Will Power still Impressive

Let me start by saying I’m sorry I haven’t kept up with my blogging this summer. No excuses really, just busy with Matthew finishing his training with the Air National Guard and getting ready for school. Zach entered his Senior year and enjoys his job at Sonic. We usually attend the race at WTT Raceway but that was the weekend we moved Matthew to SIU. Ironically, his roommate drove up for the race. It was super tempting to make a last minute decision to attend also but with Steve with us and the threat of rain we remained in the Carbondale area and watched on TV. I regretted that decision when Will Power made history by tying Mario Andretti for the most poles but was glad for our decision when the race was red flagged for over two hours due to rain.

This past weekend the NTT IndyCar Series wrapped up its season at Laguna Seca. Five drivers were still eligible for the championship but in reality it was really down to Will Power, Josef Newgarden and Scott Dixon. The funny part is I was rooting for Will Power. How many times have we seen a race where Will Power wins the pole, dominates the race and wins? More times than I can count and more times than I care to recall but he doesn’t do it as much as he used to and more recently it’s his teammates that are dominating the race so when Will win the pole I was thrilled. Sadly, IndyCar ruined it for me by announcing it on my phone notification before I was able to watch qualifying. I try so hard to stay off social media when I can’t watch live so it was disappointing to glance at my phone and see who won from my Lock Screen. Nevertheless, it was exciting to watch.

Qualifying

So while IndyCar ruin the pole results, I didn’t know how everyone else did. While we know that Josef should have qualified much farther up I was glad to see that he would have to fight his way up from the back. Josef brought out a red flag when he messed up on the corkscrew and that put him starting in the second to last position. The red flag also caused havoc with Scott Dixon’s qualifying attempt and Scott did not advance to the fast 12. Power’s race was looking a lot more straightforward now.

Power advanced to the fast 6 and won his 68th pole in IndyCar, beating Mario Andretti’s record. Mario was among the first to congratulate Will and it was a sweet moment to watch. Power won 5 poles in the 2022 season so one can only assume that at least a few more poles will be added to his tally before he retires.

Race Day

With both Josef and Dixon starting significantly farther back it seemed Power should have the best chance of winning but one can never count out the iceman, Dixon or Team Penske. Scott Dixon was unimpressive this race though and hovered near the middle never really posing any threat. Josef Newgarden was quite the opposite. Josef had a great day and a yellow flag work in his favor. He was quickly passing cars and eventually passed Will Power on track. However, no one could come close to Alex Palou who won with a 30 second gap to Josef. Power finished third but solidly in first for the championship.

So Alex Palou got a win that he desperately needed for himself as he continues to wait and see what his future holds. Personally, I think he is crazy. He should have stayed with Ganassi but I don’t know him or what his goal in racing is but I would rather drive for a winning team and fight for an Indianapolis 500 win than be a no one in F1. Palou is well liked among fans and this whole mess might have derailed his career- that’s a post for another day. It will be interesting to see where he ends up.

Josef Newgarden proved that he is definitely at the top of his game. He had a few hiccups this year, including qualifying this past weekend but working your way from the back to the front is quite a feat and I expect both a 500 win and more championships in his future. He will come back in 2023 even stronger and you’d be crazy to bet against him next year.

Will Power! Wow, what a weekend. Honestly, I’m more impressed seeing the pole position record broken than the championship won. Years from now people will talk about the poles more than him winning another championship. Hopefully, now that the championship is won he can allow himself to celebrate the history he made by breaking Mario’s record. While I said earlier I have seen Will win the pole and dominate races many times, it does seem to be slowing down a touch and among the three Penske drivers, Will had the least amount of race wins. Once a driver is not on top I start cheering for him more. I guess you can argue that Will is still very much on top. You would be correct, but I think he had to fight harder for this one, or at least in a different way. He had to keep himself calm and recognize the talent he is up against without letting that intimidate him into making mistakes. He was calm and consistent and that is how he won the championship. Congratulations Will Power!

So let’s discuss the race itself.

Corkscrew- Such a fun turn to watch. It’s ironic that what messed Josef up in qualifying was also the same place he made many of his race passes. Always exciting watching cars go through the corkscrew.

Yellow flag- While I can understand IndyCars decision to not throw a yellow right away, I do not agree with it. While other racing series try and create drama, IndyCar avoids it by trying to “play fair” and waiting for all cars to pit before the track goes yellow. I don’t like this for two reasons. First, it’s only a matter of time until that backfires and someone is hurt because the yellow was delayed. Second, while a poorly timed yellow can ruin a drivers day, that is racing, that is part of the drama. IndyCar doesn’t need to create drama but can allow regular circumstances to play out and either ruin or make a drivers day. I don’t like yellows because I like seeing all the carnage of crashed race cars. I like yellows because it changes up the flow of the race and sometimes works in the favor of the small teams or struggling drivers and can provide a career and moral boosting win. A yellow should be thrown as soon as a car stops on the track or hits the wall.

Rookies- Christian Lundgaard won Rookie of the Year honors. He did great and deserves it. It was a highlight for the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team because honestly they struggled most of the year. However, I was really pulling for David Malukas to win. All the rookies were fun to watch this season. I had thought at the beginning of the season I would be most closely watch Kyle Kirkwood but sadly the Foyt team continues to struggle and I grew tired of watching Kyle. David Malukas took over as my favorite rookie but unfortunately he was not able to overcome the points deficit and was runner up for ROY.

A couple final tidbits-

James Hinchcliffe is great in the booth. I love that he is still a part of the series.

Double points for the Indy 500 are not needed. I’m all for Indy qualifying to pay more points but they are not needed for the race.

Peacock is great and well worth the price. My only real complaint is I’d love to be able to start it at anytime. I don’t always make it in time to watch live but then I need to wait until an hour or so after practice or qualifying is over to watch the replay. I’d love to be able to start that at anytime.

Thank You! I sure appreciate all who read my blog. I have a couple things I hope to write about soon sharing ways to keep enjoying IndyCar during the off season. Hope you will check them out.

Race Day at Road America

I had hoped to wake up early on race day and attend the short devotional that IndyCar Ministry does each race weekend. I’ve never attended one but they start so early and I wasn’t able to motivate myself to get dressed and ready in time to make the meeting. One of these days I will.

I did make the 9:30 meetup with the Elite IndyCar Facebook members. Don Mulder put together the meetup which made it easier for me since I have met Don several times now. It was a nice time to meet so new friends and I was especially grateful because several of the people who read my blog are part of the Elite IndyCar group. It’s a fun group and the admins run several giveaways making it even more fun. The group took a picture and then it was time to be thinking about where to sit for the race.

I walked through the paddock, ran into a few more friends and then made my way to the camper so Zach, Randy and I could get settled before the race began. We decided to watch from Canada Corner and I was surprised to see several open seats when we arrived. It was time for driver introductions so I had thought the area would be packed. Canada Corner isn’t the best place to watch the race from. Many would argue that turn 5 is the preferred spot. Turn 7 is another place we’ve enjoyed watching from in the past. However, from the outside seats in Canada Corner you can see a decent amount of track and you also have a video board to watch. There was shade and plenty of room on the bleachers if you didn’t bring chairs. We started on the bleachers in the sun but then Zach brought our chairs down and we enjoyed a shaded spot in a more comfortable seat. With the help of the video screen and our headset we were able to follow most of the action. Zach was rooting for Alex Palou so he was furious when Alex was taken out. Alex later rejoined the race but was not able to better his position. I was wanting to see Alexander Rossi back on the top step of the podium but he ended up third. Randy was able to see his favorite win and was thrilled with the victory for Josef Newgarden. Josef has now won on a street circuit, an oval and a road course so he was given a 1,000,000 bonus for winning on each different type of track. That made the win even more sweet.

With the race over we made our way to the paddock to see if we could find any drivers. We saw a few but didn’t get any pictures. After we walked up and down the paddock we headed back to the camper. Zach and I both enjoyed a short nap before dinner.

We went into town for dinner and then played a couple rounds of Rummikub in the camper at night. Zach had to work on Monday so we made it an early night so we could pack up and make the drive home before his shift started.

Life got busy when we arrived home and I still haven’t watched the TV coverage of the race. Guess I have that to look forward to on the off weekend we have.

Road America 2022

When I learned I would be able to attend all track days at the Indy 500 for the Month of May, I inquired about getting my media credentials. I was shot down before I could even say what my criteria was. Oh well. A couple friends and fellow bloggers suggested I try to get my credentials for Road America. I did not follow through mostly because I attend Road America with family and didn’t see myself really using them. We camp at RA so I have access to pretty much everything and lots of time at the track. What I wasn’t thinking of though was wifi. Cellular coverage is not great at Road America and we camp near the media center. If I had the password for their wifi I might actually be able to post my blogs and include the pictures I want with it too. I guess I need to try to get them for next year.

We arrived at Road America on Friday around 2:30 pm. We are camping on the front stretch and have a much larger site than we usually do. That didn’t help us though as the camper across from us had their giant motor home with their motorcycle and car parked in front of it. We couldn’t make the swing to back up the camper until they moved their truck. Randy had been bragging about his great parking jobs in past years and we joked that he would struggle this year. He didn’t but the way the neighbors parked made it difficult and we needed them to move. We got it all set though and Randy and Zach picked up the golf cart as I got things set at the site. We then went to watch the first practice.

Zach chose to relax in the camper and Randy and I went to check out some new vantage points. We hadn’t watched from Canada Corner or the carousal in past years. We found great new places and especially love a quiet spot we found in the trees off the carousel. We miss having video screens but love the view and the location. We watched practice and then walked through the paddock after. We caught up with Zach and went to check in with our friends, Joel and Amanda and their kids, we met them our first year here and have met up every year. We talked for a bit and then went back to make dinner. We did our traditional chicken sandwiches. After we walked through the paddock at night after everyone had gone home. It is pretty cool walking through the paddock when no one is around.

Saturday morning we were up and got breakfast going so we could enjoy the track activities. We watched the morning practice from the kettle bottoms. We ran into our friend Kathy while there. After practice we walked through the paddock. The Foyt Team was completely taking Kyle Kirkwood’s car apart. Kyle walked by and I asked what had happened. He said they had a small issue. It didn’t look small to me but the car made it out for qualifying. We got lunch and decided to watch qualifying from the carousel. Zach finally joined us for some track activity. We all had a favorite in the fast six but it was my pick, Alexander Rossi, that won the pole. Good to see Rossi doing well again.

After qualifying we all walked through the paddock. We saw some drivers and met up with our friend, Scott. Scott seems to switch teams every year and this year he is working with HMD on the Indy Lights side. He is really enjoying working with this group and as always it was great to see him and catch up.

As we headed back to the campsite we ran into George Phillips and he said that Susan was resting in the car. I had the boys drop me off so I could catch up with Susan. If you follow Oilpressure.com you know Susan was just released from a two week hospital stay. I’m so thankful she was able to attend Road America and am even more thankful that she is doing well and is cancer free. It was good to spend so time with her and look forward to future races when she is feeling even better.

For dinner we had chicken tacos that had been cooking in the crockpot all day. After dinner I walked over to say hello to the neighbors. I was mildly curious if they were just there for a weekend of drinking or if they followed IndyCar. Turned out it was a group of friends that meet up every year for a race. I’d say they are fans but this weekend was more about them all hanging out. They had their campers facing each other and all enjoyed many good meals. After dinner they provided entertainment and were kind enough to allow us to join in. Two men in the group played guitar and one played the bongos. However, it was Kirk that stole the show. Depending on the song, Kirk played a bucket or a kid xylophone. The video doesn’t show how well it all blended because the xylophone dominates in the video but it was not that way live. It was truly fascinating to watch how a toy xylophone and a bucket could contribute to the music. It was a great night.

I was sitting closer to the xylophone so the video is not as good as being there.

We went to bed around 11:30 knowing we had a fun day planned on Sunday.

2022 Indy 500

I’m sitting here at Road America and am yelling at myself for not writing my post about the Indy 500. I’ve had two weeks but failed to get my post done as I tried to “recover” from my two plus weeks away from home.

For those who know me- I went to bed the night before the 500 seriously wishing I was at home and could be watching on TV. Last year I was called out on social media for not being a true fan because I had only attended the Indianapolis 500 twice in my 50 years of life. Hey everyone has different traditions, for me I’ve been watching from home from 1985-2015. I attended my first 500 in 2015 and my second in 2019. 2022 marked my third 500. This time was different though and I spent 17 nights in Indy. I had an amazing couple of weeks but as I went to bed before the 500 I was wishing I was at home doing my usual routine and enjoying the 500 the way I was accustomed to- from home.

When I woke up in the morning that was not my thought. My mind was on what I needed to pack and get done before we left. That was helpful for not making me feel nostalgic for my regular routine.

We left Lisa’s around 9:30 but traffic was worse than 2015 and we arrived our parking spot later than I wanted. We had planned to hang out and have a drink/tailgate but I felt the need to get to our seats so we headed out as soon as we arrived. We parked outside the North 40 and were sitting in G stand so we had a walk. In 2019 we enjoyed time in the pagoda plaza before the race and we probably had time to do that this year but I felt the need to get to our seats so we walked around on the outside of the track to get to turn two. We had learned in 2019 how awesome the $10 chair back seats were so were purchased those as we neared our seats. The G stand was about half full as we arrived but of course someone was seated right next to our seats and had positioned his seat half way onto ours. I rolled my eyes but fortunately he was awesome and immediately asked if we needed more room and we quickly became friends. In 2019 the G stand had some extra room but there were very few open seats in 2022. Josh was a great seat mate. He might have enjoyed his beverages too much and needed a quick nap mid race but that was just fine. 😂

Who sleeps during the Indy 500?

The weather was about perfect. The sun was warm and the stands were crowded but there was a breeze that kept you from getting way to warm. The prerace ceremony was a highlight as always and reminded me of why it’s also important to attend in person. The tears flowed when they recognized all the military personnel at the track that day. So proud to say my son serves in the Air National Guard. Tears continued during Back Home Again. Then we experienced a surprise. The balloon launch had been cancelled the last few years but some fans in turn two took it upon themselves to do their own balloon launch. There were perhaps 100 balloons. Not so many that it had a huge grand effect but enough to be significant. I heard on Twitter it was enough to concern the Thunderbirds as they did their second flyover. Thankfully it did not cause any problems. I loved it and would like to know more details about how it was set up. I’m guessing next year security will be looking for anything glass and helium tanks.

Honoring our military

The race was a blur because even with a scanner it’s hard to keep track of all the action. I’m still only about halfway through watching the TV coverage. In the end it was Marcus Ericsson that took the twin checkers and drank the milk. Unfortunately, he also dumped the milk on his head. One of these days that tradition will go away when someone finally learns it’s not worth it to smell like sour milk for the rest of the day.

After the race we walked to the infield and discussed the race, reminisced about past years and just as we were talking about James Hinchcliffe we ran into him. We were able to say hello and grab a picture.

We then walked a bit out of our way to visit our friends and enjoyed a dinner they provided. That was a sweet bonus.

Friends forever

We attempted to watch the race that evening but exhaustion set in and we never finished it. We packed up Monday morning and made the drive back to the Chicago burbs. It was a great trip and I still hope to get a post or two out about my other adventures but this is Road America weekend and it’s time to focus on the race this weekend.

Rookie of the Year!

I had thought my next post would be telling of all the fun we had attending the Indianapolis 500 and I hope to get that post out soon but since then a new development happened and I can’t get it off my mind- Jimmie Johnson won Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year.

This is not a surprise. We all saw it coming. We’ve seen it before when Fernando Alonso won ROY. Yet it still infuriates me. I’m frustrated with the rules, the people that voted for him and with Jimmie and Chip Ganassi Racing for accepting the award.

It is not a surprise to anyone that regularly reads my blog that I am not a NASCAR fan. Jimmie Johnson made the move to IndyCar in 2021 but only drove the ovals. After his first year he decided to add the ovals to his schedule in 2022, including the Indy 500. Jimmie has embraced IndyCar and I have enjoyed watching him. I understand he is a huge star and therefore gets more attention than other drivers. I’d prefer it not be that way but it’s fine. The same could be said of Romain Grosjean. However, Jimmie Johnson was awarded the Rookie of the Year award last night at the awards banquet and I am not okay with that.

I’ve read many posts with people arguing both ways, some for, some against Jimmie being given this honor. Even Wikipedia explains that the term Rookie of the Year can be confusing because it may be awarded to someone with many years of racing and championships won but as long as this is the first Indianapolis 500 they are considered a Rookie. So even with all that in mind here is why I’m not happy about it.

Jimmie Johnson was not the rookie that qualified best. That honor goes to Romain Grosjean. David Malukas started in position 13, just one behind Johnson.

Jimmie Johnson was not the highest finishing rookie in the race. Not only that but Devlin DeFrancesco, Christian Lundgaard, Kyle Kirkwood and David Malukas all finished higher.

Jimmie Johnson crashed during the race. He crashed! Anyone who watches racing knows that often drivers are caught up in an accident that is not their fault. Fortunately, every crash in this years 500 was single car incident and did not take anyone else out. Jimmie crashed all on his own and he made the mistake himself. We’ve seen this nearly every race he has been in. Jimmie crashed. How can you be the ROY if you crashed? Ridiculous!

From the time I started writing this until the time I published it I watched some of the awards ceremony. It does appear that Johnson was not aware he would be receiving the Rookie of the year award until it was presented to him so my next argument isn’t as strong but Jimmie should have turned it down. He knows he is not a true rookie. He has performed under pressure at both the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400 as well as any other track where points were on the line for his NASCAR championships. He is a veteran in so many ways. David Malukas is a young kid, 20 years old, completely overwhelmed by the pomp and circumstance of the Indy 500, blown away by the size of the crowd and feeling the pressure of so many eyes on him. Jimmie should have turned down the award so it could be given to David Malukas. Chip Ganassi should have done the same. At the end of the day Johnson will not have a single thing change in his life because he won this honor. Had Malukas won and been able to put on his resume that he was the Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year some teams and sponsors might take a second look. The prize money would go a long way and the confidence boost would be huge. For Jimmie the money means nothing, the title won’t give him more screen time because he already dominates there and sponsors are all ready lined up. His career is set and doesn’t need a boost. David Malukas was completely robbed and it’s a shame that those who vote for this are so blinded to what the award could really mean to a true rookie.

I’m not really one to complain about IndyCar but this is one area they got wrong and David Malukas should be rookie of the year. In my book he is. I hope future drivers that are truly veterans will see the problem here and pull themselves from competing for the title and realize the honor should go to a true Rookie.

Having said all this, I do appreciate how Johnson has embraced IndyCar and the new eyes he has brought to our racing series. I hope it makes other veteran drivers from NASCAR and F1 want to do a crossover but let them compete for a crossover award and not a rookie award.

Pole Day and the Burger Bash

The Sunday before the race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway had been bump day for many years. Recently, in an effort to make the two day qualifying more exciting or when there may or may not be bumping, Pole Day has been moved to Sunday. The last few years saw some bumping on Saturday and then every car would once again go out on Sunday. The previous times would be erased and the drivers would set a new time and determine their place in the field. The slower 24 cars would go out first, in inverted order for one shot to improve their position. After the fast 9 would be given one more shot to make the Pole. The risk was fairly equal for all drivers.

This year the format was again changed and the fast 9 became the fast 12. Position 13-33 would be determined solely on Saturday and because of weather we only saw two cars for out for a second attempt. Sadly, Stefan Wilson did not have his car ready due to an engine change. Stefan qualified 33rd.

The fast 12 went out to determine the fast 6. Then the fast six were given one last shot to win the pole. Rinus VeeKay had the fastest time on Saturday and traditionally would have been the Pole winner. Under the new rules, Scott Dixon was able to beat VeeKay’s time and won the Pole. Scott Dixon also had the fastest time ever for a Pole position at a speed of 234.046. Alex Palou is second and Rinus VeeKay is third.

While the format was exciting and seeing some of the fastest speeds we’ve seen in years helped add to the excitement, I’m not sure this is the best format. To gain that top step you have to give everything you have, every driver will tell you it is one of the hardest things they do in racing. Asking them to go out again and again adds a lot more pressure. The pressure should be on those in the back of the field trying to make it in or improving their position. I know there isn’t a perfect answer and I’m sure the format will continue to be tweaked each year but I guess I’m old school and would prefer Pole Day be on Saturday. Until we have several drivers trying to bump their way in that won’t happen.

Since, the qualifying didn’t start until 2:00 and since I’d been at the track everyday of the week we chose to arrive before qualifying and skip the morning practice. I attended church with Lisa, we grabbed a coffee at the Spark in Speedway and then we prepared to go to the track.

We walked through the garage area first and then made our way to seats along the front stretch but near turn one. We had a great view of the cars as the waited for turn as well as the track. We all had our favorites among the top 12 and 6. Scott Dixon was not anyone’s favorite but we all cheered for him as he set the new pole record and did was Scott Dixon, the Iceman, always does. This was his second Pole in a row and his fifth overall. Rick Mears holds the record at 6 Poles.

We stayed in our seats and celebrated before exiting the Speedway. On our way out we decided to accept a ride from a pedicab. I was telling Randy about the Rickshaw races at the Milwaukee Mile and how great Big Steve was and our driver said that he came in fourth in that race. He also said that Big Steve was diagnosed with brain cancer shortly after that and lost the battle about 15 months later. He had a mini license plate that read #BigSteveStrong.

Randy and I then met his sister and brother-in-law for dinner at Big Woods. I had only met them once before, many years ago at a reunion. It was a fun night catching up.

Mark, Randy and Jenny

Burger Bash

Monday afternoon there was a two hour practice that we attended. The weather was beautiful but warm in the sun. We watched a bit, walked to the museum, ran into Simon Pagenaud and his sweet pup, Norman, saw Conor Daly’s hot tub and did a final pass through the garage. Monday concluded a streak of 7 consecutive days at the track for me and I was feeling it. I was tired. However, we still had one more think to do that night- attend the Burger Bash.

For many years I have been so disappointed that I was never able to attend Curt Cavin and Kevin Lee’s Carb Night Burger Bash. Then a couple years ago they were too busy to have it. Of course it did not happen in 2020 and was also not done in 2021. This year they brought it back but changed a few things. The first change was the day. It was now held on the last practice day- Monday. The location was also great, the USAC Headquarters parking lot right off the roundabout in Speedway. It was high on my list to be in attendance no matter how tired I was.

We arrived right at 6:00 but didn’t bring our chairs in so I ran back to the car to get them while Randy enjoyed a burger. Our chairs were low beach chairs but we found a place where we could still see all that was going on. Kevin was interviewing some of the doctors that work for the IU Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center, including Dr. Hanna and Dr. Lee. When Dr. Nasser Hanna left the stage he walked past where I was sitting and tapped my shoulder saying hello and nice to see me. I thought that was kind but just thought he was trying to greet and thank the people that were attending. I smiled and greeted him back. However, when he returned and told me he should probably introduce himself because while he knew me I probably didn’t know him. He then made my jaw drop by telling me he reads my blog. I believe my response was one of total shock asking if he truly did read it. He said he had been reading for years and have watch my boys grow up through my blog. Wow! That made my day! Later that night we talked again and took a picture together by Jackson Lee’s car. Dr. Hanna (Nasser) then told me he had seen me before at races but hadn’t wanted to be that “crazy” person that said hello (not sure if crazy was his word or mine) and I laughed and said I am always that crazy person stopping people I only know from social media or bloggers. He then asked if I knew George Phillips. I laughed and said of course, George is the real deal in the blogging world posting three times a week. It was so nice meeting Nasser and I look forward to seeing him at more races in the future.

Longtime reader- Dr. Nasser Hanna

During the radio portion of the Burger Bash several drivers showed up but I was happiest to see Stefan Wilson. I have a picture in my head of Justin at the Burger Bash drinking a shake and talking with Curt and Kevin. It was great seeing Stefan in that role- minus the shake. Marcus Ericsson, James Hinchcliffe, Kyle Kirkwood, Rinus VeeKay, Dalton Kellett and several drivers in the ladder series were all in attendance. I would have loved to grab a picture with a few of the drivers I hadn’t yet seen this month I chose to just enjoy the show. I also would have loved a chance to say hello to Curt and Kevin but wasn’t able to say hello. Hopefully, I will still get a chance to say hello before the month is over.

I am staying in Indy this week and enjoying some other activities around town. I should have another post up in a day or two detailing all the off track fun I’m having this week. Thanks for reading and a big thank you to Nasser Hanna for being a longtime reader and taking the time to say hello, it meant a lot to me.

Fast Friday and Day One Qualifying

Fast Friday was both fast and slow. We saw some great speeds on track, some of the fastest we’ve seen in years. We also saw very few cars on track. The winds made it quite tricky to run full throttle and no one wanted to run the risk of damaging their car. We didn’t see the cars all running together the way we would like but did see some impressive speeds when they did go out.

My cousin, Randy, joined me for the qualifying weekend and we enjoyed Fast Friday from Turn One and made sure we spent some time in the garage area as well.

The wind beat us up but kept us from getting too hot so it was hard to complain. In the garage area we were in the right place at the right time to get a great picture with Jimmie Johnson. He was very kind but also eager to take the picture quickly and duck into the garage before the crowds showed up. Randy was able to get a great picture with him.

Jimmie Johnson

After practice ended we stayed for the qualifying draw. This is something I’ve always wanted to be at the Speedway for. Especially, in the last couple years. NBC/Peacock does a lot right but having someone interviewing the teams/drivers and also have Allen Bestwick running the draw is too much going on. Anyone that tunes in for the qualifying draw is not looking for entertainment we don’t need additional interviews or segments. Just let us watch what is going on on the stage.

We enjoyed being able to watch live and see exactly what we wanted to experience. We had a blast. After we went to Dawson’s on Main and enjoyed an amazing meal there. I ordered the tenderloin. Calamari steak made a great appetizer.

Qualifying Day One

The threat of rain was there all night and morning but miraculously it held off and qualifying started at the new appointed time. They moved it up an hour because of the threat of rain in the afternoon. Qualifying went off without any major drama. Juan Pablo Montoya failed inspection and had to go to the end of the line. Stefan Wilson needed an engine change and unfortunately was not able to get it done before the rains came in the afternoon. Stefan will be starting in the 33rd position. He had placed higher in Friday’s practice so I was hopeful he would start closer to 25. We had a chance to meet Don Cusick in the garages. He was enjoying talking with us as much as we enjoyed talking to him. He took a picture with me and even took a picture of my photo on my lock screen. He has a ton of faith in Stefan and is very excited to grow this team. Can’t wait to see what the next couple years bring. Go Stefan! He is definitely the one I will be cheering for the most next Sunday.

Don Cusick

Rain came in the afternoon and just when cars got back out on track lightning and then rain came to end the day. Disappointing for those hoping to break into the top 12 and as stated extremely disappointing for Stefan not getting a chance to qualify.

Rinus Veekay ran fastest and hopefully can hold on to that position. It was a fun day and can’t wait to see how it all plays out on Sunday.

Ten Years

Ten years ago today we met Justin Wilson. Long time readers of my blog know the story but I never tire of telling it.

Matthew and Zachary were members of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Kids Club. They had an event on the Sunday afternoon of qualifying weekend. It must have been a bump day at the time. You could get face paintings, race lego cars and other silly kid stuff. They also had a few drivers there signing autographs and taking pictures.

Before we left I tweeted Justin Wilson, Tony Kanaan and James Hinchcliffe saying we hoped to see them there. Almost immediately Justin sent me a message asking when and where. I responded and the boys and I left for the Speedway.

Upon arriving at the event we saw some drivers from various ladder series. John Andretti was also there. It was great meeting him and we talked for several minutes. I sent out another tweet saying we hope to see Justin and again he almost immediately responded- Well I’m Here.

One of the best parts about this story was the poor woman running the event. She had no idea Justin would be showing up and she ran to get everything in place for him to meet the kids. We were of course first in line. I will never forget that Justin took the time to respond to my tweet and then show up at the event. He made my kids, and me, so happy that day and proved that IndyCar drivers are the best with fan interactions.

We still miss Justin terribly but are so thankful for sweet memories like this one. We are also thrilled that Justin’s younger brother Stefan is once again in the 500 field. He is just as sweet and kind and his brother. Can’t wait to cheer for him in the 106th running of the Indianapolis 500.

Tears All Day Long

It has not been a sad day but a day of reminiscing and I have found myself tearing up all day.

Today is my last day at the track by myself. Tomorrow Lisa and Randy will both be here to join me watching the cars on track. Today I get one last opportunity to experience the Speedway by myself. As I entered the track I sat by a young boy, maybe 4, with his dad and grandpa. Oh how I wish my boys could have been here with my dad. Or maybe I wish I could have been her with my dad and my sons. To have three generations enjoying time at the track together. As I said before I can’t enter the gates without thinking of my dad but as I’ve entered the gates the last few days without my sons I’m feeling a tug towards them also. Thankfully, my boys will join me for the 500. It was just a sweet thing to see this family enjoying the day together.

I made my way to the infield and walked through the garage area. I then found a seat in the tower terrace. I enjoyed the action from there for about half and hour and then crossed to the outside and found seats very close to where dad and I sat on our first trip. I wish I knew our exact seats. I remember that we parked in someone’s yard. We brought in a cooler with bologna for lunch. Don’t remember if dad had some beers or not. We had bought a newspaper and dad was recording the qualifying times on it. Robby Gordon crashed and we watched A J Foyt announce his retirement and take his last laps on the track. The whole reason we were there was AJ so it was bittersweet. I saw AJ on track at Indy- and then it was his last day on track at Indy. I sat and remembered my memories with my dad and was grateful for my sunglasses which hid the tears that wanted to fall.

Since that trip with dad I have explored the Indianapolis Motor Speedway more and I knew that I preferred the penthouse seats in turn one so I moved that way for the rest of qualifying. Of course up there I ran into a sweet family with two young boys. The boys were a bit bored and were running up and down the row. They were not misbehaving just being boys. I watched and missed my boys. I would keep Matthew and Zachary busy by having them make checkered flag necklaces. They would then pass out the necklaces to those sitting near. It was never our intent to make money from the necklaces but the people that were gifted them often gave the boys a couple bucks. We made enough to cover our admission fees and buy a treat or two. Those were precious days. I walked over to the young family and said what so many had said to me when my sons were young- enjoy these days, they go so fast. And of course being me I teared up as I talked to them. Lol! So many drivers and owners in the IndyCar series remember me when I say I was the one that cried when I met you last year. I continued watching the young family as cars ran on track. It was a good afternoon.

Towards the end of the day I made my way to the garage so I could enter before they closed the gate. I was able to meet Josef Newgarden and Will Power. I purchased a program and of course it started raining. I made sure it was wrapped up and made my way to my car. The rain was light so it was a pleasant walk and I appreciated the sweet day I had just experienced.

Friday I will be at the track with friends and I can’t wait for that but I was also grateful for a chance to just soak up all the speedway has to offer with no interruptions and time to reminisce, remembering old times and also making new memories. Over a week to keep building on my experiences at IMS. This is a great week!

Very close to where dad and I sat on our first trip.

Day Two-Rainy Day

I knew I would still go to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway even in the rain but the question was when. I should have gone early and walked through the garage area. I was fairly certain there would be no track activity so it was just when I thought I’d encounter the least amount of rain and see the most drivers. My friend Mike sent me a message saying to get over to AJ’s garage as he was taking pictures with fans but I was still at home at that time. At noon the rain was light but it was coming so I ran some errands instead hoping the rain would lighten up around 2:00.

The rain stayed fairly light and I guess I should have gone to the Speedway earlier but the radar still looked fair so I went over around 2:00. I knew it would still be a cool, drizzly day but any day at IMS is a good day so I headed out.

Fans of IndyCar are not fair weather fans. The infield parking was full and I had to park in the North 40. That surprised me a bit. The rain was light though so I skipped the poncho and just used my umbrella. I walked in and made my way to the garages.

I would have love to stop in some of the shops but didn’t want to damage anything I bought in the rain so I will plan that for a different day. I went into the garage area and saw Pato O’Ward. He was jogging towards his golf cart and I’m not the biggest Pato fan so I didn’t stop him. I figured d make my way up through the garages and then return home. I wasn’t going to stay out all day in the rain. A trip through the garages proved uneventful but I decided to make one more pass, hoping to see Stefan Wilson. I peeked in his garage but didn’t see him. I continued on my way and Stefan drove right by in his golf cart. Perfect timing. I said hello and asked if I could get a picture. He said yes and pulled his cart over and stepped out. I grabbed the selfie and he said we should take a second one that showed his fire suit. We talked for a bit. Me telling him how excited I was this ride came together and especially happy that AJ Foyt Racing was a part of it. Stefan commented how amazing it was having so many work together and how today’s rain day was okay for his crew as they could work on the car. I showed him my Lock Screen on my phone which is a picture of Justin and Matthew and he remembered seeing it before. I reluctantly let him go as it was raining and even though I’d love nothing more than to continue talking I don’t want to take up all his time. I thanked him again for stopping and chatting and wished him well in the race.

I walked away with a smile on my face. The rain picked up and continued to come down even harder as I walked back to my car but it was worth facing the rain to have that chance to talk with a Stefan Wilson. I had picked the exact right time to go.