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Stefan Johansson’s latest blog: On Texas, Verstappen and blocking

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Two dynamic races – the hectic start to last week’s Belgian Grand Prix and the crazy finish to the Firestone 600 at Texas – highlight Stefan Johansson’s latest blog entry. We’ve been chronicling these posts throughout the year on NBCSports.com.

In his latest conversation with Jan Tegler, Johansson looks back at Spa and the latest drive from Max Verstappen, as well as a look back to the Texas IndyCar race, which featured a crazy margin of victory of 0.008 of a second between Graham Rahal and James Hinchcliffe.

On Verstappen, Johansson said, “Really, the main thing to talk about from Spa is the Verstappen controversy again, and the various incidents that unfolded at the beginning of the race. I have to say, I thought it was a bit rich for Verstappen to blame the Ferrari guys for ruining his race.

“He blew it at the start effectively, he got passed by the two Ferrari’s going into Turn 1 and then tried to recover by a very, very low-percentage move on the inside that had virtually no chance of succeeding.”

Quite a bit more follows, including a segue to a good discussion on blocking.

That dovetailed nicely into a greater topic at large about blocking, a big issue at the moment. Johansson writes: “For me the worst part is the blocking. It’s outrageous that no penalty was handed out this time. At what point do you draw the line? If a driver has to hit the brakes on a straight to avoid contact something is clearly wrong. It’s sad to say and I’ve mentioned it before but this is typical of the new generation of open wheel racers. They think this is completely normal it seems – like it’s ok to completely turn into someone when they’re coming alongside on a straight. The fact that this is their mindset is sad.

“If you have to brake because someone’s blocking you on the straight then something’s fundamentally wrong, especially when they stewards let you get away with it.”

The legendary Rene Arnoux and Gilles Villeneuve battle at Dijon 1979 is used as an example of a clean battle where drivers can drive aggressively but fairly. Johansson praises Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso as the best two modern day racers able to race clean and fair up front.

Shifting gears, Johansson weighed in on the dramatic finish from Texas:

“The show at Texas is always good and this years race certainly did not disappoint. There just isn’t any more exciting racing to watch, although it’s nerve wracking to watch.  Those last laps were just awesome and crazy at the same time. I couldn’t think of a better show in any form of racing, period! If there was ever a finish like that in F1 people would go absolutely crazy.

“Can you imagine if you had anyone of Alonso, Hamilton, Vettel, Raikkonen – the pure, good racers from Formula One out there duking it out with the IndyCar stars. It would be massively popular, incredible.”

We didn’t do a breakout post on it, but Johansson also had a blog post after IndyCar at Mid-Ohio and F1 at the German Grand Prix. It’s a little older but still worth a read.

 

There are several more great nuggets within Johansson’s latest blog, which you can view in its entirety here.

Previous linkouts to Johansson’s blog on MotorSportsTalk are linked below:

Additionally, a link to Johansson’s social media channels and #F1TOP3 competition are linked here.

Report: Spencer Pigot out at Ed Carpenter Racing

Joe Skibinski / IndyCar
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Spencer Pigot will not return to Ed Carpenter Racing in 2020, according to a story Thursday by RACER.com.

The 26-year-old Floridian, who won the 2015 Indy Lights championship, is expected to be replaced in the No. 21 Chevrolet by 2019 Indy Lights runner-up Rinus VeeKay.

“I’m appreciative of the opportunity ECR gave me,” Pigot told RACER.com. “I understand the reasons they had to go in a different direction, and wish them all the best.”

In 56 NTT IndyCar Series starts, Pigot has 15 top 10 finishes, with a best finish of second at Iowa in 2018. He finished 14th in the 2019 point standings.

VeeKay, who tested in an Indy car twice for ECR in 2019, has six wins in 18 Indy Lights starts, including a weekend sweep of the final two rounds of the season at Laguna Seca in September.

A representative from ECR told NBC Sports Thursday that the team currently could not comment on any driver rumors as the team currently does not have any drivers under contract for the 2020 season, although it is presumed that owner/driver Carpenter will return to the No. 20 entry for the oval rounds.

NBC Sports will provide updates on the story once more information becomes available.