Chat with John Oreovicz
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, ESPN.com IndyCar reporter John Oreovicz stops by to talk about Sunday's season-ending race, the IZOD IndyCar World Championship at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (3 p.m. ET, ABC).
Oreovicz attended his first Indianapolis 500 as a teenager in 1978 and still hasn't broken the open-wheel racing habit. He has covered nearly 300 Indy-style races for National Speed Sport News and many other publications around the world and co-authored "A Winning Adventure," a history of Honda's successful Champ Car engine program. "Oreo" resides in western Indiana within earshot of his home track, the Putnam Park Road Course.
Send your questions now and join Oreovicz Friday at 2 p.m. ET!
Oreo (1:59 PM)
Hello open wheel fans and greetings from the Mandalay Bay resort in Las Vegas!
Oreo (2:00 PM)
There's certainly a lot of hoopla surrounding the IZOD IndyCar Series this weekend in Las Vegas and it will be interesting to see whether it translates into a decent crowd and television ratings on Sunday. BTW you can see the 300-mile Indy car race at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday.
Oreo (2:01 PM)
OK, let's get to the questions!
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Since this is the Final Race of the IZOD IndyCar Series, Which Drivers will Part Ways with their Current Teams & Who will be the New Drivers in the IZOD IndyCar Series in 2012?
Oreo (2:03 PM)
Obviously Danica is gone from Andretti Autosport and it appears that Dan Wheldon will be the new GoDaddy...spokesman. We hear Ryan Briscoe is on the bubble at Penske unless more sponsorship can be found, though Roger Penske would prefer to continue with three cars. There is always more turnover at the smaller teams so it will be interesting to see how the likes of Dale Coyne Racing and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing shake out.
Andrew H. (New York, NY)
Did Danica really go 224.7 or are they measuring it wrong? What would account for them being so much faster on this 1.5 mile oval?
Oreo (2:05 PM)
I was delayed in getting to Las Vegas so I wasn't present for the practice session. But I'm told it was difficult to get a lap by yourself and with 34 cars entered there was a lot of pack racing and drafting. Danica probably just got the biggest tow, though some jokesters are already suggesting she got "The Call." Why would IndyCar want to make her look good on the way out?
Ron (Speedway, IN)
What are u hearing about late additions to the schedule for next year?
Oreo (2:08 PM)
Apparently Milwaukee is done (sad to hear) and Kentucky and New Hampshire are tentative at best unless title sponsors can be found. Indy cars on ovals are a tough sell, for a myriad of reasons, and oval track promoters can't afford IndyCar's $1 million-plus sanction fee if they're only drawing 20-30,000 fans. The Las Vegas race is being self-promoted by IndyCar and it will be interesting to see how it fares as a potential future business model for Indy car oval racing.
How many cautions do you expect to see with 34 cars on the track this weekend?
Oreo (2:09 PM)
I think it could be ugly. The speeds are a little faster than expected and Danica says "the crashes are going to be spectacular." Great. I'll put the over-under at 5.5.
Andrew H. (New York, NY)
Will New Hampshire be coming back?
Oreo (2:10 PM)
I'd say it's 40-60 at best right now. The competitors loved it, but IndyCar got a bad break with the weather and the hoped-for walk-up crowd didn't materialize. Having a local modified race on Sunday morning would help attendance too.
Andrew H. (New York, NY)
Who is a bigger "princess", Dario, Danica, Will or Dan?
Oreo (2:11 PM)
You have to go with Danica on that one - "The Princess" is her unofficial nickname, after all. Beyond that, Wheldon is said to be stepping into her car next year and he admits he has a shoe fetish.
Jerry Cruz (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico)
What would you plan to do to add more ovals to the schedule to make it 50/50 with Road/Street courses?
Oreo (2:14 PM)
In a perfect world I'd be keeping Motegi and Milwaukee and adding Phoenix and Michigan. But the economics of Indy cars on ovals just don't add up right now. It's a vicious circle - the TV ratings need to improve so more sponsorship comes in, including title sponsors for oval track events. Title sponsors distribute tickets - Philip Morris/Marlboro gave away tens of thousands for some CART and IRL events - and fuller grandstands improve the overall perception of the sport.
No Milwaukee, no Chicagoland, but Cali is back. So, ovals for 2012 will be - Indy, Iowa, Cali, and ????
Oreo (2:17 PM)
Texas for a doubleheader. It's not looking real good for oval fans right now. But the truth is that a lot of these so-called fans are not going out there and putting their money where their mouth is by actually attending oval races instead of bitching about the lack of them. IndyCar has to find a way to make the oval events - as opposed to the races themselves - more fun for spectators. Trust me, it's a lot more fun wandering around a street course with a packed card of support races than it is sitting in some aluminum grandstands watching the 2-seater drone around an oval waiting for a 3:45 p.m. start.
Gary (Troy, MI)
Which team will Justin Wilson be driving for next season?
Oreo (2:18 PM)
Good question and one of these days I wish one of the top teams would hire JW. The guy is a hell of a driver and a fine human being. He'd be mighty in a Penske, Ganassi or even Newman/Haas car.
Alex (Bridgewater, NJ)
Who are the leading candidates to replace TGBB in race control?
Oreo (2:20 PM)
Well I guess it won't be Al Unser Jr. The problem is there aren't a lot of candidates and the first priority needs to be a simplified re-write of the rulebook. I doubt "circus clown" Chris Kneifel wants to come back. Beaux Barfield, currently working with ALMS, would be a decent choice.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Do you think that Danica Patrick will have a top 10 finish at the IZOD IndyCar Series World Champiponship at Las Vegas since she finished 4th at a NASCAR Race at Las Vegas?
Oreo (2:21 PM)
Her fourth place in the Vegas NW race was similar to most of her decent finishes in IndyCar - fuel economy and strategy driven. My guess is that she will finish between 6th and 12th, so that's a decent chance she'll get a top ten. She's good on 1.5-mile tracks, but it will be suspicious if she wins because she's generally been pretty uncompetitive this year.
Did Chevy want or demand the week after Indy for next year? Or did IndyCar want a race between Indy and Texas?
Oreo (2:23 PM)
Texas always wants to be the race after Indy and I suppose this proves that Chevy has more clout than Texas. The traditional CART schedule featured Milwaukee and Detroit right after Indianapolis, so a June date is somewhat a return to what worked in the past. Too bad Milwaukee looks out of the picture.
What ways is ABC/ESPN going to improve the INDYCAR product in their next TV Deal? Why doesn't ESPN show IndyCar quals ?
Oreo (2:26 PM)
I will post this question in the hopes that the correct decision makers at ESPN see it. I believe that improvements could be made to the promotion of the broadcasts and feedback I get suggests fans would like to see changes made to the announcing team. The other major complaint I hear from many fans about the ABC broadcasts ("All Danica all the time") should disappear next year.
How much money is rumored to be behind the China race? I've heard its going to clean up the bottom line for the series.
Oreo (2:28 PM)
Have no idea, but it's just another example of how divided the open-wheel world still is. Think about it: the series formed to preserve American oval track racing has to go to China to survive. The irony is a killer. Don't get me started...
I was thrilled with Ed and Sarah's win - great story. But with fewer ovals, they will be backmarkers for more than half the series. And no sponsor now? Can Sarah even field a 500-only effort next year?
Oreo (2:30 PM)
That would be a terrible return on investment, because even if you run Indy only next year, you still have to invest in new cars and spare parts. Also unknown at this point is the cost and availability of partial-season or Indy-only engine leases. Gearing up for next year will cost the better part of $2 million and even the Penskes and Ganassis of the world are balking at the costs. So it's a tough deal for Sarah and hopefully Ed-s win will prompt them to reconsider. DG's Joe Gibbs Racing deal was apparently announced this week.
John, I felt terrible for Ryan Briscoe when he squandered the championship at the end of 2009 because I felt that was his best shot at it. With rumors that Briscoe could be out at Penske, it's looking like that indeed is the case. Any info on Briscoe's situation going forward?
Oreo (2:32 PM)
Penske and Tim Cindric want to keep him, but Indy car sponsorship is a tough sell right now. Penske has been able to sell some multi-race packages but Briscoe and Castroneves' cars have looked different just about every week. Shell, Guidepoint, IZOD, the list goes on. So Briscoe's fate at Penske pretty much depends on how much sponsorship the team can attract.
Over/under 1.5 IndyCar Series championships for Will Power?
Oreo (2:32 PM)
I'll say over but I don't think he's going to get the first one this year.
Gary (Troy, MI)
We all know that Lotus will enter the picture next season, and Chevrolet is already making their mark by providing engines AND bringing back the Detroit Grand Prix in 2012. Do you see any chance of Ford, Chrysler or another OEM jumping into the IndyCar mix in the not-too-distant future?
Oreo (2:35 PM)
Connecting the dots, it would be great to see a Ford-Cosworth return to Indy car racing. The fact that Kevin Kalkhoven's Lotus Indy car team is not running the Lotus engine next year also provides a clue. Everyone assumed with the KVRT-Lotus link the last two years that the Lotus engine would be a Cosworth, but instead it is a Judd. Cosworth is doing just fine on its own even though it doesn't have the racing presence it used to. I just get the feeling that Kalkhoven turned down the opportunity to put a Lotus badge a Cosworth Indy car engine because he believes there is a more lucrative manufacturer choice out there. And Ford is the obvious one...
Hi John - I think they are announcing the schedule soon for 2012, no? Is China going to be on there or added later?
Oreo (2:37 PM)
I don't know whether China will be on the sked but based on past history I'll believe a race in China happens when I see it. On television, from my living room, at least for the first year.
NO Danica, NO PROBLEM! Bring on Simona !
Oreo (2:37 PM)
Yes, and Ana Beatriz is a pretty decent driver on her best days too.
How many FT IndyCars in 2012? Indy will be ok for 33 right?
Oreo (2:40 PM)
I think they will have 22-24 full-time entries. The hallowed 33 at Indy could be a challenge because of the cost of buying new equipment. And I don't see them putting together a plan to grandfather the current car.
Marc (Malden, MA)
I find it strange to hear that the economics on ovals don't add up. The racing is much more exciting, it's better on tv and I would think it's better live.
Oreo (2:43 PM)
I think it's cheaper to produce a broadcast too. But it comes down to the fact that it's a one day show and they aren't making enough via ticket and concession sales to make a profit. At the street courses, they usually have big crowds on Friday and even bigger on Saturday and race day. Indy car's oval qualifying days are embarrassing everywhere except Iowa and Indianapolis. At places like Kansas and Kentucky and Homestead, the qualifying crowds were usually just a couple hundred people. Again, it goes back to the fan experience. The oval race itself is cool, but the rest of the weekend is...
Gary (Troy, MI)
What are the chances of Katherine Legge landing an IndyCar ride (full or partial-season) in 2012?
Oreo (2:45 PM)
She and her management are certainly trying hard and she says she turned down some partial season offers this year. Would be good to see her get a chance because she built a decent fan base in Atlantic and Champ Car and you have to have ovaries as big as Danica's to walk away from a crash as big as Katherine's at Elkhart Lake.
Chris (Baton Rouge, LA)
Hey Oreo, what have you heard about HVM's plans for 2012? I heard they had Lotus, but are they going to two cars next year?
Oreo (2:46 PM)
Nothing concrete but I believe that Simona and Nuclear Entergy are both back next year. I think having a veteran teammate would definitely be a boost for Simona.
Gary (Troy, MI)
Finish this sentence: Now that Lotus and Chevrolet are back in IndyCar for 2012, the next engine supplier / OEM to join the series will be.... ?
Oreo (2:47 PM)
I'm going with Ford, maybe more out of wishful thinking than anything. If Indy car racing begins to take off again in 2012 with Chevrolet back in the game, you can be sure Ford will take a long hard look at getting on board in 2013 or 14.
Jon (Columbus OH)
Does Wheldon have a realistic chance to win the race?
Oreo (2:52 PM)
Yes he does. He's very good on 1.5 mile tracks, and there are 34 entries this weekend so it could be a crash-strewn lottery. No one figured he could win at Indianapolis and he did, so it's certainly not out of the question. Vegas has him at mid-pack 15-1 odds.
What happens if Viso, PT and Tomas go 3-wide into a turn?
Oreo (2:53 PM)
It's smooth and wide so it should be no problem. But that's a recipe for disaster!!
Oreo (2:55 PM)
I'll post one final question myself before I pack up and head out to the speedway for practice and qualifying: What was the best race and the best event of the IndyCar season?
Oreo (2:57 PM)
The best event was clearly Baltimore. Tons of people, great party vibe, electric atmosphere. The best race might have been Iowa, with some great racing between Franchitti, Kanaan and Andretti. But I'll vote for the Indianapolis 500 - maybe appropriate on the 100th anniversary of the first race. This year's 500 had a little bit of everything, including a finish that made your jaw drop.
Oreo (2:58 PM)
On that note, I am going to sign off. Thanks for your questions today! Please tune in for Sunday's race at 3 p.m. ET on ABC, and continue to follow IndyCar Series coverage here on ESPN.com throughout the offseason. It's nice to know that we'll have real news about the development of the new car and engines to look forward to.
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