Random Thoughts on the Gallagher GP

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This will be a different post than my usual “Random Thoughts” after a race. That’s because I was not able to see the entire race, or even the replay, before writing this. That’s because I’m writing this from Vanderbilt University Hospital. As I wrote on Friday, on Thursday Susan was sent to the ER of the hospital she has been in off and on for the past two months (which will go nameless).

Susan was discharged from her Thursday night stay, back to her physical therapy rehab center on Friday. On Saturday morning, I was preparing to go to the rehab center so that we could watch the Gallagher Grand Prix together. About an hour before the NBC coverage started, I got a call from her facility saying that they were sending her out again. Not only did she have a fever, but her blood pressure was dropping and her heart rate was soaring. They told me they were sending her to Vanderbilt, which has no affiliation with anyone in her group. When I asked why Vanderbilt, they said “because whatever they are doing at (Hospital X) isn’t working”. I could not argue.

So just as the race was starting, I was being escorted into the Trauma Unit at Vanderbilt. The fact she was in a trauma room scared me to death. It turns out they suspect she has sepsis and since it life threatening, they put her in there. When I went in, she was awake but not very alert. It turns out she had been given some drugs that made her drowsy. I asked if she wanted to watch the race, and she said yes. I pulled it up on my Peacock app on my iPad (another good reason to subscribe to Peacock).

By the time we started watching, it was already Lap 11. I don’t know how much Susan really saw, because she was dozing off some. Each time a doctor came in to talk, I shut the cover. All in all, I missed more than I saw. But I did see the final twenty laps uninterrupted, and was able to see Alexander Rossi finally win again for the first time in over three years.

Before Rossi pulled in Victory Lane, the main doctor came in and stayed for over an hour, so I missed everything after the checkered flag. I will comment on what I did see and give the latest update on Susan near the end.

TV Coverage:  It’s probably completely unfair to comment on coverage for a broadcast I probably only saw about a third of. But one thing I did notice was in the final laps, NBC appeared to be trying to manufacture drama that wasn’t really there. I know that’s their job to give some hype to a somewhat static finish, but this crossed the line to almost insulting our intelligence.

With Rossi leading Christian Lundgaard by roughly four seconds, the booth pointed out something that looked awry in the back of Rossi’s car. Townsend Bell even used the telestrator to point out something on the inside of his left rear tire, that I couldn’t really see on the iPad. By listening to their over-dramatizing things – viewers would swear that Rossi was having to limp his way to the finish and that Lundgaard would be a surprise winner. All the while, I noticed that Rossi’s lead over Lundgaard was slightly increasing on every lap.

On the final lap, the booth’s dialogue shifted from Rossi being in trouble, to celebrating Rossi finally ending his forty-nine race winless drought.

It Finally Happened:  Regardless of what you personally think of Alexander Rossi, I think it is good for the sport to have him back in the winner’s column. For the record, I’m a big fan of Rossi. He may be my favorite current driver in the series. If not my favorite, he’s up there.

I think it’s good to have Indianapolis 500 winners win races. When Rossi won a fuel mileage race to win the 2016 Indianapolis 500 as a rookie, some said it was a fluke. When Rossi was a championship contender to the very end of the 2018 and 2019 seasons, it validated his 2016 500 win as actually legitimate. When he went winless for more than three years, it gave credibility to his detractors. Now that he is a race winner in his final season with Andretti Autosport, I think his career is going to get the boost that it needs for next season, as heads to the dark side – McLaren.

Tightened Points Race:  the points race had a shake-up at the top and got tighter, while some of those at the bottom fell further behind. Former points leader Marcus Ericsson saw his points lead shrink over the past few races, until it disappeared completely on Saturday as he fell to second place. Will Power has never been known in the past for his consistency, but he has developed a new consistent approach to his craft and it has served him well late in his career. With four races to go, he is again the points leader for the third time this season.

Ericsson is now nine points behind Power, and in second place. Josef Newgarden actually lost a little ground and is thirty-two points behind Power, in third. Scott Dixon continues to stalk and is thirty-eight points back. Pato O’Ward and Alex Palou are still in contention, but need some help. I consider those behind Palou as realistically out of the running, even though some may still be alive mathematically.

But between Power, Ericsson, Newgarden and Dixon, this should be an interesting title fight over the final four races. Hmmm…Penske and Ganassi. It’s funny how that always happens.

Drive of the Day:  Some of the usual suspects were under consideration of Drive of the Day, aside from race winner Alexander Rossi. Graham Rahal had his usual bad qualifying/good race performance that saw him qualify seventeenth and finish seventh. Scott Dixon also overcame a poor qualifying effort. He qualified twenties and finished a solid eighth.

But in my opinion, the Drive of the Day goes to Marcus Ericsson. Due to a mechanical problem early in qualifying, Ericsson started dead last. Although he did relinquish the points lead, he salvaged a lot out of a bad situation and brought his car home in eleventh and still earned a few points. In doing so, he earned the highly cherished Oilpressure.com Drive of the Day.

All in All:  We went to this race last year and it was a surreal experience. Last year, I wrote about how odd it was to see the NTT IndyCar Series treated as a stepchild at the facility that gave the series its name. Many of you disagreed with me and said it was a NASCAR event and things were as they should be. But This weekend, folks like Marshall Pruett and others shared sentiments that aligned with mine a year ago. It’s an odd feeling but still one In would go to under normal circumstances.

It was surreal again Saturday, because except for the COVID year of 2020, I realized I was watching my first IndyCar race of any kind at IMS, when I was not in attendance since 2002. But given everything that happened with Susan since Thursday, I obviously made the right call to stay behind.

It is mid-afternoon on Sunday as I write this. Susan was moved from the trauma unit about 8:30 Saturday night. I was happy about that, but we did have a front-row seat for all of the Saturday night stabbing and gunshot wounds being brought in. The plan was to admit her and get her into a room Saturday night, but the hospital was full. We went from the trauma unit to a holding room around 8:30, thinking we would be in there for an hour or so. At around midnight, Susan was sound asleep and I was getting restless. I wear hard-lens contacts (not because I’m old fashioned, but because I can’t wear soft lenses) and they needed to come out. I finally left just before midnight Saturday night.

I got to bed around 1:00 am, slept until around 8:00 Sunday morning and then went back to the hospital. As of this writing, she is still in the holding room. They seem to be taking a much more different approach with her, so hopefully they can figure out and treat whatever has been causing her so much trouble over the past few months. God knows Hospital X hasn’t been able to figure out anything other than maximizing their revenue. It has grown tiresome.

Will she stay in the holding room again on Sunday night? Will she go to a regular room at Vanderbilt Hospital, or will she spend Sunday night back in the rehab center? As I write, I have no idea. This change of scenery (and doctors) could either be a whole new outlook on Susan’s health issues or more of the same. But at least we are trying something different. In this case, Change is…Good! Stay tuned.

George Phillips

10 Responses to “Random Thoughts on the Gallagher GP”

  1. Praying this hospital can figure out the rights steps to take to get Susan feeling better. You both have been through so much. Hope she is settled in a room now.

  2. Brent Blaine Says:

    🙏🏻

  3. Hoping Susan is okay and that you find a dang room and the right doctor very soon. Glad Rossi found one, hope it’s a sign of things to come.

  4. Praying that this new set of doctors and hospital can be a positive change for her health.

  5. billytheskink Says:

    Prayers continue for Susan and for you from my household.

  6. Tim Lauffer Says:

    Prayers for you all.

  7. Kessler Maurice Says:

    I certainly hope Mrs. Phillips makes a short & fantastic recovery so the two of you can enjoy the upcoming Music City GP in your hometown.

  8. Continuing to think about the two of you and sending all the best thoughts for a fast recovery for Susan. I hope I’ll get to see you both at the track this weekend.

  9. Randy Holbrook Says:

    Prayers for your wife George. That lady needs a break.

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