A Wild & Crazy Day at IMS

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Well, that was fun…for those of us watching. I can’t say that many of the drivers had a lot of fun. One of my fellow bloggers, Mike Silver of The Pit Window, came up to me with about twenty laps to go and said “Are you not entertained?”, with apologies to Gladiator.

That pretty well summed this afternoon up. It was entertaining and fun to watch, but it was one of the craziest races I’ve ever seen. In the post-race press conference, second-place Simon Pagenaud said “It was nuts!”.

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The day started out with the race-director declaring the race a wet race, meaning that all cars had to start on the rain tires and the normal red/black rules are out the window. Colton Herta was the first to ditch the rain tires, when he pitted on Lap Three. It looked questionable at the time, but it proved to be the right call. By being the first, Herta vaulted to the front when everyone else came in a couple of laps later.

It seems that most rain races are never cut and dried. There is always a tough decision, between putting on slicks and sliding all over the place while the track hopefully dries – or going with the wet tires and risk chewing them up if the track dries up.

Alexander Rossi gambled and lost. As the giant red cell approached from the northwest the giant red cell, Rossi pitted on Lap 41 for rain tires – thinking that he would go to the front like Herta did when everyone else pitted for the slicks. It never happened. Rossi chewed up his rain tires. By Lap 50, Rossi was pitting again for the Firestone reds.

I will not even attempt to recount all of the incidents. It would be easier to list those cars that never spun around on slick tires, or got punted by someone else. Even the winning car of Colton Herta spun around with no help from another car.

One car that suffered significant damage was the car of Josef Newgarden. On Lap 17, Newgarden made contact with Alexander Rossi and then Jack Harvey hit the right-rear of Newgarden, spinning him around in the process. Something flew up in the air, as Newgarden came to a rest in the runoff area. His car went back to the garage area for repairs, but a good points day was gone. Newgarden finished twenty-fifth in a twenty-seven car field.

Colton Herta was more animated in today’s post-race press-conference than usual. He admitted that had this been a regular dry race, his car did not have the speed to win. But that’s what makes rain races so interesting. Rain is the equalizer.

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Simon Pagenaud is proof of that. After a poor qualifying effort, he started today’s race in twentieth position. But due to some good driving, good pit strategy and a little luck – he finished second.

Will Power may have been the biggest winner of the day. He got the bonus point for winning the pole yesterday, and finished third today. By doing so, he is now your new NTT IndyCar Series points leader heading into practice for the Indianapolis 500, which starts Tuesday.

That will do it for me for the weekend. I will return on Monday with my usual Random Thoughts post covering this race, along with some of the photos I took through the weekend.

Then the Month of May on Oilpressure.com continues with posts every weekday in May. Thanks for following along through the weekend. I will go back home on Sunday, then the plan is for Mrs. Oilpressure and I to return to Indianapolis on Thursday morning, in time for the third practice day for the Indianapolis 500. Check back Monday.

George Phillips

9 Responses to “A Wild & Crazy Day at IMS”

  1. Rick Johnson Says:

    Yes, a crazy race…and entertaining to watch on TV. I don’t know how much, or if any, of the NBC feed you saw if you were in the Media Center, but be sure to watch it on Peacock when you get a chance…a wild one alright. Safe travels home.

  2. jollinger Says:

    Got tired of yellows at the end, but I did enjoy it overall. The IndyGP is usually a parade and a bore, and this is the first one I can remember enjoying.

    My big regret is that they went to a timed race. I wanted to see how it would was going to work out if they managed to go the full length and had to deal with those “I’m not saving fuel!” decisions they made
    early on.

    • OliverW Says:

      They need to sort all these long yellows. I always start to watch at least an hour after the race starts on record so I can fast forward but yikes. one hour of two under yellow. Local yellows. VSC etc. that said hats off to the Marshalls and safety crews.

  3. races in the rain are like snow football games.
    we like both and watch both for the “wild&crazy”.

  4. It was like the 1995 Cleveland Grand Prix, if it was run in the rain. More twists and turns than the latest soap opera! I hope people will remember that JPM was in the Top 10 before his crash.

  5. billytheskink Says:

    Rossi’s (and the many drivers/teams that imitated him) call wasn’t a gamble, it was taking a $100 bill and lighting it on fire. Preemptively putting on rain tires is a call that simply never works. You risk spinning out limping around a wet track to the pits on slicks… but you are guaranteed to lose 5-10-15 seconds a lap running wet tires on a track that has any dry line on it.

    It was a baffling decision for every team and driver who made it (including my rooting interest, Rahal, who had a poor race in a variety of ways today).

  6. Yannick Says:

    Thanks again for the great coverage from trackside. It’s always a pleasure to read.

  7. OliverW Says:

    Top nine finishers. Nine different teams. Now that’s one competitive series.

  8. Bruce B Says:

    still looking for a picture of that $12.50 Tenderloin!! : )

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