It’s a glorious time of year! Yes, it’s supposed to snow here in the DC area tomorrow, but who cares?! IndyCars will be on track FOR REAL in less than 4 days!! The excitement began to build last week and it seemed to bust out today with tweets and blog posts and all kinds of detailed analysis. If you’re looking for that, you’re probably in the wrong place. But I’ve pledged to get myself off of The IndyCar Blogs “Semi-Active Blogger” list, so here goes!
I have read many really well done pre-season analysis pieces, and I highly recommend you head over to theindycarblogs.wordpress.com to find links to most–if not all–of them. I’m not here to rehash any of that. What I am here to do is tell you what was on my mind during my traffic-filled drive home from work this afternoon. (I know, I know–traffic on the Capital Beltway? Who’da thunk it?!) In no particular order–other than the order in which I remember them–here is what floated through my head as I traveled from Virginia to Maryland this afternoon.
1) Will Helio Make It Happen This Year?
After TK finally got his Indy 500 win last year, I was really pulling for Helio to get his first IndyCar championship. How perfect would that have been? Two lifelong friends capturing that elusive prize in the same season. It’s the stuff about which Hollywood makes movies. Once Marco dropped out of contention for the championship, I was really pulling for Helio to win it. Alas, it was not to be, as Scott Dixon roared to the finish and his third championship.
So where does that leave Helio? He has a great deal of talent, and though some might consider him “aging,” he has remained very competitive in a series where he is surrounded by a large number of rising stars. I think his competitiveness will continue this season, and I think he will be in contention for the championship for a good part of the season, but I don’t see Helio emerging from 2014 as the first-ever Verizon IndyCar Series champion. Sorry, Helio!
2) Good Grief, What Is With All These Changes?!
No, I am not going to whine about the compressed season, the addition of a road course race at IMS, the revamped Indy 500 qualifying procedures, or the new points structure. I have opinions on all of them but I’m not going to get into them. Suffice it to say none of those things caused me to consider abandoning my love of all (most) things IndyCar.
The changes I’m talking about are the livery changes. Yes, I know there are a fair number of them every season. But is it just me, or are there a LOT of livery changes this season? Gone is the familiar bright green GoDaddy livery of James Hinchcliffe’s #27, replaced by a very sharp-looking blue and white United Fiber & Data paint scheme. Ryan Hunter-Reay is back to a bright yellow #28, but there is no sign of familiar sponsor SunDrop. Graham Rahal’s #15 is now sporting the National Guard colors.
And then there is the livery change that hits me where it hurts. No, I’m not talking about the shock of seeing one of my favorite drivers, Tony Kanaan, speeding around the track in the hated red and white Target colors. I’m talking about Marco Andretti and his switch from RC Cola to Snapple. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Snapple livery. I love the switch of primary sponsors, because I don’t drink soda, so even if I could find RC Cola in a store here, I wouldn’t buy it. But Snapple–I buy a whoooooooole bunch of Snapple! But the switch creates a situation with which I’m sure many of my fellow IndyCar fans can relate.
I first started buying IndyCar gear when Marco was driving the #26 Venom car. I bought a pretty fair number of baseball caps and shirts and of course the little diecast cars. And then came the #26 RC Cola car. Well, I couldn’t be behind the times. I know a lot of people think it’s some sort of badge of honor to wear driver gear from way back, but I just can’t do it. So of course I bought all new caps and shirts and my first-ever crew jersey. And lo and behold, the following season RC Cola was back but the #26 was gone, replaced by the current #25.
And there was no way I was going to wear any of the bad luck #26 gear anymore! So last year I faithfully replaced it all with #25 gear, proudly wearing it as Marco showed all that off-season work had paid off. I even bought another crew jersey. And you know what? This year when I show up at IMS in May, I will once again update all of my gear to #25 Snapple gear. My wallet will not be happy but my wallet will just have to shut up. I gotta support my driver!
3) Oh Boy, I’m Nervous About That Decision
One of the first major changes to come about after the end of the 2013 season was Andretti Autosport’s decision to switch from Chevy to Honda power. I admit the move has me very nervous. I’m an Andretti girl through and through and I trust they wouldn’t make a decision they didn’t think was in the best interest of the team and its drivers, but I’m also a Chevy girl. For the vast majority of my driving years, I have sat behind the wheel of a Chevy. Ever since their return to IndyCar, Honda has been “the other side.” It’s been very difficult for me to wrap my mind around the fact that come next Sunday, I’ll be rooting for that other side.
But I can get over it. Two of Marco’s most difficult races last season occurred because of fuel exhaustion. If the Honda tradition of providing better fuel mileage continues, I will get over it very quickly. It will still be strange seeing the Honda logo on the Andretti boys’ firesuits and cars. But if they start off anything like they did last season, I will grow accustomed to it. And my fingers will be crossed it carries throughout the whole season this time.
I am pretty sure a lot more ran through my mind during my drive home, but those are the three things that stood out to me. You probably don’t want to read any more right now anyway.
If you’re going to St. Pete this weekend, I’m insanely jealous! I wish you safe travels, beautiful weather, and a TON of fun! Please take lots of pictures. And if you happen to see Marco around the garage or the pits, tell him Sandy from DC said good luck and go get ’em!
Thanks for reading, and I hope you’ll come back later this week for my next post. Whatever it may turn out to be.