After the disappointment of the cancelled Brasilia race the GP of Nola should have been a bright star in the 2015 racing season. What could go wrong? A new venue in an awesome location, great promotion by all involved and the drivers themselves telling us how much they were looking forward to this race. Unfortunately Mother Nature had other plans for our race weekend, at one point we didn’t know if the race would even happen. Thankfully we were able to see some racing although most of it was under the yellow flag.
Let’s start with qualifying though because I think that was the biggest disappointment.
I’m assuming if you are reading this you already know what happened both in qualifying and the race so rather than give a detailed account of what you already know I will just share my thoughts on it.
SERIOUSLY—I NEVER get mad at IndyCar and always give them the benefit of the doubt but this time….
I was greatly upset that after all cars were able to make a qualifying attempt they decided to cancel qualifying and start the race based on entrant points. That gave the pole to Juan Pablo Montoya. JPM would not have transferred to the top twelve so he did not deserve the pole. Had the second group not had a chance to run I would have agreed with this call, although I would have still been disappointed. However, both groups went out and everyone put down a time. I wish they would have used those times to make our starting grid. Seeing both JPM and Helio Castroneves starting up front when they should have been in the back was so disappointing.
I agree with the call to end qualifying. I always want safety first. I just really wanted to see anything other than a Penske parade and JPM on the pole. I did not understand why the decision was made to use points rather than times when every driver was able to put down a time.
I am so thankful that this race was not called off by the rain. Bad racing under yellow is always better than no racing. I wish it had been a better race but the rain really screwed things up.
I was actually surprised with the start. The cars made it through turn one without a problem and continued on with only minor incidents. A second surprise was how soon they were ready to switch to slicks. It looked to me like there was way too much water on the track. By lap 15 everyone was on reds and no yellow laps. Wow! Third surprise was when Gabby Chaves went off track. The surprise wasn’t that Gabby was off but rather that some random guy ran out and pushed him back on the track. What? Who does that? It didn’t do any good though as Gabby stalled it once he was back on track. Fourth Surprise was yellow breeds yellow—for eternity! Once the yellow came out we saw very little of the green. There was a very scary crash with Pagenaud, Hunter-Reay and Bourdais. So thankful everyone was ok. Fifth and best surprise was finding James HInchcliffe leading after almost everyone went into the pits for a final stop. Thanks to all the yellows, Hinch was able to stay out until the timed race was over and he won! I did not want a Penske parade and thankfully we didn’t get one. A great start to the season for Hinch and Sam Schmidt’s team.
So while it can’t be said that this was a good race, I am very happy with the results. Hinch won, followed by Helio and James Jakes. Simona had an awesome fourth place finish. Wish she had the podium but still a great day for her.
I know there will be lots of complaining about this race but I honestly believe it could be a fantastic race. The GP of NOLA team did a great job. They really seemed to have everything thought out and worked hard to promote the race and interact on social media. The one thing they can’t control is the weather and today that was a huge factor. Guess we will need to wait for next year to see the true potential this race can offer.
Long Beach next week and I know I hoping to see yet another team on the top step of the podium. We’ve been spoiled with great racing the last couple years so fingers are crossed that we will continue. Today might not have taken the path we thought but got us to a great result so I will take it.