Windscreens, Matheus Leist and The Amazing Race!

If you haven’t figured it out by now my blog is a place for me to state my opinions. My husband could care less about IndyCar so I need a place to say what I’m thinking. I’m a girl after all and girls like to talk, it’s how I process things so thanks to my readers I have a place to say what I’m thinking about some things happening in IndyCar. So if you want more details read George Phillips blog post about Windscreens or Mark Glendenning’s article on Racer.com about Matheus Leist.

LETS START WITH WINDSCREENS-

Dan Weldon’s death was such a shock but losing Justin Wilson, my family’s favorite driver, made me ready to consider anything that would keep the drivers safe. I love the speed, the sounds, the cars but the really reason I love IndyCar if the drivers and teams. They could be racing on tricycles and I would still watch. I like the people. If we need to greatly alter the cars to keep them safe I’m all for it but what is safe when you are traveling at 200+ miles per hour. I never once thought a closed cockpit was the answer. So currently IndyCar is testing windscreens. I’m impressed with what I’ve seen and heard so far! You almost don’t even notice them on the cars. They look like they’ve always been there. I don’t think they distract from the new sleek design at all. The car still looks fantastic to me. I have some concern about rain, bugs and dust/ debris obstructing the view since drivers won’t be able to reach tear off strips or turn on wipers to remove any thing on the windscreen but it does seem a lot safer. I don’t think this design would have helped save Justin’s life. I am less sure how it might have helped Dan. It’s racing, it will always be dangerous. My fear with the windscreen is where the large debris that hits the screen goes next. Again- racing will always be dangerous. I’m thankful to IndyCar for continuing to seek ways to make it safer through time and research. So far I’m excited and optimistic about the windscreens. Here is a view from Scott Dixon’s visor cam. It looks great!

MATHEUS LEIST

As disappointed as I was that AJ Foyt Racing did not resign Conor Daly, I’m excited for their 2018 season. I think Tony Kanaan will be an amazing asset and I hear good things about Leist. The good news keeps coming, Matheus was the fastest rookie at the IndyCar rookie test at Phoenix on Thursday. Matheus ran 63 laps on Thursday. His fastest lap was 184.236 mph. Pietro Fittipaldi was close behind with 183.347 mph. I imagine AJ is quite pleased to have his guy on top. We all know teasing is just that- testing. Drivers aren’t necessarily attempting to go their fastest but it is still a hopeful sign for the 2018 season. Tony Kanaan and Leist also seem to having a bit of fun with the new partnership. I hope they both have a great season.

So that brings us to THE AMAZING RACE!

I hate that fans of the Amazing Race might be wanting to tune into IndyCar to watch Alexander Rossi and Conor Daly only to find out that Conor does not have a spot in the 2018 season. So disappointing. That said if I wasn’t a fan of IndyCar already I’m not sure that Alex and Conor would be the team I was rooting for. We see glimpses of their personalities but I feel the other competitors get more airtime than the IndyCar guys. Maybe it’s because I want to see more of Alex and Conor so it’s very obvious to me when they aren’t on screen. So far the guys are holding their own and progressing on the race. I actually enjoyed it more when the teams did a partner swap. Alex and Conor were chosen by team Ocean Rescue, Lucas and Brittany, Alex paired with Brittany and Conor with Lucas. Alex and Brittany did fantastic and came in second. Conor and Lucas got stuck their truck stuck in the mud. That was a bit embarrassing since the Big Brother contestant was able to make it through- although he did go through before Conor and it seemed obvious that the trail was going to be in worse condition as more trucks eroded the trail. Then Conor waited in the car as Lucas winched it out. I know someone needs to give the car some gas but it made Conor appear lazy. I kept screaming at the tv for Conor to jump out and help. Conor seems a lot stronger to me than Lucas so I was getting frustrated. They did get the car out and advanced in the race but while I love Conor this episode did not show the best side of him. I actually preferred Alex paired up with Brittany (as least for this episode). They made a great team. Hope the IndyCar guys stay around longer so viewers can see how great they really are.

So all that said, I can’t wait for The IndyCar season to start. St Pete can’t get here fast enough! Oh and I love that Helio Castroneves will be the Grand Marshall for the St. Pete race. What a great way to honor him. He will definitely be missed so I’m thankful to have him participating in this way and look forward to seeing him at Indy.

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Catching Up

George Phillips of Oilpressure (Oilpressure.wordpress.com) recently asked “Where have all the bloggers gone?”. I’m here George, I’m here! I just haven’t wrote a new post since the end of the IndyCar season. I have no excuse, well no good one. I write posts in my head all the time but just don’t take the time to put them down. So even though I am a bit pressed for time this morning (in a fun way, we are on our annual trip to Wisconsin with family for Eagle watching) I’m going to write a couple things that have been on my mind.

I say it all the time but I’m so thankful for Trackside with Curt Cavin and Kevin Lee. They keep me updated on all the IndyCar news all year long. I love listening to the podcast.

If you are reading this I’m sure you are reading George’s blog- Oilpressure. He is the king of bloggers. He is so faithful posting three times a week all year long. 99% of the time I agree with him, very seldom I feel I have a different opinion. The other blog you must follow is The Pit Window (formerly The First Fifty Races are the Hardest) by Mike Silver. Mike updates regularly and gives his thoughts on the news in IndyCar. My favorite posts from Mike though are when he recalls a race or event from his 50+ years of being a fan. He has met some legends and his post about meeting Harry Hartz is among my favorites. Also keep an eye on Mike Knapp, 15 Days in May. He has also started writing for Beyond the Flag. Mike is another good friend and I always enjoy his insights.

On to IndyCar news- some not so new (each of these deserve their own post but that is what I get for procrastinating)

AJ FOYT RACING- This team once again is starting fresh with all new drivers. Lots of people have lots of thoughts about the decision and so do I- both good and bad. The good- Tony Kanaan moving to AJ’s team is amazing! Sure the team has struggled but once they built some continuity they will figure some things out and win races again. I have no doubt about that. They have good employees in place and the competition is so close, they aren’t that far off, never have been, they just need that little extra bit. I think TK will help with that a lot. Many say racers end their career at Foyt Racing and I expect the same will be true of Tony but for different reasons- he will retire before too long. I though an very thankful he has a ride for 2018. I love that my current favorite driver is racing for my first favorite driver. Tony did not have great years at Ganassi Racing but he is still competitive and I expect great things. The fan girl in me (she is quite prominent if you haven’t figured that out) has played out the scenario where TK wins The 500 for AJ and both enjoy that wonderful drink of milk many times. That would be amazing.

The bad- I have nothing against Matheus Leist but I was so incredibly disappointed that Conor Daly was not returning. I don’t agree with that decision at all. Conor just needs another season with the same team and we will see results. I hate the idea of him not driving in IndyCar. Dale please hire him! I begged Larry at Gateway (long before we knew who would be driving in 2018) to keep Conor. Can’t believe he didn’t listen to the crazy fan telling him what she thought the team should do. Well okay I didn’t expect him to listen but I’m still so very disappointed. Conor and TK would have been an amazing team.

NEW QUALIFYING RULES AND INDY 500 QUALIFICATION POINTS- Qualifying order on the ovals will now be determined by entrant points. While qualifying order is not super important on an oval I’m not thrilled with this decision. The drivers in the points lead will go last almost guaranteeing they win the Pole. I prefer a random draw and a chance for any team/driver to win the Pole.

Indianapolis 500 qualification points will be significantly less than they have been in the last few years but still offer more than other races. They were too high before but I do think qualifying for Indy is much more important than any other race so I never had a problem with it. I do think the new points are better though. Somewhere in between would be about perfect for me.

DANICA PATRICK- Danica announced she would run the Daytona 500 and the Indy 500 before retiring. It was big news and while some wish she would just go away others were quite excited and saw it as a good thing for IndyCar. I’ve always liked Danica so I was excited to see her back at The 500. However, she is struggling to find a ride. This infuriates me. Why was IndyCar so willing to kick Stefan Wilson out of his seat to make room for Fernando Alonso but no one will lift a finger to help Danica. Many say that having Danica race will help ratings and be big news (same things said about Alonso) so why is it so hard for her to find a seat? There are 33. However, so help me if anyone even looks at Stefan’s car Andretti Autosport will never hear the end of it from me. I get that Danica is not as big as Fernando Alonso but I still don’t get it.

REALITY TV- Arie Luyendyk Jr is The Bachelor. This show is a bit ridiculous but I’ve always liked Arie. IndyCar and Racing have played a prominent role on the show. Two weeks in and we’ve seen Arie Sr. on both episodes and Robby Gordon on the second. I will never understand why you go on a reality show and compete to win the guy but for now I’m watching- that is a true fan.

Alexander Rossi and Conor Daly are on The Amazing Race. This show is one I already watch. So far we haven’t seen much of Rossi and Daly but there are several references to them as the IndyCar drivers. Curt Cavin has implied that they stick around for awhile. I’m enjoying watching and love that I can get my IndyCar fix.

So to answer George’s question- I’m still here and plan to stay. I will never be a three time a week blogger but I do love doing it and sharing my thoughts and experiences. Thanks George for the kick in the butt to post.

Extra note- I didn’t mention my cousin, Randy, in my end of year post. (He made sure I heard about that) He accompanied me to both Indy 500 Pole Day and the race at Gateway last year. He enjoyed both and looks forward to attending more races. I think I made a new fan. Thanks Randy for putting up with me- and here is your mention on my blog lol.

Also Steve bought me a scanner and headset for our 20th wedding anniversary. He is not a fan but always supports my IndyCar addiction. He was good to me at Christmas with many IndyCar gifts and topped it off with the awesome gift of the scanner. Can’t wait to break it in.

Thank you all for reading!

2017 IndyCar Season Wrap-up

Well once again the IndyCar season did not disappoint. Although it did go by way too fast. Here is what I will remember from the 2017 season. 

Racing highlights- 

  • Penske and Chevy were dominate. Not much different from other seasons. 
  • Josef started strong and just kept going. Winning in his first season with Penske was impressive. Winning the Championship was amazing. No one really saw that coming- not in his first season. He is such a talented young driver.  
  • Stefan Wilson gave up his ride for Fernando Alonso. Professionally it might not have been his best decision, time will tell, but it was an incredibly selfless gesture and I’m very hopeful that IndyCar will honor that selfless act by making sure he is in a great ride for the 2018 Indianapolis 500. Stefan Wilson is a class act and as good as they come. Justin would be so proud. 
  • Helio won at Iowa and fans might have seen his last fence climb in IndyCar. 
  • Sebastian Bourdais had a horrible crash at Indianapolis, many feared he wouldn’t race again. He returned at the end of the season racing at Gateway, Watkins Glen and Sonoma. 
  • Scott Dixon walked away from a horrific crash during the Indy500. 
  • Takuma Sato won the Indy 500. It was a popular win and the first time a Japanese man has won. 
  • The championship went down to the last race with four strong contenders and others still mathematically able to win. It was Josef Newgarden who won the honor. 

My Race Highlights-

  • I met Arie Luyendyk on Mothers Day at the IMS museum. He helped me with a trivia contest I was working on from George Phillips at oilpressure.com
  • Curt Cavin now recognizes me and was kind enough to offer me a garage pass the day of the GP of Indy. 
  • Spent time at the races with my IndyCar friends.  I always love meeting up with my friends at races. This year I saw Mike Silver at every event I attended. The same can be said of my friend Lisa. Lisa and I also went out for several meals before or after races. Thanks to Mark and his big blue tarp we had a great place to watch the GP of Indy again this year. Always fun to see Mike Knapp- my oldest racing/Twitter friend. He had the honor of working with Buddy Lazier’s team at the 500. 
  • My good friend, Kristen, attended the Iowa race with me after not attending a race the two previous seasons. 
  • Saw Helio climb the fence at Iowa. 
  • Met many drivers including once again meeting Stefan Wilson. He needs a full time ride!

Silly Season-

Many things have already been decided. Some have been announced some are still in the works but there is a general consensus as to how the 2018 season will look. Here are a few that stick out to me. 

  • Tony Kanaan is expected to sign with AJ Foyt racing. Not everyone thinks this is the best idea but I love it. I think TK can help the team and I want TK to continue in IndyCar. It’s a win win. Many say that if he signs with AJ he will be gone after he drives for them. Well duh- he is 42. If he signs a two year contract which is what we are hearing he will most likely be retiring no matter who he drove for. Drivers don’t usually keep driving into their 40’s. Let’s just enjoy the time we have and if TK can offer valuable insights and advice to AJ’s team then that is great. Oh and did I mention that AJ and TK are my two favorites. I love these guys and think they will make an amazing team. Larry Foyt get ready because I’m expecting good things from your team. 
  • New teams. I’m excited about the new teams looking to join IndyCar. 
  • Ganassi moving to a two car team. That is going to mix things up a bit. 
  • No official word on Helio but sounds like he is moving to sports cars. 

All in all it was such a fun season and I’m already missing it terribly. The day after the Indy 500 is always so depressing but just a few days after the 500 we have a double header in Detroit to look forward to. The end of the season doesn’t offer as much. Thankfully we still need a few pieces from silly season to fall into place.  I’m also a huge fan of Trackside with Curt Cavin and Kevin Lee. I can get a small IndyCar fix listening to their podcast every week. 

    I will occasionally blog during the off season but will be back at it in March. Thanks to all who read.  I really enjoy sharing my thoughts here and appreciate those who take the time to read it. 

    IndyCar returns to Gateway Motorsports Park

    I honestly have so much I want to share from our weekend at Gateway I’m not even sure where to start. As soon as I heard Gateway was on the schedule I made plans in my head to attend. I’ve always tried to support new venues and especially those close to home. I’m in the Chicago suburbs so St Louis isn’t too far. Plans came along and we were able to attend. My boys and my cousin attended with me. 

    WEEKEND IN ST. LOUIS

    Besides attending the race there is lots to do in StLouis. We arrived to town on Friday which was my cousin Randy’s birthday. One of his favorite restaurants is the Spaghetti Factory so we began our night there and walked to the Gateway Arch after. The boys were impressed and couldn’t wait for a chance to go up in it- they would have to wait until Sunday. We arrived at our hotel late but fortunately with the race on Saturday being a night race we had time Saturday morning to play. The boys went for a swim before we met some IndyCar friends for lunch. We walked through a farmers market before meeting at Bogarts Smokehouse for lunch.  Several people at the farmers market noticed our IndyCar gear and mentioned that they were going or wished they could attend the race. One of the owners at Bogart’s came and talked with us saying Fuzzy Zoeller had been in earlier and gave him a bottle of vodka which he then brought out to show us. The entire city was definitely behind this race. I had more people notice my shirt or ask about the race than any other race weekend- including those in Indianapolis.  There was a ton of excitement about the race. 

    Sunday morning we visited the top of the Gateway Arch. We could see the track from the top and continued to have people ask us about the race. The boys were a bit freaked out by the size of the capsule that takes you to the top but thoroughly enjoyed the experience. All in all a fun weekend and I haven’t even got to the race portion of our trip. 

    But let’s talk about the race. I want to break it down to the event in whole, the race and improvements that need to be made. 

    EVENT- our experiences

    • Boys were free since we chose general admission tickets. That gave us the perfect excuse to buy Paddock passes which always make a race more fun. 
    • We saw several drivers and after dragging Helio Castroneves’s book to several races I finally was able to get it autographed. I was stationed outside the Penske trailer having seen Helio go inside. Simon Pagenaud came by and I asked if he would sign Helio’s book because I had not yet been able to get Helio to sign it. I half jokingly asked if he could please send Helio out. Simon responded he would. Sure enough Helio came out shortly and signed my book. He signed very few other autographs while I pulled out my phone for a quick selfie and then he went right back into the trailer. Hmm? Did Simon really tell Helio to come out? Maybe, maybe not, but I like to think he did. 
    • Ran into lots of friends from Twitter.  I enjoy running into Twitter friends just as much as I do the drivers. 
    • Also saw Curt Cavin- who I see enough that he recognizes me. 
    • Met Doug Boles.  
    • Talked with Larry Foyt and told him I thought he should keep Conor Daly and Carlos Munoz on the team next year because of course he would be seeking out my opinion. Lol
    • Boys met Roger Penske. Zach got an autograph and Matthew took a selfie with him. Seriously the selfie is my favorite picture from the weekend. 
    • We sat in row 25 in section 15 (near turn one) for the race. We sat with Lisa, DZ and Kyle so it was fun to be with friends who are fans and understand what is going on. 
    • Zach enjoyed the beginning and end of the race but chose to play on his phone for a big portion of the race. Matthew was a bit more engaged in the racing but still not as excited about racing as his mom. 

    RACE

    • So excited for a night race
    • The cars engines started before the command. Not a big deal but very noticeable at the track. It was much less obvious on tv. 
    • Awesome three-wide parade lap. Very cool to see the cars three wide under the lights. 
    • Tony Kanaan spun and hit the wall before the green flag fell. The race started under yellow then Will Power, Ed Carpenter and Takuma Sato spun and crashed in turn two just after the green flag was waved.
    • Once the race did get going it was fun to watch but not overly exciting. I haven’t watched the tv broadcast and at the track I could enjoy the view but there wasn’t much passing up front.
    • Helio did take over the lead but then had a bad pit stop and fell back to fourth. 
    • Pagenaud leapfrogged to first during a pit stop under yellow but Josef Newgarden made a bold move that gave him the lead back and he eventually took the checkered flag. Some say it was too bold and even a dangerous move. Pagenaud himself was quite upset and said he lost all respect for Josef. I talked with some strong Pagenaud fans and reminded them of a similar move Pagenaud made on Power. Their response was that when Pagenaud made that move against Power it was on a road course when bumping is not as dangerous and that Josef is damn lucky he didn’t send Pagenaud into the wall or worse. I will admit that got me thinking and I definitely see their point. I don’t pretend to know enough about what is safe and what isn’t to argue either way. It’s racing and you have to make bold moves to do it. Time will tell if Josef is bold or stupid.  He’s been around enough years that I think most agree he is bold but safe. If we see more questionable moves in the future that might change but I think he is respected as a driver and that Pagenaud will come to see that it was just racing. 
    • Chip Ganassi parked TK later in the race. Ok this was interesting. Chip did the same to Max Chilton at Pocono but with Max being a younger driver and down laps it wasn’t as controversial but parking TK when he was able to race along side the others is ridiculous. TK was down two laps but he was not falling farther behind, he just hadn’t been able to make up the two laps he lost from his pre race crash. There is speculation that Chip’s team will be a one car team next year. I can’t imagine that. I have to believe they will have at least two cars. It was a rather shocking decision though. 

    CLOSING THOUGHTS

    • The track and weather was beautiful. Such a fun weekend.  The racing could have been better but hopefully the new car next year will change that. 
    • We purchased a Paddock pass for Saturday. The Paddock opened at 3:00 but we could not get our wristband or sign the waiver until it opened so we were waiting in the hot sun for over 30 minutes to get that done. I don’t understand why we couldn’t sign and pick up wristband earlier knowing we would have to wait until 3:00 to enter. 
    • Because I was more interested in seeing drivers and friends we didn’t eat before the race. When we were ready to eat the lines were way too long to wait. I figured once the race started I would send Matthew to get us something. The lines were still too long. Half way through the race Randy went to purchase food. He was gone for at least 45 minutes to buy corn dogs and nachos. The track needs to work on concessions for next year. 
    • After the race and great fireworks show everyone was tired and wanted to leave. I begged them to stay and watch the post race interviews because I knew the parking lot would be nuts but they all insisted they were tired. The parking lot was worse than I imagined. We pulled out about five feet and then didn’t move an inch for almost an hour. Once we did get moving it took about 20-25 more minutes to completely exit. 
    • I think every complaint was about lines being too long, there could be much worse things but the lines were annoying. 
    • End on a positive note- I can’t say enough what a great job the Bommarito group and Gateway  Motorsports Park did to promote the event. I’ve never seen such a great crowd for an oval outside of Indy. Job well done. 

    We just learned this morning before my posting that Andretti Autosport will be staying with Honda. They announced it in the best way!  Watch it here!

    I’m very pleased with this decision.  

      What Kind of Fan are You?

      A couple years ago my friend Kristen and I wrote a Post about the difference between being a super fan and a casual fan of the IndyCar series. Kristen did not attend another race with me until we went to Iowa this summer.  We were joined by Lisa who is a huge IndyCar fan. We found a couple more things that separate the diehard fans from the casual ones. Many had us laughing so hard, things Lisa and I see as completely normal Kristen finds rather strange and vice versa. So here is what we learned this year.

      1. A super fan will wake up long before the sun rises to hit the road in order to attend a race weekend. It makes no sense to go to a race and not watch every practice and qualifying session. A casual fan would rather attend her sons ballgame and leave after that even if that means missing qualifying.

      2. A super fan refers to the drivers by their first name and acts like they actually know the driver (we feel like we do).  The casual fan often has no clue who the super fan is talking about because sport figures usually go by their last names and the casual fan is trying to figure out who the heck Tony, Charlie and Scott are.

      3. When hanging out at the hotel pool after a hot day at a speedway a casual fan might be tempted to yell out “Polo” to a popular game kids are playing in the pool. A super fan will have a completely different answer and yell out “Andretti”.

      4. A super fan knows the drivers birthdays and will often tweet birthday wishes. While discussing this at dinner Kristen couldn’t believe how many of the drivers birthdays Lisa and I knew without looking them up. Okay I will admit we didn’t always remember the exact date but between the two of us we knew the Month for many.

      5. A super fan won’t go to just any restaurant while attending a race weekend but will tweet other IndyCar fans or even Curt Cavin because they know that Curt suggested a burger place years ago and they need to check it out. A casual fan will find something close and easy because they are tired after a day at the track.

      6. A super fan gets all geeked out when her blog is mentioned by the king of IndyCar bloggers- George Phillip of Oilpressureblog.com. A casual fan is shocked that there is more than one person blogging about IndyCar.

      7. A super fan has her own scanner and regularly checks in with Debbie who works for Racing Elecronics to make sure she is good to go before the green flag. A casual fan hopefully remembers to bring ear protection. I will admit it’s Lisa that has a scanner. I usually follow along on my Verizon app and listen to IndyCar Radio. 


      8. A super fan knows and recognizes the radio announcers. A casual fan scratches her head wondering how you know what the radio announcers look like.

      9. A super fan will rearrange the IndyCar magnets on her car putting the driver with the most points in first. A casual fan sadly does not have any IndyCar bumper stickers or magnets on her car.

      10. Perhaps our favorite and the one we laughed over the most. A super fan follows the drivers pet dogs on Twitter.  During the Iowa weekend Norman Pagenaud tweeted reminding us to vote for Simon for the ESPY’s.  Kristen could not stop laughing when I showed her the tweet. She laughed even harder when she learned he wasn’t the only dog I follow. Chevy Clausen is another sweet pup I follow. The best part was it didn’t even dawn on me that she would find it funny or weird that I follow dogs on twitter- don’t we all?  When we told Lisa she said she also followed Norman and of course had voted for Simon.


      So are we diehard fans or crazy- perhaps a bit a both?  Regardless, we all had a blast at the Iowa race. Kristen continues learning about IndyCar and Lisa and I were given the enjoyable task of sharing our passion her. We met fans from all categories at the track. Some like Lisa and I were already big fans, some were season pass holders and preferred NASCAR, some were just starting to follow IndyCar. We even met two young men from Australia who decided to come to America and watch as much racing as they could. They had been to several dirt tracks and were pretty excited to be watching the IndyCars at Iowa. That is a passion for racing!

      Finally catching up on Iowa

      George Phillips recently wrote a Blog Post and graciously mentioned my sleepy little blog. That was just the kick I needed to get me to my iPad to catch up on a couple posts I’ve been wanting to write. One of the benefits of being a blogger is there are no deadlines to get articles out. That same benefit can also be a drawback as it makes it easy to push things off until tomorrow. I enjoy blogging and I especially enjoy sharing thoughts with the friends I’ve made through Twitter and IKissed The Bricks so hopefully I won’t be too much of a procrastinator in the future. 

      Iowa- I had the pleasure of attending the Iowa race with two girlfriends. My long time friend, Kristen, hasn’t attended a race since the 2014 Milwaukee race. We were glad we could finally find a race weekend that worked for us.  Kristen is not a big IndyCar fan but does enjoy attending the races. We met up with my Twitter friend, Lisa, and had a wonderful time at the race. 

      Kristen and I arrived at Iowa Speedway shortly before qualifying on Saturday afternoon. We bought tickets for qualifying at the gate because they charged a service fee online- well they charged the same service fee at the gate so that was disappointing. I really don’t understand, just say the tickets cost $20. Kinda frustrating. Then we learned that the Fan Walk is not included in the ticket price and that would be an additional $10. It was actually quite confusing. An entrance ticket is needed to access the Fan Walk- we had that. You can access the Fan Walk for free before the stands open but once the stands open you need an additional band to access the Fan Walk. So while it sounds like the Fan Walk is open to anyone with a ticket it actually isn’t with the exception of those who arrive before the stands open. From what we could see the Fan Walk just allowed you to walk a small portion of the infield behind the pit wall. We just didn’t feel it was worth the extra money. There was an additional charge for a Paddock pass. I do believe if you spent the $30 for the Paddock pass you could also access the Fan Walk. Oh well surely we can find plenty to occupy our time. Well not really. Saturday afternoon had only a few booths set up. We went to the Firestone tent thinking we would be silly and get an airbrush tattoo but on Saturday they only offered rub on tattoos. Very little to see or do in the tents. Qualifying was fun though. It was a warm day but we caught up with Mike Silver and watch qualifying. It was actually quite exciting as each car bumped the last one off the pole. Many were surprising but as Will Power was one of the last to go out it ended up not being a big surprise in the end. Will Power won the pole position and I frowned saying I’ve seen this race before. Seems Power has a way of winning the pole at many of the races I attend. Oh well fingers crossed we will see someone other than the pole winner win the race on Sunday. 

      Kristen and I got a fantastic deal on our hotel, unfortunately it was nearly an hour from the track. We headed to our hotel and met up with Lisa for dinner. We enjoyed a fantastic BBQ meal at Wobbly Boots and enjoyed a fun girls night out. When we returned to the hotel the pool was overrun with a baseball team so we skipped the pool. 

      Race Day- Arrived at the track at noon. We met Lisa and thankfully had more options and tents to visit on race day. We planned to enjoy an ear of corn but the complimentary corn was gone in less than ten minutes. Another disappointment- it’s called the Iowa Corn 300. Chevy was providing free corn from noon- two o clock and they were out of corn in less than ten minutes- they didn’t plan that one well. Firestone was also out of some of their freebies. They did have the airbrush tattoos though. We didn’t want to wait in line though so we passed. We bought some souvenirs, watched the Lights race, enjoyed a beer with Mike and eventually made it to our seats for the race. The crowd was okay but I know the crowds were much bigger when the race was a Saturday night race. We would have preferred that too. 

      I still haven’t watched the tv broadcast of the race and it was especially hard to follow on such a small track. The leaders flew by and were mixed into traffic.  So rather than go through the whole race I will touch on the two things that stuck out to me. The red flag and Helio winning. 

      Red Flag– It was so hot in the stands and I kept an eye on the sky hoping for a stray cloud to block the sun. Even before the clouds rolled in we felt a couple rain drops. Nothing significant and I was honestly surprised when they threw the yellow flag. I couldn’t imagine there was enough moisture to warrant a yellow. However, as they continued running under yellow and laps were ticking away as clouds built I wondered how his would play out. The radar looked like we could get a significant amount of rain but before it made it to the track it dissapaited. So did we need the red?  No not for safety I don’t believe we did. However, it was the wise decision because way too many laps would have been run under yellow had the red flag not been thrown. I rather the cars stop and wait to then they can really race once the threat has passed. I support the decision for the red flag. It might not have shown well on TV but from where I was sitting and watching the radar I think it was the right decision and once the threat passed we went right back to racing. 

      Helio wins- In all the races I’ve attended I only saw Helio win once at Chicagoland. Kristen and I left that race believing Scott Dixon won and didn’t learn until we watched the news at night that Helio had actuwon so we missed seeing him climb the fence. There has been a lot of talk recently that Helio might be racing sports cars next year and no longer participating in I dyCar full time. I’m so grateful we were able to see him climb the fence. I’m also thankful that if this is his last year he was able to get another win before leaving. All that said, Helio is second in points, a race winner and pole winner- he needs to be in IndyCar again next year. 

      We lingered in the stands and watched the victory celebration before saying goodbye to Lisa and driving to the hotel. Kristen and I enjoyed a delicious Mexican meal and finally got to swim in the pool. Helio was Kristen’s pick to win the race so she won the bragging rights and hopefully will continue to attend more races in the future. She doesn’t always understand my passion for IndyCar but I will discuss that more in my next post. 

      Still trying to figure out Texas!

      As many of you know we are currently on vacation. We traveled to Phoenix, visited the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park before flying home from Vegas. We are staying in a rental home near Zion but unfortunately they did not have NBCSN as part of their cable package. I watched on my NBCSN app but at least three times it completely froze up and I had to restart it which took forever. I was also watching from my iPad so not my preferred way to watch. However, I was able to watch so I’m thankful because I never would have believed that race if I had not seen it. I’m still shaking my head over it. 

      So you all know what happened so I will just give my two cents on a couple of things and you can let me know if you agree or disagree. One thing I know we can all agree on-Texas is always interesting. 

      Tristan Vautier- wow!  Tristan qualified well (5th) and was so fun to watch race. He led laps and held his own With the full time drivers. I’m so glad he was able to fill in for Bourdais and hope we see more of him. Unfortunately, he was caught up in “the big one” and that ended his day. Dale Coyne Racing didn’t need that accident which took out both their cars but they are super impressive.  I can’t understand why sponsors aren’t calling them begging to be on their cars. Love this team. 

      Helio Castroneves- Helio hit the wall but it didn’t look too bad to me. A hard hit of course but like most others. Then it took a long time for him to get out of the car. He was fine, checked and cleared by medical and tweeting later in the race from his hotel but I think that was a bigger impact than most. 

      Ryan Hunter-Reay- RHR was also caught up in “the big one”. He was fine but in his post crash interview he said too many inexperienced drivers were making stupid moves and he couldn’t trust them enough to pass them. WHO IS HE TALKING ABOUT?  I know I don’t see all that is going on and don’t understand all the intricacies of racing but i didn’t see anything out of the norm. Who had him freaked out?  

      The Big One- Around lap 150 Tony Kanaan (inside), James Hinchcliffe (middle) and Mikhail Aleshin (outside) were three wide. TK went high giving Hinchcliffe no where to go with Mikhail on his outside.  Hinchcliffe ping ponged between the two cars before spinning taking many others with him- both Coyne Cars, RHR, Aleshin, Ed Carpenter, JR Hildebrand, Carlos Munoz and perhaps others I’m forgetting. Twitter immediately exploded placing blame- Hinchcliffe caused it, no Aleshin he was the last to join the three wide he should have backed out and TK was blamed too for not holding a lower line. There was so much carnage that a red flag was thrown- that was the right call. Dale Coyne immediately went down to the cars on pit lane and began yelling at Tony Kanaan. I understand he was upset. Twitter and the broadcast kept rehashing who was at fault. Chip Ganassi when asked if TK was at fault defended his driver. That drove Twitter even more nuts. I honestly thought Chip had a fine response. You don’t want to incriminate your driver especially at that time when the accident was still under review. However, Chip did not need to throw Hinchcliffe under the bus saying Hinchcliffe has been trying to get in an accident all race.  When Hinchcliffe was told of Chips comments Hinchcliffe replied, “that’s adorable”. I think IndyCar fans will be using that term for years to come. Hinchcliffe was much more kind saying he is sure TK did not do that on purpose and in post race interviews TK apologized and said of course he never means to take anyone out. Wow! A lot of drama over a race accident. Cmon people it was Tony Kanaan. He’s been racing in IndyCar for 20 years. He was racing and you have to go for it when racing or else there is no point in being there. He obviously did not get info from his spotters or did not understand that he had two cars on the outside. Yes I think Tony caused the accident and perhaps he deserved the penalty- he had to stop in his pit box for 20 seconds but he didn’t do it on purpose and we all know he doesn’t race reckless. As I said a lot of drama. 

      Mandatory cautions- Seriously what in the world is this? Sometime after the accident or during the red flag Firestone and Race Control decided that because the tires were blistering and were possibly unsafe there would be a mandatory caution after every 30 laps of green flag racing. Okay I don’t always agree with calls that IndyCar makes but this one was ridiculous. I want the drivers to be safe. I don’t want to push things when we know we have unsafe conditions but there is a much easier way to solve this– change your tires within thirty laps or be penalized.  How is this different than needing gas. There is no caution because the cars will eventually run out of gas- the teams and drivers just know they need to come in and do so under green flag conditions. They could have pit to change tires and done so when they wanted as long as it was within a thirty lap window. Why? Why did it have to be under a caution?  I will never understand that or agree with it. Hopefully Curt and Kevin can offer some insight but I think it was ridiculous. So the cautions came out and there was still some confusion about them and everyone was required to stop but somehow through other yellows I suppose TK was able to get back on the lead lap.  I think the stupid mandatory cautions actually ended up helping him make up the penalty he was given Hmm? Such a weird race. 

      Last yellow- With just a few more laps and only a handful of cars on track- 11 I believe, we had one more accident. Sato went into the grass and ended up losing control and taking himself and another car or two out with him. I honestly don’t remember who all was caught up in it but I thought to myself that we only had a couple laps left so surely they will throw the red flag so we can finish under green flag conditions. I don’t necessarily agree with a red flag towards the end of the race but it seems to be the new norm and Will Power was leading and I was hoping Tony Kanaan would win so I guess I was hoping/ expecting the red flag. It never came and the race ended under yellow. Will Power won and Tony Kanaan finished second. Everything I expected to happen did not and things I never thought would happen did. It was just a weird race. I’m sure it’s one we will be talking about for a long time. 

      Overall I enjoyed it. I like good fast racing and we saw that. I do like some unpredictability although this might have been a bit too much. I do like accidents and engine failures because it mixes things up. No not misunderstand- I never want to see drivers hurt and realize it is expensive for the teams and exhausting for the crews when accidents happen but it also greatly changes the course of the race and I enjoy that part. However, I don’t like a manufactured race and the cautions went too far. I hope we never see them again. I also would have preferred more cars still racing at the end. It was really a wild night. What were your thoughts? Agree? Disagree?  Guess we will have two weeks to debate about it as IndyCar has a week off before Road America.