Detroit- The Good, Bad and Ugly

IndyCar fans have a bad reputation for being complainers. I’ve always prided myself on not being a complainer, I’m usually very optimistic and see the good in IndyCar. There was a lot of good this past weekend but it had its fair share of bad too. Let’s dive in and discuss the good, the bad and the ugly.

The Good

This weekend provided some great racing. Detroit isn’t know for its great races but I was thoroughly entertained. I felt the racing had plenty of drama and passes. That might not have been as true for Sunday’s race but since I only watched the last third of the race (more on that later) I will say the weekend was entertaining. Here we go.

  • Qualifying- I was very grateful for a more traditional qualifying set up for both races. I was fine with shortening the format and taking away the fast six. It still allowed the fastest cars to start up front. Pato O’Ward won the pole for race one and Josef Newgarden won for race two.
  • Seven races, seven winners. So fun watching Marcus Ericsson get his first win in IndyCar.
  • AMR Safety Team. We have the very best looking after the drivers. So grateful for all their hard work.
  • First repeat winner. Pato O’Ward became the first second time winner this season and the new championship leader.
  • The young drivers are the ones to watch. Colton Herta, Pato O’Ward, Alex Palou, Rinus VeeKay, Oliver Askew (filling in for Felix Rosenqvist) and many others are making a name for themselves and providing some entertaining racing.
  • Romain Grosjean is becoming increasingly popular with the fans. Watching him jump from his flaming car at first had me thinking he was scared, and rightfully so but instead he gets a fire extinguisher and attempts to put out the fire while waiting on the safety team. I love this guy!
  • Oliver Askew was at the track and filled in for Felix Rosenqvist in Sunday’s race. Askew had his helmet and the Arrow team had his seat and all measurements but were missing shoes and fire suit. Oliver wore Juan Pablo Montoya’s fire suit and borrowed shoes from Alex Palou. How cool is that? Oliver also did a very respectable job for never having driven at Belle isle. I hope he gets more chances in the future.

The Bad

  • Red flags- While the first red flag was necessary, I was quite surprised by the second one. There had been some talk of the race not completing all the laps and of course there was concern about the tv coverage and if we would have to switch channels but then instead a red flag is flown and we all wait again. This one was extremely detrimental to Will Power as we will discuss later. I think the race could have ended under yellow. And honestly, I believe they could have taken care of Romain Grosjean’s accident and still had a lap or two of green. Perhaps damage to the wall needed fixing but then we could have ended under yellow. It’s okay to have a yellow checkered finish.
  • NBC coverage- don’t misunderstand I love the NBC talent and the call of the race was just fine. I’m talking about turning on my DVR and finding I’m taping Lacrosse on Saturday and tennis on Sunday. Ugh, I always try to watch live but sometimes you just can’t. This weekend was one of those times. My problem isn’t that lacrosse ran long, that happens but that the race was not available to watch elsewhere and of course even if it was I was watching delayed so I couldn’t switch over. Sunday was far worse as we will discuss later.
  • Felix Rosenqvist’s accident- so thankful it falls in this category and not the next. Rosenqvist appeared to have a stuck throttle and drove straight into the tire and concrete barrier. As soon as the camera showed his face I said it looks like he is crying and in awful pain. Miraculous no bones are broken and Felix was released from the hospital and I believe cleared to drive. It was not stated if he will drive next week at Road America but I believe there is a good possibility. That is amazing.
  • Team Penske- they were set to win both days. It’s actually unbelievable that it wasn’t a Penske sweep. Power had a great race until he didn’t on Saturday and Josef dominated on Sunday until the last three laps. What a heartbreak for the entire team. Who would have guessed Penske would be going into race 9 of the season winless?

The Ugly

Let’s start by saying that while Felix’s accident was extremely “ugly” I am not putting it in this category because the car did what is was supposed to do and the AMR safety team took control of the situation and Felix is going to be fine. For those reasons, I’m grateful to not be listing the accident here. The “ugly” came down to two things.

  • Will Power losing the win. The first red flag and strategy might have had a big part in getting Will Power to the front but the way things unfolded during the second red flag were very unfortunate. When Power pulled into the pit lane for the red flag and immediately began calling for fans and water I assumed he was exhausted and needed some help. I’ve seen Will after hot races. He struggles in the heat physically and has been on the brink of exhaustion so I assumed he was searching for relief. In reality he was calling for fans to keep his car cool. His team was there ready to assist but had to stand aside and wait until all cars were in the pit lane. Of course the cars in the back still had air running over them as they filed in. Another factor may have been Power’s black matte car which of course attracts the sunlight and heat. Regardless, I would have found it very hard to be the crew member holding the relief needed and not being able to go to Will’s car until officials gave the okay. Honestly, in hindsight they should have gone to him and dealt with consequences later but who knew Power’s car would fail to start when racing resumed. Power is desperate for his next win and it should have come on Saturday. That was an extremely unfortunate circumstance and I hope IndyCar changes that rule in the future. As excited as I was for Marcus Ericsson, that was completely unfair for Will Power. That is racing but those cars aren’t made to sit, asking the leader to sit and wait is completely unfair. Fans could have been moved out to him immediately, then if the problem still happened at least no one would be to blame.
  • Tennis. How in the world does tennis run over by more than an hour? Okay, fine, whatever, things happen. How does NBC not announce that coverage of the race will be on CNBC? Unless you checked social media you had no clue. Those of us that taped it on our DVR were also screwed. Seriously, with all the technology we have no one can figure out that if I’m taping IndyCar and channels are switched then the DVR should also switch. Seems like an easy fix to me. Also in a situation like that couldn’t streaming on Peacock be available. I looked today and it appears Saturday’s race is still not available for replay on Peacock. Honestly, I started watching around lap 45 because as much as I was willing to watch delayed by a few hours I did not want to wait days to find out what happened. How come the replay isn’t available shortly after the actual race and especially after a mix up like today? Does NBC really care that little? Just because they won’t be carrying IndyCar next season doesn’t mean they need to screw us now. So frustrating. So my enjoyable day of watching IndyCar was cut down to the last third of the race and I was not happy. I hate to be among the complainers but I couldn’t help myself when NBC screwed up so bad.

I eventually got over my disappointment of missing the start again. Watching Josef Newgarden attempt to hold onto the lead with Colton Herta and Pato O’Ward breathing down his neck was great racing. When Pato won his second race of the season his smile said it all. Sadly, Josef’s disappointment was also clearly written on his face.

So the Detroit weekend held all types of drama, good, bad and ugly. The fun part about making these lists was I kept going back to the good list and adding things there as I remembered them. I guess at the end of the day I am a half glass full kinda girl.

Road America- Racing, Camping and Social Distancing

Road America is always a fun, busy, action packed weekend and this last weekend proved to be all that and more. The REV Group Grand Prix at Road America double header kept us busier than usual on our race weekend. This was the third time we camped at Road America but the first time my oldest son was able to join us. it was also our first time renting a golf cart – best decision ever. There is so much to discuss I’m not sure where to begin.

RACING

The racing was great. It was an interesting weekend though. Usually we have plenty of practice and full qualifying sessions. This year the IndyCars weren’t even on track until Saturday morning for their first and only practice. Qualifying was shortened to two 12 minutes groups of 12 drivers. The fastest time won the pole. Josef Newgarden won the pole on Saturday. He had a strong race but after a problem in the pits it was Scott Dixon who won and celebrated his third win this season.

Sunday we were up early for qualifying and Pato O’Ward was on the pole. He looked even stronger than Newgarden on Saturday but for some reason the Arrow McLaren team chose to put scuffed reds on Pato’s car. His tires fell off and that allowed Felix Rosenqvist to get the win, his first in the NTT IndyCar Series.

Both races had their fair share of drama but I’d say Sundays race had more. In our family we each picked two drivers to win the Australian day race. I chose Conor Daly and Graham Rahal. They were both out before a single lap was completed.

The views of track and surrounding area at Road America are beautiful. The weather cooperated and it was so enjoyable being at a race.

Camping

One of the best parts about camping is easily being able to walk to the paddock area and interact with other fans and drivers. While the paddock was closed you were still able to walk along a fence and see some teams and drivers. We saw a few drivers. I was able to get a picture with Jack Harvey. We saw drivers go by on their scooters. Takuma Sato was doing an interview for a Japan station. Some teams were farther down and you couldn’t see into their paddock area. The Foyt team was one of them. I tweeted the team asking if either AJ or Tony Kanaan was at Road America. I got a quick response saying that neither were there this weekend. Well now I knew I didn’t need to hang around hoping to see them. I also tweeted the Arrow McLaren SP team wondering about team member Scott. I never heard back from them but we know how how that story turned out We met up with Mike Silver who graciously picked up a “Is It August Yet” shirt for my husband. Steve is anxious for August because he tore his hamstring and should be able to return to normal activities in August.

As usual we had amazing weather and completely enjoyed the beauty of Road America. This year we splurged (and now we can never go back) and rented a golf cart. The facility is huge and there are areas we had never seen before. Walking can be exhausting. The golf cart was worth every penny and we enjoyed watching the race and qualifying from different vantage points. It also made meeting up with friends easier. We missed some twitter friends we often meet up with but had a blast catching up with our camping neighbors from previous years. This is our third year meeting up with Joel, Amanda and kids. We all get along great and the kids had a blast driving the golf carts and then trying something a bit faster- the go-carts. The boys were all going as fast as they could but Kendra was content to enjoy the ride at a slower pace. We are all already looking forward to meeting up again next year.

Kids ready for racing!

I had really hoped to run into George and Susan Phillips. We saw them once but they were on their cart and we weren’t. Susan was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I’m praying for her daily. George writes the popular Oilpressure blog that I’m sure many of you read. They are some of my oldest friends in my IndyCar world and I hate that this is what they are going through now. Please keep Susan in your prayers.

Social Distancing

Road America was the first IndyCar race this season to allow fans. I can’t think of a better place to begin. The grounds are so large and most of the seating is on hillsides. It is actually quite easy to distance yourselves. I am not overly concerned with Covid-19 but respect those who are. We had our masks with us at almost all times and would use them in high traffic areas or while in the gift shop. I would say maybe 25% of fans wore masks but 100% of teams and drivers. Masks and hand sanitizer were offered as you entered the track on Saturday and Sunday (perhaps on Friday too but we weren’t offered any that day). Temperature checks were also done every time you entered the track. Being outside in the sunshine and keeping six feet from others allowed us to feel quite safe without our masks. So much so that after Saturday’s race I gave my backpack to the boys to take back to the camper and completely forgot to grab my mask. Of course that was when we saw Doug Boles and met Mark on the AMSP team. Both were willing to take a picture with me. I offered to stand farther but both insisted that we were fine. It was wonderful to meet and talk with people. The camping part was easy and I felt Road America did a great job. It will be interesting to see how things go at Iowa being a much smaller track.

More Fun

As stated the camping and weather were perfect. So fun to be outside at an event.

When we saw the Boles family we talked with them for about 15 minutes. It was fun to hear more about Conor’s day and have time for more than just a hello and a picture. Doug is always great with fans and it felt more like running into a fellow IndyCar friend than the president of the Speedway. Thanks Doug and Beth for taking time to talk with us.

The double header was fun. Watching Scott Dixon win was fine but we were really hoping for a new winner. With the double header we got that chance and we were on our feet when Felix Rosenqvist made the pass on Pato O’Ward for the win. That being said we missed some of the fun of a single race weekend. There wasn’t as much time to meet up with friends, enjoy walking the paddock (or the fence by the paddock), explore Elkhart Lake or spend time shopping at the gift shop or various trailers. Having two races was a blast but I think I prefer a single race with more time for other activities.

I’m sure I left a lot out but it’s Friday and we have the Iowa race tonight so it’s time to get this posted. I’m still only halfway through catching up on the TV broadcasts of the races so I won’t get into them much but I will say…

Conor had some awful luck. He was looking so good on Saturday and then never even had a chance on Sunday. Will be watching to see what he does at Iowa but of course he will be with the Carlin team so that may change some of his momentum as he works with different people for different races.

The young kids are all super impressive while O’Ward and Askew get a lot of attention it was Alex Palou that I was watching. I also look forward to seeing what Rinus Veekay will do in future races. We’ve got a great group of talented drivers.

A friend texted during race two and asked if the other drivers all hate Will Power. I responded that they all respect him and that this was a bit unusual for Power to be in the middle of so much controversy. I’ve since seen tweets from drivers stating they respect Power.

I’ve only watched a bit of the TV coverage but if we can’t have James Hinchcliffe in a car then the broadcast is where we need him. He was awesome. Great job James!

Well hopefully my thoughts weren’t too jumbled as I tried to cover way too much fun and activities in this post. Thanks for reading.

Mid Ohio 2019

Wow! Wow! Wow! Wow! Wow! I wasn’t sure what to expect in Sunday’s race at Mid-Ohio but I was fearful after Will Power won the pole that we would have a Penske parade with no passing. Instead we were treated to a great race and Penske didn’t even make the podium.

So many stories let’s jump right in.

Will Power- Will has not been having a great season but we all know what he is capable of. He won the pole and I thought that might help him get over the slump he has been in. I picked him in my Fantasy League (a Facebook league where we can only choose one driver). I imagined Power running away from the field and easily winning this race leading a Penske Parade. However, that is not at all what we saw. While Power did lead in the beginning and remained up front for most of the race he didn’t have what he needed to win the race. He settled for fourth place.

James Hinchcliffe and Marcus Ericsson – Sadly, these two were in a first lap incident that ended the day for Marcus and had James running in the back. I believe he finished three laps down by the checkered flag. So frustrating for the Arrow Schmidt Peterson team.

Josef Newgarden- Josef was having a good day and was leading for several laps and even appeared to be recovering from an incident in the pits with a fuel hose malfunction. While a few teams were on a two stop strategy most were on a three stop. This can cause some confusion but throughout most of the race Josef looked very strong. In the final laps however he was running in fourth and seeking a podium finish. He tried to make a move on Ryan Hunter-Reay. RHR would not give in though as he was also desperate for a podium. Newgarden spun out and lost a lot of his points advantage to Alexander Rossi. I believe Rossi is now 16 points behind Newgarden. It would have been in the 30’s had Josef been happy with fourth position.

Felix Rosenqvist- This young man is the reason I began my post with 5 Wows. His drive was absolutely amazing. The entire race he was someone to watch. Lots of passing and he appeared to be on a two stop strategy which I assumed would have given him an advantage. However, he did make three stops but was so far ahead when he did and had such speed that he found himself running up front most of the race. In the final few laps he was gaining on Scott Dixon but had several lapped cars between them. I believe that had Felix had a few more laps or had the lapped cars given way, he would have won the race. Dixon was clearly struggling with his tires and Felix was gaining. He gave Scott a run for his money and while many thought Felix should be happy with his first podium and not push the issue, Felix wanted nothing less than the top step. Dixon has way too much experience though and was able to keep Felix behind him. Dixon won and Felix had to settle for second. Wow though, he sure made it exciting. It’s just a matter of time before he wins.

Scott Dixon- Well we shouldn’t be surprised. Dixon now has six wins at Mid-Ohio. He has the track figured out and he never gives in to pressure. He had to work for this win but it was what we have come to expect from Scott- a win at Mid-Ohio. The pressure of the championship won’t get to him. He is still one to watch.

Hello Castroneves- No Helio wasn’t in the race but rather working in the pits for the qualifying show. If you have NBCSN Gold you were able to see even more coverage with Helio. He might need a bit more practice but I enjoyed watching him. His smile is contagious and he has such a passion for racing. I hope to see him in that role more often.

Kevin Lee- So it was very strange to me that Kevin Lee was not at the Toronto race and while most brushed it off as his weekend off I still find it peculiar. The week prior on Trackside it sounded to me (although I haven’t listened again) like Kevin was preparing for his weekend in Toronto. He was telling listeners that he was practicing the correct way to say Toronto, which is apparently without the last T. So I was completely surprised to not see him on the broadcast. This week though he took over the anchor position as Leigh Diffey was working elsewhere. Kevin did a fine job and I always enjoy his involvement in the broadcast. Hope he is around for years to come.

All in all what could have been a snoozer with not a single yellow on a road course turned out to be a fantastic race. The championship is still very much open and the passing throughout the field made for an exciting race. How has the season gone so fast? Next up is Pocono. I have such mixed feeling about this race. It can be so exciting and so dangerous. Praying for a safe, fun day.