Random Thoughts On The GP Of Indianapolis

Although I have yet to watch the TV broadcast of Saturday’s Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis, I’ve read the comments here and have spoken with others who did watch it on television. Unfortunately, my suspicions were true that the first two-thirds of the race looked just as boring to viewers at home as it did to those of us in the stands. The problem was, those at home weren’t able to at least enjoy the fact that they were at the track – even though they were going the wrong way.

I know I’ll be labeled a curmudgeon for saying this – but after two years of watching this race from the Tower Terrace, behind Pit Row just north of the Pagoda – I am still not used to watching the cars go the “wrong” way down the main straightaway. We watched qualifying from the temporary stands in Turn Seven and that seemed natural. But it’s going to take a lot of time to erase fifty years of watching cars go from north to south down the front straightaway.

Some will ask why I keep sitting there. Well, for several reasons – but the main one is of convenience and I feel more connected there. While watching qualifying, I was not seeing what the PA announcers were describing. I was at the opposite end of the course. Plus there was a video board directly across the track from me that not only showed video, but kept us abreast of time intervals.

The difference in speed is very noticeable too. It should be. For the “500” I think cars can hit close to 240 mph sometimes down the straightaways. The highest trap speed recorded during Friday’s qualifying was Helio Castroneves when he hit 188. That’s more than 50 mph difference. It is very noticeable.

Fortunately, Graham Rahal made things interesting at the end, at least for those of us in the stands. I don’t know, but I’m sure that ABC capitalized on that angle to keep viewers interested…or awake. In the end, however, it was Will Power completing what he started. It’s not his job to manufacture drama or to make things interesting. It’s his job to destroy the competition and that’s what he did on Saturday. Now he turns his attention to the “500”. Those in the know say Power is totally focused on the “500”, now that he has finally won a championship. That could be a scary thought for his competitors.

Fun & Relaxing Weekend: Aside from the fact that the race was not riveting, there was a lot about this weekend to like. I’m being genuine when I say this and not snarky in the least – if you don’t care for large crowds, the Grand Prix weekend is for you. I’ve heard so many people say they stay away from the “500” because they don’t like crowds. This would be a good alternative.

As I’ve been saying for the last few days, you are doing the Grand Prix a disservice if you compare it to the “500” – sort of like not liking it because the cars run the wrong way. Um…yeah. Let it stand on its own merit and take advantage of the things that are different. One difference is that you don’t need to get up at the crack of dawn to get to the track on time.

Susan and I left our hotel around 8:30 am. We went and had a nice leisurely breakfast at Charlie Brown’s in Speedway (without even waiting in line) and were inside the track around 9:30. By the way, if you’ve never been to Charlie Brown’s Pancake and Steak House in Speedway – do yourself a favor and go. Not only is the food good, but it’s worth double the price of your meal just to see all of the IndyCar memorabilia in there. Plus, during the Month of May – you are quite likely to walk in and see AJ Foyt and friends having a cup of coffee at the front counter.

When we arrived at the track at that hour, we got a primo parking space and found ourselves in the middle of everything in no time. There was activity everywhere, but no crowds. You were free to mill about without feeling like you were being herded or someone might be out to pick your pocket. We were able to walk at a brisk pace wherever we wanted to go. At no time did we ever feel rushed to get anywhere. That won’t be the case in two weeks.

Susan did not go to the Grand Prix last year because she had to work. I came alone. She really had no idea what to expect. By Friday afternoon, she kept saying how weird the whole place felt. It wasn’t like practice, qualifying or Race Day for the “500”. Twenty-four hours later, she said she really liked the slow relaxing pace that the weekend had. It was nice to be able to have the freedom to do a lot of things inside the track without the crowds. She was right. Right now, we are planning on returning for the Grand Prix next year for another low-key weekend at the track.

Rahal & The Rest: After five races, I have been very impressed with what Graham Rahal has done this season. Not only has he been running up front and contesting for wins on a consistent basis, he has kept Honda from becoming a laughing stock this season.

My question is…where is everyone else? Francesco Dracone and Gabby Chaves are not the only other drivers with Hondas. There are some excellent teams and drivers including James Hinchcliffe and defending Indianapolis 500 winner and former IndyCar champion Ryan Hunter-Reay; along with Hunter-Reay’s team – Andretti Autosport.

Has Graham Rahal and his team suddenly become that much better than Hunter-Reay and Andretti Autosport? What have they figured out that no other Honda team hasn’t? Granted, Graham Rahal’s interview on Trackside in the pre-season revealed a much more mature sounding Rahal than we had been hearing – but is his performance strictly attitude? The last time I heard him interviewed, James Hinchcliffe had a pretty good attitude. Yet his Honda has been mired back in the pack with the rest of the Honda teams.

I have to think that it’s a combination of a refocused Graham Rahal, along with something that the revamped engineering staff at Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing has figured out that no one else has. I’m sure the Honda folks at HPD would like to know what it is and share it with their other teams. But good for Rahal’s team for figuring it out first and having a driver who can execute it on-track. Let the other teams figure it out like they did.

Tenderloin Quest: If you listen to the nightly editions of Trackside in May, you may have heard IMS President Doug Boles discussing the concession situation at the track, last week. The new and disgusting tenderloin is available agin this year at the main concession stand behind the Pagoda. I had one when we were there for the open test for two reasons. First of all, it was the only stand open. Second – I thought I would be open-minded and give it another try. If anything, it was worse than the one I had last year. The good news was that Boles revealed that the “classic” jumbo tenderloins that had been sold for years, would be available at all of the other stands.

Unfortunately, there weren’t that many stands open since many of the main stands along the front straightaway were closed for the Grand Prix. Saturday morning, I lugged Susan all the way from the Pagoda Plaza all the way down to Stand J, outside Turn Four. There I found a stand and they had it – the original tenderloin in all of its perfectly seasoned crispness. All was right with the world. So, if you’re at IMS for the next couple of weeks and the urge for a good tenderloin hits you; don’t fall for the inadequate $9.00 version behind the Pagoda. Go for the real thing at any other stand for only $7.00. Two dollars cheaper and it tastes much better – what a deal! There will be more on tenderloins as the month progresses.

Helio’s Start: I will temper this by reminding you that I have not seen the broadcast and have still not seen many replays of the Turn One melee at the start of Saturday’s race. But from reading comments here and on social media, it sounds as if there is no question who caused it – Helio Castroneves. While he apparently ruined the day for drivers like Scott Dixon, Josef Newgarden and Jack Hawksworth, Helio came away with a sixth place finish.

When races are run on Sunday, penalties are usually handed down by Wednesday. Given where we are on the calendar, if there is a penalty headed Helio’s way – it’ll probably come sooner than later. Helio fans say it was a racing incident that warrants no punishment. Fans of the affected drivers say he should be suspended, if not tar and feathered. When the dust settles, I expect something somewhere in the middle. I suspect Helio will be heavily fined and put on probation for a few races. I’ll be surprised if points are deducted, but I’ve been wrong before on such things.

All in All: Overall, I thought it was a very enjoyable weekend – but I’m admittedly biased. Over the past fifty years, I never recall having a bad time at IMS or even being bored. If I’m inside the gates of the historic oval, I’m a happy man.

Again, I can’t speak to whether or not the TV broadcast was entertaining; but I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend. I would easily recommend people go and attend this race personally before writing it off as a bad idea. Personally, I like it and look forward to watching it grow over the next few years.

But now that it’s over, everyone can completely focus on the next couple of weeks and getting ready for the 99th Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Extended Sympathies: On a personal note, Susan and I would like to extend our sympathy to Andy Loviscek and his wife Retha, who suddenly lost her father unexpectedly on Sunday.

Many of you know Andy. He is the Groundskeeping Supervisor at IMS. We’ve known Andy for a few years and got to meet Retha on Race Day of the 2013 race. They are both some of the nicest people you will ever meet. We visited with Andy just his past Saturday and were shocked to learn what had happened after we got back home yesterday. Please keep Andy, Retha and their family in your thoughts and prayers during this time.

George Phillips

34 Responses to “Random Thoughts On The GP Of Indianapolis”

  1. Brian McKay Says:

    Thanks for blogging about the low-key race at IMS. It does sound like an event that I’d enjoy if it’s not a crash-fest. Glad you returned safely to home. ow go back to work (and day-dream about a proper tenderloin sandwich).

  2. Ron Ford Says:

    If there is one comment that makes me crazy to read after a race it is that “It was boring to watch on TV”. Whine, whine. Sheesh. All races cannot be nail-biters. Most are not. Same with baseball, football, hockey, etc. Do we really need to have Hollywood produce the races? Unrealistic expectations in my opinion. If you are at a track there are generally enough things to do to keep one entertained, particularly if you have a pit pass.

    Preemptive strike.

    IMHO HCN should have been penalized during the race. At the very least Scott Dixon should get to mess up Helio’s hair. As good as Will Power was, I don’t think he could have run away and hid from Dixon. I don’t know what to think about Rahal’s resurgence, in a Honda no less, but he has been fun to watch.

    • As Indycar fans I think we might be judgmental about each and every race because we want the series to improve–financially, in attendance and in TV ratings. For a series that is struggling to stay relevant, we want each and every race to be amazing. The struggle for relevance (and ratings) is something the “stick and ball” sports don’t need to worry about nearly as much.

      • Ron Ford Says:

        I agree with you to some extent. I just think it is unrealistic to expect every race to be “exciting” on TV as some folks do. To get to that point would involve an ever increasing amount of gimmicks.

  3. I had really high expectations for the Indy GP once I heard about the track modifications, but two years in and the Indy GP has been less exciting than Barber or Houston. The track modifications have done great things for the MotoGP race. Indycar, however, has seen fuel saving the first year and no passing for the lead the second. I don’t know what the problem with the track is, but two sub par races in a row makes it feel like there’s something there that’s not producing good racing. The cars would be going a lot faster if they used the oval turn like Formula One did. Personally I would enjoy that but I suspect that it wouldn’t be considered “safe.”

    ABC’s coverage was ok last year. This race was a regression to the bad days of 2009/10. Kind of like the entire season….

    • Part of the issue are the aero kits as, it is difficult to get close to the car in front to make a pass from what I have heard. These new aero kits do not punch such a huge hole in the air like the Dallara kits did. Moto GP uses a different (older)version of the road course than the IndyCars do plus they go in the opposite direction. Not every race is going to be “exciting”. At least it is not manufactured like in some other series. I think it is an interesting race, with the inherent blazing pace, considering the cars are extremely trimmed out for a road course. Watching them go from 185 to 60 mph in about a second into turn 1 isn’t interesting? Barber has not always been “exciting” either. I also think you are not giving Will Power enough credit for how good he is either. He drove flawlessly and was close to impossible to catch yesterday.

    • sejarzo Says:

      Not sure they would be going a lot faster, as I have heard that the cars reach terminal velocity before the braking point for T1. The r/c kit drag is very high, even with the increased hp allowed for twisties.

    • There were no passes for the lead because the fastest car was out front all day. If nobody behind the leader is faster than the leader, then nobody will pass the leader unless the leader makes a mistake (which Power never did). This is how the concept of “faster” and “slower” works.

      • I get how that works. However for myself and i am sure many others that did not make for a particularly enjoyable event. If you basically know who’s going to win after qualifying what’s the point in watching? I know some people enjoy watching dominance or fpr strategy vut you’ll have to forgive me for wanting action over that. I do not think that’s too much to ask for, nor do i think more that expecting more than one good race for every five races is asking for too much.

        • I’m not sure you do get how that works, if you’re going to insist on on-track lead changes in every race you watch. Would you care to make some proposals on how to prevent a guy qualifying on pole, then running a flawless race and winning semi-easily? This is something that can happen in ANY motor race, from go karts to quarter midgets to late models to USF2000 to Tudor United Sports Car to Pirelli World Challenge to F1. It’s unfortunate, but as folks like to say, “that’s racin'”.

          Meanwhile, there were plenty of positions changing hands. However, yet again, ABC proved that they’re only tangentially interested in seeking those out and showing them on screen. Too bad for us.

          • Well there are lots of things that could be done. Not all of them would be good ideas (Inverting field, or inverting Top 8 GP2/WTCC style), but I think more Indycar races end up being boring than is acceptable. Indycar can produce great racing, but in between are a lot of parades with the occasional disaster thrown in for good measure. DRS might help Indycar. It won’t happen because of purity/cost/safety reasons, but at St Pete and the Indy GP I could see that having an impact. At some tracks (Sonoma, Long Beach) I’m not sure where a DRS zone would work. With the pole to win domination issue what would have the most impact is anything that would make qualifying setup and race setup different. IE: in NASCAR (or Indycar oval races) there is often a big difference between what makes a car good in qualifying to what makes it good in the race. The last Indycar race at Barber had that on display. I don’t have a perfect answer, other than to say whether this makes me a good race fan or not, or is reasonable, I am looking for something more exciting than what we’ve seen at four out of five races this year in Indycar. That’s how it is, and I do not think I’m the only one who’s been underwhelmed, either.

          • You’re missing something with DRS, though: it’s a way for a potentially faster car that’s trailing a slower car to get close enough to complete a pass. Again, it requires a faster car to be behind a slower car. If the faster car is in front of the slower car, then the faster car is going to pull away from the slower car and the presence of DRS won’t make a lick of difference. DRS would have made no difference to Saturday’s race, as to my recollection, nobody ever got within 1.0 seconds of Power at the front.

  4. I would suggest after being there as you were and as I was on Saturday to make sure make the usual adjustment and lower your expectations before you watch the ABC broadcast. Honestly I watched it Sunday morning after a long drive home from Indy Saturday night with a 7 year old and a 3 year old. I completely forgot it was on ABC even though I set it up on the DVR. Knowing that; I watched the first 20 laps, then stepped away for a while to go work on my truck. After adjusting my attitude and expectations I returned and watched the rest of the race Sunday evening and it was entertaining. The key here is to remember you are going to be listening to Eddie Cheever and Scott Goodyear carry on for 2 hours. Allan Bestwick is fine, he reminds me of NASCAR a little too much. Cheever and Goodyear just scream IRL days to me, plus, its just something about those two together I just can’t figure out. There are just too many worn out cliches repeated between the two that gets tiresome to me. That is the part that I have to mentally prepare myself for, if you know what I mean.

    We sat in turns 5-6 (the fast chicane) and had fun. We wanted to sit in the stands by turn 1 since there is heavy braking there and lots of passing but we would have had to buy 2 more adult tickets for the kids. I still do not understand, with all the real estate at IMS, why not let kids sit in the stands? Is it because of the disruption for people that have paid $60, $70, $80 for seats? If that is the reason, I understand. I guess being immersed with kids all the time, I know how they can be. So we settled for the mounds. There was a really small t.v monitor across the track but I have to admit I would have been pretty lost with out the Verizon app on my phone. It was nice to have. I have AT&T but the leaderboard worked fine on my phone until the battery died 10 laps before the en of the race.

    We did walk the track after the race and that was really enjoyable. It’s amazing how much rubber builds up on the track. You can feel it under your feet every time you step. Its almost as if there is glue on your shoes. Its like a sheen over the asphalt; true confirmation of what the drivers talk about when the track “rubbers up”. We found some carbon fiber souvenirs and lots of pieces of rubber off line as well. What was also noticeable is how hard these guys are having to drive throughout the day. They are driving 120% the entire race with no letting up and Will Power confirmed after his win. Had Will Power made a mistake towards the end ,Graham Rahal may have had a chance to pounce on him.

  5. I attended the race Saturday. The crowd was good but clearly down from last year. My guess is the crowd was about 70% of last year at best. They did make you pay this year to park in the infield this year which resulted in a pretty empty infield parking area as most people appeared to not want to pay the $25 extra.

    I had some high hopes for the new configuration, which on paper looked pretty good. However, the race was a boring parade. I never thought Rahal got anywhere close to Power to make that interesting. I sat in turn 5 for the first half of the race and then moved to the start finish line area for the remainder.

    My biggest complaint was the small video boards. They were hard to read. Also, you had to have internet access to know what lap it was until the very end when they began showing it on the screens. The traditional big board in turn 3-4 of the Oval did not work on this day and until near the end they weren’t showing laps on the too small video boards. You also struggled to see on the boards just what the positions were, as they were so small. Even my kids had trouble, meaning it wasn’t just my old eyes. Also in the infield, the black paint George mentioned did not make it to the restrooms out there. The usual graphic graffiti was there for the kids to see.

    I think it’s fun to watch the cars drive and pit in the “wrong direction” and if you just want to enjoy the speedway and see the cars, it’s worth attending. I am one of those people who hate the crowd of the 500. So if your expectations for an exciting race are low, it is a nice afternoon.

    I have attended the first two races but not sure that I am going to go back. Because the 100th running of the 500 is next year, I’ll be buying tickets for that in June and will attend the 500 rather than the Grand Prix next year.

    Getting to walk that track was fun. Actually seeing the marbles on the track (a few of which I kept) made real something I had known about but never actually seen or held before. And I had the opportunity to kiss the actual Yard Of Bricks in the track (not the extension by the building) was a highlight.

    I feel for anyone who had to watch this on television. The track experience is one thing. Racing like what we had Saturday is another.

  6. ABC announcers are awful. Race might’ve been more entertaining if not for Helio’s behavior in the first turn. IMS looks good, really like the changes, keep them coming.

  7. DZ-groundedeffects Says:

    Made a raceday morning call to drive 3 hrs to catch the end of the Lights race and the GP of Indy. I’m glad I did. Got seats on the front straight under roof and was quite happy. I enjoy the race for what it is (read: my expectations are much lower then the 500) and have been satisfied both years.

    My primary takeaway is this: I’ve followed this sport and drivers for decades and I always appreciate the fact that I believe the drivers of today, top to bottom, all are racing as hard as they possibly can to produce the best result for their team and sponsors. I appreciate that. Unlike several other sports where each game just doesn’t seem to matter nearly as much, I like seeing a good battle, be it for 1st, 10th, or 20th. I saw that through the field on Saturday and enjoyed it.

    In this sport nothing beats the Indy 500 for me, thankfully, so everything else can be merely enjoyed for what it is – another opportunity to see drivers doing everything within their power to improve their station.

    I like that.

    PS Dear Indycar, when the TV package comes up for bid, please take require the winner takes the whole season (no cherry picking), puts a minimum of 5 events on network TV, and limit the contract to two years.

    PPS: Oh, and even if ABC/ESPN is a higher bid. Please reject it and go with NBC/NBCSN. Let’s reward the enthusiastic TV partner rather than the complacent/apathetic one.

    • SkipinSC Says:

      DZ, I will take issue with one thing you state: I have seen far more promotional spots for IndyCar on ABC/ESPN for than I have on NBCSN. And, truth be told, because I am a hockey fan, I am tuned to NBCSN (for playoffs) more than ESPN. Further, as NBC gets deeper into NASCAR, I suspect this will only get worse.

      That being said, I agree that the next contract should be all-inclusive with ONE group, and should NOT exceed three years. (I don’t think you’ll get either one on a two year deal.) If they want the 500, then they’ll have to swallow the rest of the series. Considering the amount of money that ABC spends annually on the 500, I don’t think that’s too great an ask.

      As for the announcers, while I admit that Allen Bestwick is a major improvement over Marty Reid, I suspect that the whole process would be better with a more recent vintage driver/analyst than either Goodyear or Cheever. While I know Townsend Bell has other racing commitments, he has the sort of personality that I would want backing up “the pro” (Bestwick,) and Paul Tracy or Dario Franchitti in a full time role could really spice up the broadcast.

  8. Phil Kaiser Says:

    Hey gang, I just posted video of the first turn melee I shot on YouTube. Go to https://youtu.be/-mWa7EKiUBE if you’d like to see it, it’s a different perspective than those being shown on the highlight reel.

    PS: this is my first ever YouTube video post, so if it’s funky give me a break, lol!

    • sejarzo Says:

      No, it’s great Phil. It’s the only shot I have seen that shows how the cars that used the runoff return into T3 made it there ahead of TK and HCN–even though it appears TK passed at least 2 of them by T4 or T5.

    • Thanks Phil! Great seats too.

  9. Not edge-of-your-seat exciting, but a pretty standard road course race. The lack of penalties etc. on the Turn 1 shunt was perplexing, Graham trying to chase down Power added intrigue at the end. How he got all the way up to P2 was a bit of a mystery, or maybe ABC thought it was just NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. I will agree that having the race in IMS causes the track itself to perhaps overshadow the race. Forget about comparing it to the 500. A lot of commentary during the race was about the grand glory of the track, causing the track itself to overshadow the race. I get that the ABC guys were trying to hype up the 500, as in TUNE IN IN TWO WEEKS FOR THE BIG SHOW, but still … Kind of reminded me of all the Gorgeous Facility talk at Barber back when the races there were parades.

    • Phil Kaiser Says:

      P’dog, I swear to God when I was shooting that video of “the big one” in one Saturday I heard your Clown Music from your blogger days in my HEAD! It was fantastic!

      Damn, I miss you and your own brand of commentary!

      By the way, I believe Rahal’s guys got him out of the pits during the first round of stops quicker than Montoya, Pagenaud, etc., that’s how he got to second so quickly.

      • That is, in fact, how Graham suddenly went from 5th to 2nd in one fell swoop. However, at the time it happened, we were watching an off sequence James Jakes / James Hinchcliffe duo circulating, even though they were never going to factor in unless yellows allowed them to much, much further down the road. Inexplicably, ABC not only screwed up showing Graham doing that leapfrog routine, but they then took over a half a dozen laps and a commercial break to get around to showing a replay of one of the strategic coups of the entire season.

        I’ve got a lot of thoughts about this race (mostly about the Always Bad Coverage aspect, including how nobody uttered the word “Hildebrand” until lap 55, after he spent 50+ laps running in the top-6 in his first IndyCar road course start in 24 months, and then no mention of JR’s mechanically-induced drop from 5th to a lap down with 20 laps to go), but it’ll have to wait until I’m no longer in a doctor’s waiting room and am back in front of a computer keyboard.

  10. billytheskink Says:

    While I’ve certainly seen better races, I enjoyed this one. Maybe I’m just easy to please.

    I have two views on the Castroneves/start incident. I thought it was a product of too many cars looking to occupy too little space more so than it was a really dumb move by Helio. Though he was the clear instigator of the incident, several drivers were just as guilty as Helio for trying to fit their car into a space that simply did not have room for it. However, race control had set a precedent in the first 4 races of penalizing pretty much any instigator of contact that spins, wrecks, or significantly damages another driver’s car. Based on this precedent, Castroneves should have been penalized in race, and I was disappointed that he was not.

    ABC deserves a couple of compliments for capturing some of the passing nicely, often effectively using some great-looking in-car shots, and frequently going to that awesome angle looking down the main straight. Unfortunately, they did a pretty poor job everywhere else. Cutting to both the start and restart just as the green flag waved was bad enough, but they also frequently cut away from a contending car leaving the pits to rejoin the race, not allowing viewers to see whether said car gained or lost track position in the pits.
    The well-known fact that the ABC booth is not nearly as engaging as the NBCSN booth was as glaringly apparent as ever. Bestwick runs the show well-enough, but he does not 100% grasp what is going on in the race in regards to pit strategies or car adjustments. It is Cheever and Goodyear’s job to fill in those gaps and they just don’t do it. They actually do have some chemistry, they just don’t use any of it to explain what is happening in the race. Cheever seems to perk up when he gets to pronounce an Italian last name, and unfortunately for him Filippi, Dracone, and Andretti were all non-factors.

    • Hello was clearly behind Dixon, watch my video or Kanaan’s in-car video. He clearly did not slow down and struck Dixon from behind and was not trying to “fit his car into” a gap or space. Inexcusable on Helio’s part.

  11. S0CSeven Says:

    If you’re sitting in the sunshine watching a race cars go by how can anything be bad?

    However, the TGBB fugly non-penalized start (like all the other starts this year) makes me worry big time about the ‘500’ . Why bother with qualifying if there are no rules on the start? I know it’s rules by committee but geez. What a mess. The Indy 500…. an orchestrated single file start …….. I can see it coming.

    BTW, I sure would like to be a Rahal engineer shopping my resume around for next year. Hello, Mr. Andretti? Would you like to talk?

  12. Jim Gray Says:

    I really enjoy the GP as massive crowds get me irritate me while walking around. I also enjoy that I get to walk around my favorite place without having (I hesitate to say this) to care. Look, the 500 is a pressure packed race and hardcover fans feel the stress as well. Is your driver/team doing well, what are their speeds, what lines are they taking, who has the best info on what’s REALLY happening? Sure we want our favorites to do well in the GP but it is not Indy. I view it as another race in a great location and hope it continues for many years.

    PS. The ability to afford sitting in locations that I would otherwise miss out on is a big plus for me as well.

  13. George, it was great seeing you and Susan on race day. I agree it’s so nice to be at the speedway without big crowds. I’m one of those who has stayed away from the 500 for that very reason- that will change this month though. Im both excited and nervous to attend my first 500.
    Thanks for the information on the tenderloins. Good to know. I missed having one last weekend but look forward to one during the 500.
    I always enjoy reading your blog. I agree with most that you say and this is definitely a race that is fun to attend. Sure hope it’s around for years to come. My boys and I made the switch from attending qualifying to attending the GP and we do t regret it. We had a amazing weekend.

  14. As I threatened earlier, I had a lot of thoughts about this race as I was watching it. The main one that I had was that I thought it was a pretty darn compelling race, but I sure wish that a single person associated with the ABC broadcast (outside of maybe Allen Bestwick and Dr. Jerry Punch) could be convinced to agree with me.

    As I already vented earlier, we had J.R. Hildebrand making his first start in an IndyCar on a road course since Sao Paulo 2013 (just before his post-Indy firing from Panther, a team that hasn’t existed for 18 months itself). J.R. did his supporters proud by keeping his nose clean all day, running just off of the pace of Power/Rahal/Montoya/Bourdais/Pagenaud, and even made some on-track passes to go from about 10th (where he found himself after the first corner bumper car routine) up to about 6th (where he stayed until Pagenaud retired). His reward from ABC? Not a single mention of his name until Dr. Punch mentioned him during “through the order” on lap 55. And after that, he didn’t receive a single other mention, not even when a wheel/suspension problem (I’m not sure which) after his stop with 20-ish laps to go dropped him from 5th to a lap down. That’s a compelling story (young American trying to break back into the sport…oh, and there was something that happened to him at this here track almost 4 years ago) that got 100% ignored.

    I already touched on the Rahal situation earlier, too, which is something that ABC has been doing for years (I wrote a two-part blog post about their butchering of the Watkins Glen coverage back in 2009, when Justin Wilson beat all of the red cars). It’s beyond me how anybody could think that it’s a great idea to cut away from a guy who we’ve been following for several laps who’s just completed his pit stop and who is about to merge back into a snarling pack of traffic fighting for position, to a totally separate group of cars that we haven’t even touched on at all. Way to lose the narrative right when it’s about to get interesting.

    I’ve been screaming this for years, and it’s obvious that nobody within ABC thinks it’s a decent idea, but everybody involved with the TV coverage should absolutely be given a TiVo with a pre-loaded season pass of NBCSN’s Formula 1 coverage. You want to know how to make just about any road course race look interesting? Start with the guys who have been doing it for years. There are guys on the track who are on different pit strategies? Highlight that, and give us lots of graphics (which are pretty cheap) to show us who is doing what. There are guys on the same strategy (or not) who are on different tires (and I swear I hardly heard Bestwick/Cheever/Goodyear mention tires more than a couple times on Saturday)? Please tell us about that, and if you please, show us the differences in lap times between guys on the different tires (this technology exists, we just hardly ever get to see it). Nobody’s making any passes right this second? No sweat. Don’t just focus on the leader while saying platitudes like “he’s had a rough season, but he looks determined to right the ship this week” (which applies to just about every driver who has strapped into a race car at just about every race). Give us gaps between cars, highlight the ones that are changing (you can see this stuff on the Timing and Scoring monitors, although you can even just see it on the ticker, just like I was when watching it on DVR on Sunday), tell us why they are changing and theorize on how long it might take for a pass to get in range.

    This isn’t hard, and it sure isn’t expensive. It just takes some will and some prior thought, and a big dose of “give a crap”. Somebody please start giving a crap.

    • Oops, in my haste to hit “Post Comment” there, I forgot one or two things:

      A couple of times, we saw (OK, I saw, again, via the ticker at the top of the screen, not even anything so crazy as a Timing and Scoring monitor, like the guys in the booth are supposed to have right in front of them) gaps between cars suddenly change a lot (I’m thinking of the couple of laps just before the first round of stops, when Graham Rahal went from 5+ seconds behind Power to less than 2 seconds behind). What happened? This is where the race happens on a road course a lot of the time. This is where we need the story fleshed out. Did Graham have an amazing in-lap? Did Power miss an apex or have a slight “off”, followed by the pack behind him having to check up, which allowed Graham to close the gap? We’ll never know.

      OK, I think I’m done now.

    • May I please add that Jon Beekus did a fine job when called on, which unfortunately wasn’t much.

  15. In the green flag run that went from the restart after Helio’s rookie move to the finish of the race, Scott Dixon took 9-10 seconds off of Will Power’s lead on him. Looks like Helio May have robbed us of a great duel for the win.

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