on to become Indy 500s winners, IndyCar champs and IndyCar winners.

Sure there were exceptions like Parnelli Jones (one win and a pair of seconds as a rook in 1961), Mario Andretti (USAC national champion in 1965 with one win and nine podiums), Bobby Rahal (runner-up in the CART standings with two victories and three more podiums) and Juan Montoya (CART champion in 1999 with seven wins) that dazzled everyone in their "learning" year.

But P.J. tested at Indianapolis all summer in 1960 before going to IMS the next May, while Mario ran IndyCar 10 races in 1964 and Rahal came from Can-Am and even a quick taste of Formula 1. Along with JPM, they had miles and miles of tire and car testing to get them up to speed.

Even a badass like Michael Andretti took three years to get his first IndyCar victory and he saw plenty of testing as well.


lat abbott iowa 0715 5561

Karam made an impressive debut in 2014 by charging from 31st to ninth at Indianapolis and then Chip Ganassi hired him for 2015. He crashed on his out lap during the open test at Birmingham and that set him back and he was nothing special in his first five starts (although he got crashed on the opening lap at Indy).

He shined in the Detroit downpour during qualifying and had quick time before IndyCar opted to cancel the session and then he played pinball in the two races, admitting later he drove "like an idiot."

But he mixed it up like a brave 20-year-old at Fontana, led some laps and scored his first top 5 before coming back to take third at Iowa (ABOVE). And he was leading at Pocono when he lost control and crashed.

Incredibly, I actually heard people suggest he should be banned for causing Justin Wilson's death.
Karam took that freak incident, where his nose cone flew off and struck Justin with fatal consequences, very hard but he was consoled by a couple of veterans who understood that fate doesn't play favorites.

The reason I'm writing about a driver whose only IndyCar ride is this May (thank you Dennis Reinbold) is because Karam's situation is exactly what's wrong with IndyCar.

The native of Nazareth, Pa. became a popular if not polarizing personality who showed plenty of skill and an equal share of learning the hard way. But he made more fans than he did waves and even got a story in the New York Times. He's EXACTLY what IndyCar needs to draw in the younger generation and he's going to sell a lot more tickets than Max Chilton.

If this were the '60s or even the '70s, Sage would still have a full-time ride because owners liked potential and bravado and cars weren't that expensive to operate, so they took chances instead of taking money.

If this were NASCAR and Chase Elliott, somebody in the front office would have already written a check to keep him in a car because he's the next generation and NASCAR understands the importance.

But the problem is that today's rookies don't get a chance to develop unless you catch a break like Josef Newgarden. He had Sarah Fisher and Wink Hartman in his corner and was given enough time to drive through his learning curve and become a front-runner.

Make no mistake, Josef earned it but what would have happened if he had been one and done? How does anyone get better, learn their craft and make a name by sitting on the sidelines?

Karam should be one of the faces of IndyCar for the next 20 years but without sponsorship he could easily be the next J.R. Hildebrand.

rutherford 1973It took another J.R. (Johnny Rutherford) 11 years to win the first of his three Indy 500s as he got opportunity after opportunity because it was a lethal era and rides were always available. He was always fast but crashed a lot (Wreckaford) until he had the time to finally figure things out and then McLaren came calling (RIGHT).

A rookie today like Karam or Spencer Pigot with no financial backing has very little testing, reduced practice at the track and not even the luxury of running all the races so it's a gun-to-the-head mentality behind the wheel followed by snap judgments in the pit boxes.

That's why young, American open-wheelers are an endangered species.

And, most likely, a sure thing for IMSA.

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