I’ve been waiting to write this post. Before I read the accolades of fans and news media, I was still on a rush from being there. However, after reading the accolades, I realized that I’m telling my version of one of the most compelling races in a long time. Whoa. Before I actually talk about the race, I’d like to mention that I caught sight of Monica (@the_race_gIRL), Paul (@fieldof33), Kristi (@IAIndyFan), and Bill Zahren (aka Pressdog). Unfortunately, I didn’t get to say hi, but I was like, “OMG! OTHER CRAZY FANS!!!” All inside my head, of course. Also of note, the header picture was taken Saturday night during the FIL race and was tinkered with using iPhoto.
The weather was humid, the sun struggled to shine for awhile (and yet, I got sunburned… my face resembles that of a lobster), and the crowd waited. I gave up counting how many times the PA announcer asked, “Hey race fans, are you ready for some racing?” because I was ready… the first time they asked. The subsequent times that same question was asked just made me wish they could fast-forward through the ceremonies to the important thing like driver intros, the invocation, national anthem and other such things. But alas. Speaking of the national anthem, that rendition nearly made me cry. Perhaps it was the fact that I’m a music major and don’t tolerate mediocrity in that area, but really, that was bad. 1) He screwed up the words (I missed this because I was in a bad music coma), 2) it was too slow, and 3) it was much too dressed up. But I’m sure you ceased to care about my thoughts on that two sentences ago. Anyway…
A buzz was definitely in the air; I was going nuts. And then, it began. Not surprisingly, the first caution involved a KV car. While not Moraes’ fault, he and his teammates are certainly making a bad habit of crashing their cars. However, they have asserted that they have speed when still in the race as evidenced by E.J. Viso’s podium finish. Hopefully he can stitch together another race like this soon- the same for both of his teammates, I’m sure the KV Racing coffers would appreciate that.
One of, if not the most, controversial aspects of the race was Milka Duno. After months of hearing that she should be parked and seeing raw data, I finally witnessed the “Milka squeeze” and saw her be more in the way and more slow than any other lapped car. I recognize that negotiating lapped traffic is a part of racing. In fact, I think it can create many opportunities for challenging the leader if set up properly. However, washing up the track in front of the second place car after being lapped (again) and causing said car to have to break to avoid hitting you is an unnecessary and preventable danger. If anyone with any sort of clout ever reads this, please Please PLEASE find a non-racing role in the sport for Milka. And fast. Not surprisingly, by lap 35, Milka was parked. I suspected (hoped) she would be. After that, the lap traffic wasn’t nearly as difficult, although Mutoh was agonizingly slow.
The best racing (according to my dad), occurred soon after. Dario and Dixon raced each hard for the lead for lap after lap. It truly was exciting stuff. Meanwhile, TK was just sitting back in third, waiting. Throughout this segment, much more racing occurred within the pack. Sato and Hunter-Reay were strong and, curiously, the Penske cars fell off the radar. While they would make a nice surge later (all three with top-5 finishes to be exact), this surprised me. Meanwhile, the Target cars were strong… go figure.
Being a fan of Graham Rahal (hey, at least I’m honest and recognize that I might be a bit biased!), I was pleasantly surprised to see him stay out during the second caution of the day. My first assumption was that it was a strategy move, but unbeknownst to fans, it was reported that staying out was a communication error. That error almost worked. Five more laps, and it would have worked. As a fan, I was rather bummed. But hey, it’s racing.
I could continue on with a play-by-play, but I’ll spare y’all the agony of reading a live-blog-esque thing nearly two days later. You’re welcome.
Some noteworthy things:
- Dixon didn’t have squat after the first 50-ish laps. Lame. Dario’s transmission broke. In the vein of Jane Austen, I say, “badly done” for it was. The Ganassi teams revealed their humanity, but I doubt that was how they wanted to do that. However, I don’t think the rest of the field minded; I certainly didn’t.
- Andretti Autosport is bipolar. Here’s what I mean: they have some cars that are fast, some that are slow. This changes from day to day. It even changes during the race. I couldn’t figure out how or why Marco faded as badly as he did, but when it went wrong, it went wrong badly. He suddenly lost speed as was reduced to being a roadblock for the leaders. Hunter-Reay was good, but after the last pit-stop didn’t seem to have the same level of speed. Danica never really had much, but kept her nose clean enough to bring home a top-10 finish, one lap down. As for TK? After a disappointing qualifying run, he backed up the speed he showed in practice with a stellar race. But really, all this variation? If AA could find consistency, they’d be a formidable threat week in and week out. Until then, they’re… not.
- After going down two laps for a green flag stop, I was impressed with Rahal’s run. I honestly am not saying this just because I’m a fan. It was a pity watching him pass cars after going down those laps because he was flying by them and it wasn’t for position. The car seemed to get better and that allowed him to make up a lap and equal his season-best finish. My exact memo in my phone: “Rahal drives ass off to finish 9th.” I was pleased.
Overall, this was a GREAT event. I haven’t enjoyed a race that much at that speedway… ever? Certainly not an IndyCar one. To cap off a great race, TK’s win was VERY popular. I was pulling for him and was glad to see it happen. Even if Dario would have finished the race, I believe TK had the better car. Regardless, the fans were thrilled about the victory.
I can’t wait for next year’s race. I’ll be there, even if we don’t have season tickets. I want to be there that badly. Hopefully, more viewers (via TV or internet) will decide to make the trip next year. It’s definitely worth it.
Playlist for this post
- Ordinary (Rock Version)- Train
- Rape Me- Nirvana
- Lucy- Skillet
- Telephone- Lady GaGa
- Bad Romance- Lady GaGa
- Alone- Heart
- I Don’t Know- Stage
- Breathe- Ryan Star
- Hallelujah- Lee DeWyze
- Better Than Me- Hinder