Unfiltered Race Notes: Sonoma 2014

Note for the Milwaukee notes: Due to my in person attendance at the kick ass Milwaukee Mile last weekend, I was unable to catch my DVR crapping out. I have yet to see the telecast of Milwaukee, if you know how I can see it please let me know.

And welcome to the earthquake affected GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma! Hopefully there is more intrigue to this race than we all expect.

–Prerace–

Re earthquake: “I thought I was going to die” – Will Power

Re earthquake: “The pictures on the wall weren’t crooked, I want that guy to do my pictures” – Castroneves

Track and facilities are good to go. Big thumbs up to all the area fans that made the trek to take in an afternoon of IndyCar. Still, I don’t expect there to be many people in the house

Re earthquake “I was worried the bus was going to go down the hill” – Pagenaud. Funny that he stays in his bus at the track

Hunter-Reay’s kid slept through the earthquake. Good boy

MKE retrospective from the always on point IMSP. That was a fun afternoon, guess I could write an on-the-ground sooner or later. I’ve gone for three years and have never done one

Sam Hornish looks confused

Booth talking up Pagenaud’s 90 some point deficit saying he can pull it off. Come on…

JPM: “got to minimize the damage” scored the most points over the last 8 races. Dude could be tough if he can catch his grove early next year

Newgarden signed for a year with whatever the ECR takeover of SFHR is called now for 2015. Good for him; he can use the year with Ed and whoever else to hone his skills before moving up the grid in 2016

Awesome visor cam/ gopro montage with RHR. I know the camera is still a bit high, but you can see Munoz in the mirrors well before he dives inside

Perfect prerace length. Let’s do this thing

–Race–

I love the grid-side send off

Cool. Miller on the spotters… hill… with Rick Mears. Awesome view of the action.

GREEN

Shenanigans into T2. Still green? Looks like we had 2 stalled cars

HCN the big loser with wing damage, and my fantasy lineup with Bourdais

YELLOW

Both cars away, this should be quick. Honestly, the guys did a good job given how little room there was to maneuver around

Ugh, I know there ‘isn’t enough runoff’ but we should really be running the full course. IndyCars wreck into the wall at Indy at 230…

5

GREEN

Sonoma looks AWFUL from the air. Haven’t had rain in 118 days

Newgarden looks good. We will see how long he can hang on

Conway running unusually well on a natural terrain road course. P8

7

WHOAAAHH!! It took 7 laps before Hornish said anything about the racing. Man, I just don’t know about this experiment.

Brake issues for Pagenaud. Seems like that’s the story of his season

9

HCN in again. The day from hell for the poor guy

11

Power trotting away from Newgarden as Josef falls into the clutched of the Target armada. Settle in boy and girls…

Hinch and Sato back in as well. Guys involved in the accident haven’t been able to catch a break

15

Hunter-Reay lining up TK for a pass. WILL IT ACTUALLY HAPPEN?!?

Sorry. That was uncalled for

18

Yes. RHR gets him on the pit exchange…

20

JPM down a lap. I’m shocked by how much trouble he has been having on the natural road courses

21

Wilson almost gets around Andretti. I’m not sure we have seen an on screen pass yet.

23

RHR can’t get around Rahal. Use that chrome horn. There is no reason for you to be stuck behind Rahal

25

Ok, JPM may have just gone around Hawksworth. But this RHR/ Rahal battle is plain sad

Bitching aside, watching IndyCars here is mesmerizing

30

YELLOW

Huertas stranded on the side of the track. Been a tough year for the Honda boys

The strategy could play out in a wonky way if there are no more yellows in this race

Har… Marco wins Sonoma rewind

Sweepers doing a thorough job in the corners… not like it will matter here, but everything helps

GREEN

36

Power with a huge lead already. I can see oil dry down for the Huertas incident, that would also explain the extended caution

YELLOW

Saavedra into JPM and Bourdais.

Pagenaud and Wilson both abort the pitlane at the very last moment. Pagenaud nearly smashes it into the tires

Nope. That was Helio taking a way too optimistic look on the inside of Bourdais who was inside Saavedra. Helio pushing too hard and that’s always how he screws himself

Dixon wins the race off pitlane. Very woah

Replay of Dixon crushing Power’s tire guy last year. That was nutty

40

GREEN

Kanaan in front with Conway in tow AND CONWAY AROUND THE OUTSIDE!! Dude, what a move

Power and Munoz doing donuts at the top of the esses. Whoops. What a rare mistake from Power…

Cindric: Be cool. COME ON, we know that’s not Powers MO

At least we will see a drunk-with-craziness-Power run through the field

42

Conway +3.5 destroyer of worlds

Cars sound good and look great here

43

Carpenter: fuel number. Duh. It’s Sonoma

Sneaky Briscoe in P3; Kanaan falling into his clutches

Rahal P4. Well, you can’t come last in all the races

45

Power with no progress made

47

Through the field. I thought we would have done it twice by now

That GoPro chalet overlooking the carousel would be a cool place to watch this race from

49

Kimball had his best starting position of the year on a twisty today with a P11. At least it’s another well-funded car on the grid.

50

Onboard with Power. Clearly struggling. Can’t wait to see what he can do with new tires

53

Kanaan -7.5 from Conway. Wow

Power straighlines the chicane. I can never image how that could possibly happen. Are we watching the oft-predicted championship self-destruction of Power?

55

RAHAL AROUND KANAAN!! It is clearly backwards day with Rahal making passes at Sonoma

Dixon P5. The iceman is coming

59

I know there are multiple strategies playing out, but with the fast guys already hassling the leaders there must have been a few more passes than we have been shown

60

Repave of pitlane entry looks really good. That bump was huge before

61

Conway would have to go 24 laps to win

Ok ok… Rahal looks really good today

Sato gets balked in the pits by Dixon leaving directly behind him and Andretti coming in directly in front of him. Great job to miss everyone

63

Marco around the outside of Hinch in the carousel. Damn son

Wow. Rahal hassling Conway. It really is bizzaro world today

Rahal around Conway for P1. You’re welcome National Guard. Questions about whether Rahal can make it on fuel

65

Rahal, Conway, Kanaan all very close together. Kevin Lee says he doesn’t think Rahal will make it without help. Sounds like ECR thinks the same thing

66

My brain is starting to scramble from the strategies. The guys are still close up front. Pulling for Conway

68

Kanaan is right on Conway. I think He’s holding TK up, but still reeling Rahal back in. If Kanaan is just sitting back to save fuel and tires, he could be the man to beat

Power to P15. With we would see his run through the field

70

And of course we go onboard with Power

73

Kanaan in for fuel. Rahal stopped on the same lap… Am I really rooting for Rahal?

74

Yes… Yes I am. Conway winning is good for me, ECR and Conway. Rahal winning is good for everyone. Although Dixon and RHR are right there. Honestly, this is the most exciting Sonoma race I have ever seen I think

76

GET COURTNEY FORCE OFF MY TV

Ugh… kill me now

Booth doesn’t think Rahal can do it

79

Ok. We have been following the leaders for like 10 laps. Can we see if there are any other battles on screen please?

80

Hornish makes a good point. The 4 leaders are spread by like 4 seconds. This is damn close for a Sonoma race

81

Rahal still pulling away. Why? I hope they get video of Bobby smacking Graham when he runs out of fuel

Rahal in and Conway to the point, but not before Dixon takes the lead into T2

82

For the record, Dixon is the man. RHR around Conway

Also, How does RHR self-admittedly suck at Sonoma and be looking to finish P2?

83

Drive through for Rahal. Speeding on pitlane. Where’s that Bobby cam at?

84

Wow, Dixon is 4.5 seconds ahead of Conway

85

Andretti around Wilson with Power holding his breath right behind.

CHECKERS

Dixon. Damn son, that’s how you do it

Power tries to go around Wilson in the final hairpin and nearly takes himself out by bouncing off of Bourdais as they come 3 wide to the line as they all dodge the out of gas car of Conway

What the hell is going on today?

Well, that shook up the points

I hope no one is penalized with that yellow flag there at the end

Blah blah blah… interviews. That was really fun! There’s always a small part of me that dreads heading to Sonoma, but today was a blast. I know this fuel race could have gone the other way without the shenanigans, but that’s why you run the race. Plus we had a pretty good race for the actual lead. No one could have predicted Dixon to victory lane before the last ten laps. Onto Fontana and a painfully early end to the season.

Eric Hall

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Unfiltered Race Notes: Mid-Ohio 2014

Welcome back. It’s Mid-Ohio weekend… Let’s go!

—Prerace—

Alright, I wonder how long until the FF button gets hit…

Qualifying rewind. Tough day for the series for sure… I was slightly embarrassed for the drivers after two years of green flag running, rain or not

Mistic guy sucking on that e-cig behind Bourdais is really creepy… dude… at least pretend you’re enjoying your hi-tech nicotine

Josef notes the highly dynamic game of predicting indycar race strategy; all it takes is a single yellow. I will note that I have thoroughly enjoyed the last two editions of Barber. It’s pretty cool to see the guys not get a moment of rest and who has the concentration to see the race out

Mid-Ohio winners flashback. The track really only lets the most skilled drivers into victory lane

Word to IMSP. The Toronto flashback was epic

Penske boys very coy about the points championship. You know both are feeling the pressure, but RHR looks cool as ice. He may be the dark horse this year

Joonyer makes an appearance in the National Guard piece. That’s one way to increase ratings I guess maybe

Guns, explosives, chicks… all good with me

HONDA CR-Z HPD PACE CAR!!! MUCH better than that STUPID Accord

Can we please subtitle Munoz please?

Curt and Kevin shout out from the two seater.  Finally

—Race—

HCN in before the green with a throttle issue. Uh-oh

GREEN

YELLOW

Kanaan around and Andretti has nowhere to go and plowed into him

Looks like TK took a little too much grass. Pushing too hard too early on. Newgarden closed the door too late as well. One of them racin’ things I believe

Didn’t take long to rack up the first yellow of the day

3

HCN suffering on pit lane again

5

GREEN

Bourdais controls the field

Hearing calls for map 2. Usually means we are already saving fuel. With the caution, we could push this race into 2 stop territory if you save

7

Briscoe on blacks and falling through the field. Looks like Wilson is as well, Loses a place to Conway

9

Mesmerized by the fight between Conway and Briscoe. Ryan is definitely hanging tough though

12

Sato in. Looks like his race was burnt because of damage taken on the lap 1 melee

13

Pags in. Clearly the first of the 3 stoppers coming in

14

HOLY CRAP, THE BOOTH ACTUALLY PAUSED FOR A RADIO COMMUNICATION!!! Now, if we could have a graphic about who the transmission is for we would be golden.

And they talk over the very next one.

15

Hinch start replay. Attachments

18

Looks like Newgarden is ever so slightly reeling Bourdais in. We know Bourdais is saving and it sounds like Newgarden may be pushing. Bourdais could really run away with this thing if he doesn’t miss the strategy

21

Pits are starting to get busy

22

Leigh mentions Barry Wodell and Hobbs starts talking all English-y. I have no idea what anything he is saying means

23

Aleshin doing his patented inside-drift-outside block. RUSSIAN MAFIA DON’T CARE

24

Blocking warning for Aleshin. Beaux: “we will be watching” The booth was talking over the radio, I wonder if they even mention it

25

RHR is pushing and the track is noticeably gaining grip. Cars are looking very quick right now

27

Bourdais in. The gap to Newgarden is massive. RHR could spoil the day

AA looks like they took purple rim reds off of the RHR car and put black rim blacks on

RHR out ahead of Bourdais but he takes P1 back into T3

Pit speed violation for RHR. Dummy

29

The Keyhole entry is almost too fast to be a viable passing zone

Saavedra out with engine failure

32

I bet we finish this race without another caution period

About 180 into T3. Not bad, but we still need to be 190+

35

I think I could watch indycars run around here all day. Everyone still looks like they are pushing pretty hard. NBCSN has been giving us about 3 laps of onboards. Always cool to see

37

YELLOW

RHR spins in the carousel. What a rough day for the guy, but all of his own doing

Sato in the grass somewhere after pulling off intentionally. Towed back to the puts

The AWESOME CR-Z PACE CAR looks much quicker than the stupid Accord. Excellent choice to make the change. I’m giving a raise to whoever made that decision

Dixon stays out to lead the field. Needs a miracle

43

GREEN

Dixon really holds the pack up heading to the green. It’s literal chaos behind him

45

Munoz and Newgarden have been fighting clean but close for 3 laps

Dixon is checking out. I wonder what his strategy is at this point?

47

Newgarden ahead of Bourdais into the keyhole. Dixon shouldn’t be a problem unless said miracle is granted

In reality, Newgarden may chase down Dixon just for the hell of it

48

Pags and Briscoe fighting side by side through the esses. Wow. Be careful boys

49

Incredible racing today

Of note: Purple rims on the Andretti ride today as well

55

Newgarden has stalled out behind Dixon

Sarah Fisher’s I’m-super-stressed-but-want-to-seem-cool-during-the-interview-poker-face is very very poor

57

Through the field. That took a lot longer than I thought it would to get to a ho-hum place in the race to do this

59

Briscoe finally elbows  around Pags

63

Dixon in. He may still be able to do this

65

Newgarden in along with the rest of the field. Air guy takes a mean tumble heading to service the car; that is not race winning form right there. Out behind Bourdais and Munoz.

68

Dixon could actually win this. Hinch out in P2

69

Newgarden: penalty for hitting pit equipment. Hose in the way. No one to blame but the crew

Fastest lap is 2 seconds slower than 2013

75

Watching 4 of my 5 fantasy picks racing wheel to wheel with each other. Please be safe boys, I need the points this week

79

The top five looks pretty locked in. I doubt we see any changes before the checkers

82

Shocked Dixon has been able to pull this one out so far

85

Everyone is still pushing, but the field is pretty stretched out. Even if the action has been light during this second half, you can actually see how hard the drivers are wheeling the car. Kind of a nice change after all the street circuit fuel races

86

Dixon is incredible here.

Rahal makes his first real appearance of the race. Quietly running to P5

88

We have now settled into watching Dixon circulate to victory. I’m OK with that

Replay of Chippy face planting off of the wall. Yes yes yes

90

CHECKERS

Dixon runs out of fuel on the exit of T1. That’s about as close as you can play it

Montoya driving the wrong way down the track, Kimball out of gas rolling backwards, I think everyone played it that close

Last to first, has that ever happened?

Bourdais: that was no miracle there; they were the class of the field today. Well said

I want to hear from the SFHR crew

Cool, final words with Josef. Body language tells me he is furious or about to cry. I’m still not sure he could have had anything for Dixon though

A relatively lock step run to the checkers after the final pitstop is more than made up for with the intense and blistering opening 2/3 of the  race. All in all, it was a really fun afternoon in Mid-Ohio and again I wonder why it, like Barber, continues to be the target of detractors. It wasn’t in the cards this year for me to attend in person, but a weekend of camping around one of the best road courses in the mid-west is always the plan for the next year. Hopefully we will have a different ending in 2015!

Eric Hall

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Unfiltered Race Notes: Toronto Race Two 2014

Welcome back to Toronto! This is an actual IndyCar race according to my DVR so I guess we’ll be in store for some actual racing?

—Prerace—

Doubt I’ll be watching much of this

HCN looks tired. That doesn’t bode well for the rest of the field

Stadium Super Truck snippet. Oh yes

Walker saying a whole lot of nothing to Miller. Not a huge fan after yesterday’s debacle. Get him off screen and get this race started

Dale Coyne retrospective. What a good dude. We could use more guys like him in IndyCar

55 minutes to get the guys in the car. Too long. What is a good length prerace for you? I need guys in the cars at the 32-ish minute mark

—Race—

GREEN

Standing starts are so damn cool

TK ends up with his nose as close to the tires without touching them as physically possible

Varsha notes the darkening skies

YELLOW

2

Power and Pagenaud running nose to tail…

Aaaand a Power/Pags retrospective almost on cue

Guys taking the opportunity to take fuel already

4

GREEN

Bourdais is on a mission

Drivers are definitely pushing right now.

6

Pagenaud losing positions hand over fist. Onboard sounds like a sick sick engine.

He has to cycle the entire electrical system of the car. That’s got to be a tough act to pull off. Engine is overheating. May be done for the day

Montoya showing good on a street course

Bourdais doesn’t quite have the pace to challenge the leading pack

12

Visible rain drops

13

Wow. JPM into the tires and Aleshin into JPM. I hope he’s ok…

Bourdais also over shoots the corner and Hinch gives JPM’s car a kiss.

Aleshin is ok. Wow. That was nutso

First sighting of rain tires

Bourdais says it’s dry enough for slicks

Rubber marks on Aleshin’s visor and helmet

Steaming racetrack

Bourdais and Newgarden still on slicks. Could be the decision of the race

20

GREEN

21

Festival of cautious driving, Bourdais into the pits for wets finally

Newgarden spins on the front straight, but was able to flip it around into pit lane. Well played

23

Turn 8 is treacherous

No one is pushing right now

Penske, Penske, Ganassi, Ganassi

24

YELLOW

Rear pod on the racing line

I wonder who is driving the pace car today

28

GREEN

OMG I SEE SPRAY… CANCEL THE RACE!!!!!!

I kid I kid…

29

Good battle at the front of the field

These guys are being so conservative through the twisty bits. I bet most of the setups are dry to split. I doubt anyone is running a true wet package

31

Slight block party from HCN. The shock

Power doesn’t have much of anything for HCN right now and the Ganassi boys are inching closer every corner

33

Luca into the tires. Dude, please get it together. You have not covered yourself in glory the past few races

YELLOW

Side note: This will be my worst single weekend performance in fantasy IndyCar history.

Note to past self: Quit making stupid picks

Timed race. 30 minutes remaining.

Again, as with yesterday and a few weeks ago in Houston, why do we force a time shortened race when we have the full TV window? We don’t need a 90 minute post race show. We needed to run both races to full length today

…a weekend of disappointment. At least Bourdais found the checkers earlier today

36/ 28:30

GREEN

HCN still leading

Power falling into the clutches of TK

37

Drivers are getting antsy with the lingering time window

We will not go full distance today. This race will be decided by the clock

Munoz into the runoff

38

Dry line visible. Who will blink first?

It’s been cool to see the wide variance of lines that drivers have taken through the corner. We really didn’t see this much difference during the wet Houston race

42

Power and Helio elbowing each other out of the way. Power comes out the other side the victor

HCN was on the inside and wet portion of the track. There was no way he was going to make that corner without bouncing off of Power.

43

Munoz in for red sidewall slicks

44/17:30

Hawks and Hinch off with Saavedra into the tires.

Goat Rodeo

YELLOW

I can’t wait to get the hell out of Toronto

Everyone left going to slicks

We’re going to have a shoot out of epic proportions

Wilson, Newgarden, Huertas and Filippi stay out on wets. And don’t forget the handful of drivers already on dries ahead of the pitting drivers

Still burning time behind the pace car

Conway first of the slick runners in P5

49

GREEN

Conway pushing through the field

Wilson gapping the field, but Conway has already made it to P3

HUGE slide for Huertas

50

Bourdais stalled at the tires

Conway to the lead. Wilson just couldn’t hold him off

Kanaan rushing through the field as well

51/7:00

YELLOW

That should be it for Conway… DESTROYER OF WORLDS

Looks like the guys who were on the wets were falling through the field and couldn’t get out of the way fast enough

Rahal stalled on the track somewhere

Booth says red, yet the clock is still running

Oops, there we go

RED

52/4:32

Rahal out of the car

I agree with this call. The fans who stuck out this epic failure of a weekend deserve a full speed finish to the day

Gearbox for Rahal

Rahal: “I think you’ll see us on the top step of the podium soon enough” … Riiight…

Cars re-fired

I bet we still finish under yellow

2:33

GREEN

Kanaan around Wilson

HCN with wing damage

WHITE

56

Conway has a huge gap. I’m shocked that finished cleanly

Conway was rewarded for having the balls to come in early for slicks

CKECKERS

Well done Mr. Conway

MORE DONUTS!!!

Nothing better than an open-wheel car roasting rubber

Ed Always has something to complain about…

Ok, that’s all I can handle from Toronto 2014. The actual racing wasn’t awful this weekend, but the arbitration of said racing could have been executed way more professionally. Thanks for reading my friends.

Eric Hall

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Unfiltered Race Note: Toronto Race One 2014

Welcome to the DVRed notes for three paid programs and a 21 day fix infomercial!

—Prerace—

Ok, round two for round one

Power, Montoya and Briscoe in the back. Have the wrongs been righted? Not sure

Drivers are strapped in. Excellent. I don’t need any more breakdown after yesterday

THAT IS A COMMAND!!!

PT: long day ahead. That is the first understatement of the day

I wonder if we will have fewer commercial breaks considering the channel switch and preplaced programming

Standing start moved to race two. One stop race and everyone is on dry tires. Still looks like there are damp areas around the track

—Race—

GREEN… Finally

Clean start.

YELLOW

Pags around blocking the track. Total traffic jam with Conway, Sato and Newgarden taking damage as well

Well, that didn’t take long

RED

During the commercial break. Probably not a bad idea. You don’t really want half of the field to go down a lap before completing the first lap of the dang race

Sarah Fisher complaining about not being able to work on the car during the red. “I just want to know what the rules are” I understand why they allowed Power to work on the car yesterday but not today

Sato out. My fantasy team has really taken a hit with this crash. Maybe I get bonus points for lowest race score ever?

I agree with Luca. Pags definitely squeezed Luca down. He entered the kink very wide and should have left the inside lane open

Fisher starting work on the Newgarden car. After having no luck getting a response from race control, they started work once they heard the penalty on the broadcast. Why don’t these teams know the rules?!

The delay is due to the inability of race control to decide the order. What?

Cars fired

YELLOW

GREEN

Great outside move by RHR

4

Bourdais is already disappearing into the distance!

8

Feels like a fuel save party. Confirmed as we here a radio transmission saying as much

I really hope Bourdais can pull this off

Lock step. I have a feeling this first race is going to be slightly follow the leader

HCN and RHR fighting very cleanly

12

No. There are no fewer commercials

14

Conway making the outside T3 move work. Signature side by side move of this track for sure

17

Filippi crabbing down the track while Huertas inserts himself into the tire barrier

YELLOW

Stands are starting to fill

I have no opinion on Filippi. He seems like a nice guy and is clearly fast, but he has made some mistakes during his part-time campaign this year

Ah, I almost forgot about the front of the field

21

GREEN

RHR looks like he’s not going to let Bourdais pull the same gap as he had before

Rahal cutting through the field. How long until he does something ridiculous?

23

Andretti giving Saavedra the chrome horn

Montoya giving street racing lessons to Newgarden

25

Power around the outside. T3 is working today

Montoya is clearly on a mission today

27

No. RHR has not been able to stay with Bourdais. Same 2+ second gap

31

Power is violently working the car. Maybe coming in soon

33

RHR losing pace as HCN takes P2 into T1.

34

RHR lost another two to TK and Dixon

Power clips a hose on the way out

The entire field is cycling during these two laps

35

Bourdais in

The bumps are starting to take rubber

Replay of Power hitting the hose

Pit lane exit definitely looks awkward, but we really haven’t seen an issue with it today

36 RHR takes a spot back from Dixon

No action taken on Will Power. Why? He hit pit equipment. You’re lucky Mr. Power

41

RHR and TK tangle sending Hunter-Reay into the wall. Out of the race

Two mentions of “calamity corner” by Bell in two laps

Bourdais cycles to the lead, but not before hitting RHR’s wing left in the racing line

43

Huge evasive maneuver from JPM to miss the wounded RHR

44

Dixon gives Rahal a kiss. The boys aren’t playing nice anymore. It’s game on for these last 20 laps

46

Looks like RHR may be able to come back out in a few laps

Bell is irritating me with the red/black crossover talk. It’s very clear that the reds aren’t that far off the blacks today

49

We should extend the track through the Princess Gate

Aleshin not letting Newgarden get by without throwing an elbow

Aaaaand Bob Varsha ruins it for Bourdais by mentioning “if he can hold on…”

JPM falling

Josef around Hawks. Showing very good pace today after the lap one scrum

55

Bourdais and Castroneves can’t even be filmed in the same shot

Bourdais may be rocketing ahead, but the mid-pack action is really heating up

Varsha mentions if he wins again and is quickly followed by another crossover mention from Bell. Dude, what are we doing?

58

I don’t assign any blame to either TK or RHR for their incident. Encyclopedic definition of a racing incident

60

Rahal and Andretti sit atop the “Longest drought since last win” stat column. Ha

Wilson expertly defending the onslaught from Power

Varsha is looking ahead way too much. I want you guys to break down the race, not telling me ‘as they run’ crap

62

Newgarden clips the jersey barrier after cooking T3

64

Bourdais puts JPM a lap down allowing HCN to close

“No pressure from behind”

CHECKERS

Bourdais wins!!! Hell yes!!

This really solidifies the skill he showed during the ChampCar era. It looked like a carbon copy of his early years; piloting a pushy car to a dominating win.

BEAUTIFUL DONUTS FROM BOURDAIS!!!

Screw the race engine, these are donuts

Bourdais gets out of the car in pit lane. Not the usual pomp for him. There are a ton of excited people swarming Bourdias. This is how a team should react to a race win.

Bourdias: “It went perfect” amen

OK. Enough with the interview. A slow and challenging start that turned into a hell of an event. Excellent morning of racing

I will see you again in a few hours for race two!

Eric Hall

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Unfiltered Race Notes: Iowa 300 2014

Welcome back to another enthralling edition of whatever it is that you call this. Rain rain rain in Iowa this weekend so I hope we can get all 300 laps in at a reasonable hour tonight. Strap in and enjoy the Iowa Corn Indy 300 with me.

—Prerace—

Rain… that’s going to be the story of the day. I hope the threat of an early checkered flag really makes all the drivers push as hard as they can. If the race can end at any time, it would be best to be out front all night

Power retrospective… lol… I’d really like to not write a single thing about him tonight. Please keep your nose clean Mr. Power

Powers clean shaven and has his glasses off his face. Feels like The Captain may have smacked some sense into him during the last week

Hellooooo UFD girls

Marco has been refreshingly honest and open this year. I’m really softening to him

Let’s be honest, PT look goofy as hell in that suit

IMSP Iowa race intro narrated by Diffey. Can’t get much better than that

Uninspired command. It’s not that hard guys…

And thank you NBCSN, a sub 30 minute prerace show is the perfect length

—Race—

Crows looks healthy considering the weather concerns. IndyCar feels big time in Iowa; what a great vibe

The high line shall now be called the Marco line

5

RHR looking racier than usual early on

Got to wonder is Marco toasts his tires too early in the race. He already looks like he’s about to start his usual early drop through the field

9

The laps click off super fast here

I can’t imagine anyone is saving fuel at this point in the race. Worth noting the director has yet to show the lead two so you’ve got to think they’re flying up there

13

And we see the leaders

21

Leaders look to be catching the field already

Dixon dropping quick, yet Kanaan has stood tough

Replay of Kimball’s start. HUGE save

26

Power has kind of stalled about behind Marco, but finally completes the moved

Hinch around Marco

Personal reminder: Stop picking Marco in fantasy

31

Brazilian knife fight ensuing for P1

34

YELLOW as soon as we go to commercial. Rain?

Race Control Reminder: Yes. Ok. Let’s not throw the green too early

Unfair, I know

Word from race control: they will not open the pits until they are positive the race will go green. They want to avoid racing on pit lane while it’s overly slick

39

RED

Radar looks relatively clear, this should be a quick red. I wonder if AIR TITAN!!! Is still in the house. Wouldn’t surprise me if NASCAR proper stationed one for this race. It would look just as bad on them if they can’t recover the track

Usual red flag rain delay blah blah blah… thankfully the jet driers are out already

Ethanol propaganda. At least they sponsor the race

Too bad INDYCAR has banned the use of chemical adhesives in pit boxes, I’m sure there’s toooons of high fructose corn syrup laying around the track somewhere

Look inside the director’s truck… very similar in size and brightness to the cave I pretend to play journalist in

Interview with Juan in the cockpit with helmet on. Cool?

Kevin Lee: Struggling with the bumps? Juan: yeeeeeeeeeeeaa

DVR has caught up to live picture :-/

Why does Diffey keep saying Iowa drives like a road course? Second mention in as many weeks

Excellent Interview with The Captain. References his fist fights with PT

Only thing PT was allowed to say on the radio? Yes sir or 10-4

40

YELLOW

Championship points swing look back. 2014 will be now known as the championship no one wants to win

Helio takes the lead on pit road

Biggest NBCSN pet peeve: Playing random radio chatter without any mention of who we are listening to

Turning a few more caution laps than I would have thought. Probably giving the guys a few extra sighting laps

49

GREEN

YELLOW

Sato and Mikhail with huge contact into the wall. Aleshin spun off the flat into Sato. Sato slow out of the car seems to have made it to the truck. +3 on the front wing for Aleshin on the last stop. Hmm…

Aleshin holding his wrist

Foyt: “… did like I said in Texas. All you gettin’ them is a bunch of damn idiots…”

Sato is such a nice guy

64

GREEN

Clean start and the Brazilian knife fight continues at the front like there wasn’t even a caution

68

Onboard with Ed. It looks like he adjust nearly every corner

Pags and Hinch side by side for like 5 solid laps. Excellent

76

Actually a fair amount of wheel to wheel racing

Kanaan around HCN as they catch the tail end of the field

80

THE RUSSIAN. His obvious mafia demeanor is welcome in IndyCar

Contrails

85

Right rear wing endplate delamination for JPM. Identical to RHR’s in practice

88

That debris is sitting in the racing line, but we are still green. TAKE THAT NASCAR HOT DOG WRAPPERS!!

93

YELLOW

Problems in the pits for JPM after the rear pod replacement. JPM was all fired up and Montoya-ey

Grandstands still look very full

97

Waived off restart for some problem with Bourdais. Seems sorted

2nd waived restart. TK told to slow and field told to pack closer. Well done race control

100

GREEN

Good jump for TK. HCN caught sleeping

104

Briscoe is looking pretty good tonight. I literally haven’t said that all year

Power blocking Ed?

108

It’s really cool that we have two Brazilians fighting for a Saturday night short track win

Replay of the Power/Ed incident. Power pinched him in the middle of the corner. That’s racing Ed, you should know that better than anyone

117

Power interview snippet: He is unapologetically focused. I’m coming around to this more honest, less whiney Will Power

127

Through the field

Surprised HCN can’t do more to catch TK. There is no way we are into fuel save mode. Iowa crashes cars

Bourdais looks like he may be done

Saavedra in the top 10?!

141

Still fighting up front. A night like this, with the strong crowd here even with the weather, makes me wonder if we can do this twice a year here. You could definitely go to Iowa in late April

147

Electrical issue for Bourdais

150

Saavedra fighting for P4 with Power

157

Saavedra around Power and Briscoe… Wut

161

Aaaaand he’s into the wall. Never change Saavedra

The look on his face is soul crushingly depressing

Some random dude counting down… 3. 2. 1.

Ed into P3. Showing very strong tonght

Saavedra may literally be crying inside the cockpit. I can make fun of him all I want, but you’ve got to respect that passion

169

Beautiful Midwestern sunset

JPM back on the lead lap

172

GREEN

Clean restart

And awesome racing

179

… Nothing to say… mesmerized…

182

Power may be struggling with the changing track

Pags and Hinch fighting again with RHR waiting to pounce on the loser

187

Hinch has totally lost his front end

Montoya into P12

193

The cars look stupid fast from the blimp/helicopter/ufo shot

205

TK running a lane up and not flirting with the wall too much. Incredibly comfortable with a 3 second lead

209

I think one of the personal allures to Iowa is that it is always a sprint race. There is a chance for a caution to fly at any time, and this is one place where the best place to be is out front so the gains from saving fuel are minimal

214

And Jan talks about the leaders needing to save a few sips of fuel. Dammit

218

Ed is falling faster than Andretti

231

YELLOW

Marco blow’d up

Well… he actually looks back at it… at least it’s not on fire, yo

That first pit stall that JPM is in is ever so slightly curved into T1. He gets a huge advantage pulling in and out of his stall. Even more so than usual for the first stall

TK drafting the pace car

232

GREEN

Ganassi boys are finally showing

Montoya P7

237

Dixon and TK side by side for the lead

256

Montoya has an engineer from NASCAR-land

263

I hate to say it, but Newgarden is fighting too hard for having such a poor handling car. He’s gonna end up in the fence with a friend if he continues this

264

TK around Dixon

270

JPM fighting Briscoe for P6. The drive Juan has put in has been unbelievable tonight

Ed’s really fighting the car

280

YELLOW

JPM into the wall

Ed chop blocked him. That was just plain dirty and Ed knows better. That’s the second time I’ve said that tonight. Shame on him. Ed is driving like a fool

Tires haven’t really matter tonight, I would be surprised if anyone too high up the order comes in

No action from race control. Lame

Hobbs: You can’t get any more blatant of a block. I agree Mr. Hobbs

JPM: “They all love preaching safe racing, but when you’re gonna pass them they’re all douche bags”

Kevin Lee: “They reviewed it and said no action taken” JPM: “Well then I’ll take some action later”

Very yes

291

GREEN

Let’s keep it clean boys

Sshh, no more talking. Racing

Ok, Both Penske cars are struggling

RHR into P2

Newgarden into P3

RHR is on new tires. I may have spoken too soon

298

RHR to P1

Newgarden into P2 on new tires as well.

I spoke WAY too soon

300

RHR wins

Excellent race

Hobbs: “Well who would have thought in a 100 years that that would have happened??” Well spoken Mr. Hobbs

RHR led 2 laps

5 wins in a row for Andretti Autosport at Iowa Speedway

Interviews, Interviews, interviews.

Enough of all that. I really enjoyed the evening and wish we could do more of this kind of stuff. The progressively banked ¾ mile Canadian Motor Speedway should by open in 2016 and could provide a similar experience. Nevertheless, Iowa always rocks my face off. It would be nice to knock this one off my bucket list in 2015.

Who knows what kind of coverage or not coverage of IndyCar will be coming here in the future, but these race notes things seem to be a hit so you will always be able to read my sideways take on an IndyCar race. I may do a few classic races during the offseason… suggestion welcome.

Eric Hall

 

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Unfiltered Race Notes: Pocono 2014

Welcome to the always off-the-cuff unfiltered race notes for race two of the Grand Prix of Houston. This is just my internal monologue that runs throughout the race. Sit back and enjoy!

–Prerace–

500 miles… very yes

Flashback to 2014. Honestly, I hope the racing is a touch closer today

Hinch: Try to win and stop crashing… well put little girl; I think that could be the best advice Mr. checkers or wreckers could get

Hawks with a heart bruise. Get well Jack, 100g’s is a tough hit and you’re lucky to walk away

Oh yea! Bob Varsha!

Dude; I still can’t wrap my head around the Huertas win, and he sits above Rahal, Newgarden, Saavedra and Sato in the championship

Looking back on Houston. As always, thank you IMS Productions

I like Power with the mirrored aviators. Kind of tops off the IndyCar bad boy image with the five-o-clock shadow in a Penske uniform

HCN “I’m just trying to annoy as many people as I can” re: whistle in the World Cup viewing party. Oh so good

36 drivers have taken part in the 2014 season. Not awful I guess

Wow. The grading party during the drivers meeting is excellent (I went back and erased a previous ‘excellent’ to use here because it was THAT SUPER FANTASTICLY AWESOME)

Approximately 18 campers in the infield

Pagenaud’s Oculus car looks fantastic

I don’t want to have to be mean to Power today; he needs to keep it clean

Alright, I’m done with this prerace silliness. Race on

–Race–

Green

3-wide start. Damn right

Kanaan doing what Kanaan does best. PT put it well: brave

Hinch dropping through the field

3

Power, Montoya, Andretti. 3 picks from the fantasy league up front. Could be a big day…

Big wiggle for RHR off 2

7

Hinch continuing to fall. At least he hasn’t wrecked?

No friends for THE RUSSIAN. Vodka is the only friend he needs

9

Onboard with JPM. PT and Bell both give some cool info about saving fuel. Not that I like that sort of thing though

16

Cindric: three lap loss of economy by leading an entire stint… with a wry smile

Big time fuel savings, but the pack is still very close. Similar to Indy, Power has a one car length longer gap than the chasing pack. That one length will be extremely difficult to cross

21

Interview with Herta. Tough weekend, indeed

Radio chatter playing with no discernable source team… with the booth just walking all over the audio. Lose the radio’s or respect the information please

24

Booth talking wheel offset with Kimball as an example. Very cool stuff

26

Sato in with some sort of issue. Breakin’ my heart AJ Foyt Racing

27

The groove looks really rubbered in

Two one hour practice sessions is just not enough time at any facility we visit

29

Suspensions problems for RHR

31

Lead pack starting to come in. Much later than the estimated 27 laps of full rich running

Some of the longer pitboxes of the year. 40’

33

Speeding penalty for Andretti…

RHR… done?

35

Sato attempting to rejoin the fight. It’s still quite early and anything can happen

41

And just as quickly, RHR back in as well. Left front failure; lower a-arm mounting point? That sounds like tub damage?

42

Andretti still on the lead lap…

The crowd doesn’t look that bad

45

Castroneves latching on to the lead pack

“It’s all about saving fuel right now” Very boo and PT agrees

50

The lead pack is breaking up

And TK to the lead!

53

Kanaan has quite the gap. No doubt TK is running full out right now. How much fuel does he dare burn…

TK just testing the car for the final sprint to the finish. Not a bad idea

60

TK in. Big penalty apparently

61

Not sure I like the jersey barriers in the middle of pit lane around the pylon. Interesting decision from the track

63

Pit exit and blend looks like shenanigans

64

Leaders in

65

Bourdais’ car looks good this week

“Pit Speed Is Awesome!!!” flashing on Hinch’s dashboard

PT notes that JPM’s time in NASCAR could have taught him a lot about patience. I subscribe to that theory, but if anything, it slowed him down too much

72

Through the field. For all green flag running, that’s not too bad of a lap to do this on

Field is slightly spread. Getting comfortable for the haul to the final sprint

74

Intermittent radio problems for Aleshin

77

OK, the field is more spread than I initially thought

78

Marco having handling issues and is not really sure where to go with pitstop changes

80

All cars except RHR on the lead lap. Sato out

86

Varsha going over JPM’s resume. Best driver alive?

88

Bell wanting more POWA. I agree

Rahal in and I believe this is the third stint he has been first in

89

TK in early again. Not outside the pit window

This very long green flag run is really making the laps click off

92

Huertas curiously stalled on the pitlane apron

Basically everyone has come in this lap

93

Lots of talk about tools

The pitlane has a HUGE wave in near the exit

95

Is the lead pack staring to form? Who knows… this hasn’t really gone how I thought it would

102

Power ditched his left side head rest on the last stop

Race recap

104

Robin Miller: Get rid of speed limits in the pits…(sigh)…

107

Average race speed: over 209

Even more fuel savings talk

I’m not even sold that anyone will be close to make a run at the leader when the time is right

109

More Aleshin jokes

Everyone looks very comfortable. The gap between the leaders looks to be 1-1.3 seconds.

Replay of Rahal says hellow to the wall

117

Huertas out with some sort of gremlin

118

Leaders in. TK pulled a slight gap.

That gap may be what he needs to just edge out whoever is giving chase from P2 at the end. I do not believe there will be a caution this race. Although, we nearly said the same thing at Indy, this race doesn’t have the same frantic feel to it.

120

Kevin Lee reports that Aleshin has been able to help the team with setups. THE RUSSIAN is very sharp

Bell noting the adjustable rear wing. We don’t hear very much about that feature of a pitstop

123

Field coming in and doing there thing

125

Power is having phenomenal stops today. Now do your job and keep it clean

126

RF tire changer almost didn’t get the gun out of the way of Montoya as he was leaving his stall

Wow. Bourdais’ team looked like a bunch of bumbling idiots. LF changer needed the car to go back up on the jacks, but the jackman was nowhere to be found

134

Still green… Varsha makes the exact same not 3 seconds later

TK playing in 4th gear. Massive fuel save mode

135

Leader is finally hitting honest lapped traffic

Kimball issued the blue flag? What the heck is going on here? I hope Kimball stands tough

140

Dude, what the heck is Pagenaud freaking out about? He’s not anywhere near Kimball. And Andretti drove right around him. Learn to drive on the ovals instead of asking for the blue flags man

Arial shots of the area surrounding the speedway and it is in truly beautiful country

Review of the 1984 Pocono 500. The field is huge and the cars looked more bunched that they do today.

150

Second to last round of stops

Pagenaud slightly missed his marks and had to be rolled backwards

I haven’t seen anyone getting the fuel spill diluted with the hose. I wonder what decides when teams use it

152

I could say that the field has been running extremely clean; however no one can get close enough to anyone else to actually wreck each other out

155

Power turned a 219. We should see the boys begin to really race soon… I hope… at least they’ll be fast

Andretti back into the top ten. Nice recovery from the early penalty by him and his team

158

YELLOW

Rahal into the wall… SHOCK… well done blowing a prefect 500 mile race you clown

Possible engine failure. I can see that considering the sick sick noise the engine was making after he did two complete spins; Clown statement retracted, Mr. Rahal

No diaper on the car and no oil dry on the track, I wonder if he had a diff failure

TK has led a single lap this year before Pocono

Interesting. Many teams deciding to come in and attempt to make it to the end on mileage

165

GREEN

Aleshin dirt tracking through the inside paint. Dude… Ballsy move

Andretti almost into the wall while passing 23 cars on the highside. Situation normal

JPM loses his left end plate passing for the lead

167

Munoz under investigation for jumping the restart

Helio nearly takes himself and Power out while passing. Calm boys, still a ways to go

216 last lap speed. Slightly faster yet

170

Goodness. Power and Helio hip checking each other. Helio salutes Power. The hate at Team Penske is palpable. How in the world is JPM the most restrained guy at the team?

174

Booth calling for a penalty on Power. Fooey

Aaaand Race Control calls for a black flag. Understandable.

Cindric: “Keep your head on straight” Well, it’s Power and I wanted so bad to not drag Power through the mud. He just can’t help himself or even get out of his own way

178

Newgarden could win this thing. Can we go the rest of the way caution free? I hope so

Very interesting exchange between TK and the box. Sounds like the strategy may be shot without some more yellow

183

The pace is undoubtedly picking up

Leaders starting to look at pit road

187

“As hard as you can go” Music to my ears

This should come down to JPM and HCN

188

Scott Dixon gets his first mention on the broadcast while sitting in P6

I must say, 21 cars is a weak field

191

Why is the director following Newgarden when the race is a few places back? This is not what we want or need to see

193

Still on JN… finally pits

And now we are focused on TK… who has to pit as well. Come on Mr. Director

195

We finally move to JPM

197

TK in

Looks like JPM doesn’t have any challengers. Cautiously optimistic. Butterflies in the stomach abound

200

JPM wins!!!

We all knew it wouldn’t be very long at all before he found himself in P1 after the checkers

14 years since his last victory and he’s got a hell of a smile on his face. Man, I love JPM… I’m a total and complete JPM fanboy… Fantastically awesome result.

Love how Power was nearly silent after he finally saw the replay. Classic action right there. Power said he was moving moving moving to the inside. Well Power, were you going to run him into the inside wall? You have to say when eventually.

With that, I’m out. Thanks for reading!

Eric Hal

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Unfiltered Race notes: Houston Race 2 2014

Welcome to the always off-the-cuff unfiltered race notes for race two of the Grand Prix of Houston. This is just my internal monologue that runs throughout the race. Sit back and enjoy!

–Prerace–

Hot Hot Hot today.

IMSP package of race one thank you very much

Yes, in hindsight… race one was as nutty as you could have asked for

Huertas, dude, turn it on just a smidge my man

Munoz? Smile and nod…

Power is surprisingly focused. He’ll definitely be worth watching today. Sounds defeated about qualies. “Just didn’t get it done”

11 of 23 cars sustained damage

And another wonky grid. But this is becoming the norm here; it’s just so damn competitive

Rahal package. He did have a good day, but man… come on

Eff professionalism… Unleash the beast TK. But he says he wants to be a good example for his daughter and other kids watching. That’s admirable

Midgets in the astrodome… excellent

Miller with Foyt. Feels like NBCSN has stepped the prerace game up after the ABC portion of the schedule. I usually find myself skipping most of it

SATO!!!

Marco penalty… well get to that later in the week…

I’m sure Dallara brings extra extra parts for double headers, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it was three times the usual amount for Houston

–Race–

Grandstands look good

THE RUSSIAN on the front row with HC; this should be good

Clean start and Pags up to P2

For as hard as these guys are fighting, this is pretty clean

Conway pits for a wing. Almost not surprising

3

Huertas off with mechanical issues?

Newgarden in early on strategy

Sato loses 4 positions in 2  corners. Penalized for shortcutting the chicane but only had to give one back. Woops

8

RHR driving like a madman

9

Settled in for a lock step afternoon? 147 mile race… we could be in for a fuel strategy afternoon if people behave all day

Rahal has been on it this weekend. Is Filippi helping with the setups?

Matchett overestimating the gap between the reds and blacks

16

Just realized Helio is leading the sponsors home race. That’s pretty cool. The car looks sweet in the Penzzoil branded corners

Stretched at the front for sure. Helio may be the man to beat.

First of the 3 stoppers coming in? Jan says they need caution, I would like to think they’re doing it so they can run hard

They keep talking up the Wilson/ Bourdais thing, I don’t really see the rivalry there yet. They have raced each other for years

19

Power about to latch onto the chasing group. Great day for the guy… so far

22

Tires are going off. Guys up front are definitely not driving as hard

Wide wide spread of strategies. I think the guys 2 stopping out front will come up aces

24

Brake problems for Dixon. Kind of early in the race?

29

Wow… Rahal clearly driving in his mirrors. I don’t know how he couldn’t get a blocking penalty

Aleshin still fighting hard with the wing damage, yet Rahal is dropping back. Debris all over the back straight

32

Leaders in. This is the right call for today

Gear box issues for Graham. Instant Karma

Leaders return to the race in the lead

33

Clearly no action from the booth for Rahal, but I would still like to know what they think of the contact

36

Contact between HCN and Pags. Helio was luck, you can see the where the wing hit the tread of the tire after the hit

Lead pack with Power joining the party

After starting 18th, if Power can keep at least a podium and win the championship, this will be the drive that started the push. This is the kind of day that wins you championships

38

Guys pushing hard up front

Master cylinder issue for Dixon

40

All’s quiet. Lead 3 have some space between them and the rest of the field is slightly strung out

42

FCY

Munoz smacks the wall. The three stoppers should all be coming in

Cindric calls this yellow “neutral”. Agreed; couldn’t have been at a non helpful/hurtful time for the two stoppers

The drivers are looking tired. Hands out of the cockpit and you can see it in their eyes

48

Green

Bourdais around Power… *That’s* what I’m talking about

Pags around HC

HC wrecks himself out defending against Bourdais

FCY

What a doofus

Shaping up to be a JPM/Power/Pagenaud

Pit box plugged into Hinch’s car. Very curious

Bourdais will stay out. Damn right

55

Green

JPM around Power

Shouldn’t be too long before Bourdais falls to him as well

Pags is driving into the distance

57

Andretti makes the move of the race

Bourdais must give position to JPM. Good call

After losing positions hand over fist, it looks like Power has finally stabilized

–Montoya didn’t push Huertas because he thought he would pit

61

JMP first to blink. Should be good to go

Now that we know we can make it, I’m surprised we haven’t seen Bourdais in yet. Although it is always smart to stretch and hope to be able to make a nose change under caution. He’s not doing too bad of a job hanging on

And as I say that, Newgarden into the wall

No wing for Bourdais. No yellow for Newgarden yet

63

Now the FCY flies once mist of the runners have made stops

Lots of sparks out of the RF for Newgarden. Sounds like no nut on the tire

66

Green

FCY

It’s crazy out there. Andretti pushes Wilson into the tires. I guess we will see how heavy INDYCAR’s hand actually is

HCN blaming Bourdais for the contact. I’m not sure I buy that one Mr. Castroneves

72

Green

JPM immediately around Andretti. Again, nuts on these restarts.

Montoya pushing Hawks around. Very yes

JPM’s insistence got the best of him. Opened the inside and Kimball was there.

Sato into the wall

75

FCY

PT: “Frantic Racing”… understatement my friend

Aleshin good on fuel. Pags has a wingman

I think I can see the steam coming from under JPM’s helmet

80

Green

SPM guys up front look like cool cats all while the sharks are writhing farther back

82

Hawks is doing a KILLER job holding Montoya off

Bourdais stabilized to P8. Strong recovery all things considered

84

Pags and Aleshin are approximately a mile ahead

Field has fallen into rhythm, gaps have normalized

Bourdais around JPM. Those reds just can’t go the distance

88

Power with a broken right rear

Pagenaud has this in the bag

Filippe into the tires on the white flag lap. Fitting end to a really nutty weekend,

Checkers

Not sure what to say about that. A tale of two races. Stretched out front yet absolutely out of control farther back. If just one or two cars really hit the setup, everyone else can only play amongst themselves. Pagenaud becomes a four time winner. Awesome result for THE RUSSIAN, who raced the last few laps with a flat tire, and SPM all together.

Aleshin: no English words for how I feel

Hawks did a hell of a job bullying those veterans around all afternoon. Atta boy

Two days of interviews? I’m out. Not a bad race and a great weekend of action on the whole. Ill see you later in the week with a bit of a rant. Prepare yourselves.

Thanks for hanging around all weekend and reading!

Eric Hal

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