McClaren, Hinch, Carlin Have Big Reveals

Happy Friday everyone! Just four more Fridays until we see cars on track at St. Pete.

Of course, we’ll be seeing cars on track at COTA next week for some Spring Training action. I was hoping to be there but things didn’t work out. But don’t worry, I’ll be in this space with my thoughts next week.

Ahead of that, we had a couple of reveals Friday morning. First, Arrow McLaren SP had their much-anticipated reveal, and I think the cars look great. They did a really good job of melding together the Arrow and McClaren colors into one dynamic package.

And what about the aeroscreens? Now that they are being integrated into the colors of the liveries, I think they look pretty awesome. Maybe it’s just a matter of getting a little more used to it, but the cars definitely have a little more of a fighter-jet look to them. You had to figure that IndyCar would get this right.

While the longtime fan in me is going to be a little sad that we can’t see the driver any longer, I also am all-in on driver safety, as I have blogged about before, which it appears that has been blown away from the internet forever. Oh well.

Not to mention, I love how the cars look and can’t wait to see them in person, especially at Indy.

While I was a bit critical of SPAM back in the fall, I think they are doing all the right things now. Hiring Oliver Askew and Pato O’Ward was the first great move, putting two young drivers in those seats and building around them was exactly what I would’ve done if it were my team.

It’s so hard to win in IndyCar, and there are so many other strong teams in the paddock that I don’t know if this team can win this year, but they will in the next two years. McLaren didn’t really re-introduce themselves in a blaze of glory at Indy last year, but now they have had time to work on those issues, and they have a lot of great people from Arrow Schmidt Peterson on board.

The team still has a lot of work to do. On track, they have to prove that the idiocy that plagued McLaren last year has been handled. Off track, they have to continue working on building trust with the fans while building their fanbase.

It’s a lot of work, but so far in 2020 they have proven to be up to the task.

Also having a reveal was former SPAM employee James Hinchcliffe, who as the SPAM reveal was going on dropped his own cryptic reveal with the hashtag #ChallengeAccepted.

It’s actually a very slick video that shows Hinch pondering his future, running through the snow and working hard in the gym. As far as the presentation goes, I love it.

I’m a little confused on the timing, though. No doubt Hinch got hosed last fall, everyone knows that. He had a year left on his contract, and time proved that the one-season drive with a Chevy motor was not going to have a big impact on his Honda Canada deal.

Only the parties involved know just what went down and what was said, but the video seems a bit of an “eff-you”, and was meant as a way to take away from the SPAM reveal. What’s unfortunate to me is that guy like Hinch has always proven to be above that sort of thing.

I think he and his team have had a couple of PR mis-steps over the last few months — remember the “Challenge Accepted” merch they started selling last fall (?) — but what has saved him is that he’s worked his goodwill and popularity to the point where he is shielded from criticism, and people took his side when everything went down.

Don’t get me wrong I am actually a big Hinch fan, he’s one of my favorite drivers, and my criticisms come from a place of love. But business is business, and someone being salty after scoring one win, three podiums and finishing 10th and 12th in points the last two years should expect his performance to be called into question.

How it went down was shitty, but why it went down can be up to debate.

Besides, I feel the best way towards redemption is to get it done and beat them on the track. Hey, I once went through a nasty divorce, and I actually became a much happier person after I put all of that behind me and focused forward. He should do the same.

Always remember, it’s never good to burn bridges, but revenge is a dish best served cold.

Carlin, Chilton back in 2020

Just as I was about to hit send on this post, Carlin Racing announced that they and driver Max Chilton would be back for all 12 road/street races, plus the Indy 500. Of course, sponsor Gallagher will be returning as well.

A driver for the No. 59 Chevy for the remaining oval races will be announced later.

Carlin definitely took it down to the wire with this one. All full-time teams are required to be at the COTA test next week, so getting this done the Friday before cut it a bit close. Still, you had to figure it was coming. There was no way Carlin would sit out the season, and Chilton brings the backing to make all of this happen.

Chilton returns to the grid after a disappointing season that saw him fail to qualify for the Indy 500 and not record a Top 10 in his 12 races. He and Carlin are entering their third year together, so hopefully for both parties involved they race much better this year.

If they are naming another driver for the remainder of the ovals this season, could a second Carlin car at Indy be in the works? I mean, I bet it would be hard to tell a driver “yeah, you can run Texas, Richmond, Iowa and Gateway for us, but Indy? Yeah, sorry about that”. You have to think that a ride at Indy would be part of the oval driver’s package.

So let’s add that one to our tentative car count for Indy, shall we?

Photo credit: Arrow McLaren SP Website

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