Random Thoughts on Texas

As Saturday night’s DXC Technology 600 at Texas Motor Speedway came to an exciting finish, my initial thoughts were that this was a race that should please everyone, the oval fans as well as the oval haters. But all it took was one check of social media to learn how wrong I was. The fans of ovals found it boring and strung out, while the haters still hated without pointing to any real reason.

But later I saw reflections on the race from people, whose opinions I respect, which coincided with mine. I think IndyCar fans are very loyal and knowledgeable. But the very small but loud minority that takes to social media to complain about everything under the sun, gives the rest of us fans a very bad name. Some will say that I should just abandon social media altogether. Well, I wouldn’t be very informed if I did that. I just have to know what to pay attention to and what to ignore – just like any of us. I reference a couple of other glances at social media later in this post, so bear with me.

So getting back on topic, I found Saturday night’s race at Texas to be very entertaining. This is what oval racing is all about. There is no road or street course out there that can make my heart beat that hard in my chest as the last twenty-five laps did on Saturday night. It’s not that I was hoping or expecting to see sensationalistic crashes worthy of SportsCenter – quite the opposite. I was just amazed at the skill and bravery exhibited by everyone out there, throughout the evening.

I will often describe a road or street course race as not providing edge-of-your-seat excitement. Well, Texas provided just that. With twenty-five laps to go, I had no idea who was going to win or how they would do it. Josef Newgarden ended up leading the final forty-five laps on his way to taking the checkered flag, but to say he had the win in hand would be a gross understatement. He may have been up front, but there was a whole lot going on right behind him.

Early on, it looked as if pole-sitter Takuma Sato and Scott Dixon were in a class of their own. Sato led the first sixty laps, but a frightening incident on pit lane took him out of contention. Sato came in way too hot on his first pit stop. He hit his own crewman, Chris Welch, as he tumbled across Sato’s rear-wing and struck the back of his head on the pavement. I remember when helmets were mandated for over-the-wall crew members in the early nineties, and how many of them griped about it. I hate to think what would’ve happened had Welch not been wearing a helmet Saturday night. Aside from the time it took to pull Sato’s car back to his stall and slowly execute the pit stop, Sato was penalized with a stop-and-hold penalty after he went back out. The whole incident put him three laps down, and he never made any of it back up.

The race labeled “unsafe and dangerous” by many, ran caution-free until Lap 135 when Zach Veach brushed the wall exiting Turn Two, just hard enough to damage the toe link and render the car undriveable. Veach did an incredible job to keep it under control, not hit anything and finally spin to a harmless stop in Turn Three. Veach’s team would eventually repair the car and get it back in the race, albeit seventy-six laps down.

The next caution came when James Hinchcliffe got out of the groove as he came across a slower Spencer Pigot exiting Turn Two. He also clipped the wall, but it was hard enough to send him spinning across the track as he slapped the inside retaining wall headed backwards. Hinch had been running in the Top-Five most of the night. He praised his crew and blamed himself for the one-car incident.

For much of the night, it appeared this would be Ryan Hunter-Reay’s night. He led more laps than anyone (90), but he was using a lot of fuel in the process. When he first pitted on Lap 57, ahead of all of his pursuers – it was a sign of things to come. Each pit cycle showed Hunter-Reay pitting before any of his rivals, ensuring him of a four-stop race when his competitors would only be stopping three times. When he was brought in during the caution for Hinchcliffe, the guys in the booth thought that his fresh tires would catapult Hunter-Reay to the front. Whether it was lapped traffic or longer-lasting Firestone tires – the new tires didn’t seem to make as much difference as expected. Hunter-Reay finished a disappointing fifth.

Colton Herta put on a show and showed a combination of savvy and fearlessness throughout the night that is usually found in drivers ten years older than his age of nineteen. He was making his car work where few others could. But in going for the lead on Lap 229, his luck ran out as he and Scott Dixon got together and both ended up in the Turn Three wall.

At the risk of again being accused of writing The Rossi Blog, Alexander Rossi had what I think was one of the best saves I’ve ever seen in my decades of watching IndyCar racing. As Herta’s car was slowly sliding down the track, the oncoming Rossi took evasive action and just missed Herta’s front wing by what looked like less than an inch. In doing so, Rossi went from the banking to the flat apron and then back up on the banking – all with only his left hand on the wheel, as he was desperately trying to grasp it with his right. It all happened in the blink of an eye, but the slow-motion in-car camera view was mesmerizing.

Rossi, who inherited second-place with Dixon and Herta out of the race, took several shots at Newgarden in the dogleg in those final thirteen laps. But Rossi had little luck making that pass all night and he couldn’t pull it off then either. He ended up second to the guy he is chasing in the points.

TV Coverage: Last week, I roasted Paul Tracy for being ill-prepared and not paying attention to what was going on during the Belle Isle weekend. This past weekend, I thought Tracy did a much better job and he was the Paul Tracy that I had grown to respect as a broadcaster. The three guys in the booth all demonstrated the chemistry that has worked well for them over the years.

All of the pit reporters had a good night. Kevin Lee is always on top of his game, and I’ve frequently mentioned how much I like it when Jon Beekhuis is on the broadcast. But I think Kelli Stavast is very underrated and tends to be overlooked as a NASCAR reporter who is just filling in. That may be true, but she has obviously done her homework and seems to have a complete grasp of the nuances of IndyCar and how it differs from NASCAR. I’m hoping she can continue some weekends even after NBC picks up NASCAR for the second half of their season.

Last but not least; Robin Miller brings the rare combination of humor, seriousness when appropriate and knowledge that only fifty years of experience can bring. Why he was not featured on NBC’s coverage of the Indianapolis 500 is beyond me.

If I have to have a negative, the commercials did seem a little frequent. The commercial breaks may not have been any more frequent than usual, but they seemed to last longer. I didn’t time them or watch the lap counter, but to me they just seemed longer. But I’m not going to complain as long as most breaks have the side-by-side feature. They can’t do that for the local breaks and I get that. There were only two or three during the night that didn’t feature side-by-side.

I’m also never going to complain about commercials, period. NBC does not exist to provide free IndyCar coverage to the fan base. They exist to make money. They do that with commercials. I want NBC to be eager to renew their contract when it is up in two and a half years. If it is a money drain, they won’t do it. Then who will we look to for top-notch coverage?

Good/Bad Liveries: First the good – I really liked the new red livery that Ed Carpenter was sporting with his No.20 AutoGeek Chevrolet. This was not sponsor-mandated. Instead they just wanted to change it up, not only to differentiate it from teammate Spencer Pigot’s car – but to tell it from all of the other black cars in the field. Unfortunately, the red didn’t make Ed go any faster. He dropped to twentieth on the start and eventually climbed back up to his starting position of thirteenth – two laps down.

The bad was the GESS/Capstone Turbines livery of Alexander Rossi. It’s not that the design of the livery was bad, but it was way too similar to the GESS livery that Colton Herta has been running for the last few races. You really couldn’t read the sidepods, so the only way viewers could tell the difference was that Herta had red mirrors, had red at the top of his roll hoop and the red No.88 on the sidepod extensions just in front of the rear wheels. To make matters worse, the two cars were usually battling each other at the same spot on the track. To further confuse the guys in the booth, the two cars were pitted next to each other. The announcers confused the two cars on several occasions, but that’s understandable – so did I.

Is it a Nickname? I tread lightly here, so that I don’t get lumped into those fans that don’t like nicknames (or anything else that goes on in IndyCar). A couple of weeks ago, a fan e-mailed Robin Miller’s Mailbag on Racer.com chastising him for calling Fernando Alonso “Fred”, saying it was disrespectful. Seriously? You choose that to complain about?

But just recently, I’ve noticed that Leigh Diffey has been referring to Ryan Hunter-Reay as “Captain America”. Just where did that come from? I’ve never noticed that until recently, but I heard it several times on the telecast in the last couple of weeks. Was it because Hunter-Reay referred to himself as a proud American boy, when he won the 2014 Indianapolis 500? Twelve of the twenty-two starters in Saturday night’s race were American drivers, yet Hunter-Reay is the one to carry that title? If I was one of the other eleven American drivers, I might be tempted to feel a little miffed, as if he is more American that I am. I really don’t know that I would be miffed, but I find the nickname (if you can call it that) just a little irritating.

Sato’s Mistake: During the first commercial that did not feature side-by-side, I checked Twitter just to see what was being said about the race. Takuma Sato was being absolutely ripped for his pit lane mistake. And don’t kid yourself, it was a mistake.

I’ve never driven a race car during a race, but from what I’m told – it can be very tricky finding your pit in perfect conditions, much less at dusk. When you sit as low to the ground as these drivers are, and a car is sitting in the pit just before yours – I can only imagine how tough it is to pick out your pit in a crucial situation. I will promise you that Sato didn’t do it on purpose and he and his team (and the struck crew member) certainly paid the price.

I’m not going to defend or condone Sato’s mistake, but there was no excuse for some of the fan reactions I read shortly afterward.

Penske Pattern: Team Penske has won five of the nine NTT IndyCar Series races this season, with Josef Newgarden winning three of them. But to say they have been dominating would be incorrect. It seems that when one Penske driver wins or has a good race, one or both of his teammates have terrible days.

St. Petersburg saw Newgarden win, with Will Power on the podium and Simon Pagenaud finishing seventh. That was the most complete day for Team Penske all season. COTA saw Newgarden finish second, but Pagenaud was nineteenth and Power twenty-fourth. The IndyCar GP at Indianapolis saw Pagenaud win, but Power was an unremarkable seventh and Newgarden fifteenth. At the Indianapolis 500, Pagenaud won and the other drivers had decent days, but Helio Castroneves was a disappointing eighteenth. Without going through the whole season – you get the idea.

It was the same on Saturday night. Newgarden won the race, but Pagenaud was never a factor and Will Power was an afterthought for most of the night.

Dynamic Duo: There are several teams of driver and either engineer or race strategists out there. Tony Kanaan and Eric Cowdin have worked closely for the better part of two decades. Sébastien Bourdais and Craig Hampson have had a special relationship that started in their days together at Newman/Haas. Scott Dixon and Mike Hull can practically finish each other’s sentences.

But at this point in time, I don’t know of a duo with a better working chemistry than Josef Newgarden and Tim Cindric. Without the two of them working together, Saturday night’s win would have gone to someone else. It was Cindric who made the call for an alternate pit strategy that ultimately put Newgarden out front. But it was Newgarden who fought off multiple challenges and kept the car in the lead. This was truly a case where one does not win without the other.

In my Opinion: This seems to be a view not shared by many, but when I saw the Dixon-Herta incident developing live – I thought it was Herta’s fault. In fact, I didn’t even think there was a possibility that Dixon could be at fault. I couldn’t really get a sense from the booth which way they were leaning, but when Dixon apologized for the incident – I was wondering what I had missed. Then in Herta’s interview, he was saying that Dixon didn’t do it on purpose – but it was his fault nonetheless.

I went back and watched the replay and I still think it was Herta’s fault. I thought it was a very ambitious and optimistic move that had no chance to work. I thought Dixon was following the normal line and Herta should have backed out of it. The only mistake Dixon made was not recognizing the situation. He was racing for points in the championship and was looking at a solid second-place finish that would back up his win at Belle Isle a week earlier. Herta is completely out of the championship and even Rookie of the Year. He was going for broke searching strictly for a win. Instead, he finished eighteenth and Dixon is now eighty-nine points out of the championship lead.

Hertamania has swept through the IndyCar fan base. He is the new sensation because he is young and very talented. It almost seems that fans are wanting him to succeed so much that they are unwilling to assign blame to him for anything.

After the race, Dixon’s wife, Emma Davies-Dixon, tweeted out “Shame @ScottDixon9 gave an interview before he saw the replay.. he feels a lot differently about the situation now. Just glad both drivers are ok. Such a shame for Scott and Colton. Both possible winning cars for sure. Onwards…”

I have no axe to grind here. I like Herta and I like Dixon and would have been happy had either of them won or came in second. But the way I saw it, I thought Herta was to blame for Saturday night’s incident that took them both out.

Drive of the Night:  There were several drivers that had excellent performances on Saturday. Conor Daly was with a struggling team that was unknown to him. He started back in nineteenth, but worked his way up to eleventh. Marco Andretti started on the last row, but worked with the car all night and finished tenth. Alexander Rossi started eleventh and finished second, and contended for the lead in the closing stages. Any of these drives are worthy of being called The Drive of the Night. But in my opinion, the most impressive drive was turned out by Santino Ferrucci for Dale Coyne Racing. In only his second career oval start, the young American from Connecticut started eighteenth and finished fourth. Ferrucci has now passed Felix Rosenqvist in the Rookie of the Year battle and gave us the night’s best drive.

All in All: I thought that Saturday night’s race was the perfect definition of oval track racing. The cars were spread out enough so that there was no pack racing. But cars were certainly able to pass, even for the lead. The Hinchcliffe-Rossi-Herta battle just before Hinch crashed on Lap 219 was about as good as it gets. Lap after lap, you held your breath as they swapped positions hoping that no one made a mistake. When Hinchcliffe finally did make a mistake, it was his own doing and did not involve the other two.

There were only three yellows involving only four cars and no serious injuries to any drivers. The most serious injury was to Chris Welch, the Rahal Letterman Lanigan crew member that was struck by Sato in the pits – and he appeared to be fine in his TV interview.

There was strategy involved that led to Josef Newgarden’s race win, and a flawed strategy that led to Ryan Hunter-Reay having fuel issues. And the defining moment of the race was brought about by a driver going for it rather than sitting back and collecting points.

So, all in all – what was there not to like?

The NTT IndyCar Series now gets a much-needed break after five weekends in a row or track activity. But that doesn’t mean they are going on vacation. On Wednesday, teams are headed to Road America for an open test in preparation for the race there in less than two weeks. There’s no rest for the weary.

George Phillips

24 Responses to “Random Thoughts on Texas”

  1. I feel bad for Dixon. He was really strong all weekend. I think he should’ve backed off and let Herta go for the spot. It would be similar to what Pagenaud did a few years ago there. Think of the bigger picture. If he let Herta by he would’ve only given up 3 points. Maybe only 2 since he led laps. That would be easier to stomach instead of another DNF. Road America is going to be crucial for the championship. Newgarden is strong there, Dixon needs a win to catch back up.

  2. I think that social media–the digital world of instant experts, public outrage, of unsupported argument, of selfies and gossips and followers and influencers–has had a bigger effect on society than we even suspect. And might be–to paraphrase ex-Texas football coach Charlie Strong–“the end of western civilization.”

    Good race though.

  3. I’m usually a street racing fan, but loved that race. The sunset effect is spectacular.

    Only complaint I had about the TV crew is that they could have explained the Newgarden rise more in-depth.

  4. I can’t understand how people could complain about that race. It literally had everything you could want from a race and never once was I bored or checking the clock, and I swear my heart was about to pound its way out of my chest over the last 15-20 laps. It was fantastic.

    I’ve heard RHR referred to as Captain America many times over the last many years, this is not a new nickname.

    Dixon v. Herta was a racing incident in my opinion. But Dixon being the seasoned and wise driver that he is I fully expected him to back off and let Colton through, better to only lose one spot and go try to get it back than risk a crash. Colton was almost fully beside him entering the turn, he was never going to back off and Scott would/should have known that. Not saying it’s Dixon’s fault, but he certainly had the opportunity to avoid it.

  5. Pretty sure the Captain America nickname dates back to when RHR won his championship in 2012. It was brought up in the super awkward segment NBC did with the drivers wives for the 500.

  6. James T Suel Says:

    I tho ugh it was a great race as a whole. Newgarden and Tim Cindric are a great match.Herta is a great young driver, his move was brave, he got along side Dixon wheel to wheel! At that point you have to give a little room. So for me it was simply a racing accident. Herta reminds me of Mario when he first came on the seen. Everyone though he was to brave and most likely would not live long. I also think anyone that did not like that race , go watch stick ball sports, or watch grass grow somewhere.

  7. Paul Fitzgerald Says:

    Ok…so I’m that guy that doesn’t like the oval at Texas. I do however like the other ovals especially Indy. For me, Texas is too dangerous and I always feel better when the race is over and all drivers are well. I said I wasn’t going to watch this year, just like last year, but Saturday night came and I turned it on. I watched the whole race and enjoyed it. It was exciting all the way through. Am I now a fan of Texas? No…I still have major reservations about the track. However I will probably will watch next year. Do I wish it wasn’t on the schedule? Yes, that is actually how I feel.

    Next, I’m so tired of Penske winning races. Josef is a great driver but other than Detroit 2, he has been very lucky with yellows and great timing of pit stops by Tim Cindrich. Rossi on the other hand has had terrible timing (Cota) and is still only 25 points back. I admire Penske but hate that they win so much. Rossi is my favorite driver but won’t be if he makes the move to the evil empire.
    I couldn’t agree more about Robin Millers disappearance at Indy. Why? It makes no sense. I also love Kelli and Jon. As far as Paul….he has missed some things in the past and I’m sort of lukewarm on him.The guy I’m not lukewarm on and I think could be a Star is Anders Krohn. He did the NBC gold package during practice for the Indy 500 and wasn’t just good, he was great. They need to give him a chance, he was spellbinding.

  8. Tony Dinelli Says:

    It was even more exciting in person. We sat mid way between S/F and pit exit so had a good view of leaders pits.
    First off, Paint schemes – too many black/white schemes. We were bummed about Pagenaud not having that neon yellow, Rossi without NAPA, Ferucci without his chrome. All would’ve been fantastic under the lights. The surprise was the NTT sponsored blue. It looked amazing under the night lights.
    Second, the racing was incredible. For most of the night the top 5 were within striking distance. Rossi’s car was on a rail coming out of Turn 4 but his Turn 1 entry could not match Newgarden running the low line.
    Third, I’ve seen some of the pack racing there and they definitely have safer racing at TMS with this car. I would never ever not watch a race if I had the opportunity to.
    All in all it was a great night of racing

  9. Emma Dixon has reached peak Ashley Judd era and that’s not a good thing.

    The booth is infatuated with Rossi but I will say, he is exciting. Meanwhile Newgarden is just out there tearing it up but he’s not as flashy so people don’t notice, I guess.

  10. billytheskink Says:

    I am guess television missed a number of Rossi’s outside passes in the dogleg going into turn 1, because he was as strong as anyone not named Colton Herta there and made several such passes throughout the race. Critical to passing outside into turn 1 was the exit of turn 4, as a driver basically had to be almost alongside the car they were trying to pass by start finish in order to pull the move off. A challenging move (and one that every driver knew how to defend by straddling the two narrow grooves through turn 1), but a thrilling one, and one that occurred right in front of my seats at pit exit. The crowd cheered these moves enthusiastically, especially when they were made by Rossi and Dixon, and was cheering loudly for Rossi as he almost got around Newgarden late.

    It is interesting that, much like at Indy, the cars at Texas could separate but not really run away from each other (Sato and Dixon looked shot out of a cannon early and both gradually fell back to withing striking distance of the rest of the field by the first pit stop). That seems to strike a nice balance between safe separation and competitive closeness and was absolutely a factor in giving us exciting races at Texas and Indy free from excessive wrecking.

    As previously mentioned, Ryan Hunter-Reay has been dubbed “Captain America” since his 2012 championship, though the nickname became much more commonly used after his 2014 victory in the 500. I recall Paul Tracy being an early cheerleader for the nickname. J.R. Hildebrand was also referred to as “Captain America” from time-time when he drove Panther’s National Guard car. As a nickname in general in this series, though, it may be a bit stale.

    “Captain America” as a nickname implies that there is some uniqueness to being or succeeding as an American driver in Indycar, and there was for some time… but that is no longer the case. There have not been as many American drivers in the series as there are now in over a decade, since there were 2 series. 15 Indy 500 starters were American, the most since there were 20 in 2007, and Saturday’s Texas race was the first race since that 2007 Indy 500 field where more than half of the starters were Americans. American have won 1/3 of the races since the introduction of the DW 12 and half of the races with the universal aerokit. Last season, Americans won a higher share of races than they had since 1996 (2002 if you only include the IRL) and if trends hold this season will win a majority of races for the first time since 1996 (or 2002). If a CART-style Nations Cup was still conducted, the USA would have won it every season since 2012 but one (2016), and they lead it handily again this year.

  11. Ron Ford Says:

    All in all a good roundup (Texas theme) George, with one exception IMHO. You begin by saying you found the race to be entertaining, but then you can’t resist bringing up all the negative social media noise. I seriously doubt that many, if any, of your loyal readers give a good GD about social media opinions of this race or any race. If you found the race to be entertaining, why clutter your mind and your blog with social media stuff?

    • Matthew Lawrenson Says:

      I’m with Ron here. No quicker way to ruin your enjoyment of anything than reading random dudes spouting stuff on social media. I stick to reading info from people who are more likely to know what they’re talking about. I enjoy watching all IndyCar races, but maybe I’m just young and naive (signed M.Lawrenson, aged 43-and-a-half).

    • In recent months, my much, much busier schedule has resulted in a vastly reduced amount of time available to cruise Twitter (and, obviously, to keep up with and leave comments on my favorite racing blogs). An unintended consequence to this has been a vastly reduced exposure to horrible/uninformed takes on just about everything having to do with racing. Generally, while I feel less informed than I did even six months ago, I enjoy my time following racing more now that I’m not spending nearly as much brain capacity considering what the Legions of the Miserable think about everything.

  12. Carburetor Says:

    I’ll echo earlier comments about way too many cars sporting the same or similar black & white schemes. It made it very difficult to tell the difference between the cars at those speeds. A lot of people sitting near me all expressed the same sentiment. One thing I notice is the trend away from solid color paint schemes–makes one long for the old solid red Budweiser special….

    I thought this was an exciting race, but could even have been better if they’d ever been able to establish a consistent 2nd (outer) groove/line through turns 1 & 2. It seemed that there was very close racing going into 1, but not many drivers could hold the outer line, causing them to check up. It then took them most of the remaining lap just to catch up, only to be faced with the same issue again in turn 1 & 2. Only Herta seemed to make it work.

    One disappointment in watching the race at the track is to witness first-hand just how incredibly weak the Foyt racing team has become. It is embarrassing how a driver (Daly) that wasn’t even with his team at the start of the week (that team being relatively new even), could thoroughly out perform such a veteran team as Foyt’s. I actually felt sorry for Tony K as he spent most of the first 30-40 laps driving by himself, hoping to keep within eyesight of next-to-last place car. He could have been standing still for all the difficulty Sato and Dixon had catching passing him. Very sad. Perhaps Tony K can finish his career with a more competitive team(?).

    • I think the second line in turns 1 and 2 went away when they reprofiled the banking a couple years ago. Had there still been more banking I bet Rossi could have gotten around on the outside. Not sure why they thought removing banking would improve the racing.

      • billytheskink Says:

        I would argue that there is a second line through turn 1, but that it is very narrow and easy to defend from would-be passers by drifting out of the low line on entry. I think as well that the challenge of turn 2’s narrow groove discourages drivers from hanging on the outside groove through turn 1. Drivers coming out of 2 too wide seem to account for most of the incidents at TMS since the repave. They certainly accounted for the majority of incidents this past weekend between Indycars and the NASCAR trucks. Even when they don’t, exiting turn 2 high doesn’t seem to do anyone any favors when trying to set up passes going into turn 3.

        I believe the idea behind reducing the banking in 1 and 2 (which they coupled with widening the racing surface, turns 1 and 2 are 20 feet wider than 3 and 4) was to add variety to the track. The hope was probably to produce a race with cars that work better in one set of turn or the other and that such a disparity would facilitate passing. It hasn’t quite worked like that, of course.

        Ultimately, the pavement will probably need to age to widen the racing groove (which should make the wider 1 and 2 more interesting). TMS was largely a one groove track in its first few years in its original configuration too and additional grooves eventually wore in.

    • Talón de Brea Says:

      I didn’t think the Marco Andretti “tribute” livery at the Speedway last month looked all that much like his grandfather’s race winning livery … but it was a solid color that popped, and people noticed.

      I think the designers come up with elaborate liveries because they *can* (which is cool — same with helmet designs, but I “get” that more than I do the “busy” livery graphics) — sometimes at the expense of a visually identifiable “brand.” Cars like the Shaw Maserati, the ’67 Foyt winner, the turbines, the Donohue McLaren, the papaya McLarens, Gurney’s dark-blue Eagles, and even the black Interscope cars had liveries that showed off the cars’ lines and even provided a less-cluttered backdrop for sponsors’ decals and signage. I mean, the cars already look fast …

  13. I enjoyed viewing the race on television, enjoyed this blog post, and enjoyed these comments.

  14. Yannick Says:

    This one has been one of the best races at TMS, maybe 2nd only to the one from some years back when Danica Patrick and Marco Andrett fought for P2 in the latter stages of the race.
    It’s good for the track to have shown some great racing again.

    The Dixon vs Herta crash reminded me a lot of the Rahal vs Bourdais crash at Indianapolis that happened two weeks ago. I get the feeling that both would not have happened to Rick Mears as the front-running car who I remember as never being shy of leaving the door wide open for a seemingly quicker car to overtake because he knew he could always get the spot back later on. Yet, I agree with you George, motorsport laws clearly state that this crash was by Herta’s design.
    Looks like the championship now is down to just three candidates for the drivers title – or do some you think that Dixon and Sato can still catch up on their points deficit after this round?

  15. ecurie415 Says:

    I would not write to Miller, but I think the “Fred” references come across as belittling. He’s a two time F1 champ. He deserves respect; pretty sure “Fred” is not short for “Fernando” in Spanish (I believe it would be “Frederico”). And “Capt America” is equally stupid. About as cringe-worthy as Tracy’s comparing Sato’s pass in Detroit to a “Ginzu knife” (made in Ohio). I don’t need to live in a PC world, but I don’t think Economaki would have done that. Or Varsha.

    • Mr. Miller asked Alonso what he thought of the nickname “Fred” and he found it amusing, wasn’t bothered by it. If he does not feel belittled by it then neither should we. Being offended for a stranger over their nickname is kind of the definition of the PC world, isn’t it?

      Weren’t the ginzu knife comments in regards to the sharp edges of the track barriers? I know that’s where the discussion originated.

      • ecurie415 Says:

        The comment was “he cut through traffic like a Ginsu knife.”

        Alonso is gracious, because he’s a world champion and has been doing this for a long time. His nonchalance doesn’t make it less belittling. It’s not about being PC; just showing respect for the man.

    • Coming in way, way late to the discussion here, but David Hobbs was referring to Fernando Alonso as “Fred” on F1 broadcasts long before Fernando ever even announced he was coming over to do the 500. I think giving anglicized/silly nicknames to drivers is a long-standing practice among British mechanics and media. This also applied to Felipe “Phil” Massa and even (in a slightly different sense) their own Jenson “Jenny” Button and Lewis “Louise” Hamilton (there have been others, but these are the ones just off the top of my head). It’s all in fun, and I think the drivers tend to take it as a term of endearment.

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