Random Thoughts On St. Petersburg

The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg for 2017 is now in the books. It did not go as planned. Going into the weekend, I think most people (including myself) were convinced that this would be a battle among the four Team Penske drivers. After all, they had won the last three races at St. Petersburg and four of the last five. Going into the weekend, Team Penske driver Will Power had won five of the previous six poles. Power added another one on Saturday.

With Chip Ganassi Racing moving from Chevy to Honda, the general assumption was that Penske was the only top team that had the top engine and aero kit – at least on road/street courses. Well, we all know what happens when you assume something.

If I were to have picked which team had the best shot to win yesterday’s race, Dale Coyne Racing would have been last on my list. They had a horrendous year last season. They were fielding a rookie driver and a driver who was looking at the backside of his career. On top of that, they were saddled with the Honda engine and aero kit that only won twice last season – at Indianapolis and Texas.

That shows how little I know. Sébastien Bourdais started dead-last in yesterday’s race, due to a crash in qualifying. I would have thought finishing in the Top-Ten would have been categorized as heroic. When he took the lead on Lap 37, I assumed it must be due to an off-sequence pit strategy and his lead would be short-lived. I was wrong.

Other than cycling through for pit stops, Bourdais never relinquished the lead. He led the most laps, had the fastest lap and won the race with an almost nine-second lead over fellow Frenchman Simon Pagenaud, who finished second.

Scott Dixon started alongside Power on the front row and finished a relatively quiet third. Ryan Hunter-Reay had a disastrous start after a rough morning that saw him lose his brakes during the morning warm-up and crash into the tire barrier, heavily damaging his right-front suspension. Then as the field took the green flag at the start, he was seen darting into the pits with engine problems. His team fixed the issue, got him back out without losing a lap and he ended up with a strong fourth-place finish.

In post-race interviews, Hunter-Reay credited his experience for his not giving up. He conceded that earlier in his career, a rough start like that would have caused him to throw in the towel. But he said he has learned that in the Verizon IndyCar Series, if you can stay on the lead lap – you’ve always got a shot. If he drives like that through the season, you can expect to see the DHL car at the top of the podium before too long.

Normally I would consider Hunter-Reay having the drive of the day, after turning in a performance like he did. But his drive was overshadowed by Bourdais, who took his Sonny’s BBQ car from last to first in thirty-seven laps and kept it there. It was an impressive start to the season.

TV Coverage: Overall, I thought ABC/ESPN had sort of an OK day. That is, once the race started. I know there were a lot of complaints on social media regarding so many commercials. I thought it was on par with when NBCSN does an IndyCar broadcast and with Fox’s coverage of NASCAR. So long as they show the race over to the side in the commercials, I won’t complain. That’s the age we live in.

Prior to the weekend, ESPN had bragged about their new analytics that could predict when caution periods would come. It actually worked for the second caution of the race on Lap 26, but they kept saying their model was predicting a certain caution later in the race. It never came. As they kept insisting it was coming, it became more and more annoying. I found myself hoping it would never come, just so they would shut up about it. I got half of my wish. The caution never came, but they never did shut up about it.

I’m not sure what I was hearing, but throughout the telecast I thought I was hearing the director giving commands from the production truck. I suspected that was what I was hearing, but when I heard this voice counting down from ten as they headed to a commercial – my suspicions were confirmed. How does that happen?

In their pre-race show, they had the potential to have a great segment, but they messed it up. They had Josef Newgarden with a visor cam giving a one lap tour of the track at speed. What they showed from Newgarden’s cockpit was spectacular. For some strange reason, however, they chose to cut away from the visor cam view multiple times to just show the standard shot we see all the time. It seemed they would do this just as Newgarden was headed into a turn. I would have been interested to watch his line through the turns and watch him hit the apex. Instead, they toggled back and forth between views so that you could never get a good sense of where he was on the track. I remember watching that and thinking “what a shame!". They took what could have been something very entertaining and informative, but completely screwed it up.

Except for once calling Power "Will Pagenaud", I thought Allen Bestwick did his usual good job. He’s a pro and is usually flawless. That gaffe notwithstanding, he delivered a strong performance yesterday. Scott Goodyear is usually everyone’s whipping boy, but I heard him say nothing that sounded unusual or ridiculous. He was mostly on point with his comments and I thought did an exceptional job.

Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the third man in the booth – Eddie Cheever. Cheever was on the air for less than two minutes before unleashing what many interpreted as an idiotic statement.

Paraphrasing, Cheever said that for the first time since hiring Al Unser, Jr. in 1994, Roger Penske now has an American driver that can win every race. Umm…what about Sam Hornish? Cheever’s defenders will say that he was referring to Hornish’s poor results on road/street courses. The thing is, when Penske hired Hornish in 2004, there were no road/street courses on the schedule. Cheever’s detractors (and there were several on social media yesterday) will say that Cheever was either ignorant in overlooking Hornish, or vindictive in purposely omitting him. Neither is befitting of a top broadcaster.

Cheever also added this gem just before the halfway point of the race; “By now, we know that Bourdais and Pagenaud are on different fuel strategies”. Bestwick corrected him by pointing out that they only pitted one lap apart. What was Cheever watching?

These were not Cheever’s only gaffes of the day. He seemed completely disconnected and would only occasionally offer up the tired old “catching Bourdais is one thing, passing him is another”. He also gave us the lame “Bourdais is now hearing every noise in the car, feeling every vibration and hoping nothing breaks”. Please.

Opening-Lap Crash: More times than not, it seems that this race has an opening-lap crash. The most memorable one was in 2011 – a five-car pileup in Turn One that saw Marco Andretti end up on his head. There was nothing that dramatic, but the reconfigured Turn Three saw Graham Rahal and Charlie Kimball getting caught up in a melee that also took out Carlos Muñoz.

I’m not sure where Muñoz got involved, but from the safety of my couch – it sure looked like Charlie Kimball tried to go where there was no room between Rahal and the concrete barrier to his right. Both drivers had their day ruined. Rahal finished seventeenth, Kimball eighteenth. Out of the car, Kimball seems quiet and mild-mannered. But we are starting to see a pattern with him putting his race and the race of his competitors at risk. Successful drivers must take the occasional risk, but the risk needs to be attainable. Kimball is starting to rack up a lot of these no-win situations that end up taking more than himself out of races.

Honda’s Resurgence: Heading into the weekend, I was convinced that we were looking at a repeat of the 2016 season. Honda would not even offer a challenge to Chevrolet on the road/street courses, but would be strong on the super speedways.

After the first practice, only two Chevys were in the Top-Ten, with the fastest being fifth quick. I wrote it off as the Chevy teams having a different objective in the first practice than the Honda teams. The second practice showed an improvement by the Chevy teams. Will Power was second quick behind Dixon, and four of the Top-Ten were Chevys. I suspected that by the Saturday morning practice, normalcy would be restored and Honda’s brief visit at the top of the charts would be over.

I was wrong. Honda paced the field with the six fastest cars, while Chevy had only two cars in the Top-Ten. By then it dawned on me that the Chevy teams weren’t sandbagging and that Honda’s newfound strength was actually real. Chevy did find its way onto the pole and placed two cars in the Firestone Fast Six, but eight of the Top-Ten cars on the grid were Honda-powered.

Honda won the race and placed four of the Top-Five in the final race results. They also had nine of the Top-Twelve cars. Honda won this race for the first time since 2011, when they were the sole engine supplier to the series.

It may be too soon to say that Honda is completely back. We’ll know more in four weeks at the Toyota Grand Prix at Long Beach. But Honda and HPD have obviously done their homework on the engine, since the aero kit has been frozen from last season. They probably feel better than they have since Chevy returned to the series in 2012. Quite frankly, it’s a refreshing change.

Coyne’s Resurgence: Last season, Dale Coyne had one of his more forgettable seasons. In the regular season, he ran rookie Conor Daly in one car and a revolving door of drivers in the other. Daly finished eighteenth out of twenty drivers that started every race (not counting Will Power, who missed the first race and still finished second). At the Indianapolis 500, Coyne ran four cars. Pippa Mann had the most experience in the “500” than any of his other drivers. Her eighteenth-place finish was also the highest “500” finish of any of the Coyne drivers last year.

Reuniting with Sébastien Bourdais and bringing rookie driver Ed Jones onboard gave me little reason to think that this season would be much better. Starting positions in yesterday’s race of twenty-first and eighteenth respectively did nothing to tell me this was a team that would turn things around.

But Bourdais was fast in every practice, despite the fact he crashed early in qualifying. Ed Jones was very solid in his debut, scoring a Top-Ten finish and ending up on the lead lap. Most importantly, he kept his nose clean. When you don’t hear a rookie’s name mentioned in his debut race – that’s a good thing.

Like Honda, there is no guarantee that this is a sign of things to come for Coyne. But yesterday sure made them smile more than finishing thirteenth and twentieth, like they did in last year’s opener. For one thing – for the first time in history, a Dale Coyne driver is leading in the IndyCar championship. That helps ease the frustration this team has endured over the decades.

Four-Week Break: After one race, we now enter a four-week break with no IndyCar racing before the series returns at Long Beach on April 9. I’ve seen where some are complaining about that, but I actually like it. We have a lot to chew on for the next few weeks. Dale Coyne and Sébastien Bourdais can sit at the top of the standings for almost a month now. And in April, we’ll know that we still have sixteen more races in our future. Once things start back, it’ll be pretty much non-stop racing for a while, except for Easter and Mother’s Day.

All in all: The 2017 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg was not the most thrilling race I’ve seen. There was no last-minute pass for the lead. But then again, this race rarely produces great theater like that. Instead, it serves as a good way to stick our feet back in the water after several months of no racing at all.

As our friend Ron Ford likes to say…there were shiny race cars on track going fast. Who can complain about that? I know I can’t. It was good to see the Verizon IndyCar Series back on my television. It was also good to see Sébastien Bourdais, Dale Coyne Racing and Honda all start the season with a win. This is suddenly looking like it could be a very interesting season.

George Phillips

51 Responses to “Random Thoughts On St. Petersburg”

  1. I mentioned it on Twitter yesterday too: Always Bad Coverage’s team, with their propensity to run their yaps without saying anything meaningful, waited until there were less then 20 laps to go in the race before telling viewers “Oh, by the way, Push to Pass has completely changed for this season.”

    They then went on to give a mostly quarter-assed (not even half-assed) description of the change as the race wold down. Now granted, all of us here that read Oilpressure know about the change, but not the casual viewer. They had Jan Beekus! He cold have done a very good segment or explanation of that and the other changes made ink the offseason.

    For the love of Jesus, let NBC get a 100% contract next year!

  2. I was hooking up some things on my TV so I missed little bits of the race when I was flipping on things and such. The race was decent but not great, the Cheever one-liners are so tired… One thing I was confused on was Will Power, it seemed like they just said he was off the pace and that was it, maybe I missed it….

    • billytheskink Says:

      Power needed a good bit of yellow to finish on the standard 3 stops because he was forced to make his first stop so early due to a tire going down. When no cautions came late in the race, he was told to dial way back and save fuel to get to the end.

      It was a bafflingly foolish decision from any pit stand, much less a Penske one. Power became a rolling chicane and was correctly black-flagged. The call never had a prayer of working anyways, before the black flag he lost nearly as much track position as he would have had he pitted for a splash of fuel, with the prospect of only falling further.

      Power may well have had another issue that the ABC guys failed to mention, which would not surprise me, but the fuel saving bit was what was mentioned on the broadcast.

      • I was going nuts when Dixon blew by an obviously limping Power, and all the ABC guys offered up was “there’s Dixon in the #9 and Power in the #12…” Obviously something else was amiss with Power, as just bringing him in would have lost maybe 30 seconds, but he lost a full lap going at a reduced pace…then finally DNF’ing and winding up 19th on the day. Something else happened with Power, other than fuel consumption, but we never got to hear about it at all. Weird, given that he was running in a podium spot when it all went downhill for him.

        • billytheskink Says:

          Team Penske’s official race recap claims engine issues slowed Power, which makes a lot more sense than the absurdly futile fuel strategy that ABC reported.

          Nevertheless, I noticed that Power did pass up an opportunity to pit after running at greatly reduced speed for a good half lap. I’m sure they were trying diagnose and fix the issue in car if possible, but that was an unwise decision. He was running dangerously slow out there, and much of the St. Pete doesn’t offer space for a dangerously slow car to duck out of the way.

          • elmondohummus Says:

            I thought engine problems had to be the case. The fake comedic Will Power Twitter account joked (I think) about having no boost, but I was watching the race saying to myself “I wonder if he lost a turbo or something”. Because man, he completely slowed down. And that’s simply not normal for Power. Nor could I imagine any pit strategist slowing a driver down **that** much.

  3. As an aside George, you mentioned the numerous ad breaks. Over here in the UK we don’t get any during the actual race at all [unless there is an obvious period of downtime after a spill etc]. When you guys go to ads the main feed continues and our local commentators fill in while we wait for the US to return.

  4. Charlie Kimball, is a hazard and a menace.
    ABC must GO…!!!

  5. Well my complaint about ABC is showing the leader while there is a chain of cars running together which are racing hard.
    Lastly Scott Dixon’s whining about the yellow is getting old. This was not the first time for him complaining about yellows. I am sure he expected more however, he has benefited from yellows in the past, as they tend to even out over the season.
    Decent race with a popular win, Bourdais and more so for DCR. After all, it’s March Madness, and we all cheat for the underdog don’t we?

    • Well Dixon complaining or not, I hate that an unneeded yellow caused the whole field to invert, which I felt was unnecessary and that too for an invisible debris. A guy like Hinchcliffe was having a great race and that yellow ruined it. The other thing is, its okay for them to throw those yellows, but atleast keep the pits open, that way the leaders will pit on their first pass through pits and could still come out ahead of the backmarkers if the gap was big enough. The current state of closed pits is what causes the field to invert with the pitted cars getting ahead of the leaders. This steals the racing of its purity, like Scott Dixon said then they might as well draw a number and start accordingly, whats the point of working throughout the weekend to qualify faster than anyone else.

      • Brian McKay Says:

        “at least keep the pits open, that way the leaders will pit on their first pass through pits and could still come out ahead of the backmarkers if the gap was big enough.”

        Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes … I’ve thought for years many full-course cautions are not warranted. For years I’ve thought that if hazardous debris (and/or stopped car) is on a track, and Race Control wants everyone to ***stop racing** for several laps, let them come to pit lane rather than driving on a debris field beside the safety team men at work. I’ve wondered why the drivers and team owners don’t complain yearly to INDYCAR, “Let us race! We don’t want several laps of no racing because one car part needed to be picked off a track! And if you want a full-course caution, let us leave the track for pit lane!”

  6. billytheskink Says:

    Felt like 2006 all over again, Bourdais pulling away from a blue-and-white car on a street course. I’m happy for both Coyne and Sebastien, but I can’t say I haven’t seen a version of this story before. Eh, that’s probably not fair to say. It was a fine race, there are just a lot of drivers I root for before Bourdais.

    I thought Rahal could have given room to Kimball and Kimball could have backed out. Perhaps Rahal didn’t see Kimball or thought he was boxed in on his left as well. Racing incident that unfortunately, though I doubt it will improve Kimball’s reputation.

    Dixon might want to talk to his teammate about causing debris yellows.

    Rough luck for a very racey Spencer Pigot. Of course neither Cheever nor Goodyear could initially diagnose that a wheel exploding under braking during a race weekend that saw repeated brake problems was a brake issue. You thought that was a broken half shaft, Eddie? Seriously?

    And funny you should mention Ed Jones keeping his nose clean, George, as he drove most of yesterday’s race with a chunk of his nose cone gone…

    • All I will say about the Rahal/Kimball accident is that not only did Graham know there was a car to his right, he even knew exactly WHICH car it was (Graham’s radio: “Charlie hit me”). It wasn’t like he was completely surprised at what happened, he knew exactly what happened in the moment it was happening. That tells me that he should have known (or actually did know) that Charlie was quite a long ways alongside (Charlie’s front wheel hit in the middle of Graham’s sidepod) and that Graham should have given Charlie some more room (instead of just trusting that Charlie would back out of the gas). They were, after all, tracking out toward the wall in Turn 2, and not even on the approach to the tightened Turn 3 yet.

      • billytheskink Says:

        Rahal may not necessarily have known Kimball was where he was prior to contact as he did spin and face backwards before Kimball continued on past him and into Munoz. So he may well have seen him then rather than before the contact and surmised that it was Kimball was who hit him. I don’t know if I would bet on this, but it is possible.

        Graham was almost certainly trying to assert his control of the position and squeeze any challengers coming from the right.

        Any word on whether he got a bloody forehead after confronting Kimball post-race?

        • OH SNAP.

          Good point about Graham maybe seeing Kimball after the incident, but I’ll still maintain that Graham should have left him more room, since Charlie was at least halfway alongside at the time of contact. Charlie wouldn’t have had enough time to notice Graham turning in, then be able to even slam on the brakes to avoid contact. He was already committed to the inside line, and had nowhere to go when Graham turned in on him. At worst, that’s a “racin’ deal”, but I’d put at least 75% of the blame on Graham.

          • billytheskink Says:

            I don’t disagree, other than maybe placing the blame closer to 50-50 because I interpreted it as a hard racing incident without any egregious behavior. If someone asked me to describe what happened, I’d probably say “Graham squeezed Kimball into the wall and got spun”.

            Of course, I’m a big Rahal fan, so your 75% figure is probably closer to reality.

    • Oh, and I was just as aghast at Cheever (though I thought it was Goodyear) guessing that a half-shaft had exploded to end Spencer Pigot’s very impressive run (I thought Spencer was the star of the first third of the race). Me: “Really? Half shafts can do that? Because I’ve seen many brake discs explode, and that’s exactly what they look like…”

    • Brian McKay Says:

      “Perhaps Rahal didn’t see Kimball”
      Rahal said on the radio, “I saw him.”

      • billytheskink Says:

        Fair enough. I wasn’t following Graham’s radio online so I only know what was played on ABC:
        “Kimball hit me. I stalled, but the car seems to be OK.”

        Rahal claims on Twitter that he did not see Kimball, for what that’s worth (not much).

        • Brian McKay Says:

          On ABC television, Rahal told his team via radio that Kimball hit him and admitted “I saw him.” And I surmise that he had seen large in his right mirror Kimball coming on the right and thought that he’d squeeze him. Foolhardy…

          • billytheskink Says:

            What I quoted above is, verbatim, what Rahal said on his radio during the ABC broadcast. He did not say “I saw him”, he said “Kimball hit me. I stalled, but the car seems to be OK.”

    • I agree on the comments in the half shaft. Last time I checked, driveshafts don’t usually explode. That looked like a carbon brake disc exploding to me. I don’t know what Scott Goodyear and Eddie Cheever as smoking in the booth.

  7. Ron Ford Says:

    Serious Coyne. Good for them and good for the series.

    I no longer get all worked up about the ABC booth coverage because I don’t listen to it. I usually watch the races, including the Indy500, with the sound off. Usually, issues and other things to watch for during a race (such as the Brembo brake problems) are covered very well prior to a race at Racer.com. No need to listen to the ABC guys rehash that.

    Charlie Kimball continues to demonstrate his undeserved self-inflated estimate of his skill as a driver. Other drivers suffer the consequentes of that. Perhaps “anti-Kimball” sensors are in the development stage that trigger a red alert in the cockpit when a car is next to Kimball. (Sort of a push-to-pass Kimball, if you will)

    A good showing by the Andretti boys. Not so much by Foyt.

    For those folks put off by all the commercials, you can watch the race commercial-free on Youtube later this week. Of course, all those commercials pay for the gig so we have to be careful of what we wish for.

    We just got a foot of snow here yesterday and overnight, so it was great to see the sights of IndyCars in St. Petersburg. Of course, one can’t help but think of that Wheldon rascal when at St. Pete.

    • Ron Ford Says:

      At least the Iditarod open runner race is free of nimble Kimball.

      • I think the drivers would really appreciate a “push to get the hell away from Charlie Kimball” button.

    • Brian McKay Says:

      Ron, you’re correct: good result for Dale Coyne Racing’s morale and esteem, Bourdais’ morale, good for the Series, and good for fans of underdogs. I’m lad that Coyne got a return on his off-season investment in his team. Maybe he’ll attract $pon$or$.
      Btw, Rahal saw Kimball coming (and seemingly decided to squeeze him). Rahal said on the radio, “I saw him.”

  8. “it sure looked like Charlie Kimball tried to go where there was no room between Rahal and the concrete barrier to his right. Although both cars returned to the track briefly, they were both out of the race by Lap 13.”
    George, both cars were running at the finish of the race.

    • Oops! Brain-fade on my part. I was looking at the box score and looked under the wrong column. Instead of laps completed, I was looking at points awarded. Rahal got 13, Kimball 12. I’ll correct the original text. Thanks for keeping me on my toes. – GP

  9. The first 1/4th of the race (until just after caution #2) was really good. Then. . . it got pretty dull. The caution shook up the field, but there really needed to be a third caution to create more excitement. Instead, as has happened many times over the last few years there was no caution and the fuel saving plan worked for everyone except Power. An observation of mine over the last few seasons is never rely on a late race caution in Indycar because it is probably not going to happen, especially with a 21 car field.

    I like Coyne and I am glad they are going to be good this year but I also don’t expect too much out of them long term. This seems to be Coyne’s thing; one year he self funds and is really good, next year different drivers, does not self fund as much, and struggles. Rinse, lather, repeat.

    Not a fan of the almost 4 week gap between this race and Long Beach. A couple weeks off is fine, but 4 weeks is pretty momentum killing. Wish we were in Homstead in a couple weeks. I really liked in 2008 when Indycar started the season at Homestead (and it makes sense as Homestead’s only other race is in November) and the Florida double was interesting. Sebring would be interesting as well although many think it is too bumpy.

    Overall Indycar has a number of positives at the moment. It looks like there will be decent parity between teams; AA, Coyne, ECR & Rahal all have a lot of potential. Newgarden seems very comfortable at Penske and should be good. But, having only 21 cars is pretty disappointing. I loved the larger fields of 2008 and 2011. The fact car count has fallen almost every season since 11 is concerning. Pocono, Road America, and Texas are the tracks where the small car count will be the most noticeable.

    • Brian McKay Says:

      Yes, I would posit that having racing fans tune in to Saint Petersburg, then the 12 Hours of Sebring, and then the next week another IndyCar race — and thus maintaining ‘momentum’ or interest of the spectators would be better than this …

  10. What’s behind me isn’t important!

    Is there ever a point when ‘professional’ race drivers actually LOOK in their mirrors during a start or restart? Do you actually think it might be possible that at the start or restart of a race a car might actually, possibly, rarely, maybe be beside you on either side?

    Why put mirrors on these things when the drivers obviously don’t use them? If you’re my driver and you just blindly crash into everything that’s around you ………… you’re gone!

    • Brian McKay Says:

      Rahal and others have been accustomed to looking at mirrors since racing in junior-formula cars. He said on the radio, “I saw him” (Kimball).

  11. This is a big chance for Dale Coyne. With a certified winner in Bourdais, Dale has to capitalise in order to ever have a chance of being competitive. St Pete tends to be a boring race apart from a few collisions due to the tightness of the track, so it was a good surprise albeit from a once extremely successful driver. Penske and Scott Dixon have had a real stranglehold on Indycar for four years, so let’s hope Hinch, Rossi, Rahal and others can step up.

  12. I’ve covered some of my assorted thoughts on other replies here, but I was (yet again) disappointed in the TV coverage (I know, STOP THE PRESSES). The worst part of it: just after mid-distance, ABC spent an unbelievable amount of time following just Bourdais or just Pagenaud, with an occasional cut to a car in the pits, or an occasional shot of both cars on both extreme sides of the screen. Meanwhile, as I could see on the ticker at the top (because I was watching delayed, and couldn’t watch T&S), 6th through 10th were covered by no more than 4 total seconds. PLEASE SHOW THAT, ABC. Eventually, they did cut to that battle, which prompted me to rewind the DVR to see how long it had been since we’d seen more than 2 cars on the screen at once. It had been EIGHTEEN MINUTES. And that battle had been raging all the while… No wonder some folks think that these races are more boring than the folks who see them in person, or the folks who can manage to supplement the TV coverage by following T&S.

    • Brian McKay Says:

      I do not know how ABC *does not learn anything* from many comments about its horrible directing and horrible Cheever and Goodyear commentary year after year after year …
      ABC should put Beekhuis in the booth with Bestwick.

    • It’s incredible that ABC can actually make a race boring but they really can.

  13. One other thought- a number of people want virtual safety cars, local yellows (which to be fair sometimes are needed) and other things to stop cautions from impacting a race. That’s bad too. We need something to spice up the races and keep the field close. We shouldn’t have caution clocks or segments, but if cautions happen that can be a good thing. I just wish that there was a little less emphasis on fuel saving, and no fuel knob/engine mapping.

  14. Patti Nolen Says:

    All the above. Should be one of your answers for the poll. A great race for so many. I loved it.

  15. Enjoyed the race. Great win for Bourdais and Honda. Will be interesting to see if Chevy can fight back.

  16. Ditto. Honda looked great this week and I hope it continues. Three cheers for Dale Coyne, his drivers, and his team. ABC? Too many demerits to count.

  17. Paul Tracy predicts Sebastian Bourdais will finish in the top five this year in the championship. He is off to a good start.

  18. Bruce Waine Says:

    WILL POWER – In his own words…..

    From the Motorsport web site……..’Will Power says two mistakes and a mechanical issue defined his race at St. Petersburg, after he had to retire in the closing stages of Indy Car’s 2017 season-opener.

    Power, who had scored the 45th pole position of his Indy car career, locked his right-front wheel heading into the first corner and the flat spot gave him an immediate flat spot and vibration which eventually caused the tire to deflate and forced him to pit early and go off strategy.

    Next his right-front tire changer left the tire gun and hose in his path, so he was assessed a drive-through penalty for running over pit equipment.

    Then, having saved enough fuel to fight for a top-five place, a mechanical issue – which Power didn’t wish to define – starved his engine of fuel and left him lapping at heavily reduced pace trying to recycle the system.

    Ultimately, he was shown the black flag for not going fast enough, and was forced to retire.’

    “Well, I suppose you have to look at the bright side,” he told Motorsport.com. “We’re leaving here with 13 points which is 12 more than I left here with last year.”

  19. Will Schilling Says:

    This 4-week break stinks. A race two weeks from now at Homestead would be a great spot. What geniuses at 16th and Georgetown! Not to mention another oval but that would be too easy!

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