Colton Herta becomes youngest IndyCar Winner

I never pick well on my fantasy leagues. I have one Facebook league where you can only pick one driver. Well yesterday I chose the right driver. Wow! That was an amazing race. Loved watching Colton Herta win at Circuit of the Americas.

Colton Herta, son of Bryan Herta, became the youngest IndyCar winner at age 18. George Michael Steinbrenner IV became the youngest owner to win a race. Watching history being made was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. However, when I first started watching the race I wasn’t quite sure it was the best use of my time. My family is in Panama City Beach for a Spring Break and no one quite understood why I would rather watch the race than be on the beach. Well I had spent the morning on the beach and had a beautiful view from the balcony during the race so I didn’t feel like I was giving up too much beach time. Besides at the end of the day I’m too big of a fan to miss the inaugural IndyCar race at COTA. I did skip most of the pre race show and Steve and the boys went out for the afternoon so I could focus on the race. It was a clean start and while there were some passes made it felt very bland. Cars pit on different strategies but other than that it was just watching cars drive around.

I was beginning to thing COTA might be a bust when we finally got some entertainment. On lap 44 there was an incident with James Hinchcliffe and Felix Rosenqvist (two of my fantasy picks of course). It brought out the only full course yellow of the race. Everyone knows you want to be the first in to make the last pit stop because if a yellow comes out it’s going to mess up your race. That is exactly what happened. Will Power and Alexander Rossi would give up the lead and Colton Herta and Josef Newgarden, who had just stopped, took over at the front of the field. Suddenly this race was a lot more exciting.

Now some might complain about how the pits close during a yellow and how it can completely change the direction a race is going and depending on who is leading I might agree but when we are watching Will Power run away with a race again I love the way a yellow can change things. Regardless of yellow Will Power would have been out as he had some type of car problem on his last pit stop and his day was done. Will ended up in last place and lost his chance at winning $100,000 had he won both the pole and the race. Alexander Rossi most likely would have won the race had we stayed green. However, Rossi’s day was also messed up by the yellows. Now Herta would just have to hold off Newgarden on the restart and remaining laps. That would be a tall order for anyone but an 18 year old rookie on a new team up against a former champion and Penske driver. Hmm. This is not going to be easy. Yet, Colton Herta made it look quite easy as he got a great restart and built up a nice lead over Josef. Josef had more time left on his push to pass but never really got close enough to threaten Colton’s lead. While some might say that Colton inherited the lead because of a yellow at the right time for him, it takes talent to hold off the Penske drivers. I score this as a legitimate win and put Herta in the rising star category. Hope I’m not jinxing him by saying that.

Josef Newgarden finished second, Ryan Hunter-Reay was third. Graham Rahal and Sebastien Bourdais rounded out the top five with Marco Andretti coming in sixth.

So was COTA a success? It was but only due to the yellow flag. I never want a gimmick or things included just to make a dull race more interesting but I sure was glad when that yellow came out. When it’s just a parade and especially a Penske parade racing can get quite dull. It was the perfect kind of yellow, no one was hurt and it added a whole bunch of excitement to the race. I’m sure anyone within shouting distance of me was not to happy. I was yelling at Colton to win this thing. Thankfully he did. Had the yellow never happened all the excitement about IndyCars finally racing at COTA might have had us questioning why anyone thought it would be a fun place to watch a race.

Closing thoughts-

NBCSN Gold Package is worth the money. I have enjoyed watching the coverage a lot and am especially thankful for the opportunity to watch at a later time. If you haven’t already purchased I would highly suggest it if you enjoy following along with practice and qualifying. At less than $5 per race, it seems like a very good value to me.

Danica Patrick- It was announced last week that Danica would be part of the broadcast team for the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500. As you can imagine social media went nuts and every complaint about Danica was repeated- again. Oh my goodness, get over it people. Nothing makes me more frustrated than listening to people say she was a lousy driver and an unkind person. First, she was (and is to this day) the best female driver in IndyCar by far. She won a race, she won poles and she consistently finished in the top 5, 10 and on the lead lap. Last year she qualified in the top 9 at Indy. Pippa Mann will get all the praise in the world but she consistently is down laps, qualifies in the back or fails to qualify to all. Honestly, I don’t hold out a ton of hope for her to make the field this year. Don’t even say she is in a lower quality car. She is but we all know the cars are insanely close in their set ups and there is not the huge advantage past drivers have had. Pippa has been with Dale Coyne, a proven race winner. At the end of the day Danica is the leader among women drivers and beats some of the men too. That’s quite the accomplishment. Second, before you all go saying how mean she is, please remember that none of you really know her. You know a personality, who she shows at a press event or when running from meetings and practice times. I imagine it’s got to get old knowing ever time you show your face someone will want an autograph, a picture, an interview. Unless you know her outside racing cut her some slack. We have been in this exact same place with Ryan Hunter-Reay and while I freely admit he is not a driver we cheer for, we never call him rude names or think he is a rotten person deserving death. We realize he is a busy man and was probably frustrated over things we don’t even know are going on. We often walk right by him when we see him now but we don’t name call and wish for bad things to happen to him- well maybe we do smile a bit when his race gets messed up but that’s it. So long story to say, we’ve been fans of Danica since Zach decided that the green GoDaddy car was his favorite and we are looking forward to seeing her on the broadcast. As I understand she will have a larger part in the pre and post show and most of calling the race will be our usual suspects, Leigh Diffey, Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy. I think it will all work out just fine.

Thanks for reading.

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IndyCar at St. Pete

Wow! I never expected it to take me all week to get this post out. To say I’ve been a bit overwhelmed in my personal life is an understatement. Last weekend, race weekend, we were hosting a pastor and his family. Pastor John was the pastoral candidate at our church. I served on the search team that recommended him to our elders. The elders recommended him to the congregation. After a long weekend of meet and greets and John preaching on Sunday morning, our church voted unanimously for him to be our new Sr. Pastor. It was a fun weekend. So excited to see how God will use him in our church. The racing side of me was eager to get home on Sunday and catch up on the race. I was able to watch the race Sunday afternoon. Monday morning our house guests left- Pastor John, his wife Kim and three of their five children had stayed with us for six nights. I enjoyed one quiet night before a new house guest arrived. She needs a little assistance getting back on her feet and will be with us about a week. She demands a lot of attention and that has kept me from having time to sit down and write this.

Celebration at Culver’s the evening of the vote. My boys and the pastors kids get along great.

St. Pete

Ok, let’s get down to business. NBCSN announced they would be the sole carrier of IndyCar for 2019 and beyond. Amazing news. The also offered a gold package on the NBC sports app. The gold package would offer lots of extra coverage and the ability to watch the race shortly after the air time. The cost was approximately $50 with the price going up $5 after opening day at St Pete. I debated waiting until after St Pete and hearing everyone’s thought on the gold package but eventually decided I’m too big of a fan to wait. I have to say I thoroughly appreciated the coverage. I miss the IndyCar Radio guys so as the season progresses I may flip back and forth or first listen to radio and then watch the app later. I think it’s going to be huge for me next weekend with COTA when I am out of town and unable to watch live. So far I’m impressed.

So this long after the race you have all had time to digest what happened so rather than do a race review I’m going to touch on a couple things that stuck out to me.

  • Loving that NBCSN is the provider. Qualifying, pre show and post show. I always hated that ABC just opened the season with a few minutes before jumping right into the race. I’m really excited to have every race covered by NBC. I’m especially excited to watch the Indy 500.
  • The race started with a clean lap around turn one and continued. On Lap 13, Sébastien Bourdais, who had won the last two years was out. A yellow was not called.
  • Lap 20 Ryan Hunter-Reay had smoke pouring from his car. A full course yellow was called. I’m not a RHR fan so it did not upset me at all to see him out.
  • Lap 26 Matheus Leist and Ed Jones touched sending Jones into the wall.
  • Somewhere around lap 60 NBCSN had some technical difficulties. To be honest I fast forwarded over this and wasn’t watching live to check in on social media to find out what was going on. I think it was just one of those weird things. I don’t expect it to be an issue in future races. We were back live within 10 laps.
  • By this time Josef Newgarden was running away with the race. At one time JNew had a 9 second lead over Scott Dixon. Crazy!
  • Felix Rosenqvist had an impressive race. Not quite what we saw from Robert Wickens last year but still one to watch this season. He finished 4th.
  • Dario Franchitti is to be inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame. That’s quite the honor and honesty well deserved.
  • AJ Foyt was back at the track for the first time since his back surgery last year. Always makes me happy to see AJ at a race.
  • Which brings me to a last point.
  • COLTON HERTA- The whole thing with Harding Steinbrenner Racing is sad. So disappointed for Pato O’Ward. Thankfully, Pato found a ride and I’m excited to watch Colton’s career unfold. He showed a ton of speed in qualifying and was set to make the fast six before a penalty for slowing a driver down was imposed. Colton finished 8th in the race and I have to say I’m more impressed by this rookie than I have been by others. I know he has the name but I still expect to see him shine in the series. Keep your eye on him.
  • Oh wait. My final thought- how cool is it that Robert Wickens was at the St Pete race. He did a ton of appearances and was a great help to James Hinchcliffe. After the race, James, Robert and Marco Andretti along with their better halves took a birthday trip to the Bahamas. Robert celebrated his 30th birthday. Same day as Marco’s birthday. Fun videos and James’ podcast happened during that trip. Loved seeing Robbie poolside and able to relax. Continue to pray for his recovery.
  • Thanks for reading. Hope to be more timely with my COTA posts.
  • 2019 IndyCar Season

    Guess it’s time to brush the dust off my blog. The IndyCar off-season seems so long and then suddenly it’s over and we are ready to go racing. I won’t be able to cover all I missed during the off season but thought I throw out a couple thoughts as we prepare for the 2019 season.

    Let’s start with the fun news! I’m going to the Indianapolis 500 this May. Zach and I surprised Randy with tickets at Christmas. The tickets arrived today. While Zach and I attended the 99th running of the 500, we did not have the pleasure of receiving a blue envelope in the mail. This year I ordered our tickets so I have the privilege of opening the mail box and finding a beautiful blue envelope. Wow! That’s more fun than seeing the first flowers of Spring. The not so fun part is that due to snow days, Friday, May 24th has become our last day of school. Not sure I can pull Zach out on his last day. We might not make Carb Day. We will have to see what his schedule looks like as it gets closer.

    Other fun news is that Robert Wickens will be attending the St Petersburg race. While I kinda expected this it still makes my heart so happy to see his improvements and positive attitude. Obviously I’m not a doctor and don’t really know the extent of his injuries but if attitude is any indication Robert will be in a car again. If you aren’t following Robbie on social media you need to start. He is amazing and such an inspiration.

    So what are some thoughts on the upcoming season?

    Sébastien Bourdais has won the St Pete race the last two years. I’m not really expecting a third win but I do expect a win during the season.

    I’m expecting the Andretti team to be on fire. Rossi will be in the championship battle. Ryan Hunter-Reay will have a win and Zach Veach will get a win too. I’m a huge Marco fan. I’d love to see him back in victory circle. I honestly believe he has talent. He is who I want to win the Indy 500. Marco just needs to get out of his head. I’m happy for Conor to have the 500 ride but at the end of the day I’m a huge Stefan Wilson fan and I wanted him in that car.

    So speaking of Stefan Wilson- Pippa Mann will be driving the Driven2SaveLives car for Clausen-Marshall Racing. While I’m glad Pippa has a chance to attempt the 500 again I don’t understand their choice for a driver. Pippa failed to qualifylast year and usually is in the back of the pack. While she was teammates with Bryan Clausen I don’t see how she really becomes a spokesperson for Driven 2 Save Lives. Stefan on the other hand, qualified well for the 500 last year, led laps and is an amazing spokesperson for organ donation. He has such a personal story to tell and I think that would go a lot farther to reach others to donate than anything else. At the end of the day I just think Stefan is a better driver and I would prefer to see him in the car. While I appreciate Pippa I don’t see her going anywhere and imagine she will finish in the back of the pack if she is able to qualify.

    So what about Harding Steinbrenner Racing? Sadly, they weren’t able to get enough sponsors for two cars and Pato O’Ward was released from his contract. Colton Herta will be the sole driver. Both drivers show great potential so while there may be factors that led to Colton over Pato no one can really say one is more deserving than the other. The hard part is this late in the season it will be tricky for Pato to put something together. Andretti offered him a multiple race deal which was turned down. I don’t understand that at all. I’d take part time with one of the big three teams over full time with a smaller team almost any day.

    Last thought- Personally, I could care less that Fernando Alonso will be racing in the 500 again this year. I know it’s good for the sport but frankly I don’t care. Just one less spot for the drivers I do care about.

    This season I plan to attend the GP of Indy, Indianapolis 500, Road America and Gateway. Small chance I also sneak in Iowa. Hope to see you at a race soon. Check back often. Now that it’s officially IndyCar season I will be posting regularly. Thanks for reading.