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Season 27 Starts Now
by Mobbin Riller
(Wauwatosa, WI) -- The 2019-20 IndySlotCar Series season starts tonight and as with every new season there are questions. The biggest, after six straight championships can anyone take the Husarsbilt Cup away from Mike Lack? Who would do it? Can John Wiedemann, Lack's teammate, finally get off the lower steps of the championship podium and climb to the top? What will this season's reemergence of erstwhile Angry Squirrel Speedsport teammate, Amy Butler, do to the champion and his usual closest competitor? Does the rising star, last season's rookie of the year, Joe Heitz take the speed he found so often in qualifying and get better car control to finish races and score some wins to challenge for the title? Heitz is rumored to be moving from his satellite A.S.S. Fuzzy's team to Penske-HO Racing into a possible #22 Menards car joining last season's runner-up for the Cup, Ev Kamikawa. However, although Kamikawa seemed resurgent in 18-19, the other rumor coming from the Penske-HO Racing camp is that the two-time champion is going to running a part-time program for his #12 Verizon Chevrolet.
Then there are other possible contenders, Pete Dorn did everything except win a race last season and finished a career high fourth in the standings with his first career pole and six heat wins leading to six finals including a second place. With a win or two and more of those consistent finals appearances and we could see a Pete-down on the championship. Although Mike Kristof scored a career high two wins last season and held on for fifth place in the standings, no one expects the Michael Shank-It Racing Honda driver to repeat those results and a corresponding fall back to reality for this season. However, Matt Hayek struggled mightily in 18-19 with the newly named Alter Ego Racing should see an uptick in results from the single pole position and two finals, Dean Strom out of the same shop had two victories and if the #64 Manitowoc driver runs a closer to full-time effort, the Canadian Strong Man would have something to say about the title.
A record streak ended in 2018-19, in fact a record that is longer than any other in all of open-wheel racing, Dan Margetta had won at least one race in 18 straight seasons. Scott Dixon has the next longest streak with 15. But Margetta could not extend the streak in the #13 Go Daddy car last season and that necessitated switch to a new car for this season, the longest serving veteran in IndySlotCar will represent the youngest driver in IndyCar, as he moves to the #88 Honda for 19-20. A more serious run at the championship is expected from the yet to me named team.
Spehert Autosport will again run the #27 NAPA and #28 DHL cars, with Tom in the 28 and Chris, the 27. Tom is coming off a season with a win, his first in ten years, it's hoped Chris can make more than a one or two race schedule in 19-20. Bill Black has made a lot of noise during the off-season that his Black-Atom Racing program is going to get a major upgrade and a switch from the red #6 Lucas Oil Honda to the green #77 MotoGator car, after making four finals in 17-18, Black didn't score a single one in 18-19. A part-time program limited Mike Fitzlaff in 18-19 but perhaps the new MisFitz Motorsports #10 Honda can be an improvement this season. It's hoped that Alex Hayek will make his usual part-time appearance along with some other cameos throughout the season.
All the questions above will be answered over the next 16 races and in April we will celebrate those who attained their goals and the others will scratch their heads and wonder what went wrong.