Total Recall… Samadrome Edition

Sao Paulo Indy 300 was actually the Indy 225 due to the 2 hour time limit on road and street events declared to be a wet race. Sunday started promising, nice alignment and initially looking like the entire field was going to get through the first turn incident free. Ah… spoke to soon. Poor Helio gets a small nudge from Franchitti, and with the wet condition went flying into the wall blocking the outside lane and collecting Danica, Simona and TK. The drivers soldiered on in the worsening conditions, but a small lake formed on the track that, I swear, water fowl were eating out of.  After a long red flag, an attempted restart with two whole green laps containing five solo spins on the restart, and an even looonger red flag, we were told the race would be delayed and resume Monday at 1pm eastern. Cool, I thought, as I set the DVR to record 3 hours of fishing shows in anticipation of catching the race in 30 minute blocks when I got home later.

On Monday morning I clock in for work and start my usual routine of checking the tweeters and reading some racing news. During this time of waking up and trying to become semi productive for the rest of the morning, I find that race is on at 8am. Thanks Versus. A quick text to my roommate, who thankfully doesn’t leave until eight, and I had another two hours of fishing shows during the marvel that is Versus daytime programming. (Ed: you mean anytime programming.) I fired up live timing and scoring on the interweb along with the IMS radio race call.

Game on! As soon as the green flag dropped, the rain did as well. After a superb two by two alignment, everyone was off to the pits for rain tires. A very entertaining race started to play out. Some cars opted for a wet setup, some for dry, and others a compromise of the two in hopes of capitalizing on changing conditions. During the night, teams were able to work on their cars and all 26 started made the grid, though some more than a few laps down. With the declaration of this event being a wet one, a two hour time limit comes into effect. The race was restarted with about an hour and fifteen minutes left. This, along with the continual deluge of rain, really amplified the strategy and caused some teams to really roll the dice. After a crazy, pass filled race, Will Power came out on top with Graham Rahal and Ryan Briscoe in second and third, respectively.

Sebastien Bourdais – Another tough day caps off his first foray into the INDYCAR series. With, hopefully, Alex Lloyd taking the wheel of the number 29 machine, Bourdais gets to go back to France and run the 24 hours of Le Mans. I am sure this will be a well needed return to normalcy for Seabass. In his time off, I hope he can remember which team he is running for and what kind of expectations are real ones. Glad he’s back and can’t wait to see more of him.

Ryan Hunter-Reay – I dub thee… EJ Viso Lite, at least for this race. A promising showing at Long Beach that was cut short by mechanical gremlins was not enough to remind RHR that he has a full time ride and he does not have to win every week to keep it. He smashed enough back wings that he was sporting a Conway painted one by the end. Not how you keep up the good work.

EJ Viso – Hindsight tells us that keeping your nose clean during a race actually leads to positive results. Running as high as second at one point in the race, but of course EJ just can’t bring himself to have an incident free day. A purported seven blocks later, black flag, drive through penalty, and a semi-ruined day is the result. At least he loaded a working racecar back onto the plane. With only one, actually, scary incident throughout the weekend, not of his making, mission accomplished. Finally some positive momentum, and it could not have come at a better time than heading into the month of May.

Takuma Sato – What an amazing day. During the night, the KV racing train, decided to switch the green cars to a full wet setup. This really showed as Sato literally drove around Power entering the first corner and then proceeded to gap the field with amazing efficiency. Stretching fuel, Taku had to stop for a splash and go in the closing segment of the race. One more caution period would almost certainly have tied the race up for him. An 8th place finish and 24 laps lead give the whole KV organization a good start to May.

The Circuit – The repave worked well, taking six seconds off of the quickest time recorded last year. Dust seemed to be a non-issue, but it was hard to tell with the rain during race conditions. One oddity to the repave was a large bump about one car length before the turn in point at the first corner. This caused many drivers to be bounced into the runoff area on Saturday. Over the night, NZR ground the transition in preparation for Sunday’s race. It seemed to work well, and the final kink in the Sambadrome track appears to be ironed out.

May – Two weeks off until the almost month of May gets underway. Not much to say yet, other than the bottom of the full season field better be on their game the whole month. One bad wreck at the wrong time and a one off could easily bump a fully funded car from the field. The list is deep with 40+ confirmed entries and a few more unknowns still lingering in the shadows. This will be one to remember. (Ed: for the truck jump of course.)

I actually got to listen to the race, a rarity outside of practice coverage in May. Mike King is great, every pass is like a pass for the championship win in the final corner of the year. It really makes it exciting for me, I was clapping at work and had everyone looking at me like I was on fire. That’s OK, it was a great race, with a blistering 67 mph average race speed. Live timing and scoring worked well for me, only one drop out that was rectified with a quick reload. I think there were about 4500 people in the T/S screen and about 700 in the live broadcast screen. I have no idea what to compare these numbers to, just more to add. I would be interested in seeing what the daytime fishing shows ratings were and if they saw an increase of DVR action because of the delay. All in all, it was a spectacular two days of action. May here we come!!

Eric Hall

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