A viewer’s guide to IndyCar in 2023: ‘Hate sells’ and other storylines to watch No expectations for Haiden Deegan, just pure joy from his family on first podium

The 2023 NTT IndyCar Series season is due to begin today, and a viewer’s guide to key storylines as the green flag goes down on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida (12:30 pm ET, NBC and Peacock):

ST. SAINT PETERSBURG, Florida. Hate is for sale.

This is the key to any racing rivalry. If you want to attract new fans and keep their attention, your stars need to fight regularly and throw fire at each other from time to time when the cameras and recording devices are rolling.

Petty vs Pearson. Lewis vs Max.

Josef vs Simon?

As the NTT IndyCar series gears up to launch a new documentary series (“100 Days to Indy”) that aims directly to capture the zeitgeist in the same way that Netflix’s “Drive to Survive” did for F1, the biggest question is whether how real it can get for a series that has very affable and attractive stars but often lacks the animosity that fueled the rise of NASCAR and Formula One.

A nascent rivalry is brewing among the diverse cast of IndyCar drivers. But his collection of stars can also be friendly in public, often refusing to take off their gloves during eyeball peaks when spectators demand drama stemming from the track brawls that ignite emotion in every race.

Conor Daley Encouraged Access Aggression From The CW/VICE Documentary Series To Follow IndyCar Through 107th Indy 500.

“I told the producers and the director, ‘Really challenge us right after the races,’” Daley said. “That’s when we’ll really be honest about what happened or who did what to whom. Of course, there are really a lot of us who get along. On the track, many of these friendships fly out the window. Talk about it! Talk about who you trust and talk about who you don’t trust. I think this is what people would really like to see.

“It is inconvenient to create such chatter between drivers because there are fans and people who support some drivers more than others, and if something is said about this driver that they support, then they will come for you.

“But to be honest, it’s good. What’s going on in F1 and NASCAR Twitter is very aggressive, very angry and very crazy at times, but people are talking about it, so it’s good. The more conversations, the better.”

Driver Ed Carpenter Racing would be an obvious candidate for a new conflict, given his many skirmishes with the cocky Santino Ferrucci, who is returning to IndyCar full-time with AJ Foyt Racing this year.

Simon Pageno of Meyer Shank Racing spent most of the pre-season throwing darts at former Penske teammate Josef Newgarden, and it’s hard to tell if those shots were playful or out of anger.

“I don’t think punching is his style,” Newgarden said of the Frenchman. “He’s like throwing pancakes or something. But yes, I love a little Pageneau.”

Newgarden openly wonders when (not if) he and teammate Scott McLaughlin will not see eye to eye. Although they celebrated their strong friendship with a brash video series called “Bus Bros”, Newgarden joked before the season opener in St. Petersburg about McLaughlin’s pre-emptive attack to slow his rapid rise to IndyCar championship contender.

“I just want to break Scott’s leg someday and be done with it,” Newgarden said. “We haven’t had a big moment yet. I think it’s inevitable that at some point we’ll have a fight.

“It’s a difficult balance. He is probably the first teammate of mine who really understood the dynamics of the look. I want to beat him terribly badly, and he feels the same way about me. But we are professionals in this. He respects my craft, and I respect his. I don’t put anyone above McLaughlin. There’s a respect between us that makes it work right now. I think a fight is inevitable. When that happens, I don’t know the outcome, but we’ll have to deal with it.”

Rivalry can be tricky in racing due to many underlying factors. The teams are largely funded by the support of corporate sponsors, who tend to frown on outspoken personalities who get around the edge of controversy and can attract public attention that can be perceived as negative.

“In today’s world, you have to be very careful about what you say, what you do, how people judge you,” said 2004 champion and 2013 Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan. “Social media just hits you all the time.

“Yeah, to be good, I think we just have to be honest, and I think we’ve seen other examples of other reality shows that — you can still show controversy. You can still show that we don’t all love each other. Some guys out there, we definitely don’t like each other and that’s okay.

“It’s going to be very important for the show, but I also think the producers should put the pressure on, ‘Guys, this is not a movie. It’s a reality show, so be real.” ”

Alexander Rossi already experienced this firsthand during the 100 Days to Indy meeting, where he discussed his mid-Ohio spat last year with former Andretti Autosport teammate Romain Grosjean. On his “Off Track” podcast, Rossi said that IndyCar drivers will have to step outside their comfort zone by being open about their competition.

“I hate it when we go back to Drive to Survive because it’s different, but if you look at the honesty of not only the riders but also the team owners, that’s what made the show,” Rossi said. “The real ‘if this guy doesn’t work, he’s fired’ thing.” So I think you should have that level.”

Some other storylines and commands to watch participation in the opening of the season:

“With Grosjean on pole and Colton Herta sweeping the front row, Andretti Autosport confirmed the promise the team had shown in good pre-season testing.

Much is at stake for Hertha, who signed a contract extension last year and believes he is ready to win the championship, and Grosjean, who enters a new contract year with the team after a disappointing 2022. New addition Kyle Kirkwood, who qualified fifth, could push both of them after learning the lessons of AJ Foyt Racing’s crash-filled rookie season.

– Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing has overhauled its engineering department by hiring F1 veteran Stefano Sordo as its new technical director. Graeme Rahal, who remains in the cab of the No. 15 Dallara-Honda but is naturally moving into a management position, said the team is in the midst of a “cultural shift” from top to bottom.

Kirkwood took the place of 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi, who left for the Arrow McLaren IndyCar Team after seven seasons with Andretti. Ferrucci will play in Voith with newcomer Benjamin Pedersen. Sting Ray Robb

– By adding a third car for Rossi alongside Felix Rosenquist and Pato O’Ward, the Arrow McLaren is part of an expansion to a record 27 cars at the start of the season. Juncos Hollinger Racing has also added a second car for Argentine rookie Agustín Canapino.

When 17-year-old Hayden Deegan debuted at the Monster Energy 250 East Supercross in Houston, he wasn’t burdened by expectations from the team, his family, or himself. At the start of the season, he was poised to spend another year in the Supercross Futures class, but after finishing fifth in the Anaheim 1 season opener, everyone saw everything they needed to see.

Hayden Deegan wasn’t sure he would be racing the 250 in 2023. He now has three top fives in four races. – Feld Motor Sports

“After the futures, I wasn’t even sure if I was going to race, so we stopped and thought, ‘Yeah, we could also race, gain experience, and so far so good,’ Deegan said in an interview. press conference after the Daytona Supercross race after earning his first podium in just his fourth 250 start.

This decision was made not only by the Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing team and Hayden, but also by his parents Brian and Marissa.

Even without expectations, success came to Deegan immediately.

He finished fourth on his debut after leading the opening laps of the Houston Main. Minor errors in both that race and the following week in Tampa robbed him of a podium finish. In his third round at Arlington, he experienced his first disappointment. The Texas dirt was challenging and heavily glazed, as is often the case in dirt car racing, which creates smooth conditions.

Deegan finished 15th in the first Main of the Triple Crown and moved up to fourth and fifth in the next two races. He was eighth overall.

“My mom didn’t want me to race dirt bikes after everything my dad went through,” Hayden said. “We started and my dad put me on a dirt bike and eventually it was going to happen. And from there I just fell in love with him. … So I fell in love with dirt bikes and from there I just got to this place and raced supercross.

“I’ve wanted this, I can’t say all my life because I’m only 17, but for this short amount of time, so now we’re here and we’ll keep getting better.”

After a disappointing Supercross career with only two podium finishes, Brian Deegan didn’t know what he wanted from Hayden.

Hayden Deegan's expectations
The Daytona Supercross race kicks off Bike Week and draws one of the biggest crowds of the season. Hayden Deegan’s applause was hard to miss. – Feld Motor Sports

“As a parent, it’s hard for me to explain these emotions,” Brian told NBC Sports, still pumping adrenaline. “All the years, all the work, all the effort, all the ups and downs, broken bones, surgeries, doctor visits, money spent, yes, money lost.

“It’s just that everything comes together in those moments, and that’s why they’re so exciting. You must, I must enjoy them. And I make sure we like them because we put so much time and energy into them when we could have been doing…


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