What A Great Race!

Well, that was interesting. I’m not sure how it played out on television, but it was an outstanding event to attend in person.

This was survival of the fittest. It started off with a frenetic pace, hit a lull around the halfway point, but then got wild at the end. Of the twenty-five cars that started the race, only nine were running at the end. Two of those were Andretti teammates, Marco Andretti and Ryan Hunter-Reay, who were several laps down and non-factors from the halfway point.

It came down to Will Power, Ed Carpenter and Tony Kanaan. Each had their problems throughout the race but emerged as leaders at the end. But in the last ten laps, none of them had anything for Power.

Of course, this was more than just a race. This decided the championship. For a few times, Helio Castroneves looked as if he was going to do his part to take the championship back. He was up front early, fell back and then in the last thirty-five laps, he charged to the front again. But then, he damaged his front wing and the repairs forced him to go a lap down. Soon afterwards, Scott Dixon seemed to be having his own problems as he was experiencing some over-heating issues.

This championship was won and lost at Houston. Dixon had a great weekend there and Helio’s team had a nightmare. Helio didn’t lose it – his team did. Dixon left Houston with a twenty-five point lead. Tonight, Dixon finished fifth and Helio finished sixth. Dixon finished the season winning the championship by twenty-seven points. Congratulations to Scott Dixon and Target Chip Ganassi Racing. They know how to close out the season. I didn’t hide the fact that I was pulling for Helio, but don’t forget – I did pick Dixon to win the championship before the season started.

But even though neither championship contending driver finished on the podium – at least they were there at the end, which was more than you can say about most of the field. Their presence at the end made for great drama for the championship and for the race.

And what a race it was. My perspective is probably completely different from those that watched the race on television. I never saw any of the crashes. They all occurred on the backstretch and I was out of sight of any video boards. So I saw this race the old-fashioned way – by watching the cars go by. So when I get home, I’ll probably gain a whole new perspective when I fire up the DVR.

I’ll post some additional thoughts at some time on Sunday. As I type, there have been several interviews over my shoulder. I’ll have more comments on that on Sunday.

But our unforgettable race weekend is not over. We are staying over for tomorrow night’s championship banquet at the Globe Theater at Universal Studios. I’ll have a full report on that on Sunday night. We arrive back in Nashville around 11:30 Monday night. At some point next week, I’ll also have the usual “Random Thoughts” whenever I watch the TV version of the race. Thanks for following along this weekend. Check back Sunday night for highlights from the banquet.

George Phillips

5 Responses to “What A Great Race!”

  1. It was great TV, Townsend Bell and Wally Dallenbach do a great job of analyst. Great drama, I was waiting for them to pull a whale out of those radiators.

  2. Got home from work in time to catch the last 20 laps. I have to say my limited television experience was the opposite of your live one. The stands looked sparse, there were so few cars I thought it was the Lights race. The celebrations seemed to be staged for a handful of reporters. I don’t mean to be all negative–like I say, I just saw the ending, but it all seemed sort of underwhelming. I’m hoping your observations can change my thinking, George.

  3. Helio didnt lose the championship in Houston, he lost it during the time he held the lead and failed to score podiums and wins. Dixon had his DNFs too, he just managed to win four times. Helio had just a single win. In NASCAR that is good enough, it just isn’t in IndyCar.

    BTW: Props to your Vols!

  4. Well, I’d have been happier if Helio had been able to win the championship, but we’ll have to wait until next year. However, my guy Will Power did a hell of a job. Way to go, Will.

    It was a great race to watch on TV, lots of drama, lots of action. Now comes the bad part, all those months without a race.

    Did you see what my Seminoles did to Clemson? Clemson who??

  5. It was definitely a fantastic ending to the race – both my wife and I were on the edge of our seats for the last 30 laps or so, even though the championship itself was basically sealed one Helio pitted and couldn’t win. This may be a bit blasphemous, however, but several event this year were simply too long. The drama in this race would have played out equally if it were 400 miles, but this ended up being a TV event that was about 4 or 5 hours in length, and would have overrun most people’s DVR’s on a Saturday night. For a series that struggles so mightily with TV ratings, it’s baffling that the cars don’t start moving until 40-60 minutes until after the “broadcast” begins. A 1:00pm football game kicks off at 1:05pm at the lastest. Why not schedule a “pre-race” show on NBCSN for 30 minutes or an hour for the rubes, rather than bore casual viewers into watching insider chat that will turn them off from the actual product?

    I will say that I’m a huge fan of this series ending on August 30th next year – I think that’s a huge step in the right direction. The races after Labor Day get often spaced out a month apart, and get lost in the shuffle of other sports options anyway. Good season overall.

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