The Driver Suit Blog-My Thoughts on the 2016 Racing Season

By David G. Firestone

I’ve been holding back a bit with this post for a number of reasons. I wasn’t feeling too good last Monday, so I didn’t get around to it until this week. I also waited until the beginning of the F1 and IndyCar seasons as well. Not that all of that is out of the way, I’d like to share some thoughts about the 2016 racing season so far.

Starting with IndyCar:

*I was glad to see the Grand Prix of Louisiana dropped from the schedule. The 2015 event was not fun to watch, because the weather was so bad. I didn’t think the track was so bad, but the rain, and the “timed race” nonsense didn’t help.

*As with other racing series, driver and team changes have taken place off-season, so the first race or two is difficult to follow from this perspective. Since I’m not as big of an IndyCar fan as much as NASCAR or the NHRA, this can get quite confusing.

*This is something I will discuss in a little bit, but I think it’s valid for IndyCar too. NASCAR President Brian France has stated that there may be a fourth manufacturer in NASCAR in the forseeable future. I’m wondering if we might see another one in IndyCar as well. With Toyota’s recent auto racing success, could we see them back in IndyCar? I hope so! A third manufacturer would kick development and competition up a notch, and would make the sport even more existing.

Moving on to F1:

*The new Haas F1 team had a decent showing from Romain Grosjean, scoring points in his first race for the new Haas F1 team. Teammate Esteban Gutiérrez walked away from a horrific crash that I thought ended with a serious injury when I saw the remains of the car. It’s an impressive thing for the brand new team.

*A couple of designs for driver protection were discussed for dealing with the issue of head safety, after the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix. One such example is the “halo design.” It seems like an odd idea, and the fact that there is something clearly obstructing the drivers vision is an issue. I think that Terry McMillian has the right idea.

*How many different tire compounds does one race need? Three, at least according to Pirelli. Also, a new tire compund, “Ultra-soft,” that brings the total number of tire compounds to 8, 5 dry and 2 wet. I think that F1 and Pirelli might be overthinking this a bit…

*I’m really wondering why NBC isn’t as aggressive at promoting F1 as they do NASCAR. Granted, the United States is not an F1 country, but there is a fanbase, and the fanbase is growing. I’d really like to see NBC step up their game for 2016. Granted, they have the Rio Olympics to worry about, so F1 gets a back seat for now.

Moving on to NASCAR:

*The major question on the table this season is who will be the series sponsor next year. I was fully convinced that by the end of 2015, a deal would have been announced. However, although NASCAR has stated that a couple of deals may be on the table, nothing definitive has been announced. I’m wondering how much longer it’s going to take.

*Jeff Gordon is settling into his new role as announcer quite well. Granted, Gordon has lots of practice, what with acting and voice acting, but he seems to be adapting very well.

*I mentioned above that there has been renewed interest in adding a fourth manufacturer to the Sprint Cup series. Toyota has been aggressive with marketing, and they had a banner year in NASCAR and the NHRA, and this has renewed interest from those outside. The problem is that any new manufacturer has to have a good team willing to make the change, and I don’t see this happening. If anything, the new manufacturer will get several minor teams, many not running the full season. Will it happen? I don’t know…

*After leaving the track without talking to the media, Kyle Busch finds himself in some trouble with NASCAR. I think he made the right decision. My mouth has gotten me in a lot of trouble over the years when I’m in a bad mood, and Kyle didn’t want to make a bad situation worse. I’d like to see a rule setup where a driver can take some time to collect their thoughts before being hounded by the media.

*The Batman Vs. Superman advertising during the Auto Club 400 was pretty damn annoying!

*I hate the useless stats that NASCAR is forcing down our throats. I get the important stats, but some of the stuff they come up with is amazing. Apparently, Martin Truex Jr. lost well over 100 positions last year on pit road.

*Based on what I saw on Sunday, I’m thinking either NASCAR needs a new tire compound for Fontata, or it may be time for a repave.

*I’m wondering why it took so long for someone to sponsor the spotter stand. Visine finally took the lead, and sponsored the spotter stand. I will say that I do like the idea of having one of the spotters wear a camera. That was pretty cool.

*Why have there been so many tire failures over the last few weeks? Am I the only one who seems concerned that almost all of the cautions over the last few weeks have been because of tire failures.

And now the NHRA

*Is it too soon for Don Schumacher to be worried about the state of his program? Based on what I’ve seen so far, something is wrong with the program. They came up empty the last few weeks, including having all of his cars bow out by the second round at the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Arizona Nationals in Phoenix. Granted Antron Brown won the season opener, and Ron Capps came up just short of winning at Gainesville, but they aren’t where they need to be.

*Tony Pedregon is settling into his new role as announcer quite well. He needed work when he started at the season opener, and he is getting better as time is progressing.

*I’m wondering if Pro Stock Motorcycle will race for the whole season in the near future. Granted, many of the teams don’t have the sponsorship dollars that the four-wheel teams do, but still, it would be fun to see the teams run the whole season.

*FOX is proving that they are willing to promote the NHRA, and so far, are doing much better than ESPN. I really hope that at some point, IndyCar will leave ABC and join Fox.

Those are my thoughts, and before I leave this My Thoughts On, I want to say Happy Easter to those who celebrate!

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