Archive for August, 2022

Random Thoughts on Nashville

Posted in IndyCar on August 8, 2022 by Oilpressure

Scott Dixon was still in the post-race press conference last night, and the Legions of the Miserable were out in full force on social media. “That was not IndyCar”,  “This was a sh**show” and “Circus” were all reflective of what people were saying while Dixon was still talking about what a great win it was.

I don’t just say this because I live in Nashville – I had a good time this weekend, but most importantly – I enjoyed watching this race in person.

What I think was a surprise to most of the IndyCar media was that the drivers all seemed to love this track. Dixon said that it was a crazy race, but we need a couple of crazy races each season to shake things up some. He said it makes up for some races that can be rather boring. I agree.

I’m not sure what IndyCar fans want. They complain when races are boring and processional. Then when you throw in a race like Nashville with lots of cautions, they complain about that too. Some people just like to complain.

As I said in my wrap-up yesterday, this was a typical Scott Dixon win by Scott Dixon. He had a rough pit stop, but kept chopping away at it – even when he admitted that he thought his race was ruined. At the midpoint of the race, it appeared he was headed to a very forgettable finish. But as has happened so many times over the past two decades; Dixon was out in front when the checkered-flag flew.

TV Coverage: Usually, I don’t get to see any of the TV coverage of a race I attend until a day or so later. With the lightning delays, I was safely ensconced in the media center of Nissan Stadium during the down time – meaning we got to hear all of the pre-race show. The failed Zoom connections with drivers, provided a lot of comic relief as we waited out the weather.

On a serious note, I crossed paths with NBC pit-reporter Dave Burns several times throughout the weekend. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a fairly public figure be so engaging with fans. Once, he and a colleague were walking through the paddock, when a middle-aged fan ran up and asked for a selfie. Instead of the obligatory posing while walking, he stopped allowed her to take a couple of them and then he chatted with her unsolicited. He then thanked her for coming out to the track. As he and his colleague walked off, she ran the other direction to her friends – jumping up and down. That simple gesture made her entire weekend.

That was one of three encounters I witnessed on Friday, then at least another three more times on Saturday and Sunday. There was a group of guys, he noticed pointing at him. He went out of his way to speak to them. I heard one of them remark how it felt so weird to hear his familiar voice talking directly to them. After each encounter with fans, he always thanked fans for coming out.

Most all of the NBC on-air talent is very fan-friendly and accessible. But I was really impressed with how Dave Burns seemed to go way out of his way to accommodate fans and embrace them. He is definitely one of the good guys.

The Red Flag:  If you’ve followed this site for very long, you know that I am very opposed to the use of the red flag to “spice up the show”. They did it again yesterday and I did not like it.

In my opinion, the red flag should be used for four reasons – to get to an injured driver without putting first responders at risk, to clear a totally obstructed track, to repair the safer barrier or the track itself and for inclement weather.

I know I am in the vast minority on this, but I do not think spicing up the show should be a determining factor by Race Control. That falls into the categories of manipulating results and manufacturing drama.

Scott Dixon was polite when asked if he saw red when the red flag flew. He said he’s fine with whatever they want to do, so long as they do it consistently. But according to what I heard after the race, Mike Hull was not so indifferent.

Some argue that when it’s all said and done, this is all entertainment. While that may be true, there is an awful lot riding on the outcomes of races and championships. Don’t tell all of Chip Ganassi’s partners that this is just entertainment. They are in it to win. Had the red flag cost Scott Dixon this win and ultimately a seventh championship – I think you’d have an upset driver, race strategist and a lot of disappointed partners and sponsors.

What They Fixed:  Aside from the track improvements, race organizers changed a lot of things that obviously needed fixing in Year One.

Last year, the foot bridges were points of congestion. They had one bridge at each crossover section, with a railing going down the middle. The result was single-file each way, that led to congestion on Friday and impassable conditions on Saturday and Sunday. This year, they had two bridges for each direction, with no railing down the middle. Even on Sunday, the crossover bridges were much more passable.

There was also more signage this year. Many areas were hard to fins last year. There were few signs and the staff had no answers, when asked.

Traffic around the stadium seemed to flow a lot better this year.

The starting time for the race was two hours earlier than last year, but the lightning delay pushed the start back to 4:10 – just about twenty minutes earlier than last year’s start. But that could not be helped.

What They Didn’t Fix:  While staff seemed to be more customer service oriented than last year, there still seemed to be confusion about who was allowed where. My credentials allow me in the pits at every track. But twice this weekend, I was stopped and told that my IndyCar-issued credentials did not get me through the gates. I had to point to the chart up on the fence to show then that they would. One guy was friendly abut it and let me pass, while another one argued that the generic badge on the chart did not look exactly  like mine.

At some point in the offseason, they talked about adding additional crossover bridges, one specifically near the Turn Eleven section. Anything on the northside of the paddock is only accessible by the crossover bridge south of the stadium. It more than doubles the distance you have to walk by making everyone double back like that. Why they didn’t follow through with that plan, I do not know.

So it wasn’t a perfect fan experience, but they are working to improve things. These are just a few things they need to shoot for in Year Three.

Drive of the Day:  As this race was unfolding, I was seeing several drivers having good days that were suddenly tossed away. Graham Rahal had moved up four spots from his eleventh place starting spot, before it all went terribly wrong as he rear-ended Pato O’Ward. The contact immediately ended O’Ward’s day, and ultimately ended Rahal’s as well.

Kyle Kirkwood was having an outstanding day as he was running consistently and legitimately in fifth. This wasn’t by catching a yellow at the right time, he earned it. But he got way too greedy and made another rookie mistake that has plagued him this season. He attempted a late move on fellow rookie David Malukas, but Malukas did not know he was there and turned in on him. It’s hard to assign blame, but I think Kirkwood was more at fault. By the way…Malukas was having an outstanding day as well, before their incident.

Alexander Rossi was spinning all over the place and brought out the first caution on Lap Eight. Still, he finished fourth – but can you award a driver whose problems were mostly self-inflicted?

I was going to give it to Christian Lundgaard for having such an outstanding weekend. But he faded in the last few laps from challenging Dixon for the lead from second place to finishing a disappointing eighth.

For once, I’m giving the semi-coveted Drive of the Day to the winner of the race – Scott Dixon. Considering the obstacles he overcame yesterday and put himself in position to win his seventh career championship.

All in All:  It’s great to have an IndyCar race in my hometown. It’s also good to have it be a success. They got unlucky with the weather this year, but most of the crowds stuck around. If the IndyCar media could lay off of the event and quit trying to bait the drivers into trashing it, maybe the fans who watched on television would not be so quick to trash it on social media.

I would say come before trashing it, but I never let my lack of attending Belle Isle keep me from running it down. I guess it’s a fair argument.

George Phillips

Music City GP Wrap-Up

Posted in IndyCar on August 7, 2022 by Oilpressure

Even a blind hog finds an acorn now and then. When Scott Dixon qualified fourteenth on Saturday, I was afraid that I had jinxed another driver once again. In the thirteen-plus years that I have been operating this site, I think I’ve correctly picked the correct winner less than five times.

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A Note From Mrs. Oilpressure

Posted in IndyCar on August 7, 2022 by Oilpressure

By Susan Phillips

Hello everyone, from the 8th floor of Vanderbilt Hospital. As hospitals go, this one is pretty impressive. Hopefully they are getting to the bottom of what ails me and I can be back with everyone again. I’m grateful we got to go to Road America, but I was not myself.

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It’s Race Day in Nashville!

Posted in IndyCar on August 7, 2022 by Oilpressure

Good morning from a bright and sunny Big Machine Music City Grand Prix! They are predicting a real scorcher today, but in all honesty – I didn’t think it felt as bad as yesterday coming in. My car said it was 88° as I was headed this way. Yesterday at the same time, it said 91°. I realize that’s not a huge difference, but the main thing is that it does not feel as humid today and there seems to be a slight breeze blowing. I know fans and drivers alike hope that these conditions carry over to this afternoon.

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It Was an Interesting Fast Six

Posted in IndyCar on August 6, 2022 by Oilpressure

The composition of the Firestone Fast Six proves just how competitive the NTT IndyCar Series truly is. Five of the six cars were from different teams. Only pole-sitter Scott McLaughlin and Josef Newgarden of Team Penske came from the same team.

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Waiting Out the Rain

Posted in IndyCar on August 6, 2022 by Oilpressure

It is a little after 3:00 pm Saturday as I start to type. Normally by now, I would be out in the pits watching the teams as they make last-minute preparations for knockout qualifying. Instead, I am sitting in the cool and dry media center, as all track activity is on an indefinite hold.

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Day Two at the Music City Grand Prix

Posted in IndyCar on August 6, 2022 by Oilpressure

Welcome to a hot and steamy Big Machine Music City Grand Prix. We caught a break yesterday with the weather, with mostly overcast skies. I think the high yesterday was 84°, but it was still very humid. While driving in this morning, my car said it was 91° at 10:30 am. There is no telling how miserable it will be for qualifying mid-afternoon.

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