Will Power still Impressive

Let me start by saying I’m sorry I haven’t kept up with my blogging this summer. No excuses really, just busy with Matthew finishing his training with the Air National Guard and getting ready for school. Zach entered his Senior year and enjoys his job at Sonic. We usually attend the race at WTT Raceway but that was the weekend we moved Matthew to SIU. Ironically, his roommate drove up for the race. It was super tempting to make a last minute decision to attend also but with Steve with us and the threat of rain we remained in the Carbondale area and watched on TV. I regretted that decision when Will Power made history by tying Mario Andretti for the most poles but was glad for our decision when the race was red flagged for over two hours due to rain.

This past weekend the NTT IndyCar Series wrapped up its season at Laguna Seca. Five drivers were still eligible for the championship but in reality it was really down to Will Power, Josef Newgarden and Scott Dixon. The funny part is I was rooting for Will Power. How many times have we seen a race where Will Power wins the pole, dominates the race and wins? More times than I can count and more times than I care to recall but he doesn’t do it as much as he used to and more recently it’s his teammates that are dominating the race so when Will win the pole I was thrilled. Sadly, IndyCar ruined it for me by announcing it on my phone notification before I was able to watch qualifying. I try so hard to stay off social media when I can’t watch live so it was disappointing to glance at my phone and see who won from my Lock Screen. Nevertheless, it was exciting to watch.

Qualifying

So while IndyCar ruin the pole results, I didn’t know how everyone else did. While we know that Josef should have qualified much farther up I was glad to see that he would have to fight his way up from the back. Josef brought out a red flag when he messed up on the corkscrew and that put him starting in the second to last position. The red flag also caused havoc with Scott Dixon’s qualifying attempt and Scott did not advance to the fast 12. Power’s race was looking a lot more straightforward now.

Power advanced to the fast 6 and won his 68th pole in IndyCar, beating Mario Andretti’s record. Mario was among the first to congratulate Will and it was a sweet moment to watch. Power won 5 poles in the 2022 season so one can only assume that at least a few more poles will be added to his tally before he retires.

Race Day

With both Josef and Dixon starting significantly farther back it seemed Power should have the best chance of winning but one can never count out the iceman, Dixon or Team Penske. Scott Dixon was unimpressive this race though and hovered near the middle never really posing any threat. Josef Newgarden was quite the opposite. Josef had a great day and a yellow flag work in his favor. He was quickly passing cars and eventually passed Will Power on track. However, no one could come close to Alex Palou who won with a 30 second gap to Josef. Power finished third but solidly in first for the championship.

So Alex Palou got a win that he desperately needed for himself as he continues to wait and see what his future holds. Personally, I think he is crazy. He should have stayed with Ganassi but I don’t know him or what his goal in racing is but I would rather drive for a winning team and fight for an Indianapolis 500 win than be a no one in F1. Palou is well liked among fans and this whole mess might have derailed his career- that’s a post for another day. It will be interesting to see where he ends up.

Josef Newgarden proved that he is definitely at the top of his game. He had a few hiccups this year, including qualifying this past weekend but working your way from the back to the front is quite a feat and I expect both a 500 win and more championships in his future. He will come back in 2023 even stronger and you’d be crazy to bet against him next year.

Will Power! Wow, what a weekend. Honestly, I’m more impressed seeing the pole position record broken than the championship won. Years from now people will talk about the poles more than him winning another championship. Hopefully, now that the championship is won he can allow himself to celebrate the history he made by breaking Mario’s record. While I said earlier I have seen Will win the pole and dominate races many times, it does seem to be slowing down a touch and among the three Penske drivers, Will had the least amount of race wins. Once a driver is not on top I start cheering for him more. I guess you can argue that Will is still very much on top. You would be correct, but I think he had to fight harder for this one, or at least in a different way. He had to keep himself calm and recognize the talent he is up against without letting that intimidate him into making mistakes. He was calm and consistent and that is how he won the championship. Congratulations Will Power!

So let’s discuss the race itself.

Corkscrew- Such a fun turn to watch. It’s ironic that what messed Josef up in qualifying was also the same place he made many of his race passes. Always exciting watching cars go through the corkscrew.

Yellow flag- While I can understand IndyCars decision to not throw a yellow right away, I do not agree with it. While other racing series try and create drama, IndyCar avoids it by trying to “play fair” and waiting for all cars to pit before the track goes yellow. I don’t like this for two reasons. First, it’s only a matter of time until that backfires and someone is hurt because the yellow was delayed. Second, while a poorly timed yellow can ruin a drivers day, that is racing, that is part of the drama. IndyCar doesn’t need to create drama but can allow regular circumstances to play out and either ruin or make a drivers day. I don’t like yellows because I like seeing all the carnage of crashed race cars. I like yellows because it changes up the flow of the race and sometimes works in the favor of the small teams or struggling drivers and can provide a career and moral boosting win. A yellow should be thrown as soon as a car stops on the track or hits the wall.

Rookies- Christian Lundgaard won Rookie of the Year honors. He did great and deserves it. It was a highlight for the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team because honestly they struggled most of the year. However, I was really pulling for David Malukas to win. All the rookies were fun to watch this season. I had thought at the beginning of the season I would be most closely watch Kyle Kirkwood but sadly the Foyt team continues to struggle and I grew tired of watching Kyle. David Malukas took over as my favorite rookie but unfortunately he was not able to overcome the points deficit and was runner up for ROY.

A couple final tidbits-

James Hinchcliffe is great in the booth. I love that he is still a part of the series.

Double points for the Indy 500 are not needed. I’m all for Indy qualifying to pay more points but they are not needed for the race.

Peacock is great and well worth the price. My only real complaint is I’d love to be able to start it at anytime. I don’t always make it in time to watch live but then I need to wait until an hour or so after practice or qualifying is over to watch the replay. I’d love to be able to start that at anytime.

Thank You! I sure appreciate all who read my blog. I have a couple things I hope to write about soon sharing ways to keep enjoying IndyCar during the off season. Hope you will check them out.

Race Day at Road America

I had hoped to wake up early on race day and attend the short devotional that IndyCar Ministry does each race weekend. I’ve never attended one but they start so early and I wasn’t able to motivate myself to get dressed and ready in time to make the meeting. One of these days I will.

I did make the 9:30 meetup with the Elite IndyCar Facebook members. Don Mulder put together the meetup which made it easier for me since I have met Don several times now. It was a nice time to meet so new friends and I was especially grateful because several of the people who read my blog are part of the Elite IndyCar group. It’s a fun group and the admins run several giveaways making it even more fun. The group took a picture and then it was time to be thinking about where to sit for the race.

I walked through the paddock, ran into a few more friends and then made my way to the camper so Zach, Randy and I could get settled before the race began. We decided to watch from Canada Corner and I was surprised to see several open seats when we arrived. It was time for driver introductions so I had thought the area would be packed. Canada Corner isn’t the best place to watch the race from. Many would argue that turn 5 is the preferred spot. Turn 7 is another place we’ve enjoyed watching from in the past. However, from the outside seats in Canada Corner you can see a decent amount of track and you also have a video board to watch. There was shade and plenty of room on the bleachers if you didn’t bring chairs. We started on the bleachers in the sun but then Zach brought our chairs down and we enjoyed a shaded spot in a more comfortable seat. With the help of the video screen and our headset we were able to follow most of the action. Zach was rooting for Alex Palou so he was furious when Alex was taken out. Alex later rejoined the race but was not able to better his position. I was wanting to see Alexander Rossi back on the top step of the podium but he ended up third. Randy was able to see his favorite win and was thrilled with the victory for Josef Newgarden. Josef has now won on a street circuit, an oval and a road course so he was given a 1,000,000 bonus for winning on each different type of track. That made the win even more sweet.

With the race over we made our way to the paddock to see if we could find any drivers. We saw a few but didn’t get any pictures. After we walked up and down the paddock we headed back to the camper. Zach and I both enjoyed a short nap before dinner.

We went into town for dinner and then played a couple rounds of Rummikub in the camper at night. Zach had to work on Monday so we made it an early night so we could pack up and make the drive home before his shift started.

Life got busy when we arrived home and I still haven’t watched the TV coverage of the race. Guess I have that to look forward to on the off weekend we have.

Pole Day and the Burger Bash

The Sunday before the race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway had been bump day for many years. Recently, in an effort to make the two day qualifying more exciting or when there may or may not be bumping, Pole Day has been moved to Sunday. The last few years saw some bumping on Saturday and then every car would once again go out on Sunday. The previous times would be erased and the drivers would set a new time and determine their place in the field. The slower 24 cars would go out first, in inverted order for one shot to improve their position. After the fast 9 would be given one more shot to make the Pole. The risk was fairly equal for all drivers.

This year the format was again changed and the fast 9 became the fast 12. Position 13-33 would be determined solely on Saturday and because of weather we only saw two cars for out for a second attempt. Sadly, Stefan Wilson did not have his car ready due to an engine change. Stefan qualified 33rd.

The fast 12 went out to determine the fast 6. Then the fast six were given one last shot to win the pole. Rinus VeeKay had the fastest time on Saturday and traditionally would have been the Pole winner. Under the new rules, Scott Dixon was able to beat VeeKay’s time and won the Pole. Scott Dixon also had the fastest time ever for a Pole position at a speed of 234.046. Alex Palou is second and Rinus VeeKay is third.

While the format was exciting and seeing some of the fastest speeds we’ve seen in years helped add to the excitement, I’m not sure this is the best format. To gain that top step you have to give everything you have, every driver will tell you it is one of the hardest things they do in racing. Asking them to go out again and again adds a lot more pressure. The pressure should be on those in the back of the field trying to make it in or improving their position. I know there isn’t a perfect answer and I’m sure the format will continue to be tweaked each year but I guess I’m old school and would prefer Pole Day be on Saturday. Until we have several drivers trying to bump their way in that won’t happen.

Since, the qualifying didn’t start until 2:00 and since I’d been at the track everyday of the week we chose to arrive before qualifying and skip the morning practice. I attended church with Lisa, we grabbed a coffee at the Spark in Speedway and then we prepared to go to the track.

We walked through the garage area first and then made our way to seats along the front stretch but near turn one. We had a great view of the cars as the waited for turn as well as the track. We all had our favorites among the top 12 and 6. Scott Dixon was not anyone’s favorite but we all cheered for him as he set the new pole record and did was Scott Dixon, the Iceman, always does. This was his second Pole in a row and his fifth overall. Rick Mears holds the record at 6 Poles.

We stayed in our seats and celebrated before exiting the Speedway. On our way out we decided to accept a ride from a pedicab. I was telling Randy about the Rickshaw races at the Milwaukee Mile and how great Big Steve was and our driver said that he came in fourth in that race. He also said that Big Steve was diagnosed with brain cancer shortly after that and lost the battle about 15 months later. He had a mini license plate that read #BigSteveStrong.

Randy and I then met his sister and brother-in-law for dinner at Big Woods. I had only met them once before, many years ago at a reunion. It was a fun night catching up.

Mark, Randy and Jenny

Burger Bash

Monday afternoon there was a two hour practice that we attended. The weather was beautiful but warm in the sun. We watched a bit, walked to the museum, ran into Simon Pagenaud and his sweet pup, Norman, saw Conor Daly’s hot tub and did a final pass through the garage. Monday concluded a streak of 7 consecutive days at the track for me and I was feeling it. I was tired. However, we still had one more think to do that night- attend the Burger Bash.

For many years I have been so disappointed that I was never able to attend Curt Cavin and Kevin Lee’s Carb Night Burger Bash. Then a couple years ago they were too busy to have it. Of course it did not happen in 2020 and was also not done in 2021. This year they brought it back but changed a few things. The first change was the day. It was now held on the last practice day- Monday. The location was also great, the USAC Headquarters parking lot right off the roundabout in Speedway. It was high on my list to be in attendance no matter how tired I was.

We arrived right at 6:00 but didn’t bring our chairs in so I ran back to the car to get them while Randy enjoyed a burger. Our chairs were low beach chairs but we found a place where we could still see all that was going on. Kevin was interviewing some of the doctors that work for the IU Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center, including Dr. Hanna and Dr. Lee. When Dr. Nasser Hanna left the stage he walked past where I was sitting and tapped my shoulder saying hello and nice to see me. I thought that was kind but just thought he was trying to greet and thank the people that were attending. I smiled and greeted him back. However, when he returned and told me he should probably introduce himself because while he knew me I probably didn’t know him. He then made my jaw drop by telling me he reads my blog. I believe my response was one of total shock asking if he truly did read it. He said he had been reading for years and have watch my boys grow up through my blog. Wow! That made my day! Later that night we talked again and took a picture together by Jackson Lee’s car. Dr. Hanna (Nasser) then told me he had seen me before at races but hadn’t wanted to be that “crazy” person that said hello (not sure if crazy was his word or mine) and I laughed and said I am always that crazy person stopping people I only know from social media or bloggers. He then asked if I knew George Phillips. I laughed and said of course, George is the real deal in the blogging world posting three times a week. It was so nice meeting Nasser and I look forward to seeing him at more races in the future.

Longtime reader- Dr. Nasser Hanna

During the radio portion of the Burger Bash several drivers showed up but I was happiest to see Stefan Wilson. I have a picture in my head of Justin at the Burger Bash drinking a shake and talking with Curt and Kevin. It was great seeing Stefan in that role- minus the shake. Marcus Ericsson, James Hinchcliffe, Kyle Kirkwood, Rinus VeeKay, Dalton Kellett and several drivers in the ladder series were all in attendance. I would have loved to grab a picture with a few of the drivers I hadn’t yet seen this month I chose to just enjoy the show. I also would have loved a chance to say hello to Curt and Kevin but wasn’t able to say hello. Hopefully, I will still get a chance to say hello before the month is over.

I am staying in Indy this week and enjoying some other activities around town. I should have another post up in a day or two detailing all the off track fun I’m having this week. Thanks for reading and a big thank you to Nasser Hanna for being a longtime reader and taking the time to say hello, it meant a lot to me.

IndyCar Season Finale and Wrap Up

The NTT IndyCar Season Finale took place over a week ago on the Streets of Long Beach and I am just now getting to my blog post. I’ve actually been stuck in quarantine so you’d think I would have had plenty of time to get to this. My oldest has Covid. We were preparing for him to go to Basic Training for the Air National Guard when he started feeling sick. He was unable to attend his drill weekend which pushed back his Basic Training dates. He will now leave on November 16. Thankfully, he was sick less than a week and no one else in the house is sick (yet). So now that things have settled down here let’s discuss IndyCar.

Covid continued to change plans and dates. While we knew for quite some time that Long Beach would be the season finale it was still quite strange. The beautiful views of the fountain usually mean it’s Spring and we have plenty more racing to look forward to. This year it marked the end of the season. It looked like a great place for the finale and I heard several fans and drivers say they wished the season always ended in Long Beach.

Alex Palou was the points leader going into Long Beach and even after a crazy qualifying session that had him starting mid pack he was able to maintain the points lead and become the 2021 Champion. Wow! In his Sophomore season and first with Chip Ganassi racing that is fairly incredible. Watch out Scott Dixon! It’s really to soon to say if he will continue to be a driver to watch for the next decade or two but right now I’d definitely say he is one to watch. Drivers often seem to struggle in the sophomore year but Palou showed that is not always the case. He won 3 races, 1 pole and of course was crowned champion. Alex has a sweet tradition of eating fried chicken after a win. He enjoyed it after winning the championship too.

Colton Herta would also be on that list. Colton won the race and made it all look easy. He started 14th but it didn’t take him long to be leading. When he is out in front he just pulls away from everyone, every race. Colton sometimes needs to learn patience but in general he is a fast, entertaining driver to watch. I’m sure he will be fighting for that Championship in the next few years. Colton also has a traditional meal after a win and he had some celebratory tacos after his win.

Pato O’Ward was second in the points going into Long Beach. He started near Palou in the middle of the field. The greatest concern is being taken out on lap one by an accident and of course that is exactly what happened. Ed Jones made an attempt to pass and ended up getting into O’Ward. Palou was able to escape the accident but just barely. With that accident O’Ward watched his dream of being the Champion slip away. Palou would need to crash out for Pato to have any chance and that didn’t happen. Sadly in the end Pato dropped to third in the standings.

Josef Newgarden was the long shot for the championship but with O’Ward’s accident he was able to place second in the championship. Josef and Team Penske had their struggles this year but still show that they are and will remain competitive. Josef had two race wins and 4 poles for the 2021 season.

Scott Dixon had a quiet season. Palou took most of the limelight but Dixon won in Texas and remains the active driver with the most IndyCar wins (51). As long as Dixon keeps winning he will have a place at Ganassi.

Alexander Rossi once again had a horrible season. I’m not sure what is going on there because we all believe he is a good racer but if we don’t see some results he might find himself looking for a new ride in the future.

Graham Rahal also did not have a good season. No wins and no poles. Graham continues to struggle in qualifying. He can make his way up through the field and is often among the cars that have moved up the most. If he could start closer to the front I believe he would have more race wins. Graham finished 7th in the standings. His best start was from the 5th position in Portland. His best finish was 3rd in Texas.

Marcus Ericsson probably had the best season of his life. I’m not sure we will continue to see such great results from him in the future because I think a lot of luck was involved in his race wins. When Will Power’s car would not start after a red flag during race 1 at Detroit, Ericsson inherited the lead. On lap 1 in Nashville, Ericsson launched over the car in front of him. You had to assume he would have too much damage to finish the race and definitely not win. Marcus, however, won the race. You have to have a lot of things fall into place to win and if I had to guess he won’t be as lucky next year. I do like him though and look forward to seeing if he can keep the momentum and luck going.

Simon Pagenaud finished 8th in the standings but had a forgettable season with no wins and no poles. Simon will be moving from Team Penske to Meyer Shank racing for the 2022 season. He will reunite with former Penske teammate, Helio Castroneves. I look forward to seeing what that team can do in 2022.

Will Power had one win and one pole. His win was on the road course at Indy where he has won several times before. That was not a surprise. What was a surprise was that he only had one pole. He has won 63 poles in his career, I really expected him to add three or four to that number in 2021. O’Ward and Herta each had three poles this season and Power has his work cut out for him if he wants to keep winning poles. Power will remain with Penske for the 2022 season.

When I started writing this post I didn’t intend to make it a “through the field” kinda post but I did want to touch on the Championship, silly season and my thoughts so it turned into that. I will wrap up the top ten now and return with thoughts on others in the next few days. Thanks for reading.

A Sweltering Race Day in St. Louis

Years from now when you ask me what I remember from this race I will tell you it was a hot day. It was probably the hottest race that I have personally attended. We had paddock passes and usually enjoy just walking up and down the paddock but this year we sought shade in the hottest part of the day and eventually a cooling station. Qualifying was at 4:00 so during the time we had between qualifying and green flag we were able to enjoy the paddock without the immense heat from the mid afternoon. Due to the heat and the condensed day, with practice, qualifying and race all on Saturday we did not have as many opportunities to see drivers and teams, however the drivers were out and talking with fans so much more than I expected given the heat and busy day. They really are the best.

We left Friday afternoon and our drive seemed to take forever. Somewhere south of Springfield, IL our GPS rerouted us saying our previous route would have added 90 minutes to our drive. Not sure if it was construction or an accident but thankful we didn’t get stuck in that mess. We arrived in St. Louis around 8:00 p.m. and went directly to the Spaghetti Factory for dinner. We walked over the the Gateway Arch after, seeing the Arch lit up at night is a sight we never grow tired of. We stayed in a cabin about 30 minutes out of town so we headed there.

Saturday morning we went to Scott Air Force Base for a quick tour with my son, Matthew. Matthew enlisting with the Air National Guard in November and is waiting for his Basic Training dates. We then made our way to World Wide Technology Raceway, formerly Gateway Motorsports Park. Upon entrance the first tent we saw was the Air National Guard so of course we had to stop.

We saw several drivers and friends in the paddock and stands. It is always so fun to catch up with everyone. I had purchased a shirt for race day in hopes of seeing Arie Luyendyk. Arie always comments on which driver I have on my shirt. I purchased a Luyendyk shirt to see if he noticed. Well it was a black shirt and I switched it out to a tank top because of the heat. When I did run into Arie I pulled it out and told him my story. He laughed and then pointed out that he wasn’t on the shirt. The shirt has his Domino’s car and his autograph but not a picture of him. Haha, he is vain. Anyone know where I can get an Arie Luyendyk shirt with his picture?

Qualifying ran smooth with no one hitting the wall. Will Power won the pole and after his win at Indy last week he seemed to be on a roll so I chose him for my fantasy league. Let’s just say I’m no longer leading my league. Power was still able to make the podium but Penske teammate, Josef Newgarden won that top spot, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Pre race show

WWT Raceway president, Curtis Francois along with the Bommarito Automotive Group but on a great event and that includes the pre race ceremonies. Curtis announced that he and Jay Frye signed a five year deal with IndyCar. He then announced that the Bommarito group would also continue to sponsor the race for the next five years. Then there was a tribute to First Responders, which included more police cars than you could count. They did a lap around the track, followed by a second lap with lights and sirens on. Of course there was the invocation, the singing of the National Anthem and a flyover. The flyover consisted of the Lima Lima Flight Team and a KC-135 refueling tanker. Matthew loved that part as he will be working on the KC-135 with the Air National Guard. He had the biggest smile on his face as it flew over. After the command to start engines the cars pay tribute to the Indianapolis 500 but lining up three wide for a lap. They then go to the traditional two wide for the green flag. I love all the extras in the pre race show.

The race went green but quickly went to yellow. Cars made it fine around the first lap so it appeared we would have a good, clean start but by lap two Ed Jones was racing Graham Rahal and ended up taking them both out of the race. So frustrating for Graham who finally qualified well and looked to maybe have a good race.

Before the green flag flew again Dalton Kellett and Ed Carpenter touched and the yellow remained. Takuma Sato was the reason the green flag was waved off a bit later and then when the race finally returned to green, Simon Pagenaud and Josef Newgarden made contact. Debris was on the track so once again the yellow came out. It appeared it would be a quick yellow but a problem with the track lights not turning off caused confusion as the flag man waved green but the track stayed yellow. Finally around lap 25, after 21 laps under yellow we got the race going. Later, Ed Carpenter made contact with the wall and they most frustrating incident of the night was when Rinus VeeKay made contact with Scott Dixon and Alex Palou. Palou had been the points leader but this sadly dropped him down to second. Dixon was able to return later, I heard he was 80 laps down but turning the fastest laps. VeeKay was also done for the night. Alexander Rossi hit the wall, ending a promising race for him. Colton Herta also had a heartbreaking night when he pitted but broke the half-shaft. He went out on track but it was obvious something was wrong, he immediately pitted and we learned the problem soon after, his night was done. Josef Newgarden had a strong race all night and it the end he took the checkered flag.

WWT Raceway opens up the track to spectators shortly after the checkered flag. It would be nice if they had more ways to enter and could wait for the fans before announcing the winners on the podium but it is still a fun opportunity to walk on the track after the race. We usually go out and walk a little bit but this year we walked the entire track. This helps with leaving the parking lot as the crowds are long gone.

The race in St. Louis is always a favorite. A race on an oval is also always a favorite. Having so many things to do in and around St. Louis also makes this a fun race weekend. We look forward to returning.

A couple things to note

Romain Grosjean made his oval debut and it was something to see. While watching a race in person I’m not always aware of what is going on farther back in the field but every time Grosjean would make a pass the crowd went nuts. Grosjean kept passing cars and made the race very entertaining. I’m not sure what happened that eventually put him a lap down but he spent a portion of the race running in the top ten. I think it’s safe to say we will see in on more ovals. After the race Romain walked across the track to the fence to great fans, many of whom were wearing purple Grosjean shirts. I love having him in IndyCar.

The crowd at the fence to meet Grosjean

I can’t let this day pass without a word about Justin Wilson. Six years ago today we lost him after a tragic accident at Pocono Raceway. Justin was our families favorite driver and we still miss him terribly. We had the pleasure of meeting him several times and every time was special. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

Justin at Milwaukee 2015

Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix

There were a couple sad moments in today’s race. Robin Miller once again did an amazing tribute piece. This time for Bob Jenkins. I’m a huge Bob Jenkins fan so of course I shed a few tears but even if you weren’t a fan it’s hard to not get emotional during one of Robin’s pieces. Robin is fighting his own cancer battle so while listening to him speak on Bob Jenkins I couldn’t help but wonder who would do the piece on Robin. I’m praying for a miracle and that we won’t find out the answer for that for quite a while.

Not nearly as sad for all of you but not fun for me was that I wasn’t in attendance at today’s race. Many of you know my tradition is to watch the Indianapolis 500 from home. I’ve only attended twice. However, the GP of Indy is a different story and I had planned to attend everyone of them making that a tradition with my sons. We began our trips to Indy with qualifying but in 2014 the boys decided they rather see a race than qualifying for the 500. We began a tradition and changed up the way we do Mother’s Day. We’ve enjoyed this from 2014-2019. Of course 2020 did not happen on schedule and then fans weren’t allowed at the GP of Indy on the Fourth of July 2020. We did attend the double header Harvest GP in October at the speedway. In 2021 we returned to the GP although sadly it was the weekend after Mother’s Day. So the race that took place today at Indy is the first one we missed where fans were allowed. Honestly, I was afraid the heat might be too much so we didn’t make a huge effort to attend. It was also the first week of school for Zach and we will be at Gateway, so not to make excuses but there was just a lot going on. I’m crushed we weren’t there. What a fun race.

We have watched Will Power win this race again and again. He won in 2015, 2017, 2018, and the Harvest GP in 2020. He won again today! The IndyCars have raced here 11 times now. Will Power has won five of those 11 wins. Simon Pagenaud has won three, Rinus VeeKay, Scott Dixon and Josef Newgarden have each won one. It’s safe to say Power has dominated this track. I’ve laughed saying I’ve seen this race before after a Power win but that was not the feel today. Maybe because I watched from home and saw all the drama deep in the field, maybe because Power was not on the pole and had to gain that position or maybe because Power has not won yet this year, this race I was rooting for Power. Oh and he was my fantasy pick so maybe that’s why. 😂

Let’s point out a couple highlights or fun facts from the race.

Romain Grosjean finished second. He was also second on this course in May. Safe to say he has the track figured out. Could he get his win here next May?

Will Power as we said has won here more than any other driver. He has also led more laps than anyone. Power has led 341 laps on the road course. Simon Pagenaud is second with 75 laps and Scott Dixon takes the third spot with 69 laps. Quite impressive.

Rookie Christian Lundgaard qualified second and was fast in practice. He was in the mix during the race and finished a respectable 12th. Based on this race alone Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing definitely needs to consider this young man for a seat next year.

Alexander Rossi had his best finish for the year but it’s still no where near the season we expected from him.

Graham Rahal always appears in the mix during a race. If he can ever figure out qualifying he would be able to win. Sadly, he usually qualifies in the back half of the field and can’t make it all the way to the front. I’d be interested to see who has moved up the most spots this year. Im guessing Graham is near the top of that list.

Alex Palou, championship leader, had a disappointing race. He lost his engine on lap 67, bringing out the first yellow of the race. He still leads in points but Pato O’Ward has closed the gap to 21 points. Four races remain.

James Hinchcliffe, who was on the podium in Nashville, finished 22nd in Indy. That will not help his chances of staying with Andretti. He is a talented driver but needs to show it on the track.

On the home front

Things have been busy here this week with school starting. Zach started his Junior year. We will be traveling to St. Louis this weekend for the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at Worldwide Technology Raceway, I still call it Gateway 😉. This is always a fun race. Romain Grosjean will be making his oval debut. Tony Kanaan will be back in the 48 Ganassi car.

It took me so long to get this post out we also learned that IndyCar will be returning to Iowa Speedway in 2022. The doubleheader will take place on July 23&24. I am excited to have Iowa back on the schedule. Hope I get to attend in 2022. Look for a post early next week to hear all about our adventures in St. Louis and at WWT Raceway where we enjoy our final oval of the season. There is nothing like a night race under the lights.

Road America

Our trips to Road America are about so much more than just the racing. It is always a busy weekend filled with so many fun experiences. I am going to take you through our weekend with many of the pictures we took and describe our weekend through them.

Selfie on the drive

We usually camp at Road America but this year I procrastinated on booking and we missed out so we stayed in Manitowac. Our cousin, Randy, always joins us for this weekend. He came up early and spent some time in Wisconsin before the race. The boys and I drove up early Saturday. One of my favorite things to do is stroll the paddock and meet the drivers and team members. Immediately, we saw Rinus VeeKay. It was good to see he is doing so well after his bicycle accident. He plans to be back in the car by Mid-Ohio. As we walked through on the pit side I noticed a crew member that looked very much like Scott from the Arrow team. Scott quit last year and we were disappointed when we learned that. Well apparently the Foyt team was looking for help and called Scott several times and he eventually decided to return to IndyCar. He loves working with the Foyt team. We enjoyed reconnecting with Scott.

Rinus
Scott

After qualifying, Randy was in a good mood because Josef Newgarden was on the pole. Randy has always been a Josef fan. We returned to the paddock to see what drivers we could find and messaged George Phillips so I could receive my prize for being this years winner of his Oilpressure blog trivia contest. I love doing that contest every year and am thrilled to be this years winner. Thanks again George. Over the years George and his wife Susan have become good friends so we enjoyed chatting and catching up with them. Susan has recently finished cancer treatments and is doing very well. So thankful.

Didn’t catch too many drivers on Saturday afternoon but did get to see Dalton Kellett and just enjoyed the sights, sounds and smells of the paddock. We enjoyed some cheesy snacks and chose our restaurant for the evening.

Dalton

Randy had received a recommendation to try the Tiki Bar in downtown Elkheart Lake. We usually hit Seibkens but decided to check the Tiki Bar out. At first I thought we wouldn’t find seating but the boys scored us a table. The band, view and food were all great. We enjoyed the evening. Then we had about a 40 min drive to our hotel. Pool closed at 10 so we missed out on that.

Dinner

Sunday morning- Trying to get two teenagers out of bed to arrive at the track early is never an easy task. Somehow I was able to get them out the door by 8:32, only two minutes late. We weren’t able to park where we wanted on Sunday and entered the infield near the turn 14 concession stand. The boys all got breakfast but I went to the paddock. I was able to meet up with Don and his family. Don is on the Elite IndyCar Facebook page and we have become friends after noticing we had another friend (a non IndyCar friend) in common. It was great meeting him and talking with his family.

Randy joined me in the paddock and we got this awesome picture with Rinus VeeKay and Arie Luyendyk. Arie noticed my shirt right away and pointed it out to Rinus. Rinus then realized I was the woman he talked with yesterday and it was fun to get the picture and again wish he well on his recovery. Arie has been a favorite of mine since the 90’s. I’ve met him a few times and he always notices which drivers shirt I am wearing. I need to find a Luyendyk shirt for our next meeting. Rinus is quickly becoming my new favorite so getting the picture with both of them was perfect.

Best picture of the weekend

After walking up and down the paddock I decided I should probably grab some food. I waited in line and realized the boys had my backpack with my money. Randy was nearby but not near enough so I told the men behind me to go ahead. The man paying for his group asked what I was planning to get. Just a pork sandwich. He bought it for me along with his beers. I told him I could get him the money in a few minutes but they did not want to wait but rather go to their seats. I thanked him profusely and they left. Just then Randy came walking up. I yelled to to the kind man and yelled to Randy I needed money. I very much appreciate that Ryan (we learned his name after stopping him) was willing to help without receiving payback but I was also very glad I was able to catch him and pay him back. The crowds at IndyCar races are always like this, we meet the kindest people. Ryan, I hope you read this. Thank you so much for your kindness and generosity. I hope to be able to do the same for others when the opportunity arrives. Hope you enjoyed the race and the day with your friends.

Ryan

We were in the right place at the right time to watch driver introductions so we stayed for that before going to our seats. Road America has many great places to watch from but this year we did not have a golf cart and it takes too long to walk everywhere so we chose to watch from turn 14. You can see a bit of turn 5 and of course turn 14. We were under a tree but with clouds in the sky the added shade didn’t make a difference. I had my scanner but it still is hard to follow all the action during the race. Josef won pole and I feared it would be a fairly processional race. It seemed to be going that way at first but the Penske team seems to have the worst luck this season. Josef had some gearing issues and fell way back on the last laps. Alex Palou had been closely trailing Newgarden all day and with Newgarden’s issue, Palou quickly took the lead. Palou won his second race this season. Zach was thrilled as he is becoming a big fan of Alex and Randy was crushed for Josef. Randy is a good sport though and didn’t seem to mind too much that we were all cheering for Palou to get the win.

We stayed in our seats for a bit enjoying the victory and taking time to talk with a few other fans sitting nearby. A sweet family sat behind us, the dad very much enjoyed being at the track for Father’s Day. So fun seeing families enjoying the race together.

We made it to Victory Circle after the race and enjoyed the celebration. Zach was able to get Alex Palou’s autograph and got a kick out of Will Power spraying Champagne over the crowd where Zach was standing. After the celebration we went to the paddock. We had seen James Hinchcliffe just briefly before the race and when I held up my checkered flag necklace he immediately recognized me. I was thankful though for a quick chat with him post race. Alexander Rossi and Ryan Hunter-Reay soon joined him on the golf cart so I grabbed a picture with Alex too. Alex noticed that my camera had switched to video and was amused at the old lady attempting a selfie that became a video. To make me look even more ridiculous I tripped on a hose when walking away. Haha. Because we never had good interactions with RHR I didn’t even ask for a picture. He was probably relieved by that seeing what a dork I was.

Also saw Romain Grossjean. He had so many fans wanting a picture or autograph. Finally was able to get a picture.

Don’t worry, I continued to show my fanatical side. We saw Michael Shank and stopped him. Because we have always loved Justin Wilson I teared up telling Mike how we’ve been following his career since the days when Justin drove the sport cars with him for the 24 hour race and how thrilled we were for Michael’s team to get their first win at Indy and have it be such a historical win. Michael patted me on my back and probably wasn’t quite sure what to make of me. I’ve always been a crier but I especially hate it when I just want to share a thought with someone and I can’t do it without tearing up. Ugh, so frustrating. Thankfully, we took the picture before I started.

At the Foyt garage we saw Larry Foyt and grabbed a picture. I told him how much we like Scott and how happy we were to see him on the team. We then saw Scott and I laughed telling him we just spoke to Larry about him. Scott laughed saying he’d probably be fired now. Look forward to seeing him again in St. Louis.

The rain started and we walked up and down one more time before heading over to meet camping friends. Joel and Amanda were neighbors our first year camping and we’ve met up several times every year since. They have friends on the Dale Coyne team and this year Joel and Brody were asked to please help in the pits as the team was a bit short on crew. They loved the opportunity to experience a race in a completely different way. As the rain continued, we stood under their awning comparing notes on the day. The kids are all the same ages and get along so well. Next year we will camp again and hope to have a spot close to them.

We arrived back at our hotel and enjoyed some pool time before dinner. The place we wanted to try had a kitchen fire the night before so they were closed. We chose another place and enjoyed an extremely unhealthy meal with two sides of cheesy tots. Yikes, even with all the walking the food will get you in Wisconsin. All so delicious though.

Finished the night back in the pool and hot tub. I prefer camping at Road America but this trip was a bit more relaxing and that worked just fine. 9:00 am Monday morning and boys are both still sleeping. We will enjoy the lazy morning and then make the drive home. Another successful Road America trip is in the books – and the blog. Thanks for reading.

Had to include this sweet picture on Father’s Day. ❤️

Helio Makes History as 4th Four Time Winner

I woke up Sunday morning just as the bomb went off. Of course I was 200 miles away so I didn’t actually hear it but as I looked at the clock and realized what was happening in Indy I found it hard to go back to sleep. I got out of bed and decided to treat myself to Starbucks. After arriving back home I checked my previous blog post, I had a notification of a new comment. Usually, I enjoy seeing what has been said but this one was cruel. The commenter was very angry that I would call myself a super fan when I wasn’t attending the Indy 500 and said I wasted two minutes for his life he would never get back. Wow! I could get into all the reasons that a super fan can still be super even if they watch from home but that is a post for another day.

As I waited for TV coverage to begin I listened to 1070 out of Indianapolis and prepared things around the house. I woke my boys around 11:00 so they would not miss the pre race activities. We got out our favorite snacks and discussed what we hoped would happen in the race.

Family picks for the 500. Bragging rights only.
Hoping for another TK win so enjoying this wine during the race.

After tearing up during the clips on long time attenders of the race and of course Back Home Again in Indiana, we were ready for the most famous words in racing. I really need to have a talk with Roger Penske. I enjoyed what he had to say before he gave the command but he should have paused before the command and I definitely wish he would say, “Lady and Gentlemen, Start your engines.”

In our house the majority thought the first yellow would occur on the first lap in turn one. We were pleased when that did not happen. However, we were crushed that it was Stefan Wilson that brought the yellow out on his first pit stop. I say it all the time, Stefan is a favorite of ours and we were really hoping he would have a good race. His mishap caused problems for others since the pits would be closed just as everyone needed to stop. Scott Dixon and Alexander Rossi were the big losers as they both were so low on gas that their engines died in the pits and it was a struggle to get them restarted. They both fell back a lap. Dixon would get the lap back eventually but Rossi never did. Two favorites for the race fell way behind.

As the race progressed it was fun hearing the crowd when fan favorite, Conor Daly took the lead. Daly, Colton Herta and Rinus VeeKay all enjoyed leading several laps. Graham Rahal was steadily working his way to the front when he had an incident exiting the pits. His left rear tire was not secure, causing Rahal to lose control and hit the wall. The tire landing right on Daly’s nose cone. Graham looked like he could have been in contention for the win but will have to once again wait for next year. Daly also lost out and while he remained in the race he was no longer showing the speed needed to win.

Eventually, Alex Palou and Helio Castroneves were the two everyone was watching as we neared the end of the race. The two leapfrogged for the lead and this is when you really know who you are rooting for. Zach loves Palou and was rooting for him. I would have been happy with that outcome but found myself cheering much louder when Helio took the lead. It was Helio that took the twin checkered flags on lap 200. I was crying. History was made and after many years of waiting and wondering we now have a fourth four time winner. It was so fun. The celebration that took place immediately after was even better. Of course Helio went to climb the fence. Michael Shank met him there and they shared a sweet moment. Then driver after driver and crew members from many crews all came to congratulate Helio. The celebration went on and no one really rushed him to get to the victory circle and the usual post race traditions. It was so fun to watch and let it all sink in. Eventually, he rode up to the victory circle and received the wreath and drank the milk. He dumped some milk on his head but thankfully not all of it. The team was prepared and added some pink food coloring to it.

I still have a little of the post show to watch but we had a graduation party to attend so we sadly turned off the TV and after a quick stop for cheese fries to celebrate we went on to our party.

After the party we had an eventful night I won’t get into here but briefly, Zach was in a car accident and thankfully is fine. It could have been so much worse and we are thankful for the safety measures put in place in passenger cars that are learned on the race tracks across the world. It made a long day even longer but we are so blessed Zach and his friend walked away unhurt. We don’t know the extent but the other driver admitted to drinking. Please don’t drink and drive.

Monday morning the usual after race blues along with dealing with Zach’s car made for a depressing day. We look forward to moving on and enjoying summer.

Congratulations to Helio and also to the entire Meyer Shank Team. What a great way to get your first win. Can’t wait to watch as the team grows.

So I’m going to end with this question. Can you be a true fan of IndyCar and the Indianapolis 500 and not attend the race. I already know the answer but am curious as to your thoughts.

That’s How You Start The Season

I absolutely loved the IndyCar season opener at Barber Motorsports Park. Part of that may have been because I picked Alex Palou to win in my fantasy league but honestly it was just a fun race.

After a longer than usual off season thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NTT IndyCar Series had their season opening race this last weekend. The race drew a bit more attention thanks to NASCAR veteran turned IndyCar rookie, Jimmie Johnson. The other two rookies in the field while not quite as popular also drew new fans to IndyCar. Scott McLaughlin and Romain Grosjean might be rookies in IndyCar but have made their mark in the racing world. Many were watching to see how they would do in the race. Pato O’Ward won the pole position was is very eager to win his first race. Alexander Rossi is looking to make 2021 a much better season than 2020. Drivers on new teams are looking to prove themselves. It was going to be an interesting race.

What no one expected was that it would be a Penske driver and two time champion that causes a big accident on the first lap. Josef Newgarden got loose and sadly chaos followed. Ryan Hunter-Reay was caught up in the crash and finished last in the race. Newgarden finishes 23rd. James Hinchcliffe who did not have a qualifying speed and started last was also caught up in it. He continued to race but was never a factor. Jimmie Johnson made his way through but then causes a second yellow to come out later when he spun. He was able to keep the car going and finished the race in 19th. I prefer when the NASCAR guys struggle a bit. I think it makes them appreciate IndyCar more. Johnson has been very respectful and willing to learn. I usually don’t like the nascar guys but Jimmie is quickly growing on me. I feel he will figure out how to drive these cars and we will see improvement.

Sebastien Bourdais, driving for AJ Foyt Racing, started 16th but worked his way up to 5th. I’m hoping this is a start for much better things for the Foyt team. Bourdais will be one to watch in St. Pete having won there twice before.

Pit strategy played a big part in the race and kept things interesting once the yellow flags ceased. Sometimes the races can become a game of follow the leader when no yellows are there to mix things up. Because drivers were on different pit strategies it left some possibilities open for how the race would play out. In the end though, Will Power and Scott Dixon were not able to catch Alex Palou on track or work their team magic in the pits to move in front. Palou led 56 of the 90 lap race and won the race.

Even though Palou had a sizable lead it was an edge of your seat kinda race for me. With Power and Dixon just seconds behind and Palou being a fairly new guy it could still be anyone’s race. I was ecstatic when Palou won. I always love seeing new winners even when they are driving for a winning team. Also, as stated above, I picked Alex for my fantasy league. Newgarden was the popular pick in my league. I knew Alex would be an unpopular pick but if he pulled it out I would be leading the league and I’m happy to say I am. One other person also picked Alex but my pick was placed first putting me in the number one position. I will savor this while I can. I’m sure after next week I will find myself mid pack again.

All in all in was such a fun season opener. Barber Motorsports Park is beautiful- even on the TV. IndyCar is back and we go nonstop for the next few weeks. Alex Palou won his first race. All is well with the world. Ok not exactly but we are seeing glimpses of normal again and that is wonderful. Fans were able to attend and it looks like that will be the case moving forward, although in limited capacity.

St. Pete will be kicking off in a few days and then we mix things up this year with Texas appearing before the 500. Texas will be a double header before we enter the month of May. Of course May looks to be exciting with a true bump day and I’m eager to find out who might be in the last Andretti car. While listening to Trackside today Kevin Lee mentioned that Oriol Servia would not be in the Andretti car and speculation over who it could be began. My mind immediately went to a favorite of mine- Stefan Wilson. Loved hearing Kevin also bring up his name. Nothing would make me happier than having Stefan in the 500.

Thank you for reading. I’m looking forward to the 2021 season and plan to attend at least a couple races. Our first should be the Indy GP in May.

Bonus- Just before I was ready to publish my post a package arrived form the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I took advantage of some last season sales. Two shirts with the 2020 season that did not happen on the back. Simon Pagenaud’s Indy 500 car and one more piece everyone should have, a Mario Andretti bobble head. It was a steal, less than $3 and I love adding it to my IndyCar shelf.