24 hours later I am still in shock over what I saw. I would have never imagined that a race like this could produce such a close finish with quality racing throughout the field all afternoon long. In keeping with the season long trend save for one or two minor flubs, the drivers treated everyone with respect and drove like the pros we know they are. I hate having to keep complimenting them on their driving, but it has more or less been a totally different year in terms of wrecked race cars. Action was solid throughout and we actually had a real fight for the lead from flag to flag. A respectable day for the American open wheel stable for sure. Not returning to the Edmonton runways in 2013 would be a crime and I really hope the organizers and local businesses can find a way to save the race from ruin. A win from Spidey-Helio places him squarely between Power and Hunter-Reay in the points and setting up another possible now-patented indycar points championship that isn’t decided until the last turn of the season.
Death Rattle – We learned today that Lotus may be taking its last breaths of life as the season comes to a close over the next four races. I am sure that Simona de Silvestro and her HVM Racing team are more than over joyed about the news as this grants them freedom from a possible long term contract. If this is true; it probably has a good chance of being so considering it was Marshall Pruett who wrote the story, it would make me one sad puppy. I love rooting for the underdog. It has been exciting watching SdS qualify not last on her own merit, and it would have been one of the feel-good stories entering an undoubtedly long off season. Now the team will be displaced, causing Honda and Chevy to make room on their squad before accepting any new leases. Michael Shank Racing and Scuderia Coloni should already be sweating about engine leases for 2013.
Takuma Sato – Inconsistency: one or two podium finishes broken up by massive strings of DNF’s and terrible finishes… or the indycar, no, the entire racing career of Takuma Sato. Don’t get me wrong, I have been on the record as being a huge Sato fan, but his performance is no less befuddling because of it. This year his story is finish 15th or worse, follow that up with a top ten first and a podium next only return to poor results as mysteriously as he left them. He did finish p12 in Iowa, so maybe he is finding some semblance of balance, but I think Bobby Rahal may becoming acutely aware that the Panasonic money may not be worth the repair bill that got Taku shown the door at KVRT. Although Panasonic may be his saving grace, if he doesn’t finish the season strong and error free he may be looking for a new seat. Edmonton was a good start; let’s keep up the good work.
Will Power – Aaand he played from the back foot like a champion this week. Power confuses me nearly as much as Sato, but his swings aren’t as violent. He took an engine penalty because the other contenders did as well, starts 17th and works his way into a P3 finish with no help from yellow flags. It was an amazing drive and what he has needed to do all year. But he now finds himself sitting on P3 in the championship as he was leap frogged by Helio in the standings. Yes, the points are tighter thanks to Hunter-Reay’s P7 finish but that extra guy standing in the way, another serious contender, make the job twice as hard and actually gives RHR a bit of breathing room. And 61 points out of the lead is Scott Dixon; ever lurking is the iceman and never to be counted put if he sits within striking distance.
Fuel Savings – For a race to go caution free I was more than entertained, however it still could have been better. Once again due to the race distance, we knew it was going to be a fuel saving race from the get go and the lack of cautions did nothing to help that out. I will never understand why the race distances are nearly exactly in line with a two stop fuel saving race. It wasn’t a sip on fuel, tortoise verse the turtle type of race, but I kept getting the feeling we weren’t seeing drivers push 100 percent the entire afternoon. The beauty of a caution free race is seeing who has the raw, outright speed to whoop the competition. But we were deprived of that because teams knew if you saved every stint, the race could be completed in two stops. Knowing this from the beginning was probably one of the reasons that not a single caution was seen; drivers were saving from the drop of the green flag. There are options to help amend this issue, but it’s doubtful anything would ever be done.
All In All - Seriously, what a race! We went caution free for the duration, yet the top two to five were always close enough to have you on the edge of your seat all afternoon long. The tires looked to go through noticeable changes throughout the run and push to pass was used with cold and calculating skill. Not to mention we were actually privy to the usage of said p2p during the broadcast thanks to slick new graphics from NBCSN. The booth team was absolutely on it, and the camera crews knew exactly who they should have in frame all afternoon. This this the way you produce a twistie, and the broadcast crew had help from the drivers all day long with their fast and professional driving.
Ok, that was actually very cool. Not once did I want a caution to spice things up yet we weren’t subjected to a Formula One type of runaway event. The race was balanced and there really were multiple drivers in contention throughout the day. The race left me wondering: who would get their first INDYCAR victory? Sato, Barrichello, Hinch, Pagenaud, Kimball, Newgarden and Tagliani or Bourdais, who have yet to “arrive” in the IndyCar Series; literally half of the field could win on any given week that that has been an incredible feeling throughout the 2012 campaign. We started the year with high hopes of a mixed up season only to be left with an anticlimactic first quarter of Penske domination. What followed has been nothing short of amazing; more than I could have dreamed about. Even better, there is no reason this momentum cannot carry through to the end. Dare I say I am looking forward to Mid-Ohio?