Indianapolis 2023 Red Flag or Not

How Josef Newgarden is able to strap back into the car and race in Detroit I do not know. I’ve just been dealing with my day to day life and I’m still exhausted from last weekend. Well, I’m exhausted from the whole month which also included Zach’s high school graduation. If I’m struggling to get back to my “day job” how are the IndyCar drivers doing and especially Indy 500 winner, Josef Newgarden?

The NTT IndyCar Series returns to Detroit but to a new street course. They are no longer racing on Belle Isle but on a new course downtown. It will be a demanding weekend for all as they learn the new track and I feel we will either see a race of follow the leader or a very accident prone race with tired drivers making mistakes. I hope I’m wrong. Either way I didn’t want to get into the Detroit GRand Prix without addressing the Indianapolis 500 so I am finally catching up on what I wanted to say about last weeks race.

Actually, there is a lot I want to say but I will narrow it down to the points most important to me.

Stefan, Graham, and Cusick Motorsports

When Graham’s car wouldn’t start at the beginning of the race all I could think of is how unreal his month has been. That was not what Graham or the team needed. Thankfully, Don Cusick is not easily discouraged and excited about the future. They will be back and fighting to establish themselves in IndyCar.

Kyle Kirkwood

His accident was so scary but for him and spectators. I just visited the gravesite of Wilbur Brinks, the young man that was killed by a tire while playing in his yard outside the track. The tire could have done so much more damage. Kyle also had a wild ride going upside down. Kyle, next time leave your visor down until the car comes to a complete stop. Thankfully driver and fans were fine. One fans car took the hit from the tire and Roger Penske and IMS made sure she made it home and she will be receiving a new car.

Red Flags

Sundays race had too many red flags. I understand the reason behind them all but three red flags is two (or three) too many. I’m not a fan. I’m sure others would tell me why driving even slower to not go through too many yellow laps wouldn’t work but I feel like just slow the cars down but keep them moving. Even if that would have worked for the first two red flags it would not have worked on the last red flag as there was just not enough time to clean up and go green before the 500 miles were done. The last one is tricky. There was not enough time even for the red flag, in my opinion they needed at least one more lap for a fair race to the end. However, I didn’t want Marcus Ericsson to win and was really rooting for Santino Ferrucci so I didn’t hate the red flag. But red flags can’t be thrown because the outcome is not what is wanted. I was truly surprised by the red flag because I thought the rule was they needed a certain number of laps until the end or else it would end under yellow. I’ve since learned that is not a hard and fast rule but more of a guideline. We can debate all day but three red flags made the race way too gimmicky and we all complain that NASCAR manipulates the race too much and has so many gimmicks, let’s not follow that example. When IndyCar threw the first red flag, they would not have known two more were coming but I think they need to be used only in true red flag conditions (a blocked track, injured driver or weather) and maybe one in the last 10-5 laps but once you use it you can’t keep going red. That’s essentially the same as NASCAR and green white checkered that we all complain about.

Snake or Dragon

Which leads us to a final thought on the snake or dragon move that has become more popular to not allow the car behind you to draft and pass you before the finish line. Per IndyCar rules the lead car can not block but they can make a first move to throw off the driver behind them. It’s not ideal but with how the cars can draft it is what is needed to hold your lead. I’m fine with it. What I’m not fine with is how far into the pit lane Josef and then Marcus went. I was watching and seriously wondering what had happened to make Josef pull into the pits. Rules or not, it was way too low and a recipe for disaster in the future. Good on Ferrucci for holding the regular line. Swerve all you want that is your call on the race track but going so far down the pit lane needs to be looked at and addressed before someone gets seriously hurt. It’s currently not cheating or wrong but it also felt a bit like a desperate move and I wasn’t a fan. I want to watch a repeat of the 2022 race and see if they went as far down as Josef and Marcus did this year. I hope we see a change in the rules for next year, just keep them on the main track.

So there are a couple thoughts I’ve been pondering all week. I would have loved to spent more time on the post and wrote it sooner but that just didn’t happen. Im already behind this week and plan to go catch up on qualifying for Detroit now. Have a great race weekend everyone!

Something to Make You Smile

The drama at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been a bit intense the last few days. First, bump day when we weren’t sure which of the Rahal Letterman Lanigan drivers would be out of the race. Jack Harvey went out and did what no one expected and went faster with a warm engine. He bumped out Graham Rahal with no time left on the clock for Graham to make another attempt. Then during Mondays practice, Katherine Legge and Stefan Wilson hit the wall and unfortunately Stefan broke a vertebrae and is not able to race on Sunday. In a wild turn of events, Graham Rahal will be driving for Stefan.

Thankfully, Stefan is doing as well as can be expected. He is scheduled to have surgery on Wednesday. It’s not been said but I am hopeful for a full recovery for him. Graham will be driving the No. 24 Dreyer & Reinbold/ Cusick Motorsports car and while we all wish it was Stefan, it is good to have Graham in the race. I said in my previous post it has left me feeling a bit numb. It’s hard to be happy for Graham knowing that Stefan is hurt. Knowing that Stefan is doing well though and is in good spirits definitely helps.

So to help us all get ready for the 107th Indianapolis 500 I have put together a playlist with songs and sound bites that I hope you all will enjoy. They are all from YouTube and you will need to download the Musi app. It is a free app and I have really enjoyed how easy it is to use since my son told me about it. I hope you enjoy the playlist. It includes some of my favorites.

https://feelthemusi.com/playlist/8pvcxy

Since I first began this post we have learned that Stefan’s surgery went well and that is indeed cause to celebrate.

The Highs and Lows of the Indianapolis 500

If you have been following along on my blog, you know that while in Indy my first stop every morning was the Dreyer & Reinbold/ Cusick Motorsports garage to visit my favorite team. My family has been a fan of Stefan Wilson since his days in Indy Lights and we were thrilled when he teamed up with Don Cusick. We were even more excited to learn that Cusick Motorsports would team up with Dreyer and Reinbold for the 107th Indianapolis 500. This was announced early in the year giving Stefan a wonderful opportunity to focus on the racing rather than putting a ride together. I’m forever grateful for all Don Cusick has done for Stefan.

First day seeing Stef at IMS
Love this team!

Don Cusick doesn’t stop with putting the team together. He is incredibly engaging with the fans. He posts his own social media and reaches out to many. He has given away tshirts and other gifts on Facebook sites (particularly Elite IndyCar) and multiple times has told members of that group to please stop by the garage and say “Hi”. I have not met anyone who is not impressed with Don both as team owner and a genuinely nice guy.

Of course, we all know Stefan is equally as kind and engaging. Last year he stood and talked with me for several minutes in the rain. This year, I enjoyed several conversations with him and have never once seen him act unkind to anyone. I couldn’t wait to cheer him on in Sundays race. I could see his determination on his face every time he stepped in the car.

I don’t believe you can jinx something by speaking about it loud, the world doesn’t work that way but nevertheless I did not say out loud or on social media how surprised I was that not a single car had been involved in an accident. I was watching the Monday practice in my kitchen while cleaning up when I heard the crash and realized it involved Stefan. Katherine Legge failed to slow down and hit Stefan from behind. Both cars made contact with the wall but Stefan’s car hit at a force and angle that looked scary. Katherine exited her car but Stefan did not. The cameras were not showing much and that is usually not a good sign. A stretcher was brought out and after what felt much longer than it really was Stefan was extracted from the car and gave the crowd a thumbs up. Finally, some good news. I was so grateful for that thumbs up. We still didn’t know the extent of his injuries but we knew he was awake and able to move his arms.

We eventually learned that Stefan did not have life threatening injuries but that he was taken directly to IU Health Methodist Hospital for evaluation. It was determined that he suffered a fracture of the 12th thoracic vertebrae and would not be allowed to compete in this year’s Indianapolis 500. Tears of joy that Stefan would recover and tears of sadness that he would not be racing. We still wait for more news on what recovery looks like and pray that it is a quick and full recovery and he can get back to racing soon.

The mixed tears were similar to what I experienced with Graham Rahal and Jack Harvey just a day earlier. Now speculation had begun about who might fill Stefan’s seat and three drivers topped that speculation list, Graham Rahal, JR Hildebrand and Sage Karam. Any one of them would have been a great choice. Any one of them would take a lot of work to get the switch made. It seemed to me though that Graham would have the most obstacles to overcome.

Don Cusick posted on his Facebook page that a driver announcement would be made at a Tuesday morning press conference at the media center at IMS. Before the cameras are rolling you can hear Don say, “I guess the cats out of the bag now.” Someone laughs and responds “yeah” and I was fairly certain it was Graham Rahal. As the press conference begins and people are introduced we learn that it is indeed Graham Rahal that will be replacing Stefan Wilson in this years Indianapolis 500. I am happy with that decision.

As you reflect over the last 24-48 hours so many ups and downs. Stefan was solidly in the race with a great team and a great car, Graham failed to qualify and would be sitting on the sidelines. Now, Stefan is in the hospital awaiting more tests and news on his recovery and Graham will be driving in this years Indy 500. The range of emotions is all over the place. How can you be happy for Graham when you know what it cost Stefan? After the emotion we saw from Graham after he failed to make the race how can you not be happy for him and then again with your very next thought you go back to Stefan and are heartbroken. I’m honestly a bit numb. It’s been a crazy couple days as a fan. I can’t imagine how much more intense for all those involved.

What I do know, there is never a dull moment when IndyCars are racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Drivers put everything at risk to be the one whose face is added to the Borg Warner trophy. The Speedway can produce the lowest low and the highest high. Thankfully, this time the low did not take a life and Stefan will be back more determined than ever. He has a great team standing with him and I’m very excited to see how they continue to grow and move forward. This was a heartbreaking couple days, prayers will continue for Stefan and the team.

I had said on Sunday that I was wearing my Graham Rahal shirt and would wear it again on race day. I might need to change that to my Cusick Motorsports shirt that Stefan, Don and Anders Krohn signed for me. I want to see that team running up front and showing the world how very determined they are. I am glad Graham has this opportunity, I never would have chose for it to work out this way. Some things are completely out of our control and since someone needed to fill that seat I am glad it is Graham.

This is just the start of the Cusick Motorsports team story. It will go on and build and this will be a team fans cheer on for so many reasons. They will be fast and competitive on the track and they will be kind and gracious in the paddock and that combination will make them a favorite and respected team throughout IndyCar. I expect great things in their future.

Stefan, please know you remain in my prayers for both a quick recovery and that you can have peace in this situation. I know it must seem impossible but I do just pray that you can keep your eyes on the future and not dwell on the past. I can’t wait to see you at a race track soon.

Qualifying Weekend for the 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500

The weather was beautiful for practice on Wednesday and Thursday. I was so grateful for the opportunity to spend the week at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. My first stop of the day would always be the Dreyer & Reinbold/ Cusick Motorsports garage to see Stefan Wilson and Don Cusick. Both are amazing with the fans and I enjoyed checking in each day. I’m very excited to see how Don continues to move the team forward and get even more involved with IndyCar. He has such a passion for racing and is extremely welcoming to the fans.

I spent a fair amount of my days walking around the garage area but also enjoyed watching the cars from several vantage points. I enjoyed meeting other fans and catching up with friends. I happened to run into George Phillips and John Oreovicz on Wednesday night at Dawson’s on Main and they were kind enough to let me join them for the evening. We had a good time discussing IndyCar.

Due to my sons High School graduation I had to leave town on Friday morning. After saying goodbye to Lisa and thanking her for hosting me I made a quick drive through Crown Hill Cemetery to see the final resting place for Carl Fisher and also Bob Jenkins. I also stopped by Wilbur Brinks plot. He is the young boy that was killed in his backyard from a tire that got loose. So tragic.

Then I made my way to Charlie Browns for one last amazing breakfast. The diner was quite crowded but I was able to get a single spot at the counter. I struck up a conversation with the man sitting next to me and offered him some advice on navigating the Speedway. He thanked me and also surprised me by paying for my breakfast. I didn’t learn this until I went up to the register to pay and was told it was taken care of. So sweet. Thank you kind sir.

It was a long drive home because I was tired from the week but listening to fast Friday on Peacock helped. I was very disappointed that the qualifying draw was not televised at all. The coverage the last few years has been awful because they had too much going on with someone running the draw and then another person or two doing interviews after. If you are a big enough fan to watch the draw you don’t need any extra glitz, you just want to see where everyone will line up for qualifying. It was very disappointing to not have it aired.

Saturday Qualifying

Saturday, day one of qualifying went off about as expected. The only really big surprise was how well the AJ Foyt team did. Both Santino Ferrucci and Benjamin Pedersen made the fast 12. Tony Kanaan seemed satisfied to just be in the field but the Arrow McLaren team insisted he go out again and TK also made the top 12. Stefan Wilson has a very respectable 25th starting position and feels they have a strong car for race day. Stef had been 24th most the day but towards the end of the day David Malukas who had been near the back all day had a great run and jumped to the 23rd position. That set Stefan back one spot but puts him on the inside of the row. I think that might be preferred so perhaps it’s not all bad. Katherine Legge was the only member of the Rahal Letterman Lanigan racing team to make the field on Saturday. Christian Lundguard, Jack Harvey and Graham Rahal would be joined by Sting Ray Robb from Dale Coyne racing on Sundays last chance qualifying.

Sunday Fast 12 Qualifying

The fastest 12 went out with one chance to make the fast six. No big surprises there. The field was very close and Dixon, O’Ward, VeeKay, Palou, Ferrucci and Rosenqvist would move on to the fast six. After an hour break the last chance qualifying began.

Last Chance Qualifying

Christian Lundguard went out and had the highest time among the four trying to fill the last three spots. Sting Ray Robb was next and had the second highest speed. Jack Harvey was bumped out by Graham Rahal and it became obvious that it would be either Jack or Graham that failed to qualify. Graham could do nothing but wait. If he tried to qualify again he would have to pull his time so waiting and hoping Harvey would not improve was all he could do. Harvey made a second attempt that did not improve his position. With only a few minutes left in qualifying they sent Jack out to cool down the engine by running air over it. He came back in, the team made a few more adjustments and they sent Jack out in a last ditch effort to get him in the field. Time ran out for qualifying as Jack made his run, no more chances would be given for either driver. It was a long shot because usually a car needs to cool down to be at its best. Harvey drove his heart out though and amazingly made the field. Jack’s average speed was 229.166 and Graham’s was 229.159. It was extremely emotional for both drivers. I wasn’t sure who my tears were for, joy for Jack or heartbreak for Graham. With very little time to process what had just happened we moved on to the fast six, this was where we needed the hour break.

Fast Six Qualifying

I was really hoping Santino Ferrucci would win the pole but he will be starting third. Scott Dixon will be sixth and once again a driver failed to win the pole for a third time in a row. It was Alex Palou that won the pole with the fastest pole speed in history. With Palou’s win at the GP and now the pole you have to assume he is feeling extremely confident about winning the race.

It was a fun and exciting day at qualifying. It had all the elation and heartbreak that makes the Indianapolis 500 the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. I can only imagine how exciting race day will be. Many have speculated that Graham will buy his way into the race and possibly even bump Katherine Legge from her spot but I don’t see that happening. I think Graham understands and the team respects that qualifying should remain as it is. It really sucks for Graham but we have seen it happen many times before to other talented drivers. It is part of Indy history and I think Graham will return from this stronger and even more determined.

Thanks for reading this lengthy post. I had a lot to cover. I have a couple more posts planned for the week and hope you will check back. Happy Race Week!

Rain Day, Fun Day

Opening Day for Indianapolis 500 practice had rain in the forecast but there was a chance for dry weather in the afternoon. Unfortunately, the sun came too late for the ability to get cars on track. Nevertheless, it was a fun day.

I went over to the Speedway around 10:00 and it was just misting a bit when I left Lisa’s but it was a steady rain when I arrived so I opted to wait in the car. No sense in getting soaked. The rain lightened up and I didn’t need my umbrella or poncho the rest of the day. It did keep drizzling though.

Upon entering I went straight to the Cusick Motorsports garage in hopes of seeing Stefan Wilson. He was there making a video with Anders Krohn. The two were laughing as putting together the scooter was not going as well as expected. Anders noticed the shirt I was wearing and Stefan came out for pictures. We talked for a bit and he told another woman how he knows me from social media. Talked with Anders too and said I have a great picture of him with my boys from years ago. Don Cusick was not currently there.

I continued through the garages and saw Rinus VeeKay, Marcus Ericsson, AJ Foyt and Johnny Rutherford. The rain was picking up just a bit so I went to sit in the covered stands and have some lunch. I watched the track dryers do their job and hoped we would see cars on track.

I went back to the garage area and saw several more drivers. I had found the picture with Anders and my boys so I showed him. Katherine Legge was also in the picture and she is attempting to race in the 500 this year so it made the picture extra special. Don Cusick was there and recognized me from Facebook and took some pictures and talked for a bit. I absolutely love this team. So fan friendly and kind. Also saw RC Enerson and David Malukis as I walked through the garages. Eventually all the drivers and cars started making their way to the track so I did too.

On my way to a seat I ran into George Phillips (Oilpressure.com) and we talked and made our way to some seats but rain drops started falling and track activity was halted before it ever started. As George and I talked we ran into Mike Silver (ThePitWindow.com) and Phil Kaiser, a long time reader of George’s blog. We stood and talked for about an hour- long enough that my legs were getting tired. I said goodbye to the guys and walked through the pit area. On Tuesday only bronze badge holders had pit access. I would have preferred cars being in the pits but I wasn’t going to miss an opportunity to walk through the pits.

I decided to go back to the garages and finally got a picture with Tony Kanaan. I’ve seen him at most races but he is always on his scooter and just flying by. Zach has a selfie with him and once I quickly got his autograph but he didn’t even look up. Today was super quick too but finally (his last year to race in the 500) I finally got a picture. When I was talking with the guys earlier we were discussing if TK was fan friendly or not. Only one thought he was. As much as I like him I have to say he is not good about interacting with the fans.

Love that I finally got a picture with TK.

As I continued through the garages it became obvious that they must have called off any chance of getting on track because everyone was packing things up. I was tired so I also decided to head home. I never got to see the cars on track but still enjoyed my day and now that I was able to see so many drivers in the garage I can focus on track activity the next two days. Both of which have a fantastic forecast.

Will the Rain Stop My Fun?

It’s Tuesday, opening day for the Indianapolis 500 and there is a threat for rain. It’s so unfair because today Bronze Badge holders get access to the pit area, but this is Indianapolis in May and rain always plays a part. It is unfortunate though because last year the Speedway made a late decision to not allow Bronze badge holders into the pit area so I was looking forward to the opportunity this year. Fingers crossed the rain doesn’t completely wash out the day. There are advantages to the rain though if you are wanting to meet drivers, I was able to have a nice conversation with Stefan Wilson and Don Cusick last year during the rain so I will still be in the garage area and hopefully see some drivers and friends.

After a warm race day on Saturday and a bit too much sun, I am grateful for the cooler day and cloud cover. Wednesday and Thursday both look fantastic so far so I’m do too discouraged by todays rain.

I spent Sunday, Mother’s Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum. The museum guides all came up to me to try and help with my trivia contest. They are great. They all have such confidence that they will know the answers that a coworker did not and then I read the ridiculously hard questions and stump them every time. They often can give me a name or a team owner though that can set me on the right path to finding the answer.

After I’ve seen all the museum I head to the gift shop. I bought two pairs of earrings, a wine glass and some stickers. I chatted with Brenda, she has helped the boys in the past with my Mother’s Day gift and was disappointed the boys weren’t with me. Then I walked over to the fountain and texted the boys a picture and told them how much they owe me for my gifts. I have never been a fan of Mother’s Day, too many expectations that turn to disappointment. However, since I’ve started taking control of my day it’s become a highlight of my year. I missed the boys this year and would have preferred they were here to purchase the gifts and spend time with me but we will get back to that tradition again. Matthew is serving his two weeks with the Air National Guard and Zach has graduation. They both spent Mother’s Day with Steve at the air show at Scott Air Force Base. Zach was able to be at the race on Saturday though.

The small boys that started coming to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at age 5 have grown up but they are still fans and look forward to attending again. After the race on Saturday we were able to get a great picture of Zach with James Hinchcliffe and I love the side by side comparison.

Monday, I drove to see the resting place of the Chevrolet brothers. It was only about 15 minutes from where I am staying. Then I went to Founders coffee shop and worked on my trivia contest. While sitting there a couple walked in and when I looked up I realized the woman had been sitting under the same tree as us before the race on Saturday. We both laughed at that, what are the chances. The coffee shop was closing but I was still deep into my trivia so I walked to Big Woods and spent another hour or more working on it there. If anyone knows who the first wife/significant other to wear street clothes made from Nomex is please get in touch with me.

I loved the race weekend, my lazy days working on trivia and spending time with Lisa but now it’s time for the start of Indianapolis 500 practice. It is wet outside but doesn’t seem to be raining. I know it will be a cool, wet day but hopefully the rain will stop and the track will dry and we will see cars on track. Even if we don’t, I will be at my happy place at the Speedway and will enjoy every minute.

How do you Spend Your May?

How do you spend your month of May? I’m not talking about May 28th, if you are a regular reader of my blog I already know what you are doing that day. I’m talking about the days leading up to the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. What are some of your traditions and count down activities to prepare you for race day?

My month starts on May 1 when I put my Indianapolis Motor Speedway flag out. I also listen to the nightly episodes of Trackside with Curt Cavin and Kevin Lee along with Beyond the Bricks with Jake Query and Mike Thomsen. Of course there are several other podcasts to listen to, Off Track with Hinch and Rossi, Marshall Pruett, Behind the Bricks videos with Doug Boles and so many others.

This year the CW made a documentary show the 100 Days to Indy. It airs on Thursday evenings and can also be watched from the CW app. So far I’m loving these shows.

I also have several blogs I follow. George Phillips at Oilpressure.com. I love doing his annual trivia contest. It takes many hours a day digging through the history of the Indianapolis 500 and I love it. Paul Dalby at The Field of 33 posts these sweet journals his dad wrote of their trips to qualifying and race day. I so enjoy reading the posts which are filled with so many details of their trips. Mike Silver at thepitwindow.com is another favorite. In May, Mike dives into some of the history and his experiences.

These things are all great but there are so many more things to do at and around the Speedway.

Track activity starts on May 12th with qualifying for the GMR Grand Prix. The race takes place on Saturday and then Tuesday, May 16 IMS opens for Indianapolis 500 practice. Practices runs into qualifying, Carb Day and eventually The Greatest Spectacle in Racing!

During the days leading up to the race there are opportunities to meet drivers, explore Indianapolis and indulge in several eating establishments. Here are some places I make a priority in May

  • Charlie Browns
  • Foyt Vault
  • Burger Bash with Curt Cavin and Kevin Lee
  • Mug n Bun
  • Longs bakery
  • Crown Hill Cemetery
  • Ray Harroun’s resting place in Anderson
  • Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum is also a must do

Of course, there are always several new things I want to do. Among them are enjoy lunch at The Workingman’s Friend, a favorite spot of the late Robin Miller.

Then I also try to post on my blog and take care of things around the house- you know the kids, yard and like. There is always way to much to do in May.

This May, my son Zach, is graduating high school so my May activities need to be reprioritized. I will be spending May 12-19 in Indianapolis but will have to enjoy the rest of the Indianapolis 500 activity from my Peacock viewing.

How will you spend your May? What are must do activities I left out? Regardless of how you spend the days leading up to Race Day I’m sure the days will go too fast and we will again be asking Is It May Yet?

Danica Patrick Haters- Get Over It!

With the 2023 NTT IndyCar Series season opener last week I thought I’d try and keep up on my blogging this season. Tuesday mornings at a sweet little coffee shop to motivate my writing sounds like just the incentive I need to commit to my blog. I had a topic in mind but after seeing Andretti Autosports post about Danica I knew I had a couple things I wanted to say.

In honor of Women’s History Month, Andretti Autosport put up a post stating that in 2008 Danica Patrick became the first female to win in IndyCar. I knew better than to look at the comments but couldn’t help myself.

One of the first comments I saw (on Facebook, above link is Twitter) was that the only reason Danica won the Indy Japan 300 at Twin Ring Motegi was because everyone in front of her ran out of gas. This commenter must have never watched racing. So many times that is how the winner takes the checkered flag. Scott Dixon is credited with being among the best to save fuel and be there at the end to claim the win. When Danica does it, it must just be a complete fluke.

Circumstances were different in the season opener at St Pete this year but how come no one was saying that about Marcus Ericsson. The only reason Marcus won was because Romain Grosjean and Scott McLaughlin took each out allowing Pato O’Ward to move to the lead. Pato had a weird, random engine sputter and Marcus Ericsson passed him and claimed the victory. I’m not hearing that Marcus should not have won, that is was a fluke and he doesn’t deserve it. The same could be said of his Indianapolis 500 victory where Scott Dixon looked to be set up to win but had a pit speed violation that cost him the win. Marcus was there to claim the victory same as Danica was in position at Motegi.

Of Danica’s win it is said that Helio Castroneves did not realize she was on the lead lap or he would not have let her pass. Hmm? Maybe that is true but maybe not, regardless she was ahead of Helio when it mattered.

Another comment was that Danica wrecked her car every race. Now they are just making things up. Danica brought her car home in one piece most races. I’d say if anything she needed to be a bit more aggressive and take some chances to get the win. She raced well and kept her nose clean more often than not.

Another lie was that she was always in the back of the pack and never really even in contention for a race win. Seriously, where do these people get their facts? Danica consistently put herself in a position to win the race. She remained on the lead lap and finished well. With the exception of her rookie season she finished the season ranked 10th or higher. She was 5th in 2009 and finished the Indy 500 in third place that year. She was always in the mix.

So why does Danica continue to be put down for her racing when other female drivers in IndyCar are praised yet can’t even come close to the race results that Danica had? Everyone adores Sarah Fisher, myself included. Fisher won a pole, had two podiums and 7 top 10. Those numbers with the exception of Danica’s win are similar to Danica. However the overall rankings for the season are quite different with Danica clearly in the lead. Yet, Sarah is never criticized like Danica. Simona DeSilvestro and Pippa Mann fall even farther behind yet are praised for their accomplishments. So at the end of the day people just don’t like Danica.

Danica has big personality. She is not afraid to say what she thinks and maybe doesn’t always think before she speaks. She is absolutely gorgeous and used her beauty to promote herself. She has rubbed many people wrong over the years both in IndyCar and NASCAR so she is not well liked by many. That is what it is but that is not a reason to say she was an awful driver and never should have been given a ride in IndyCar.

I personally can’t stand Ryan Hunter-Reay. I’ve gone into this on different posts so I won’t get into it here but he has disappointed us every time we met him and we are not fans of his. If he walked past me I wouldn’t stop him for a picture or autograph. However, I also won’t put down his racing career just because I don’t like him. I can appreciate that he was an accomplished driver and talented. All I want is for others to give Danica the respect she deserves as a winning IndyCar driver. You can choose to like her or not but you lose all credibility when you put down her accomplishments on the racetrack regardless of the circumstances. Racing is all about circumstances and having the talent, gumption and determination to put yourself where you need to be to perform well. Danica did that. Maybe you don’t approve of how she built her popularity but she is still the most successful woman in IndyCar and I suspect will remain so for many years. So stop the hating, it’s just wrong.

Wrapping this up I will say we have always been fans of Danica at my house. My sons were young when she was in IndyCar and especially loved watching her drive the bright green GoDaddy car. It was so easy to pick out on track. We were thrilled when she won and have always celebrated her accomplishments. We remain fans of Danica Patrick!

2023 Season Takes Off!

Haha! Not too original, I know, but that is exactly what happened.

After a long offseason, it’s always too long, the 2023 NTT IndyCar series finally began with the traditional season opener on the streets of St. Pete. The Firestone GP of St. Pete is always a favorite for several reasons, not the least of which is because it’s the first race and fans are so ready to see cars on track. Once again all prerace coverage is available on Peacock. I happen to get Peacock as part of my Comcast subscription but I would definitely pay for it if needed. I love all the coverage it provides.

Sunday morning I wore all my racing gear to church and knew I’d be watching on my DVR. I prefer to watch live but it is not always in the cards. So after church we watched the pre-race show before the race and enjoyed the season opener for as long as we could. The race did not disappoint with plenty of action.

Romain Grosjean won the pole and led the field to the green flag. I didn’t think the cars would make it through turn one but miraculously they did. However, they did not make it much farther before Santino Ferruci seems to have caused an accident which took out himself, Helio Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud, Benjamin Petersen and sent Devlin Defrancesco flying into the air. Devlin’s car had come to a stop when Benjamin Pedersen, rookie on the AJ Foyt team hit Devlins car at speed. Devlin’s car took off and was several feet off the ground. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Fortunately, all drivers were fine. Helio suffered a mild leg injury but thankfully no really damage, just sore.

A red flag was flown and the debris cleaned up. The race restarted and was going along fine until Kyle Kirkwood was not going to let Devlin be the only one experiencing airtime and launched his car over an accident involving Rinus VeeKay and Jack Harvey. Kirkwood’s car flew up and landed hard but both driver and car were fine, although I’m sure sore this week, and able to continue racing. Jack Harvey did not look well and was taken to the local hospital for observation. He tweeted later that he is fine. He did not look fine, I wonder if we will hear more information about his crash.

After dominating the first part of the race Romain Grosjean wasn’t able to keep Scott McLaughlin behind him and a battle ensued. After a pit stop by McLaughlin the two were side by side when Scott exited the pit lane. But fought for the first place spot and McLaughlin on cold tires couldn’t get his car from going wide and put both himself and Grosjean into the tire barrier. It was absolutely heartbreaking for both drivers.

Now the two drivers that were dominating are out of contention and Pato O’Ward inherits the lead. Marcus Ericsson is close behind and closing the gap in the final laps. I was pulling for Ericsson but really felt Pato would take the checkered flag. However, Pato had a weird, random engine sputter, I don’t fully understand what the issue was but he lost all power for just a second or two. That is all it took though for Marcus Ericsson to get around Pato and with only two laps left he was able to maintain the lead and win the season opener.

During the post race show and interviews I’ve don’t recall a time when I saw so many drivers so dejected. Romain was completely crushed to lose the win. McLaughlin I think was both upset about the loss but also about ending Grosjean’s day. Pato was near tears and could hardly speak during his interview. Michael Andretti probably had a few choice words as well as Larry Foyt and Michael Shank as everyone on those teams were involved in the accidents. The repair bill for this race will be high.

A couple things I want to mention-

– Scott Dixon did what he always does and finished well.

– Alexander Rossi was impressive in his debut race with Arrow McLaren.

– Graham Rahal would be a much bigger contender if he could figure out qualifying. He always moves up positions but has too much of a deficit to make up from his starting position.

– Loved seeing David Malukas in the top ten.

– Agustin Canapino was the best finish for a rookie.

So after all the excitement we now have to wait a month for the next race. I won’t pretend to know all that is involved with scheduling a race or a race season but IndyCar sure does seem to be feast or famine. I would love to see a schedule where races are closer to two weeks apart. So we wait a month to see the cars on the oval at Texas Motor Speedway. That race is always interesting too but hopefully all cars stay on the ground.

Justin Wilson’s Tweet

Every year shortly after midnight a tweet is sent out from the late Justin Wilson’s Twitter account. It is a simple message just saying Happy New Year. I look forward to seeing the tweet every year and we receive a small gift from a favorite driver. Justin’s brother, Stefan, has said that they don’t know how long the tweet is set to repeat but I hope it stays permanently.

Today after seeing the message I thought about Justin and how great he was both in the car and with the fans. He was our favorite driver. Hmm? I actually say that about a handful of drivers. Can you have multiple favorites?

As a young girl my best friend was a girl named Jenny. Jenny was born on the same day I was and we loved playing on the swing set and with our Tiffany Taylor dolls. My family moved away but we remained friends for several years, writing letters and occasionally visiting in person. Eventually, we lost touch with each other but I will always remember her as my best friend.

During my high school and college years my best friend and roommate was Cindi. Cindi still remains a very close friend but our lives have moved in different directions. We’ve recently been talking more but we went nearly 20 years with very little contact. However, when I introduce her I say she is my best friend.

Currently, and for the last nearly two decades, Kristen is my best friend. We raised our kids together, are involved in several activities together and our husbands are friends. Kristen is the one I call when I have news to share, good or bad. She is definitely a best friend.

Of course, my sister Pam, has always been my best friend and confidant. I also have several woman from my church who have been there for me in so many ways. Can you really choose just one best friend?

If choosing a best friend is hard then how can you ever choose a favorite IndyCar driver?

A J Foyt is the reason I am a fan. I would not be following this sport if not for first reading his biography. Shortly after that I began watching the Indianapolis 500. A couple years later I attended Time Trials and saw AJ take his final laps on Pole Day 1993 as he retired. I had the pleasure of meeting AJ a couple brief times but one year at Road America I was able to enjoy a short conversation with him and bawled like a baby after because I was beyond thrilled to finally meet AJ and thank him for introducing me to IndyCar. I will always consider AJ to be my favorite.

After AJ retired I began following Arie Luyendyk. Arie was very different than AJ and I had more of a crush on Arie and his beautiful hair so I liked him for completely different reasons. Arie was fast and still holds the speed record at Indy. I did not cry when I met Arie so I guess he is a favorite but not the favorite.

After Arie, Tony Kanaan was the driver I followed most closely. I liked Tony from the start, long before I even realized how popular he really was with the fans. Tony is a blast to watch on the track and a prankster off the track. I did cry when he won the Indy 500 in 2013. I have not had the pleasure of really meeting Tony but he was always my pick for winning the Indy 500.

My sons had their own favorites. After a quick crush on Danica Patrick, Zach quickly chose James Hinchcliffe as his favorite. Any reader of my blog can quickly point out several reasons why we all consider James to be a favorite. He is also the driver we probably know the best and he will recognize us at a race. Matthew chose a different driver. He chose someone who was a bit quieter than James or any of the previously mentioned drivers. Someone who was incredibly talented and let his driving and leadership skills speak for him rather than being a prankster or flashy. The driver Matthew chose was Justin Wilson.

When Matthew chose Justin I liked that choice but honestly didn’t know too much about him. Justin was driving the McDonald’s car so that was what first attracted Matthew. We made a point of trying to meet him at a kids club event and Justin showed up because of a tweet I sent saying I hoped he would be there. He was unaware of the event but I sent the details and he showed up. He made us fans for life that day. Over the next few years he never disappointed. Justin always took time to talk with fans in person or answering tweets. He won on the track with different teams and one can only imagine how amazing he would have done with Andretti Autosport. When Justin lost his life in the Pocono race it hit my family hard. Matthew had talked with Justin just a month earlier at the Milwaukee race. Justin signed Matthew’s shirt for the second time (the first was nearly faded) and took an incredible selfie with him (which remains my lock screen on my phone). Matthew walked in after learning of his death and handed me his shirt. Matthew wore that shirt all the time but now he wanted to give it to me. I struggled for several days feeling very sad and depressed. Wishing I could do more for the family and IndyCar community. It’s odd to grieve someone you don’t really know and yet know so well. It was just a heartbreaking time. I don’t know any other way to describe Justin than as our favorite driver.

If you are counting I’m up to five drivers that are favorites and with the exception of Tony Kanaan in an Indy 500 only car none of them are currently racing so it’s time for a new favorite. I have a few I’m keeping my eye on. Rinus VeeKay and David Malukas are among them. They have big shoes to fill.

So how do you feel? Do you have multiple favorites? Or is a favorite just that “a” favorite and you can only have one? Today after checking Twitter and seeing the now famous tweet I smiled and remembered how much we loved Justin. I know he will always remain on the top of our favorite list.