A Surprise Announcement Out of Nowhere

Posted in IndyCar on February 24, 2020 by Oilpressure

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With the internet, social media and the never-ending quest to be first – it’s hard to keep a secret in the racing world these days. Without a doubt, the best-kept secret I’ve seen in a while was when Roger Penske announced that he was buying IMS, IndyCar and IMS Productions from Hulman and Company back on Nov 4. Never had I seen such an announcement of that magnitude kept completely under wraps like that one was.

This past Friday, another announcement came out of the blue that brought excellent news. While it wasn’t on the level of Roger Penske’s announcement, I don’t know of anyone that had heard this was coming.

Former IndyCar driver, team co-owner and NBCSN broadcaster Robbie Buhl and his partners announced that Citrone/Buhl Autosport will field a car for the upcoming Month of May. They will make their debut in the GMR Grand Prix on the IMS Road Course on May 9th.

There was no driver announcement for the newly-formed team, nor was there any mention of an engine manufacturer in the press-release.

There’s also the question if this will be a stand-alone team like Clauson-Marshall Racing was last year with Pippa Mann, or will they seek out an association with a full-time team like McLaren did with Carlin last year? Who would’ve thought that the start-up stand-alone team with Pippa Mann would’ve made the field, and the big-budget McLaren with a two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso in association with a full-time team would go home? That’s what makes the Indianapolis 500 so special.

Trackside Online (TSO) seems to think that Citrone/Buhl Autosport will be running a Honda engine. TSO contacted Chevy, who confirmed that the entry would not be powered by a Chevrolet. Just in case that wasn’t enough confirmation with only two engine manufacturers, TSO also contacted Honda. Honda would only confirm that they have been talking with a couple of new entries, but they wouldn’t go any further. Draw your own conclusions.

I will throw out an unsolicited plug here. It’s about time for me to renew my annual TSO subscription. It’s a whopping $22 per year. It’s the best $22 I’ll spend all year. If you’re an IndyCar fan (which I suppose you are, if you’re reading this site) then do yourself a favor and subscribe this season. Give it a one-year shot. If you don’t think it’s worth it next year, don’t renew.

Getting back to Friday’s announcement, this is big news. Just out of nowhere, a new team (and another car on the grid) pops up. The end of the press-release says that the team “…has aspirations of more entries at more races in the future”. While we’d love to see more fulltime teams, most teams start off small and grow into the series. That’s the way Sarah Fisher Racing started out, before going fulltime for several years. Juncos Racing is still in that embryonic phase as well as DragonSpeed. The worst thing a team can do is over-extend themselves.

Robbie Buhl has been down this road before and has learned a thing or tw along the way. He is a former IndyCar driver and is a former race winner. For years after his driving career was over, he was a very active part-owner of Dreyer & Reinbold. From what I understand, he is very well connected – both inside and outside the IndyCar world. Not only does he have business connections, but he can attract good personnel to come work for him.

I always liked Robbie Buhl. He wasn’t the best driver out there, but I always felt he made the most of what talent he had. While still fielding a car or cars on the grid, he served as a commentator on the Versus IndyCar telecasts for a few years. While he may not have been a natural born broadcaster, I always felt like he was a straight-shooter and brought good insight to the telecast – not only from a driver’s perspective, but also a team-owner’s way of looking at things.

I’m sure this was in the works long before Roger Penske bought everything back in November, so I can’t say this was a direct result of the new ownership – but it wouldn’t surprise me if there are more unexpected teams entering either the Indianapolis 500 or the NTT IndyCar Series.

In a time when most forms of motorsports are hurting, it’s good to see more teams coming to the series – even on a part-time basis.

George Phillips

We Sure Missed a Lot

Posted in IndyCar on February 21, 2020 by Oilpressure

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Wouldn’t you know it? I take off for a few days of rest and relaxation and all the news breaks in the racing world. Fortunately we had internet access throughout our cruise to Cozumel so I was able to keep up with everything. Since the news broke a week ago, most of you know all of the news that Roger Penske broke in his “100 Days From the 500” press conference last Friday. Among the highlights announced was a bigger purse for the Indianapolis 500, that is increasing by $2 million to a record $15 million. He also announced upgrades to the facility including new video boards for the Paddock seats and improved video boards elsewhere in the facility; and much needed improved restroom facilities.

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Our Cozumel Cruise

Posted in IndyCar on February 21, 2020 by Oilpressure

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Most of you know that Susan and I spend practically all of our available vacation going to IndyCar races. While Susan loves going to races almost as much as I do, she has wanted to go on at least one vacation that did not involve going to a race track for a few years now. So I splurged and gave her a cruise for Christmas on Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas.

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Mr. & Mrs. Oilpressure are Cruising!

Posted in IndyCar on February 12, 2020 by Oilpressure

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Most of you know by now that the Open Test at COTA yesterday was mostly a non-event. Cold temperatures and drizzle did not make for a good test session. A few installation laps at slow speeds was about the only running that anyone did, before they called it a day just before 3:00 local time. That did give us a chance to see the new liveries and most importantly – our first real glimpse of the aero-screen on all the cars. Although I’ve been critical on how the car looks with this contraption – I’ll admit that I didn’t think it looked that bad while the cars were actually moving around. If you take a still-shot from head-on, that is just simply not a good look. But yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised how the cars looked while moving (although, not at speed). IndyCar will try again today, when the forecast looks better than yesterday’s.

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In Search of Some Winter Warmth

Posted in IndyCar on February 10, 2020 by Oilpressure

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Although we in the south don’t catch the brunt of winter as many parts of the country, we get our share. Just this past Friday, we woke up to about three inches of snow on the ground in Nashville, with more coming down. We had temperatures in the sixties just a few days earlier, so it didn’t stick around very long. It was just the second time this winter for us to have snow on the ground this winter, but it served as a stark reminder that we are still in the throes of winter. We’ve mostly just experienced just a lot of cold rain this winter. In fact, this past weekend was our first weekend in 2020 that we didn’t have any rainfall all weekend.

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Will Colton Herta Produce a Super Season?

Posted in IndyCar on February 7, 2020 by Oilpressure

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As I watched Super Bowl LIV the other night, it occurred to me how much the two young careers of Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and IndyCar’s next superstar Colton Herta parallel each other. Think I’m crazy? Take a look.

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The Never-Ending Quest to be First

Posted in IndyCar on February 5, 2020 by Oilpressure

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For the past couple of weeks, it has been a foregone conclusion that Fernando Alonso would be running this year’s Indianapolis 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s my understanding that the sponsors had been lined up and that a deal was imminent. It was assumed by everyone that Andretti and Alonso had received the blessing from Honda’s global headquarters in Tokyo, and that they had finally moved past Alonso’s public trashing of the Japanese manufacturer a couple of seasons ago in Formula One.

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