Pocono

I usually don’t have a fun title for my posts but was thinking I should step up my game for this post. Well after yesterday’s race I think I will just stick with Pocono. I don’t want to be disrespectful to Robert Wickens while we wait to hear more about his condition.

I always have mixed feeling about Pocono. Each year is a little bit easier but I still put on my Justin Wilson necklace that I wear to races and thought about him a lot as the race approached. I love ovals and the entertainment they provide. I love the speed and side by side racing. I love when accidents happen and front runners are taken out and the race completely changes. I love mishaps in the pits for the same reason. However, when the accidents are as serious as the one we saw yesterday or pit workers are hurt or fans are hit with debris it breaks my heart. There is a dark side to our sport and it can be absolutely gut wrenching. My thoughts and prayers are with Robert Wickens. The report from IndyCar last night is that Robbie is being treated for injuries to his lower extremities, right arm and spine. He also sustained a pulmonary contusion. Today (Monday) he will have an MRI and probably undergo surgery. James Hinchcliffe left the race as soon as he was cleared from the medical center following the accident. James was cleared and released to drive. It appears he has a cut on his hands from debris. James has remained silent on social media and I find myself worrying about him almost as much as I’m worrying about Robbie. No more news has been given.

Ok so before some of you start yelling about my statement saying I like accidents please reread what I wrote and understand that I never ever want the drivers to be hurt. There is a huge difference between the majority of the crashes we see and what happened yesterday.

IndyCar, Dallara and the AMR safety team are amazing and I am so thankful for the safety improvements we’ve seen through the years. I’m so thankful the safety cell did its job and will continue to pray for a full recovery for Robert.

IndyCar Qualifying- NBCSN mixed things up a bit for the qualifying show and I really enjoyed it. Jon Beekhus and Robin Miller joined Leigh Diffey in the booth while Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy worked the pits and driver interviews. Kevin Lee and Katie Hargitt were watching from the stands having the afternoon off. So while I missed Kevin and Katie I loved mixing things up a bit and hearing different perspectives. It was a fun qualifying show. Zach Veach was quite impressive but ultimately it was Will Power who won the pole. Power is now tied with A.J. Foyt in second for the most poles. I wouldn’t be surprised if he wins more this season and fully claims the second place spot.

Race Day– The race started with some controversy which was later cleared up. Scott Dixon and others thought perhaps Will Power checked up and slowed his speed during the start of the race. Spencer Pigot spun when he was bumped from behind by Graham Rahal. Others had to make some quick moves to avoid hitting the cars in front of them. It caused a yellow before the race really even started. Will Power would later bring out a copy of the telemetry from his car showing that he kept a constant speed and he was told to do and properly brought the field to the green flag. Any shenanigans that might have happened were from someone else in the field. After the yellow flag we went back to green. Now it was a single file start. Hmm that was disappointing. Perhaps if the start does not make it past turn one we can try a second double file start. That’s what I was thinking at the time anyway. Before the crash.

Lap 7 Ryan Hunter-Reay and Robert Wickens were side by side but Robert couldn’t quite hold on. His front right tire touched RHR’s left rear and it sent RHR into the wall. Unfortunately, Ryan’s car turned out and Robert’s car vaulted over Ryan’s car. That’s where the trouble began. Robert’s car hit the fence, disintegrated and then spun in the air more times than I could count. While spinning he just missed a devastating blow to Ryan’s car, it took the camera off the top of his car. It’s incredibly scary watching the replay. Also involved in the incident were Pietro Fittipaldi, James Hinchcliffe and Takuma Sato. Everyone except Wickens was evaluated and cleared to drive. The race was red flagged.

Red Flag– The debris field was so extensive that cars could hardly find a path. The AMR SafetyTeam was working on extracting Robert from the car and it was a long terrifying wait for news. Robert was transported by helicopter to Lehigh Valley Hospital. I first saw it tweeted by Jim Ayello that Robbie was awake and alert. It was another 15 minutes or so before we heard from IndyCar that was indeed correct.

The other drivers in the accident slowly made their way from the medical center all stating they were fine and that they were sending good thoughts to Robbie. James Hinchcliffe was the only one who declined speaking to the reporters. He went straight to the hospital to be with Robbie, his long time friend. I stated on Twitter how disappointed I was that Hinch did not speak to reporters. I was told to leave Hinch alone as he was worried about Robbie. I completely understood why Hinch chose to not speak. I was just also worried about him and would have felt better knowing how he was doing. Hinch has still remained silent on social media and it just causes more concern for Robbie’s condition.

Repair work was done on the fence. It looked horrible but that was not the point. I’m no expert but I have to imagine that Pocono Speedway did what needed to be done to make it safe. Sebastian Bourdais was not happy with the job. I’m not sure what he specific concerns were. Thankfully the fence did not get tested and the rest of the race cars stayed on the ground. I’m glad drivers speak out when they feel something is unsafe. It’s something that needs to be done and taken into consideration.

I continued to refresh my Twitter feed and watch for more news and listened to the NBCSN broadcast. I swear it looked to me like Leigh Diffey and Curt Cavin (when he announced Wickens was awake and alert) were holding back tears. Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy didn’t look much better. How these guys can continue doing their jobs so well is a credit to their professionalism. The NBCSN crew provided us five hours of coverage and did not skimp on the post show.

Back to Green Flag Racing – Once the race went back to green it stayed there for the rest of the race. Conor Daly touched the wall but was able to pull into the pits without the yellow coming out. Tony Kanaan had an issue with his car and was out around lap 17. He joined the crew in the booth and was very knowledgeable and insightful. I always enjoy when the current drivers join the booth. Wish they did that every race.

Alexander Rossi built up a 10-12 minute lead and was impressive all race. Will Power was able to shorten up that lead but Rossi was able to keep his position, losing it only once and quickly regaining it when Will Power had a small bobble.

By lap 100 only 15 cars were still running and at the end of the race only four cars were on the lead lap. With five laps to go the TV shot showed all four cars. To anyone just joining you would assume Scott Dixon was leading because he was the first car in the shot followed by Bourdais, Rossi and then Power. Dixon and Bourdais were just barely on the lead lap and trying their hardest to not get lapped by Rossi. Had the race not been almost over I imagine Rossi would have passed them both.

Rossi won and made his way to the victory podium. He did not do donuts, perhaps out of respect to Wickens or perhaps because they didn’t go so well at mid-Ohio. He was a good winner, excited for the win and for the nice jump in championship points but also expressing his concern for Robert. The first place trophy is pretty cool and Alex had a hard time lifting it over his head.

As stated NBCSN provided a nice post show even with the extended race. I love that IndyCar is on the NBC network.

Post Race– After the race there was even more waiting as many fans refreshed twitter and speculated about how Robert was doing. Paul Tracy eventually tweeted that Robert was ok and stated some of his injuries. I have no idea if this was Tracy’s news to tell, if he was given an okay or took it upon himself to tell the general public waiting to hear. If I had to guess where I would have heard news on Roberts condition I would not have thought it would be from Tracy. However, at the time it didn’t matter I was just very grateful to hear some news. Tracy took a lot of backlash on Twitter for divulging the information though. If Tracy wasn’t given permission to speak on Roberts condition then he should have kept his mouth shut but it’s hard for me to be mad about that when I was so desperate for information. So I will give Paul the benefit of the doubt and assume he was allowed to share the information he had until I hear otherwise.

So once again I will state I’m not sure how I feel about the racing at Pocono. I love the thrill and excitement of the super speedways but the accidents are terrifying. Continuing to pray for Robbie and his family. Hope for more news soon.

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A few thoughts before Pocono

Wow! Where has summer gone? Even with three weeks off from IndyCar this summer has been way too busy. Now the boys went back to school and we are back into racing with a race Sunday at Pocono and I’m feeling the need to catch up on a couple things that have been happening.

Scott Dixon- So there was a lot of speculation about where Scott Dixon would be driving next year. Many said he would be the first and largest domino in Silly Season. I can’t disagree but I never really saw Dixon anywhere other that at Ganassi Racing. As long as he continues to do well I don’t see a real reason to rock the boat. Sure Josef Newgarden made the switch to Penske and won races and a championship but often there is a greater learning curve. Now the Iceman might not need as much help as some but why switch when you are leading championships and winning races. Money would be the only reason. Is money more important than winning? I was glad to see Scott remain with Ganassi.

Fernando Alonso and McLaren Racing- I’m not following this very closely. If they do make the jump to IndyCar I will then. I understand that McLaren is known internationally and that many eyes would be watching if they made the move to IndyCar. I would love to see it happen for that reason and because I’m also hopeful new teams will join IndyCar but if it shouldn’t happen I wouldn’t be crushed. I really don’t want Alonso to win the Indy 500. I much rather see one of our veteran IndyCar guys win the Borg-Warner and kiss the bricks. If Alonso does race then I would want/ hope for him to do the whole season.

Tony Stewart- Speaking of the Indy 500… Tony Stewart has talked about what running the 500 would look like for him and that he would not want it to be a circus show like it was for Danica. Kevin and Curt did a good job of explaining what Tony meant by that comment on this weeks episode of Trackside on 1070 The Fan but when I first heard the quote I did not appreciate it. I’ve said it before but….Danica did an amazing job at Indy last year. I don’t care if you are a fan or not, she qualified in the fast nine and was keeping up until a crash took her out. I firmly believe she would have had more wins in the series and perhaps a 500 win had she stayed in IndyCar. Sadly she chose to follow the money and won’t leave the legacy she could have.

So Tony- honestly I haven’t seen him lately but I don’t think he is in shape for IndyCar so that would need to be addressed first. He said he would want to run another race so he actually had a chance of winning. I wouldn’t rate him too high even if he ran all the races before Indy. He has been gone for quite awhile. I’d love to see him back but in the end I think he’d still just be a mid-pack guy. No disrespect just being honest.

Penske Racing- There is a lot of talk that Will Power or Simon Pagenaud might be out for next year. I don’t really see that. I think Power will stay for sure. Pagenaud hasn’t had a great year but with the exception of Robert Wickens I’m not sure who I would rate better, maybe Sebastien Bourdais. I really think The Captain will keep his line up for at least one more year.

Pocono- Pocono will be a 500 Mile Race. A lot can happen in that distance. For the last three weeks we’ve been seeing that amazing restart where the cars were 7 or 8 wide. Everyone is talking about how fantastic the racing is and how excited they are to get there. I’m not disagreeing but it’s always bittersweet. The 2015 race had so much excitement and fun racing. It even had a fox run across the track. It is also the absolute worst race ever, taking the life my family’s favorite driver Justin Wilson. I always have a hard time getting excited for this race.

Stefan Wilson- Stefan recently added some shirts to his website. Unfortunately, they are all men’s shirts but one is so cool I had to buy it anyway. It says “102 years of racing. 4th pair of brothers to lead” referring of course to the Indy 500. I sure hope Stefan is back in 2019. I will proudly be wearing my shirt when I attend. Make sure you check Stefan’s site out.

So do I have any predictions? I anticipate a good race but not the 8 wide we saw in 2015. I think Alexander Rossi is on a roll though and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him win and give Scott Dixon a reason to be looking over his shoulder. I’m also hopeful that Tony Kanaan and AJ Foyt Racing can finish well. Tony has a knack for long races on ovals. He is the one I will be rooting for.

Thanks for reading. Sorry for my long absence. I hope to have a post after Pocono but will definitely have multiple posts at Gateway. The boys and I will be attending Gateway once again and can’t wait.

Pros and Cons of Camping at Road America

This last week was my first time camping at Road America. It was also my first time camping at an IndyCar race. It won’t be my last. Before I get started I will say the pros far outweigh the cons. Camping at Road America was so much fun. I can’t wait to do it again.

Pros-

  • Cheaper than a hotel. I will discuss this a bit more in the cons but overall we spent less than we would have if we stayed it a hotel.
  • So close to all the action. When we stay at a hotel it is sometimes hard to get to the track for the first practice or for the Lights race. It didn’t matter at all how early things were because we were at the track. Our campsite was right across from the pits. I could even see the cars go by from the breakfast table in my camper. There was no excuse for missing any of the action. Previously when we attended Road America we stayed near West Bend and commuted nearly 45 minutes each way to get to the track. This year I literally walked over to the stands in my pajamas with a coffee to watch practice.
  • Food and drinks always within reach. Road America is know for its great concessions but you still can’t beat a quick trip to the camper to grab a drink or a snack.
  • No need to carry everything you need for the day all over the track. In between sessions we would head back to the camper and take a break in the air conditioning and grab what we needed. My back wasn’t killing me from hauling backpacks and chairs all over.
  • Easy to bring the kids bikes. Zach and his friend had a blast riding their bikes all over the facility. It made getting around so much easier for them.
  • Port-a-potties were really clean. I was worried these might be a disgusting mess as the weekend went on but they were very well maintained.
  • Access to the paddock. Okay you get this with your admission ticket but we didn’t feel any rush to leave the track so we could linger in the paddock. We saw AJ, Mario, Hinch and so many others. You can’t beat the access they give you at Road America. There is absolutely no reason to wait in the long autograph lines. We see everyone in the paddock- Will Power, Arie Luyendyk, Josef Newgarden, the list could go on and on.
  • Great neighbors! Well this might not always be true but we had great ones on both sides. We all made plans to camp on the same sites next year. The kids exchanged snapchats and we all enjoyed hanging out.

Cons-

  • The cost- I already stated the price was cheaper than a hotel but… My cousin Randy came with so we would have needed two rooms at a hotel so the camping was definitely cheaper. However, we still paid about $100 a night which is way more than I usually pay to camp. I understand this is a different circumstance so I was okay with the $300 for the weekend to camp on an electric site. The problem was you had to add a camping wristband for everyone over 16. The wristband was an additional $60 each. The pamphlet we got with our camping registration said to call before 10:00 for water delivery. No where on there did it mention a cost for water. Always when we camp water is free. So we called for our water delivery and then were charged $40. When it came time to dump there was a suggested donation of $10. So it appeared that camping would cost $300 but in the end it was $470. Non electric sites are much cheaper so if you are planning to tent you will find it much more reasonable. I’m still okay with what we paid I just hate how the cost aren’t listed upfront. The water especially was frustrating, we could have filled up at home. Now we know for next year.
  • Now I’m just getting nit picky because I don’t have much to complain about. The track never opens up for you to walk or bike on. I would love to take an early morning or late evening walk on the track. I understand why it doesn’t open up but sure would love it if it did. Hope the Road America officials don’t read this but Zach and I did sneak out on Sunday night and took some pictures at the start/finish line.

Our weekend was about perfect. We greatly enjoyed the racing and the camping. Already planning to return next year. Speaking of next year tickets are on sale. You can buy a four day pass for $100. That is a steal. I believe the deal runs through October 31 but check the website. Oh and did I mention kids 16 and under are free. Makes for such an affordable weekend even with the added camping costs 😉. Hope to see you there. Huge Thank You to Randy for being willing to tow the camper and attend with us. I would have been to afraid to tow it myself.

The Coolest Thing about IndyCar

The cars, the sound, the speed? These are all amazing things about IndyCar but the coolest thing is the people! Not just the drivers but of course they are super cool but the entire IndyCar group- drivers, owners, crew members, tv and radio personalities, bloggers, twitter friends, fans and everyone who attends a race weekend.

Almost as soon as we entered the IndyCar paddock we ran into Tony Dizinno. Tony wrote my favorite article about Justin Wilson and I always enjoy catching up with him. Soon after we saw Katie Harget, Mike Hull, a fan I don’t know but we often see at races among others. We didn’t talk with all them but still makes walking around feel familiar and like a family outing. Then we saw Robin Miller and George Phillips and his wife Susan. Oh and we had only been there less than an hour.

I’m not trying to name drop although it might seem that way especially as I continue, but honestly my point is I’m just a fan who attends a couple races a year and somehow I have many friends within the paddock.

As the weekend progressed we saw Curt Cavin, too many drivers to count and spent over 20 minutes talking with Marshall Pruett. Mario Andretti loved that we had visited his winery. We caught up with friend and fellow blogger Mike Silver. But here is the best story.

In 2015 we gave James Hinchcliffe a checkered flag bracelet and after his horrible accident gave Ryan Briscoe a checkered flag necklace to give to James. He did and you can read the full story here. Today when we saw Hinch I said we were the ones who gave him the necklace. He saw mine and said, “Oh yeah, it’s still hanging in my room.” Wow! I didn’t expect that. Very cool. Does he know us-no but he also won’t ever not know us. Just needs a little reminder. One of his crew guys, Scott, helped us find Hinch at the Milwaukee Race in 2015 and we have been friends with him ever since and always say “Hi” on race weekends.

So yes I’m excited for the race today. Yes we love watching cars go fast. Yes we love great passes. Yes we love when our favorites win. But the coolest part of IndyCar is that is truly is a family.

Thank you to everyone who sent thoughts or prayers for Matthew. He has arrived in Pignon, Haiti safely as is eager to start working with the Haitians on his mission trip.

note- I’m having trouble downloading images so if you check back later I hope to have some more attached. Thanks for reading.

102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500

As usual so much happened and there is so much to write about that I’m not sure where to start. My thoughts are all jumbled and I don’t have much time so let’s just break it down.

Pre Show– ABC did fine but I was expecting something spectacular to end their long run of broadcasting the race so I was a bit disappointed. The one opener (I’m not sure what you call them) had a creepy voice in the background. It was actually quite odd. It was a good idea if they didn’t use the creepy voice. All the pre race traditions were great. The National Anthem, God Bless America and Back Home Again in Indiana were all great. Jim Cornelison returned for his second year to sing Back Home Again in Indiana and I hope he returns for many years to come. He changes the song just a bit to make it his own and not imitate Jim Nabors but keeps to the true tradition of the song. I love it.

The biggest disappointment is Tony George. Seriously, can he please do the command to start engines the correct way, the traditional way. I hate that he says Drivers. He needs to say “Lady and Gentlemen, Start your engines!” That needs to change. It may seem simple but it’s a huge disappointment when Tony does it wrong. He should know better.

Post Show- Before we get into the race let’s just jump to the post show. Oh wait what post show. Stupid ABC decided it would be better to show an encore presentation of the F1 race than give us some interviews and show us Will Power kissing the bricks. It was the most ridiculous post show ever. They only interviewed Will and Ed Carpenter. How are you supposed to grow the fan base if you don’t let us get to know the drivers. I’ve heard ABC really wants the 500 back and once the NBC contract is over they will be attempting to gain 500 rights again. Well they don’t act like it. They should be showing IndyCar what they will be missing by moving to NBC instead they are making the decision for IndyCar to remain with NBC super easy. IndyCar is growing and while that is of course due to the spectacular Racing and personalities we have in IndyCar it is also due to the fantastic way NBCSN has showcases the races and talents in IndyCar. They are selling the product by giving us so much more than just a race. We get to know the drivers and the teams and see how the strategies, heartbreaks and winning moments make IndyCar the best sport on the planet. NBC is a big part of why IndyCar is gaining viewers and I hope that the IndyCar higher ups can see that. Seriously, what morons put on an encore presentation when we need to see an interview with Stefan Wilson. Stef’s story alone can pull at anyone’s heartstrings and make new fans. Let’s talk with AJ, Scott Dixon, Alexander Rossi (who had some amazing moves coming from the last row up to the front), ABC just doesn’t get it. So glad they are gone.

The 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 – I enjoyed this years race. Good clean start, the cars could have been lined up a bit better but I’m glad they just threw the green. No major incidents, just cars getting loose and hitting the wall. The only exception was James Davison who should have pitted. He was too slow and it’s unfortunate that he ended Takuma Sato’s day. Ed Jones was complaining his head and neck hurt. He will be re-evaluated before he can race at Detroit.

Ed Carpenter ran away with the first portion of the race and I kept telling myself that seldom do we see one driver be dominant all race, something would change. Eventually cars started going off on different fuel strategies and it was hard to tell who would be up front when it all played out.

Danica lost control and ended her day in the wall, Tony Kanaan and Helio Castroneves also lost control ending their days. Let’s touch on these three.

Danica- Wow there are a lot of Danica haters. I personally like her. Steve was so upset with her when our local news station made no mention of the race winner in their promo for the sports news and only that Danica hit the wall ending her Motorsports career. I had to remind Steve that Danica did not write the news. It’s not her fault the news chose to focus on her rather than race winner Will Power. I’ve always liked Danica. I believe she should have stayed in IndyCar. We would have seen her win more races I’m certain. No other woman driver has come close to accomplishing what she has. Possibly because of the equipment she has been in but she proved time and time again she could run up front. However, in her post race press conference we saw exactly why she is not liked by so many. She was rude and made it obvious she didn’t want to be there. I’d like to give her the benefit of the doubt and say she was just disappointed in her day and took it out on the media but she has been around long enough to know better and hold her tongue. But like her or not I believe she is the most talented woman driver we have seen in IndyCar.

Helio– I would have loved to see his name added to the four time winners list. He begged Roger on air to bring him back next year. I’d imagine that Roger has to consider that a lot. It’s one thing to win the 500 but becoming the next four time winner would be huge and I imagine Roger Penske would like that fourth win for Helio as much as Helio would. I’m guessing Helio will be back next year.

TK– He put AJ Foyt Racing back in the conversation. TK has now led in more Indy 500’s than AJ. He was impressive and I was so hopeful he would win. While it was a disappointing day it was also a great day. AJ has to see that things have been moving in the right direction. Hoping they win a race this season and look forward to the next 500.

So back to the race, with the different fuel strategies it was a waiting game to see where everyone ended up with only a few laps to go. Oriol Servia was leading followed by Stefan Wilson and Jack Harvey. It was believed all three would need to pit and Will Power would take over the lead. Yellow would be the only chance for the three leaders. Then Tony Kanaan crashed and they got the yellow. Serbia’s team said they would be able to make it to the end on the fuel they had but nothing was said about Stefan or Jack. They went green with seven laps to go and Stefan made a great move to take the lead. I was dying- did he have enough gas? Stefan built up a nice lead but sadly couldn’t make it to the end without more gas and both Stefan and Jack ducked into the pits with four laps to go. Stefan would finish 15th. It was absolutely amazing though watching Stefan lead. Stefan and Justin became one of only four sets of brothers to lead at the 500. They join the Chevrolet’s, Unsers and Laziers. That is pretty awesome. I hope Stefan is back next year.

Will Power went on to win the race, Ed Carpenter was second and Scott Dixon was third. We have seen Will Power win so many races but never have we seen him and Liz as happy and excited as they were after this win. Will was in rare form showing so much emotion. It was so fun to watch. He took one gulp of milk but being lactose intolerant he threw most of it on the people gathered around him. He hit the princess with a big splash of it and had to apologize to her but I think she knew it was all pure joy and she laughed about it. I got a lot of calls from friends asking if I was disappointed Power won. No I wasn’t. He is such a talented driver and he works hard. I’m very happy for him. If he wins it again then I might be disappointed, I love seeing new winners and frankly we watch Will Power win a lot but I enjoyed his win on Sunday.

So that wraps up another running of the Indy 500 and the countdown for next years race begins. Thankfully we have a double header in Detroit to look forward to and get us through the sad days following the Indy 500.


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Race Day

It’s the first weekend of summer break, Steve’s birthday and the 102nd running of the greatest spectacle in racing- the Indianapolis 500! I look forward to this weekend all year and yet dread it at the same time. Right now I’m so excited and preparing to watch the race. Even though I’m watching from home there is still prep- snacks, drinks, a notepad for blog ideas etc. Yet I know in a couple hours regardless of how excited I am about the winner it will be such a disappointment that the race is over and we will have a whole year to wait until we can do this again. Next year the plan is to attend in person.

So right now I’m just trying to savor the moment. I will be camped out on the couch long before the preshow starts and will enjoy every moment. Praying for a safe, fun and exciting race. Happy Indy 500 day race fans. Hope you have a great day wherever you are watching from and hope tomorrow finds you still smiling about the results rather than depressed as we wait a whole year to do this again.

Bump Day- James Hinchcliffe

Once again I was blessed to be able to spend the weekend in Indy and once again there was a 30 degree difference in the temperature between the Chicago suburbs and Indianapolis. My cousin Randy and I set out early for Bumb day and arrived at the track around noon, just about the same time as the rain. That actually worked perfect for us because it didn’t rain too hard and then gave us time to walk past the garages, meet up with Lisa and find our way to our seats after grabbing some tenderloin sandwiches. We enjoyed our lunch and waited for the green flag. Once the green flag waved things progressed pretty much as we figured. No major surprises and just a fun day watching qualifying. Another small sprinkle stopped the action again but it was a much shorter delay and we were back out to qualifying. After everyone had gone out we weren’t too surprised in the order, sure a couple drivers were a bit farther back than you thought they’d be but no huge surprises. Rahal was pretty low and Hinchcliffe was in 32nd position. Oriol Servia and Conor Daly were on the outside looking in. Eventually Servia and Daly were able to bump their way in and it was James Davison on the bubble with Pippa Mann and James Hinchcliffe trying to get back in. When Hinch went out to bump his way back in I sat back in my seat. After sitting on the edge watching Servia and Daly I was not even a bit worried that Hinch would struggle. He had a fast car and tons of experience. He would knock out Davidson and that would stink for AJ’s team but it is what it is. James went out though and instead of bumping his way in he had a wicked tire vibration and came back in to the pits without even taking the green flag. Ok now things got interesting because qualifying was ending at 5:50 due to the tv window and Pippa was also trying to bump back in. As the two cars went through tech Alexander Rossi was able to go out in his attempt to bump into the top 9. He ended up in 10th. With approximately two and a half minutes Pippa went out and u less she waved off James would not be given another chance to bump in. Pippa did not wave off nor did she make the field. The time ran out and James and Pippa were left on the outside looking in. If you thought that was the dramatic part just wait as the speculation and accusations started flying.

So many were mad at Pippa and Dale Coyne Racing for not allowing James to go ahead of them. Others insisted James would be able to buy his way into the field. Let’s look at both those.

Pippa- She has never been overly fast or have amazing finishes but she can hold her own and is an amazing ambassador for IndyCar. She works her butt off to get sponsors and find a ride for the 500. It’s her whole year wrapped into one day. In a lot of ways she needed to make the field more than James did. She was first in line and had an opportunity to attempt qualifying. It’s safe to say most thought she would t make it but she had to try. I don’t blame her or Dale Coyne Racing for going for it. That is what Racing is all about. They did exactly what they needed to do. Unfortunately it didn’t work out for them.

James- He had a car and a team to be in the field. They just simply ran out of time. It was unfortunate that the tire vibration happened when it did but it is what is is. Many thought James would find a landing spot in another car. I heard rumors about Jay Howard being out first and it seemed to make sense but quickly that was dismissed and Zachary Claman De Melo was next on the list. I even heard that Honda was willing to pay a large price to Coyne to get Hinch in that seat but again the rumors moved on. Lastly it sounded like it might be Conor Daly giving up his seat and that by doing so he would possibly be guaranteed a couple rides through the 2018 season in addition to a guarantee for the 2019 Indy 500. At the end of the day Monday none of these has happened and it really looks like Hinch will be on the sidelines for the 500.

This absolutely sucks for James and his fans but it could be the best thing for his sponsors. Already the most talked about driver is James. He has been a complete gentleman during all this, defending Pippa, the Speedway and IndyCar rules. With all eyes on him it is a great chance to get more publicity for his sponsors and show what a fantastic human being James is. I think he is just going to become even more popular by sitting out this year and next year everyone will be watching and cheering for him. Stinks for this year but will be amazing next year. Ask Stefan Wilson, he was asked to step down for the chance for Fernando Alonso to run. It stinks but here he is a year later and everything is going great. Also I hate that teams and sponsors can buy their way back in. I get it’s a business but I prefer teams not buy their way back in and deal with the cards they were dealt.

So as of the time I’m writing this it looks like James Hinchcliffe will not be in the 102nd running of the Indy 500. It’s sad but I think the right thing. He will overcome this and come back better and more popular than ever. I have no doubt.

We ended our day with dinner at the 1911 grill and a glass of wine at the Foyt Vault. Almost had a chance to talk with Larry Foyt but he ran out. We did get to meet Dave Furst. That was fun. The wine was delightful as was the conversation. Such a fun day.