Sunny So-Cal and indycar had another amazing weekend, punctuating a blistering start to the 2013 campaign. Takuma Sato took the checkers while the rest of the finishing order looked like something out of the twilight zone. Some will say that Dallara was the real winner because nearly every car had some sort of physical damage at some point throughout the weekend. I say, through good use of local yellows, full course cautions and laps behind the pacecar were minimized considering the track and amount of contact. The race was another stellar performance from everyone involved; we are all sounding like a broken record at this point, but I don’t think anyone is complaining.
SATOOO – The Japanese driver finally arrives in indycar with his long overdue win on Sunday. He not quieted naysayers about himself, but he also raised AJ Foyt Enterprises stock quite a bit. The car was clean and without a blemish on the nose, Sato drove a picture perfect race, and the crew was able to give him the support he needed throughout the race to finally seal the deal. With Larry Foyt and Takuma Sato helming the ship, AJFE could be headed to the top of the midfield. Where’re you at SSPM, DCR and BHA?
Clean Driving? – It’s hard to fault the drivers for the plethora of bent noses and shattered carbon fiber seen on Sunday. Sometimes on street circuits, indycar has a sort of minor league feeling with all the yellow flags that fly, but our street circuits are more akin to Monaco than anywhere else. Super tight confines and open-wheels are never a winning combination. I’m not too sure the F1 guys really could do a better job of keeping it clean at Long Beach, especially considering the poor surface indycar drivers are asked to work with at almost all street facilities.
Kimball – after the drive of his life in Barber, Charlie ends up in the tire barrier… twice. And both were cases of over cooking the corner and ending up in the tires. His first foray into the fence came after quite a spirited and clean battle with Alex Tagliani before making a rookie error. On the front row as a lapped car on the map 55 restart, Kimball proceeded to smash it into the barriers once more for good measure. Not good Mr. Kimball; Wild, self-inflicted inconsistency does not sit well with The Chipster.
The Booth – With all credit to our wonderful commentators and NBCSN, I absolutely hate it when the guys talk over pit-to-driver radio broadcasts. It’s not a new problem for the network, and it seems like the guys just don’t care. Not only can we not hear them, most of the time the booth makes no attempt to relay the missed message to the audience. Not that it would matter, because there are no accompanying graphics to denote who is actually on the radio. I love the usage of comms in the broadcast, but NBCSN needs to figure out to make it work. …(cough cough)… F1 …(cough cough)…
Championship – The 2013 campaign thus far: no Penske or Ganassi wins, Simona de Silvestro and Will Power are tied for P8, AJFE pulls out a huge win and we have had two first time winners in three races with the most recent podium containing AJFE, RLLR, and DCR. We knew this year would be competitive, but no one saw anything like this coming. Who would have thought we would be celebrating a Franchitti finish of P4 to pull him into P20 of the championship?
Ganassi Rebound – They figured something out for Long Beach. All three drivers were on it and with May looming only a few weeks away, Ganassi may be heating up at just the right time. It’s hard to say the team has been out to lunch, but it has been a dice roll regarding which car would be fast on what weekend. All three drivers were in the hunt with a fast car under them all day long. With a win or two, we could have a nice team battle brewing with AA.
Andretti Autosport – I’m sure that days like Sunday make Michael Andretti, and every other team owner in the paddock, glad there is no team championship in indycar. When Marco is your highest only finishing entrant on a street circuit, you know something went amiss during the race. Hunter-Reay drove it into the tires, Hinch put himself in a poor position and got squeezed into the wall, and Viso fell victim to the accordion effect to end his day. Not a total team failure, but there were still shades of the AA of past on Sunday.
How can a series redefine road racing every single time they hit the track? Indycar has been doing that for the past three races. It used to be that you would strap in for a snoozer with the possibility of moderate excitement always present, but usually untapped. Now it does not seem unreasonable to expect at least a “good” race every weekend with the possibility of a snoozer almost undetectable. And a great race is absolutely possible every single time the green falls. Dreams of “what could be” were realized at Long Beach this weekend. There are almost no expectations at this point in the season and quite possibly anyone is in position to steal race wins and a championship.