What We Learned During the Rain Delay

I was so excited for a rain race and we had a short one but it was raining too hard for the race to continue. Of course this is disappointing but it is also a great time to learn more about how awesome the Verizon IndyCar drivers really are. So let’s go over what we learned during today’s rain delay.

10- Twitter friends are the best. There is more time to look up and send tweets when the race is under red flag. I so enjoy the chance to talk with my IndyCar friends. You guys make racing even more fun.

9- Paul Tracy is still the man. He couldn’t understand why a yellow was called (some drivers felt the same way). He was ready for them to go green and keep Racing. He might be getting older but his heart is still that of a true racer.

8-Tony Kanaan is willing to call PT on that and offered him to take his car for a spin and see how he feels after a few laps. I love the way the drivers call each other out. Put on the suit PT and give it a go and we will see if you still feel the same.

7- We now know what Jordan King looks like. When we are under a rain delay there is plenty of time to interview everyone. Kevin Lee interviewed Jordan King and now I will be able to spot him at a race. Thanks Kevin! (This picture is not from today’s interview but from Jordan’s twitter page)

6- I never get tired of having drivers or teams tweet me back. A J Foyt Racing responded to a tweet I sent to my friend Lisa when I said I’d love to see TK win the 500 for AJ Foyt Racing. How cool are IndyCar teams. Love how fan friendly our sport is.

5- Marco is a new man this season. We’ve been seeing better results but we actually saw him with a genuine smile during an interview. He is feeling much better about himself and because of that we are seeing more of his true potential. I’m excited to see how this season goes for him.

4- Racing in the sand is similar to racing in rain. Ed Jones raced in Dubai and while he isn’t familiar with rain conditions there the sand prepared him for the rain as it created slippery race conditions and poor visibility. Who knew?

3- Apparently there are other sports that IndyCar and some of the IndyCar drivers even follow those sports (can you tell I don’t). Josef Newgarden challenged James Hinchcliffe that his hockey team would beat the Canadian hockey team. The loser has to bake a cake for the winner and deliver it during an autograph session. NBCSN better have the cameras ready when that happens. I want to see that cake.

2- Oriol Servia is as awesome as ever. He will be attempting to qualify for the 102nd Indy 500 and I have no doubt he will make the field but until then he is driving the pace car for the IndyCar Series. Thanks to rain delays we had a chance to watch an interview with him and once again we are reminded of how fun the drivers (past and present) are. I miss having him drive full time but am so thankful he will run the 500 and live that he drives the pace car. Servia believes the safe decision was to red flag the race.

1- If you watched today’s coverage you already know the BEST AND MOST FUN THING we learned. JAMES HINCHCLIFFE JOINED AN ELITE CLUB! For a couple years James has stated that drivers occasionally need to relieve themselves while in the race car. While this might sound disgusting it’s actually encouraged by their doctors. Their bladders can be badly damaged if they crash with a full bladder. So while no driver wants to pee themselves it is sometimes necessary. I imagine that many felt the need as it was a cold rainy day and they weren’t sweating. The water needs to go somewhere. Hinch admitted that he was begging for a chance to get out of the car during the first red. They went yellow for a brief period before returning to red flag conditions and drivers were released from their cars. Sadly, it was too late for Hinch who relieved himself under the yellow. I laughed out loud as he told his story but also completely understand. I’m always the first on a road trip to beg for a pit stop. It’s no fun needing to go and not being able. Hinch has said for years he would most likely join the ranks of Dario Franchitti and Will Power and today he did. Thank you Hinch for you honesty and fun story telling abilities. We will remember this red flag race for years because of you. Watch his interview with Kevin Lee here. I promise you will enjoy it.

So while we would all prefer a full race with no delays, it’s always interesting when we have a rain delay and get to learn more about the IndyCar drivers. Tune in tomorrow for the conclusion of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. It should be interesting.

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Alexander Rossi Dominates at Long Beach

When Alexander Rossi first joined the IndyCar series in 2016 it was obvious to the fans he would rather be in F1. After his first season and winning a little race called the Indianapolis 500 he seemed to be a bit more interested in staying in IndyCar. Now in his third season I think it is safe to say Alexander Rossi is thrilled to be running in the Verizon IndyCar Series. He has also won the hearts of the fans and many of us were thrilled to watch him dominate and win at Long Beach Sunday afternoon. I’m always the first to say I hate a Penske parade. I want lead changes and drama but I loved every minute of the race on Sunday and was thrilled that Rossi led so many laps before finally taking the twin checkered flags. Farther back in the field was where the drama was and that all made for a fun and interesting race.

The drama began in qualifying, nothing too major at first but then Ryan Hunter-Reay was penalized for not staying in the designated lane when leaving the pits. In the driver meeting they were very specifically told where the blend line was and where they could cross over to the race track. During qualifying RHR cut over early and was penalized and therefore did not advance to the fast six. Now Marco Andretti is often called a cry baby but that title should really belong to Hunter-Reay. It was very clear he cut over too soon. It was a mistake, it stinks, move on.

The middle of the car needs to pass over the orange line. It didn’t. Ok so it was qualifying and not the race but a rule is a rule and after the drama we had last year over this same issue you would think RHR would have admitted he goofed up and be thankful it was only during qualifying and not the race. The race didn’t go so well for him either although that was not his fault- cry over that but man up about your own mistake.

We didn’t have to wait long for more drama- Lap one Graham Rahal had his brakes lock up on him and rear ended Simon Pagenaud. Pagenaud spun but Rahal continued on. He had to serve a drive through penalty but worked his way back up to finish fifth. Sadly Pagenaud was out for the day.

Some cars were on a two pit strategy and some on a three pit strategy so that kept us wondering how things would play out. Robert Wickens had gearbox problems and Kyle Kaiser caused the second yellow when he slowed on the track. When the green came back out we were entertained once again. RHR had problems when he punctured his tire. Just not his day. Then Sebastien Bourdais made an incredible pass on lap 47. He passed Spenser Pigot, Scott Dixon and Matheus Leist. Unbelievable. Sadly he crossed over into the pit lane with his two right tires and had to give the position back to Scott Dixon. Ok. That was the right call although it was such a gutsy move I’d be tempted to look the other way if I was race control but rules are rules. The problem was by the time race control told Bourdais he had to give up his position he had pulled away from Dixon by several seconds. He had to slow down allow Dixon to catch up and pass him. Bourdais then passed Dixon again two turns later. However, that just allowed Rossi to build an even greater lead and Bourdais couldn’t recover. Bourdais and Dixon both would later pull into closed pits and effectively ended any chance either one had of winning.

The closed pits added to more of the drama. I see them kinda like a yellow light. You are approaching planning to go and suddenly the light changes or the pits close. You’ve already committed and turning back might not be impossible but also not easy or possible safe. How many times have you gone through a yellow as it turns red because you took half a second to decide which option was better. Stop or go. The way I saw it both Bourdais and Dixon were close enough to the pits and had already decided to pit. Bourdais drove through, Dixon was serviced and then had to drive through during green. Might need to review the best way to handle closed pits during a yellow.

At the end of the day it was an entertaining race and I was thrilled to watch Alexander Rossi win. He clearly dominated the race. Will Power finished second and while it looked for a bit like he might be gaining on Rossi he just didn’t have enough to really challenge. Ed Jones finished third. Very impressive.

Zach Veach also had a great day earning the fourth spot. He is one to watch.

Graham finished fifth and Marco Andretti after poor qualifying finished 6th. Perhaps if they can start from the front of the field he will finally win a race again. I hope so. Tony Kanaan finished 8th for AJ Foyt Racing. His second top ten I believe. That team still needs to improve but I’m seeing glimpses of what could be and I’m very hopeful AJ will be back in victory circle soon.

Less than a week till the IndyCars are Racing again. This time at Barber Motorsports Park. I love this time of year!

Phoenix, snooze fest or interesting race?

I’ve been battling some fatigue lately so I wasn’t sure how I would stay away for Saturday nights IndyCar race at Phoenix. It’s proved to be a dull race in the past and sometimes the roar of the cars is just the right sound to lull me into a good nap. Since this race was also later in the evening I was concerned about staying awake. Fortunately, a quick trip to Starbucks with Randy in the afternoon along with a surprisingly entertaining end to the race helped keep me awake.

I was already excited to begin with because this race was covered in NBCSN. That meant rather than a few quick minutes of preshow we had a qualifying show, a half hour pre show and a post show. Within the first few minutes we had seen more of Robert Wickens face than we did the entire race at St. Pete. Plenty of interviews before and after and lots of insight. The NBCSN team does a great job. That helps keep your attention and give you things to watch for during the race.

Qualifying was so fun to watch. I’m not sold on having the qualifying order be according to points. I feel it takes away a chance from those going first to get on the pole. I liked the random draw. However, watching Sebastien Bourdais take the pole from the Penske guys was priceless. I like Bourdais and the Coyne/Vasser team. Loved seeing them on the pole. Also great to see Bourdais give it his all after that horrible crash at Indy. We knew he was back but winning a pole on an oval is awesome.

Also super impressed with Robert Wickens and James Hinchcliffe. The Schmidt Peterson team is very impressive this year.

So after our enjoyable pre race show we went green at ISM Raceway in Phoenix. Bourdais ran into trouble but was able to get his car restarted before green flag and start from the front. Green flag flew and while a couple cars made up some positions it didn’t take long for everyone to fall into line and there was not much action on the track. Lap 41 Pietro Fittipaldi made contact with the wall and the yellow flag came out. Pit stops were interesting as both Bourdais and Alexander Rossi hit crew men during their stop. Both would serve a drive through penalty. Green flag and very similar to the start we saw a couple quick moves for position and then everyone fell in line. There was very little passing. I don’t recall seeing any passing the first 100 laps except for those at the start and restart. Other than Matheus Leist losing a wheel during his pit stop around lap 121 is wasn’t an overly exciting race. Will Power brushed the wall and went into the pits. On lap176, Kyle Kaiser also hit the wall. He also pulled into the pits. I honestly thought they would have thrown the yellow flag there and while many times we complain when they throw the yellow for something insignificant I thought the race was a bit dull and a restart would have made things fun. I wasn’t wrong as we would find out later but race control did not go yellow for Kaiser’s brush with the wall so not restart for us.

On lap 229 Ed Jones hits the wall and brings out the yellow we’ve been waiting for- or at least the one I was waiting for. So with 20 laps left who will take tires? Surely not the leaders, they would have to many spots to make up on a night when passing seems impossible. But actually the opposite happened and most went in for tires. Rossi, Hinchcliffe and Wickens stayed out. I really felt those with the new tires would be sorry they went in but I was proved wrong. The right call was to get new tires. Josef Newgarden quickly went around Rossi and Hinchcliffe. Wickens was able to hold Newgarden off for a couple laps but the new tires were too good and Josef made his way around Wickens and eventually took the twin checkers. Robert Wickens finished second and Alexander Rossi was third. So, as is often the case, the most impressive drive of the night did not go to Josef. Josef did great but was also in the right place at the right time with the right tires to get the win- very familiar scenario for Penske. The most impressive driver had to be Alexander Rossi closely followed by Robert Wickens. Rossi had a drive through penalty and worked his way back up passing 53 cars along the way. I saw a statistic that his passes made up nearly 20% of all the passes that night. Wow! Super impressive! Robert Wickens is an IndyCar rookie on his first oval, second place for him is also quite impressive. We knew it after St. Pete but he is one to watch. I was also impressed with AJ’s team. They still have a long way to go and need significant work on pit stops but we are seeing some glimpses of what could be. Still keeping my fingers crossed that this is a good year for AJ Foyt Racing. Tony Kanaan finished 8th and Matheus Leist finished 19th, several laps down due to the tire incident.

So was it a snoozer or entertaining? Honestly a bit of both but more entertaining than last years so that was enough for me to put it in the entertaining category.

Next up is Long Beach which always proves to be an exciting race and a fan favorite. Best part is we don’t need to wait we are racing again next week!